CHRISTMAS: DO YOU KNOW THE SANTA CLAUS IS NOT THE CHRIST?

The greatest reason of the season is Christ Jesus, who was born into sin that we may have life eternal. While i was very young whenever we see the Santa Claus we call him ” Father Christmas” and this runs through our brain that the Santa Claus is the Christ being celebrated.

Brief History of Santa Claus
The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.”
Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday’s rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus. In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations. Those familiar Salvation Army Santas have been ringing bells on the street corners of American cities ever since.

CHRIST JESUS THE REASON OF THE SEASON

“For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8; cf. Hebrews 2:14–15).
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5).
“For God so loved the world that whoever believes on him shall 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 3:16).
“God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many may be revealed” (Luke 2:34ff).
“He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
“Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarches, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:7–8; cf. John 12:27ff).

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What Should We Wear to Church?

When I was a little boy, probably 80% of men wore a coat and tie to our church, and 90% of women wore dresses. By the time I was in high school, 40% of men wore a coat and tie, and 50% of women wore dresses to church — the majority of both genders being middle-aged and elderly. Everyone else dressed “business casual.” Jeans were rare. Tee shirts even rarer. Shorts were never seen outside the nursery, even in mid-July.

Today, in the church I attend, no man wears a suit or sport coat unless it’s a special occasion. And ties are seen less than coats. I’d say less than 5% of women wear dresses on Sunday. Shorts, tee shirts, and sandals are commonly worn in warmer weather. My young son wonders why he has to “dress up” for church if I tell him to change into better jeans and a nicer tee shirt.

“God says virtually nothing regarding how we should dress when we come together to worship him.” Tweet Share on Facebook
In the small Protestant denomination I belong to, no pastor I know of preaches in a coat or tie on a typical Sunday. Pastors, worship team members, and other platform participants dress pretty much like everyone else minus the shorts, tee shirts, and sandals.

These changes in what people wear to church reflect the wider cultural changes over the past fifty years regarding clothing. The whole of American culture has dressed down. This has produced largely generational debates over appropriate church attire. Those who favor more formal dress suspect casual clothes reflect a disrespectful, irreverent attitude toward God. Those who favor casual dress feel it reflects a more authentic approach to God. Does either have a biblical case?

Does God tell us what we should wear to church?

More Respectful?

The debate over formal versus casual church clothing is a shrinking one for at least two reasons: 1. the pro-formal party is shrinking, and 2. the pro-formal remnant is now so outnumbered it hardly seems worth the effort to argue.

Most folks who lament the casual trend came of age in an era where public dress in general was more formal. They, like most people in every era, simply assumed their own cultural norms. It just wasn’t “right” to wear casual clothes in certain places, especially in church.

“We can turn any clothing item or style into an expression of self-centered, self-exalting self-worship.” Tweet Share on Facebook
So, as the cultural clothing norms changed, and people — typically younger people — started wearing casual clothes to those places, including church, it felt “wrong.” It felt like a form of disrespect, even rebellion, toward the older generations. In church, it felt like disrespect, even rebellion, toward God.

But is this true? Certainly, on the microlevel of sinful individuals, plenty of rebellion toward elders and God took place, just as it has in all generations. The pro-formal crowd had their own generational expressions of rebellion. But from a biblical standpoint, there is no compelling exegetical case to be made that more formal dress is de facto more respectful toward God than casual dress. Church clothing is a preference formed by culture and tradition.

More Authentic?

On the other hand, many of those who embrace the trend toward more casual have come of age during the dressing-down decades, and they are just as vulnerable to assuming the cultural norms that have shaped them. It feels “fine” to wear jeans and a tee shirt to church, perhaps the same ones worn on Saturday. But why does it feel okay?

As I mentioned before, “authenticity” is the most popular answer. We are coming to God as we are, putting on no airs or masks with him.

It sounds good, but I don’t really buy it. Wearing casual clothes is no more de facto spiritually authentic than formal clothes are de facto spiritually respectful. We might not be at all authentic standing before God in our jeans. We may choose casual clothes primarily to fit in socially, or to attract attention to ourselves, or to nurture a “cool” image. In other words, we may wear casual clothes to church and worship God with our lips, while our hearts are far from him (Isaiah 29:13).

