December 2014
S M T W T F S
« Nov   Jan »
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
Add Bookmark

The Heart Of Christmas

Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol was released on December 19, 1843, and has never been out of print. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy, sour, stingy man who says, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas,’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding!” Yet, one Christmas Eve, Scrooge is radically changed into a generous and happy man. With great humor and insight, Dickens’ book captures the universal longing for inner peace.

As a young man, the apostle Paul opposed Jesus and His followers with a vengeful spirit. He “made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). But one day he encountered the risen Christ, and his life became a different story (9:1-16).

In a letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul described that life-changing event by saying, even though he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man . . . the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13-14).

Jesus was born into our world and gave His life so that we can be forgiven and transformed through faith in Him. This is the heart of Christmas!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought. —English carol
A change in behavior begins with Jesus changing our heart.

Insight

Though Paul’s words to Timothy in today’s reading are not one of the traditional biblical texts we read at Christmas, they definitely have application for this season. In verse 15 we read: “Christ Jesus came into the world.” This is a reference not only to Christ’s coming but also to His purpose for coming. Why was He born in human flesh? Paul answers that question by adding, “to save sinners.” Jesus’ coming was a mission of rescue for a race that desperately needed a Savior.

18 thoughts on “The Heart Of Christmas

  1. dspl24 says:

    I like the Christmas story and it’s main character, Ebeneezer Scrooge as it relates a powerful change for the better of someone (Scrooge) who is greedy, selfish, and uncaring towards other human beings. Today’s devotional was compares the change of Scrooge with the Lord God Jesus’ awesome transformation of Saul of Tarsus. Thank the Lord Jesus for changing my heart and destination as he did for Saul whose was changed Paul, the apostles to the gentiles.

    1. dspl24 says:

      I apologize for some of the errors in my post.

  2. jpon58 says:

    Praises to all for the many comments. God is awesome in all that he says and does for all. We are the only book that many will read (see) as Christians let our talk be our walk that all men may see Christ in us. I’m new to the site and have truly been inspired. May you all have a Blessed, safe and joyous Merry Christmas always keeping Jesus as the center it your celebration. Have a Christ-centered day … to God be the glory!!!!

  3. anoteingodschoir says:

    Thank you Lord for changing me so that I may carry a song of Your love for me in my heart.♫♫

  4. bernard stephen says:

    No one can resist Jesus’ call for his Salvation! Because every human belongs to Him as He created him in the image of His father, our God in heaven and owns. However mighty one may be, wise or strong all will one day kneel before Him. Satan may stop him for some time, but Jesus has crushed his head fatally and regained the lost Kingdom of His and restored it to those who have accepted and believed Jesus.
    This season reminds us the beginning of the arrival on earth of our Saviour Jesus on the Christmas Day!
    Thank you. It’s inspiring.

  5. gmolen says:

    Thank you Jesus for redeeming me out of darkness into your marvellous light.

    1. 1daysoon says:

      I have taken encouragement from Galatians 6:9 “and let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”. Our part is to keep going and never “give up” on people. “In due season” is God’s timing. He is always working. May we be encouraged to continue to serve those that the Lord has put on our hearts. He is faithful!

  6. felix_ob says:

    “As long as a person has breath he is not beyond d reach of redemption. Everything of eternal importance is dependent upon prayer”. Thanks ghudd! This line from your comment rings bell into my spirit again and again.
    In d course of both personal & church organised evangelism this year, I came in contact with some youths addicted into alcohol & drugs. I reached out to them with d message of salvation. A good number of them surrendered their lives to Christ. Some joined me to church. I followed them up to join foundation bible class to build up their faith in Christ. I tried to see how I could get some of them engaged to breakaway from idleness. I bought mobile phones for them to be able to keep in touch with them. I paid for IT training programme in Graphics design for one.
    I felt disappointed that some of these youths at some point changed their SIMS that made me unable to reach them. One early Sunday morning after some weeks I returned to the drinking joint where I met some of them, one of them that dropped his SIM saw me unexpectedly and ran another way. The one I paid for 4 months IT classes in Graphics design, did not complete 2 weeks and abandoned the training.
    I feel so disappointed and pained. I was wondering why this poor choice? I thank God for the few testimonies of conversion this year. I trust God by His Spirit to fully interrupt these other ones as He did to Saul & turned him to Paul.
    I earnestly await the testimony of their conversion. Pray also with me.

