The Ghost of Christmas Past

My husband’s favourite Christmas movie is Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”. It is the story of a greedy, miserly, miserable man called “Ebenezer Scrooge” who hates Christmas and all it stands for. Ebenezer learns the true meaning of Christmas when, one night, he is visited by three spirits – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Well, another “Ghost of Christmas” has come and gone leaving in it’s wake mountains of crinkled and torn wrapping paper, empty cardboard boxes, over-full tummies, and often,  hefty credit card bills. I hope that your Christmas was also, and more importantly, filled with the true meaning of Christmas – hope, peace, joy and love.

While my Christmas was not filled with an abundance of material gifts, it was filled with family, love, laughter and good memories. Oh –  if we could only hold onto all those good things throughout the year!

Well, I ask, “Why can’t we”? Why can’t the warm and fuzzy feelings of Christmas last all year round? Why should we work hard at “loving our fellow man” only once a year? Jesus was not born to bring peace, hope, love and joy to only a few people once a year! The “peace and goodwill” that the angel spoke of to the shepherds was not just for them or for just that one night.

Luk 2:10  And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The gift of Jesus was, and is, for all humankind. And while God has set a time limit for the offering of this gift, the offer is good for each and every day of every year until God’s plan is fulfilled.

God offers us the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love every day, not just once a year. God offers us “Christ”mas every day of the year! As Christians, we should be examples of “Christ”mas all year too! The poor, elderly, sick, widowed, and orphaned are still in need of our help, support and love throughout the year, not just at Christmas.

I exhort you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not be “The Ghost of Christmas Past” but let us work hard at being “spirits of Christmas Present” all the year through!

2Th 3:13  But you, brothers, do not be weary in well doing.

Mat 25:35  For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in;
Mat 25:36  I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
Mat 25:37  Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink?
Mat 25:38  When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You?
Mat 25:39  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You?
Mat 25:40  And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me.

Shalom

 

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My Apologies

I am a relative “newby” blogger and it seems that I have unwittingly created a blog faux pas with my last posting “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. I thought that I was posting a poem by “Author Unknown” but I think the poem I posted was written by Victoria B. Jenkins. I also was under the impression that if I published the link to the site the poem was located on, that I was doing the correct thing.

I have since removed my last posting.

My apologies to the author of the poem and the owner of the blog-site whose blog-site link I posted.

 

No, Virginia

Today is Christmas Eve!

In 1897, The New York Sun published an editorial in response to 8 year old Virginia’s question, “Is there a Santa?”. The editorial, “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa” has become famous and has led to the publication of children’s books and movies.

It is too bad that when Virginia first asked her father that question, he did not take the high road and tell her the truth. Instead of answering her, Virginia’s father passed the proverbial buck and told her to write a letter to The New York Sun having told her “that if you see it in the Sun, it is so”. (and we all know how truthful and accurate newspaper reports are! [ heavy sarcasm heavily intended])

Rather than be shown for the untruth that is it, that editorial has perpetuated the lie that continues to be upheld even in this cynical, atheistic, technologically advanced society.

When we tell our children that Santa (Easter Bunny, etc.) is real, we are LYING! God has some pretty strong words to say about lying and liars:

Pro 19:9  A false witness shall not be unpunished, and one speaking lies shall perish.

Joh 8:44  You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Lying comes from the devil!

While it may be understandable that non-Christians continue to spout the myth of Santa Claus, I find it disturbing that Christians willingly uphold and encourage their children to believe in Santa. After all, Christmas is supposed to be a Christian holiday – you know – ‘CHRIST’mas – Christ being the “reason for the season”!

God gave us the following commands:

Exo 20:3  You shall have no other gods before Me.
Exo 20:4  You shall not make to yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Exo 20:5  You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I Jehovah your God am a jealous God…

Yet we teach our children to revere, and dare I say it, even worship, the figure of Santa Claus!! Our culture has elevated a fictional character, Santa, to the status of a god!

But God tells us:

Isa 45:21  Declare and bring near; yea, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this of old? Who has told it from then? Is it not I, Jehovah? And there is no other God besides Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.
Isa 45:22  Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

We tell our children that he brings joy, love and peace to the world. If you read my earlier posts on Advent, you will see that it was God, through His son Jesus, who brought joy, love and peace to humankind.

