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Tuesday Thoughts 12-12-17

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the original “Miracle on 34th Street (black and white, of course).  Part of the reason is a nostalgia for the “the good old days” of my childhood, and part of it centers around the concept of belief and faith.  Though in the movie, Santa Claus is the main character in whom faith is being placed, make no mistake, this is all about Jesus to me!  As I was raised, so I raised my family to place the “Jolly Old Elf” under the Lordship of Christ so that the early childhood mystery of Christmas and the emerging need of a personal Savior carried no conflicting themes, nor did they cause emotional outbursts of “liar!”.  So each year, the colorful characters come to misty-eyed life, from the inimitable Mr. Shellhammer to the ignoble Mr. Sawyer.  But one of the most significant lines in the movie is spoken not by one of the top-billed roles, but by Alfred, the friendly, kind-hearted (and simple-minded) janitor.  In a conversation with Kris Kringle, he says: “Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same – don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.”  I think almost every reader can agree that Alfred’s assessment is right on target – the real meaning of Christmas gets lost in greed.  But this is not a corporate problem alone.  It is also an individual one.  While commercialism is on the business side of greed, consumerism is on the personal side.  Rather than “Make a buck”, it’s “gimme, gimme, what am I getting?” It should not be a surprise to anyone that the human interpretation and observance of this season takes us in the exact opposite direction of God’s purpose in coming (opposite of God is the definition of sin!).  Observe, though, that the Nativity scene was, indeed, about us getting the best gift ever!  Read and remember the words of Matthew, the Apostle who wrote the first New Testament book: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:21–23 NIV).   We got the “gimme” in Bethlehem—our sins forgiven resulting in the very presence of God with us!  All the rest of our Christmas celebrations should be centered on what, in light of this glorious and undeserved gift, we give back to Him.  So, what are you surrendering to Him? Yes, that’s right, giving to God is always surrender.  How can you bring surrender into your celebration this year?  It may be an attitude, an action, or an item.  Maybe it’s involvement in Kingdom service or investing financially in Kingdom work (For those of you connected to GFF, we have an opportunity to express gratefulness to God through our “Outrageous Generosity Offering” this Sunday, December 17 during the 10:30 service.  This is an offering in response to the outrageous generosity of Jesus.  For the full backstory, listen to THIS, and to participate through our online giving, go HERE).  But whatever your surrender is, if you want to escape the destructive “isms” in this world, you need to give it up to the Creator!   In the words of the old Christmas carol: “What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”

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