Was It a White Christmas?

Monday, December 19, 2011

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:7,8 KJV).

Religious tradition demands Christmas is Christ’s birthday. Was our Lord Jesus really born in wintertime? Today’s Scripture replies with an emphatic NO. According to the Bible, on the night of Jesus’ birth, there were shepherds out in the fields watching their flock. Would shepherds be abiding outside on a cold winter’s (perhaps snowy) night? This is only one line of biblical evidence that Jesus was not born on Christmas. However, there is a biblical significance to late December.

God had commanded Israel through Moses that Jews were to celebrate many feasts year-round. One of them was the Feast of Tabernacles, observed during late September/early October. During this seven-day feast, Jews were to dwell in “booths” (tents, tabernacles) (Leviticus 23:39-44; Nehemiah 8:13-18).

The Bible likens our physical bodies to “tabernacles” for our souls and spirits (2 Corinthians 5:1-4; 2 Peter 1:13-15). Furthermore, Isaiah 40:22 says God “spreadeth [the heavens] out as a tent to dwell in:” God created the universe so He could dwell in it, specifically on a little planet… earth. When Jesus Christ was born, “the Word was made flesh [God became a man], and dwelt among us [He “tabernacled” in a human body]” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ came to tabernacle/abide with mankind on earth, to establish that earthly kingdom prophesied throughout the Old Testament!

To make the Word flesh (for Jesus Christ to be a man), God’s Holy Spirit conceived a physical body inside of the virgin Mary, a body in which Jesus’ Spirit could dwell (Matthew 1:18-20; Luke 1:35; Hebrews 10:5-9). Jesus was named “Immanuel,” or “God [dwelling] with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). As we will see in tomorrow’s devotional, the Bible indicates that Jesus was conceivednot born—in late December. Jesus Christ was actually born in late September (coinciding with the Feast of Tabernacles).

‘Twas the Sunday Night Before Christmas

Sunday, December 18, 2011

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 KJV).

During the Christmas Season, we wonder how many people are visiting church for the second time this year (the other being Easter Sunday). Since Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, how many will be going to church just to feel “religious” or “holy?” How many really know Jesus Christ? For many, visiting a church building is just an obligation; they do not have faith in God’s Word and have no interest in God’s Word.

We do not go to church to “feel closer to God,” for if we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we cannot be any closer to God than we already are in Christ! “[Before salvation, we were] without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh [close to God] by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12,13).

Furthermore, we do not go to church in order to get God’s blessings, for God has already given us “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We go to church, not because we are keeping Israel’s Sabbath day, since we are not obligated to observe Israel’s religious days (Colossians 2:16). We go to church to fellowship with like-minded believers and hear sound doctrine… more than twice a year, by the way.

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy that whenever he would assemble with fellow Christians, certain behavior was acceptable and other types of behavior were not (described throughout the epistle of 1 Timothy). Recall that when the Bible refers to “the church,” it refers to the body of believers, not the physical building in which they meet.

As we get opportunities, let us make an effort to reach these dear souls misled by all the vain religious tradition and Christmas commercialization, and may we tell them about the wonderful Christ Jesus whose name is found in Christmas!

*Based on the poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

When the Fulness of the Time Was Come – 333’s 200th

Saturday, December 17, 2011

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

In the beginning God set the first man, Adam, on earth to “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Alas, Adam sided with Satan, joining the rebellion against God. The human race, now marred by sin, was unable to fellowship with its holy Creator God.

Fortunately, God promised mankind’s Redeemer in Genesis 3:15: a Man who would do what Adam failed to do—rule earth for God’s glory. Adam was “the figure [preview/type] of him that was to come” (Romans 5:14c). About 4000 years after Adam, the “him that was to come” finally came—Jesus Christ. How human history was forever impacted when that Redeemer came!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Recall that, unlike us, before His physical birth, Jesus Christ lived as a Spirit in heaven’s glory with His Father (John 1:1,2; cf. Micah 5:2).

When the appointed time came, at His Father’s behest, Jesus’ Spirit came to earth to indwell the body in the virgin Mary’s womb. For nine months, God Himself actually lived inside Mary’s womb! Being delivered, He lived a sinless life of 33 years, despised by His family (Israel) and the world. As one dear Christian brother explained, “That was the greatest life ever lived in a human body!”

No event in human history compares to the coming of Jesus Christ. As today’s Scripture teaches, the Lord Jesus became a small Baby… to become a grown man… to become Israel’s rejected Messiah… to ultimately die for us, the wretched Gentiles! God became a man, to “give Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6).

We are ever grateful that “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son….”

Saints, we have reached a milestone – #200. WOW!

Two Trees With Two Different Roots

Friday, December 16, 2011

“For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not” (Jeremiah 10:3,4 KJV).

Currently, Christmas trees decked with “silver and gold” tinsel and ornaments are commonplace. Interestingly, today’s Scripture describes such an object… a Gentile idol.

The prophet Jeremiah declared (circa 600 B.C.): “Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them” (verses 1,2). Jeremiah then proceeds to tell Israel of the heathen’s ways (today’s Scripture). The heathens (Gentiles) chop down trees, set them elsewhere, and fashion idols by decking them with “silver and gold.” (This is why some Christians prefer not to display a Christmas tree in their homes.)

