Nov 22, 2010
Advent- Waiting in Silence
Nov 22, 2010
Advent- Waiting in Silence
Each year around this time, in Facebook posts and elsewhere, we are certain to be lectured by well-meaning Christians on the “sinfulness” of celebrating Christmas. Their arguments can be persuasive. “In the Bible, God never told us to celebrate Christmas,” they say. “Christmas has its roots in paganism,” they say. So that must mean we’re just dupes celebrating a pagan ritual when we ignorantly think we’re gratefully celebrating the birth of Jesus. Who wants to celebrate what God never told us to celebrate and which supposedly has its roots in paganism? Not me! But are those things really true?
While there is no specific instruction in the Bible to honor or celebrate the birth of Jesus each year (and no, of course we don’t know the actual date of His birth), neither is there any prohibition of it. Further, when you read the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, it is clear that heaven and earth celebrated that miraculous event. Can you imagine the breathtaking awe felt by those humble shepherds at the sight of the multitude of heavenly host praising God on that powerful, wonderful occasion?
I can think of nothing more worthy of annual remembrance and celebration than the birth of Christ, alongside the celebration of His resurrection from the dead (the supposed “paganism” about which we are also lectured by those same well-meaning Christians. “The root word for Easter is the name of a pagan goddess!” they say). These events are part of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I submit to you that the truth is the opposite of these assertions of paganism. The claims that the pagan rituals in which Christmas (and Easter) supposedly are based pre-date Jesus’ birth, earthly ministry, sacrifice and resurrection from the dead are wrong. Nothing “pre-dates” Jesus. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He is outside of time, because He is before time. All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing—nothing—was made. He is God. His willing sacrifice to save the world was set and planned before the dawn of time and creation of the world.
All pagan (satanic) rituals, “holidays” and celebrations throughout history are nothing more than cheap imitation knock-offs of the Real Thing. Satan has always tried to set himself in the place of Jesus, to be the object of worship. Before being cast to earth, he tried the same thing in heaven. To this end, he has created myriad false religions and rituals, from blatantly pagan to sneaky, fake “Christian.” Not only are these designed for Satan to soak up men’s worship, but also to deceive men and keep them from coming to a saving knowledge of Truth found only in the Word of God.
In so many different ways, since the fall of man in the Garden, the devil has deceptively imitated and mocked Christ’s ministry and message, even before they played out in time. So, no, the celebration of the birth of Christ—that we call Christmas—does not have its roots in paganism. It’s the other way around. Satan has always stolen the ideas he has from Christ’s truth, and then he twists and perverts that truth into lies and grotesque wickedness.
Another point to consider is the fact that the world, currently under Satan’s lordship, despises and reviles all things of God and Christ. Thus, we see Satan’s war on Christmas, waged by his servants the God-haters among us. If Christmas was truly based in satanic paganism, don’t you think the devil would be fine with its presence in the public square? Instead, we now see almost every major corporation aggressively scrubbing even the mention of Christmas from their businesses and advertising.
It’s irksome to see the ridiculous level this corporate purging of Christmas has reached. Having been in radio for 22 years, I’ve watched as the generic word “holiday” has slowly replaced Christmas in national radio ads. It would be silly if it weren’t so devilish:
“This holiday, give the gift your sweetheart wants!” “Make your holiday cards special!” “Find all your holiday gifts in one location!” “Do your holiday shopping with us, and save!” “We have the perfect holiday gifts at prices you’ll love!”
It’s not “holiday.” It’s Christmas. No one sends out “holiday cards.” They send out Christmas cards. No one does their “holiday shopping.” They do their Christmas shopping. No one gives “holiday gifts.” They give Christmas gifts. This is yet another example of the world doing its worst to obliterate even the mention of Christ—in this case, as it appears in the word Christmas. The giant corporations are glad to scrub Christmas from their advertising, but boy do they love to load up on national “holiday” ads in order to separate you from your Christmas cash!
Christmas is not pagan, and it’s not “holiday.” It is part of the greatest True Story in the history of stories. How fortunate we are that God so loved the world! Jesus, stepped down from the glory of His heavenly throne and into the form of man. He was born into the world He loved so much that He willingly offered His precious, sinless life in place of ours, and all we have to do is believe and accept His free gift salvation.
