Christmas Traditions – Where Did They Come From?

December 20, 2016 by Keith   Comments (0)

The Biblical Celebration

The Dawning of Light: Luke 1:78-79

Christmas is so full of wonder, meaning and tradition. But, where did all these things that we now call Christmas -- come from? Let's just briefly sketch the origin and development of what we now celebrate as Christ's Birth.

The Fullness of Time: Galatians 4:4-5

The Mystery of Incarnation: I Timothy 3:16

The Christian Meaning to Ancient Traditions

December 25th

was the Saturnalia Festival of emancipation, gift giving and the triumph of light after the longest night. The Christian sees the truth implicit in this pagan tradition that reflects: Christ the Light of the world, His triumph over the night of sin in Luke 1:78-79

Evergreen Trees

were the symbol of eternal life. Martin Luther introduced them to the Reformation Church as a picture of our endless life in Christ, by bringing in a tree to his family on Christmas Eve lit with candles. Isaiah 6-:13

Candles

are a picture that Christ is the Light of the world John 8

Holly

speaks of the thorns in His crown Matthew 27:29

Red

is a color of Christmas that speaks of Christ’s blood and death.

Gifts

are a reminder of the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. Each of them speaks to a component of His incarnation: Majesty in life, Bitterest Agony in Death and He as Gods Perfect gift to us. Matthew 2.

Mistletoe

was an ancient symbol from the Roman times. It was under Mistletoe that old enmities and broken friendship were restored. So Christ was the One who took away the enmity and gave us Peace with God. Romans 5:1; 8:1.

Bells

are associated with ringing out news. Christ is the good news, the best news of all.

Christmas Eve

is a time when we remember that Christ came in the darkest night of Earth’s need to be the Light of the World.

Shepherds

who were watching lambs for use as sacrifices in the Temple, were the first to hear the great news that the Lamb to end all sacrifices had appeared.

Christmas Pie

is an old tradition that uses a Mince pie with various spices to remember the spices of the Magi. For centuries it was made in a manger shape.

Modern Additions

In 1822

Clement Moore wrote a poem for children that has never been forgotten. It was entitled, "Twas the Night before Christmas..."!

Santa Claus

is a Dutch word that is actually Sinter Claus, Saint Nicholas in English.

Saint Nicholas

was the supposed early Bishop of a church in Asia Minor [the modern country of Turkey]. He became aware of some desperate needs in his congregation, and a family having to sell their children into slavery, so one night he came and left money on their doorstep. It was gold in a stocking.

Christmas Cards

started in 1844. An English artist named William Dobson, drew up some pictures in England for use at this season. They found local use there and soon spread to America. In 1846 Cole and Horsley saw the commercial potential of this growing tradition and started the production of what is now over a $1,000,000,000.00 industry that sees 4 billion cards sent each year in America alone.

Don't lose the Spiritual Depth of Christmas because of its Pagan association.

Don’t miss the Spiritual Delight of Christmas because of the Commercial association.

Don’t forget the Spiritual Despair of the World because of Christmas and its wonders.

Some challenges:

Give a gift to Jesus.

Like Christ, give to those who can’t repay you.

Pause to sense the darkness outside at night, and then thank God for sending the light.

Read the Scriptures to your family.

Start some traditions that point to Christ.

Enjoy this wonderful time of the year, don’t lose the season for the rush.

Our Tribulations

December 5, 2016 by Keith   Comments (2)

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations. Romans 5:3

Tribulation is something that comes against us as God’s children. It is not a result of doing something wrong, but of doing something right. Tribulation happens in our lives as a result of following Him.

All…who live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 AMP

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NKJV

When we experience tribulations of various kinds, our adversary, the devil, will try to discourage or condemn us through false accusations. One of his greatest accusations is to tell us that we deserve what we are going through because we have done something wrong. We cannot rejoice and glory in tribulations (as God desires us to) if we walk around with a cloud of condemnation hanging over our heads that has blown in upon the wind of the enemy’s lies.

Good can come out of the suffering we experience through tribulation. “Diamonds were formed within the earth as a result of the “suffering” of carbon. This “suffering” was caused by great heat and pressure coming against carbon…without it, the precious stones that we call diamonds would not exist.”*

We can be assured that God is using the heat and pressure of our suffering in this world to produce something precious within us that will bring an eternal reward.

