FRIDAY MORNING MANNA       

Christmas 2017 and New Year 2018 Message

How would you say if your relatives and friends celebrated your birthday with you in your home by doting on everyone else except you, and doing everything else that had little or nothing to do with the significance of your birth? “Unbelievable.” And you are right.

But the majority of the Christmas revelers have been doing just that where the groundwork for our eternal salvation from sin by the Creator eternally becoming a man of the same flesh and blood nature subject to all temptations man is beset with—the mysterious incarnation, not through Mary’s alleged “Immaculate conception”— but by the plan of redemption, is concerned.

If December 25 is indeed the birthday of the promised “seed of the woman” (Gen. 23: 16; Gal. 3: 16), whom the patriarchs saw by faith and in vision, of Whom the prophets passionately prophesied of as the Messiah-Prophet-Teacher to be “raised up from among His people” (Deut. 18: 15, 18; John 1: 11, 12), why did the chosen people of God then, led by Herod, the Jewish king, not know when the hour came and exactly where He was born—when all these were prophesied in their own Hebrew Scriptures?

Instead, it was the “wise men from the East” (magi) originally denoted an ancient priestly class among Medians as one adept in the “sciences” of astrology, etc., —and the lowly shepherds faithfully guarding their flocks at night—both of whom, independent of each other were diligently studying and treasuring in their hearts whatever extant spoken and written prophecies regarding the coming of the “great One of Israel.”

It was to these two groups of men only, totally unrelated culturally and religiously, their occupations and intellectual attainments as widely dissimilar as to render the contrast even more dramatic—and damning to the chosen people of God—that the angelic choir heralded the birth of Christ, revealing His birthplace, a lowly manger of humble beasts in Bethlehem. Where were all the scholarly theologians—the scribes, elders, and Pharisee—the spiritual guardians of the people?

Prophecy solemnly warns this sad history will repeat itself at Christ’s glorious Second Advent which draws nearer by the day by the very signs Jesus gave. Are we, professed people of Christ, the Bridegroom, “watching unto prayer” and keeping our lamps trimmed and burning in themidnight of this earth’s history—as did the wise virgins in the parable-prophecy of Matthew 25?   Or are we, like the foolish virgins who fell asleep, i.e., turned to the things and attractions of the world presumptuously, impatient for His promised return? We still have time to “awake out of our sleep” lest we wake up too late and be barred entrance to the Wedding feast?

And so, what has Santa Claus got to do with Christ and His birth—more specifically, His incarnation four thousand years after the fall? Wikipedia says of Santa Claus:  “Also known as ‘Saint Nicholas, Father of Christmas,’ or simply “Santa,” is a figure with legendary, mystical,historical and folklore origins, who, in many western cultures brings gifts to homes of good children during the late evenings and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 25. According to tradition which can be traced to the 1820s, Santa Claus lives in the North Pole, with a large number of magical elves, and nine (originally eight) flying reindeer.”

That’s Harry Potter stuff.

And since we’re at it, what do Christmas trees, heavily decorated with lights, brightly-painted balls, make-believe snow, candy canes, Frosty the Snowman, etc., have to do with it? Is there any Scriptural reason for “trying to bring back Christ to Xmas”—that is, tie it with December 25—the motive being to remove that unsightly “X” and replace it with “Christ?” Will this be enough to rectify this egregious error promoted from generation to generation, like most false doctrines based on tradition are, and not on sola scriptura?

If Christ were real and dear to us, He would be the abiding Guest enthroned in our hearts every day of the year through His word by the Holy Spirit. See John 15: 1-25. He says, ‘If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” . . . . If you keep My Commandment, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Verses 7, 10. The psalmist says: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Ps. 119: 11, K.J.V. Abide here is illustrated by Christ as the utter dependence of the branch to the vine for its life, sustenance, and fruit-bearing.

Q. What will happen to God’s stars on earth, and the wise virgins?

A. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12: 3, K.J.V.

There you have it—“shining as the brightness of the firmament forever and ever.”

