As you listen, I ask you to keep an open mind and take time to truly consider the celebration of the holiday named Christmas.
Let me explain by starting with my story...
Hello. I'm Jeff. My wife and I host message of Hope. Message of Hope wants to be your weekly inspirational, motivational and nonjudgmental friend to help you through your week as we share bottle truth and life experiences to let you know you're not alone. Let's join Sandra to see what message of hope she has today.
Hey, I'm Sondra, your host, and today I ask you to please keep an open mind and take the time to consider Christmas. I'm going to start with my story. From the time I was a small girl, I remember getting excited about Christmas. It was much different then because even though my father made decent money, we just weren't spoiled like the kids are today. When we considered what we wanted to ask for for Christmas, we kind of just knew somehow that it needed to be an item of reasonable expense. It just wouldn't have been right to burden your parents for anything too extravagant. And I remember one year I asked for a cassette player. One year I asked for a beginner's guitar, and along with the big gift, you would get some Mondays and socks and things that you needed anyway. But Christmas, even though I loved getting my big gift, it was more about laughing and spending time with the family and all the delicious meals and deserts that my mother would make special for us and then the singing and the time that we would spend together after we ate as a family. And when my Children came along, I always tried to keep Christ Att, the center of our gathering, too. And I always had some form of the Christmas story to read while I had everyone together. This was always my favorite time of year, as I would try to believe the thought that everyone was more friendly this time of year, and I always tried to stress that Christmas wasn't about the presence, even though I enjoyed giving them to my kids very much. Oh, bear with me is I take a side journey here because I'm reminded of one year in particular several years ago. I think that maybe I should share with you. I was a divorced single mother collecting welfare benefits while I put myself through technical school. I was flat broke, and I spent weeks agonizing on how I was going to be able to provide my kids some type of Christmas. It looked so hopeless. Time was closing in on me and I had to make a decision. You see, back then there weren't a bunch of programs that give gifts to kids at Christmas like there is now. You either had your church that you could ask or you did without. Basically, we attended church regularly, but my pride just would not let me as the church. For that I felt there were too many other people with MME. Or important things that the church could spend the money on. And after all, my kids were my responsibility. Anyway, I could not let my kids wake up Christmas morning and be caught off guard and very disappointed because there was nothing under the tree. I didn't even have the money to make a special meal, so I ended up doing what I felt I had to do. I set them down at ages 86 and four years old and let them know that there was not a real Santa Claus, that parents were the ones who bought the gifts and that I did not have the money that year to do that. And yes, they were sad. But they each said they understood. I felt horrible, and like I said, I couldn't let them find out on Christmas morning. And honestly, it always kind of bothered me anyway, that we lied to them when we say there's a Santa and that they should be good if they expect to get something anyway, it always was around in the back of my mind because as a kid, when I found out the truth, I remember it bothered me a little that I had been lied to about Santa being riel. And when I considered this as a child, I remember I ended up coming to the conclusion that my parents did it and I loved and trusted them, and everyone else celebrated it, too. So I just kind of quit thinking about it, and years later I was still celebrating it with my kids as well. It is just the way things are in America. You celebrate Christmas, but back to what I was telling you about my kids A couple of days before Christmas, we had some errands to run, and it was dark when we got home. When we pulled in the driveway, we were scared because the lights were on in the house and we actually contemplated calling the police. But I decided with kids, probably one of them have left the lights on in the house, and we just didn't notice it because it was daylight when we left. So we decided to open the door slowly and appeared inside to see that the lights were on on our Christmas tree and there were presents under the tree, and there were a lot of groceries sitting on my kitchen table. My oldest son looked at me and shouted as he ran into the house around me. See, Mama, I knew there was a Santa Claus. That's when the other two kids ran in, screaming and jumping for joy. As I'm confused, I see a small note from a friend that said that she had shared with her church about me putting myself through school, and they have decided that they wanted to bless us and, oh, how it did. You see, I had forgotten when I first moved into the apartment that I wanted someone else to have a key in case I was ever locked out or if I needed them to pick up my kids from school. So this friend I mentioned was the one who had the key and got into our house that night without our knowing it. Anyway, as my kids grew up and had kids of their own and I remarried, we continued celebrating Christmas, and it was always a great time. Mostly, I looked forward to it because life is so busy. It was the one time of year we all came together and shared a meal and games and laughter. But I also have to admit it was a stressful time for me. I always felt pressure to get gifts good enough to give the adults all a little money and have prizes for the games. Don't get me wrong. I love the time together, but it costs a lot of money. And as everyone gets older, you know they expect to give to get a little better. It doesn't matter how much the average person makes you still use almost all of it on your daily living, and in my case I usually live. Check to check. Another great bonus to the holiday season is you're exhausted from looking for gifts and fighting crowds and feeling you have to have gifts for so many other people in your life to either because it's the right thing to do or you're afraid they'll get you a