Bible Term: Christmas

Christmas, initially a religious holiday, is celebrated on December 25 to remember the birth of Jesus.

Although Christmas has become a cultural holiday, its true meaning has nothing to do with Christmas trees, Santa, sleighs, chimneys, snow, and our many traditions.

Gift giving does have ties to Jesus’ birth, as his coming to earth is seen as a gift to all humanity.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for all we have. However, it’s morphed into a day of eating too much, watching football on television, and maybe even starting Christmas shopping. No matter where you live or what you’re doing today, take a moment to thank God for what he’s done in your life over the past year and how he’s cared for you.

As we do this, we might want to consider what the Bible says about thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” occurs twenty-two times in the Bible (thirty, if you include the headings that were added later).

Leviticus mentions offerings of thanksgiving.

In Ezra and Nehemiah, there is much thanksgiving as the people return to their homeland and rebuild the city.

Of course, Psalms uses the word, too.

Even the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, which have little to celebrate, both mention thanksgiving, albeit as a future event.

Lastly, many of Paul’s letters include thanksgiving in them.

May you and your family have a happy thanksgiving!

Thoughts on July Fourth and Freedom

Today is the fourth of July. Everywhere in the world, it’s the fourth of July. However, in the United States it’s a special one, it’s the Fourth of July, a national holiday, officially known as Independence Day: the day we celebrate our freedom as a country.

Freedom is important to Jesus, too. Once, when teaching at the synagogue, he read from the book of Isaiah. Isaiah proclaims freedom for the captives, the nation of Israel.

Jesus reads that text and says he fulfills it. But the captives he proclaims freedom to is not just Israel but everyone, including you and me.

Though it took a war for the United States to find freedom, freedom through Jesus is much easier, we just need to believe and follow him. That’s real freedom!

[Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:16-20, and verses about Freedom in the New Testament]

Praise to Mothers

With Mother’s Day coming up, I want to salute all moms by commending one mom in particular. The Bible simply says she was the wife of Manoah. Though we don’t know her name, we know her son’s name: Samson.

God promised to give a child to this childless wife of Manoah. Before his birth, God gave special instructions for the lifestyle this boy was to live. However, the instructions for living a set-apart life were not just for Samson, but also for his mom while she carried him. If she did not do her part, then Samson might not have been able to do all God had planned for him.

A godly, obedient mother established the spiritual framework for Samson to move into his calling and to rescue God’s people.

To Manoah’s wife – and all moms everywhere – thank you for giving your children life and a future.

[Judges 13:2-14]

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.

It is the day that we remember Jesus’ sacrifice so that we could be made right with God.

For many people, Good Friday is a solemn day, in which we take time to gratefully recall how Jesus was mistreated, abused, and ultimately killed — for our benefit.  The intensity of this is powerfully captured in Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ.  If you’ve not seen it, today would be an ideal time to do so — and if you have seen it, maybe it’s time to watch it again.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end with Jesus on the cross or even buried in the tomb.  In two days we will joyfully celebrate Easter, commemorating when Jesus overcame death, painting the picture of what is in store for all who follow him.

It is on knowing what happens next, that I can say, Happy Good Friday!