Tag Archives: Christmas

December 24 – Treasure The Gift

2 Timothy

Twice in chapter one, Paul says something to Timothy that got my attention this Christmas Eve morning. First, in verse 6 he tells the young preacher to “Kindle afresh the gift of God.”  Then in verse 14 Timothy is told to “Guard… The treasure which has been intrusted to you.”

Are your presents wrapped and under the tree waiting for the family gathering when those things, bought with those special people in mind, will be revealed? I finished wrapping my gifts yesterday and I’m looking forward to going to church tonight, then going to my sister’s house where we will open those treasures and enjoy watching the grandkids’ excitement.

What if you’d spent everything you have on a gift for the one you love? Wouldn’t you hope they’d at least appreciate it? You’d probably want them to love it, cherish it, protect it, show it off. You’d want them to use it correctly and carefully. You wouldn’t buy it expecting them to discard or abuse it, or set it aside and neglect it. Would you? I mean it cost you everything.

This weekend we are celebrating the most precious gift you’ve ever been given. And yes, it cost Jesus everything to buy it for you. He bought it wanting you to receive it with joy, to treasure the gift of forgiveness that cost Him His own blood.

Paul tells Timothy in chapter two to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”, to be a good soldier, a fit athlete, a hard working farmer. In speaking to Timothy he tells us not to be ashamed, to be diligent, avoid worldly and empty chatter. I hope you read this letter to Timothy. It contains the owners manual for the gift God gave you through His Son.

We’ll celebrate the birth of the Savior this weekend. But we are celebrating not just a birth. We’re celebrating a life, and a death. We are celebrating the free gift of salvation this Baby was born to purchase for us. My prayer is that we will guard this gift, treasure this gift, use it and share it just like God intends for us to do.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

December 21 – He Had To

Hebrews 1-6

I read another Christmas passage, and never realized it was a Christmas passage before. The author of Hebrews in chapters 1-3, tells us why we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the argument, “If God were a loving God He wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” And that is a true statement. The reality is, God doesn’t “send” anyone to hell. In fact, there is no reason for anyone to go to hell.

First of all, we have to understand God is holy. He cannot NOT be holy. So when He created us with the ability to choose Him, He knew there was another side to that coin. We could also choose to reject Him. So before He created anything, He came up with a plan to save us. He created us to fellowship with Him. So He had to provide a way for us to fellowship with Him after we sin, because holiness and sin cannot exist together.

Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people ( Heb 2:17)

We are human. Humans sin. So a human had to pay the penalty for sin. (You don’t send a dog to jail to pay for a crime a person commits.)

Every transgression and disobedience receives a just penalty (the wages of sin is death) How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus) See Hebrews 2:2&3 and Romans 6:23.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus because there was no other way for God to fellowship with us sinners. Jesus HAD to be born so that He could die and be that substitute for each of us.

I pray none of us will neglect so great a salvation!

Happy Birthday, Jesus. I’m glad you were born.

 

December 17 – Emptied

Philippians

Christmas is eight days away. If you are like me, you’ve enjoyed the lights, the concerts and programs telling us of the Baby in a manger. We sing about Angels, shepherds, and wise men, and the young mother who gave birth in a stable. Throw in Santa and a long list, and a little snow, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippian church, tells us what Christmas is really all about. (2:5-8) Jesus, existing as God, equal to God, emptied Himself and became a human being. The Creator God became a servant, obedient to the end – the cross. That adorable baby surrounded by dirty animals and lowly shepherds, chose this birth. And He chose His death, for love of you.

Because you sin, Jesus “emptied Himself” to become a man so He could pay the penalty for your sins. Jesus gave it all.

We won’t know the whole reality of the word “emptied” until we see Him. But here is the reason He left heaven:

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:9-11)

I pray you’ll name that Name while standing in His Presence, clothed in His righteousness through His own precious blood. For the glory of God.

 

It’s Not Just About Love

Christmas. A season of smiles, well wishes, family, and presents. A time when the world stops for just a moment to consider a baby born a couple thousand years ago.

It’s the season of love. We are reminded that Love came down from heaven. We love the serene picture of Mary and Joseph surrounded by the farm animals and shepherds. We sing about the angels and the star. It truly is a picture of love.

