Float text


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The True Gift of Christmas

 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. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)    
    Soon it will be Christmas morning and there will be something special that is stirring in the air. Families will gather, and children will be eagerly awaiting the opening of presents. Many people look forward to this one day more than any other, and each one for their own reasons. For some, it represents the happiness of their youth; back to a time when there were no cares or worries. For others, it is a chance to carry on and to give to their children and continue that tradition of generations passed. And, still for others, it can be a time of stress, anxiety, and worry, because there doesnt seem to be enough to share with others.
    I find as I get older, the hope of receiving Christmas gifts has long since been replaced with a heart to share a gift with others, and the true spirit of this special day continues to grow within me.
    In a way, I think that God feels this way too. You see, long before the world was even formed, He had everything planned perfectly. This included the preparing of a perfect gift that He was to give to us. And that gift was His son, Jesus. And although many people have refused to accept this gift, they will one day bow down and worship and acknowledge this mighty gift that was prepared before the foundation of the world. (See Rev 13:8)
    Weve picked this day in December to acknowledge the birth of a Savior, who was born in a stable, clothed with rags, and was laid in a feeding trough for animals. It doesnt sound like the proper setting for a king, much less the God of the universe. But such was the origin of the sacrificial life that Jesus was to live in Human form. And such was the love of the Father to offer the most sacrificial thing He possibly could have given; the life of His Son on that cross of Calvary for the sin of the world. 
    What strikes me deep within my heart is that He gave the sacrificial gift to us. Why did He do this for us? Its not because we deserved it, because the fact is, that we didnt. We were His enemies, because we were yet sinners.
    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
    Christmas is a happy time, and it should be, but it isnt about the gifts that are under our trees, or even the lack of gifts. We shouldnt put so much value into these things because they are temporal, and they will all burn up one day anyways. All that will be left of that, which was given, is the love that we share with those who God has placed in our lives. And that means everyone! 
    And we cannot say that we love God, or that we love our neighbor, if we are not willing to offer them that same gift that was offered to us. And that is the Gift of Eternal Life. Its Gods gift to give, and it is ours to share with others. And it is for anyone who will receive it unto themselves. And like all the gifts under the tree, it will be of no value unless the person, to whom it was offered to, is willing to receive it.
     I pray a blessing of Gods Holy Spirit upon anyone who reads this writing, and is willing to allow God to use him or her. Lord, give each person who says, yes. to being used by You, a power and love that surpasses any fear, lack of ability, or doubt. Give them boldness to share Your gift with others about salvation and a relationship with You, Your Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name.
    Hey Christian, lets celebrate the gift of life with each other. The gift of eternal life, because this is the life that we are to be focusing on, not this temporal one here on earth. Lets share the gift of having a relationship with the God who made you. Now thats something that is worth celebrating&And the best part of all, especially in economic challenging times, is that it is 100% free.
    Here is how to receive the Gift. It is contained within the Word of God, and it is everything that you need to know to be saved. 
     For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
    Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (NIV)
    That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
    STUDY QUESTION: What must we do to be saved according to Romans 10:9-10, and Acts 4:12? How have we been saved according to Ephesians 2:8-9, and why is it not from our works? Why did God give His only Son to die for us according to John 3:16?
    PERSONAL INVENTORY: Have you accepted the free gift of Salvation? Are you willing to accept Gods written Word that Salvation is by Grace (Unmerited favor), and that it is simply by faith, according to Ephesians 2:9?
    APPLICATION: If you havent accepted this free gift as of yet, I would encourage you and invite you to receive it today. If you have, then share it with others.

Happy Birthday Jesus! What's it all about?

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." 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, goodwill toward men!" So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. Luke 2:8-17 (NKJV)

I titled today's devotional, "Happy Birthday Jesus," but below the title I proposed a question that could just as well have been the title of the message.

Q:    What's It All About?

I say that sincerely because Christmas means different things to different people.  

Today, more than 160 countries celebrate Christmas.  Some will choose to follow the Julian calendar and celebrate on the 25th of December, while others use the Gregorian calendar and choose the 6th of January.  Most countries identify it as Christmas, while a few countries refer to it as "Family day."

Millions upon millions will send out Christmas cards - a tradition that started in Britain back in 1840 - back when the first penny postal deliveries had just begun.  Back then, the cards would traditionally show religious pictures of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus wrapped in His swaddling cloth - today they mostly are filled with jokes, pictures of Santa Claus, or some blissful scene representing a time gone past.

Some will choose to celebrate the true meaning of the birth of Jesus because they know who He is, and this day is taken as a chance to celebrate His birth - to say thank you to God for allowing the Savior to come to us.  

The Prophet Micah gave prophecy of Jesus 500-years before His birth:

 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." Micah 5:2 (NKJV)

And the Prophet Isaiah gave prophecy of Him as well over 700-years prior to His birth:

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)

And while many will celebrate the Birth of Christ this Christmas, there are many others who will not even consider the true meaning of Christmas.  They will not attend Christmas services or give any thought to the significance of what this Holiday represents.  To many of these people, it merely represents a time to race to the shopping malls to spend money on presents.  If someone were visiting from a pagan culture, they would simply view us and conclude that this was our festival to the "gods" of money and shopping.  

Here in America, there seems to be a controversy brewing between those who want nothing to do with God, and those that do, and this controversy has to do with how we should address this day.  Those who want to rid the world of God would rather combine the greeting of Christmas with New Years Day and say, would say, "Happy Holidays." While those who believe in God take offense at this, and would stand firm on "Merry Christmas."  The enemy must be having a field day at all the chaos that he is causing.

I personally like, "Merry Christmas," because it is a "Merry" or "Happy" day to me.  But might I throw in another suggestion?  As you prepare to entertain family, and friends - before the rustling of presents starts, or the breaking of bread - take time to stop and reflect of the best present you have ever been given - and share with those who are in company with you these words, "Happy Birthday Jesus."

Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to us as a gift and a sacrifice.  Thank You for allowing Him to be a way for us to be reconciled unto You.  Thank You for allowing Him to be our Savior.  He is my Lord, and I love Him.  In Jesus precious name, amen...

I want to say, "Merry Christmas" to you and your family today, and I would like you to join me in saying, "Happy Birthday Jesus."