To all my family and friends, a very blessed Christmas!
I wanted to share a few thoughts with you that many of you heard from me back in 2016 in my Dec. Making It Meaningful Newsletter. They still ring true today.
Well, most of you know that I love Thanksgiving, and that is true. However, I REALLY LOVE CHRISTMAS and I hope you do too! Don't let the holiday turn into a difficult time, rather, turn it into a real celebration! What a wonderful, joyful time it is and what an incredible opportunity to 'let our lights shine' so others can see the Glory of God lived out as we tell them the story!
The coming of Christmas
I often hear people complain about the coming of Christmas. There is so much to do, events to plan, places to go, and gifts to purchase. I understand the pressure we can experience.
However, I also think it is very easy to get so caught up in these things that we actually blot out the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about the sacrifice that Jesus made by coming to earth as a baby - and living and teaching the gospel so that we would not perish but actually live! He came to give life and provided a way, for all who would believe His message, to receive His gift. His ultimate sacrifice was dying on a cross to pay for sin. How will others know the true joy of Christmas if we don't tell them?
Perhaps it is time to change things up a bit. Why not put a few more things on your Christmas Tree that tell the story of Jesus' Birth, read a portion of Scripture each evening that relates to His coming, why he came, and the sacrifice He made?
Another thing you might think of doing is to hand out gifts that are tagged with the meaning of Christmas or a candle with a tag reading "Jesus is the Light of the World" on it.
One example of what I have done in the past is to make Christ-centered cookies. First I buy some cookie cutters in the shape of a tree, angel, star, heart, cross, dove, church, and a candle. Then I make some cookie dough and cut out and bake the cookies. Next, frost them and insert in a clear plastic bag and add a tag that you make up on your computer and printer (recipe and tag text are found in my book Meaningful Moments Season by Season, which can be ordered from my website, www.godsinstruction.com as a download).
Another opportunity is to have your own Happy Birthday Jesus! Party for family, friends, and neighbors. All ages can enjoy this great event and will hear the story of the Gospel as you read it from The Legend of the Gospel Train Storybook. Everyone has a great time and the message is clearly communicated. These two tools are also found on my website.
Make it Easy
Don't make it hard on yourself. Pick and choose from the many different options created for you in the Happy Birthday, Jesus! Party Planning Packet.
Perhaps you would like to start out slowly - great! You can do this with a friend, involve your children, and make this your most memorable Christmas ever! And, since you have picked out just a few items to have at your party, next year you will be all set to do it again, using some of the other things in the book!
Another 'plus' is that this will now become a family tradition! Traditions are GREAT memory makers!
These are just a few thoughts to get you going, but the real key is to get the message out and see this as a great opportunity - not a burden.
Thanks so much for letting me be a small part of your Christmas Party this year. Let me wish you all, family and friends, a wonderful Christmas season as we remember what this celebration is really all about.
Some thoughts from John…
The somewhat common and reactionary statement Jesus is the Reason for the Season communicates so much less about Jesus than is true. I guess it is a good starting point for talking about Christmas though. What do you think?
As I asked myself that question, I found my first answer to be, "Sure…but isn't He the reason for everything?" And then I remembered what is written in John 1:3, "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Or, as the apostle Paul puts it in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth…"
So, if the Bible is right about this Jesus (who said, Thy Word is truth, John 17:17), who is the reason for the season, being the great Creator God, then it is fair to say that Jesus is the reason for all the seasons! And in concert with this, it is good to be reminded that God is recorded in Genesis 8:22 as saying...
Newsflash…according to this, the world will not end in 12 years. No, as we continue to ponder Colossians 1:16, we read, "…all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (italics added for emphasis)."
Then again, some may argue that when it reads in Gen. 9:22, "While the earth remains…" it implies that it will end someday and that could be in 12 years or some such date. And that is actually good thinking. In fact, the Bible does refer to "the end of the world"…as we know it. In 2 Peter 3:10 it reads,
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up."
