VIDEO The Real Meaning of Christmas

The story’s told of a little girl who’s passing out the presents to her family on Christmas morning. After finding gifts for each member of her family, she was puzzled that there wasn’t a gift for the One whose birth was being commemorated. “I guess everyone forgot about Jesus,” she said.

If you want a truly meaningful Christmas season, it stands to reason you need to grasp the true meaning of Christmas. Forget about Jesus and you’ve missed the entire, glorious point of the celebration.

John MacArthur’s study The Real Meaning of Christmas helps you think of Christmas in a whole new way—in part because it looks at Bible passages you probably don’t associate with Christmas truth. This study can set the tone for a Christmas of real worship—one like you’ve never known.

The Christmas Story by John MacArthur

The Power of God’s Word

[My word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire. Isaiah 55:11

On Christmas Eve 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts—Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders—became the first humans to enter lunar orbit. As they circled the moon ten times, they shared images of the moon and the Earth. During a live broadcast, they took turns reading from Genesis 1. At the fortieth anniversary celebration, Borman said, “We were told that on Christmas Eve we would have the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice. And the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate.” The Bible verses spoken by the Apollo 8 astronauts still plant seeds of truth into the listening hearts of people who hear the historical recording.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live” (Isaiah 55:3). Revealing His free offer of salvation, He invites us to turn from our sin and receive His mercy and forgiveness (vv. 6–7). He declares the divine authority of His thoughts and His actions, which are too vast for us to truly understand (vv. 8–9). Still, God gives us opportunity to share His life-transforming words of Scripture, which point to Jesus, and affirm that He is responsible for the spiritual growth of His people (vv. 10–13).

The Holy Spirit helps us share the gospel as the Father fulfills all His promises according to His perfect plan and pace.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

Who will you share Scripture with today? Who first shared the Bible with you?

Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the world, please give me opportunities daily to share Your wisdom.

For further study, read Knowing God through the Whole Bible.

The Message of the Manger

Our wise heavenly Father can bring beauty from disaster. Luke 2:1-7

Sometimes it is difficult to see, but God can draw value from even the most disastrous of circumstances. 

Before the rise of Rome, the predominant world power was Greece, led by Alexander the Great. As he conquered lands, he forced subjugated men to serve in his military and made them learn common Greek. On discharge, these men took the new language home, creating a shared tongue between many people groups. This would become the perfect way to spread the revolutionary message of Jesus a few centuries later. 

Then, as the Romans conquered territories, they paved roads and guarded both land routes and seacoasts from encroaching enemies. Doing this enabled early Christian missionaries to carry the gospel to different places. Perhaps Joseph and Mary traveled one of those roads on their trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But in any event, God again turned hardship—a forced census—into blessing: Jesus the Messiah was born at precisely the time and place prophesied. 

From the moment in Eden when Satan’s defeat was promised until the instant Christ fulfilled that prophecy on the cross, the Father continually brought good from bad situations. In this way, He advanced His plan to save the world. The Romans made the roads, but God paved the way for a Savior. 

Jesus: Savior and God

“Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins….And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:21, 23)

These passages, taken from an angelic message delivered to Joseph in a dream instructing him to take Mary as his wife, reveal two important names of Christ. One describes His office and the other His nature. Both are of the utmost importance as fundamental Christian doctrines.

The name Jesus is the same as Joshua in the Old Testament and literally means “savior”; as noted, “he shall save his people from their sins.” Christ saves us from the guilt of sin by cleansing us in His own atoning blood, and He saves us from the dominion of sin by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately when we leave this world, He will save us from the presence of sin as we go to be with Him, and we will also receive a new glorious body at His return. We can surely say, “Thy name is as ointment poured forth” (Song of Solomon 1:3).

The name Emmanuel, found once in the New Testament, means “God with us,” and its theological bookend is given in the final verse of Matthew’s gospel: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). This idea of “God with us” also signifies Christ’s nature as the God-man, being “God…manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). Thus, our Savior is perfect God as well as perfect man.

Because our Savior “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin, let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). JPT

Eternity Made Flesh

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.Luke 2:14

What is it you have always really wanted? It is not religion. You can trace that back—it is recent. It is not philosophy. It is not civilization….They are recent and temporary.

We have been betrayed by every prospect that man creates. But when we know that we are perishing, ready to perish, God’s Holy Spirit is faithful, and He whispers, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

There is eternity, and eternity was made flesh and walked among us….If you had seen eternity walking around on baby, rubbery legs, tumbling and falling flat among the shavings, you would have run and picked Him up and dusted Him off, whispering, “It doesn’t hurt. Be a big boy!”

He would have smiled, shaking away a tear, and toddled off for another tumble. That was eternity walking in flesh. It was God Almighty come to live among us to redeem us and to save us from the recent and the temporal and the transient—and to give us eternity! CES063-064

Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus:

There is room in my heart for Thee! HCL073

Climbing Higher

Look to the mountains—the feet of one bringing good news and proclaiming peace!Nahum 1:15

There are numerous references in Scripture where the pursuit of God is likened to a deer climbing steadily, sure-footedly toward the high mountain peaks, and the more we consider the simile, the more rich and rewarding are the truths that flow out of it.

Why does God liken the pursuit of Himself to a deer making its way upward to the high places? And why does He focus so much attention upon the deer’s feet? Well, the deer has an amazing ability, when climbing a steep mountain slope, of ensuring that its back feet alight on the exact spot where its front feet were positioned. This perfect correlation between its front and back feet enables the deer to avoid the dangers that would befall a less coordinated animal.

The Bible writers, in drawing attention to the sure-footedness of the deer, are attempting to show (so I believe) that what the deer experiences in the natural realm, we can experience in the spiritual realm. Do you really want to climb higher with God than you have ever gone before? Is there a deep longing in your heart to ascend, like the prophets and seers of old, into the mountain of the Lord? Then take heart—you can. This can be the greatest time of spiritual advance you have ever known. If you supply the willingness, then I promise you—God will supply the power.


O Father, my prayer is—make this the greatest time of my life. I long more than anything to ascend into the mountain peaks with You. I am willing—now send the power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Isa 55; Ps 42:2; 63:1; 143:6

What did the psalmist express continually?

What does God promise?

Blessed in Believing

“She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”—Luke 1:45

In the kingdom of God, believing is a prerequisite to receiving. God spoke to Mary and gave the assurances He always gives when He assigns the impossible to His people. Everything was in place for God to act. Everything waited on Mary to believe Him. Once she believed, it was done! It takes an undivided heart to believe under such circumstances and a pure heart to see God (Matt. 5:8; Heb. 12:14).

This has always been God’s way with His people. Mary could not see all that had been arranged and assembled in the courts of heaven. She could not see the legions of angels prepared to protect her and her baby. She was unaware of the future and all that she and her child would face. All she knew was that God had spoken to her, and that was enough. So she responded: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

When God speaks about His plans, He does so with everything already in place to fulfill His word. God never speaks hypothetically. He knows exactly what will come to pass. He simply asks you to believe Him. You will experience great blessing when you place your absolute trust in Him. Mary could not have dreamed all that would result from her faithful obedience. Likewise, you cannot possibly imagine all that God has in store for you when you trust Him. He knows exactly what He will do to bring salvation to someone you have prayed for or to heal your friend or to provide for your needs. God has everything in place. Will you believe Him?