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Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
We talk about the spirit of Christmas. Shopkeepers want us to buy, buy, buy, tapping into parents' desires to please their children, to delight at that moment of joyful glee when eyes light up and smiles extend from ear to ear. Children anticipate the surprise of what's coming on Christmas morning, what's hidden by that colorful wrapping paper or fancy Christmas bag. We all go for the smells, the tastes, the sights, the sounds, the touch of Christmas. We're running around, thinking about others this time of year. That's because Christmas is all about giving. It's what love does.
More in the media today are recounting the life of Saint Nicholas in order to increase consumerism while still focusing our attention to family and friends. Saint Nicholas was a Bishop who gave away his fortune to help the less fortunate. He has evolved into our modern-day Santa Claus of Clement C. Moore fame and a 1933 Coca Cola ad campaign, "thirst has no season;" a jolly Santa needed energy for Christmas Eve. Many believe Christmas to be all about Santa; but the real Saint Nicholas knew a Source that long before preceded his inspiration to give.
God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son;
That whosoever believes in Him should not perish
But have everlasting life. John 3.16
God's Son, God the Son, has a Name, Jesus Christ. He was named according to the word of Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1.31) and to Joseph (Matthew 1.21), fulfilling the prophetic word. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1.32, 33)
Jesus Christ, born of a woman, born under the law, laid in a manger in the city of David, was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. To see Him you will need spiritual eyes; for when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son to redeem those who were under the law. (Galatians 4.4, 5)
God spoke through His prophets. He sent angels with messages. To hear this message, you will need spiritual ears. God the Father remembered His holy covenant and His promised mercy. He sent His Son to grant that His own, being delivered from the hands of their enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of their lives. (Luke 1.72-75)
Immanuel, God with us, entered history in the days of Herod the king (Matthew 2.1). He was in the beginning with God; indeed, all things were made through Him. (John 1.2, 3) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1.15, 16) Next time you smell balsam and pine and the fragrances of Christmas, taste and see that the Lord is good; remember Him and give thanks.
The eternal, ultimate expression of God, the Word, became flesh to dwell among us and to declare to us the Father. God has in these last days spoken to us by His son, the supreme revelation. (Hebrews 1.1, 2) Are we taking this into our souls and deep down where we live?
Jesus Christ came to purge our sins and, after living the life God requires, dying the death demanded to propitiate the wrath of God and satisfy divine justice, and being raised from the dead to show that God the Father accepted this sacrifice of His Son for the remission of our sins, He ascended into heaven. To which of the angels did God every say: Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool? Angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation. (Hebrews 1.13, 14) As man and as God, Jesus Christ is superior to angels, indeed pre-eminent.
Angels tell about Jesus, worship Jesus, serve Jesus. His Name has never changed. Jesus has never swerved from nor altered His destiny. He came to save His people from their sins. He came that we might have life. He knew that of which He spoke.
God did not send His Son into the world to condemn
The world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned
But he who does not believe is condemned already
Because he has not believed in the Name
Of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3.17, 18)
God's love is not some mushy emotion, not given on a "naughty or nice" basis, not motivated by whim or given in a fleeting wave of random acts of kindness. God's love comes from who He is and extends not just to one nation or race, but to all kinds of people. God does not love us because Christ died for us; Christ died for us because God so loved the world.
It's not that God needed a great big love to embrace the whole world, but rather that God in the greatness of His love would extend that love to a world that justly deserves condemnation for sin. What God has done in sending His Son Jesus Christ should arouse in our hearts a wondering sense of the marvel and mystery of the love of God for a sinful world.
God loved the world in a remarkable way, with intensity such that He gave His only child, His unique Son, His one of a kind Son. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. God's love involves action, initiative, beginning with the end in mind, being proactive.
Jesus Christ--His Name means "The Lord is Salvation." He is the Anointed One, the promised Messiah, Alpha and Omega, the Faithful Amen, Creator, Shepherd, Redeemer, Lamb of God, Lion of Judah, the Ancient of Days, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We touch Him as His grace touches us. We touch Him when we in humility bow before Him as did kings coming from afar; as do angels and living creatures who say with a loud voice:
is the Lamb who was slain to receive
Power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!
God is the Source of all life and blessing. God is the Spirit of Christmas. God is the One who gave the ultimate gift in the sending of His Son that we might live in right relationship with our Creator. God gives for the joy of it. God delights in us and exults over us with joy. Do as love does. Love gives.
MCM has a Barnabas Project that began in 2003 under the directorship of David Patten. He writes his thoughts on our latest distribution to displaced and forgotten people in South Florida. Over a hundred families were blessed by this distribution. We also launched a desire of our Board to give to the veterans of South Florida and made a first distribution to them as well this Christmas season. For this, we thank you who have given. Your individual gifts collectively add up, so much so that our truck was jam-packed, front to back and top to bottom. Pastor Jim and Steve Craig got it all in there as we headed off to Loxahatchee. A big "thank you" to David and Betty Patten, Ani Ortiz, Ana Beauchamp, Dale Steinmetz, Marcia Murray, Kroy Ellis, Steve Craig, and Linda McNamara who accompanied us, Pastor Jim and myself, to help in the distribution. We can't do this without you. We do it because this is what love does and because you, our friends of MCM, share with us the heart of God to give.
Serving the Lord of Glory,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.
that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us,
and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
1 John 4.10, 11
Pastors Jim & Mary Craig
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