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The Mandate

The Real Meaning of Christmas

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.


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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

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1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

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Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“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. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

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

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