Let the following truths of Scripture be an encouragement to you whenever you are facing times of tribulation. May they help to lighten your load, lift your spirit, and place a strong song of praise in your heart.

Tribulation is not a result of doing something wrong, but of doing something right. 2 Timothy 3:12

Realize that you are in good company when you are counted among those who have had the honor to suffer for His sake. Acts 5:41

You are walking as Jesus walked. John 15:18-20

Tribulation is the world’s way of letting you know you are not a part of that system. John 16:33

Deliverance is certain. 2 Timothy 4:18

God will bring you through…victoriously. Romans 8:35-37

You are blessed with Kingdom blessings. Matthew 5:10

It may be difficult now, but it will be worth it in the end. Matthew 24:13

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NKJV

God's Letter

July 19, 2016 by Keith   Comments (0)

Dear Friend,

I just had to send a note to tell you how much I love you and care about you. I saw you yesterday as you were walking with your friends. I waited all day hoping you would want to talk with me also. As evening drew near, I gave you a sunset to close your day and a cool breeze to rest you. And I waited. But you never came. It hurt me, but I still love you because I am your friend.

I saw you fall asleep last night and I longed to touch your brow. So, I spilled moonlight on your pillow and your face. Again I waited, wanting to rush down so I could talk. I have so many gifts for you. But you awakened late the next day and rushed off to work. My tears were in the rain.

Today you looked so sad, so all alone. It makes my heart ache because I understand. My friends let me down and hurt me so many times, too. But I love you. Oh, if you would only listen to me. I really love you. I try to tell you in the blue sky and in the quiet green grass. I try to wisper it in the leaves on the trees and breathe it in the colours of the flowers. I shout it to you in the mountain streams and give the birds love songs to sing. I clothe you with warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature's scents. My love for you is deeper than the oceans and bigger than the biggest want or need in your heart.

If you only knew how much I want to help you. I want you to meet my Father. He wants to help you, too. My Father is that way, you know. Just call me, ask me, talk with me. Please, please, don't forget me. I have so much to share with you. But, I won't hassle you any further. You are free to call me. It`s up to you. I'll wait because I love you.

Your friend,

 Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Be Anxious For Nothing

April 30, 2016 by Keith   Comments (3)

Jesus warned that, in the last days, the world would face unfolding trauma. There would be wars, earthquakes and many other disasters. Yet, to His disciples, He said, "Do not be terrified" (Luke 21:9). He also said that, because of world conditions, men's hearts would fail "from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth"(Luke 21:26 NKJV). Not only would actual events generate worldwide fear, but the expectation of difficulties would cause men's hearts to fail.

Today, heart failure is the number one cause of death in North America. Approximately every thirty-four seconds a heart stops beating and another person dies, usually suddenly. There may be many contributors to heart failure, but one major source is the inability to handle stress.

There are times when stress is unavoidable - the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving to a new home, severe illness, or going through a divorce - all take a toll. But most of the time accepting anxiety should not be so readily accommodated. The problem is that, just as death entered the world through Adam's sin (see Rom. 5), so the substance of death enters our personal world through our sins as well. Indeed, when we carry anxiety-related stress, we are carrying in our soul a container of death that, without fail, takes an ever increasing toll upon our lives.

Consider our world: War and terror attacks can occur at any time and anywhere. Our stock market and economy continues to bolt up and down, like a wild roller coaster. We have many unanswered questions about the future that are multiplied stress factors.

We also have personal situations. We worry about aging and our health. We have stress at our jobs and stress with a lack of jobs. Our homes should be a harbor of peace, yet they often are a place of strife and anxiety, especially as our children become teens. Someone once said, "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child." It is true for fathers also. We all carry people in our hearts, and as we love them their battles become ours, further adding to the burden of anxiety we carry.

If you want to know how stressed you are, look at your disposition when you drive. If you are always exceeding the speed limit, it reveals the lack of rest in your soul. That extra push on the accelerator is continually occurring on your heart throughout the day, not only when you are driving. Driving simply makes apparent the level of anxiety we have learned to live with.

Paul wrote, "Be anxious for nothing" (Phil. 4:6). Yet we seem to be anxious for everything. In fact, stress-related anxiety is so much a part of our lives that, somehow, it has escaped being identified as being sinful. We medicate it, but do not change the habits of fear that caused it in the first place. But anxiety is sin. At its core, it is a stubborn refusal to trust the goodness of God or rest in His power. Anxiety is a by-product of unbelief. It is a spiritual "terror attack" from hell that is silently killing tens of thousands every day.