The “stars” of the Bible—the true apostles, faithful disciples, messengers, teachers, pastors, ministers, Bible workers, laymen—all those laboring in various capacities for the salvation of souls from sin,  witnessing with their lives Christ’s character and the eternal principles of His law.   Ponder upon it this incoming year 2018, and see if it does not strengthen your faith in the kingdom soon-to-come! From Faith I Live By (devotional) by E.G. White, p. 370:

    “In our life here, earthly, sin-restricted though it is, the greatest joy and the highest education are in service. And in the future state, untrammeled by the limitations of sinful humanity, it is in service [ministry] that we our greatest joy and our highest education shall be found.

     If any man’s work abide . . . he shall receive a reward.’ 1 Cor. 3: 14. Glorious will be the reward bestowed when the faithful workers gather about the throne of God and the Lamb [Rev.22 : 1-4] . . .They have been partakers with Christ in His sufferings [1 Pet.4: 12-14], they have been workers with Him [1 Cor. 6-11]  in the joy of seeing souls saved in the kingdom of God, there to praise God through all eternity.”

Three causes of wonder to eternally-saved Christians in the hereafter

      “A [true] Christian once said that when he reached heaven he expected to meet with three cause of wonder.  [1] He would wonder to find some that he did not expect to see there. [2] He would wonder not to find some that he expected to meet, and, lastly, he would wonder most to find so unworthy a sinner as himself in the Paradise of God.

     Many who have stood in the high places as Christians upon earth will not be found with the happy throng that shall surround the throne. [Why?] Those who have had knowledge and talent, and yet have delighted in controversy and unholy strife, will not have a place with the redeemed . . .  They desired to do some great work to be admired, and flattered by men,  but their names were not found written in the Lamb’s book of life.

      “’ I know you not’ [Matt. 7: 21-23; Luke 13: 23-30] are the sad words that Christ addresses to such. But those whose lives were made beautiful by little acts of kindness, by tender words of affection and sympathy, who hearts recoiled from contention, who never did any great work in order to be lauded of men, these are found recorded in the lamb’s book of life. Though the world counted them as insignificant, they approve of God before the assembled universe!”- FILB 370.

The following is paraphrased to render more personal and yet shared among all.  From My Life Today (Devotional) by E.G. White, p. 109 :

      To those of us still living—countless have passed and yet will pass away “before the clock strikes one”—another year of our lives is ebbing and soon will close. How can we look back at it? Have we made advancement in the divine life? Have we increased in spirituality? Have we crucified self, with its affections and lusts? Have we an increased interest in the study of God’s Word? Have we gained decided victories over our own feelings and waywardness? Oh, what has been the record of our life which is now passing on to eternity, never to be recalled—not even a moment?

     As we enter upon the New Year 2018, let it be with an earnest resolve to have our course onward and upward. Let our life be more [spiritually] elevated and exalted than it has hitherto been. Let us make it our aim not to seek our own interests and pleasure, but to advance the cause of our Redeemer. Let us not remain in a position where we ever need help ourselves, and where others have to guard us to keep us in the narrow way. We may be strong to exert a sanctifying influence upon others. We may be where our soul’s interests will be awakened to do good to others, to comfort the sorrowful, strengthen the weak, and to bear our testimony for Christ wherever opportunity offers. Let us aim to honor God in everything, always and everywhere. Let us carry the religion of Christ and the Bible into everything we think, say, and do.

     Let us prepare for [not merely for future retirement in ease, but for] eternity with such zeal as we have not yet manifested. Let us educate our minds to love the Bible, to love the prayer meeting, to love the hour of meditation, and, above all, the hour when our souls commune with God. We must become heavenly-minded if we would unite with the heavenly-choir in the mansions above . . . .

      A new page is turned with the recording angel . . . Let a record be stamped there which we will not be ashamed to have revealed to the gaze of the men and angels!

To close out this year of this FMM series, I offer the following verses that embody the core and summary of all the thoughts and hopes of all those seeking eternal salvation, as Apostle Paul declared  near  the end of his sanctified life:

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ JesusPhilippians 3: 13, 14, K.J.V.