The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of Scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. Joy. Maybe you've heard the song, Joy to the World. The Christmas season is one that is very often associated with happiness and special memories, and yes, joy. And we're going to talk about six ways that Christmas indeed is joyful. Hi, Alex McFarland here.
Hope you're doing well, hope you're having a great day, and appreciate you listening to the Alex McFarland Show. And as I record this, we're only a couple of weeks away from Christmas, and at our household, Christmas is really special. You know, even though my mom and dad have gone on to heaven, and my wife's parents are passed away as well, and you know, with every passing year, if you live long enough, the roster of family members and loved ones diminishes.
Time passes, and people pass. But do you know what? I want to submit, even in a world very often of goodbyes, and even in a world of disappointments and sometimes delayed expectations, Christmas is joyful, and really, one of the reasons that we as human beings can have hope is the fact that Jesus really did come into the world. Now, I'm going to read a scripture in just a moment from the Gospel of Luke, and I want to talk about two people that experienced a lot of joy. If you're at a position where you can turn in the Bible, I would invite you to do that. I love Christmas. You know that.
Unabashed. On this program throughout the year, and then on the live show that I do, Monday through Friday live, which is called Exploring the Word with Burt Harper, hey, we talk about Christmas all year long. I mean, we might be in June or July, and we'll be talking about Christmas, because really, and I'm not being trite here or cliche, but history is his story, has been said. You've seen billboards, and you've seen buttons that say Jesus is the reason for the season, and that's just not some slogan. Really, Jesus is the focal point of history.
In fact, we set the calendar by the arrival of God on the stage of human history, the birth of Jesus. Right now, in 2022, you know, we are some 2,000 years from the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus Christ. And honestly, folks, this might be a stretch and take a little bit of faith for you to be able to do this, but merely the realization that Jesus has come should bring you personal joy. And I'm going to unpack this, but I want to read from Luke chapter 2 a little bit. You know the story that there was a census, and Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, and while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And Jesus was born, the angels appeared to the shepherds out in the field, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.
And it goes on, and really the Luke chapter 2 narrative about the arrival of Jesus somewhat concludes, or at least there's a little bit of a change of pacing around verse 19. It says, Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. You know, every expectant mother has a lot to think about. And you think about Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist.
Mary was carrying the Lord Jesus Christ. Every new mother has a lot to think about. As a man, you know, we guys don't know what it's like to carry and deliver a child, but we can think about it must be overwhelming. You know, you've brought a human into the world, and that child is going to grow up. What will they be? Who will they be? And remember Mary, when Gabriel had appeared to her and said, That one which will be born of you will be called Immanuel, God with us.
I mean, just think about this. And Joseph, her fiancée, had a message from God in a dream, and Joseph didn't, you know, divorce her, or call off the wedding, rather, I should say. And according to Jewish law, Joseph could have not only broken off the engagement, had her stoned. But, remember, the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said, Joseph, fear not to take Mary, your espoused, for your wife, because she hasn't been untrue to you.
No worries there. The one to be born of her is the Son of God. So there's a change here. The shepherds returned, but it goes on, and it talks about, in verse 22 of Luke 2, And when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they brought the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord. So Joseph and Mary were observant Jews, so they go to the temple to dedicate the baby. Now, we're talking about why Christmas is joyful, and there are two people there, and it's just so precious in this Luke 2 narrative, that experience great joy. There was a man in Jerusalem, verse 25, and whenever the Bible says, And behold, there was a man, we read that about John the Baptist. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John, and John preached, and said, I'm not that light, but there is one coming in who is the light of the world, and I'm not worthy to untie his sandals, and behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Whenever the word of God says, And behold, just like the angels said to the shepherds, Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Behold means, hey, take note of this. This is very, very significant. Maybe even right now, the Holy Spirit is kind of whispering to you, Hey, behold, once again, take a look.
There's a manger. There's a Savior. There's an empty tomb. Your life matters to God. Don't just miss it.