Perhaps casual clothes can help us approach God more authentically in ways formal clothes don’t. Perhaps formal clothes can help us express respect and reverence toward God in ways casual clothes don’t. I have significant doubts about both.

What God Wants Us to Wear

“God does not explicitly endorse either formal or casual clothes in corporate worship.” Tweet Share on Facebook
God does not explicitly endorse either formal or casual clothes in corporate worship. He doesn’t even enter the debate. In fact, outside of ritual Levitical laws that no longer apply in the new covenant, God says virtually nothing regarding how we should dress when we come together to worship him.

It’s not that clothing doesn’t matter to God. Clothing matters a great deal to God — just not in the same ways or for the same reasons it typically matters to us. God refuses to decide the formal-casual debate, but he does explicitly tell us what he wants us to wear to church:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
What are we supposed to wear? Humility.

All clothing — formal, casual, work, sport, beachwear, sleepwear, underwear, headwear, every other kind of wear — can be a source of great pride. There isn’t a clothing item or style that we can’t turn into an expression of self-centered, self-exalting self-worship.

But if we clothe ourselves with humility, if we “count others more significant than [ourselves],” and “look not only to [our] own interests, but also to the interests of others,” then no matter how we dress, we will honor and reflect Christ (Philippians 2:3–4).

The Clothes Inside Us

“If we clothe ourselves with humility, then no matter how we dress, we will honor and reflect Christ.” Tweet Share on Facebook
God doesn’t specify what external clothes honor him most, because he cares what our hearts wear. What’s inside of us either honors him or dishonors him — either approaches him with authenticity or with inauthenticity. If our hearts are wearing humility, no matter what we wear, we will dress in loving ways. If our hearts are wearing pride, formal clothes will always be disrespectful and casual clothes will always be inauthentic.

If our hearts are wearing humility, what will matter to us is whether God is glorified and others are loved. But if our hearts are wearing pride, we will disregard God’s glory and others’ spiritual health in favor of our personal preferences and freedoms.

And, in the end, if our hearts are wearing humility, we will think of our clothes as little as possible when we draw near to God together in worship.

REFERENCE
DESIRINGGOD.COM

Article : Jesus Walks on Water

Matt. 14:23-36; Mark 6:46-56; John 6:16-29

WHILE JESUS WAS alone praying on the mountain-side, the disciples were in their ship rowing toward Capernaum. And the multitude were returning homeward as they had come, walking along the northern shore of the sea.

       After nightfall a strong wind began to blow across the Sea, driving against the little ship. Row as hard as they might, the disciples could not make much progress against the wind. Higher and higher the waves dashed and rolled, and slower the vessel plowed through them.

       How tired the disciples were growing! Perhaps they were thinking about the time when a tempest swept over the Sea and Jesus had been with them, sleeping in the ship. Perhaps they were wishing for his presence now, to still this stormy wind that made their progress so wearisome and so slow.

       Far away on the mountain Jesus had been praying for several hours. But he had not forgotten his disciples. Perhaps he had been praying for them as well as for himself. He knew how much they needed him when the strong wind began to blow against their little ship, and he started to go to them.

       Out across the water he walked as easily as if it had been land, and nearer and nearer he came to the tossing ship and its weary sailors. By and by he came very near, so near that they could see him through the darkness, walking past them on the rough waves.

       Now the disciples were frightened; for every one had seen Jesus and they believed they had seen a spirit. They did not think he could really walk on water, for no person had ever done that.

       They remembered how God had parted the waters on the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over on dry land, and how he had made a dry path across the Jordan River three times for his servant to walk upon. But never had they heard of any one walking on top of the water. This must be a spirit. And they cried out for fear of what they had seen.

       Jesus stopped when he heard their cry, and turned to speak to them. He said, “Do not be afraid, for it is I.” How familiar that voice sounded! Still the disciples could scarcely believe it was Jesus who spoke.

       Finally Simon Peter cried out, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you walking on the water.”

       And Jesus answered “Come?”