In fact, the Bible is replete with references to "the Day of the Lord" and what will happen at that time yet future. It is spoken of in such passages as:
- Isaiah 2:10-21; 13.6-22
- Joel 1-2
- Amos 5
- Obadiah 15
- Zechariah 14
- Malachi 4
- 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:2
As I read through these passages again, it is clear that "the day" is not just one day as we know it. As you might have guessed, it has the meaning of a period of time. Most generally, it refers to a time of judgment(s) on the world. In the last judgment on this old sinful world, it will die, so to speak. But even then, it is not the end, period. It is said that it passes away, only to be replaced by new heaven and earth.
In the words of John the Revelator (Rev. 21:1-2)...
The Beginning - Seasons 1 and 2
So let's go back to the beginning for a moment and begin to see all the seasons that Jesus is the reason for:
Season number 1 can be called the season of innocence. You might come up with another label. It is from creation until man sinned against his Creator (see Genesis 1-2). You see the disobedience in chapter 3. There was only one law to abide, but mankind broke it.
Season number 2 is from Genesis 3-9. This was a season of darkness (spiritually speaking), leading to judgment. This was a season when mankind was under a death sentence because of sin and the world got worse and worse. There was literally one season meteorologically speaking, as well a uniform departure from God. The Bible paints the picture of a uniform climate, including no rain. This lasted until a day of judgment came on a completely sinful world (with the exception of one man and his family, a man named Noah). The judgment was the worldwide flood during which all mankind died, except of course Noah, because he was carried safely through in a boat he had built called the ark (found in Genesis 6-9). Today you can see a full-scale replica of the ark at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.
At the end of the great flood, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Some of you may remember that I was part of a 5 man team that climbed Mt. Ararat in search of the remains of Noah's ark back in 1972.
The Third Season
The third season started when the flood subsided and God declared that He would never do a judgment like that again. He put a rainbow in the sky to remind Himself, the text says, never to bring a water judgment again. Genesis 9:12-15 reads:
God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh."
This third season can be called the season of waiting…waiting for the Savior who would deliver us from the penalty and the power of sin.
It began with the 3 sons of Noah repopulating the earth. One son, named Shem is chosen by God to be the line through which the Messiah would finally come. God, in His Word, had begun to make promises that He would send a Redeemer/Savior, as early as Gen. 3:15. And all throughout the Old Testament God speaks through prophets reminding God's chosen people that soon their Savior would appear. Peter, the head of the early church as recorded in Acts 3, starting at verse 22, in his second sermon recorded, speaks of this by quoting Moses:
"Moses said, 'the Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days."
That prophet of which Moses spoke and who Peter quotes was Jesus.
The Fourth Season
This fourth season can be called the season of salvation. It begins with the birth of Jesus. Then, as a grown man, we see Him die on the cross for our sins. His death is a payment to God, made for all sinners who would put their faith in Him. The Bible puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
And in Acts 4:12 we hear the exclusivity of God's way to save us from our sins:
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Some may ask, "Why should I believe in a crucified Savior, one who was dead and buried. The answer is simple: He is not dead! The Bible clearly teaches that within 3 days of His death, Jesus was made alive by the power of God…to prove that His sacrifice was sufficient to save. Indeed, without the resurrection, Christ's death would have delivered no one from God's judgment on sinners.
There are more seasons to come in God's plan for the ages. But for now, for this Christmas season, it is enough to proclaim that this is the day of salvation. But a season of judgment (the day of the Lord) is coming. God is still calling us to repent (i.e., turn from our sins) and to believe in Jesus, the crucified One, who came back to life and lives today. If you have turned from your sins and have put your faith in Jesus, then the Bible says you receive eternal life. As John 3:16 puts it:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
The greatest gift that was ever given was Jesus. The greatest gift that can ever be received is Jesus. If you are still on the fence regarding Jesus, don't let this season pass you by. Be saved today.
If you are already abiding by faith in the crucified and risen Savior, then celebrate His birth like never before. Give Him the praise and glory from your life as it is lived out for Him.