by Pastor Jon Coykendall
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Not so long ago I remember the joy of Christmas, on the 1st week of December stores would start to set their Christmas items on display. Rothschildís Department Store would start to advertise for Santa coming to the store. Streets were decorated everywhere you looked there were signs saying ďMerry Christmas.Ē People were smiling and of good cheer, everyone loved Christmas. In front of the churches and fire stations Manger scenes were in place, many churches were getting ready for the Christmas Pageant. Even when the snow came it just seemed to add to the Joy of the season. People knew that Christmas was about Christ, Christmas Eve was the Holiest night of the year, and it was about peace on earth good will toward men. During those years it seemed that for that one holiday, the Holy Spirit enveloped the whole nation.
Matthew Chapter 1 and Mark Chapter 2 have the beautiful story of Jesus Birth; I have read it many times to my kids. I read it today, and reflected on it. Life growing up wasnít that simple, we just had different priorities. Today parents dread Christmas, the stress, the cost, all the work involved. Satin loves this time of year, he persuades stores to get all the toys out early, so kids see them and bug parents with these long lists, he places ideas in parents heads they have to get everyone all they want for Christmas, and to prepare these elaborate meals, and light up the street with lights, for what? People today donít want Christmas mentioned, letís call it just a Holiday, ďHappy Holiday,Ē letís not call to mind our Christian roots, letís just eat drink and be merry. Why? The Holiday is for Jesus, Our Lord, if we are not going to celebrate his birth why have a holiday at all? Letís just work until New Years, thatís what you want isn't it, more money, why spend it when you donít have it to spend anyway? Satin uses all this commercialism to take you away from what Christmas is all about, he wants you to forget and even dread the Christmas season.
Let me try to help bring this picture back into focus, and you who want to do away with all religion, pay attention, you might learn a thing or two. The word became man and dwelt amongst us, that is Jesus, and 36 years from the date of his birth, he will be put to death, that little baby is going to die for yours and my sin. This time of year is not a time for stress, but a time to rejoice, a time to celebrate new life, not here on earth but in Heaven, what is here is going away, canít you see that? Jesus came so when this world is gone you have a place you can go and be at peace. God is a loving God and will be there for the nations that believe in him and live according to his commands. Donít believe that? Well letís look at the nation God Chose, Israel. When the Jews lost their land and were spread all over the world, other countries moved in and tried to work the land, but it stayed dry and barren. In 1948 the Israelites moved back to Jerusalem and started working the land, these were devoted Jews, devoted to God, and the land again produced, lush vineyards, figs, fruits of all kinds, Israel is now one of the largest exporters of produce in the world. Are they great farmers? Do they have a secret? No they have a God who keeps his promises, when his people stay devoted to him.
America was no different, we started this country because our founding fathers wanted to be free to worship as they please, and God was the basis behind our constitution. We were a prosperous nation when God was on our front door, when God was our first priority, When did things go south? When we started to turn our backs on God, ask the Israelites what happened to them time and time again when they turned away from God, and what happened when they turned back. History repeats itself; do you think God would treat Americans any different?
Christmas needs to be the time of year we as a nation renew our belief and Love for God. Satin wants us all to forget who Jesus is, following the lies Satin puts in your mind about this world will lead to Spiritual Death, and eternal torment.
Colossians 3: 5 ∂Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
Jesus freed us from these sins and he wants us to live lives free of the stresses of this world, it is written:
Colossians 3:12 ∂Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
This is what Christmas is about, not a huge Christmas tree in the living room, covered with so many lights and decoration you canít see the tree. Gifts piled so high they fall all over the floor. Presents for the kids that will be ripped open, toys that will either be forgotten or broken in less than a month. Credit card bills that will take months to pay off. No, Christmas is about new life, the life of a savior, who comes to defeat Satin, and offer salvation to the world. We have seen our nation on a down ward slide for almost 10 years, Elections are coming, and still there are no answers. No one knows how to fix our economy, 50% of Americans live below the poverty line. The problems are so vast no man can fix them, God can, If we turn back to him, same as he has done for Israel.
This Christmas put the trapping of this world behind, focus on the person of Jesus, spend time with your families in quiet celebration. Go to Church, enjoy the Christmas pageant, play in the snow, enjoy the blessings God has given you, but most of all pray. Let us stop those who would remove Christ from Christmas, it is because of Jesus we have eternal life letís celebrate and give thanks that we have a living hope in Godís son Jesus.
Merry Christmas to all my Brothers and Sisters
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