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“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” Proverbs 14:21(NIV)

Today’s mythical Santa Claus developed from a real person named Saint Nicholas, who lived in the 300’s, A.D. He was a very young bishop in Turkey and was extremely kind. Often at night he took presents to the needy. For hundreds of years, people celebrated the feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6, which is the anniversary of his death.

After the Protestant Reformation, he was replaced by the Christ Child, called “Christkindl.” From this name came the character Kris Kringle, the angel-like figure who brings gifts at Christmastime. Children were so fond of his habit of bringing gifts that celebrating his feast day was maintained, and Dutch settlers brought the custom to New York City. The Dutch name for the saint was “Sinter Klaas,” but English-speaking children pronounced it quickly and excitedly as “Santa Claus.”

The best way to show love and appreciation to Jesus for what He has done by coming to earth is to SHARE love with others in need. A simple toy can be the demonstration of love that will open the heart of a child and his parents to the saving message of the Gospel. Be Jesus Christ’s “Little Helper” and give your gifts along with the GOOD NEWS, “tidings of great joy.” (Luke 2:10)

PRAY: “Lord, I love to share the GOOD NEWS and my possessions with the needy. Direct my path today, and bless those who give to the poor. Amen.”

“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  Genesis 2:9

There are several stories about the origin of the Christmas tree. People in Scandinavia once worshipped trees but, when they became Christians, they made evergreen trees part of their Christian festivals.

Another legend tells how Saint Boniface, an English missionary, was traveling through Germany about 1200 years ago and came upon a group of heathens preparing to sacrifice Prince Asuif to the god Thor at an oak tree. He stopped them and cut down the oak, whereupon a fir tree appeared. Saint Boniface told the people that the fir was the “Tree of Life,” representing Christ.

As a Christian, you can be reminded of another “tree” that has eternal significance for all of mankind…the cross of Christ! “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…” (I Peter 2:24a)

There is no doubt that some Christmas customs and symbols have little relevance to biblical Christianity and God must be grieved, but you can celebrate loudly the true meaning…instruct your children…and preserve the religious Christmas carols!

PRAY: “Loving Father, as Your servant, help me to promote Your message of love this Christmas season. Thank You for Your gift of love that bore my sins on the tree. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” John 10:22-23

The Jewish Feast of Dedication (or Feast of Lights) begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev and lasts eight days. It usually falls in December. It was Judas Maccabaeus who proclaimed this festival to be observed by Jews in 165 B.C. After a three-year struggle, the Jews in Judea had defeated the Syrian tyrant, Antiochus. They cleansed the Temple of Syrian idols and rededicated it to God. However, they could find only one small cruse of oil with which to light their holy lamps. Miraculously, the cruse provided oil for eight days!

Each Jewish home usually has a menorah, which is a special type of candelabra. On each of the eight nights, another candle is lit until, at the end of the feast, all stand lighted together, annually reminding God’s people of His divine provision. With joy and thanksgiving, gifts are exchanged and contributions are made to the poor.

Rededicate YOUR temple to the Holy Spirit this Christmas season by lighting the lamp of your desire to walk holy before God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16)

PRAY: “Dear heavenly Father, Your light in my life brings joy and contentment.  I rededicate my whole body, soul, and spirit to you. Lead me in the paths of righteousness. Amen.”

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18

You live in a world of fear. People are afraid of losing their health, their wealth, and their loved ones. Many people are even afraid of life itself. Millions of dollars are spent each week in power consumption used to “light up the night” for fear of all the evil things that happen in the darkness.

The President rides in a $500,000 limo designed to withstand small scale military attacks…all because of a very real fear that someone may wish to do him harm. How unhappy Stalin must have been…he was constantly in fear of being poisoned or killed. History now reveals that he had eight bedrooms which could be locked up like vaults in a bank. Nobody ever knew which bedroom he slept in on any given night.

Fear has been around a long time. It raised its ugly head in the Garden and has pushed itself into this world from then on. Sometimes fear is introduced into people’s lives through the door of “worry.”

Nearly 2,000 years ago, God sent a message to the world through a host of angels: “FEAR NOT, I bring you good tidings of great joy, unto you is born a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:10-11)

PRAY: “Lord, help me to love others. Rid me of any fear that might try to come my way. Help me to be victorious even today. In a personal way, make me realize that YOU are always with me; there is no need to fear. Amen.”

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23

What is the relevance of Christmas this year? Is it the story of a baby in a manger, or is there more? In all the hustle-bustle of shopping, decorating and partying, one easily could reduce the significance of the birth of Christ to a historical manger scene.

BUT, YOU know differently. God is still “WITH US.” Today, He lives in people. The birth, death, and resurrection of Christ made that possible. The Christ of Christmas becomes relevant to the world today through YOU and others like you.

This Jesus, whose birth was announced by ANGELS, is still largely ignored by MEN. While the King of kings was being born, King Herod and all Jerusalem were doing “business as usual.” It was hard for them to see His deity. Today, it is hard for people to see His humanity.

However, people can see YOU. As you touch others with the love of Christ and the forgiveness and understanding of Christ, you are making the Christ of Christmas relevant to a needy world. The needs of the homeless, the addicted, the hungry, and the hurting are calling for help from a God with “skin on.” YOU can be God’s representative on this earth today!

PRAY: “Thank You for placing Your Spirit within me so that I can radiate Your life to others. I will look for Your divine appointments today. Amen.”

“Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother.” Zechariah 7:9

True compassion comes from your heart. It is birthed by the Holy Spirit within you. Compassion does NOT come naturally but, as you yield to the Spirit of God, you will see His love grow in you, and compassion will become your lifestyle.

“Compassion” is “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.”

God is pleased when you exercise His compassionate nature toward your fellowman. Psalm 86:15 says, “But thou, 0 Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

It is not always easy to “love the unlovely.” In the natural, it is tough to pray for someone with AIDS or to minister love to someone using foul, abusive language.

As His compassion becomes yours, you can begin to forgive, to restore, to love, and to be slow to anger. It can become a “way of living.” Begin to put into practice that commandment from God in I Peter 1:22b: “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”

PRAY: “I thank You, Lord Jesus, for filling me with Your love and Your compassion. Help me, in practical ways, to demonstrate compassion to others in my everyday life. Amen.”

“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’” Luke 9:23

There is an ancient story of an old man who walked down a beach at dawn one day and saw ahead of him what looked like a dancer. A young man was running across the sand rhythmically, bending down to pick up a starfish on the beach and throwing it far into the water. The man gazed in wonder as the young man again and again threw small starfish from the sand into the sea.

He approached the young man and asked him why he spent so much energy doing what seemed like a waste of time. The young man explained that the starfish would die if left stranded on the beach until the morning sun shone.

“But there must be thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. How can your efforts make any difference?” The young man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and, as he threw it safely into the sea, said, “It makes a difference to this one.”

That is how you are to minister to others…one at a time! You could easily get overwhelmed with the countless people who need a touch from the Lord, but you must take up His cross DAILY and touch people’s lives…ONE AT A TIME!

PRAY: “God, give me a ‘divine appointment’ to genuinely touch the life of at least ONE person today. Help me to be patient and diligent in my ministry to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

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