But let’s not forget that Christmas isn’t just about love. It’s about sin.

Jesus left His home in heaven and became a human for one reason only. He came because of sin. He came to pay what we cannot pay, and that is the penalty for our sins. He came to die.

You, my friend, are a sinner. I am a sinner. We need a Savior because a Holy God demands that we be holy as He is holy. And we just aren’t holy by any stretch of the imagination.

So as you celebrate the birth of the Savior, I pray that you will recognize the fact that He was born for you. He did that for you. He lived, and died because He loves you so much. I don’t care if you’ve walked with him for decades, or minutes. I hope you’ll take some time today to consider how personal this birthday is to you.

And if you don’t know the saving grace of Jesus, let this be the season you accept it. This baby was born for love of YOU.

Merry Christmas, dear readers. May God bless you, keep you, turn His face toward you, and give you peace. And may you know the joy that comes from sins forgiven by the One whose birthday we celebrate today.

 

Oh, Those Eyes

I wonder if Mary, as she held her newborn son, realized just who it was she had in her arms. Sure, she knew his conception was miraculous. Yes, she was visited by angels, and shepherds, and later, wise men from the east. But there she was sitting in a barn, listening to the low of cattle, smelling the smells of livestock, feeling the pain from what might have been a painful birth.

And looking into the eyes of her Savior.

That’s who I want to see this Christmas. I want to see God Himself. Not just a baby in a manger, but One who would grow up to pay for my sins. For yours.

This is no ordinary birth. This is the most important birth that ever was or ever will be. This is the birth that changed the word. Changed me. And I pray that He has changed you, too.

May you adore the baby, recognize the Savior, and accept the fact that what he did 2000+ years ago, he did for you. Jesus was born for you. Jesus lived for you. Jesus died for you. And Jesus is waiting with arms stretched wide, just for you.

Merry Christmas, dear one. And may you celebrate the birth of the Savior as one who is a member of his family.

The One who was, who is, and is to come! Happy birthday, Jesus.

Christmas 365 Days A Year

Ha! We had our family Christmas last night. My sisters and their families, including five children under the age of 5, and two dogs, made for a rocking’ evening. A niece flew across the country to be with us. Colorful presents everywhere and a bunch of little kids eager to dig in. I think the entire house was shaking with excitement.

Then came the opening of gifts. Boxes, paper, singing dolls, foam swords, Legos, and race cars were everywhere. Confusion? Just a little.

But it was so fun. The gifts that were given and received were done so in love. There was something personal and special about each one. And there were lots of hugs. It really was a great evening.

But I’d be ok not to do that again until next year!

This morning, I was reading the three short letters John wrote. They are found toward the end of the Bible, and I thought it was fitting that John’s theme seems to be, love. Love is what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?

John points to Jesus as our example of love and reminds us that we are to love like Jesus loves. God is love, John says. And those who know him, who have him living in us, must love each other.

So what does that look like? Is it a warm, gushy feeling? Is it the reaction to a kindness shown us? (I just love the earrings you gave me)

Jesus, by example demonstrated love for us in that while we were still sinners, he died for us. He didn’t sit back and feel love. He showed it. Love is something you do.

Love is not even close to what modern society tells us: that we can’t help who we love, or that we “fall” in love like it’s out of our control. Those ideas are lies from Satan to cheapen true love, the love of God in us that propels us into action. Love is a choice to set aside ourselves and concern ourselves with the welfare of others, both in this life and for the life to come.

Jesus gave up a throne to become a baby in human flesh. Jesus gave up comfort to go into the world and tell everyone he saw about the way to the Father. Jesus gave up his life to buy my forgiveness, and yours.

That’s love. Jesus said people will know we are his if we love one another.

My prayer is that we all will choose to demonstrate Christ’s love as we look forward to another year. May we go out of our way to befriend an unsaved neighbor, to reach out to a hurting coworker, to pick up the phone and reconnect with that person we’ve neglected far too long. May we actively demonstrate the same kind of love Jesus showed when he was born in that manger 2000 years ago.

In other words, may we live Christmas 365 days a year.