Jeremiah continues (verses 5-7): “They [the pagan idols] are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.”

Pagan Gentiles bowed and prayed to these wooden, worthless, mindless idols which did nothing for them… except distract them from worshipping the only true God. Sadly, Israel was just as guilty of this pagan worship, having “idols under every green tree (Deuteronomy 12:1-4; 1 Kings 14:22,23; 2 Kings 17:7-23; et al.).

Like the pagan idols of old, the Christmas tree keeps people preoccupied with the wrong tree! The Christmas tree decorated with hanging ornaments and tinsel is nothing compared to Calvary’s tree decorated with the hanging body of Jesus Christ. Rather than silver and gold, it was decked with crimson red, the precious blood of God’s Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Unlike the Christmas tree, Calvary’s tree has no pagan roots.

Ye Are Complete in Him

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9,10 KJV).

Today’s Scripture says all the power of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—dwells in Christ Jesus (God the Son). Consequently, we are “complete [lacking nothing] in Christ.” The moment we trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation, God instantly gave us everything He can ever give us.

We read in Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” In Christ, we have all our “need” (singular) met. What is our “need?” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). The spiritual blessings we have in Christ as a present and permanent possession are our “need.”

What are these spiritual blessings? Throughout Paul’s epistles, we read of over 120 spiritual blessings we have in Christ Jesus. Our spiritual blessings in Christ include:

  1. Sealed by and with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30)
  2. Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)
  3. New identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  4. Holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in God’s sight (Colossians 1:22)
  5. Crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6)
  6. Alive with Christ (Romans 6:8)
  7. Liberty (Galatians 5:1)
  8. Accepted in the beloved, God’s Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6)
  9. The temple of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  10. Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
  11. Access by one Spirit unto the Father (Ephesians 2:18)
  12. Preserved unto the Lord’s heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:18)
  13. Eternal life (Titus 1:2)
  14. Grace to endure suffering (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  15. Deliverance from this present evil world (Galatians 1:4)

We cannot see these spiritual blessings with our physical eyes, but we see them with our spiritual eyes of faith (Hebrews 11:1). Let us always thank God for these blessings, not just during the Thanksgiving Season, but for all eternity.

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study titled “A Cornucopia of Spiritual Blessings.” The Bible study can be read here.

Impressionable Minds and Effectual Doctrine

Monday, October 31, 2011

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23 KJV).

Today is Halloween. We mull the idea of sincere children arrayed in costumes going door-to-door and exclaiming, “Trick-or-treat!” They have never been taught that this “innocent looking” holiday is rooted in the spiritually toxic soils of Celtic paganism, devil worship, and superstition.

Considering the “Harry Potter” franchise and Halloween, the gravity of devil worship has been downplayed. Future generations are receiving mixed messages from the Church the Body of Christ. Christians, rather than speaking against these atrocities, have become permissive regarding the activities that God hates. They remain silent, greatly reducing their impact on the world, and allowing the world to impact them! Ephesians 5:14-17 exclaims, “Wake up, O sleeping Christians, Wake up!”

God clearly forbade witchcraft in Israel (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Micah 5:12). Witchcraft is sin, according to Galatians 5:20. God wanted Israel, His earthly people, to not participate in Satan’s policy of evil. They were not to mingle with the works of darkness. God wants the same thing for us, the Church the Body of Christ. Note how the Ephesians burned their spell books in Acts 19:19.

There is no law “Thou shalt not celebrate Halloween,” yet notice today’s Scripture. Although they are not explicitly forbidden, some activities harm others and ourselves, and are inconsistent with our identity in Christ Jesus. Thus, we avoid those activities. If an activity does not bring glory, praise, and honor to God Almighty (the Lord Jesus Christ), it is devil worship. Satan wants you to worship something other than the one true God.

We desperately need our young people to realize the weightiness of sound doctrine, especially regarding the occult, witchcraft, et cetera (and its most subtle forms like Halloween and Harry Potter). God Almighty instructs us to educate them with sound Bible teaching. We know that God’s Word will “effectually work also in [them] that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God’s Word will reach their minds, we just need to plant and water, sowing it into their minds, and let God take care of the rest.

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or the study video can be viewed here.

Our Liberty Which We Have in Christ Jesus

Monday, July 4, 2011

“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:” (Galatians 2:4 KJV).

Today, 235 years ago, on July 4, 1776, the United States’ Founding Fathers declared independence from Great Britain by adopting the Declaration of Independence. We in the United States are grateful for our liberties, but there is greater news in Christ. See our freedom in Christ:

  1. We are free from Satan’s control! Man fell into sin and Satan’s policy of evil in Genesis 3. But, the Bible says God “hath delivered us [Christians] from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
  2. We are free from sin’s dominion. We do not have to serve sin. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).
  3. We are free from the condemnation of the Law. Romans 8:1 explains: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
  4. We are free from the bondage of works-religion! Galatians 5:1 says: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” The Galatian believers were deceived by a false gospel, believing they had to work for their salvation. Hence, they were in bondage to the Mosaic Law (see today’s Scripture).
  5. We are free from self-righteousness. Ephesians 2:8,9 say: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” We are saved by Christ’s righteousness, not ours (Romans 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21)!

We are free in Christ! Never let someone rob you of that freedom by forcing you under Israel’s performance-based acceptance system.