       With a bound Simon Peter leaped over the side of the ship and started to go to Jesus. The other disciples looked on in amazement, wondering more than ever at the great power of Jesus on both sea and land. Presently, however, they saw their fellow disciple beginning to sink in the rough waves, and they heard his voice calling frantically to Jesus to help. For Simon Peter had begun to look about at the stormy wind and waves, and just as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink.

       Then Jesus reached forth his hand and caught him, saying, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

       When the two came to the ship, the other disciples received them joyfully, and at once the wind ceased. Again the disciples marveled at the wonderful power of their master, who could perform miracles on the sea as well as on the land. And they came to him, worshiping him and saying, “Surely you are the Son of God.”

Article : Creation – How the World Was Made

Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 2:7

THIS GREAT WORLD in which we live did not always exist. The broad expanse of sky, which smiles upon us when days are fair, and frowns and weeps when days are foul, did not always form an arch above our earth-home. Long, long ago there was no world at all. There was no sun to shine, there were no stars to twinkle, nor moonbeams to play through the night shadows. But even then there was God; for he ever has been and always shall be the same unchanging Divine Being.

       Then, away back in that long ago, at the very beginning of time, God made the world. Not as we see it today, for at first water covered everything, and all was darkness everywhere. What a strange, unfriendly world this must have been, for no living creature could dwell in it! But God planned to make it beautiful, so he caused the light to shine. This light he called Day and the darkness he called Night. And then the evening and morning of the first day of time passed by,

       On the second day God made the beautiful blue sky, and placed above the water-covered earth clouds to carry the sky-moisture. He called the sky Heaven. On the third day he caused the waters to flow together in wide, deep places, and he called them Seas. Dry land then rose up, and this he called Earth. But as yet there were no grasses, flowers, nor trees-the whole earth was barren and desolate. So God caused a carpet of grass to grow upon the bare ground and beautiful flowers to spring up from the earth. The trees and herbs also he made to grow at his will. When God beheld all these things he saw that they were good.

       On the fourth day appeared the great lights which we see in the sky-the sun, the moon, and the stars. These he made to divide the day from the night.

       After these things were made, God began to create living creatures. He made fishes of all kinds and sizes to swim about in the seas and birds of every description to fly about above the water and land, just as we see them doing today. Thus the world continued to become more delightful, and the fifth day of the first week of time passed by.

       On the sixth day God made all the animals, great and small, and every creeping thing. Then there was life abounding in the woods and on the plains, as well as in the air and in the sea. What a beautiful world! Still what a strange world, for there were no people in it! Not a home anywhere-not a man, woman, nor little child to be seen. What a very strange world indeed!

       But God had not yet finished his work of creation, for he wished to have people live in the wonderful world he had made. They could enjoy its beauties and take care of it as no other living creature could do. And more, they could know who had made all these great things, and knowing God they could love and worship him. So it was that God made the first man. Out of the dust of the ground he made the man’s body, then he breathed into that body with the breath of life and man became a living soul.

       This first man God called Adam, and to Adam he gave the power to rule over all the other living creatures. These animals and birds he brought to Adam, and Adam gave each of them a name. But not one of them did Adam find suitable for a helper, and because he needed a helper very much God made for him a woman. This woman became Adam’s wife, and he loved her very much. He called her name Eve.

       When the sixth day ended God had made the world and had placed everything in it just as he wished, therefore on the seventh day he rested from his work.

http://amaliadev.com

Article : Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand

Matt. 14:13-23; Mark 6:31-46; Luke 9:7-17; John 6:1-15

A BOY’S LUNCH-BASKET is a very small thing compared with a great miracle. But in this story we shall see how a great miracle grew out of a boy’s lunch-basket. It all came about in this manner:

       The disciples whom Jesus sent to preach in the towns and cities of Galilee had returned joyfully, telling their Master about their success in healing the sick and in casting out the evil spirits just as they had seen him do. And now the fame of Jesus was increasing every day, and many more people from distant parts of the country were flocking to hear him.

       So urgent were the people who came to hear Jesus and to have their loved ones healed, that they pressed constantly upon him, and allowed no time for him to rest or even eat. Then Jesus called his twelve disciples aside from the multitude and said, “Come with me to a quiet place, for we must rest a while.”

