Breaking Christmas Chains

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the story of a man who is forced to take stock of his life. When Ebenezer Scrooge returns home on Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his business partner Jacob Marley, who had died seven years earlier. He came in chains and warned Scrooge that his chains forged in life were longer and heavier than his.

While we do not believe in many of the aspect of the after life in Dickens’ fictional story, we can appreciate the message – we must will face the consequences of our words and deeds. Galatians 6:7-8 tells us, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows…”

What about us?  Have we, like Scrooge, sown seeds that we deeply regret? Have we, too, forged some Christmas chains that keep us from experiencing the true meaning of this season?  At this time of year, many are chained by materialism – caught by the allure of wanting and getting more and better things. Others hammer links of bitterness and hurts onto their chain because of old wounds.  Others are bound by unrealistic expectations of harmony in the home, experiencing disappointment and anxiety at family gatherings.  Many are weighed down by worry and resentment over the financial stress of the season.

How do you break the chains?

1. Receive the forgiveness through Jesus Christ. 

Jesus came to offer forgiveness to as many as will receive Him as Savior. He will free you from your chains of sin.

2. Focus on Christ. 

Make sure the prominent character in your Christmas celebration is Christ, not Santa or other characters.

3. Build holy chains to bind you to Jesus Christ.

Invest in the poor and needy. Take food to a local food pantry or give Christmas baskets to the hungry. Make a special offering to Missions or donation to our local rescue mission.

The Case for Christmas – Scientific Evidence

We live in a time when science is continually solving crimes, or at least according to CSI & NCIS. And it can be done in about an hour.

Can we use a little science to help prove the validity of the Christmas story we find described in the Bible? I believe through science and archeology we can helps support the truthfulness of the Christmas story. Let’s investigate…

The Census (Luke 2:1-4).

Luke tells us that Joseph & Mary went to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus ordered a census for tax purposes. Archeology has uncovered a number of census recordings. A worldwide census throughout the Roman Empire took place from the time of Augustus (23BC) through the 3rd century every 14 years. One from AD 104 reads: Seeing that the time has come for the house to house census, it is necessary to compel all those who for any cause whatsoever are residing out of their provinces to return to their own homes, that they may both carry out the regular order of the census and may also attend diligently to the cultivation of their allotments.”

The Cities & People.

Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). Bethlehem is about 5-6 miles south of Jerusalem on the main road to Hebron. Bethlehem plays an important role in Bible history. It was the location of Rachel’s death and burial. It was adopted home of Ruth and her husband Boaz, the grandmother of King David. David, himself, was born in Bethlehem and was anointed as king by Samuel there. It soon became insignificant, leading Micah’s prophecy (5:2) of Christ’s birth to take on significance.

In 2012 archeologists discovered the first physical evidence supporting the existence of Bethlehem before Jesus’ birth. A clay seal was unearthed near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem with the word ‘Bethlehem’ on it. It appears to be part of a tax shipment to the King of Judah in the 8th or 7th century BC.

Nazareth (Luke 2:4). Skeptics have for centuries claimed that Nazareth never existed during the time of Jesus, though the Bible claims that He lived there after his birth in Bethlehem. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, by Paul, the Talmud, or Josephus (first century historian). No historian or geographer mentions Nazareth until 400 years after Jesus. A modern atheist, Rene Salm, has written a book The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus in 2008 and has a new book NazarethGate coming out in 2015.

We might argue that Nazareth was such an insignificant village that no wrote about it. It was a small 60 acre village with about 300-500 people. Historians write about kings and emperors, not common people. Nathanael even said, “Can there be any good thing come out of Nazareth.”

The reason we have little archeological evidence is that most of the ancient city lies under the modern city of Nazareth of 60,000 population. There is no evidence that it did not exist. Argument from silence is never proof of anything. However, archeologists have discovered a list of priests that was composed near 70 AD. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and priests were no longer needed. So they were sent to various locations, even in Galilee. A group of priests were relocated to Nazareth. In addition, tombs from the 1st century have been uncovered near the modern day city of Nazareth.

The Wise Men (Matthew 2:1). The Greek word for ‘wise man’ is magi. Very little is known about the Magi. Matthew doesn’t even record how many of them there were. All the Bible tells us is that they came from the East to Jerusalem. The magi were a priestly group from Persia, once a mighty country in modern day Iran & Iraq. Because of their combined knowledge of science, agriculture, mathematics, history and the occult, their religious and political influence was great. No Persian became king without the approval of the magi.

Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1). This ruler was in power when Jesus was born. When he didn’t hear a report from the wise men, he decided to kill all the boy babies younger than two years old in the area surrounding Bethlehem. Yet, there is no evidence of this event.

However, archeology tells us that this slaughter is consistent with his character. Herod was suspicious of anyone whom he thought may take his throne. His list of victims include one of his 10 wives (his favorite), 3 of his sons, a high priest, an ex-king, and two of his sister’s husbands. One of the greatest evidences of his cruelty was having the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died – in order to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem.

His brutality to Bethlehem is consistent with historical evidence. Bethlehem was a very small village of less than 600 people. The number of boy babies under 2 years would be very small. So, the fact that he killed a few babies in a small community did not get many people’s attention.

Science & archeology are not absolute proof of the Christmas story. But they serve as testimony that everything told in the Christmas story is true. I hope this encourages your faith.

Christmas in Heaven

The Christmas Season always carries mixed feelings. For many, especially children, it is the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ For others, it magnifies troubled, lonely times. I remember the first Christmas after my father passed away. We tried to act like it was normal, but it wasn’t. I had never known a Christmas without him.

I found a poem that was credited to a 13 year old boy who died of a brain tumor that he had battled for four years. He died on December 14, 1997. He gave this to his mom before he died. His name was Ben. May it encourage us who have loved ones in Heaven this Christmas.

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below

With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,

But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart.

But I am not so far away, We really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones, You know I hold you dear.

And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above.

I sent you each a memory of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold.

It was always most important the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do.

For I can’t count the blessing or love He has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear

Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year

Practice Your Christianity – Guest Blog by Barb Rice

Recently, our church secretary and pianist presented the following devotion for our worship band practice. It was so good, I thought I would share it with you. Practice can be tedious and time consuming, but it is beneficial. Thanks for your thoughts Barb Rice…

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity . . . (Hebrews 5:12-14, 6:1a)

What struck me about these verses was the word “practice.” The word in the KJV is “use.” But if we look at it in terms of practicing—intentionally working at something in order to learn or master—that’s something I had never thought about before. Although we’ll never truly master Christianity until we get to heaven, it’s something we need to practice. I think the passage in Philippians 2:12-13 conveys this same idea:

So then . . . just as you have always obeyed, . . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

We are meeting here tonight to practice; i.e., to work on our music to learn and master it in order to “work for His good pleasure” in the services. In I Corinthians 9, Paul uses the training of athletes as an example. They exercise discipline and self-control. Athletes have coaches to help them become better at their sports, and they practice to work on what the coach tells them.

For believers, our training involves things like prayer, Bible reading, serving, worshiping, evangelism, etc. And we need to listen to our coach – the Holy Spirit. As we put into practice what we know of our faith, we grow more mature and can then understand deeper spiritual truths, referred to as solid food in Hebrews 5:14.

Barb Rice, FBC secretary & pianist

In a recent devotional from “Our Daily Bread,” the writer talks about 3 rewards of spiritual maturity, and I added a 4th:

1. Discernment – Hebrews 5 says, “because of practice, our senses are trained to discern good and evil.”

2. The ability to communicate God’s truth to others – also in Hebrews 5, it says that, by this time, the people ought to be teachers rather than still needing to be taught.

3. Godly wisdom – I Corinthians 2:6 talks about speaking wisdom among those who are mature.

4. Blessing – In Chapter 1, James talks about being doers of the word, not merely hearers. Verse 25 says, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”

This is to encourage us all to be intentional about practicing our Christianity every day so we can grow to spiritual maturity.

Hey, if you have an interesting thought, send it to me and maybe I will post it to my blog. Remember, anything sent to me gives me the full right to edit.

Christmas Letter From Jesus

Someone sent this to me and I thought you’d enjoy it.

A Christmas letter from Jesus 

It has come to My attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own.

I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santa’s and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that, then there would not be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 – 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen away from home. (Do not forget that there are guardsmen on duty away from home as well.) They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You do not have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas,” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.)

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary– especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to your church or some charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court.

