Well, here we are again. This will be my dear wife’s and my 72nd Christmas on earth. I am so enjoying already all of the multi-colored lights that she has arranged around the house and in the windows to brighten the darkness inside and outside. It truly is another Christmas Festival of Lights in the Klingenberg home.
By nature, I don’t like darkness, especially this time of the year when darkness comes so early each day and hangs around so long. But now I don’t mind so much, as the lights shine even brighter because of the darkness. In fact, I like to turn off the lamps in the house and drink in with my eyes the colorful, luminous glory of the Christmas lights and candles, as we reflect together on what Christmas means to us with carols playing in the background. Merry Christmas!
It is Divinely and providentially perfect that we celebrate Christmas on December 25 each year. I don’t know if many folks are aware of this or not, but between December 23 and December 25 is the period which is called WINTER SOLSTICE. “Solstice” literally means “To Stand Still,” as if the sun no longer makes its arc but holds up somewhere for the winter. The sunlight no longer pours through our western windows as in the summer to warm up the house.
More exactly, it is between the 23rd and 25th of December that we experience darkness at its peak. That is, there are more hours of darkness between those two dates than at any other time of the year. It begins to get dark here at 4:45 p.m., and it is still only December 3, 2012. It will be SOLSTICING deeper and darker and longer from now to Christmas Day.
Coincidental? I doubt it! It was in the darkness that the birth of the “Savior” Who is the “Light of the World” was announced. That is what makes all of this so “Solstice Spectacular!” We read in Luke 2:8-9,
“And in the same region there were some shepherds staying
out in the fields, and keeping watch over their
flocks BY NIGHT.”
“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and
the glory of the Lord SHONE AROUND THEM,
and they were terribly frightened.”
We read here simply but profoundly:
“IT WAS IN THE PITCH BLACKNESS OF NIGHT THAT THE DARKNESS
WAS SHATTERED BY HEAVENLY LIGHT.”
And as that GLORY LIGHT OF GOD bursts through and dispels the darkness, the shepherds are shocked. They were overwhelmed by it, as the earth lit up with the Shekinah Glory of God.
Understand, we are not talking here about earthly or natural light. There was nothing and there is nothing earthly or natural about GOD’S GLORY LIGHT. We try to capture it with our electrical luminaries, but they are only dim bulbs, or at best little “Everready Flashlights” compared to this GLORY LIGHT – THE LIGHT OF GOD HIMSELF. This was the same identical light that lights up Heaven and the Throne of God and the Faces of Angels. Divine Glory Light!
More to the point, this is the LIGHT OF TRUTH – the LIGHT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – the LIGHT OF HOPE – THE LIGHT OF MEANING – THE LIGHT OF FORGIVENESS – that breaks in upon the inky blackness of men’s sin-darkened spirits and minds, and dispels the hopelessness and meaninglessness and lostness. It is happening all over the world this Christmas, as more sinners are coming to Christ and Christianity than to any other religion on planet earth.
“CHRISTMAS’ LIGHT ALWAYS APPEARS FULLEST AND BRIGHTEST IN THE
MIDST OF MAN’S DARKEST SPIRITUAL AND MORAL WINTER SOLSTICE.”
“THIS IS THE LIGHT NOT INTENDED JUST TO DAZZLE THE NATURAL
EYE, BUT TO UNBLIND MAN’S SPIRITUAL EYES.”
How could this be? Hear it:
“THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS NIGHT SHINED BRIGHTER THAN THE DAY, BECAUSE THE
SON WAS UP –THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD HAD BEEN BORN IN BETHLEHEM.”
HISTORY’S DEEPENING SOLSTICE
The world was under the heel of Roman slave drivers. The Bethlehemites as well were captives to a foreign, hostile invader and taskmaster. Jesus Christ was born into the world in the darkest of national and international times – what the Bible in Galatians 4:4 calls THE FULLNESS OF TIME.
More exactly Galatians 4:4 reads in this way:
“But when THE FULLNESS OF TIME came, God sent forth
His Son, born of a woman….”