       Taking a ship they sailed away from the multitude to the other side of the Sea, and went into a desert place near a mountain. But they did not find much time to rest even in this lonely spot, for soon they saw a great throng of people coming toward them.

       The multitude had followed from the other side of the Sea. Perhaps the disciples were disappointed because the people had found them again, but Jesus looked pityingly upon the great throng, and said of them, “They are like sheep that had no shepherd. They wander about here and there hunting for their own pasture-grounds.”

       In this great throng were five thousand men, who had come from different parts of Galilee. Some of them had brought their wives and children along, and other women had come, too. When they had started they did not know they would have to go so very far to find Jesus, and many of them had brought nothing to eat. One boy, however, had not forgotten his lunch-basket, and in his basket he carried five little loaves of barley bread and two small fishes.

       When the multitude came near, Jesus received them kindly and sat down to teach them again. He healed the sick ones whom they had brought to him, and taught them many things about the kingdom of heaven.

       After a while the day wore on and evening came. Still the people lingered near, seeming to forget they could find no food or shelter in the desert place. The disciples grew impatient with them and came to ask Jesus to send them away.

       “They have brought no food,” said the disciples, “and we can not supply food for them in this wilderness; therefore send them away that they may buy food in the towns and villages as they journey home.”

       But Jesus answered, “We must feed them before sending them away.” Then, turning to Philip he asked, “Where shall we find bread, that all these people may eat?”

       Philip looked at the great multitude and shook his head. “If we should buy two hundred pennyworth of bread,” he answered, “there would not be enough for each one to have a small piece.”

       While Jesus and the disciples were discussing what to do, the boy who had not forgotten to carry his lunch came near and heard their conversation. Then he showed his basket of food to one of the disciples, and he offered to give the food to Jesus. The disciples, who was Andrew, came and told Jesus what the boy had said.

       “How many loaves are there in the basket?” asked Jesus.

       Andrew said, “Only five and two small fishes. But what will that be among so many people?”

       Jesus replied, “Bring them to me.”

       Then he told his disciples to bid the people sit down in groups, in some fifty and in others a hundred, and wait for their evening meal. While they waited, he took the little loaves and the fishes and blessed them and broke them into small pieces. He filled a basket for each of the twelve disciples and sent them to pass the food among the hungry people. Then the disciples returned and again he filled their empty baskets.

       When all the people had eaten, he sent the disciples to gather up the scraps that had been left over, and they found twelve baskets full of scraps. And every one in the great multitude had eaten enough to satisfy his hunger. The boy who had brought the lunch-basket to Jesus had all that he could eat, and he shared his little lunch with every one in the great throng because he had let Jesus bless his offering.

       This unusual miracle caused much excitement among the people. They wanted Jesus to become their king instead of letting the Roman government rule them any longer. They believed that he could set them free from the rule of the Romans, whom they hated. They thought it would be wonderful to have a king rule them who could feed them by working miracles.

       But Jesus would not allow the people to take him for their king. Although he was a King, yet he had not come to earth to rule an earthly kingdom.

       He commanded his disciples to enter their ship at once and return to the other side of the Sea. And when they left him, then he dismissed the multitude and went alone upon the mountain near by to pray.

http://amaliadev.com

SINGLE AND MARRIED CONNER: Sex God, Gross Or Gift ❃Mark Driscoll❃

Part 6♦ Sex God, Gross Or Gift ❃Mark Driscoll❃

In the beginning, God created our first parents, and brought them together to meet. For Eve, it was a big day. She had just been created, met God, and was going to her first “date” —her wedding. Upon seeing his wife for the first time, Adam was overwhelmed and uttered first recorded human words in all history in the form of a song, which explains why guys with a guitar will always have an advantage.

God brought Eve to Adam as her Father. And as their pastor, he officiated the first wedding ceremony, declaring them husband and wife.

God blessed them, invited our first parents to steward creation, make a culture that reflected his glory for our good, and make some babies. Sex was good. God was glorified.

Then something terrible happened. God’s enemy, and ours, shows up, twisting God’s words. Our mother Eve’s sin of commission was, in a proud effort to become like God, partaking of that which God had forbidden. Our father Adam’s sin of omission was failing to intervene as he sat by quietly, idly, and timidly watching the enemy, Satan, deceive his wife as so many of his cowardly, passive, silent sons have done ever since. Rather than living as one, they separated as two sinners.

