Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

A Quiz and Thoughts for the Season Tract

December 18, 2019

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The following may seem a little simplistic to those who know their Bibles but I have discovered that in my own society very few people read the Bible – or have ever read it. I feel led to use the occasion in outreach, with little thought-provoking tracts like the following. I have also been distributing scenic scripture calendars in our local area and beyond, in the knowledge that people blindly follow what is taught from the pulpit of whatever church they go to on seasonal occasions, never opening their own Bibles. Praise God for the liberty to read His Word; I pray that many would look beyond the traditions of man and would seek for the truth and turn to Him in these days.

1. Where was Jesus born: Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth?
2. On which of these dates was He born: 6th January, 25th December, 12th April? Or do we know at all?
3. Was Mary immaculately conceived? Yes/No
4. How many wise men were there: 3, 7/ we don’t know.
5. How many shepherds were there: 5, 7, 12/ we don’t know.
6. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters: Yes/No.
7. After the birth of Jesus, Herod later killed all the young children of two years and under that were in the region of Bethlehem. True/False
8. Which country was Joseph warned in a dream to flee to after the birth of Jesus: Greece, Italy or Egypt?

I have been thinking recently about seasonal assumptions and how, sadly, very few people ever read the Bible for themselves. Jesus told us that it was essential to read this most important of all books for ourselves.
He said… “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)
The Bible speaks of the people of Berea who are described in Acts 17v11 as being “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The Berean people wisely checked whether what they were being told was true. They didn’t readily accept the word of man, no matter how seemingly learned, or even spiritual, without checking it against God’s word to see “whether those things were so.”
Really understanding and knowing God’s Word has little to do with education, but rather in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of our lives. When we truly know Him as Saviour, then the Bible becomes alive and wonderful; His letter to us throughout life, instructing, guiding, convicting and comforting us through life’s most difficult hours. When we know Him and believe His Word, we can say with the Psalmist… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)
But how do we find this relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said… “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3v3)
This “new birth” does not occur when we are baptised as babies – or even adults, or when we join a church. We must firstly recognise that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We must also realise that we cannot save ourselves by our good works… “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)
In Hebrews we learn that no man on this earth can take away or forgive sin. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” (Hebrews 10v11)
But of Jesus the Bible tells us… “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v12)
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)
If you have not already done so, turn this day to the only Person who can save you – the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for you, that you might have fulfilling life in Him – both now and forever in His Presence.
You may pray simple words of acceptance… “Heavenly Father, I come to you now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood for me at Calvary. Please come into my heart today, forgiving me for all the wrong I have ever done. Cleanse me, and help me to live victoriously each future day in your presence. Open to me the great truths contained in your Word, the Bible, and help me to find fellowship with those who share my experience.”
When I trusted in Jesus as my Saviour many years ago, the Bible truly came alive for me and as the years go by it has been my companion and Guide throughout life’s journey, while the Lord’s comforting Presence is ever with me in all situations I have to face. Personally, I found it better to start in the New Testament, in Matthew’s Gospel.
I discovered that we are not saved by good works – but unto good works. Now you will be “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2v10)
My prayer is that you too will experience this wonderful assurance of sins forgiven and a Home in Heaven forevermore, before it is too late.
“… behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
May the Lord bless you, as you search His Word and trust Him to reveal His great truths to your heart.
“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.” (John 3v16)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3v20)

Answers to quiz:
1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2v1)
2. The birth date of Jesus is not recorded in the Bible.
3. It is not recorded anywhere in the Bible that Mary was immaculately conceived. Jesus was born of a virgin (Mary) (Matthew 1v18-25) and He is the only Person ever to be born and live without sin. (2Corinthians 5v21; Hebrews 4v15; 1Peter 1v19; 1Peter 2v22; 1John 3v5)
4. We are not told how many wise men there were. It is assumed there were three because they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2v11) but we don’t know for sure.
5. The account of the shepherds is recorded in Luke 2v8-20 but we are not told how many there were.
6. Yes… We may read of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in Mark 6v3 and Matthew 13v55&56. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1v23) but Matthew 1v25 indicates that this did not continue to be the case after the birth of Jesus.
7. True… This account may be read in Matthew 2v16-18.
8. Egypt. (Matthew 2v13-15)

The Greatest Gift of All – A True Story

December 24, 2010

My Aunt Frances adored her children. There were five of them altogether – four girls like ‘steps of stairs,’ and finally a boy, all born in the 1940’s and 1950’s. She encouraged them educationally and when it came to the Christmas season, she ensured that each one wakened up on Christmas morning to a beautiful gift. This was quite an achievement, given that post-war times were hard and money was scarce in most households.