Don't run right past it. Behold, there's a purpose for living. God made you. But we read in Luke 2, in verse 25, Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, an old man, his name was Simeon, and he was just and devout. That means not only was he moral, he was godly.
Justice speaks of that which is righteous and moral. Devotion, devout, means committed to the Lord. Now Simeon, verse 25, says, Just and devout, for a long time he had waited for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was upon him. Hey, don't you want that for yourself, for the Holy Ghost to be upon you?
Yes, grant it, Lord. The consolation of Israel, the word there, the one who consoles, that's really a ministry of the Holy Spirit. Remember in John 15 and 16, Jesus said, I'm going to send another, the Comforter.
He'll come. But not only the consolation in terms of comfort, but deliverance, forgiveness, restoration, salvation, redemption, regeneration, that which is dead being made new, the consolation of Israel. Folks, a theological library could be compiled just on what it means that Jesus is the consolation of Israel. And if you're a believer in Jesus, you're part of that. Romans says that the Gentiles are grafted into the vine, the true vine, Jesus, the true church, believers throughout the centuries. Galatians 6, 16 speaks of all believers are, quote, the Israel of God. So when we talk about, from Luke 2, 25, 26, the consolation of Israel, that includes you and me if you're a believer.
So when we come back, we've got to take a brief break. We're going to look at Simeon. And what did God tell Simeon and Anna, two people who experienced the joy of the birth of Jesus. And then we'll also talk about how Christmas can, yes, be joyful to you. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert.
Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. In recent years, our nation has suffered greatly and we seem to be on a rapid moral decline. We've rejected God, morality, and we've almost completely lost our sense of patriotism.
It's no wonder that many are asking the question, is this the end of America? Hi, Alex McFarland here, and I want to make you aware of my book, The Assault on America. How to defend our nation before it's too late. You know, our nation has seen politicians that are corrupted by greed and they've got a vested interest in power.
And many of our elected officials seem to care little about the country that they've been appointed to serve. Read my book, The Assault on America. We can stand up for our great nation and defend America before it's too late.
It's available everywhere. You can learn more on my own website, which is AlexMcFarland.com. Read the book, The Assault on America.
How to defend our nation before it's too late. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program, folks. Alex McFarland here, and before we resume our talk about how Christmas is joyful, I want to say I hope you all, and your family and loved ones, and your church, hope you have a wonderful Christmas season, and I hope this is a time that you're reflecting on how blessed we are to be in a world where salvation is possible because of the birth of Jesus. And we're reading from Luke 2, and before that break, I mentioned Simeon.
This is so precious. Okay, Simeon is an old man. He's gone to the temple for decades, probably. Prayed about Israel, God called them forth. Genesis 12, God told Abraham, Abraham, through you all the families of the earth will be blessed, and the Savior would come. And yet, they partially went into the land, partially took possession of the region God promised them, partially set up the temple and obeyed, fell into slavery, would get delivered. God would raise up prophets, and they would listen, and then they would resent being preached at, and they would kill the prophets, and they went into captivity so many times. And then 400 years went by, they were kind of dispersed, and they finally go back into the land, but under Roman occupation, because several centuries before the birth of Christ, Rome had become this world superpower. And even though, at the time of the birth of Jesus, the Jews were in Jerusalem and in their land, and there is a temple, but think about this.
It wasn't a temple built by Solomon, it was a temple built by Herod, a Roman political figure. Now, can you imagine going to church and having church, but it was built by somebody you resented, if not hated. So while the plan of God was operative in the nation of Israel, their own sin and disobedience and backsliding had prevented so much of what God wanted to do. You know, maybe your own experience with the full plan of God for your life has only been partially realized. Traveling and preaching, I've prayed with many people who will oftentimes come to an altar to pray, sometimes tearfully, and they'll say, you know, Alex, years ago, God was telling me to do this, and I've resisted and I've disobeyed, and there have been a lot of, you know, years in the desert, spiritually. Can I come back to God? Let me just say, if, like so many people, and if, like the nation of Israel, you've only allowed God to have part of your life, what better time than right now to let the Lord have all of your life?