Have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember:

I LOVE YOU,
Jesus

Why ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Almost Didn’t Happen

One of my favorite Christmas memories is gathering around the TV to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas Special.” I was able to watch the very first presentation on Thursday, December 9, 1965. This year is the 50th year of consecutive showings. It is the longest running cartoon special in history. It has won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award. I love it!

What most people don’t know is that the Christmas special almost didn’t happen. Charles Schulz was the creator of the very popular comic strip, Peanuts. Bill Melendez (the producer, director, and voice for Snoopy) received a phone call from Coca-Cola. They were interested in a series of cartoon specials including the Peanuts characters, beginning with Christmas.

Melendez contacted Schultz to write the script. It was written during a few weeks. On a very limited budget, the production was finished in 6 months, 10 days before the first airing on CBS.

Charles Schulz had some ideas for the Christmas special that didn’t make network executives very happy.

1. There was no laugh track, something many comedies of the day included. Schulz thought the audience shouldn’t be prodded to laugh. Though CBS recorded a version with a laugh track included, it was never used.

2. All the voiceovers were children. Most cartoon productions used adult voices, even for children.It is a matter of trivia that you will  never hear the voice of an adult on the special. In addition, with the exception of Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy, none of the voiceover children had any experience in voice work.

3. The music used was jazz. Jazz was not a children’s music genre and many thought it would distract from the story line. Executives desired traditional children’s music. But Schultz prevailed.

4. Linus recited the story of the birth of Christ straight from the Gospel of Luke. Executives didn’t think an audience would sit through a reading of passages from the King James Version of the Bible. Schultz would not budge. He said, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” The Scripture quotation remained.

When the CBS executives viewed the finished product they were worried. It was too religious. They thought they had a failure. Even Melendez thought it a disaster. CBS had earlier promised a desire to air several ‘Charlie Brown’ specials. However, the production team was told, “We will, of course, air it next week, but I’m afraid we won’t be ordering any more.” The production team felt, “We’ve just ruined Charlie Brown.”

But the executives were wrong. During the now famous scene, Charlie Brown sinks into a state of despair and cries, ‘Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?’ Linus walks to the center of the stage and under a  spotlight, quotes Luke 2:8-14.

The scene lasted 51 seconds. But Schultz was right. The Bible reading is essential.

The half-hour special aired and became an instant favorite. It was seen by 45% of people watching TV that night. One review said, “Linus’ reading of the story of the Nativity was, quite simply, the dramatic highlight of the season.”

In some respects the executives were correct. The scenes are choppy, the voices sound mechanical, and it is not an overall good cartoon production. But the power of the special is not in the production. It is in the story itself. When Linus reads from scripture, a bright light is shined on our modern departure from the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus. I think without the reading, it wouldn’t have lasted one year. Without Jesus, Christmas is just another hectic holiday.

What are your memories of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”?

You can read some of my similar posts: Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, The Original Grinch That Stole Christmas

The Case for Christmas – Eyewitness Evidence

How do we know for sure there were angels, a traveling star, a virgin birth, or a Son of God in a manger?

I want to take a cue from one of the most famous Bible passages about Christmas. The story tells how an angel announced to a group of shepherds that “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Following this announcement, “the shepherds said one to another, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing….”

The shepherds were determined to get to the bottom of the matter. They went to check out the evidence for themselves. The ultimate question is: Who was in the manger on that first Christmas morning?

So, investigate the validity of the book that talks about these stories of Jesus: the Bible. Can we trust the Bible to give us a truthful account of this historical event?

Can I trust the Bible?

We don’t have any original writings, so how do we know that we can trust the Bible we have in our hand?

The Scribe. No printing presses existed, so people were trained to copy, by hand, the documents. They were extremely careful in copying. For example, if they copied the book of Isaiah, they would total up the number of letters. If one letter was missing, they threw it away and started another copy. These men were meticulous in their job.

The Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1947, a goat herdsman found some writings in clay pots, that we call ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls.’ The entire Book of Isaiah was there, along with nearly every Old Testament book. These were dated around 100 BC. A comparison of a modern Hebrew Bible shows little or no text change in 2,000 years. For example, in the 166 words of Isaiah 53, one word is in question and does not change the meaning of the passage.

Manuscript Evidence. Two things are most important in determining the reliability of a historical document: the number of manuscript copies in existence and the time between when it was first written and the oldest existing copy.

When you compare the New Testament with other ancient works, it’s reliability is obvious.