gift and you need to give them one in return. Everything on TV proclaims it's a special time of year and encourages you that toe have a successful Christmas. You need to buy these items anyway. It used to be my favorite time of year, and I would still be celebrating it today. Probably had we not studied some scriptures in the Bible on the subject for ourselves, the Bible states in Matthew 56 God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want. I know I want to obey God to the best of my ability. I also know that I'm human, and that means I can't live without some sin in my life because Jesus is the only one who ever lived without any sin. But I can make every effort to do my best, and I believe if you're listening to this podcast, you do that, too, as we proceed and you hear how angry it makes God. When we try to put a religious spin on pagan activities such as Christmas, I think you will want to reevaluate some of the festivities that you may currently participate in in eggs 5 29 Peter and the other, Apostle said. We must obey God rather than people, so we should not be ruled by what people say or do. Our decisions should come from what God says to do. And he teaches us in The Torah, which was written by Moses and is called The Book of the Law and the Torah, is the 1st 5 books of the Bible, which are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus numbers and Do Deromedi. And in reading through the tour, we find out that the Israel Lights camped a whole year in the wilderness while Moses passed on the instructions or law to the people from God himself. These instructions teach us right from wrong and how to live and warn us not to follow the ways of any manmade systems without knowing the Torah. It is impossible to be able to discern what is a tradition of man and what is a rule from the one and only Almighty God we have found. This is a large part of why we had done things differently in the past. Ourselves, as well as our parents were taught that the Old Testament didn't really matter anymore because now we're under grace. However, if you give this some consideration, there's no way that you can understand the New Testament without knowing what the Old Testament says. Also, you have to ask yourself, Why would God have inspired the writing of a bunch of books in the Bible that we didn't even need anymore or don't matter? Why does the Bible tell us that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness? If the word of God had not said, do not murder and the law be written about it, how would you know not to murder? You have to know the Old Testament and the law of God in order to know if you're living by it and understand God, and that while he is a god of grace, he is also very much a god who has given a specific direction on what he wants us to do and how to do it. The celebration of Christmas has been a tradition for years, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, tradition means the handing down of information, beliefs or customs from one generation to another. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever played the game where several people sit in a circle and one person whispers a sentence in the first persons here in the circle? And you have each consecutive person whisper the same sentence into the ear of the person beside them until it gets all the way around to the last person and then have that last person say that sentence out loud and everyone burst out into laughter because when they say it, it's completely different from the original sentence. Have you ever played that? That's what tradition does. It gets handed down, and through the years it becomes something totally different, and that's why we cannot rely on traditions to dictate our eternal future. But they can, with most certainty affected if we continue to live by them, as we will see as we proceed the most accurate source we have found, for the original words of God are found in the Bible. This is the place to go to get the answers for all things in our life. The Bible tells us one day we will each stand before the throne of God, an answer for how we lived our lives. God's word indicates to me that I won't be able to say I always did that because my great great grandmother did it that way, and it was passed down to me through my family to do it that way. No, he says. We will answer for the choices we make for our own individual lives. So it's our responsibility to study his word and to seek his guidance in all areas of our life because we will have to answer for each and every one of them. To him, some traditions can be good, but it's up to us to decide if each one is something we want to do or pass onto our families or not. Just because someone sincerely believes something doesn't magically make it true. Some people sincerely believe the only good chili is chili with cinnamon on it. However, my family hates cinnamon in our chili, and I heard a story one time about a woman who always cuts the end off of her roast before she cooked it. So in turn, for generations, their families always cut the ends off of the roast the way grandma ahead until one day it was challenged by one of the youngsters as to why do you cut the ends off? When they went to the grandmothers? They asked, and she laughed at them for doing this and said, I only did it that way because I didn't have a pan big enough to cook it all in at once. I'm a big woman who loves to eat so naturally my examples or food examples. But the point is, we can't just accept anything that's passed on to us. It doesn't matter if it's passed on by a leader, teacher, pastor, our parents or our friends. They may have handed it down in complete innocence, but it can still mislead us and cause us to do things we ought not be doing. Injure my 16 19. It reads O Lord, my strength and my fortress and my refuge. In the day of Affliction, the gentiles shall come to you from the ends of the Earth and say Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity and things where in there is no profit as Christians, we don't want to follow lives. We want truth. According to Merriam Webster, the word truth means the state of being the case or fact sincerity in action, character and utterance. Where do we find fax the Bible? That is why it is so important to study and know the truth found in God's word. Whether you believe what the Bible says or not is up to you, however, your unbelief doesn't change the facts that air stated in it. That is why it is so important to constantly be