December 3, 2016 devotional

It’s about the cross… All the rest is Hoop-o-la

https://youtu.be/nwwwOW8eyj0

The Ball Brothers sing a song about this season that we celebrate… As they say: ” It’s not just about the manger where the baby Lay, it’s not about all the angels who sing for him that day. It’s not just about the shepherds or the bright and morning star. It’s not all about the Wiseman who traveled from afar. It’s about the cross, it’s about my sin, it’s about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again. It’s about the stone that was rolled away. So that you and I could have real life someday. It’s about the cross”.

I had gone to Busch Gardens and had seen two Christmas shows. One of them was a gospel presentation, with alot of dancing, that was beautiful and I asked the Lord what he thought of it and he said it’s a bunch of hoop-o-la  I then went to the next show and had frosty the snowman and Santa Claus and dancing reindeer. Deck the Halls with bows and holly fa la la la la la la…..  And I asked the Lord what he thought about it…. he said it was a bunch of hoop-o-la

I think the Ball Brothers are right.

The next verse says ” It’s not all about the good things in this life that I’ve done. It’s not about all the treasures or the trophies that I’ve won. It’s not about the righteousness that I found within. It’s about his precious blood that saved me from sin.”

When we go back to the Bible we know we are told the Christmas story that is so NOT beautiful. But the way that it’s presented today in sweet nativity scenes and a Christmas plays…. it wasn’t exactly an easy time… It actually was exactly the opposite… A pregnant mother Mary on a donkey struggling with each step that the donkey took, having to be turned away from every hotel in the area only to find yourself in a barn. Struggling to figure out what all of this was about when the shepherds came and declared that they’d heard from the angels that Jesus was God’s Son and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and laying in a manger,.”

And then the Wiseman two years later? Yes, Mary, Joseph and Jesus….. they had been running for their lives…. they had to run to Egypt to keep away from the enemy who was trying to kill God’s planned redemption for his people.… It was not an easy time!

I have been struggling about whether to decorate the house.  Last spring, the whole box of Nativities that we set out every year fell from the garage shelf and broke …every peace… I mean …every piece… in the box!  God, later that night, for the first time, wrote the story in poetry style.  He amazed me and I have now figured it out that he wanted to get my attention. That I should believe it is He that was speaking.

God’s poetry… penned by Carol Gravante Easter 2016

His desire to inspire… Before we expire!

broken-nativity

Heart Treasures Broken

 

“It is so sad,” we say with tears

Nativity set out all those years.

 

Mom and dad created for our day

38 years ago, oh what do we say!?

 

High the box stored away

Dropped on the floor, oh a sad day!

 

Broken pieces on the ground

Hidden meaning, much to be found

 

Christmas treasures loved so much

Broken Nativity, our hearts we clutch!

 

Simple cleanup of the room

End up sweeping with a broom

 

All those memories were gone in a flash

Out they go with the trash

 

Heart held fast to a ceramic child?

Does God want our heart so mild?

 

Do we repair it?

Do we use glue?

Keep our traditions?

What would you have us do?

 

Are our traditions idols we make?

Thinking it’s only for his sake?

 

Is it objects of beauty that’s his desire?

Or is it our heart that he wants on fire

 

Ceramic pieces purified with fire?

Live only with purpose is his desire

 

Our work will be tested

Are our desires for him pure?

At judgment, we’ll see

And God will be sure

 

Rewards will be many

Crowns he will give

That is the Hope

That we live

 

All glory and honor

And praise is due

To God and King

Forever in you!

 

We are only to be used

By our King

Our work will shine

For his glory, we sing

 

He puts us to task

Planned a long time ago

His love and forgiveness

Only to show

 

Forever and ever

His anthem reigns

He alone is worthy,

The lamb that was slain

 

You’re everything,

All-knowing, everywhere

We need not seek you

But in prayer

 

You mark us with a Seal

And you know us by name

For our forgiveness

That you were slain

 

To reawaken our first love ever?