    1. js1985 says:

      You are doing amazing work. And even though it hasn’t paid off yet, the seeds you have planted will stay with them forever. It may take 10, 25 or 50 years for them to find the way through Christ, but they will always remember that one person who tried to make a difference in their lives, and they will remember the reason you did that was so that they find salvation through Christ.

      It can be heartbreaking or frustrating now, but the Lord worked through you and the seeds have been planted. The Lord blesses us with so much time that we must try not to think we have failed, when it is only the beginning of those youth’s growth with Christ.

    2. ghudd says:

      No doubt that you are going the extra mile Felix. We have to remember that the Lord isn’t holding us accountable for RESULTS, but for our ACTIONS. The Lord Himself wept over Jerusalem because they wouldn’t come to have to have life. Bringing the NEW BIRTH can only be accomplished by HIM. You surely appear to have a heart in the right place. May HE continue to bless your life.

  7. jolau24 says:

    Love your column everyday doc, keep it up and may God use you just like Paul.

  8. zephaniah says:

    Change me O Lord, so that i may behave anew according to Your Holy will, let YOUR Holy will in my life unfold starting today O Lord, i pray In Jesus’name.amen

  9. ghudd says:

    One may ask, Why on earth would the Lord choose the biggest persecutor of His people to become the greatest missionary to His people that the world has ever seen?
    At least one reason He was chosen is that if He could use Paul he can use folks that us. As long as a person has breath he is not beyond the reach of redemption. Everything of eternal importance is dependent upon prayer. Let us pray.
    Mel Trotter, was the founder of Pacific Garden Mission back in the day. Before he was converted he was so addicted to alcohol that he tried to sale the shoes off his dead infant to buy yet another drink. The bartender threw him out. Only the grace of a loving God could save a man like Mel Trotter, and folks like the rest of us.

    1. eziokwu says:

      There are three types of Christians in the world. The cold, lukewarm and hot. The Lord charges Christians in one of the gospels, to either be cold or hot, that if you are lukewarm, He will spew you out. The best way to interpret that statement is the energy and capacity each group possesses.
      The hot have energy and capacity, and are using them to do good, that is why Jesus does not have problem with such people. The lukewarm on the other have energy but they rarely use it. Give them an assignment, they would never lift a finger. What is dangerous with this group is not only that they occupy space but they discourage others from doing the work of God. Jesus distaste such people.
      The third group have tremendous amount of energy but are using it negatively. Despite the wrong use of their talent, Jesus prefers them over the lukewarm because they at least are using their energy, once they are convinced of something, I bet they would carry it out with zest. Paul belonged to this third group. Well educated and verse in philosophy, with energy and capacity of more than 100 people combined. The was no better candidate than Paul to carry out the dangerous work of evangelism. It was for this reason that Jesus chose Paul because He knew that once you are able to bend the negative energy people to positive, they will over take every body that was there before them. If you read through the gospels, you would see the difference that choice of Paul made.
      My question to you today, is which group do you belong? Lukewarm, occupying space and discouraging others by your conduct and lifestyle in your community from coming to Christ? Change otherwise you would end up in hell fire.

