Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The True Reason for Christmas

Many people do not even know what Christmas is all about. They have not been introduced to the truth. Instead they simply believe that Christmas is just a gift giving holiday that comes after Thanksgiving which is based upon some magical character called Santa Claus. But, Christmas is and will always be the celebration of God sending His Only Son to earth to save mankind, i.e. save all who will believe on Him, from their sins and unrighteousness. For, God sent the greatest gift that anyone can ever receive – the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Have you told anyone about the greatest gift and about the real reason for the season? Or have you just enjoyed the holidays because it is simply a winter holiday that gets you off work and allows you to meet with your families in order to share gifts? Do you even know why you are giving and receiving gifts at this time of year? What is this season all about?

Christmas is about Christ. Specifically, it is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, being born as a baby in a lowly manger long ago. The Word of God tells us that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to register for the census which was demanded by Caesar Augustus.  Because Joseph “was of the house and family of David, (he went to Bethlehem) in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her (Mary) to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.– (Luke 2: 4-7. NASB).

Why We Give Christmas Gifts

We give Christmas gifts to each other for two reasons. First, because the wise men who came from the East travelled a great distance to show their honor and love for the Christ child with their gifts. They came across mountains and deserts putting themselves and their caravan at risk in order to bring their gifts of love to Jesus Christ. Upon arriving, and “After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.– (Matthew 2: 11. NASB). Those gifts were large and expensive, but were given for the Christ child’s earthly future and were also given as symbols of the ultimate gift that Christ would give the world upon His death on the cross. But the main reason that the wise men gave those gifts was because they came from their heart. Their hearts were focused on God’s gift to mankind, and they wanted both God and the parents of this child to know how much they appreciated this gift of the Christ-child, which brings us to the second reason that we give gifts at Christmas time.

The second reason we give gifts, is because God gave us the ultimate gift -- His Son, so that someday each of us can either make a decision to choose to believe on Christ or not. If we believe and accept God’s gift, we will not have to die a second time and then spend eternity in hell. Instead of dying a second time, believers will be able to enter into eternity with God and Christ. Obviously, all of us will die a first time, because no one will live forever here on earth. So, after living our lives here on earth, some of us dying at a young age and others dying later when in their hundreds, we all know that we will die at some moment in time. But, on judgment day, those that have not believed on Christ as their Savior, will die again a spiritual death that leads to eternal damnation. However, those who believe in God and who accept God’s gift of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, will not have to die a second time. For Christ conquered eternal death through His resurrection from death. Christ died a cruel death on the cross taking our sins upon His shoulders so that we can be made righteous before God. Christ then arose from the grave conquering death and giving those who believe on Him and who repent of their sins the right to live eternally with Him and His Father in Heaven after leaving this earth. The Scriptures tell us that believers will live eternally with God. Indeed, in one of those Scriptures, the Apostle Paul tells us that “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.– (II Corinthians 4: 14, 15, NASB). How thankful we should be for God’s glorious gift! But how do we thank God for the gift of eternal life?

The least that we can do to thank God and Christ for the gift of Salvation, is to tell the world, i.e., our friends, family and neighbors, of the gift that God and His Son are offering to everyone. For, once a person has accepted the free and merciful gift of God to believe on His Son and to turn from his past life of sin into a new life, he is made new. We know this because the Scriptures tell us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold the new things have come.– (II Corinthians 5: 15. NASB). But those who have repented of their sins and have asked Christ to come into their heart, know that they are a new creature because of what Christ does to their life when they ask Him to come in. There is such a miraculous change in the one who accepts Christ as their Savior. What a powerful and wonderful gift true believers have been given!!! How can we keep such a wonderful gift to ourselves? We must share this gift with the world. In fact, Christmas time is a wonderful time to share the Gospel message in so many different ways.

Celebrating The Gift of Christ

Christmas is a time to celebrate the gift of Christ and His offered Salvation. Christmas is a time to share the Light of the World, i.e., Jesus Christ, through both our actions and our words. Indeed, Christmas is a time to tell the Christmas story to everyone who will listen. But how can we share the Christmas story and not make Christmas just a secular holiday? Well, we can share the Christmas story through a nativity scene on our lawns. We can share the Christmas story through the giving of gifts, expressing our Christian love to family, friends and neighbors. (The gifts do not have to be expensive, but rather gifts that are needed, that can keep someone warm on a cold night, that feed someone who would otherwise be hungry or who would not have a Christmas celebration without our love and our gift. For, our children and loved ones, the gifts can be a way of saying how much we listen to their needs and wants, as well as a way we can show our love and appreciation of them.). We can share the Christmas story with our children as we make sure that they know the true meaning of Christmas.