  • Caesar (100-44 BC) wrote The Gallic Wars. The earliest manuscript is 1,000 years later. We have 10.
  • Plato (427-347 BC) wrote Tetralogies. The earliest manuscript is 1,200 years later. We have 7.
  • Aristotle (384-322 BC) has his earliest manuscript 1,100 years later. We have 5.

For the New Testament (40-100 AD) we have more than 24,000 different copies. The earliest copied within 25 years after it was first written. No other ancient document comes close. The closest is Homer’s Illiad, with 643 copies, the earliest copied 500 years later.

Personal Evidence.

If I want to play the ‘prove the Bible is true’ game I can argue from personal experience. I believe the Bible is true because it gives me the experience that it claims it will give me. The greatest evidence that has convinced me of the truthfulness of the Bible is the personal effect it has had on me.

The Bible says that God will forgive my sins. I believe that. I accepted God’s forgiveness and it happened. How do I know? I have a sense of freedom from guilt.

The Bible says that if I come to Christ I will be a new creation. Old things will pass away and all things will become new. I believed in Christ one day and it happened just as the Bible said it would. Old things did pass away and all things became new. I experienced it in my life.

The Bible changes lives. Millions of people – leaders, brilliant educators, scientists, philosophers, generals – all testify the Bible has changed their lives. Millions of people are living proof that the Bible is true.

You can not only trust that the events of the first Christmas are true, but the promises are equally true. “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Read a similar article of mine: 5 Reasons the Bible is True

Red & Yellow, Black & White… They are precious in His sight – A Plea for Racial Equality

We only need to watch the evening news to see the extreme differences between the races in this country. The realization of the wide gap between what blacks and whites feel about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri is a shock to most Americans. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that racism is a problem in the U.S. as in many parts of the world.

The battle for racial equality is one of the biggest questions of our time. Billions of dollars are spent fighting it. Presidents and world leaders consult civic and religious leaders. Oprah and Dr. Phil devote entire programs to it. Many fine Christian organizations lament racism and talk in terms of the races getting along, but they fail to present a biblical answer to a searching world. What is the answer to racism?

Love is the Answer to Racism

Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the great commandment, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” in Matthew 22:39. The Pharisees being the legalists they were responded by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Christ answered this with the parable of the good Samaritan who helped a Jew who had been mugged. The Samaritan helped the Jew despite the hatred between the two races (Luke 10:30-37). This teaches that everyone is our neighbor and we should even love those who hate us (Matthew 5:44).

Jesus is the Answer to Racism

The apostles had to deal with racial conflict between the Jews and Gentiles in the early church. They emphasized that, regardless of one’s background, God, “made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). God revealed this to the church through Peter who said, “in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.” (Acts 10:34 & 1 Peter 1:17) Paul taught the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, “for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Paul also taught that, “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, & Colossians 3:25). James said that having prejudices about people different from us was sin (James 2:1-9). The love of Christ in us prevents the “evil thoughts” that come with prejudices and become the rationalizations for racism (James 2:4). When we have prejudices, we are judging others which is sin, “for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” (Romans 2:1; see also James 4:11-12)

Christians are the Answer to Racism.

If we are true followers of Christ, we will obey his command to, “make disciples of all the nations” regardless of race (Matthew 28:19). All races will be represented in heaven, “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). The Bible tells us that all men were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?” (Malachi 2:10)

Truthfully, there is only one race – the human race. We might look different. We might act different. We might talk different. But we are all human. Let us treat one another the way we would want others to treat us. Let us treat others the way Christ has treated us – with love, forgiveness, understanding, and compassion.

Do you have any answers to our racial problems?

Read a similar post: Thieves & Priests – Good Samaritan Story, The Good Samaritan Attitude

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown – 10 Life Lessons

This year (2014) celebrates 50 years of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ on CBS (first aired on December 9, 1965). We watched it every year as a kid. As I reflect on how much I enjoyed the adventures of the Peanuts gang, I remember the many lessons they taught me…

1. It’s okay to be afraid… just don’t let your fears control you.

Charlie Brown often spoke of his fears, but no matter how scared he was, he always did the things he wanted to do.

2. Persistence wins out. 

Charlie Brown often lost, failed at much, but he never gave up. Even though he knew Lucy was going to pull the football away before he could kick it….Even though he knew the tree was going to eat his kite… Even though he knew his team would lose the ball game, he kept on trying.

