Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Celebrating Christmas – Part 1

Isaiah 9:6Unto us a child is born.  Unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, Prince of Peace.”

This verse is a prophecy of the birthday of the Messiah. Christmas is the fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah. Here is this week’s post from brother Michael as we enter the Christmas season.

How do you celebrate Christmas?  The way to get outside of the secular culture of Christmas is to focus not on receiving, but rather on giving. Children live for the gifts of Christmas “presents”. However, we must live for the gift of Christmas “presence”, the presence of God in “Christ in us”.  God, our Heavenly Father, has already presented us with the greatest Christmas present of all... for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life – John 3:16. For many of us, Christmas is a season spent in the private prison of depression.  Our prisons are those we build around ourselves. No one else is responsible for putting us into the prisons of fear, anxiety, strife, contention, and depression. We are. These are prisons built by our own hands. Only God, through his son Jesus Christ, can release us from our private prisons. His mission was to set the prisoner free. He came to lead captivity captive. The ultimate freedom is the ultimate captivity to our Lord Jesus Christ.

How do I do it, and how shall I model my life? What to do, how to do it, and then doing it, are the keys to walking in fellowship with our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  If we look to the secular culture, it is easy to buy into the victim mentality.... to blame others instead of taking responsibility for our own actions and consequences. It is easy to become a victim to the Americanization of Christianity... when we squeeze Jesus into the mold of the American dream. This is the dream of material prosperity as the result of hard work and self-fulfillment centered around a comfortable lifestyle. This dream is rooted in hedonism and materialism. However, Romans 12 says, be not squeezed into the world's mold. The bible becomes irrelevant when we are squeezed into the value system of the world, reflecting worldly values rather than Godly values according to the standard of the Word. When the focus is on the worldly church of the secular culture, we lose focus on Christ's church of the body of believers, born again from above. The Church of Orange County, California (where I live) bends to accommodate the lives and life styles of Southern California. The Jesus of the O.C. is a secular, inclusive, and un-crucified Christ. However, the Jesus of the bible was crucified as the sin offering for our sins to free us from the bondage of the sin nature.

We shall finish this Christmas season post by Michael tomorrow.
In Christ, Brian


Susan said...

I believe the signs are saying we are very ripe (maybe even overdue by God's patient forbearance) for judgment and MANY are not ready.

Thank you for healthy food for thought. 😃

Brian Ray Todd said...

Thank you Susan for the thoughtful comment and great point. We have to recognize the signs of the times. We are all concerned with the times and the hearts today as we wish none to perish either. Your word "ripe" reminds me of the Bible Verse John 4:35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! As much as the world is ripe for judgment, they are ripe to also hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that many will repent and coming to a "saving' knowledge of the Savior of the world. I feel that many are not ready (meaning have that "Saving knowledge of Jesus Christ) because they have not heard the TRUTH of the gospel. God is real, God lives, God reigns and rules over nature and the affairs of mankind, Heaven and Hell are real, Jesus is Savior and Lord of all, and we all have a decision to make. Do they know all this? In compassion and out of love, I want the lost to see, know and understand the Way, the Truth and the life, so that they can choose eternal life in Christ. As you say, "We are very ripe for judgment", but very ripe for harvest too. Matthew 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Blessings.