Tuesday, December 04, 2012, 8:09 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with this song: Blessed Are You / An Original Work / August 29, 2012 Based off Luke 6:20-49 NIV 1984 “Blessed are you; Blessed are you who are poor For God’s kingdom is yours. Blessed are you; Blessed are you who are hungry, You’ll be satisfied. Blessed are you; Blessed are you who weep now, For you will laugh with joy. Blessed are you; Blessed are you when men hate And reject you because of Christ…” http://originalworks.info/blessed-are-you/ The subject of the celebration of Christmas came up this morning before I read my passage of scripture for the day. I am reading in the Psalms, and today’s passage was Psalm 12. So, as I went into my time of reading this morning, I asked the Lord what my response should be to people who ask about the celebration of Christmas. I prayed, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Then I read Psalm 12. When I got to verse 8, this is what stood out to me: The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. The word “vile” stood out to me, and then the Lord immediately put this phrase in my mind, “pagan revelry.” I believe God sees, and has always seen in the history of mankind, “pagan revelry” as “vile.” Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” ~ 1 Co. 10:7 I wanted to understand what this all meant, and how it related to my inquiry about what my response should be to the subject of the celebration of Christmas, so I looked up some of these terms in the dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com) . Vile means “loathsome, disgusting, objectionable, offensive, wicked, shameful or evil.” A pagan is a supporter (sticking or holding to) polytheistic (more than one god) religion, “especially when viewed in contrast to an adherent (supporter) of a monotheistic (only one god) religion.” And, revelry is “boisterous, noisy or unrestrained merrymaking; pleasure and good times, with connotations of carousing and self-indulgence.” The Christmas Connection So, what does this all have to do with the celebration of Christmas? Well, let’s look at what all the celebration of Christmas entails. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, what do you spend most of your time, thoughts and energies on in this celebration? What is Christmas to you? What is the main focus of Christmas in our society? And, what does the word of God have to say about celebrating Christ’s birth? Christmas, in our society, is primarily about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, lights, decorations, Santa’s stockings, greed, commercialism, and presents, etc. So, who is Santa? He is an aberration. He is made up. Yet, he sees all, knows all and he can be all over the world at everyone’s homes all in one night. Who does this sound like? Yes, you are right: God Almighty. He is the only one who is all knowing, all powerful, and has the ability to be everywhere at all times. So, who is the great imitator of God who wanted to be God? Satan. He parades himself as an “angel of light” to deceive minds and hearts. Ever notice the similarity between the names “Santa” and “Satan”? Santa is of Satan and Satan’s goal is to be God in the hearts and minds of all people, but especially in the hearts and minds of professing followers of Jesus Christ. He wants nothing more than to steal the hearts and minds of naïve people, especially young children, away from God and to another god. Is He the Reason? Christmas is often marketed as the celebration of Christ’s birth, i.e. that “He is the reason for the season.” Is he really? Let’s look at that. How do we celebrate Jesus’ birth? Some people will tell you it is with the giving of presents to one another, just like the wise men gave gifts to Jesus or just like God gave us the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. Well, for one, the wise men did not visit Jesus when he was born. He was probably a child of two years old when they visited him, and they were not coming to celebrate his birthday, per se, but to give honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords, the promised Messiah of the people of God. They were giving honor to the Savior of mankind, and they honored him with these costly gifts. Also, the giving of God’s Son is the giving of salvation to mankind (Jn. 3:16). So, when we give each other gifts, is this truly giving honor to God/Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords and as the Savior of mankind? If it is, in your thinking, then how do you believe this is accomplished? Do you think God is truly pleased with this gift giving of ours on this holiday? And, how is this similar in nature to what God did for us in giving us Jesus? If we want to respond in like manner, then instead of giving each other gifts, most of which we don’t really need, then we should be sharing the gospel of Jesus with the unsaved. That is why Jesus came! And, that is why he died on the cross. The greatest gift we can give, then, is the gift of God’s Son to those who have not yet believed in Jesus as Savior. Should we celebrate Christ’s birth? How did Jesus say we should remember him and honor him? He said we should honor him and remember him through the remembrance of his death, not his birth. And, the way in which we remember his death is through the taking of communion, not just the taking of it in the sense of taking a sacrament in a ritualistic sense, but as Paul described in 1 Co. 11: Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. There is a