Let's take a peek at all things that we surround ourselves with for the holidays.
The Manger scene- Joseph and Mary, and of course Jesus. Let's look at where it is... Back then, they put there animals in caves, not in wooden structures. The manger itself was a stone feeding trough with hay in it. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloth. The wise men (wise guys) brought gifts of Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold. Gold was to get out of the land and the other two are for burial. They knew it would not be easy.
Let's pick this apart a bit. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Most of us don't like this part and can't even fathom it. He was born and Herod was mad- no furious! He was killing all the babies 2 years and under, it was a real slaughtering of babies. Wailing mothers and fathers, warring soldiers against innocent children all because King Herod was jealous of someone taking his crown one day.
Many years later, Jesus died a horrible death because the Pharisees and the Sadducees were extremely jealous of him, NO WAY could this now man become a King of the Jews. So, they had him crucified and laid behind a stone- a cave wrapped in swaddling clothes. Used that day was frankincense and myrrh as the burial dictated.
Do you see it yet?
Now, let's take a peek at the tree. In the beginning, when God formed Adam and then Eve. They lived in a Paradise with lots of trees. There were two trees in that garden that God had been specific about. The Tree of Good and Evil and the Tree of Knowledge. Which one did Eve and Adam pick from? The tree of Good and Evil. What helped her make a poor choice? Right, a snake. Who does the snake represent? Satan, your right again. Man, you got this.
So from the very beginning God used the trees to tell the story. All throughout the Bible, Solomon's temple, and more, there are 71 verses that use wood in the Bible and 230 verses on trees. Wow! Now we're talking! Are you still with me?
So, the Christmas tree didn't come from the pagans, it came from God, from the beginning. Putting on the glitz and glamour on it, reminds us of HIS Glitz and Glamorous love HE has for us if we allow that. The lights we put on our tree are like Jesus light for us and for the world. And because it's evergreen, Jesus' love for us is always, always there.
Think about the perfectness of this time of year. Are you thinking? Me too... so let's put some stuff down on the table here.
People are more giving this time of year, donations are up. For some, this is a time to show real love not just that fake sorta stuff that comes around. Think about who you bought gifts for, did you do it because... you just knew they would love them. When all those gifts are around the tree, they look like a city scape, but you might want to get down on the floor and look up to really see it. Okay, but you gotta do it. Now? Yes, now that is only if you have your tree up and gifts under.
The movie Saving Christmas really brought to light so many things that I had missed. Without young or older kids at home, celebrating this season of hope and light hasn't been the easiest. Sometimes it's been downright difficult. But, this year, though we are in a motorhome, I am going to put up decorations, we are giving each other $10 to go to the dollar store and find things to wrap and put in the stockings. We will spend a bit on the furrbabies as well. Since our budget is really tight this is about all we can do. But it's not about the "spending", it is about the thought and love behind those little gifts.
Now, let's talk about Santa Claus, St. Nic, Sinderklaus, Pe`re Noel, this man, the myth and the legend and the LOVE for Jesus and giving to others. Here's bit of history. This is a bit long, but I love Santa. Santa has given Jesus help in spreading the love and the light. Just watch and see. Ready...?
Nicholas' selection to be a bishop was unusual. After the former bishop's death, other bishops gathered to select the next bishop for the See of Myra. During the conclave, the wisest bishop heard a voice in the night telling him to watch the doors of the church the next morning at matins. The first person to enter named "Nicholas" was to be the new bishop. The wise one told the others, counseling them to be at prayer while he waited at the doors. When the hour came, the first to arrive was a young man. When asked his name, he replied, "I am Nicholas." The bishop addressed him, "Nicholas, servant and friend of God, for your holiness you shall be bishop of this place." They brought him into the church and placed him in the bishop's seat where he was to be consecrated the new Bishop of Myra.
|Grain Ships and
Myra experienced famine in AD 311 and 312, and again in AD 333. Crops had failed and people were hungry. Bishop Nicholas learned that ships bound for Alexandria with cargos of wheat had anchored in the harbor. The holy man implored the sailors to take a measure of grain from each ship so that the people would have food. The sailors said, "No," as the wheat was "meted and measured" and every bit must be delivered. Nicholas replied, "Do this, and I promise, in the truth of God, that it shall not be lessened or diminished when you get to your destination." So the sailors took a measure from each ship and continued on their way to Alexandria. When the wheat was unloaded, the full amount was accounted for and the tale told—all the emperor's ministers worshiped and praised God with thanksgiving for his servant Nicholas. Throughout the famine people came to Bishop Nicholas for wheat. He gave it to all who had need and the grain lasted for two years with enough remaining to plant new crops.