HISTORY’S DARKEST SOLSTICE was being realized, and darkness on earth was at its fullest and densest. More than the dense darkness of Roman oppression, deep spiritual and moral darkness were heavy as they always are under the heel of fiendish and pagan oppressors. The Romans were not only the masters of all of the conquered nations, but the masters of all that wealth and sinful pleasures could serve them with. As their might and riches increased, their morals dissolved and the empire rotted away.
Cruelty and barbarism were rampant. The Romans ravaged nations, sacked cities, burned temples, sold inhabitants, and crucified Christians. Such a bloody empire was doomed from the start, for we read in the Bible an inescapable principle that all bloodthirsty dictators and nations have been done in by. We listen to Habakkuk 2:12,
“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and
founds a town with violence.”
And again in Ezekiel 34:6,
“Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe to the
“HE THAT DELIGHTS IN SWIMMING IN THE BLOOD OF OTHERS, WILL
IN THE END DROWN IN HIS OWN BLOOD.”
“THERE IS A FATAL CIRCULATION OF SHED BLOOD WHICH SO OFTEN
RETURNS ALL OVER THE SHEDDER OF BLOOD.”
Today’s bloody Islamic Jihadists/Terrorists will not escape the DIVINE WOE!
It was into such a pitch-black HISTORIC SOLSTICE that Jesus Christ was born in the 1st century town of Bethlehem. It is no different this Christmas, in fact, worse! Name your own 21st century town! Lights upon which men have depended are flickering out. There is very little light and truth in the governments of the world. Governments of the world are crumbling and tottering on the brink of collapse. People who looked at governments as the saviors of the world are now in the dark solstice of disillusionment.
The Government of the United States, as others, has so much corruption that it can no longer help itself, let alone help those whom it is supposed to serve. For example, those who have depended upon commerce, trade, stocks, bonds, Wall Street, are groping because the light is flickering with precarious uncertainty. Social Security has burned its wick to the bottom.
You will soon need an artificial heart transplant before you will be able to get the approval of Washington. The Judeo-Christian historic framework is being replaced by a progressive ideology that sees people improved through government. The government essentially replaces God, which is exactly what communism did.
God had given America more than just a taste of freedom, but rather a full course meal, and many people recognized Him as their source but this is no longer true. Those who never enjoyed freedom will not miss what they never had, but those who once lived under it find it devastating to lose. It is one thing to never have freedom and be kept from it, which is most of the world’s history. It is another to have freedom and have it taken away.
We have a changed country and a fast changing world – this can squarely be put on the church failing to do what it’s called to do. The structure is being built for a new international order. Something never seen before! Christianity brought freedom but in an age of growing socialism it will soon be blacklisted, just as the free enterprise system we call capitalism is being diminished.
The churches are a waning influence in America as socialism and communism have grown and are the enemies of all religions. In Central America which was dominated by Catholicism and evangelical Christianity, the socialists introduced liberation theology and molded socialism into the framework of religion that was already there. We see the merging of those ideas in the church in America.
I could go on! We are living in a DARK AND DARKENING HISTORIC SOLSTICE as never before. Moral degradation and decay, disease, sin enveloping our nation. The lights of decency and sanity and moral conscience are going out all over the world. It makes no difference whether we live in a crack house in the slum, or whether we live in a fancy suburban neighborhood.
“THE CHRISTMAS CHRIST, NOT THE HOLIDAY SANTA, WILL ALONE SHINE
THROUGH THIS DARKNESS AND GIVE HOPE IN A HOPELESS WORLD.”
Hear me again:
“DRINKING BEER, TALKING SPORTS, AND GOING TO MOVIES WILL NO LONGER
CUT THROUGH OR CAMOUFLAGE THIS DARKNESS THAT IS
GATHERING AROUND THE WORLD.”
Those who choose to live in the darkness of unbelief, sin, religion, and moral filth, will walk in darkness and growing despair and consuming angst. When the “Light of the World” comes again, and He will come again shining in perfect glory, He will destroy all darkness, all of the forces of darkness, and all of the children of darkness.
But for those who come to “Jesus – The Light of the World” now, He will drive away all of the darkness of sin, guilt, confusion, and fear. They will find in His light MERCY and not JUDGMENT. And that no matter how dark it is around them, and it will get blacker and blacker:
“THE LIGHT OF CHRIST’S PEACE AND JOY IN THEM WILL BE INFINITELY BRIGHTER
THAN THE DARKNESS AROUND THEM.”