sense, thus, in which this participation in the Lord’s Supper is not merely the sharing in the drinking of the vine and the eating of the bread, but it is a participation in the meaning of these symbols in reality in how we live our lives. For Jesus, the juice of the vine and the bread represented his blood and body which were given for us on the cross of Christ for our sins, so that we could be set free from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), and so we could be set free from slavery to sin (day-to-day). So, when we come to the Lord’s Table in remembrance of him, we are not merely recalling his death, but we are choosing to partake (drink and eat) with him in his death, which communion symbolizes, and in his resurrection, in death to our sins and in resurrection to new lives in Christ. This is why it is critical that we examine our hearts, not just in communion services, but all the time, to make sure that we have forsaken our lives of sin, and we are walking in obedience to Christ in all ways all the time. This is the kind of worship and honor of Jesus that he desires: Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” ~ Luke 9:23-26 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:1-2 Who gets Top Billing? This (the above scriptures) is the kind of “gift giving” that God approves. It is not that he is against us giving each other gifts, I don’t believe, but I don’t believe the way we do gifts and the way we celebrate Christmas in our culture is what he desires, and in fact, I believe he sees it as “vile” and as “pagan revelry,” because it is a blend of the worship of Santa, greed, and a pagan holiday with the celebration of Jesus, only Jesus does not get top billing in this celebration. Think with me about that for a moment. Look at your decorations for Christmas. Do you have a tree beautifully decorated with all kinds of trimmings? Are there lots of gifts underneath the tree? Who are these gifts for? What do they represent? Do you have Santa stockings hanging by your fireplace? Do you have images of Santa and his reindeer displayed in your house? And, where is Jesus in all of this? Do you buy a bunch of gifts you can’t afford for people who don’t really need them because tradition dictates that we should do this in celebration of Jesus? How does any of this give honor and praise to God/Jesus? And, do you also have a manger scene displayed in your house along with Santa? Then, this is a celebration of a false god and the true God side-by-side, which is what God chided his children about all throughout history. And, how is Jesus pictured? He is pictured as a helpless baby in a lowly manger. Whose birthdays do we celebrate with images of what we looked like as babies? - Only Jesus’. I believe this is purposeful. Why? Children, in particular, will see Jesus as a helpless baby who does what for them? And, they will see Santa as all powerful, all knowing, and can be all places at all times, and who brings them presents. What is wrong with this picture? Do you see the deception here? And, the two are celebrated together side-by-side. Even if you don’t do the Santa thing, you, perhaps, are still celebrating the birth of Jesus in a manner which has pagan roots, and which has nothing to do with Jesus Christ at all, and that minimizes who he truly is while on the same day an “all powerful, all knowing and omnipresent Santa” steals the hearts and minds of young children, because he brings them presents. How can you top that? And, then we lie to our children and we tell them that Santa is real, even though they can’t really see him, so is that of God? And, we use terminology like “I believe in Santa.” And, then we tell our children to believe in Jesus, whom they also cannot see. Oh, what trickery Satan has concocted to get us to believe we are truly celebrating the life of Jesus when all we are doing is falling prey to a lie of Satan. The Challenge You don’t have to believe this, obviously, because I said it, but I pray that each person reading this today would prayerfully and honestly before God examine what has been shared here today in light of God’s word, and that you would inquire of God as to how he views our celebrations of Christmas. God gave us the gift of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on a cross for our sins. The best way we can celebrate the life of Jesus is to honor him with our lives, and to share the truth of his gospel with a world in need of the Savior. Will you pray and ask God if he is pleased with your celebration of him? Sing Praises / An Original Work / November 30, 2012 Based off Psalms 6-9 Sing praises to the Lord! Tell of His wond’rous works. Afflicted, they cry out; The Lord will not forget; The needy, not desert. The Lord’s our refuge now; A stronghold when we fear. The Lord will ne’er forsake The ones, who Him pursue! Sing praises to the Lord! With all my heart I sing. I will rejoice in Him; Sing praises to His name; Tell of His wond’rous works. My shield is God Most High. He saves those who believe In Jesus Christ, God’s Son. His grace has pardoned you! The Lord accepts my prayer! The Lord has heard my cries. He is so merciful. He heals my anguished soul. The Lord has made me whole. Give thanks unto the Lord. Give praise unto His name. Our Lord is righteousness. Sing praises to the Lord! Sing praises to the Lord! Sing Praises: http://originalworks.info/sing-praises-2/ Blessed Are You: http://originalworks.info/blessed-are-you/ Note: All scripture references are taken from the NIV 1984.