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Christmas Under the Tree

Taught on

With roughly 30 million sold every year, Christmas trees are one of the most popular and cherished Christmas traditions. Decorated trees adorn our homes, shops, and churches during the holiday season. The question is: What does a tree have to do with Christmas?

Date Title   WatchListenNotes Share SaveBuy
12/24/2017
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Christmas Under the Tree
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
With roughly 30 million sold every year, Christmas trees are one of the most popular and cherished Christmas traditions. Decorated trees adorn our homes, shops, and churches during the holiday season. The question is: What does a tree have to do with Christmas?
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Series Description

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Christmas Messages

Christmas Messages

This collection of Christmas messages from over the years focuses on the birth of Jesus Christ—Immanuel, "God with us" Matthew 1:23—encouraging us to keep our eyes on Him no matter the season.

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: December 24, 2017
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: Christmas Under the Tree
Text: Various

Path

With roughly 30 million sold every year, Christmas trees are one of the most popular and cherished Christmas traditions. Decorated trees adorn our homes, shops, and churches during the holiday season. The question is: What does a tree have to do with Christmas? Pastor Skip posed three questions, showing how the tree points us to Christ:
I. Where Did the Tree Originate?
II. What Does the Tree Demonstrate?
III. How Should Believers Celebrate?

Points

Where Did the Tree Originate?
  • Some see Jeremiah 10:2-4 as referring to a Christmas tree. It doesn't. The text references a period around 620 BC, long before Christ.
  • The actual history of the Christmas tree stems from the Middle Ages in Germany, corresponding to a play about Adam and Eve. It was called the Paradise Tree.
  • Later, German families put a tree in their homes on December 24. They hung wafers on the tree, representing the bread of the Lord's Supper, and later put candles, representing Jesus as the light of the world.
  • But the first real Christmas tree goes back to Martin Luther in the 1500s. He decorated an evergreen with lights, telling his children that Christ came to penetrate the darkness.
  • Luther got the idea while walking through the forest at night. He noticed how stars sparkled through the branches. He brought a tree home and decorated it with candles.
  • By the 1800s, decorating a tree and putting gifts beneath it became a popular practice in England, largely through Prince Albert and Queen Victoria.
    • Probe: Share some of your unique family traditions surrounding Christmas. Do you do anything special with the tree or during the holiday season? How do you bring Christ into your traditions?
What Does the Tree Demonstrate?
  • Along with a tree, people usually have something under the tree: gifts.
  • Like Luther's Paradise Tree covered with candles, Jesus is our gift, bathed in light.
  • Christmas presents have a unique history as well. Biblically, we derive the practice from the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus.
  • But the actual practice began with Nicholas of Myra, a fourth century pastor in Myra, Turkey.
  • Nicholas was a defender of biblical teaching, especially the Trinity. He testified to biblical doctrine at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
  • In addition to his strong doctrinal teaching, he had a compassionate heart. He gave food to the poor and gifts to children.
    • Probe: How does Nicholas reflect Jesus? For example, both Jesus and Nicholas proclaimed truth and practiced what they preached. Why is it important that our words match our witness?
How Should Believers Celebrate?
  • We should celebrate by letting the tree speak to us of God's gift of Jesus, and point us to another tree—the cross of Christ.
  • Of all the trees in the world, only one is the focal point of history: the cross of Christ.
  • The cross of Christ is our tree of life because His death on the cross enabled eternal life for the world.
  • Think of the parallels between a Christmas tree and the cross:
    • Branches: Both have branches. The cross has only two, one on the left and one on the right, representing Christ's outstretched arms.
    • Colors: With the cross, there is only one color: red—representing the shed blood of Jesus.
    • Snow: Christmas trees may be flocked with snow, but the cross was flocked with Christ, who died so we can be whiter than snow.
  • The Bible refers to the cross of Jesus, an instrument of Roman torture, as a tree (see Acts 5:30; Acts 13:29; Galatians 3:13; and 1 Peter 2:24).
  • The best Christmas present isn't what's under the tree, but Who hung upon the tree.
  • God has presented the best gift for us on the tree—eternal life. When we see the manger, there's a shadow of the cross in its midst.
    • Probe: As Pastor Skip pointed out, three trees have summarized human existence:
      • Tree of Knowledge
      • Tree of Life
      • The Cross
    • Take a moment to discuss these three trees. How did our disobedience surrounding the first two trees lead to the use of the third tree?
Practice

Connect Up: The biblical teaching of the incarnation (Christ coming in human form) is central to our belief as Christians. How would you describe the incarnation? Why is the incarnation important to a biblical understanding of life? How does the incarnation provide salvation when nothing else could (hint: God alone can save)?