Get Out There And Get To Work

God is in no hurry to come again. Peter tells us in his second letter that God’s patience gives people time to be saved. (verse 15) Time, as we know it, doesn’t exist for God. A day is like a thousand years to him and he’s willing to wait a few more days if it means another soul will accept his grace.

We Christians are commanded to go into the world and preach the Gospel in order for people to hear about and accept this grace. I hope you aren’t content, believing people should come to church to be saved. It’s just not the way God intended it. If you’re concerned about “branding” your church to attract non-believers, you’re concerned about the wrong thing. The Bible clearly teaches our concern should be our neighbor, our co-worker, our family. We Christians need to hit the streets and get to know unsaved people in order to love them to the Savior.

Recently, a church in our area took a benevolent offering on a Sunday morning. The preacher and a deacon took the money that was collected, went out into their community, and started talking to people. They learned the story of a hard working, needy neighbor and handed over the $200 in Jesus’ name. The next Sunday, the pastor shared the story with the congregation, and they took up another collection. This time they collected $430. There is a waitress in town who, after sharing her story with the pastor and deacon, got the biggest tip of her life. And that waitress knows she received  that financial help because Jesus loves her.

A Sunday School teacher in the church gave each of her students $1 and challenged them to pass it on to someone in need. Some of the kids gave their dollar away, some added their own allowances and money from their piggy banks and gave a little more. One youngster was at Walmart. He bought a wool scarf and gave it to the old man ringing bells for the Salvation Army… in Jesus’ name.

So I’m asking all of us, how are we handling the Great Commission to go into our world and share Jesus? God wants us to walk with people, share their lives, demonstrate kindness, love, patience, support in Jesus’ name.

After all, isn’t that what God Himself did 2000 years ago? Wasn’t he born in a manger? Didn’t he put on human flesh and walk with us, sharing life with us, demonstrating kindness, love and patience? Didn’t he die so we might live?

This Christmas, as we celebrate the baby in the manger, my prayer is that we will recognize the significance of this act, God in human form. Why did he do that? There are so many wonderful reasons! But just maybe one of the reasons is that he wants us to follow his example, to get out there, and get to work.

May he find us faithful.

I’m praying that all who read this will have a blessed Christmas with family and friends. May we worship the Savior with fellow believers, and may we all be intentional about sharing the wonderful news of Jesus with the people around us.

Why Christmas?

Christmas is next week. I doubt that bit of information comes as much of a surprise to anyone. The whole world celebrates Jesus’ birth whether they want to admit it or not, whether or not they believe that baby in the manger was God in the flesh. Carols fill the airwaves weeks in advance. Colorful lights sparkle from rooftops and streetlights. Everybody and their brother has a Christmas special on TV. Presents are bought and wrapped, plans for family gatherings, office parties, even ugly Christmas sweater parties are in full swing leading up to the day. Even business are closed on December 25.

Many people will attend a church service, even if they haven’t been to church since last Christmas.

On December 25 we celebrate the most important birth – ever. The writer of Hebrews tells us why this event is so important. He spells out who Jesus is and why he was born that day in Bethlehem. God planned, before he created the universe, to join his creation in flesh and blood, to walk where we walk, experience life like we experience life, and to go to the cross so that he could bridge the gap between us and him.

We have forgiveness because this baby grew to be a man who went to the cross to pay the penalty we deserve for every sin we commit. We can have fellowship with him, we can enter his rest, we are co-heirs of the promise, and we have the assurance of heaven because that baby whose birth we celebrate, God with us, lived and died to give us the ultimate present. Himself!

Many of you have spent a lot of time and thought, picking out the perfect gift for that special person in you life. You bought it, brought it home, probably looked at it a thousand times and imagined your loved one opening it. You wrap it carefully in the best paper you can find and put that finishing touch on the package, a bow and a card that says, To…, From… As the day approaches, your level of excitement grows with the knowledge that your loved one is going to love this gift!

So the day comes. You hide the gift behind your back and approach your loved one. With a smile on your face, you bring the package around and offer it to that one who means so much to you. You can’t wait to see their reaction.