Search your heart. If there's any region of your heart and your priorities and your soul that has not been relinquished to the lordship of King Jesus, then let the Lord have your heart. But here's this man Simeon who's gone to the temple for years, and it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, verse 26 of Luke 2, that he would not see death before he saw the Lord's anointed one, the Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple, when Mary and Joseph were bringing the little child Jesus to do for him after the custom of the law. See, there's purification ritual for the newborn baby, there's purification ritual for Mary, the mother that had delivered. And so here's this old man, old, elderly, like blind, and he walks over, and you've got to realize Mary and Joseph, they're probably very surprised.
But remember, Mary has pondered all these things in her heart. And the idea that at church, if you will, an elderly person comes to prophesy over the newborn baby, maybe that didn't take her by surprise. Maybe Joseph also, by this point, you know, there's the dream, the virgin birth, the star in the sky, the angels, the shepherds. Joseph, by this point, probably also had realized that the son he's raising is just not like any other. But Simeon, verse 28, gets the little infant out of their arms, holds him up and blessed God and said, Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people. So Simeon basically says, okay, I can die in peace.
That thing I asked God for for years, I've seen it. Here is the salvation, a light to lighten the Gentiles. Now, he's quoting Isaiah 9, Isaiah 42, and Isaiah 49. The Redeemer of Israel would be the light to the Gentiles. Yes, this is good news of great joy to all people, that we non-Jews can be grafted into the family of God by being born again through Jesus. A light to the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel. See, if anybody ever asks you, do Jewish people need to become Christians to go to heaven? Well, the first Christians were Jewish. Luke 2 32, the glory of Israel is the light to the Gentiles. The Redeemer of Israel is the Messiah of the Gentiles. And Joseph and his mother marveled at all those things which Simeon said.
Simeon blessed them. First he blesses the baby Jesus. He says to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign which shall be spoken against. So he's prophesying, many are going to rise because of this dear baby. Some are going to be condemned and fall.
And he's going to be accused. He will be a sign, a banner raised up on a cross. Now verse 35, Simeon says a cryptic word to Mary. Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Okay, this is Luke 2 35. Okay, don't you know, speaking of a sword to break your heart, Mary would one day watch her son be nailed to a cross. From the cross, Jesus would say to John, Son, behold your mother.
Take care of her. You know? Think about this. But the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Now this is a prophecy of Psalm 42 10.
Here's my point. The Bible speaks of the day that Christ returns, and it says on that day that God reveals the secrets of men. Listen, history is moving along. Souls are getting saved. Christ is coming back. One day, Jesus will rule and reign, and the kingdom of God will be ushered in worldwide.
But do you know what? Getting to that glorious millennium, and the new heavens and the new earth, and the dead of all the ages who believed in Christ will rise. There was a price to pay for this glorious realization. The heart of Mary would be broken, and her son that healed the sick, spoke the word of God, showed love and compassion. What is Jesus going to get for all of his kind ministry to the people?
He'll be executed on a cross. But yet the great promise of God's kingdom, it took pain to bring that into realization. You know, there's a saying we have nowadays, no pain, no gain. And that's just one of the fabrics of reality, accomplishments take commitment. To see something come about, there's a price to pay. The Bible talks about counting the cost. And do you know what? Listen, for the great blessing of salvation, something's going to have to pierce through your soul, the word of God.
And if you're going to live, you're going to first have to die, maybe to your attitude or your procrastination. If you're going to see a prodigal child brought back to the Lord, maybe you're going to have to pray and fast and get out of your comfort zone. Now, when we come back and we've got to take a brief break, folks, we're going to talk about the joy not only of Simeon, but the joy of Anna, a prophetess, and then how you personally can have joy at this season.
Don't go away. Truth for a New Generation, the Alex McFarland Show. We're back after this brief break and we'll talk about the joys of Christmas. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages about the questions they have related to God. The Bible, Christianity, and how to know Jesus personally.
Hi, Alex McFarland. I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical biblical rules in the book, we've got practical biblical real life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world. My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask.