God Is With Us

Certainly, I am not suggesting we become passive. However, I am saying we ought to abandon our fears and the stressful anxieties that come from not trusting in God. Our Messiah is "Immanuel," which means "God with us." Jesus promised to be with us, "even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). At some point we must accept the wonder and power of Christ's promise. Those who believe enter His rest (Heb. 3). He is with us always! To mistrust this promise is to reject the very character of God's nature. This is not a minor issue.

Yet, even now Jesus says,

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

Let us come to Him. Let us cast our burdens upon Him, for truly He cares for us. Let us break our addictions to stress. We don't have to be tied up in knots inside. The God of peace will crush Satan beneath our feet shortly (see Rom. 16:20). Anxiety is sin. Let us break the bondage of this sin and walk as sons and daughters of God, who are anxious for nothing.

Lord, forgive me for my sin of anxiety. I renounce fear. I declare that my soul is Your property, that You have promised to care for me. I believe Your promises. I come to You and entrust all I am into Your love and care. In Jesus' name Amen.

Our Trials and Tribulations

April 2, 2016 by Keith   Comments (4)

Tribulation is something that comes against us as God’s children. It is not a result of doing something wrong, but of doing something right. Tribulation happens in our lives as a result of following Him.

All…who live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 AMP

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NKJV

When we experience tribulations of various kinds, our adversary, the devil, will try to discourage or condemn us through false accusations. One of his greatest accusations is to tell us that we deserve what we are going through because we have done something wrong. We cannot rejoice and glory in tribulations (as God desires us to) if we walk around with a cloud of condemnation hanging over our heads that has blown in upon the wind of the enemy’s lies.

Good can come out of the suffering we experience through tribulation. "Diamonds were formed within the earth as a result of the "suffering" of carbon. This "suffering" was caused by great heat and pressure coming against carbon…without it, the precious stones that we call diamonds would not exist."*

We can be assured that God is using the heat and pressure of our suffering in this world to produce something precious within us that will bring an eternal reward.

Let the following truths of Scripture be an encouragement to you whenever you are facing times of tribulation. May they help to lighten your load, lift your spirit, and place a strong song of praise in your heart.

Tribulation is not a result of doing something wrong, but of doing something right. 2 Timothy 3:12

Realize that you are in good company when you are counted among those who have had the honor to suffer for His sake. Acts 5:41

You are walking as Jesus walked. John 15:18-20

Tribulation is the world’s way of letting you know you are not a part of that system. John 16:33

Deliverance is certain. 2 Timothy 4:18

God will bring you through…victoriously. Romans 8:35-37

You are blessed with Kingdom blessings. Matthew 5:10

It may be difficult now, but it will be worth it in the end. Matthew 24:13

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NKJV

Be Anxious For Nothing

February 16, 2016 by Keith   Comments (3)

Jesus warned that, in the last days, the world would face unfolding trauma. There would be wars, earthquakes and many other disasters. Yet, to His disciples, He said, "Do not be terrified" (Luke 21:9). He also said that, because of world conditions, men's hearts would fail "from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth"(Luke 21:26 NKJV). Not only would actual events generate worldwide fear, but the expectation of difficulties would cause men's hearts to fail.

Today, heart failure is the number one cause of death in North America. Approximately every thirty-four seconds a heart stops beating and another person dies, usually suddenly. There may be many contributors to heart failure, but one major source is the inability to handle stress.

There are times when stress is unavoidable - the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving to a new home, severe illness, or going through a divorce - all take a toll. But most of the time accepting anxiety should not be so readily accommodated. The problem is that, just as death entered the world through Adam's sin (see Rom. 5), so the substance of death enters our personal world through our sins as well. Indeed, when we carry anxiety-related stress, we are carrying in our soul a container of death that, without fail, takes an ever increasing toll upon our lives.

Consider our world: War and terror attacks can occur at any time and anywhere. Our stock market and economy continues to bolt up and down, like a wild roller coaster. We have many unanswered questions about the future that are multiplied stress factors.