Or as we read in Luke 1:79,
“TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND
THE SHADOW OF DEATH.”
So it was that Paulus stood before his torturers in Siberia and said to them, “If you take away my life in this world, my real life of joy and beauty will begin. I am not afraid of being killed.” The captain grabbed Paulus by his tattered prison shirt and screamed, “We will not kill you! We will keep you locked alone in a cell and allow no one to come to see you.” “You cannot do that, Captain,” said Paulus, “I have a Friend who can pass through locked doors and iron bars. No one can separate me from the love of Christ.”
You see, no matter how dark the night of the circumstances around us, the light of Christ’s love comes shining through into our hearts. That is exactly what we read Colossians 1:13,
“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred
us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son (or – The Kingdom
of the Son of His love).”
I love Christmas lights as much as the next person. They shine brightly in our eyes, and even brighten our complexion with colorful hues. But here is where they end, for:
“WHILE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS LIGHTEN OUR FACES, THEY
DO NOT AND CANNOT ENLIGHTEN OUR HEARTS.”
That is why the great letdown after Christmas hits for so many, and counseling sessions for depression skyrocket after the Christmas season is past and the lights have been put away. When the first real post-Christmas disappointment comes, and it will sooner or later, those surface lights will run from the darkness quicker than a scaredee-cat runs from a barking dog.
But you see, Christ, the only true and eternal Light of Christmas, is the most beautiful and brilliant light that one can see on this side of Heaven. To those who ask Jesus to be born in their hearts as their Savior and Lord, He fills their hearts with the Light of His joy, peace, and hope that never goes out, no matter how much the darkness tries to scare it away.
If you will:
“WHILE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS COLOR THE WORLD, CHRIST THE TRUE
CHRISTMAS LIGHT CONVINCES THE HEART OF ETERNAL LOVE,
LIFE, AND LIGHT IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.”
CHRISTIANS DISPEL THE 2012 GLOBAL SOLSTICE
We must hear the words of THE CHRISTMAS SOLSTICE PROPHET in Isaiah 60:1-3,
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory
of the Lord has risen upon you.’
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep
darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon
you, and His glory will appear upon you.”
“And nations will come to your light, and kings to the
brightness of your shining.”
We must sing anew the song, and realize deeply as never before what we are singing,
“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie, above thy deep
and dreamless streets, the silent stars go by, yet in thy dark
streets shineth, the everlasting light, the hopes and fears
of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Come now! Let us not first of all blame the deep darkness on the government, or on the courts, or on education. ISAIAH THE SOLSTICE PROPHET tells us as God’s people and as Christ’s disciples:
“THE LORD WILL RISE UPON YOU, AND HIS GLORY WILL APPEAR UPON
YOU, AND NATIONS WILL COME TO YOUR LIGHT, AND KINGS
TO THE BRIGHTNESS OF YOUR SHINING.”
Hear me! If the darkness of this unprecedented HISTORIC END-TIME SOLSTICE is to be broken for one darkness-dweller at a time, it will be by the light of Jesus shining in and from and upon each Christian.
Jesus says in John 8:12,
“I am the light of the world.”
Jesus says to us in Matthew 5:14,
“You are the light of the world.”
We take the first “light of the world” text much more seriously than we do the second “light of the world” text. But no matter how we try to emphasize the first and de-emphasize the second, like it or not:
“CHRISTIANS ARE HEAVEN’S LIGHT SHINING IN THE DARK STREETS
OF MODERN BETHLEHEMS ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND IF
THEY DON’T SHINE, THERE WILL BE NO LIGHT.”
Looking at those early disciples, that sounds like an absurd idea. Light of the world? That bunch! That motley crew! And do you want to hear something even motlier? So are we – the light of the world – just like Jesus. This is not idle chatter. Jesus, the light of the world lives in us, and we have light shining in us and from us that the world cannot find or see anywhere else.
Even Steven! Here it is:
“CAN HE BE LIKE US IN ALL THINGS AND WE NOT BE LIKE HIM IN ALL THINGS?”