You can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. Christian author and speaker Alex McFarland is an advocate for Christian apologetics. Teaching in more than 2,200 churches around the world, schools, and college campuses, Alex is driven by a desire to help people grow in relationship with God. He arms his audiences with the tools they need to defend their faith while also empowering the unchurched to find out the truth for themselves. In the midst of a culture obsessed with relativism, Alex is a sound voice who speaks timeless truths of Christianity in a timely way. With 18 published books to his name, it's no surprise that CNN, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets have described Alex as a religion and culture expert. To learn more about Alex and to book him as a speaker at your next event, visit alexmcfarland.com or you can contact us directly by emailing booking at alexmcfarland.com.
He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. Alex McFarland here. So glad you're listening.
And hey, we're going to talk about Anna and Joy. I do want to remind people that we've got a great 23 coming up, and I want to thank all the people that had me in. I was in a number of churches, schools, conferences in 2022. We launched our campus club ministry called Viral Truth, and we're chartering clubs around the country. We're teaching kids about America, about God, about biblical worldview and moral truth. We're fighting the darkness of the hour with our Viral Truth clubs, and I want to encourage you, please go to the website viraltruth.com, and you can get information about chartering a club in your city.
This is for middle school, high school, and even college students. And then we released a couple of books and pamphlets, but we've got a new book in 2023, 100 more Bible questions and answers. But I want to share a couple of thoughts as we wrap up talking about the joy of Christmas. For one, we will be with one of our national apologetics conferences. We'll be in Paris, Tennessee, April 21 through 24.
Now, make plans to attend. Myself, Abe Hamilton III, Will and Miki Addison, Bird Harper of Exploring the Word will be there live in person. We're partnering with Love Worth Finding, the ministry of the late Adrian Rogers, and it's going to be amazing. We're going to equip you and your kids and your leadership of your church.
Look, come one, come all. Space is limited, but we'll be April 21 through 23. Paris, Tennessee, it's not far from Nashville, at the great TVCC, Tennessee Valley Community Church.
We've even got a big event in a public high school. So you can go to my website, which is alexmcfarland.com, alexmcfarland.com. Also, my speaking schedule is on there. I'm going to be in churches around the nation. But one more thing, July 7 through 9, 2023, July 7 through 9, I'm going to be at the Cove in western North Carolina, the Billy Graham Training Center.
I'll be finishing up my two-year study of 1 and 2 Peter. The theme, you're going to love it, Thriving Till He Comes, Thriving Till He Comes. So you can go to the website, thecove.org, T-H-E-C-O-V-E, thecove.org.
It would be a great gift to give somebody for Christmas. Very often, people will give a gift to somebody because the Cove is so amazing. And let me just say, you will truly experience the presence of God at the Cove. And so I'd love to see you there. And thank you for your prayers, and thank you for your financial support. We have a growing ministry on so many fronts. And you might say, why? Because you know what?
I've written books. Look, it would be very easy to just kick back and say, it's time to relax. No, this is time to get in gear.
This is time to get in gear. You know, we often talk about one of our ministry partners, his Child Evangelism Fellowship. CEF is the biggest missions agency in the world.
Quite literally, they're in every nation of the world except North Korea, right? Well, the man who started that in 1937, Jesse Overholtzer, he was 60. Sixty years old when he started CEF.
And basically, for the first decade plus, just was working by himself, amazing. Look, God's people that make an impact for the Gospel, there is no resignation. There's just re-signing up all over again. So this is the time to get in gear, to know the Lord, to be full-out, full-court press for Jesus.
And let me encourage you to do that. Well, back to Christmas and the joys of Christmas. In Luke 2, we've talked about Simeon. And he saw the baby Jesus and blessed God.
He got his prayer of many years answered. But verse 36 talks about Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. And she was of great age, so she was married for seven years. And then, for 84 years, she was a widow, right?
So she is quite elderly. And it says that she departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. And she, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord and spoke of all them that were looking for the redemption of Israel. And so she got to see the baby Jesus when she was there in Jerusalem. And Anna, this prophetess, rejoiced at seeing the baby Jesus.
