Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalms 34:8 NIV

There is spiritual delight that far supersedes the physical diet of this world. Fasting is the means by which we say to God, “More than our stomachs want food, our souls want you.”

Fasting ends up being more about our heart than our stomach.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. Matthew 9:14‭-‬15 NIV

We must be careful with our spiritual disciplines lest we become prideful and self- focused instead of God-focused. There is also, of course, the danger of indulgence. Paul warns us about those whose God is their belly.

The denial of our stomach’s appetite for food will increase our soul’s appetite for God.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
John 4:31‭-‬32 NIV

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
John 18:12‭-‬14 NIV


Christmas Expectations

Christmas Expectations

Expectation – a strong belief that something is going to happen.

Christmas is loaded with expectations, isn’t it? Christmas shopping, decorating and entertaining. Typically we knock ourselves out trying to make it the “perfect” Christmas. And year after year we end up with the same empty feeling, like Christmas wasn’t as personally fulfilling as we’d hoped. Why is that?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

At Christmastime, it’s good for us to remember just how dangerous fantasies are.

I’m not talking about Narnia-type fantasies. I’m talking about how out of our self-centered desires we construct ideas and expectations of the way we want things to be and project them on to people and events. If those people or events don’t meet our expectations we grumble and sulk and lose our tempers.

Fantasy-fueled expectations can easily become tyrants. At Christmas they are often the Scrooges and Grinches of our celebrations. Less flatteringly, they are the devils in the garden of God’s gracious love.

Christmas for Christians is a celebration of the Incarnation, that wonderful, impenetrable, mysterious moment when the Word who spoke all things into being (John 1:3) and held them all together by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). When YHWH “for a little while was made lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). When he who knew no sin entered the world as a bloody infant to become sin for us on a bloody cross that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Not Like They Expected

If there ever was a holiday to celebrate and worship God in his sovereign control over things not going the way we planned, it’s Christmas. Very little went as Joseph and Mary expected. Joseph hadn’t expected the painful decision to divorce Mary. He hadn’t expected all the difficult unplanned detours that took them to Bethlehem, then to Egypt, then eventually back to Nazareth. Neither of them had expected this holy Child to be born in a stable of desperation.

No one expected the Messiah to come from Galilee (John 7:52), no one expected him to be (formally) uneducated (John 7:15), and no one expected him to literally be the Son of God (John 10:30–33).

Christmas is the celebration of the coming of the unexpected Jesus.

Beware the Hollow Echoes

That’s why we need to be aware of how much we are influenced by the American cultural holiday we call Christmas, because it is almost entirely a fantasy-fueled expectation factory. It’s a hodgepodge collage of images and tales from Dickensian England, Rockwellian America, our own childhoods, and consumer marketing. It’s trimmed with vague notions of joy and peace (hollow echoes of their Luke 2:10–14 origins), and sometimes includes sentimental scenes of a wise, glowing Child in a manger surrounded by serene livestock and European-looking Semites and Persians. And all of this is set to a trans-generational pop superstar soundtrack.

The false myth of this Christmas is that if we can get it to look like the whimsical hazy collage in our minds, we will experience the “Christmas spirit” and be happy.

The problem is, of course, that everyone’s collage is different. The result is that Christmas fantasy expectations are disappointed. And all too often selfishness suffocates love, lashes out in some form of aggressive or passive anger and destroys whatever joy and peace there may have been.

That’s what makes fantasies so dangerous. They are almost always self-centered attempts to seek happiness by forcing reality to conform to our imagination, which we have no power to do. They make unattainable demands and leave us and others disillusioned.

The True Christmas Spirit

So as our celebrations approach, let’s resolve to lay aside the weight and entangling sin (Hebrews 12:1) of selfish Christmas fantasies and look to Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6–8)

This is the true Christmas spirit. Christ did not grasp; he served. And oh, how he served.

Advent season is the celebration of the unexpected Jesus coming at an unexpected time in an unexpected place to pay the unexpected, unfathomable price to give us unexpecting sinners the undeserved gift of complete forgiveness of sin and unimaginable gift of eternal life.

Christmas is not about fulfilling our holiday expectations. It’s about celebrating Jesus’s overwhelming accomplishment for us and following in his humble servant footsteps.

So when things don’t go the way we expect them this season, let us rejoice in the God who rules the unexpected and,

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than [ourselves]. (Philippians 2:3)



Luke 2:8-14 NIV
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

I. Wonderful Counselor
“Wonderful” – doer of miracles


II. Mighty God

As the Mighty God, He is the ONLY ONE who can do what ONLY HE can do!

Romans 8:31-32 NIV
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

III. Everlasting Father
A. EVERLASTING – This word speaks about forever. It means in perpetuity, with no ending, but also no beginning.

BC is before the incarnation of Christ but NOT before the influence of Christ.

Manger Things

Manger Things

John 1:9-14 NIV
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This Christmas lets make sure that Jesus is not…

I. Unrecognized
A. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” V10

How easy it is for SO MANY to CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS without ever SEEING CHRIST in it!

Psalms 121:1-2 NIV
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord , the Maker of heaven and earth.

Romans 8:28 NLT
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 11:36 NLT
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

Philippians 4:19 NIV
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:17 NIV
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This Christmas lets make sure that Jesus is not…

A. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Luke 2:7 NKJV
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.