For you see, that is Christianity! That is Christmas 2012! Here it is:
“AS IT WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MIRACLE THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS TO MAKE
CHRIST LIKE US, SO IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MIRACLE THIS
CHRISTMAS TO MAKE US LIKE CHRIST.”
The gross darkness of the world’s and America’s WINTER SOLTICE this Christmas is because:
“THE WORLD AND THIS NATION HAS DETERMINED TO BE AS UNLIKE CHRIST
AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN – THAT IS THE DARKNESS.”
“WHEN CHRISTIANS IN EVERY NATION ARE MORE DETERMINED TO BE AS
MUCH LIKE CHRIST AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN – THAT IS THE LIGHT.”
When we love like Jesus loves, give as Jesus gives, sacrifice as Jesus sacrificed, deny ourselves as Jesus denied Himself, forgive as Jesus forgives, and keep our promises as Jesus keeps His:
“THEN EARTH’S SHORTENING DAY WILL LENGTHEN AND THE DARKNESS DAY BY
DAY WILL YIELD TO GLORIOUS DAYS OF CHRIST’S SONSHINE.”
“THIS NATION WILL COME TO OUR LIGHT, WHICH IS CHRIST’S LIGHT
IN US AND UPON US.”
Love is our primary witness to the living and loving Christ. How sad it is that many who bear Christ’s name have never reconciled themselves to that one basic fact. And remember:
“LOVE IS NOT MERE EMOTION, BUT DEVOTION IN MOTION.”
God day by day gives us opportunities to turn on the switch of His love. These opportunities come to us each and every day. They have already intensified and multiplied for Ruthie and me this Christmas. I can hear and see them literally lining up and knocking on our front door. It never fails, for Christmas always happens in the darkness of people’s lives in this world. Will we so let our light shine before men that seeing our good works they will glorify our Father who is in Heaven? (Matthew 5:16)
YOUR PERSONAL SOLSTICE
Many of us in this room are in our very own WINTER SOLSTICE. There is little if any light to be found. Many in Wal-Mart doing their Christmas shopping are dark in countenance. I can’t help but notice. They are not dwelling in the love, joy, and peace of God’s light – Jesus!
No, I am not judging, nor am I saying that Christians should walk around with a plastic, toothy smile and grin 24 hours a day, like someone stuck a coat hanger in their mouths. But there is a deep personal groping in darkness in people’s lives, and the dark shadows are lengthening over their hearts and faces.
I am nosy by nature. I watch people, and even peak at what they have in their grocery carts. Booze sales go up during the holidays, as people look for joy and light and warmth in a bottle. They might just as well try sleeping on a stove top over a pilot light.
Let’s get to the numero-uno something that is critically important in all people’s lives here:
“GOD NEVER LEADS YOU INTO DARKNESS – SIN DOES.”
This is the truth woven throughout God’s Holy Word:
“SIN WILL ALWAYS LEAD INTO DARKNESS – ALWAYS – ABOVE ALL
THE SIN OF UNBELIEF.”
You see, that is where the dark countenances come from, and that even get darker after Christmas when the Christmas lights are put out. You must hear this:
“GUILT AND SHAME – THOSE TWIN CHILDREN OF SIN ARE NEVER DEEP IN
THE HEART BUT THAT THEY ARE MOST APPARENT ON THE FACE.”
That is why:
“THOUGH THE TONGUE DOES NOT CONFESS THE SHAME AND GUILT OF SIN,
THE FACE SAYS IT OUT LOUD.”
In short, sin makes you sick. And when you are sin-sick, your face does not shine but darken. No countenance glows in the darkening of sin. The Psalmist said in Psalm 38:3-4,
“There is no soundness in my flesh because of Thine indignation;
there is no health in my bones because of my sin.”
“For my iniquities have gone over my head; as a heavy burden
they weigh too much for me.”
No one looks chipper and cheery in that mess. Sin will lead you into a spiral downward into darkness. Booze! Drugs! Sexual thrills! Cheating! Lying! Stealing! Gossip! Backbiting! Hatred! Bitterness! Strife! Jealousy! Rebellion against authority! Lust! Fornication! Adultery! Murder! Homosexuality! Negativity! Unbelief! I tell you, all of that and more will lead you head long into the lengthening darkness of a WINTER SOLSTICE that will never end, and in which the true celebration of Christmas in your life will never happen.
