Monthly Archives: December 2015

CHRISTMAS IS OVER. NOW WHAT?

Christmas is over, and we are back to everyday life.   When my Christmas is over and the hectic business of celebrating is behind me, I like to take time and examine my gifts.  If it is a toy, I will play with it, if it is something else I will examine its uses etc.  In relation to this website and how we have been discussing Christmas, I would like to examine the gift that God gave us at Christmas.  In Isaiah 9 we read:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,

We received a Son.  As we have discussed in earlier posts, a Son who would take upon himself the punishment that we should receive because of our sins.  That is quite a gift, but to whom did God give this gift.  In Matthew 9 we read:

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

God gave his Son to those who needed to be saved.  He gave Him to humble people who were aware of their many shortcomings.  Who were not proud, and thought that they could find “good” within themselves.  Those people did not receive a Son for they considered themselves “righteous”.  It is the people who “hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” as Jesus taught in the beatitudes in Matthew 5.

That is who will receive this gift of a Son.  No special requirements, memberships or talents, except the knowledge of our own worthlessness without God’s saving grace.  A hunger and thirst for righteousness.  That is the person who has received this gift.  And there is no reason why that could not by you.   Pray that God will show you that you too have received this gift.

Now that we have this gift, let us unwrap it.  What do we do with it?  What is it good for?  So many questions.  The first thing we therefore should be doing is to take the time to understand this gift.  To read the directions if you will.  Knowledge is necessary to get the full benefit of this gift.  The study of the bible is very important for us to understand this gift.  In Paul’s letter to the Philippians we read “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”.  To fully understand Christ, and who he is and what he has done for us, we need to have knowledge.  That knowledge comes from opening up God’s Word.  That knowledge comes from spending time in the scriptures and delving there for the gems of knowledge that will bring us the understanding of our relationship with God.  No, being a Christian is not just celebrating Christmas, it is much more and the treasures that come to us as we learn more and more of God’s mighty deeds in our lives and in our history are beyond measure.  But that is for another post.

 

You are invited to join us in a discussion of this post online or join us every Wednesday evening from 7:30 till 8:30 in the meeting room of the Semiahmoo library on 152 Street in South Surrey.

 

CHRISTMAS IS ON DECEMBER 25. SO WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?

The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest night and the shortest day. The dark triumphs but only briefly. For the Solstice is also a turning point. Beginning here the nights grow shorter and the days grow longer.  Slowly the bleakness of the dark is replaced by the increasing light of the sun. Many of the customs associated with the Winter Solstice such as St Lucy’s Day, Saturnalia,  New Years and Twelfth Night, derive from stories of a mighty battle between the dark and the light, which is won, naturally, by the light. The lighting of bon fires and the feasting of the crowds were believed to take away the darkness and gloom of midwinter.

So is this a good time to celebrate the birth of our Saviour?  The truth of course is that any day might have done, but by choosing the middle of winter, the church also described the nature and the purpose  of the birth of Christ.

The people of the world, (and many still today) celebrated the end of the dark times and the beginning of a change in the light of the day.  This does indeed describe the events of the birth of Christ.  Christ of course had been a reality for the people of Israel since the beginning of time.  He had been foretold over the centuries.  The place of his birth had been recorded by the prophets and many of the circumstances of his life here on earth were already known to those who could understand the meaning of the prophesies, especially by the prophet Isaiah.  The coming of Christ into this world as a man marked the beginning of the end of the great battle between God and Satan.  Christ came to defeat the work of the Devil and to save mankind from the evil desires of Satan by fulfilling the will of His Father.  So what better day is there to mark this event than the day upon which the darkness begins to be conquered by the rising of the sun for certainly the rising of the SON brought light to this world.  The pagan people knew a little about this.  They knew that there was a battle going on and that it had to do with darkness and light.  But they had forgotten the promises of the Almighty, that He would bring someone to defeat the devil and set all mankind free.  So they tried to do this on their own.  They believed that their celebrations and carousing would dispel the darkness.  And for a little time it did, but soon again the darkness came back, because man cannot overcome the judgement of God.

The darkness of the winter, the dying of the plants and the cold that is common to this time of the year in our part of the world, is not the way the world was initially created.  It is what the world became after mankind broke the ties with God, after we tried to do things our own way.  Christ has come to take away the groaning of creation and return mankind to paradise.  This is not done by our feasting, but by Christ’s faithful sacrifice on the cross.

Satan has been defeated.  God in his mercy allows Satan still some room to tempt and torment.  The fullness of sin must be completed, and the fullness of the number of the elect must be reached.  Each day that God waits, is a day in which mankind has the opportunity to repent from his sins and turn to Christ for the deliverance that each man needs.  We see all the evil, hate and warfare around us and might wonder why it is not over.  Every Christian prays daily for the returning of Christ to put an end to this dark and painful world, but each day that we wait is a day in which we can repent from our sins and turn to Christ for the deliverance from sin and Satan.  In the meantime the darkness continues around us, but we can already see the light in our lives.  We can already taste the treasures and pleasures of Paradise.  Not fully yet, but just a little taste that gives us hope and confidence in God’s promises and the life eternal.

