December 2019 Conchshell Chronicles
The Benefits of Christmas
We all are approaching one of the most intense times of the year- Christmas.
This is supposed to be a time of reflection and celebration, but the reality is that we are often stretched and strained during this holiday season by:
* Traffic jams at the shopping malls;
* Decisions on how far to financially stretch;
* Meeting the expectations of the children;
* Guilt over how much was eaten last night;
* The effort required to get into tighter clothes;
* Listening to endless renditions of “Tis the season to be jolly.”
What do we get for all our efforts and enduring?
- Loud toys that make noises unfit for your quiet home;
- Technical directions written in English by a Chinese for those new gadgets;
- Uncomfortable, tight clothing;
- Bills in January for those financial stretches in December;
- Wondering if we just somehow just missed the whole point.
We in the First World mostly celebrate Christmas in a very materialistic manner. As a result, we often miss the “Reason for the Season”. We are confused about what we are celebrating. It is good to pause a moment and refocus on why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and what exactly are the benefits of Christmas. Jesus had no doubt why He came to Earth. He said in John 10:10: “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
Is honking at other Christmas shoppers who just stole your parking space living the abundant life?
Yet there are benefits of the reason behind our Christmas celebrations.
There are definite things that happened when Jesus came to Earth that we should be jumping with joy.
Paul wrote a letter to a group of Believers in Ephesus who were struggling with the Christmas Season (figuratively). They were unsure of what God coming the Earth had done for them. They didn’t understand the “Reason for the Season”. Step back with me and let’s hear Paul tell them why they should celebrate the birth of Christ. (Ephesians chapter 1). Perhaps it will help our celebration.
“3 How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.“
We give many gifts in our materialistic celebration of Christmas. God is the ultimate gift giver. He has given us every “spiritual blessing” there is. What are we talking about here? Material things? No, Paul explains, it’s even better than that !
“4 Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family. And this gave him great pleasure.”
What’s better than a classy personal home or fastest celestial chariot? It’s membership in God’s own family! All other things dim in comparison to being personally related to the Maker of the Sunrise and Sunset. Don’t you love that last line: “And this gave Him great pleasure.” ?
Paul continues with a further explanation of why were celebrate Christmas:
“6 So we praise God for the wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven.”
Our sins are forgiven! He is showering His Kindness, Wisdom, and Understanding on us! Paul continues
“God’s secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan centered on Christ, designed long ago according to his good pleasure. And this is his plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. “
Think about what this actually means: Everything will be brought under the authority of Christ:
All those injustices that we have seen and experienced will reversed! Terrorists and despotic governments will be brought to judgment. Despotic governments will be eliminated. Sickness will be eradicated. The greedy who have taken advantage of the poor will be punished.
Yes, the King is coming to set things right!
“11Furthermore, because of Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us from the beginning,
Inheritance? Did I read it right? There is an inheritance that won’t be taxed by the IRS?!?!. But there is more!
And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.“
The Holy Spirit? We will be filled and empowered by the Third Person of the Trinity.
Yes, there are reasons to celebrate!
Long ago, God told His people through the prophet Moses.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Deut 18:15
There will be a man who will come to proclaim God’s Words, to speak his heart, to communicate to us the essence of God Himself.
Years later, Isaiah told us about this prophet.
6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. Isaiah 9:6-7
This prophet is also Everlasting King.
Micah told us where this prophet/king would be born.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. Micah 5:2
Why did God become a man? The writer of Hebrews gives us an answer
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. Hebrews 1:1-2
God wants no misunderstanding of who He is and how He feels about us!
Let’s look past the materialism of this holiday and focus in on God’s purposes for this season.
He loves us with all His heart; He desires that each one of us become intimate family members;
He has a comprehensive plan for the universe that includes us;
He gives us everything that we need in this life:
He is preparing us for the life to come through the power of the Holy Spirit; and
He came to Earth to make this all happen.
With that in mind, here are some suggestion for avoiding the intensity of the season, and enjoying it as He intends:
- Park as far away from the mall as possible; you will avoid conflicts with other drivers, and get exercise.
- Spend as much (or more) quality time with that person you are shopping for, as you do buying the gift.
- Listen to as many of the old Christmas carols (that tell the story) as you can.
- Dedicate part of your Christmas budget to helping many people in your town and on your planet who are less
fortunate than yourselves.
- Wear loose clothing.
Merry Christmas From All our students, teachers, and leaders here at Seek the Lamb!
This is the season that we celebrate relationships.
Relationship with our Heavenly Father, and our relationships with you.
These are the things we treasure most in this life!
Thank you for being our friends, family, and ministry partners.
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