And hear this too:
“THE LONGER YOU HANG ON TO THOSE SINS, THE THICKER THE DARKNESS
BECOMES IN YOU AND AROUND YOU.”
Some of you have been in those areas of darkness for years, and you just won’t let go of them. Then the mind and the heart are darkened until they cannot see light anymore. Or as Romans 2:21 puts it:
“Their foolish heart was darkened.”
But listen now to I John 1:9,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If we are willing to confess it, get it out in the open before God, denounce it, repudiate it, walk away from it, and walk in fellowship with God, then it is that you will step into the light and into the sunshine of God’s awesome love, joy, and peace. Or as we read in I John 1:6-7,
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness,
we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He
Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and
the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Before the great Reformation of the 16th century, Martin Luther was in his monk’s cell agonizing in the darkness of soul because of his sins. His confessor, a young man, simply did not know what to do for Martin. He then began repeating the Apostle’s Creed:
“I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.”
On and on he went, until he came to the words:
“I BELIEVE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.”
Suddenly Martin, as if thunderstruck, shouted at the confessor, “Wait! What did you just say?” Said the confessor, “What do you mean, what did I just say?” Luther responded, “The last part! What was it again?” To which the young confessor said, “Oh, that! I said, ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins.’” “The forgiveness of sins,” Luther said savoring each word, “The forgiveness of sins! Then there is hope for me.”
“WE CAN MAKE OURSELVES MISERABLE IN THE DARKNESS OVER THE BAD NEWS
OF WHAT WE DID, OR WE CAN LIVE BRIGHT AND JOYFUL LIVES OVER THE
GOOD NEWS OF WHAT JESUS DID – HE DIED FOR OUR SINS THAT
WE MIGHT BE FOREVER FORGIVEN.”
There is another aspect to the growing darkness of man’s personal and unending WINTER SOLSTICE. It is the darkness of CONFUSION AND PURPOSELESSNESS. Groping, searching, and not knowing where life begins and where life ends. Seems like you are getting deeper into a tunnel without an exit! Deeper and deeper into the darkness of futility!
If you will:
“NO REAL SENSE OF MEANING OR DESTINY.”
This is INNER DARKNESS of the worse kind – life without ultimate meaning or value. The playwright Checkhov once said, “You ask me what life is? It is like asking what a carrot is. A carrot is a carrot.”
Or another way of giving expression to that awful inner darkness is:
“WE ARE ALL NOTHING MORE THAN ACCIDENTS IN AN EVOLUTIONARY CHAIN.”
My, my, it has suddenly gotten so dark. Did someone just turn all of the lights out? And the darkness of the Theory of Evolution never leaves its followers. That is because in Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species,” the couplets “LET’S ASSUME” and “I ASSUME” appear over 2800 times. Once or twice would be bad enough. The Theory of Evolution is THE GREAT ASSUMPTION leading people ever deeper into uncertainty and darkness.
All the while the nuclear age has come and is globally closing in. Life is shrinking and time seems to be running out as never before in history. But the really big questions remain, “Why and what and where? Where is it all going?” That is true of every man who does not follow Jesus – The Light of the World.
But when you embrace Jesus fully, gloriously, unreservedly, and eternally, all of the meaninglessness, purposelessness, and darkness flee. Suddenly, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. What is that? Who is that? We read in Luke 1:78 that Jesus is called:
“Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the SUNRISE
from on high shall visit us.”
That’s Christmas! Christmas is the SUNRISE-DAWNING of the new and eternal day in the hearts and lives of believers. It is in Jesus Christ‘s Christmas Sunrise that we find that all of life’s purpose is to serve God and do all things unto His glory, even as the angels sang. “Glory to God in the Highest.” It is in the Christmas Sunrise that we discover that we are not the last house on a dead-end street. It is in the Christmas Sunrise that we find the meaning to pick up our tools and do our job and do it well as unto the Lord.
Jesus is the SUNRISE Who ends our long, dark WINTER SOLSTICE of nothing to hope for, which hopelessness will never again return. Jesus is the SUNRISE Who bursts forth more and more gloriously to the dawning of that eternal day in Heaven where THE SON NEVER SETS. Amen!