By Editorial Staff
Published April 22, 2008
Christmas is more than Santa Claus and Christmas trees
by James Montgomery Boice
HOW SHOULD WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?
If you are not a Christian, the best way to celebrate Christmas is by becoming a Christian, that is, by believing in Jesus, asking Him to come into your heart and determining to follow Him as His disciple. But perhaps you already are a Christian. Perhaps you already have believed in Jesus. How should you celebrate Christmas then?
The story of Mary and the shepherds and the angels gives us some clues.
First, the shepherds “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:17 NIV). This means that they became witnesses to Jesus. That God used them to spread this heavenly message must have stunned them. Shepherds were a despised class in first-century Palestine. The nature of their calling kept them from observing the ceremonial law, which meant a lot to religious people. Shepherds were also considered unreliable and were not even allowed to give testimony in the law courts.
But the angels came to shepherds with the great message that Christ the Lord – the Savior of the world – had been born in the town of David. And despite what others thought of them, the shepherds knew that lost people needed to hear that great message. It is the same today. Jesus is the world’s Savior. And people are still lost without Him.
Second, the people who heard the message “were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (verse 18). People today are hardly amazed at anything, but it is hard to see how anyone can understand what Christmas is about and not be amazed. Christmas is the story of God becoming man, like us, in order to save us from our sins. This truth was so astonishing that people believed even shepherds!
But aren’t you amazed when you think about what God did for us? Yes, there is much about God becoming man that we cannot understand, but even if we could understand every bit of it, we still would be amazed.
Third, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (verse 19 NIV). What Mary did went beyond mere amazement, though she marveled too. This wonderful woman also made an attempt to remember everything that was happening to her in those days and then to figure out what each of these things meant. That is, she took time to think about spiritual things, just as we should do. Christmas is a very busy time. But our time is badly spent if we allow the business of Christmas to keep us from reading the Christmas story again and again, thinking about it.
Fourth, the shepherds “returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen” (verse 20 NIV). This means that they spoke not just to others about the birth of Jesus. They also spoke to God, praising Him for it. They saw the birth of Jesus as something God had done, and they wanted to thank Him.
Here’s a suggestion. If you are willing to try to celebrate Christmas like Mary and the shepherds did, don’t begin with verse 17, which tells us to tell others about Jesus. Begin with verses 18-20, which tell us to wonder at the birth of Jesus, to ponder its meaning, and to praise God for it. Praise God for sending Jesus. Think about why Jesus came to earth on that cold night so long ago. And marvel that, because of His birth, life, death, and resurrection, you have not suffered God’s just punishment for your sins but rather have been saved from them.
From The Christ of Christmas, by James Montgomery Boice, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, ©1983. Used with permission. James Montgomery Boice holds a B.A. from Harvard University, a B.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Th.D. from University of Basel, Switzerland. He is chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 2, Number 2
Your comments are welcome!
Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
$49.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)