This fall of humanity into sin has infected, polluted, and corrupted literally every aspect of life on the earth, including sex. As a result people tend to think that sex is god or gross, rather than a gift.

Sex as god
Sex is deeply spiritual.

In the days of the Old Testament, most religions taught that God was to be experienced through nature, particularly through sexuality. Because of this thinking, many of these religions had sexuality and temple prostitution as integral components of their spirituality and religious ceremonies. In contrast, God’s people were strongly opposed to such thinking because they held that God could not be reduced to something he had created.

Today, the worship of sex as god is as passionate as ever. Our culture celebrates sex through movies, music, and television. Women’s magazines scream sex at our children as we stand in the grocery store line. And some people are so enslaved to sex that they do horrific things to others such as rape, abuse, pedophilia, and more.

Sex as gross
Often as an overreaction to sex as god, people adopt the position of sex as gross. As such, sex is viewed as a sort of necessary evil for procreation, but otherwise a rather vulgar, repulsive, and off-putting act. This is unfortunately common in the church, leading many godly men and women to look outside the church for wrong answers to their sex questions from culture.

Sex as a gift
The reality is that sex is not gross, but for many it is perverted. The goal should not be to reject sex but rather to redeem it as God intended it, a loving act between a husband and wife that binds them together as one flesh.

Contrary to sex as god or gross, the Bible teaches that sex can be redeemed as a gift. Because sex is a gift that God gave, it is his intent that we steward and enjoy that gift, like every gift he gives, in such a way that is glorious to him, and good for our marriages.

Here are six benefits of having sex with your spouse that my wife Grace and I identify in our book, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together.

Sex is for pleasure.
Throughout the most erotic book in the Bible, the 3,000-year-old Song of Songs, children are never mentioned, as the entire focus of the book is simply marital passion and pleasure. The book is frank without being crass. And, it is the wife who speaks first and speaks most about exactly what she enjoys sexually. Without getting into the specifics here as we do in the book, single Jewish men were forbidden from reading the book because it was simply too hot to handle.

Sex is for creating children.
Children are repeatedly considered a blessing throughout Scripture. God created a husband and wife to conceive children at the moment of deepest connection. (In chapter 10, we address birth control use, too.)

Sex is for oneness.
A faithfully married couple with a free and frequent sex life is literally bonded together as one, physically and chemically by God’s design. This oneness is expressed in such things as having one last name, living in one house, sleeping in one bed, attending one church, sharing one bank account, and worshiping one God.

Sex is for knowledge.
In the act of sex, and the related intimacy that surrounds it, a couple learns to know each other in a way that they are not known by anyone else. This sacred and experiential knowledge means that a faithfully married couple has an intimacy and connection that is not only exclusive but also unprecedented in all their other relationships.

Sex is for protection.
While there is no excuse for sexual sin, there are factors that can increase the temptation for sexual sin. Perhaps chief among them is a marriage in which at least one of the people is sexually dissatisfied because the sex is not free or frequent enough. If one person feels sexually denied and discouraged, it increases the temptation to wander outside the marriage for sexual satisfaction. But free and frequent sex within marriage helps safeguard and protect the marriage from such sins as bitterness, adultery, and pornography.

Sex is for comfort.
We knew a couple who suffered the death of their young child. They were understandably devastated.

The husband was unsure what to say or do to comfort his grieving wife, and so he simply asked what she needed. She told him that she wanted to go away for a few days to a quiet bed and breakfast, lie unclothed together, visit, pray, weep, and make love so that she did not feel alone in any way. They reported that being able to physically comfort each other at that time was a vital part of their healing and grieving process.

There are seasons in life when nothing can be said or done to comfort a suffering spouse. In those moments, it is the ministry of touch that allows us to connect with our spouses in a way that lovingly serves them and binds us together in the suffering.

It is our prayer that you and your spouse would see sex as a gift from God.

A gift to be stewarded.

A gift to be guarded.

A gift to be enjoyed.

And a gift to be shared together for God’s glory and you.

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