Monthly Archives: December 2018

Meaning of Christmas

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The Christmas season evokes various emotions in people. Some people, and certainly retail stores, love this season. It’s the season of shopping – big business. To some people, the Christmas season has been high jacked by unbridled consumerism. To some the Christmas season is the time to remember the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Whatever your feelings are during this season, I want to remind you of the familiar cliché, “Jesus is the reason for the season!”

I have come up with a couple acronyms for the word Christmas to help you meditate on the meaning of Christmas.

CROSS. Jesus came to go to the cross. His death on the cross was not a surprise. He was born to die for our sins. Thank you, Jesus.

HOLINESS. Jesus is Holy. He came to prepare a way for us to experience holiness.

REDEMPTION. Christmas reminds us that Jesus bought us at an expensive price – the price of His precious blood which was spilled at Calvary.

INCARNATION. Christmas reminds us that God came to earth, put on human flesh, and spoke our language so we could be saved.

SALVATION. Christmas reminds us we were meant to die, but Jesus died for our sins. His birth and subsequent death brought us our salvation. Hallelujah!

TESTIMONY. Christmas reminds us that Jesus is God’s testimony of love His undying love for us. Jesus came to tell us of God’s Kingdom.

MIRACLES. Christmas reminds us that the conception and birth of Jesus were miraculous. Jesus performed many miracles which pointed at God. Jesus continues to perform miracles in the lives of His followers.

ATONEMENT. Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to repair our broken relationship with God. He came to reconcile us to God. He came to make us one with God.

SERVANTHOOD. Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to seek the lost. Jesus came to save the perishing. Jesus came to serve the least, the hopeless, the helpless, and the suffering.

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So, what should we do this Christmas?

Cheer, compliment others. Everyone is fighting a battle. Call your grandparents

Help. Random acts of kindness. Do dishes, buy coffee, carry stuff,

Rise to the challenge. Don’t cower away or give up.

Inspire/influence someone. Our children, grandchildren, and others are watching us. Whether we realize it or not, people are watching us. Someone somewhere is wishing they could be like you. Inspire them for good.

Serve others. We are at our best when we give of our selves – when we serve others. Serve at home, serve at church, serve at work, serve everywhere.

Tell others about Jesus. Tell your story of salvation to the lost.

Minister to others. Be present. Listen. Be available. Visit the hospital, nursing homes.

Adopt-A-Family with your family. Sacrifice your Christmas gifts, for others.

Sponsor a child overseas, buy a goat, cow, etc for a family in developing countries.

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Do Something

Do Something

General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was brushing his mane-like white hair when his son Bramwell stepped into the room. “Bramwell!” he cried. “Did you know that men sleep out all night on the bridges?” “Well, yes,” the son replied. “A lot of poor fellows I suppose do that.” “Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself to have known it and to have done nothing for them!” his father retorted.

And when the son began to talk about the Poor Law program, General Booth waved a hand and said, “Go and do something! We must do something!” “What can we do?” “Get them a shelter!” “That will cost money,” replied Bramwell. “Well, that is your affair. Something must be done. Get hold of a warehouse and warm it, and find something to cover them. But mind, Bramwell, no coddling!” That was the beginning of Salvation Army shelters.

–W. Wiersbe, “The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers”

Do something. This is an interesting command from General William Booth to his son. It was almost as if Bramwell had not been doing something, but at its core was a challenge to never tire of doing something for others.

DO GOOD

In James 2:14-26, we are challenged to show our faith through our works. James argued that stagnant, theoretical faith is not enough. Please note: James is not advocating that works lead to salvation. Works do not save us. Works prove we are saved. He wrote that real faith is supported by corresponding works. Good deeds are not the root of salvation, but they are the fruit of genuine salvation.

Saved humanity reciprocates by serving God and others. In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:17).

We could argue that faith without works is incomplete, empty and irrelevant. Such faith is incapable of challenging others to transformation. James challenged all Christians to get rid of their laurels, stop warming the pews and get busy for the Lord.

Actions speak louder than words. Actions reveal whose you are, and in whom you have believed. James noted, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (2:26). Actions give flight to the faith we proclaim. Serving others injects life into our religion. Doing something for others lends authenticity to our faith. Good works unlock closed doors and soften hardened hearts.