Why? The redemption of Israel. Even from his birth, though Herod was plotting against Jesus, though Satan was trying to work and scam and behind the scenes, you know, maneuver the lives of unbelieving, wicked people, God had a plan, and we can rejoice in this. And it talks about the fact that the child grew strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
On and on we could go, but look, I want to challenge you. Are you cognizant of how Christmas is just such a reason to be happy, to be hopeful, to pursue holiness? Look, Christmas is joyful because it tells us God is in control. God is in control of history. And just as the first coming of Christ was right on track, and Jesus ascended, and the church was born, and here we are in 2022, I assure you, God is in control. Though evil men wax worse and worse, and the Bible talks about the iniquity abounds and the hearts of many grow cold, don't let your heart grow cold. God is in control.
Rejoice in that. Listen, Christmas gives us joy to know that God personally cares about me. Jesus came because he loves you, and he loves me, and he loves all people, and he loves your prodigal child. And Jesus came to be our Savior and forgive our sins. And there's joy in knowing that God personally cares. God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son. There's joy in knowing that you can be right with God. You know, if the Son sets you free, you should be free indeed.
The Bible says, isn't that great? And I don't know if you'll ever get that brand new car. I don't know if you'll ever achieve that goal.
You know, people talk about a bucket list. But you know what? You can be right with God, and there is great joy in knowing that whenever I die, I'm ready. Hey, do you know what? There's joy in being a part of a beautiful story.
Now listen to this. The beautiful story that just so happens to be the meaning of history. Now, Christmas is a lot of things to a lot of people. A lot of special family memories, and I love those things too. Family experiences, cherished memories.
Really, there's joy, and you think about this, in participating in traditions that date back centuries. Now, I got a mobile phone, and it seems like every day I get an email. Upgrade your device.
Upgrade. Do you know that your computer is obsolete? You know, we live in a time when, with products, they talk about pre-planned obsolescence. You know, they design all these gadgets we buy, so they'll need to be replaced in a year.
They keep selling, right? But isn't it a joy to know that you're a part of something that will never go out of date? Jesus is alpha and omega, beginning and the end. He will never not be the Savior. He's forevermore. Hebrews 13 says he's the same yesterday, today, and forever. You know, when you sing O Come All Ye Faithful, Adeste Fidelis, O Come All Ye Faithful, you know, that's maybe the oldest Christmas song we know, 1600 years old.
Isn't that something? Isn't it joyful to know that you've got a connection to things that go back for centuries, and then you're connected also to the one who is from everlasting? You know, my favorite Christmas song, by the way, is that French carol, O Holy Night, the Song of Noel.
You know, I think it's amazing. The 1906 history tells us that radio was getting, you know, invented kind of piecemeal, little by little, and on Christmas Eve 1906, 116 years ago, they got a radio signal going. They say, Ships at Sea Heard It. I am told, although this originated from up near Rhode Island, that it was also heard on the coast of my home state, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Guess what was the first song ever broadcast on radio?
A man grabbed a violin, and they had the fledgling signal up. Christmas Eve 1906, the first piece of music ever broadcast, O Holy Night. Now, there have been a lot of songs since, some sacred, some secular, some holy, many profane, but the first song ever on radio, O Holy Night. Well, Christmas is coming, and just like Simeon and Anna, Mary Joseph, so many others, let's rejoice, because Unto Us was born not just a celebrity, not just a leader, certainly not a politician, but a Savior who is Christ the Lord. I hope He's your Lord as well. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina, 27404, or by calling 1-877-YES-GOD1.
That's 1-877-YES-GOD1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of The Alex McFarland Show.
Do you have a desire to deepen your faith, better understand Christian apologetics, or to get a biblical perspective on current events? Well, I've tried to make it simple for you to do just that. On my website, alexmcfarland.com, there's a new section called Ask Alex Online. It's simple, it's clean, and you can read my answers to common questions about God, faith, and the Bible. So visit the website alexmcfarland.com and look for the section that says Ask Alex Online.
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