We also have personal situations. We worry about aging and our health. We have stress at our jobs and stress with a lack of jobs. Our homes should be a harbor of peace, yet they often are a place of strife and anxiety, especially as our children become teens. Someone once said, "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child." It is true for fathers also. We all carry people in our hearts, and as we love them their battles become ours, further adding to the burden of anxiety we carry.

If you want to know how stressed you are, look at your disposition when you drive. If you are always exceeding the speed limit, it reveals the lack of rest in your soul. That extra push on the accelerator is continually occurring on your heart throughout the day, not only when you are driving. Driving simply makes apparent the level of anxiety we have learned to live with.

Paul wrote, "Be anxious for nothing" (Phil. 4:6). Yet we seem to be anxious for everything. In fact, stress-related anxiety is so much a part of our lives that, somehow, it has escaped being identified as being sinful. We medicate it, but do not change the habits of fear that caused it in the first place. But anxiety is sin. At its core, it is a stubborn refusal to trust the goodness of God or rest in His power. Anxiety is a by-product of unbelief. It is a spiritual "terror attack" from hell that is silently killing tens of thousands every day.

God Is With Us

Certainly, I am not suggesting we become passive. However, I am saying we ought to abandon our fears and the stressful anxieties that come from not trusting in God. Our Messiah is "Immanuel," which means "God with us." Jesus promised to be with us, "even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). At some point we must accept the wonder and power of Christ's promise. Those who believe enter His rest (Heb. 3). He is with us always! To mistrust this promise is to reject the very character of God's nature. This is not a minor issue.

Yet, even now Jesus says,

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

Let us come to Him. Let us cast our burdens upon Him, for truly He cares for us. Let us break our addictions to stress. We don't have to be tied up in knots inside. The God of peace will crush Satan beneath our feet shortly (see Rom. 16:20). Anxiety is sin. Let us break the bondage of this sin and walk as sons and daughters of God, who are anxious for nothing.

Lord, forgive me for my sin of anxiety. I renounce fear. I declare that my soul is Your property, that You have promised to care for me. I believe Your promises. I come to You and entrust all I am into Your love and care. In Jesus' name Amen.

Four Reasons to Face the New Year without Fear

December 29, 2015 by Keith   Comments (2)

God's Word brings us a comforting promise, along with an insightful command as we face a new year: "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

We can live this coming year without fear if we apply these four incredibly wonderful truths to our lives and root them deep into our hearts.

The Contentment of His Provision

Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us therewith be content." If you know Jesus Christ, you have contentment. If you've got clothes on your back, something to eat, and Jesus Christ in your heart, you're rich!

Do you know why we have fear? Because we think our needs or the needs of someone we love are not going to be met. Or we fear that the things we think are meeting our needs are going to be taken away from us. The deepest need of your heart can only be met in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Companionship of His Presence

I don't know what I'm going to face next year. But there's one thing I know, He will never leave me. Are you a child of God? He will never leave you either. Isn't that wonderful!

What's another reason we may fear in the coming year? Because we're afraid we're going to have to face something we don't understand, and we're going to have to face it alone.

When God's Word promises that God will never forsake you, it literally means that He will never abandon you. He will not give up on you. We need to practice the presence of the Lord this coming year. When the devil comes and knocks at you heart's door, you can simply say, "Jesus, please go answer the door."

The Confidence of His Promise

We're going to zero in on a little phrase in our verses in Hebrews, "He hath said." A promise is no better than the one who makes it. Who says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee"? It is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. This is the confidence of His promise.

In the coming year, when you say, "God, I just don't have the strength." The omnipotent God will answer, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." When you say, "God, I'm afraid of what is going to happen." The omnipresent God says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." And when you say, "God, I don't know what to do." The omniscient God will respond, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." He himself hath said it.

The Comfort of His Protection

Hebrews 13:6 promises, "So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Now, put that with verse 5, which says, "He hath said."

Like I said earlier, I don't know what you're going to go through this coming year. But I know you can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, so I will not fear what man shall do to me." When you find your contentment, companionship, and confidence in Jesus. Then, you'll find your comfort and courage in Jesus.

Expect The Blessings of God

November 14, 2015 by Keith   Comments (1)

'Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let Your heart be stout and enduring'. Psalm 27: 14

Sometimes You may feel discouraged, miserable, and depressed. In those times You need to take a close look at what's been going on in Your mind. Isaiah 26: 3 tells You when You keep Your mind on the Lord You will have "perfect and constant peace".

