And the angel said unto them (shepherds), Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)
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CHRISTMAS IS UPON US and a Hobby Lobby ad captured what each of us must do about it: “Christmas is what you make it.” We can lean into celebrating the birth of Christ or we can make it an occasion of nothing more than celebrating celebration. The birth of Christ is very big in the Bible. Christmas is not in the Bible. We can honor the Lord and celebrate Christ’s birth with music and special food and maybe – perhaps…we can honor Him with the giving of gifts to one another.
WEDDINGS, ENGAGEMENTS, BIRTHS, HOUSE WARMINGS, and job promotions are just a few of our occasions of celebration and gift-giving. We have several national holidays in honor of our fallen soldiers, public figures and special occasions such as the 4th of July.
IN LUKE, JESUS' BIRTH IS ANNOUNCED BY ANGELS to lowly shepherds. He is called “a Savior.” He is portrayed as the Son of Man. In Matthew, Jesus is announced by wealthy dignitaries of a powerful eastern nation, wanting to know about the one born as King of the Jews. The wise men were not looking for a savior. They were looking for a king.
CHRISTMAS IS MADE UP OF TWO WORDS: Christ and Mass: The celebration of Christ’s birth began about 336 A.D about the time the Catholic church was being formed. So, the Christ-mass is Catholic in origin, but has been gradually adopted by the whole Christian population of the world as a special occasion worthy of celebration. In principle, it resembles God’s annual days of “The Feasts of the Lord” in the Old Testament.
IN REVELATION, WHEN THE FOLLOWERS OF THE ANTI-CHRIST at last kill God’s two witnesses, they will give gifts to one another. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (Revelation 11:10-11) Gift-giving by humans is a “human thing” to do whether the humans are good or evil.
THE POWER OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON remains a mystery. Sociologists have studied it to death and can’t quite explain it or agree among themselves why it energizes the vast population of many nations of the world. Life is, indeed, a boring drudgery for many people and the Christmas season gives the worst of human beings a chance to think about others. It is for sure that many people do not share the motivation for Christmas celebration as seen through eyes of the shepherds or the wise men.
IN GENERAL, SHOPPING GIVES MANY A TEMPORARY HIGH that far exceeds meeting essential needs. They are called: “shopaholics.” Christmas taps into that human trait and for a month or so, people give themselves permission to buy all kinds of illogical and unneeded things.
THIS CONDITION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH A BABE IN A MANGER or with blessing the poor. It is the feeding of an emotional addiction. This is the time of maxing out credit cards and people putting themselves in financial bondage. Many people struggle with their Christmas debt the rest of the year and pay the card shark banks enormous interest rates as high as 36%. It’s the thing that drives some people to continually buy lottery tickets…those who can least afford it.
THE ORIGINAL SANTA CLAUS WHO SECRETLY GAVE GIFTS gifts of food and clothing to the poorest of children and kept it a secret has been hi-jacked and morphed into the chief national money maker for merchants and banks. A scandal! Is Christmas about…Santa Claus? This is not going to set well with some Christians who have joined the club. But Christmas is what we make it. If it’s about Santa Claus, then go for it, but go for it with your eyes wide open and be honest about it. In my opinion, a lot of precious time with children in their formative years is squandered, wasted, by teaching them an extremely weak and distorted definition of Christmas.
THERE ARE SEVERAL PRODUCTIVE THINGS parents can do to strengthen the knowledge of their children about Christmas. One of the best with a long-term track record is the observance of Advent during the whole month of December. Get a set of candles and the candle base and light a new candle each Sunday. Take turns doing the various things. When children are old enough, let them take turns lighting the candles. Go online or your local Christian book store and find a booklet that gives the short Christmas scriptures to read each day.
GET A MINIATURE NATIIVITY SET with the manger and baby Jesus and parents, animals, shepherds and wise men. Explain that the Wise Men came 2 years later and that the family was living in a house by then. Let the children take turns telling the story and moving the figures into place as they tell the story. I know of nothing so helpful as this in teaching children. Learn that the Christmas story is in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke: ONLY! Let your children find the Christmas story in their Bibles or in the family Bible.
GRADUALLY LEARN THE MAJOR PROPHECY PASSAGES in the Old Testament and drill the children on finding those passages. Make a little poster with the names of the children and let them earn gold stars for telling the Christmas story AND reciting the verses. Write the chief Christmas story verses on cards and say them throughout the year. By the time the children marry and start their families, they will know what to teach and how to teach it.
USE A MAP. Talk about shepherds and wise men and how far the wise men traveled. Get a map of Israel and the eastern nations and show how far the journey was and how long it took them. Talk about the guiding star and have the children memorize the star verses.
COLLECT AND SHOW SOME OF THE BEST CHRISTMAS VIDEOS you can find and play them during the month of December: again, and again and again. You are working with children and they love to repeat stores over and over. Take advantage of this and instill the stories of Christmas into your children and grandchildren (and their visiting friends).
SING CHRISTMAS CAROL CLASSICS AT HOME, with or without an instrument. Get several copies of the little Christmas Carol Classics and sing these carols at home during the month of December. Strive to memorize them. Include hand signals where it is appropriate. CHRISTMAS IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT.
MAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES WITH THE CHILDREN on a day off or take off a day from work and do it. Sing Christmas carols while you work. Play Christmas carols in the background all during the month of December. Hum or sing with them. CHRISTMAS IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
DECEMBER 24, 2018 - FRIDAY
A.M. Zephaniah 1-3 P.M Revelation 15
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verses to Memorize:
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)
Song for Today:
Hallelujah Chorus-Arrangement (3:34) (Calvary Memorial Church)
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