Tag Archives: Christmas

The Truth of Christmas

A crowd of people asked Jesus what it takes to please God. Jesus told them to put their trust in him, because he was sent by God. The crowd wanted Jesus to do some sort of miracle in order to prove that he was worthy of their trust. Ironically, Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people with only 5 barley loaves and 2 fish just the day before (John 6). If that was not enough, then miracles would not convince them, so he taught them.

Jesus told the crowd that he is the Living Bread which came down from heaven in order to give life to the world. He came down from heaven to do God’s will. Jesus assured them that whoever trusts in him will have eternal life. He told them that on the Last Day he will raise up all who trust him.

They were skeptical. They began to grumble and complain about Jesus’ teaching. After all, they knew Jesus’ family. Wasn’t he the son of Joseph and Mary? How could he now say that he came down from heaven?

The people rejected Jesus because they could think of him only as a man, the son of a carpenter, not the Son of God. Apparently they were unaware of Jesus’ miraculous birth. They knew nothing about the wonderful events in Bethlehem a little more than 30 years earlier. They were blind to the power of his miracles and unmoved by the authority of his teaching.

Many of the people in that crowd were unable to see Jesus as more than a man. The idea that he came from heaven to give his life for the life of the world was offensive to them. But some who were listening to Jesus that day did not walk away. They knew that he was the only one with the words of eternal life. They had come to trust and to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus is more than a man, that he is the Living Bread which came down from heaven, from God. Many people still cannot see him as anything more than a man, and so they have no real interest in the truth of Christmas. But some have come to trust and to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God, and we look forward to Christmas because it reminds us that Jesus came down from heaven to do God’s will, to give us eternal life. Merry Christmas!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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The Spirit of Christmas

Folks talk about the spirit of Christmas. Different people have different ideas about what the spirit of Christmas is. Many would say that the spirit of Christmas is giving. In other words, a person who enjoys giving gifts at Christmastime is a person with the spirit of Christmas. By this way of thinking, the word spirit simply means attitude, or desire. So, the spirit of Christmas is a feeling. Is that all?

The Bible uses the word spirit in a different way. In Scripture we learn that God is Spirit. The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters on the dawn of creation. The Spirit of God came upon prophets in the Old Testament and enabled them to speak the Word of God. Those same prophets promised that a time would come when God would pour out his Spirit on all his people.

Jesus made promises about the Spirit of God, too. He told his followers that after his death and resurrection he would send God’s Spirit to be with them. He warned them that the world would not receive God’s Spirit because they could not see the Spirit. The Spirit of God is invisible.

Jesus’ promise about God’s Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost, after his death and resurrection. The Spirit of God arrived suddenly like the sound of a violent wind that filled the house where Jesus’ followers had gathered. What looked like tongues of fire rested on each of them and they were enabled to speak in ways that amazed the people in Jerusalem. The Spirit of God is powerful.

When the time drew near for Jesus to leave his disciples and return to the Father in heaven, he promised not to leave them as orphans. He told them that he would send God’s Spirit to be their Guide, leading them into all the Truth. God’s Spirit would also remind them of all that Jesus said. Jesus had been God’s personal representative in the world, but now God’s Spirit would take over. The Spirit of God is his personal Presence.

When we put all this together it tells us that God’s Spirit is his invisible, powerful, personal Presence in the world today. Christmastime is a reminder that God sent his Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world. Jesus promised to send God’s Spirit so that all who are saved by Jesus can have God’s powerful Presence in their lives. Jesus promised that God’s Spirit would live in God’s people.

For all those in the world who cannot see or receive God’s Spirit, Christmas must be about something smaller, about an attitude, a feeling. For God’s people the spirit of Christmas is about far more than our thoughts or emotions. The Spirit of Christmas is God himself, his invisible, powerful, personal indwelling Presence. May the Spirit of Christmas fill you to overflowing this year.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,

Brother Richard Foster
Grace Baptist Church, Camden AR

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Is God Against Rich People?

God could have announced the birth of his Son to anyone. It was his choice.
He chose to send his angels to the fields near Bethlehem, to some shepherds watching their flocks at night. Not the high priest in the Temple. Not the wealthy aristocrats in their mansions. Not the emperor in his palace or even the governor. Common shepherds.

By announcing the birth of the Savior to everyday working-class folks, God made a clear statement about his plan for salvation. The Lord of heaven and earth cares about the little people.

Jesus grew up in the house of a carpenter, a working man. He was not groomed for political power and influence, or fame and fortune. He learned a trade.

As an adult, after Jesus started to travel and preach, he gained a reputation as being the friend of outcasts. He spent time with the marginalized of his culture.

All this is in keeping with many Old Testament Scriptures that reveal God’s special concern for those who are disenfranchised in this world. The orphans. The widows. Foreigners.

Some students of the Bible call this God’s “preferential option for the poor.” In other words, the Lord has a soft spot for the downtrodden.

If God is especially concerned about the poor, does that mean that he is hostile toward the wealthy? In one place the Bible tells rich people to “weep and wail over your coming distress!” (James 5:1)

So, if the Lord is opposed to rich folks, then he would seem to be in step with certain strands of current political thought. He must be the God of the ninety-nine percent, right?

But wait. Didn’t God announce the birth of Jesus to another group in addition to the shepherds? He did! It’s true, the shepherds got an angelic choir, but some wise men from the east got a unique celestial phenomenon, that is, a bright star.

These wise men were able to travel a long distance, not easy in the ancient world. They had the wherewithal to present Jesus with high-dollar gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They must have been rich. Were they part of the one percent?

The fact is, God did not send his angelic choir to all the shepherds, or to all the poor people for that matter. Neither did he send a special star to everyone with the wealth to travel great distances and offer valuable gifts. But he did choose some of the poorest and some of the wealthiest.

Not only that, God chose some near and some far. The shepherds lived in the neighborhood. They were Jewish. The wise men came from a great distance. They were foreigners, Gentiles.

By announcing Jesus’ birth to the poor and the rich, the near and the far, the Jew and the Gentile, the Lord made a very clear statement: He cares about all kinds of people. He cares about you, despite your place in the hierarchies of this world.

And, by announcing the birth of Jesus to groups who were so different, God was making the point that Jesus is the one Savior for all peoples everywhere. One Lord and Savior for everyone. One Lord and Savior who is willing and able to save anyone.

No matter who you are, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord; and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to all!

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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