Some would say,

Not now or never

 

The Word says

Where your treasure is so

There your heart,

Will also go

 

Jesus is more than

Made of clay

He is the one

Who forgives us each day

 

Of all our treasures that we store

Jesus says that he is the door

Our hearts set free forevermore

 

Broken nativity,

Yes it’s a shame

But it is the reason that he came

 

He was broken many years ago

All because he loved us so

 

God sent his son to show us the way

Forgiveness is key for us each day

 

True love keeps us going strong

Jesus is coming, to him, we belong

 

He need not be, put away

Because in our hearts, he will always stay

 

Light of the world for all to see

First, in our life, he will always be

 

The power of sin is broken for good

For all who believe and all of us should

 

For he paid the price for you and me

His love lasts for eternity

 

 

Praise the Lord for His truth!!!  The theme of the poem repeated 3 times is “Broken”

 

Broken nativity

He was broken for us

The power of sin is now broken

 

I knew when God gave me the poem in the spring of this year, that I was going to have to grapple with this message sometime and the time is NOW! Do I decorate or not????  After prayer asking for wisdom, I was led immediately to this article that I will post here. 

So did we decorate???

We ended up scaling down considerably and decorating very minimally and our tree is full of family photos, ceramic names of God ornaments and Christian-themed ornaments. I promised my mom, who will be visiting to put a few lights outside (not the 1,000’s of lights we normally do) and yes Santa will be sitting in the rocker on the front porch because she asked me to put him there. The point taken was that if decorating took so much time that it took away from our work we do for the Lord, the time with the Lord, and the decorating and cooking traditions exhaust  us then it is not honoring and we should rethink priorities.  

 

The message is that we treasure traditions more than the focus of the cross and how his brokenness and death broke the power of sin for us. We are to focus on Christ Jesus, our Savior, not just on Holidays and Sundays but to hold him in our heart and talk to him and remember what he did for us at all times.   And the true meaning of Christmas is found in our hearts, not in traditions.  I found this article and I am posting the link at the end but I will highlight what stood out to me.

 

“What Colossians 2:16-17 forbids is the celebration of religious seasons or holy days when they have been prescribed as a religious duty and necessary for holiness or spirituality.

In this passage, the Apostle is talking about the Old Testament festivals which were shadows of the person and work of Christ–but Christ has now come. To continue to celebrate them is to dishonor the fact of His coming, or to act as though He were not enough for salvation or spirituality. Note what the Apostle says, “let no one act as your judge in regard to . . .” He is saying don’t let anyone tell you these things are requirements for fellowship with God. They were only shadows of the person and work of Christ, and He has not only come and fulfilled those shadows, but He is totally sufficient.

Colossians 2:16 and 17 in no way forbid believers from commemorating something such as the birth of Christ if it is done out of love, devotion, and the joy the season gives when used as a way of focusing on the Savior and not as a religious duty. The issue is not the observance, but the reason, the attitudes and the spirit in which it is done.

Furthermore, I believe there is a scriptural precedent for commemorating and remembering the birth of Christ. This is in keeping with the events that occurred around the time of Christ’s birth These include:

  1. The appearance of the angel of the Lord with the glory of the Lord to announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds (Lk. 2:10-12).
  2. The response of the angels at the announcement of Christ’s birth (Lk. 2:13-14).
  3. The actions of the shepherds who left their flocks to go and see which was nothing short of a celebration (Lk. 2:15-20).
  4. And the arrival of the men from the east bearing gifts as much as a year to two years later (Matt. 2:1-12).

There is, of course, the New Testament precedent for believers meeting together on Sunday. In essence, this is a celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. The early church automatically did this, but Scripture does not command us to do so. In fact, the early church at first met daily and took the Lord’s Supper daily, but we don’t do that today. Why not? Because these are not binding. We are not under the Law. Believers meet on Sunday because of its significance and because the early church set a precedent for it, but it was never commanded in the Bible. Believers did it out of love and adoration for the risen Savior.

The point is this: If the early church could celebrate the resurrection without a specific command from God, only the spirit of legalism or the letter of the law would forbid the celebration of Christ’s birth as a special season of joy and adoration. Ultimately, the issue is not the season, it’s the attitude and reason behind it and the distortion of it. Let’s not throw out the baby with the wash.

  • The evergreen tree is a symbol of the eternal life which Christ, the Son of God, offers to man via another tree, the cross ( 2:7; 22:2, 14).
  • The presents under the tree can remind us of God’s gift and our need to give of ourselves to others as those who have received God’s gift of life through Christ.

Even without seeking special significance in the traditions of Christmas, you could still celebrate this season for the joy and family fun the season can bring.