growing and learning and challenging traditions and teachings that were given from others. And the main reason that we're asking ourselves today if we, as Christians should be celebrating Christmas. My husband and I were shocked when a simple Google search revealed the origins of the Christmas holiday. We found it was actually a pagan sun god worship ritual that tradition has handed down through our ancestors, which began because they were forced to compromise with the Roman Emperor Constantine or lose their lives for refusing to bow a matter of fact. The holiday of Easter, Halloween and Christmas have most or all of their customs based in pre Christian worship of false gods. But today we're discussing a few examples of the tradition of Christmas. So let's move on in due to Romney 12 28 to 32. God warns Israel, what not to do when they entered the promised land. To us, this is a biblical principle that helped us to decide on our own participation in the observance of Christmas. And here's how it reads. Carefully obey all the commands that I give you when you do what is good and right what pleases the Lord your God. Then everything will go well for you and your descendants forever. You are going to take your land from other people. The Lord your God will destroy these people for you. You will force them out of that land and then you will live there. But be careful that you don't fall into the same trip that they did. Don't go to their false gods for help. Don't say to yourself they worship these gods, so I will worship them too. don't do that to the Lord your God. These people do all kinds of bad things that the Lord hates. They even burned their Children as sacrifices to their gods. You must be careful to do everything I command. You don't add anything to what I tell you and don't take anything away. These very scriptures warned them not to adapt to the ways the pagan nations worshipped their false deities and further warned, do not use pagan rituals, toe worship the true and living God. In Exodus 32 God calls Moses up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments. The Children of Israel must wait at the foot of the mountain for him to return and his time passed. The Israel lights grew very restless. So Erin, the high priest sees this and he tells the people to bring him their jewelry so that he can melt it down and make them an idol shaped like a calf for them to worship and to honor the Lord with. But God's response to the people using pagan customs to worship him was fierce anger. He was ready to destroy them all if Moses had not stepped in and pleaded with God for the people to keep them from being totally destroyed. This is a very good example that our sinful pagan traditions and customs are not made right simply by applying them to God like we do when we celebrate Christmas. Pagan holidays do not honor the true God, regardless of how much sincerity or faith we try to observe it with. So for us, it didn't matter anymore that I felt the warm fuzzies during the holiday of Christmas, or that it meant a lot to me. And I thought I was observing it correctly by reading the Christmas story from the Bible, or that I wanted my kids to understand the reason for the season or that I enjoyed the idea that, being a special time of year for ourselves, we concluded it doesn't matter how much or what Christmas means to us. What matters is what God has to say about it. And God says, do not use pagan customs toe worship the true and living God Also, I'll note here, Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus tell us to celebrate his birthday. Jesus shows us through his actions in the Bible. His only goal on earth was to carry out the instructions of his father God and to give all glory to him. And Jesus's birthday is the seventh month and the 15 day on the biblical calendar, the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and Ah, High Sabbath, which always occurs in autumn, not December 25th. However, December 25th is the birthdate of most of the pagan sun gods. So you see, we can be blinded from the truth by many things we may be doing or traditions we may be following. They can cause us tow, wander around oh, lifetime in a dense fog of man made traditions and religious systems that, even though maybe intended for good, may strike anger in our God and separate us from him for eternity. My husband and I have been on a journey to know why we did the things we do and why we believe what we do and if what we're doing is in accordance with God's word and pleasing to him, because we know we are going to have to answer to him one day for it. In America, almost everyone has had exposure to God's word and what it says. But just like us, many times we accept what is told to us by our parents, teachers, leaders, instead of searching for answers for ourselves. Find out how God wants to be worshipped. And we assume, since our intention is good, that it makes it okay. But our God tells those living at the end of the age in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 18 come out of Babylon. It is for these reasons and others not talked about today, that our family decided to follow what is written in God's word and not celebrate Christmas any longer. I want to stress here we're not judging you. If you celebrate Christmas or you don't that's not our place to do. God will be the judge. But personally, I could not walk in love and with a good conscience toward others. If I did not share what I know has been revealed to us that we needed to immediately eliminate in our own life. We completely understand that it's awkward to step away from two. Stop doing whatever one else is doing. But once you hear what God said on any matter, you have to make a choice. We simply present this to you today for your own study and your own consideration. As I wrap up here today, I encourage you to go to our website at MSG o f h o p e dot com. And on the podcast tab, you will find Episode 33 where you can re listen to this podcast and find the references for the scriptures we read together today so that you can study them for yourself and make any adjustments according to what God alone lays on your specific cart. And as always, we thank you for listening to our podcast and for helping us by liking and sharing with your friends. Now, as I log off, I want to bless you with a prayer given to the sons of Aaron. Ready? Let's pray The Lord bless you and keep you The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace until next time. Shalom