Mic 7:7  Therefore I will look to Jehovah; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me!

How can we, as Christians  be examples of “looking unto God” to our children when we are purposely directing their attention to a fairy tale?!

I wrestled with this question when I was a parent of two young boys. But I read a lesson which taught that we, as parents, should teach our children that our blessings (aka Christmas gifts at this time) come from God.

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.

In our materialistic, consumer”istic” society, we forget who it is that blesses us with the ability to work and to earn money so that we can afford all those “prezzies”:

Act 7:41  And they made a calf in those days and offered sacrifice to the idol and rejoiced in the work of their own hands.

But when we obey God, He blesses our efforts:

Deu 14:28,29  At the end of three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your increase the same year, and shall lay it up inside your gates.  And the Levite, because he has no part nor inheritance with you, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are inside your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied, so that Jehovah your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

Parents teach children about Santa’s “naughty and nice” list and the consequences of being on the “naughty” list. This has caused some children confusion as they notice that poor children get little to nothing for Christmas. (This is what lead Virginia to write that letter so long ago). It leaves them wondering if being poor means being naughty. Conversely, I have known some very unpleasant children who receive mountains of “stuff” at Christmas. We say that Christmas is about “love”, so does that mean that financially poor parents don’t love their children as much as wealthier parents do?

Unlike Santa with his naughty and nice list, we have a merciful Heavenly Father who sends blessings upon both the naughty and the nice:

Mat 5:45   For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

When I chose to teach my children that Santa was not real but just a fairy tale, I was subjected to criticism and ridicule, especially from family members.But I “stuck to my guns” because I remembered:

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,

And more importantly:

Mar 8:38  Therefore whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man shall also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

People thought that I was ruining a special time for my children. Yet, the fact that I taught my children that their presents were a result of God blessing Mommy’s and Daddy’s ability to work and earn money to buy those presents, did not take away anything from their enjoyment of the season. They still looked forward, with eager anticipation, to stockings hung on their beds at night and presents round the tree in the morning. Teaching children that there is no Santa with a bottomless bag of toys can also teach children that we, as parents, need to be wise in handling the income God has blessed us with.

We need to teach our children that it is God, not Santa, that provides:

Php 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

And if you, or someone you know, is a parent facing financial difficulties and stress at this time of year, remember the following:

Mat 6:31  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?
Mat 6:32  For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
Mat 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

I exhort you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that at Christmas, give credit where credit is due and say “No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, but there is a wonderful Heavenly Father, God and He sent us His most precious gift, His son, Jesus”.

Mat 22:17  Therefore tell us; what do you think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?

Mat 22:21  They said to Him, Caesar’s. Then He said to them, Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s.

I thought that the following poem was very appropriate for this blog post on Christmas Eve:

Twas The Night Before Jesus Came

Anonymous

Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their bibles were lain on the shelf without care,
in hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
not once ever kneeling or bowing a head;
And mom in her rocker with baby on her lap,
was watching the late show while I took a nap;

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
threw open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The light of His face made me cover my head,
it was Jesus returning, just like He said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the book of life, which He held in His hand,
was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name,
when He said, “It’s not here!” my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love,
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound,
while all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late:
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight.
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear,
the coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There’s only one life and when the last name is called,
we’ll find that the bible was true after all.

 

Advent Peace

Two more sleeps until Christmas!

Rom 10:15 … As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!”

This, the last week of Advent, is to remind us of the gift of peace.

Psa 29:11  Jehovah will give strength to His people; Jehovah will bless His people with peace.

The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ is ‘shalom’ (I love the sound of it) and it means “safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare, health, prosperity and peace”. That’s a whole lot of good stuff packed into one word; it’s like a super, mega-multivitamin! ( and you don’t have to choke trying to swallow it down).

In the O.T., God made a covenant of peace with the nation of Israel:

Eze 37:25,26  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, the land in which your fathers have lived. And they shall dwell in it, even they and their sons, and the sons of their sons for ever. And My servant David shall be their ruler forever.   And I will cut a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.

(Note: a “covenant” is a contract. A contract only works when all the parties involved keep the terms of the contract. God was willing to keep His side of the contract, unfortunately, the nation of Israel broke the contract time after time. But that is a lesson for another blog)

In Isa. 54:10  peace is mentioned as being part of the inheritance of the nation of Israel.