Connect In: The two major holidays of the Christian year— the birth of Christ, the incarnation (Christmas), and the death and resurrection of Christ (Easter), act like bookends of the Christian year. Why are both holidays central to our understanding of the Christian life? In the Bible, God commanded people to hold celebrations to remember what He had done for them. Why are holidays important to celebrate and remember?

Connect Out: Christmas is one of the easiest ways for a person to invite a non-believer to church. Now that Christmas has passed, take a few moments to pray for people that found new life this Christmas season. Ask God for the following:

  • Assurance of salvation
  • Conviction of sin, turning from prior habits and lifestyles
  • Desire to dig deep into God's Word
  • Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit
  • Empowerment by the Holy Spirit for ministry and service

Additional Messages in this Series

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12/25/1983
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Christmas 1983
Luke 1:26-33
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas 1983 - Luke 1:26-33 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/23/1984
completed
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Those Who Found Christmas
Luke 2:8-20
Skip Heitzig
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Those Who Found Christmas - Luke 2:8-20 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1985
completed
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Christmas Eve Service 1985
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1985 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/21/1986
completed
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A Gift for Jesus
Matthew 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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A Gift for Jesus - Matthew 2:1-12 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/20/1987
completed
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What Child is This?
Luke 2:1-14
Skip Heitzig
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What Child is This? - Luke 2:1-14 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/25/1988
completed
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Simeon's Christmas Present
Luke 2:25-35
Skip Heitzig
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Simeon's Christmas Present - Luke 2:25-35 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1989
completed
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Christmas According to Isaiah
Isaiah 9:6-7
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas According to Isaiah - Isaiah 9:6-7 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/23/1990
completed
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Kinfolk of Christ
Matthew 1:1-17
Skip Heitzig
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Kinfolk of Christ - Matthew 1:1-17 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/22/1991
completed
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The Man Who Missed Christmas
Matthew 2; Luke 2
Skip Heitzig
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The Man Who Missed Christmas - Matthew 2, Luke 2 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1992
completed
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Strange Birthday Gifts
Matthew 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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Strange Birthday Gifts - Matthew 2:1-12 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1993
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Christmas Eve Service 1993
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1993 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/15/1994
completed
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Can Christmas Lead You to Christ?
Skip Heitzig
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Can Christmas Lead You to Christ? from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1994
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Christmas Eve Service 1994
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1994 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/25/1994
completed
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The Crisis of Christmas
John 1
Skip Heitzig
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The Crisis of Christmas - John 1 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/9/1995
completed
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What Makes Christmas So Right
Skip Heitzig
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What Makes Christmas So Right from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/17/1995
completed
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O Holy Night
Skip Heitzig
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O Holy Night from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1995
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Christmas Eve Service 1995
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1995 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/28/1995
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Christmas Outreach 1995
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Outreach 1995 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1996
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Christmas Eve Service 1996
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1996 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1997
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Christmas Eve Service 1997
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1997 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/20/1998
completed
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Four Names for God's Gift
Matthew 1:18-2:5
Skip Heitzig
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Four Names for God's Gift - Matthew 1:18-2:5 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1998
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Christmas Eve Service 1998
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1998 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/1999
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Christmas Eve Service 1999
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 1999 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2000
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Christmas Lessons From The Family Tree
Matthew 1
Skip Heitzig
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Every year many folks buy a Christmas tree and place it in their homes, bedecking it for the holiday festivities. Meanwhile, the real Christmas tree is too often left out of the celebrations. I'm talking about the family tree - the genealogical record of Jesus' ancestry which forms the beginning of the Christmas story. If you've never considered it before, you're in for a pleasant (and shocking) surprise!
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12/23/2001
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The King of Christmas
Isaiah 9:6-7
Skip Heitzig
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The King of Christmas - Isaiah 9:6-7 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2001
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Christmas Eve Service 2001
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2001 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2002
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Christmas Eve Service 2002
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2002 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2003
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Christmas Eve Service 2003
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2003 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/19/2004
completed
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The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Matthew 1:18-2:6
Skip Heitzig
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The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Matthew 1:18-2:6 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2004
completed
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Christmas Eve Service 2004
Luke 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2004 - Luke 2:1-7 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/17/2005
completed
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Merry CHRISTmas
Matthew 1:18-25
Skip Heitzig