|Council of Nicaea|
In 325 Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea, which was the first ecumenical council ever held. More than 300 bishops from all over the Christian world came to debate the nature of the Holy Trinity, one of the early church's most intense theological questions. Arias, from Egypt, taught that the Son Jesus was not equal to God the Father. This was the Arian controversy which shook Christianity's very foundations. According to one account, when confronted by the unyielding Arias, Nicholas slapped him in the face. For such a breach of decorum, Nicholas was brought before Constantine, who stripped him of his office and had him thrown into prison. During the night, Jesus with his Mother Mary appeared to Nicholas: Jesus bringing the book of the Gospels, and Mary, the bishop's stole which had been taken from him. In this way Nicholas was reinstated. Many Eastern Church icons of St. Nicholas reflect this event with Jesus on the left returning the Gospels, and Mary on the right, bringing the bishop's stole or omophorion.
|Three Condemned Innocents In the time of Emperor Constantine, all was not peaceful in the empire. When unrest would break out, soldiers would be sent to restore order. Some such soldiers were on shore leave in Andriaki, the port which served Myra. As they were in the marketplace, disputes began and there was some disturbance and looting. Bishop Nicholas went to the port to help settle the trouble. On his way back to the city, he saw people crying and saying, "If you had been in the city three innocent men would not have been handed over to death, as they have been ordered beheaded." Nicholas ran to the place, asking if the men were still alive. The three men were in position-faces covered, hands bound behind, expecting death. The executioner's sword was up and ready to fall. Nicholas fearlessly grabbed the sword, throwing it down. The freed men went on their way while Nicholas sought to have the charges against them cleared.|
Reduction of Taxes
The people of Myra begged Bishop Nicholas to ask the emperor for relief from the high taxes which were causing much hardship. Nicholas went to plead their cause with Constantine. The emperor granted a large reduction, giving Nicholas a copy of the order. The bishop immediately put the document on a stick and threw it into the sea. Soon afterwards it was found and taken to the authorities in Myra. The order was immediately put into effect, substantially lowering the taxes. Meanwhile Constantine, whose finance ministers had convinced him that this lost revenue would seriously harm the royal treasury, summoned Nicholas to return the document for revision. Nicholas reported that the order was already in effect in Myra. Doubting this, Constantine sent a runner to determine the truth. When Nicholas' words were confirmed the emperor allowed the reduction to stand. A century later Myra still enjoyed low taxation which the people attributed to St. Nicholas.
After Galerius, and later Constantine, declared tolerance for Christianity, Christians imprisoned under Diocletian returned home. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, was one of them. He found many idol shrines still present, filled with disturbing demons. So by the power of God, Nicholas set about with great force and zeal to destroy these shrines, drive the demons away, build churches, and bring calm to the land. The most supreme deity of the pantheon of Myra was Artemis and her temple was the most stunningly beautiful and impressive structure in all Lycia. Nicholas attacked this temple with great might and vigor, causing its total destruction. So complete was its fall that the foundation stones were on top and the pinnacle was driven into the ground. The evil demons then fled, inspiring the people's awe of God.
As a bishop, Nicholas, servant of God, was first and foremost a shepherd of the people, caring for their needs. His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need.
What a great man huh? What did you think? Too much history for you? I love history, I love seeing the past and how it affects the future.
So this brings me to the last thing, maybe.
Take a look at a candy cane...
Pretzels and Candy canes were made like the song 12 Days of Christmas because it was a way to talk about or share your faith. So the Monk and the candy maker did what they could and they came up with this.
So, this time of the year, CELEBRATE AND GIVE THANKS FOR HE IS GOOD AND HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
Two last things... DO you know what Jesus wants for Christmas? YOU! All of you. Not just parts, this and that but all of you.
If you don't know Jesus, if you have walked away and thought other avenues were the way to His heart but you know they weren't, if you knew him as a child but as a teen and an adult you just couldn't fathom knowing how Jesus would even care, well he does. If you have doubted where you have been in your relationship with Jesus or if you grew up in a religious house and you heard you were a sinner or heathen if you didn't go to church, ya know, Jesus wants you to come home and live in him. He loves you and He desires YOU for HIS present this year.
Please pray these prayers with me.
If you prayed this to receive JESUS in your heart as your forever friend, please let me know. I want to pray for you daily.
The last thing, a prayer... Thank you for reading our BLOG and we thank Jesus for you and your life. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He shine his light upon you and give you everlasting hope.
25 years ago, I was invited to a Cantata ( a Church Christmas story), at the Civic Center in Great Falls MT. It was done about mid. December. I had been to an Assembly of God church a few years back from this, but never connected with Jesus. I went because I wanted my kids exposed to Jesus. So, we went this night and Pastor Gary and Pam were doing this skit, not sure what it was, but the night left me hungry. So we decided to try their church. We walked in and found a family. We were welcomed and loved on. The kids loved Sunday school, they had Straight Street Puppets- like this...
The kids loved going and so did we. It was just a few weeks later, as we came up to David's one year anniversary of Heaven that we got baptized. This season as the Churches are playing their music, the hustle and bustle of the season, please remember that this is the time think about yourself and who you are. Who God desires you to be and how you can be the best you can be. Ask the Lord to give you grace and help you though.