There is nothing more wonderful than a parent knowing that their child has made a personal decision to accept Christ’s gift of Salvation. This Christmas, our family has been given a Christmas miracle in relation to Salvation. The entire family, parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles and even our close friends had been praying that our youngest grandchild would ask Christ into his heart. The other three grandchildren had already asked Christ into their hearts at some point in time and have been baptized. In fact, we have been praying for this grandchild’s Salvation for the last five years. But, Salvation is not the type of gift that we can personally give to another person, child or grandchild, because Christ offers the gift and only that person or child can make the decision to open that gift and choose Salvation or not. However, the gift that believers can give to our children is the gift of telling them the truth and of sharing the Gospel message, of living in such a way that they see there is a difference in the life of those who are saved, and of praying daily for their salvation. Now, we know that our grandchild received the greatest gift that a human can receive.  We are truly blessed and we can rejoice at this Christmas, because everyone in our family has now received Christ’s gift of Salvation.  Furthermore, knowing that our grandchild has accepted Christ’s gift of Salvation makes all of us feel that we have also been given an extra special Christmas gift as well, for now we know that no matter what happens to each of us, that one day we will all be together in heaven.

Many Christians, though, will not truly celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, because they have failed to share the reason for Christmas with others. Moreover, many Christian parents have failed to teach their children the real meaning of Christmas. Furthermore, they have failed to or have chosen not to take them to Sunday school or have failed to teach them about Christ at home. Other non-Christian parents still do not know the real meaning of Christmas. That is because they do not know the story of Christmas. All they have been taught is the story of a mythical Santa Claus that they have now also passed on to their children. Santa Claus and getting gifts has become the most important thing to children throughout the world who do not know the reason for the season. As a result, because we have failed to mentor our children in the truth of the season, we now have many selfish young adults who have grown up expecting to be handed everything that they want. They have not been taught that love means sacrificing for others’ happiness. For, when we sacrifice our hard-earned money and our time to buy gifts for those we love and for those who need our help in some way or another, we receive the greatest kind of happiness. God expressed His love by making the ultimate sacrifice when He sent His Son to earth to die for our sins. The least we can do is to sacrifice our time and make the effort to teach our children about Christ, to share the Gospel message with others, and to mentor those who need our help. Only then can we experience true happiness on this earth.

The Light of the World

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.– (John 3: 16. NASB).

As a tiny baby, born of a virgin mother, Jesus came into the world to experience all the things that humans experience in the way of emotions and hurts, so that He could speak from that experience and share the hope of eternal salvation with us. Unlike us, though, Jesus never sinned. We on the other hand, cannot get through a day without sinning in some way or another. But, since God cannot look upon sin and unrighteousness, there is only one way for humans to be made righteous and sinless so that they can someday spend eternity with Him. That one way, is through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. That one way comes when a person truly believes that God sent His Only Son to share the truth, die for our sins, and arise on the third day having conquered eternal death and having overcome Satan’s plan for the destruction of human souls. Only when a person calls upon the name of Jesus Christ and asks Christ to come into their heart while believing that He is the Son of the Living God will that person be given the greatest gift of all—Salvation!

Jesus answered and said to them. ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’ … ‘For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.’– (John 6: 29, 35, 40. NASB).

Salvation means having that internal peace that passes all understanding. Salvation means that we no longer walk in the darkness of this world. Salvation means that we have the assurance of eternal life lived with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but have the Light of life.– (John 8: 12. NASB). Later, when He was telling His disciples of His upcoming death on the cross, Jesus said, “He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.– (John 13: 45, 46. NASB).

At Christmas time, people put lights all over their homes and on their Christmas trees to shine out into the darkness. Few people recognize the significance of those lights at this particular time and season. Christ came into the world as the Light of the World. So, when an individual asks Christ into their heart, they are given an internal light that should shine out upon the world in their actions and words. The saved should represent and shine the light of Christ out upon the world and on others who still need to come to the saving grace of Christ. At Christmas time, though, we have tried to shine the light of the Christmas season out into the darkness through the light of Christmas bulbs. Sadly, many Christians do not understand that their internal light can be brighter than any house decorated with Christmas lights. For our Salvation and the light of Christ in our hearts has more illuminating power than the many Christmas bulbs shining throughout the world. Christians can and should illuminate the world with the joy, peace, and love of knowing Christ. We can share our internal light of Christ all year round, if we will just take the time to share that light with others.

Sharing the Light

Whether it is Christmas time, or some other season of the year, Christians have a responsibility to share the truth of the holiday seasons with their children and with others and to share why a particular holiday is being celebrated. Instead, many Christians just think that the rest of the world will see the truth on their own. But most people aren’t able to see the truth, because they have been blinded with the secular celebrations that Satan uses to continually deceive them. Satan’s deceptions are why we have a Christmas season with many people not even understanding why it is called Christmas. It is also why the celebration of the resurrection of Christ in the Spring is simply thought of as the day when the Easter bunny comes to bring children baskets. Christians, though, can countermand Satan’s deceptions by spreading the truth. We must start doing better by sharing with others the reasons for the season and the truth of the Gospel message. In fact, Christians have a responsibility to not only mentor others in the Gospel message, but to also mentor our children in the knowledge of God and Christ. We all have a responsibility to share that same information with our friends and extended family members. If you don’t share, they will end up living in darkness eternally.

This Christmas day, take the time to share the reason for the season, i.e., the truth of the story of the Christ child’s birth over 2000 years ago. Give the gift of hope. Give the gift of love. Give the gift of the Gospel message to as many people as you can. You can do it! You can share Jesus with others. You can celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  Merry Christmas!

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