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    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

I first posted this back in December of 2008, and it continues to be one of the most-read posts here at JGIG.  Be sure to check out the related links below as well as other informative and thought-provoking Christmas articles on the Articles Page.  Grace and Peace to you in this Christmas season of celebrating the Birth of Christ and in the new year ahead!
-JGIG

Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

Okay.  Before all you holiday purists start hurling comments based on the title alone, hear me out.

I know all about the pagan influences and the date-setting and the sun worship and . . . well, all that stuff  that takes what for me is the simple celebration of the birth of my Saviour and turns it into something ugly and evil.  Some of you will maintain that “Christmas” IS ugly and evil!  And I get where you’re coming from, really I do.  And in the spirit of Romans 14, I’m okay with that.  I would never dream to try to convince you that you should celebrate something that you don’t believe you should.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit this past year, and I just want to share with you where I am in that thought process.

The short answer for me is this:

God made a pretty big deal

out of the birth of His Son.

Angel visitations to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, the summoning of kings from far away (with a special “star” hung in the sky, no less) . . . the divine protection of the baby and child Jesus from the evil King Herod.

shepherd_angel1
Let’s take the shepherd’s experience:  They’re there, tending their sheep, maybe dozing off once in a while, but being good shepherds, waking at any little noise, they wake up to angels!  And they’re singing, “Glory to God in the highest!” . . .

What am I celebrating?
I’m celebrating the willingness of God to come in the flesh to walk among us, love us, teach us, and then do the work of the Cross for us.  And how did He choose to come in human form?  As an obviously powerful King?  Did he ride down majestically on the clouds, announcing His kingdom was at hand?  No . . . He came in the most vulnerable human form, actually taking on humanity through the seed of Mary while maintaining His Godhood through the Seed of the Holy Spirit.

I’m celebrating the birth and gift of Hope and Life to the world.

Having given birth seven times myself, I reflect on Mary’s obedience and courage as a young woman.  Having had relatively easy births with my children, I wonder what Mary’s “birth story” is (a favorite topic among moms of many).  Before I had children of my own, I thought how sad it was that Mary had to go through the birth thing the way she did, the traveling, the no Inn thing, the giving birth with the animals around thing.

But now, having had easy births with all but one of my children (the other one was wonderful, just really, really hard!), I like to think that God must have blessed Mary with a wonderful birth experience.  Understand that I understand that my thoughts are total conjecture in this area, but given the circumstances, I think they’re in line with the character of God to have abundant grace and mercy on Mary in birthing Jesus.  After all, she was giving birth to His Son.  And she had been willing and obedient under difficult circumstances . . . I just think He may have blessed her with a wonderful birth!

There is something quite amazing about birthing a baby.  It’s hard work, and there is pain, but for some the pain is brief, and labor can actually be enjoyable!  The progressive work of the intensifying contractions, the  process of knowing new life is soon coming into the world, getting to meet the one you’ve carried for so long face to face . . . and that you get to be a part of it!  It can be such a profound experience!

nativityscene
And then when that little baby is birthed!  Oh my!  The wonder!  The joy!  The amazement of what God has done!  And that’s just what I’ve felt at the birth of my own children.  I can hardly imagine the glory that must have been in the place where Jesus was born!  And the feelings of wonder and joy that Mary must have felt as the baby King Jesus was placed in her arms and nursed at her breasts.  All mixed in with the gravity of being charged with the care of this child who would in adulthood save us from our sins and give us new life . . . Oh my . . .

And who did God announce the birth of His Son to first?  The local mayor?  Thejesus_nativity governing authorities of the broader area?  No, He told the local shepherds.  And told them to go and see the newborn King . . .  They were the first on the scene besides Mary and Joseph to take in the wonder of the advent of the Saviour of the world.  Just regular folks.  God didn’t leave out the king-types . . . they just came much later.  He came for everyone, from shepherds to kings . . . He came for us all.  What an amazing event – the coming of God in the flesh to dwell among those He created and to eventually provide for their redemption.  To celebrate those things – that’s what I think it’s okay to do.

Do we hang lights?  Make special food?  Sing and listen to special songs? Put up a Nativity scene?   Have a *gasp* tree?  Yes, we do.  NONE of those things signify anything pagan for us.  They are not a part of worship.  They are part of celebrating.  I don’t know where the tradition of baking a birthday cake or putting up decorations to celebrate birthdays came from, but for us, it’s simply a celebration.  A time to be glad.  To take joy in the immense gift from God as He came to us in the flesh.  A time to commemorate the real event that happened so long ago, that has such an impact on us as believers today.

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Luke 2:1-33 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

journey_to_bethlehem_brickey

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

nort_cuypb
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
swindle_she-shall-bring-forth-a-son

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law.

jesus02Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect or just a believer questioning what you believe and why, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Other articles available at JGIG:

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4 Responses

  1. And here is something I garnered from some teaching I heard. Generally Christ’s birth was well known to very few. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that His birth became more widespread “AFTER” King Herod decided he needed to kill all the infants under a certain age. Can you imagine the talk of the town then! Herod had now highlighted the Birth.
    Something to think about anyway.

  2. […] I think I’ve talked enough about Christmas. For more information you can read “Paganism – Where Should Christians Draw the Line?” and “Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate.” […]

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