Published December 12, 2013
Christmas for Georgia Baptists this year is very special. I remember as a boy spending the money I had saved up from cutting grass and from working as a bagboy at Winn Dixie to purchase gifts I had selected for my family. I could hardly wait till Christmas morning when I would see their joy in receiving such wonderful gifts.
For me, what makes Christmas such fun is giving gifts to others and seeing their happiness when they open them.
This year, Georgia Baptists gave amazing gifts to the children of Appalachia. Just imagine their joy and excitement as they open the 20,906 backpacks provided by Georgia Baptists. I wish we could all be there with them to see their excitement. Those backpacks contain toys, clothing, food, and other necessary items.
I expect that not only will the children be excited, but their parents will be as well. Pray with me that the witness provided through those backpacks will lead many to invite Christ into their hearts this Christmas.
Christmas is all about giving. We must always remember that God gave first. Nothing says it better than John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We don’t even want to contemplate what life would have been like if God had not first given His only Son.
The one who most clearly lays out that scenario is the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. He imagines what it would have been like had Jesus not come to earth and died and resurrected from the dead. He says that we would be without hope. We would still be lost in our sin and without any hope of eternal life.
Further, those who have already died that we had hoped would be experiencing eternal life would also be hopelessly lost. Also, those of us who have been preaching about Christ and sharing the Gospel would have done all of this in vain and would be false witnesses.
Sadly, there are those who believe that what Paul imagined in his words is reality. They believe there is no life after death, because there is no Savior. There was no redeeming death upon the cross; there was no resurrection from the dead.
I have talked to persons who believe this. It is very sad, because they are people with no hope of eternal life. They are lost.
In verse 20 of 1 Corinthians 15, however, Paul makes the glorious declaration that Christ did indeed come and give His life as a ransom for many and was raised from the dead to give the assurance of eternal life to those who believe in Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior.
This is the greatest news the world has ever received! No wonder the angel said to the shepherds, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” The angel was then joined by a multitude of the heavenly host. They were praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2: 10-14 KJV).
The temptation throughout the Christmas season is to become absorbed in the trappings of Christmas without spending sufficient time thanking God for all that Christmas means to those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. It is a sad thing each Christmas in recent years when we hear about unbelievers who do their best to do away with Christmas. It must be that the Christmas carols, the joyous spirit that fills the air, the Christmas dramas, the Christmas trees, the nativity scenes displayed in public, sear their hearts like a hot iron.
I am convinced that they know their guilt deep down, but they do not know the joy of sin forgiven and the promise of eternal life. They do not understand our joy. In fact, they resent our joy. The reason they act the way they do is they are lost.
We should never expect a lost person to act like anything other than a lost person. What we should do is take time this Christmas to tell someone about the joy we have in Christ and tell people who don’t know Jesus the true meaning of Christmas; that God loved us and gave the first Christmas gift ever when He gave His only Son to be the Savior of the world. Let folks know what that means to you and you will be giving the best gift you can possibly give.
Janice and I wish for you and your loved ones a wonderful and joyous Christmas!
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