What happens next is life changing. Imagine if your loved one refuses the gift. Imagine he or she holding the wrapped package, then putting it aside and walking away. That gift is their’s for the taking. What if they don’t take it? It’s bought and paid for. Their name is right there on the package. They just need to accept it.

But imagine your loved one accepting that gift, opening the package and holding it close to their heart. Imagine them wearing the gift, using it as it is intended. Imagine them protecting it, showing it off to their friends, cherishing it for a life time. Isn’t that what you, as the giver of the gift, planned for all along?

That’s, “Why Christmas.” You have the most important gift you’ll ever receive right in front of you. It’s forgiveness. It’s cleansing and freedom and fellowship with Jesus, the baby whose birth we are celebrating. God’s grace is the best, most wonderful possession you will ever have. And it’s yours for the taking.

I pray you will cherish that gift like no other. God has forgiven you. The price for your soul has been paid. Will you accept it?

Precious Jesus, I pray that everyone reading this blog knows you as their Savior. That’s why you were born that day 2,000 years ago. But for those who have yet to accept your gift, I pray they will talk to you today, that they will ask you to forgive them, that they will turn from sin and toward you who has bought the most wonderful gift they could ever receive. May this Christmas have real meaning for each of us as we consider why you were born. Thank you for the baby in the manger, for the man who lived and died so that each of us can know you. Thank you for Christmas.

December 25

Hebrews 13; I John 1-3

Jesus is born! God became flesh and blood. He didn’t come as an adult, or even to a family with prestige. God humbled himself and started life as an infant, just like we did. He was helpless, totally dependent on others. His mom fed him when he was hungry and changed his diaper when it was wet and messy. Mary and Joseph heard Jesus’ first words. Did he say, “Mama”, or “Dada”? They watched Jesus take his first steps on chubby, wobbly little legs and held his hand when they crossed the street. They kissed his boo-boos and read him bed time stories. God himself became one of us!

John reminds us that this same Jesus, who we know as Christ, who died so we might have life, who rose again and ascended into heaven, is coming again. John wants us to be able to face him on that day confident and unashamed.

Today we celebrate the birth of the Savior. Do you know him? How has Jesus’ birth effected you in 2013? Have you accepted his grace? Have you invited him into your life? And do you represent him well by your actions, your words, your love for one another?

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are! (I John 3:1)

Provided by the One whose birth we celebrate today.

Dearest Jesus, I am glad we set apart this day to remember your birth into our world. At least for one day a year, the entire world stops and honors you, even if many don’t get it. May we who do get it, who are your children because of your love and your sacrifice, not get caught up in the presents and the parties. May we recognize what it cost you to be born that day. May we not forget that the baby we celebrate grew up and 33 years later suffered and died because of our sin. And may we live our lives in such a way that when you return… and you will return… we will be able to meet you with confidence. I  pray that in this season of remembering, many will come to you and accept you into their lives, repent of sin, and follow you. That’s why you came in the first place. Happy Birthday, Jesus.

December 24

Hebrews 10:19-12:29

The “Hall of Faith” is included in the passages we read today. We saw the accounts of the people listed here for ourselves as we read through the Bible in 2013. People like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses whose stories many of us were taught since we were children. Others we read about who might not have been as familiar like Rahab, Barak, Jephthah and others who also lived lives of faith. I hope you can identify people in your own life who display faith in God as they go about the day-to-day. And I pray they would add your name to their own list.

Think about Joseph’s faith – or Mary’s. What we are celebrating today and tomorrow was something that could have resulted in great shame for Joseph and death for Mary had they not had faith that what God told them was true. Think about the early church and the faith they demonstrated by being baptized publicly to identify themselves with Jesus. 

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. The reality of the blessings that result from having faith in God should not be denied.

What does having faith look like in each of us on the Christmas Eve, 2013? Hebrews 12 says we should throw off sin and run. We should fix our eyes on Jesus, grow up, and not lose heart. The faith we stand on is sure and solid and true, if we put our faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I pray that everyone reading this blog will have faith in God, believe His Word, and accept His Son. And I pray that our faith will serve as a part of the cloud of witnesses people are seeing and be drawn to the Savior, too.

May you know the joy, the confidence, the blessings, and the love that come from having faith in the One we celebrate this Christmas.