In those days she lived in a small town house, and I know (from experience) that under such circumstances it can be difficult to find extra storage space for those gifts we want to surprise our loved ones with on Christmas morning! Anyway, one particular year she bought many lovely gifts for her children, including a little iron and ironing board for one of the girls, but where would she hide them? At the time my parents, siblings and I lived in an old country house (where my aunt had lived previously) and although lacking in many modern conveniences, we had a little bit more space to hide the Christmas gifts and so my parents agreed to keep them for my aunt until Christmas Eve. As a child I loved Christmas, but somehow I recall that Christmas Eve was a busy, often stressful time – especially for women.

That year (as was the tradition for many years) it had previously been agreed that my parents would drive over to my aunt’s house with my cousins’ presents on Christmas Eve. When it came to the evening in question they did go over to visit her, but with all the activities and conversation – they completely forgot the real reason for their visit. They didn’t even think about those toys until they were back at home, preparing to go to bed and heard a knock at the door…

There standing in the cold December night was Aunt Frances with her bicycle, having cycled the entire distance from the town to our country house! In those days most people didn’t have a telephone in their homes (never mind a mobile ‘phone) and so, the only way she could get those essential gifts was to cycle out to us. That night my father packed my aunt’s bicycle into the car boot with the toys and drove her home, and then, in the quietness of the night while the children slept, she carefully laid out the surprises for the morning.

I was touched by this true story of a mother’s love for her children after hearing it from my own mother just recently, for I could also see some spiritual parallels. The miles that she cycled may not seem much nowadays for modern day cyclists who possess high-powered mountain and racing bicycles, but I am certain that my aunt possessed neither. Also, in her youth she had had an accident in which her legs had been badly injured, so that cycling may possibly have caused her some discomfort. What trouble she went to, for the sake of the happiness of her children!  In the Bible, a mother’s love is referred to in Isaiah 49v15, because it is normally one of the most unselfish and self-sacrificing of all the relationships between human beings. “Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Therefore we learn that it is possible for even a mother to be lacking in love, but God’s love for us transcends all loves. In 1John 4v8, we learn that “God is love,” and in Romans 5v8 we are told: “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” At this time of year gifts (large and small) are on our minds, but surely the Greatest Gift of All is that which God gave to us at Calvary? “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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

If my cousins had refused those beautiful gifts on Christmas morning, how heartbroken my aunt would have been; having gone to so much trouble over them. Jesus, the perfect Son of God having humbled himself to die on a cross has paid the ultimate price for our sins at Calvary. Today He still stands with outstretched arms, offering His gift of salvation to “whosoever will come.” All He desires is that we acknowledge our sin, repent of it and ask Him to come into our lives, so that He can make us “new creatures.” (2Cor. 5v17) Will you trust Him today? It is a decision you will never regret – for I have proved it in my own life! Remember tomorrow may be too late, for no one knows what tomorrow holds, and some day soon He will return to receive “His own.” (Matthew 24v44). Oh that you would be ready for His return and that you would know the joy of His presence in your life today!

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6v23) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.” (Eph.2v8&9)

Footprints in the Snow

December 2, 2010

Before the advent of television, story telling was a wonderful tradition in Irish homesteads. Particularly during the long winter evenings, neighbours would gather in around a roaring log or turf fire to recount their old tales. There is a little story (possibly true) which I heard many years ago that somehow made a lasting impression on me, and I never fail to think of it when I see the ground covered in pure white snow…  

One evening a man, having made his journey on foot through deep snow, sat at a bar drinking pint after pint. After some time he looked through the blur of cigarette smoke and was shocked to see his young son standing there. “How on earth did you know where I was son?” He asked with concern.

“Dad,” replied the little boy, “I saw you slipping out of the house, and then I noticed your footprints in the snow. I couldn’t keep up with you, but your footprints were my guide!  Placing my feet in each footprint, I walked on and on through the cold night… and eventually I found you here.” 

The lesson is clear – our children can follow in our footsteps, and so we must be careful where those footsteps lead! Sadly I am reminded of the amount of alcohol that is consumed around the Christmas season in Ireland and the fact that many families have been adversely affected by the over-consumption of alcohol at all times of the year.

The Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born but we know why He was born… “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet unto the way of peace.” (Luke 1v79)

Surely there can be no peace when an addiction of any type has us in its clutches? Jesus said: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1v18) If someone reading this has a problem with alcohol or any other drug, remember that the Lord Jesus Christ loves you and wants to heal you… to set you free, for “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36) Why not ask Him to forgive you and to heal you now, for it is His will that you would get the best out of this life – and be with Him forever in the next life.

Having heard the stories of former addicts, how encouraging it is to know that their lives now give testimony to the fact that “with God all things are possible!” (Luke 1v37)

Praise God that He can place our footsteps “on the path of the just” which “is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4v18) This is a path which we will want our children to follow us in!