Isa 54:17  …This is the inheritance of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from Me, says Jehovah.

God made a covenant with Israel, but in His foreknowledge, God knew that Israel would continue to break that covenant and that humankind needed  more help, so He gave prophecies regarding the coming of One who would bring into being a better covenant (including a better peace):

Isa 9:6  For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be on His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

The Gospel of Luke tells us how that prophecy was fulfilled:

Luk 2:8  And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luk 2:9  And lo, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were grievously afraid.
Luk 2:10  And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11  For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12  And this is a sign to you. You will find the babe wrapped, lying in a manger.
Luk 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
Luk 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

That baby, Christ the Lord, who would grow into the man, Jesus, told us in the scriptures that he came to give us peace:

Joh 14:27  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Jesus wants us to live in that peace:

Joh 16:33  I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.

Despite any difficult circumstances that we may be going through, Jesus wants us to know that we can live in peace because he has “overcome the world”! And if we are believers in Jesus, he lives in us and we are one with him, therefore we can “overcome the world” too!

More importantly, Jesus came so that we may be in peace with God:

Rom 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Living in peace is part of living in the kingdom of God:

Rom 14:17  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This Christmas season, remember the angel’s message to the shepherds:

Luk 2:10  And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11  For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

JESUS, THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

Rom 15:13  And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

2Pe 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, …

SHALOM

 

 

Advent Joy

“JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME”

That is one of my favourite Christmas carols, especially when song by a full choir and accompanied by an orchestra.

The third week of Advent is regarded by some churches as the week of “joy”.

Isn’t it strange, that at a special time of year when we should be experiencing joy, it is instead being called one of the most stressful times of year? Statistics show that the number of people suffering depression seems to increase at this time of year.

Shakespeare wrote the following phrase in Hamlet, “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark”. I say, “something is rotten in the state of Christmas”! Could it be that we have lost the real meaning of Christmas?? Could it be that the real meaning has been buried under a growing mountain of commercialism, consumerism, materialism and just plain greed?

Rom 14:17  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word most often translated as “joy”  in the NT also means cheerfulness, delight, and gladness. HO-HO-HO! Unfortunately, what we often experience, either in ourselves or in others is frustration, short-temperedness (is that even a word?), rudeness, greed and selfishness. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can lead to depression. Definitely NOT joyful!

We need to get back to the “joy”fullness of the Christmas season. We need to experience the “cheerfulness”, “delight” and “gladness” that this season was meant to bring us. We need to go back to the true meaning of Christmas.

The true meaning of Christmas is not decorations and food and presents. The true meaning of Christmas is the gift of God’s only begotten son, Jesus. The news of Jesus’ birth should bring us great joy. Even the unborn baby, who was to become John the Baptist, leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when the unborn baby Jesus came near as his mother, Mary approached Elizabeth!

Luk 1:44  For lo, as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

If an unborn child can recognize the gift of Jesus and be filled with joy, surely we should also recognize the gift and be filled with joy?

Mat 18:4  Therefore whoever shall humble himself like this little child, this one is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven.

Simple shepherds were given a message of great joy:

Luk 2:8-11  And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.   And lo, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were grievously afraid.   And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Notice that the angel said that the “joy” was to be for all people. And the reason for that joy (cheerfulness, delight, gladness) is in this simple statement: ” For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  “

Our joy, true joy, is not to be found in decorations, food or presents under the tree. Our joy is to be found in the gift of Jesus Christ. Do you need to re-align your “joy” compass? Point it at Jesus, who is the real reason for this season.

Joh 15:11  I have spoken these things to you so that My joy might remain in you and your joy might be full.

This is my prayer for you, not only for this Christmas season, but for all year through:

Rom 15:13  And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Feliz Navidad

Advent Love

“All you need is love (bah-bah-bah-bah-bah), all you need is love…”

This is the second week of Advent and according to my research, the candle that is lit this week is to remind us of “love”.

Did you know that there are different kinds of love? For example, there is brotherly love, parental love, friend love, sexual love and marital love. My Strong’s Concordance lists about 15 different Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words that have been translated as the word “love” in the King James Bible! The word “love” appears 311 times in the KJV and that doesn’t include variations of that word. That’s a whole lotta lovin’ goin’ on!

