The Gift of Christmas

By Tanja

Do you like receiving gifts? Do you like giving gifts?  It’s that time of the year again, Christmas. I love to receive gifts, but I also love to give gifts. Which is easier, to give or to receive?  Children love gifts too, I can remember a few moments in my childhood where I felt ‘picky’ as a gift receiver, because it wasn’t exactly the favourite toy I wanted. Despite feelings like this I always accepted gifts even if there were some disappointments. I could say that generally I was a happy gift receiver. I still am today! Relationships mean more to me than the actual gift. Gift giving is a sign of one of the love languages. (Read: Gary Chapman, “The Five Love Languages.”) I am all for being loved and being shown love. The greatest story of love that I know of is: The Father God sending His only Son into the world that all may have eternal life.

Just before the first Christmas ever, it was announced to a young woman in Israel, Mary, that she would have a baby. To Mary this could have been like a gift to her. She was chosen to be the one to bring the Saviour into the world. She considered herself blessed and felt that the Mighty One had done great things for her. (Luke 1:49) Indeed He did.

Jesus was born to Mary on that first Christmas. He would be the Saviour of the world. He was God who came to dwell with us and to reveal the Father God to all people. No one had seen God, but Jesus came to reveal God. The man Jesus, was with the Father God at the beginning of creation and for all time, so He knew what God was truly like, in fact He knew what it was like to be God, because He was God. Jesus was human, yet divine, and came to show us the true reality of God. We can see God through Jesus. Just think, not only has God made this world and everything that exists, but He also has walked on this earth we all live in.

Jesus is truly a gift for us, straight from heaven. He is ours if we are willing to receive Him. The reason He came was because the Father God loved us. He was a gift of love and still is today. It is your choice if you receive Jesus and His gift of eternal life. In my opinion it is gift too good to miss. Jesus is a gift, will you receive?

Aroma of Christ

I noticed something about fragrance twice while on a walk recently. On the first day I was walking past a woman at a bus stop. Immediately, I could sense that she was wearing a strong, pretty, flowery, perfume. I walked past her and the bus stop. What I did not expect is that her scent kept on trailing on for another meter, and then another one or two meters after that. She definitely had come to the bus stop from the way I was now headed. She had created such a strong trail of scent, like she had left invisible flowers in the air.

The second time I had gone on a walk, I was walking up a hilly part of the road and a man with his cap flicked back and his mind engaged in his phone conversation walked past me. After he had walked past he too left the remains of his scent. It was nothing like the woman’s scent that lingered on the first day.

We are the aroma of Christ. How much more are we leaving our scent in the places we travel? May it be anywhere we’ve stepped, in an airport, in a shopping centre, in a school, in a church, in a home or in a workplace. What do people know about Christ because we were around them? Don’t we leave a special presence because we belong to Jesus? Have you ever had people ask you out of the blue, “So do you go to church?” or “Why do you smile so much?” or simply, “Are you a Christian?” Those are great questions and wonderful opportunities to share our faith.

I was thinking about being the aroma of Christ. I thought we just ‘are’ the aroma of Christ, there’s nothing we can do more to have more of the aroma of Christ. We can’t say I want more of Christ’s ‘Christian Dior’ range please, I can’t smell the other stuff I just put on!! So be encouraged that you are the aroma of Christ. On the other hand, the more we spend time with Jesus the more we become like Him.

Here are two points I have about being the aroma of Christ:
1. Being the aroma of Christ means people get ‘knowledge’ about Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:14).Everywhere that Christians go they bring with them an awareness of who Christ is. People get to know a little more of who Christ is through the lives of Christians.

2. Because we are the aroma of Christ, the smell of that varies to individuals (2 Corinthians 2:15). When non- Christians meet us they are either encouraged about our faith in Jesus and really want the life we have or when non-Christians meet us they feel condemned and disgusted with their life.

Returning back to my walk, yes so I did walk past two people that had a good fragrance on them. However, I also walked further down the road, not past anyone, but an awful, horrible, disgusting, smelly garbage bin (trash bin). Let me tell you that I did not want to be near that smell for a second! In fact that is the smell that can be protested about. Could my point be that there are definite smells or fragrances, be it natural or spiritual?

I know that God’s heart is that everyone senses the aroma of Christ in those that are His and wants the eternal life that He can give through His son Jesus Christ. What Jesus has to offer is available for all who ask!