I would like to suggest that believers can capitalize on the Christmas season as a family tradition and as a learning experience much like the Old Testament Passover was to be used by Israel. It all depends on the spirit and attitude in which it is done.

(2) Facts of Scripture Concerning the Celebration of Christmas

In view of what we have seen, the Bible is silent from the standpoint of our Christmas traditions. However, because of our freedom in Christ under grace, we are at liberty to celebrate Christmas. The important point is that the Bible simply does not condemn the celebration of Christmas even in the traditional form and we have liberty in Christ to choose to do so.

Scripture does, however, set down principles which should affect the way we celebrate it. These principles warn and protect us from the distortions we find in the world.

  • Today in many companies and offices, Christmas is celebrated with wild, drunken parties where there is no regard for the reason for the season–the birth of the Savior of the World. It becomes just a time of merriment and a time to tie one on.
  • Today people often spend lavishly on gifts and go deeply into debt. They buy things they can’t afford, which nobody needs, and sometimes can’t even identify. The response is “Hey, thanks. What is it?”
  • Children get caught up with the gifts and the toys and lose sight of the Savior–or never hear about the Lord as God’s gift of His Son that we might have life.
  • Through the Christmas message, Parents often fail to teach the spirit of giving as an outworking of one’s relationship with God through faith in Christ, God’s gift to the world.
  • Finally, some may observe the season as they would observe lent, as a religious holy day that must be observed to gain points with God, or to become more spiritual.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Even the gift aspect can be done in such a way that it is instructive, meaningful, in keeping with one’s budget, and in keeping with biblical teaching concerning Christian stewardship.

(4) The celebration of Christmas falls under the category of doubtful things.

It is argued that since Scripture does not clearly rule out the celebration of Christmas; its celebration falls under the category of debatable or doubtful things covered by the principles of Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 and 9. In summary, these passages teach us the following principles:

  • Every believer must become convinced in his or her own mind ( 14:5).
  • We must not judge or look upon other with contempt who do not come to the same conclusion that we do ( 14:3, 4, 13).
  • Just as there is nothing evil in meat sacrificed to idols, so there is nothing inherently evil in the traditional Christmas with the tree, presents, carols, and decorations. Such things become what people make them by their attitudes and beliefs ( 14:22-23; 1 Cor. 8:4-8; 10:19).
  • The ultimate issue is our attitude, the reasons, and how if one decides to celebrate the Christmas season in some fashion.

(5) Some Options to Consider

  • If you have doubts or misgivings, do away with any observance of the Christmas season altogether. But do not become a Scrooge and look down on those who do celebrate it ( 14:-5).
  • Cut out some or all of the traditional elements like the tree, presents, etc., but spend the season reflecting on the birth of the Savior through the Word and the singing of carols.
  • Keep the season’s traditions–the tree, presents, and decorations–but divorce them of any religious tones. Use this part of the season simply as a family tradition for fun and family togetherness. But remember the birth of Christ through carols, reading the Christmas story, and times with other members of the body of Christ.
  • Keep the Christmas traditions and use them to illustrate and focus on the truth of Jesus Christ. (1) The tree speaks of the Lord and the eternal life which He gives; (2) The presents speak of God’s love and gift to us of His Son and of our love for one another. Make the emphasis more on giving rather than receiving. (3) The mistletoe speaks of the gift of God’s righteous branch, and the kiss or hug stands for kissing the Son in faith–an expression of faith in Christ as God’s means of salvation and reconciliation (Psalm 2).

The problem is that many believers are already carnal or marginal in their spiritual life and they get caught up in the rat race and secularization of the season. People spend far more than they can afford. They seek relief from their burdens and seek happiness in the glitter and merry making of the holidays, rather than in the person of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They look for the season to give joy, rather than the Person of the season. They expect from the season what only God can give. As a result, depression and suicide reach its peak during the Christmas season and immediately following it.

As with all of these doubtful things, each family needs to make up their own minds. In my opinion, parents can explain the traditions and have fun with them, but make sure your children understand the historical roots and use these things to teach the truth behind the traditions.”

For the complete article please see the link below:

https://bible.org/article/should-christians-celebrate-christmas

 

This was the extravagant lighting….beautiful but a bunch of Hoop -o- la!!! It always took 3 days and then maintenance to keep it working.  Hmmmmmmmm……….

christmas-lights

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