  10. doctor-perspective says:

    A brilliant, educated young man named Saul, entrusted with authority by the Chief Priests, gave his nod of approval as a convicted Jewish mob covered their ears, screamed at the top of their voices, pounced on Stephen, threw him out of the temple and stoned him to death. The sight of Stephen dying empowered Saul who swore that many others would die like Stephen. Now he made it his mission, with the authority from the High Priest, to discover and destroy all those who named the name of Jesus. As Christians scampered for cover, the mighty Saul marched onward, unstoppable in His mission of mass destruction of members of the Body of Christ. “…He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3)
    Not content with, and emboldened by the success of his massacre of Christians in Jerusalem, Paul obtained authority to extend the reach of his extermination of the followers of Jesus Christ, and to this end was travelling more than 150 miles to Damascus. Suddenly… a light, brighter than the brightest sun shone around Him, knocked him to the ground, and the voice of God Himself spoke to him. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

    Instantly, dramatically, Saul was converted. The destroyer of the Church was ready to build the church. The persecutor was ready to be persecuted, and the assassin to be assassinated. His direction was changed and so was his name; but his zeal, far from abated, grew even fiercer as he relentlessly preached the message of reconciliation wherever he went.

    There are some of us who have had dramatic conversions, but few if any would have been as dramatic as Paul’s. The light that shone around him was brighter than the mid-day sun. (Acts 26:13) God spoke directly to him out of heaven, not just to his spirit, but audibly to his ears, so that others also could hear the sound (Acts 9:7). But the hint of the magnitude of Saul’s sin lies in the words of Jesus. “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:5) To persecute God’s people is to persecute God; and that is as close to perdition as one can get. It was only because of the grace and mercy of God that Saul was not consumed. When Paul characterized himself as the chief of sinners, he knew what he was talking about. And yet, until we surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ, we too were fighting Him and making a mockery of His death for us at Calvary. For as long as we were not for Him, we were against Him.

    Regardless of our social profile before we were saved, with Paul, we had one thing in common. We were born in sin, conceived in iniquity, and on our way to hell. Some conversions are more dramatic than others but all are works of grace, through faith and justification, resulting in reconciliation. Furthermore, the journeys on which we embark after conversion are remarkably similar as we share a common arch-enemy of our souls, and are empowered by the same Holy Spirit in our lives.

    It is at this stage that we can join the Apostle Paul and say, “I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” In fact, like the Apostle Paul we can all testify that to this day, we are still relying on the mercy of God to forgive us and rescue us from thinking and saying and doing things that we know we should not be doing, and do not want to do. Then we daily rely on Him for the desire and strength to do what we know we should be thinking, saying and doing (Romans 7:14-25).

    Also, like the Apostle Paul, Christ Jesus has appointed each and every one of us to Ministry, and for that special ministry, has equipped us with Spiritual Gifts and with the Holy Spirit. As we daily do battle with the Devil and press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus, we join with Paul in 1 Timothy 1:17 and say, “To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

    1. annieokie says:

      Thank you, Doc, for another insightful and encouraging post! And thank you for using your spiritual gift of Teaching to edify the Body and to “spur us on to love and good works”.

      “Some conversions are more dramatic than others, but all are works of grace, through faith and justification, resulting in reconciliation. Furthermore, the journeys on which we embark after conversion are remarkably similar as we share a common arch-enemy of our souls, and are empowered by the same Holy Spirit in our lives.”

      Over the years since my salvation experience at age 5, I often felt that my story was not very interesting compared to the dramatic testimony of others. However, the Lord showed me that while I was just as much a “sinner” as Saul, in His mercy and grace He placed me in a family with godly parents who raised me according to God’s ways and spared me from becoming entangled in a lifestyle of sin. Praise the Lord!

      The same amount of grace was poured out for me as was for Saul or every other sinner. What I do AFTER conversion – not to earn salvation, but to become conformed into the image of my Savior, Jesus Christ – then becomes my tool for evangelism. My life and example of what a Christian should act like may be the only “Bible” some people ever see. May it bring glory to God and help lead others to Him!

    2. dspl24 says:

      Doc P,

      I really have been enlightened by your posts for some time now and enjoy the way that you break the context of scripture down into understandable language and practical application. You are really appreciated for your insights and willingness to share with others. I pray for Jesus to bless you abundantly.

Leave a Reply