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Merry CHRISTmas - Matthew 1:18-25 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/21/2005
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A Classic Christmas
Skip Heitzig
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A Classic Christmas from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/23/2005
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Christmas Eve Service 2005
Skip Heitzig
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Christmas Eve Service 2005 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/25/2005
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How Did Jesus Celebrate Christmas?
John 10:22-31
Skip Heitzig
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How Did Jesus Celebrate Christmas? - John 10:22-31 from our series of Christmas Messages with Skip Heitzig from Calvary Albuquerque.
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12/24/2006
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A Not-So-Silent Night
Luke 2:1-20
Skip Heitzig
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The Christmas season with its familiar carols wafting through the air evokes emotions of peace, tranquility and serenity. The birth of Jesus Christ was hardly that kind of an event. It was not a "silent night" but rather a boisterous and busy one. It's been that way ever since hasn't it? Into our busy world stepped the Son of God. Let's consider what lessons we can learn from the busyness of the first Christmas and how God wants to connect with our busy schedules.
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12/24/2006
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Christmas Eve Service 2006
Skip Heitzig
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12/24/2007
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Christmas Eve Service 2007
Skip Heitzig
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12/21/2008
completed
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Christmas in a Nutshell
John 1:14
Skip Heitzig
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12/24/2008
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No Fear - Christmas Eve 2008
Matthew 1:1-25; Luke 1:1-80
Skip Heitzig
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12/28/2008
completed
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A One-Star Hotel in Bethlehem
Matthew 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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12/20/2009
completed
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Is It OK To Celebrate Christmas?
Matthew 2:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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Every year timid yet sincere believers ask this question. They can see the commercialization of what was intended to be a celebration of the Lord's birth. They've heard about the paganization of the ancient Babylonians and Romans. Perhaps they're worried about putting up a tree or giving gifts because they, like their Puritan predecessors, feel that this would be compromising their faith. So let's take a brief look backward to the origin of some these traditions and chart a reasonable and biblical course forward so we can celebrate with a clear and joyful conscience.
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12/24/2009
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A Christmas Island - Christmas Eve 2009
Skip Heitzig
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The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus form a paradox to the identity of our Savior -- the God who created heavens and earth born as a helpless baby in Bethlehem. Let's travel together to that Christmas Island of old, and consider the greatest gift ever given.
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12/8/2010
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Is It OK To Celebrate Christmas?
Matthew 2:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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Every year timid yet sincere believers ask this question. They can see the commercialization of what was intended to be a celebration of the Lord's birth. They've heard about the paganization of the ancient Babylonians and Romans. Perhaps they're worried about putting up a tree or giving gifts because they, like their Puritan predecessors, feel that this would be compromising their faith. So let's take a brief look backward to the origin of some these traditions and chart a reasonable and biblical course forward so we can celebrate with a clear and joyful conscience.
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12/12/2010
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The PRESENTS of God
Matthew 6:25-34
Skip Heitzig
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No matter how generous you may be this Christmas or at any other time, you will never be able to out-give God! His lavish kindness can be plainly observed, but it is too often overlooked. Let's consider during this season just how openhanded God is to us and the nature of some of His presents that He gives to us who are His children.
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12/19/2010
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Mary's Excellent ADVENTure
Luke 1:26-55
Skip Heitzig
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Christmastime has historically been referred to as Advent Season by the church. Advent means arrival or coming. At Christmas we celebrate the first advent (or coming) of Christ to earth to redeem the human race from sin, while we await His second advent when He rules forever. Mary of Nazareth was the human receptacle that God used to birth His Son into the world. She was a model believer in every way. Her example brings fresh encouragement to us. Let’s consider her.
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12/24/2010
completed
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The Light Was About to Shine - Christmas Eve 2010
Matthew 4:13-17
Skip Heitzig
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As the prophet Isaiah peered through his prophetic lens, he could see a small glimmer of light in the future. At the time of Jesus' birth the world sat in darkness--politically, economically, and spiritually. But when Jesus Christ was born, God Turned on the light! Let’s consider the beautiful source of illumination and learn that while we may be sitting in darkness, God is calling us to step into Son-light.
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12/15/2013
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A Baby in an Old Man's Arms
Luke 2:25-35
Skip Heitzig
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To speak about a gruesome death seems out of place at Christmas time, doesn't it? Why would we take Communion (the elements that speak of Jesus' death) at a time we should be celebrating Jesus' birth? An old man answers that question for us: Simeon of Jerusalem takes the baby Jesus in his arms and tells us the rest of the Christmas story.
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12/22/2013
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It's Darkest Just Before Dawn!
Matthew 4:13-17
Skip Heitzig
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A well-worn adage from the 1600s declares that it's always the darkest just before the dawn. Christmas is a celebration of light: Lights are strung everywhere both indoors and out. If you've ever wondered why, it's because Jesus, the light of the world, pierced the darkness of our world, making it possible for us to see clearly enough to escape one world and move into the next.
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12/24/2013
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The Light Has Come
John 1:9
Skip Heitzig
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you've ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes, it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness." But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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12/24/2015
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Jesus: Hope for All
Luke 2:4-14
Skip Heitzig
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The birth of Jesus Christ fulfilled prophecy and brought hope to all. In this Christmas Eve message, Pastor Skip explains how Jesus' birth is a preview to what His life and death means for us: Jesus was and is accessible to all people from all walks of life who believe in His name.
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There are 50 additional messages in this series.