‘TIS THE SEASON
The Calendar continues its steady march towards the New Year. But first, we pause to celebrate the birth of our LORD and Savior, Jesus, the Messiah…born in a manger – unpretentious…. born of a virgin – a miracle and fulfillment of prophecy given hundreds of years earlier… born to die – salvation through the shed blood of the innocent Lamb of God.
We have just endured the major shopping holiday of the year: Black Friday… so named because it heralds balance sheets of business being ‘in the black’ – profits. News reports showed people around the country acting like animals: fighting, screaming, attacking others…to get to those incredible deals that are customer draws. Not sure how much money is actually saved on those deals because I don’t go near the stores from the week before Thanksgiving till mid-December, and then only because I have to restock the pantry or prepare for Christmas company….I basically ‘hibernate’ until either the week between Christmas and New Year’s, or the week after New Year’s. Much saner, much calmer… way less stress! And I’m ‘for’ way less stress!
So prior to the frenzy that (especially) last-minute shopping brings, we should certainly pause and think about what this Christmas means to us. We celebrate…but are we too caught up in the secular celebration… or are we showing our love, as God did, as we carefully choose each gift for each recipient on our list. God so loved the world that He GAVE…. He gave His only begotten Son. What are we giving? Are we giving to get? Are we giving because ‘we have to’? Or are we giving because we want to bless someone near and dear to us? Hopefully, it’s the latter. Too many give beyond their means… too many give for the wrong reasons. And while I know many of us would love to be able to spend multi-dollars on very special gifts, the gift that means the most – to both the Giver and the Recipient – is the gift from the heart?
God gave from His Heart – He gave because of HIS LOVE. It was not beyond His means…He had a willing Sacrifice – the Bible tells us: Jesus was crucified before the foundation of the world! (Rev. 13:8).
Let’s pause now and be renewed in the magnitude of the awesome Grace of God! His Grace leaves us without words – renders us speechless – the GRACE that leaves us without an answer – without an argument.
God’s magnificent GRACE in the sending of His Son. In John 1:17, we are told that ‘…grace and truth came through Jesus Christ….’ Until Jesus, people lived ‘under the law’… not the free Gift that came through Jesus.
GRACE: from the Greek charis. (from the same root word as chara, meaning ‘joy’; and chairo, meaning ‘rejoice.’ It is the word for God’s Grace as extended to sinful man. It signifies unmerited favor,, undeserved blessing. a free gift! And our response should be untold JOY that we can partake of His GRACE. God even has a Throne so-named: Hebrews 4:16: “Let us come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This is one of the most wonderful, most amazing verses in the Bible – that WE have direct access to God’s Throne Room! … that WE can be the recipients of His amazing Grace and Mercy. We obtain His Mercy because He is such a loving God; and we find Grace there. We don’t have to beat ourselves over the head because of some transgression and guilt. When we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (I John 1:9). (emphasis added)
We didn’t ‘deserve’ Jesus, but God’s GRACE sent Him to die for our sin, that we might be forever reconciled to God.
The Gift of the Lord Jesus, that Baby in the manger we see now on the Christmas cards, the nativity scenes springing up in church yards, on town Greens, in town parks, in front yards all over this country, is indicative of the very REASON for this SEASON.
Political correctness will try to eliminate every semblance of Christmas from our lives, but without the birth of Jesus, there would be no Christmas. The very word: Christmas is from 2 words: Christ and mass: Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. Mass means Holy Day, or Feast. celebration …CHRISTMAS, then is the celebration of the birth of Messiah Jesus, the Christ of God. While no one knows the exact date of His birth, we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ on the same day each year: December 25th.
So without the birth of Jesus, there would be no Christmas… it simply would NOT exist – just another day on the calendar… no gifts, no big dinners with all the family and friends gathered, no special Church services, no beautifully decorated tree, no squeals of delight as presents are opened, no non-stop shopping in the days leading up to December 25th, no mulling over lists, requests, hopes and dreams of a better year to come, etc., etc., etc.
I for one am determined to wish everyone with whom I come in contact in these weeks and days leading up to Christmas a Blessed, Merry Christmas, regardless of political correctness. They can receive it (and everyone I have said that to in the past has always smiled, said ‘Thank you,’ and usually responds with either ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘same to you.’ People WANT hope in this dark world – so I challenge YOU to be the GIVER OF HOPE! Wish everyone a Merry Christmas… and perhaps you will be blessed with a query from someone to ask about your faith…and then rejoice that you have crossed the path of someone seeking Truth in this dark world!
Without the Birth of Jesus Christ, we would all still be dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3), but verse 4 of that same Chapter begins with two of the most thrilling of words to the person trapped in sin: BUT GOD…. BUT GOD! Rejoice with me… BUT GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE WITH WHICH HE LOVED US, (5) EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHIRST (BY GRACE YOU ARE SAVED)…. Hallelujah! Praise Him for His great Love and for His amazing Grace!
We rejoice as we close in on December 25 because of God’s incredible Gift of LOVE to a lost and dying world – that WHOSOEVER believes in [Jesus, the Christ] shall have everlasting life! (John 3:16)
Let us remember and proclaim the Joy of the Season – JESUS IS THE VERY REASON FOR THE SEASON.
MERRY, BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO ALL!