One kind of love stands above all others, and that is the kind of love that God has for humankind. King David described it as better than life!

Psa 63:3  Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

Eph 2:4  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us

1Jn 3:1  Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.

Tradition has taught us that God (especially in the Old testament) is an angry, critical, fear-mongering deity. People who think that way do not accurately know God’s word or His character.

Our Heavenly Father is the very essence of love. His very character is love. His Word describes Him as “love”.

1Jn 4:8  The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.

God “loves” to “love”:

Jer 9:24  but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he hath understanding, and knoweth me, that I am Jehovah who exerciseth lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith Jehovah.

God’s love does not wait for us to love Him first:

1Jn 4:19  We love Him because He first loved us.

God’s love does not depend upon us being “good enough”.

Rom 5:8  But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

God’s love does not change on a whim (or a hormone swing!).

Jer 31:3  Jehovah has appeared to me from afar, saying, Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.

God’s love can not be earned or bought:

Rom 8:32  Truly He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

1Co 2:12  But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.

God’s love does not cost us anything, yet it cost Him His son, Jesus:

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

1Jn 4:10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.

Jesus, echoing His Father’s love, gave us the highest gift of love, his own life:

Joh 15:13  No one has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

(and Jesus laid his life down for his enemies too!)

Love is what Christmas is all about– NOT decorations,  turkey dinners, carol singing or presents. Christmas is about God’s great love for us; a love so great, that He would give us His most precious Son. When we accept this wonderful gift of love, we also receive the wondrous gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. God’s gift of love is truly a gift that keeps on giving!(and no credit card interest fees!)

1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

My prayer for you is that you “would know and believe the love that God has in you.” (1Jn 4:16)

Agape

Advent Hope

Today is the last day of the first week of Advent. Since I was not raised in a church attending family, the concept of Advent was foreign to me until my mid to late 30’s. Most of the churches that I have attended since that time have had some sort of Advent wreath. Recently, I wanted to better understand the history and purpose of Advent week and the Advent wreath, so I did some research on my ‘magic black box’, a.k.a. my laptop.

Unfortunately, like many Christian “traditions”, the Advent wreath seems to have it’s origins in pagan or non-Christian practice. History seems to be unclear as to when and by whom the wreath was turned into a Christian symbol. Perhaps it is not a bad thing to have something that was meant for unworthy worship turned into something to bring remembrance of the only One who is worthy of worship.  From what I have read, the wreath’s circle represents God’s unending love, the greenery represents eternity, and the candles represent different aspects of the coming or ‘Advent’ of Jesus. The colours of the candles and their meanings seem to vary from denomination to denomination.

It is my understanding that the first week of Advent is to commemorate hope – that is, the hope of the coming of “The Hope”, Jesus Christ. The first candle on the wreath is known as the “Hope” candle but it is also called “The Prophecy” candle due to all the prophecies given to humankind regarding the coming of “The Hope”, Jesus.

Rom 15:4  For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, so that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

The first hope/Hope prophecy was given in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The prophecy was actually spoken by God to the serpent – the devil (hopefully Adam and Eve were “Eve”sdropping!):

Gen 3:15  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

I have read that Biblical scholars believe that there are over 300 Biblical prophecies concerning the coming or Advent of Jesus. That is a lot of messages of hope being delivered!

What is this “hope” that the Israelites looked towards and that is available to us now?

It is the hope of the One who will bring blessings to all who believe:

Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (God telling Abram about The One who will come through the line of Abraham)

It is the hope of a restored relationship with God and with His covenant:

Gen 17:19 Then God said, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac: I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.

It is the hope of overcoming, evil, death and destruction:

Num 24:17 I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob;A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.

It is a hope of justice, righteousness and peace:

Is 9:7 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.

It is the hope of living in God’s grace and glory:

Rom 5:2  Through Him (Jesus) we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice on the hope of the glory of God.

And ultimately, it is the hope of having Christ live in us, for Jesus is The Hope of glory:

Col 1:27  For to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

My prayer for my readers is this:

Rom 15:13  And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wishing you all a life filled with The Hope of glory, not only at this season but all the year through.

Hopeful Christmas