Read 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

She Has Done a Beautiful Thing

Mary stood in her bedroom, facing her bed that had a beaded-lace cover. A window was over her bed, a glass panel open letting in the warm sunshine. She had a single white rose in a tall vase. She breathed in some fresh air and was grateful that she felt some relief. She had heard about Jesus of Nazareth for so long now and how He would forgive the sins of the people. Her hands grabbed the alabaster jar she treasured. She was careful not to let it slip from her hands. She was nervous and she kept imaging she had a fever. The tall alabaster jar contained perfume that was precious, as it was so valuable. Now to find Jesus and anoint Him with this, it was the least that she could do.

At Bethany:

She didn’t knock but let herself in. It was the home of Simon, Jesus was sitting there. She knew who He was, she walked straight to Him. Jesus’ eyes met hers with compassion. She had no words and there was no big warning to the actions that followed. She broke the jar that was so precious to her and poured it over His head. She started weeping and wiped Jesus feet with her hair and the perfume.

“Woman!” Jesus spoke with authority. Mary waited for what He would say. “Your sins are….forgiven.”

“What a waste!” Fumed men witnessing the scene.
“She could have helped the poor with the money made from the perfume!” Another man criticized. The ointment flowed down Jesus face and his neck. He was bathed in this special perfume!
“Let her be!” Jesus said to the men who were so furious they could strangle the woman.

Jesus looked through the special ‘bath’ Mary was giving Him, into her eyes. “She has done a beautiful thing to me!” Mary smiled, she was not feeling as nervous as she had before, she felt joyful and she felt His love.

Jesus then explained that He wouldn’t always be with them, but the poor would be. Also, that what Mary had done was like preparing Him for burial.

“I tell you, she will be remembered where ever the Gospel is preached. What she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Note: Read the story in Matthew 26:7-13, Luke 7:37-39, and Mark 14:3-9, this is a dramatized interpretation of the story.

The Long Wait for Healing

The woman who was blind bumped a crippled man. “Will you watch where you’re going, woman!” She had struggled to get through the crowd and now she was caught in a position that was uncomfortable. Even if I just fall into the Pool of Bethesda, that might heal me. She thought. She physically couldn’t see. She was surrounded by people just like her, who needed some type of cure in their bodies.

“The angel hasn’t come yet!”announced the crippled man. “When the angel comes to stir the waters….” He stopped to clear his throat..”When the angel..whoever gets in first, gets healed.They get healed. That’s what they get,..” The woman who had bumped him started to whimper.

“I….” some more tears came, “I can’t see the water.” The man looked at the woman and then at the pool’s water. He was also hopeful to get in the water.

“Such beautiful water.”

On the other side of the crowd on the fourth portico lay another man who had been sick for 38 years. He was in doubt that he could be healed, since it had been a long time to wait for this. There had been some days when he had asked someone to move him to the pool. No one did. No one cared to help. It was a miserable type of ‘hospital’, everyone around him was too weak to help. The man just lay on his cheek, his mind filled with nothingness.

The Pools of Bethesda were quiet at this time, the waters in the pool would move every so often and the sick gathered around would groan. They cried out sometimes in agony. It was a quiet moment, there was stillness in the atmosphere when Jesus entered the scene.

Jesus scanned the crowd with much compassion. Jesus had been in Jerusalem for a feast. Now he was here assessing the pool area. He noticed the man lying down on his cheek. He could tell that this man had had a long journey with his sickness.

‘It’s been a long time!’ Jesus whispered about the man. The man could tell that someone was peering over him. “Do you want to get well?” Were the words Jesus spoke. “Huh?” The man was stunned.

Jesus touched his cheek and started his question again, “Do you want…”
“I heard you…” The man spoke.”No one’s going to help me! They don’t want to help me into that water…and if I try to get into that pool, someone takes my place!”

Jesus smiled at the man. “Take up your mat and walk!” The appearance and health of the man changed instantly. He was well. He was healed. Excitedly he jumped to his feet, rolled up his mat and started walking away.

He was stopped by men who had strong Jewish beliefs and traditions of the Sabbath. There was not much activity occurring in Jerusalem because of the Sabbath day.

The men insisted that he move no further. “Who allowed you to walk with your mat?”

“The man who made me well! He did!” “Who was that?”
“I don’t know!”

The source of the man’s healing seemed a mystery to him. Who had healed him? He really wasn’t sure who had done it. But at least he hadn’t needed to step into the Pools of Bethesda. He was healed. He was elated. As to why the Jewish men were asking him these questions, perplexed him.

Jesus found the man later in the temple.

“You are now well! Don’t go astray anymore.”

“It was you. You healed me?” The man recognized Jesus.”Who are you?”

“Jesus.”

“Jesus, Jesus has healed me!” He turned away. “The one who healed me is Jesus,” he proclaimed as he went a way. “Jesus, the miraculous one. He healed me!”

Note: Find and read this story in John 5:1-17, this is a dramatized and partly fictional interpretation of the story.