Does it disturb you that Christ had to do this for us?  Couldn’t we have done this ourselves?  We saw how the pagans tried to do this for themselves and were hopelessly caught up with the annual returning of the darkness in their world.  There was no peace for them.  If we had to rely on our own “goodness”, we would be equally frustrated by the returning of the darkness in our lives.  But it is not up to us.  God does all the work.  Christ, God’s Son has already done it all and all we have to do is to believe.  Believe? Believe that Christ had paid your debts.  And that leads us then with determination to a life of thankfulness where we try to keep God’s commandments.  Not so that we can be saved, but because we were already saved by Christ.

I think this is a big deal, do you?

WHAT IS CHRISTMAS ALL ABOUT?

Christmas seems to be many things to many different people.  Of course we know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, such as Jewish cultures and Islam, Hindi and Bhuddists.  These do not celebrate Christmas, because they are not Christian.  Yet you see them in the shops buying Christmas presents and decorating their houses and setting up trees as readily as Christians do.  How can that be possible?

Christmas has been interpreted by many to be many different things in the TV shows and movies, and in popular literature. This Christmas can be celebrated by anybody because it does not involve Christ.  So we celebrate  Xmas.

Family time.

Christmas has been portrayed as a time for family.  This seems a totally innocent interpretation, but this can  lead to  sadness, depression and loneliness.  It It is also a time of great stress as we try to get through huge lists of baking, cooking, decorating, shopping mailing cards, and so on. This Christmas does not solve anything, but becomes an outlet to allow us to show how “good” we can be.  When we have a nice family dinner, purchased the right gifts and even put money in the red Salvation Army kettles or contribute to the many charities that show up this time of year, we have done what is required for the celebration of Christmas.  Unfortunately it leaves many people without a family or too poor for even the bare Christmas niceties behind.  Hence, the increase of suicides for those feeling lonely and hopeless  and general depression, anxiety and stress for people.

The real Christmas is focused on what the Bible teaches about Christmas–that Christmas is the birth of Christ.  He, who gave His life for the whole human race, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. He invites you to join the family of Christians who do not look for earthly solutions but find all their needs met in the promises of God.  By looking to God for help and knowing Him and all that He has promised, a lot of the loneliness and uselessness of life goes away, and we see purpose in what we do.

 

Peace Time

This is a real frustrating theme.  After all, the song says, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to men.”  Reality does not bear that out.  There is war all over the world.  Hate that causes awful things to be done to people.  Millions of displaced refugees looking for a place away from the violence in their own country.  How does that kind of peace ever hope to exist in this world?

It does not work, of course.  The Peace that the Bible talks about is the peace between God and man.  The ability to once again go to God to ask for forgiveness, for help and strength.  That is what Christmas is really all about.  Christ coming in this world as a man so that he could set things right again between God and man.  That is the really good news of Christmas.  When we can share in Christ’s redeeming work, we can again find comfort and hope with our God, who we had insulted in paradise by trying to become like God by eating from the “Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.”

 

AN INVITATION TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

So, we can look at the worldly forms of Christmas that we see in the malls, and be reminded that there is another Christmas.  One with warmth and joy.  One where the many Christmas carols make sense.  This is the invitation to celebrate Christmas with Christ.

Christ came to this world to defeat the devil and his host of demons. He defeated their aim to enslave the whole world through their sins.  God’s justice demanded that those sins be punished by eternal death.  But Christ came to take on that punishment in our place and therefore we no longer have to be punished, if we seek our redemption in Jesus Christ.  What a wonderful thing to celebrate.  We might even put up lights on our houses and decorate pine trees to show the world what a wonderful thing it is that we are celebrating.  We gather with “brothers” and “sisters” at Christmas concerts and carolling, singing the praises of our God, so that the whole world can see how joyful we are.

Those who refuse to believe in the message of salvation will still be punished.  They continue in the futility of their existence, but those who look to Jesus Christ can now enjoy the love of God and rejoice, because they know what lies ahead.  What a reason to celebrate, what a reason to be joyful, what a reason to shout out to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  All words that we hear at this time of the year, but meaningless unless we know what made him King and how it benefits us.

So join in the celebration of the true Christmas by learning about Christ and his work and his plans–his plans for you and for me.

Questions for discussion.

  1. What do we have to do to celebrate the real Christmas?
  2. Does celebrating the real Christmas involve going to Church?
  3. How can I make a change today?

For the reality of our invitation contact the administrators of this website for an invitation to join us in worship and celebration of Christ’s birth.