There is a time for prayer, Bible Study, fasting and worship. But there is also a time for action. People’s physical and material needs necessitate prayer and action. I fear that we sometimes say, “I will pray for you,” as an excuse to avoid meeting the physical needs of others. It is not enough to quote Scripture and throw prayers to people who are facing real physical problems. Talk is cheap. Faith remains purely academic and theoretical until it is put into action.

Faith is not just to be cherished and hidden in the deepest parts of the soul. Faith must ooze out of our pores, showing itself in vigorous and dynamic works. Faith is not to be buried under the soil. It must be allowed to break forth, germinate, sprouting out of the soil to reveal its actions.

Many people in the world and in our communities are hurting. Families are struggling. The hungry, the hurting, the hopeless and the helpless seek our assistance. How do we respond?

Do something.

Others

What can you do?

  1. Go through your kitchen cabinets and donate the food that sits uneaten. Buy two cans of food when you would usually buy one, and donate the second can.
  2. Purge and donate the clothes and shoes in your closets.
  3. Give money to our social services and food bank.
  4. Volunteer your time at the food bank.
  5. Tutor children in the after-school program.
  6. Create care packages for those experiencing homelessness and hand them out as you drive around town.
  7. Serve in the corps as a youth leader, Sunday School teacher, janitor or to fulfill any other need you see.
  8. Join Community Care Ministries and visit nursing homes. Read books and the Bible to people you meet there.
  9. Visit patients in hospitals. Read books to children in the children’s hospital.
  10. Be a foster parent or adopt a child.
  11. Go on a mission trip locally or overseas. Do ministry in urban areas.
  12. Invite a lonely person to your home for dinner.

As William Booth once said:

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while children go hungry, as they do now I’ll fight;
while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while there is a drunkard left,
while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets,
while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight,
I’ll fight to the very end!”

 

What will you do?

Do something today.

This Christmas

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Into the office, walked in this frail looking, frame of a man.  He had two children on either side of him.  His beautiful, yet weary looking wife walked behind.  This is a young family of four – father, mother and two young children (7 and 2 years old).  They had come to The Salvation Army to register for Christmas assistance.

The 32-year-old father, in between thoughtful pauses, proudly explained how he had been the family’s bread winner.  He shared a few of his hopes and dreams.  But now, his dreams and hopes were flickering away, like a dying flame. Sadly, the man was recently diagnosed with kidney failure. This is not how life should be. He should be able to work till retirement. He should be able to celebrate his children’s milestones – graduations, weddings, the birth of his grandchildren, and so forth.  But this was not to be.

His wife listened intently. She then, shyly and softly, mentioned how she had struggled to find gainful employment. She desperately wanted to help ease her husband’s financial concerns. The little money she received for cleaning houses was not enough to sustain the family’s needs.

The Salvation Army employee, leaned forward and asked the husband, “What would you want for Christmas?”  If I were the one asked that question, I would have said, “a Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks jersey, Coca-Cola collectibles, a Kobe Bryant jersey, or a Manchester United jersey.”  But not this father. In his frail, broken voice he responds, “I do not need anything material. Nothing for me. Please just help my children.”

With a nod of affirmation, the worker turns to look at the wife.  She asked the wife the same question. The wife’s eyes welled up; warm glittery tears flowed down her rosy cheeks. She reached for the Kleenex box and uttered, “I am praying that my husband doesn’t die.”

The husband looked at his wife, touched her cheek and said, “Please don’t cry, honey. It’s going to be OK.”

We do not know what the future holds for this father, but we know God holds the father’s future in His hands.

 Christmas

Here at The Salvation Army, we are working hard to ensure a blessed Christmas for this lovely family.

This Christmas, we are helping many other families such this beautiful family.

This Christmas, we are bringing sunshine to many a family’s cloudy condition.

This Christmas, we are bringing love to the unloved; and care to the lonely.

This Christmas, we are giving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, and jobs to the jobless.

This Christmas, we are loving the least, supporting the last, and serving the lost.

This Christmas, we are responding to God’s call, to give a cup of cool water in His name.

This Christmas, we are putting a priceless smile on many children’s faces.

This Christmas, we are grateful to God, who has made us a conduit of His grace to the helpless, hopeless, and the hurting.

Will you join us?

Will you pray for us?

Will you donate to us?

https://give-sc.salvationarmy.org/fundraiser/1805038