Jesus Gives Life Abundantly

Have you ever been tempted? Tempted to break the rules when they were so hard to follow? Have you ever believed something that was contrary to God’s Word, only because you were talked into thinking that way?

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and He said anyone who enters through ‘His door’ will be saved. He has laid down His life for ‘His sheep’, His plan is to give us life and He wants us to have that ABUNDANTLY (John 10).

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life, whom shall I dread?” Psalm 27:1

Jesus talked about the ‘thief’, in John 10:10, Jesus says, ‘the thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy, I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.’ After a time when Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights, he was walking in the desert, where he was tempted by the devil. The devil tried there tactics;

  1. He tempted Jesus to create and eat food.
  2. He tempted Jesus to jump from a high place, so He could miraculously save Himself.
  3. He tempted Jesus to get a position, that was not in God’s plan, in exchange for worship of thedevil.

Even though the devil used scripture to tempt Jesus, he used it for his own purpose and deceptively. Jesus rebuked the devil with scripture that had God’s truth in it. Jesus was furious with the devil’s last attempt to tempt Him. “Don’t you think you could worship me?” You can almost sense the trickery that the devil had in mind.

“Be gone Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only'”(Matthew 4:10).

The devil used the same deceptiveness with Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say you shouldn’t eat from any tree of the garden?” The devil acted like He was giving insight into what God really thought and how reality really was (Genesis 3). Unlike Jesus who was tempted in the desert, Eve fell for the temptation. My point is that, Eve fell into temptation and the result was sin, but Jesus overcame temptation.

“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:16

Jesus was tempted but He never sinned, yet this verse gives us hope and comfort that Jesus knows how hard it is when the devil comes and attacks us with his lies. We must remember that Jesus wants to give us life and He laid His life down for us.

Who is Jesus?

Were you ever the new kid in your community or neighbourhood? Did you have a friend who knew so much about you that was positive, that they spoke highly of you to others? John the Baptist had some affirmative words to say about Jesus.

John the Baptist was a man whose purpose was to direct people to Jesus. John himself was quite a spiritual man, who had insight into what was coming. Even from the start of his life, John was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). When Mary the mother of Jesus, told Elizabeth, (John’s mother) of the exciting news of her being the mother of Jesus, John ‘leaped’ in Elizabeth’s womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41,44).

John’s life was all in preparation for Jesus’ ministry and what Jesus would do (Luke 1:80). John had such insight into who Jesus was, ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’ (Matthew 3:11), he said to the people around him.

John was a witness that proclaimed that Jesus is the light (John 1:7). Jesus was in the beginning with God. Jesus was there when the earth and humanity was created. The Bible says we wouldn’t have come into existence apart from Him (John1:3). Jesus is the Creator of life (John 1:4). Jesus is God.

At the birth of Jesus, He is announced as the king of the Jews, the one to be worshipped (Matthew 2:2). He was worshiped right from His birth. When Jesus met John the Baptist for baptism, God said from heaven, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:17). Jesus is the Son of God. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life'(John 3:16). It was because of the love of the heavenly Father God that Jesus was sent to us. You can receive Him today as your personal Lord and Saviour.

What’s in His Name?

God created the world and its people. The first words He said about this is, ‘it is good!’ He was a God who spent time with the first humans, Adam and Eve, they had fellowship together. Until the promise they first had broke and sin entered the picture. Ever since then God has been restoring the relationship with humans back to its rightful place.

In Psalms 100:3 it says,

“Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

We are made by God and we belong to Him. Just like when an artist creates a painting, the painting initially belongs to them. Ownership is powerful, and it is something that we don’t value as carefully in the modern world. We are more likely to take what really isn’t ours without thinking about it as much.

In Colossians 1:19-20 it talks about God being pleased with Jesus and that through Jesus He would reconcile to Himself ‘all things’. This would happen through Jesus dying on the cross for our sin. There is no other name where we can be saved but Jesus (Acts 4:12).

Two special aspects about the name given to Jesus are(Matthew 1:21-23):

  1. ‘Jesus’ means, ‘He will save His people from their sins.’ Also, described as, ‘Jehovah is salvation’.
  2. Jesus was given the name ‘Immanuel/Emmanuel’, meaning simply, ‘God with us.’

God’s plan to win back His creation started long before Jesus made His ‘appearance’ on earth. God was already prophesying through Isaiah to His people Israel about the plan to bring Jesus, the Messiah. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”(Isaiah 7:14)

Jesus is the one who has come to take away our sin and to restore us back to being God’s people. God is claiming back what is His, we belong to God. Come to Jesus and in His name be saved!

FullSizeRender