By focusing on the goodness of God and waiting, hoping, and expecting Him to encourage You and fill You with His peace and joy, You can overcome negative thoughts that drag You down.

Think and speak positively. Begin believing right now that You are about to see God's goodness in Your life. Wait, Hope, and expect His blessings to be abundant in Your life.

Should our families become involved in Halloween?

October 30, 2015 by Keith   Comments (0)

The majority of people who allow their children to dress up as characters and go door-to-door "trick-or-treating" are not thinking of witches and satanic rituals; it is just some fun. Some people decide not to participate in Halloween activities simply because of safety issues. And then there are those who fully understand the spiritual activity behind the celebration of Halloween and thus do not participate.

Halloween originated as a Druid celebration that honored the god of the dead. It was believed that on this day, spirits returned to their homes and demanded a type of worship. This became depicted in the practice of trick-or-treating. Prosperity was promised to the generous donors, and tricks to all who refused, during the Irish, Druid event. It was hoped that a glowing pumpkin placed on the doorstep would keep away the evil spirits. And black cats were considered to be reincarnated beings with the ability to divine the future.

Traditional Halloween symbols, such as witches, black cats, the death's head cut from a pumpkin, candles, masks, and parties appeared in the U.S. during the late 1800s. Occultic groups still celebrate Halloween as a tribute to Satan. And witchcraft practitioners continue to declare October 31st as the best time to practice their arts.

It is necessary that each family determines plans for Halloween based on their own convictions and understanding. This is a responsibility for the parents to undertake. Children can greatly pressure the decision-making process but should not be allowed to do so. The pressure that children face at school and in the neighborhood can keep them from seeing the situation clearly. Some families decide that it is okay for their kids to wear costumes and go trick-or-treating. Others find alternatives like getting involved with a youth group that is organizing a Christian option. Other families completely check out of the whole process and go to a movie or do some other fun thing.

This issue is serious because your decision about whether to participate in Halloween activities sends a strong message to your children about what they should allow in their lives. If you decide to participate, let me encourage you to make it a teaching opportunity. Inform your kids; let them know what the day is all about. Then let them help you think of ways to reach out to other kids. Handing out Gospel tracts with the candy, hosting your own neighborhood party where kids dress up as Bible characters…you get the idea. Try to make every day Christ-centered, especially this day.

A FATHERS LOVE LETTER TO HIS CHILDREN

March 5, 2015 by Keith   Comments (1)

You don't know me but I know you, in me you live and move and have you being, for you are my offspring. I am familiar with all your ways, even the very hairs of your head are numbered for you were made in my image, in me you live and move and have your being, you are my offspring, I knew you even before you were conceived, I choose you when I planned creation, you were not a mistake for all your days are written in my book, I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, I knitted you together in your Mothers womb and brought you forth on the day you were born. I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me, I am not distant and angry but am the complete expression of Love, and it is my desire to lavish my Love on you simply because you are my child and I am your Father. I offer you more than your earthly Father ever could, for I am the perfect Father, every good gift that you receive is from my hand, for I am your provider and I meet all your needs. My plan for your future has always been filled with hope because I Love you with an everlasting Love. My thoughts towards you are countless as the sand on the seashore and I rejoice over you with singing, I will never stop doing good to you, for you are my treasured possession. I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul and I want to show you great and marvelous things, if you seek me with all you heart you will find me, delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart for it is I who gave you those desires, I am able to do more for you than you can possibly imagine, for I am your greatest encourager, I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles, when you are brokenhearted I am close to you. As a shepherd carries a lamb I have carried you close to my heart, one day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and I will take away all your pain you have suffered on this earth, I am you Father and I Love you even as I have Loved my son Jesus, for in Jesus my Love for you is revealed, He is the exact representation of my being and He came to demonstrate that I am for you and to tell you that I 'm not counting your sins, Jesus died so that you and I can be reconsiled, His death was the ultimate expression of my Love for you, I gave up everything I Loved that I might gain your Love, if you receive the gift of my son Jesus you receive me and nothing will ever seperate you from my Love again, come home and I will throw the biggest party Heaven has ever seen, I have always been Father, I will always be Father, my question is will you be my child?

I am waiting for you, Love your DAD Almighty God.