For those well-meaning Christians who deeply believe celebrating Christmas is wrong, an offense to God, then for them, it is wrong. Let every man be convinced in his heart. But, for those of us who view it as the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, then let us celebrate it with joy and thanks to God.
by GINA MILLER
Israel can be a dusty place, and sandaled feet get filthy walking to and fro. In ancient times, a person entering a home removed his sandals and cleaned his feet. Or if the homeowners were wealthy, servants would do the washing. This distasteful but necessary task fell to the worker of lowest position in the household.
Imagine the disciples’ surprise when the Son of God put Himself in the role of a lowly servant and knelt to wash their feet. The need for such a service was great, as they had been traveling for some time. But not one of them offered to do it.
Jesus did more than fill a need; He offered an object lesson. As He explained, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:15). Some churches have incorrectly interpreted this as a command to make foot washing an ordinance. But it’s possible to perform a ritual without contemplating the significance of Christ’s actions.
In fact, the washing isn’t the main point—it’s the attitude that counts, not the act. Jesus desires that we be willing to humble ourselves to serve others. He is looking for men and women who will ignore pride, position, and power in order to do whatever must be done, wherever it needs doing, and for whoever requires assistance.
Jesus performed His greatest and most humble acts of service within 24 hours of each other. He washed dirty feet by using hands that would then be pierced by nails. The message here is that every task God gives us is important to His kingdom.
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . May give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)
The “spirit of wisdom” is applied to a wide variety of circumstances. It certainly includes leadership (Deuteronomy 34:9).
But wisdom is also identified with the ability to make beautiful clothing (Exodus 28:3) and to engineer and invent complex equipment (31:2-6). Daniel was said to have “an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts” (Daniel 5:12). We are even promised that our “adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:15).
A “spirit of revelation” is also made available to us. This revelation (literally “to take off the cover”) is not new doctrine or truth. Revelation is implemented by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10), having the source of His revelatory work from Jesus Christ on behalf of Christ (John 16:13-15).
The Greek language of the phrase “the eyes of [our] understanding being enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18) could be translated “the vision of your deep thought will be made to shine,” or paraphrased in a more colloquial expression, “the light comes on!”
There are three specific enlightenments cited here: The hope of our calling (see Romans 15:13-14), the riches of the glory of our inheritance (11:33-36), and the exceeding greatness of His power exercised on our behalf (Ephesians 3:20; 6:10).
Each of these three are specifically designed by God to undergird our faith and embolden our confidence, even though we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). HMM III
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. —Psalm 63:1
They can change the expressions in the hymnals, but whenever men and women are lost in worship they will cry out, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee” (Psalm 63:1). Worship becomes a completely personal love experience between God and the worshiper. It was like that with David, with Isaiah, with Paul. It is like that with all whose desire has been to possess God.
This is the glad truth: God is my God.
Brother or sister, until you can say God and I, you cannot say us with any meaning. Until you have been able to meet God in loneliness of soul, just you and God—as if there were no one else in the world—you will never know what it is to love the other persons in the world.
In Canada, those who have written of the saintly Holy Anne said, “She talks to God as if there were nobody else but God and He had no other children but her.” That was not a selfish quality. She had found the value and delight of pouring her personal devotion and adoration at God’s feet.
May I know today that personal love experience with You, my God. I will seek You
early, for You are my God. Amen.
… gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will. (Hebrews 2:4)
I go back often to Genesis 24 for the illustration and the figure in the Old Testament reminding us of the adornments of grace and beauty that will mark the believing Body of Christ. Abraham sent his trusted servant to his former homeland to select a bride for Isaac.
The adornment of Rebekah’s beauty consisted of jewels and the raiment that came as gifts of love from the bridegroom whom she had not yet seen.
It is a reminder of what God is doing in our midst right now. Abraham typifies God the Father; Isaac, our Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom. The servant who went with the gifts into the far country to claim a bride for Isaac speaks well of the Holy Spirit, our Teacher and Comforter.
He gives us, one by one, the gifts and the graces of the Holy Spirit that will be our real beauty in His sight. Thus we are being prepared, and when we meet our coming Lord and King, our adornment will be our God-given graces!
Our good Shepherd has in his flock a variety of experiences; some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith; but he is impartial in his care for all his sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to him as the most advanced in the flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary; but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects them with his arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like your lambs, ready to perish,—he nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; he finds weak minds ready to faint and die—he consoles them and renews their strength.