3. It’s what you think of yourself that counts.

Linus carried a security blanket for years and his friends laughed at him. They also laughed at him because he believed in the “Great Pumpkin”. Pigpen was a walking cloud of dust and dirt and was often regarded unkindly. Both characters, however, believed they were as good as anybody else — and they were right.

4. Sometimes you need to talk.

One thing the ‘Peanuts’ gang understood was the importance of talking things out. Whether leaning up against Schroeder’s piano or atop the brick wall, they always had someplace to discuss what was of concern to them.

5. Sometimes you need to listen.

Even crabby, self-indulged Lucy knew the importance of listening. She started the famous “Psychiatry Booth” where any and all could come and be heard.

6. Do what you love to do.

Through all their adventures. Schroeder remained constant in his appreciation of Beethoven and his love of playing the piano. He loved to play piano and that’s what he did, regardless of the circumstances Charlie Brown flew his kite, played baseball and football, not just to win (he knew he wouldn’t), but because he loved to do those things.

7. It’s Important to have friends that care.

The ‘Peanuts’ gang was made up of individual characters, each with their own foibles and talents, but through it all they were always there for each other.

8. Big dreams lead to big things.

Snoopy was the biggest dreamer of them all, but his wild imagination often led to even wilder, more fantastic adventures in real life. Snoopy knew that you must have a big dream if you are going to lead a big life.

9. Action creates reality.

As Charlie Brown was reminded time and again after prodding from Linus: it takes action to bring about change. Though he often failed, Chuck took action quite regularly… and every now and again things would go his way.

10. Laugh every dayl

While the kids themselves may not have seen the humor in the things they did, Charles Schulz made sure that we did. Life is only as serious or as humorous as YOU make it. Lighten up. Go play Softball. Fly a kite. Dance with your dog. Smile… it makes people wonder what you’re up to.

Why is Christmas so important?

As we feel the stress of the Christmas holiday, it is easy to become a humbug about it. Or get too busy to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas – the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The truth of the incarnation sets Christianity apart from all other religions of the world (including Judaism and Islam). It is unique to Christianity to discover a God who takes the initiative in becoming flesh in order to redeem sinful human beings. As C. S. Lewis aptly put it, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”1

The good news we offer is that we have more than Santa Claus, presents & lights.

What’s so important about Christmas?

To answer this question, we turn to several texts in 1 John where the author uses the words “appeared” or “manifested” to address the reasons for the incarnation.

1. Jesus came to take away sins.

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (1 John 3:5)

Sin is our biggest problem. Jesus came to solve that problem. The forgiveness of sin requires a sacrifice of blood (Heb. 9:22). Blood comes only from real flesh and blood creatures. If Jesus were only divine, or like an angel, He would not be flesh and blood. Only because He took on human flesh could He be the sacrifice to atone for our sins. Had Jesus not taken on human flesh, our sins would not be forgiven. Because Jesus did take on human flesh, lived a sinless life (Heb. 4:15) and offered His sinless life on the cross of Calvary, He provides forgiveness, atonement, salvation and eternal life for us (Rom. 5:1-21).

2. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.

…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)

Satan is our worst enemy. He deceives us into sin and wants to destroy us. Jesus’ arrival on planet Earth was a declaration of war on Satan. Satan thought the cross was the end of Jesus; instead, it was the downfall of Satan’s plan. “Destroy” does not mean ‘annihilate.’ It means ‘to render inoperative, to rob of power.’ Satan’s power has been reduced and his weapons have been impaired. He is still a mighty foe, but he is no match for the power of God. Satan is a defeated enemy. He may still win a few battles here and there, but he has already lost the war! Sentence has been pronounced on him, but it will be a while before the punishment is meted out.

3. Jesus came to show the love of God.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

God’s love is our best gift. Christ’s coming to earth was an expression of God’s love. How do we know God loves sinners? He sent His Son. God reached out to us by sending the Son He loves, and the Son died for our sins and rose to give us an eternal relationship with God. These verses provide 3 evidences that God truly loves us: 1- God initiated the relationship (He sent His Son). 2- God gave His best (His only begotten Son). 3- God met our deepest needs (sin & God’s wrath).

Praise God for sending His Son to be with us so that we could be with Him forever.