For the next three weeks I want to do something a bit different and we will get back to our weekly devotional’s in January 2010.
I want to help you to build a solid bridge to the deeper meaning of “Christmas”.
Did you know that the term Christmas does not actually appear in bible scripture? But don’t worry,what it emplies and stands for is very much a part of a “Christians” walk and purpose. So this will not be a disucssion of why you should not celebrate Christmas as Christians but instead it will be a process to help you reconnect with “Christ” during this season!
First allow me to share a little background information on how “Christmas” as we have come to know and celebrate it came about.
The Celebration Of….. “The Feast of the Nativity”
The Romans called it Saturnalia, which means ” the birthday of the unconquerable sun”, and they celebrated it in a big way! They spent an entire week feasting and worshiping their false gods, and they capped it off with the biggest and wilderst party of all. That party was held on December 25th.
But something happened in A.D. 313 that would change everything. Those seven evil days of idol worship and over-the top parties would disapper from the Toman calendar, and December 25th would move out of the dark shadows of pagan worship into the light of God’s truth and love.
How this happened……
In the year A.D. 313, the Roman emperor Constantine became a follower of Jesus Christ. As a believer, Constantine was disturbed by his people’s worship of false gods. Acting on his concern, Constantine declared December 25th the Feast of the Nativity. And when a Roman emperor declares something, it gets done!
In the years that followed, the Feast of the Nativity would become “Christ-mass,” which eventually became our Christmas. It shouldn’t surprise us that something dark and evil has been transformed into a day characterized by radiant light, selfless giving and sacrificial love. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be over come by evil, but overcome evil with good ( NIV)”.
More than likely Jesus was not actually born on December 25th. But given the fact tht it is around this date that darkness prevails with the year’s longest night and the sun begins a new cycle, it’s a grand tiem to celebrate the birthday of the SON. Proclaiming and reclaiming December 25th gives an opportunity for GOD’s light of truth to chase away the blackest of shadows, revealing the true SON of Righteousness!
Today,I wanted to begin this process by offering you a study and discussion in GOD’s word on LOVE. All that we do this season should be based in love otherwise even the most expensive to the least expensive gifts will not mean anything in the eyes of GOD and even perhaps the one you gave the “gift” to. The greatest of all gifts that can ever be given or shared is unconditional love.
With these things in mind take your bibles off the shelves or unpack them from those boxes and take the time to give yourself the “gift” of spending time in HIS Holy presents in order to receive deeper love and greater wisdom this season.
1.What thoughts and images come to mind when you think of the word love?
2.Decide together what you believe is the best definition for the word love.
3.Discuss how the following verses relate to love. Aim especially toward a fresh view of each passage, as you search for (a) God’s commands and standards to keep, (b) someone’s example to learn from, (c) a promise from God to believe, (d) a warning to heed, or (e) a challenge to face.
• Leviticus 19:18
• Deuteronomy 6:4-5
• 1 Samuel 18:1-4
• Proverbs 3:3-4; 10:12; 17:9
• Matthew 10:37; 25:34-36
• John 8:42
• John 15:9-13
• Romans 8:35-39; 12:9-10; 13:8-10
• Galatians 5:13-15
• Ephesians 3:17-19
• 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
• 1 Timothy 1:5
• Hebrews 10:24-25
• 1 Peter 4:8
• 1 John 2:15-17; 3:11-20; 4:7-21; 5:3
4.What vital, fundamental principles can you see in these passages (principles which are consistent with other Scriptures you know)?
5.In conclusion, answer these questions, especially in light of what you’ve observed in the passages above: (a) What does God want me to understand most about Himself? (b) What does God want me to understand most about others? (c) What does God want me to understand most about myself? And in light of all this, what would He have me do?
MELEK HA-GOYIM (KING OF THE NATIONS)
Until next time……
(from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament, © 1993 by Questar Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)_
Additional Resources: The Adventrue of Christmas by Lisa Whelechel