Once upon a time, two neighbors lived side by side. Wealthy Mr. Hannibal owned a fabulous mansion. Every Christmas he decorated his house with all sorts of Santa decorations, holly and so forth. But since he lived alone, he felt a longing for something more than money could buy.
Mr. Hannibal's neighbors, however, were poor and simple. They never accepted pity handouts from their neighbor. They believed their needs would be provided for by God. They only wanted to share their faith with Mr. Hannibal.
Their little family was made up of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, along with eight-year-old Sarah and Jake, who was ten. Their many hardships drew the family close. Although their home was not elegant, Mrs. Smith made it a very cozy "home sweet home."
Each year, Mr. Hannibal invited the Smiths to his home for an elaborate Christmas dinner. On Christmas morning, the Smiths would praise God for sending His Son into the world. Then in the afternoon, they would arrive at the mansion for their one great feast of the year.
The Smiths appreciated Mr. Hannibal's good meals and generous gifts. But they more greatly enjoyed sending the gifts to other poor children, along with what money they had saved that year. More than any feast from Mr. Hannibal, they loved their family tradition of praising God and giving to others less fortunate.
One year, Sarah dared Jake to invite Mr. Hannibal to join them at their house Christmas morning to praise God. Jake thought Mr. Hannibal would never come to their poor little house, but he didn't want his sister to think he was a sissy so he asked Mr. Hannibal. Much to Jake and Sarah's surprise, Mr. Hannibal accepted their invitation.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith were amazed at their children's evangelistic attitude. But Mrs. Smith became concerned. "How am I going to match his hospitality? It'll take forever to clean this place up just enough to not humiliate Mr. Hannibal," said Mrs. Smith.
"Don't change a thing, honey," Mr. Smith comforted her, "He accepted the invitation to our house just as it is. Maybe this is our chance to witness to him."
"This is going to be the best Christmas ever," the kids chorused in unison.
On Christmas morning Mr. Hannibal entered their shabby home. He noticed the living room's four chairs, one bookshelf filled to the brim with Christian books, and many ragged blankets with faded colors. Escorted to the largest, best looking chair, he noticed Jake sat on the floor. Although materially he hadn't been offered much, Mr. Hannibal felt richer than ever in the home of these caring friends.
Mr. Hannibal joined in praising God right along with the Smiths. They all enjoyed a fun time together--in fact, a much better time than they had at his mansion each year. Although he first thought about how they did so much with so little. But he soon became so focused on God that he didn't think about money the rest of his stay.
"I want to know more about this God. Can you teach me about Him?" Mr. Hannibal finally realized that money had been the reason he hadn't pursued God before this Christmas. The whole Smith family told Mr. Hannibal how Jesus, God's son, was born on Christmas about 2000 years ago. And Mr. Hannibal asked Jesus to save him from his sins.
You, too, can ask Jesus to be your Savior, and praise God the whole year through. And at Christmas each year, you will think about and praise God for sending Jesus Christ, His Son on Christmas. Your "Ho, Ho, Ho" will change to "Merry Christmas, and praise God!"
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