CHRISTMAS IS NEAR

The Greatest Gift…

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

We see wonderful Christmas decorations as we drive around town. If you listen to KUSC-FM, at this time of year, you are listening to great Christmas music. The Christmas season is properly a time of joy. It is also a time for families and dinners and gifts. It is our celebration of the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem. A devout young woman named Mary was appointed by God to be the mother of the Savior. She must have been unbelievably stunned when the angel Gabriel told her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah.

“In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus….And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no husband….And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word and the angel departed from her. (From Luke 1:26-38)

Mary did not say to the Angel Gabriel that he had come to the wrong town and was speaking to the wrong woman. She accepted God’s will for her life! Perhaps, it was easier than we think, because she knew many of the Old Testament passages that spoke of a coming Messiah:

God spoke to Moses:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed.” Deuteronomy 18:15

“…But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

“For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

We gather in our churches to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We read the passages that pertain to his birth. We sing the glorious hymns of Christmas. We offer our thanks to God. There are a lot of things that we can do, but we must remember that the great gift in Christmas is Jesus Christ. The first Christmas gifts were given by the Magi to our Savior and his family.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

PRINCE OF PEACE

manger_scene

“For to us a child is born; to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6,7

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

The word “peace” is used more than 320 times in the Bible. That puts it in the category of very important. The Christmas season elevates the reality and value of peace. We properly associate promises of peace with the advent of our Savior.

An angel appeared to shepherds in the field at the time of Jesus’ birth:

 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” ~Luke 2:13,14

Almost all of us prefer peace. We do not want trouble. We don’t like arguments. We don’t want to be robbed. We want to avoid physical harm. We do not want to lose members of our family and our friends due to violence. We dread the destruction and devastation of war. The people of Isis and Boko Haram do not want peace. They find war and killing delicious. They believe it to be their calling. They are servants of the devil. Jesus Christ gives us peace in many ways:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” ~John 14:27

In Jesus Christ we find peace of mind because we know that we are here for a purpose. God wants us to be his children, and to belong to him forever. Though we go astray and disobey him, he teaches us through the scriptures and redeems us in Jesus Christ. At times when I am troubled or hear from someone that he or she is troubled, I suggest, begin reading in the Psalms. Of course, we must read the New Testament, that tells us in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ we may be forgiven of our sins and set on a new path. If we do not have peace, we need to draw closer to our Savior.

In Jesus Christ we can find peace in our family, and among our associates.

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:2,3

“So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”  ~Matthew 7:14

In Jesus Christ peace is possible among nations thanks to the Ten Commandments and the teachings of our Savior. Unfortunately we have tyrants who have no regard for God and his teachings. When Christ comes, he will bring permanent peace.

“All of the ends of the earth shall remember and shall turn to the Lord; and all of the families of the nations shall worship him. For dominion belongs to the Lord. And he rules over the nations.” ~Psalm 22:27,28

When we struggle with ourselves, in our families, and among others, let us turn to Jesus Christ who is our friend, our Savior, and our eternal future. The Christmas Season is appropriately a time of joy!

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
THIS BLOG IS CHANGED EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY.
Please ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!




 

SHOULD WE TAKE CHRIST OUT OF CHRISTMAS?

Xmas Tree at the Grove in LA

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Thanksgiving is past and the four weeks of Advent have begun. We look forward to celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Savior on December 25—the day that Christians have chosen to worship and celebrate our Lord’s birthday for at least 1700 years.

Christmas has become a festival of grand proportions, with the idea of giving to our Savior and living for him—turned by many into celebrations that are pagan and offensive. While they came at a time later than the birth of Jesus, the Magi traveled for perhaps a thousand miles to give gifts to our Lord—and, thus, have inspired us in the giving of gifts not only to our Savior, but also to one another. For some it is just one more holiday to eat, drink, and be merry. There should be joy in the celebration of Christmas. We should not begrudge that to anyone. But those of us who believe in the Lord should remember that it is indeed the birth of our Lord that we celebrate, and not our own birthday. [Yes, I acknowledge that for one out of every 365 people, it will be their birthday!]

Some of the ways that Christmas is celebrated have gotten out of hand, and are not in harmony with worship and rejoicing in our Savior. But this should not deter us from recognizing that this is a season for us to sing great hymns and songs and that the story of the advent of Jesus Christ is tremendously dramatic and marvelous. In it we see the hand of God and the gift of salvation that he brings to all who will acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. With that understanding as the background, it is appropriate for us to celebrate in our Churches and in our homes and to send greetings to family and friends. The true joy comes when our attention is focused on the grandeur and goodness of our God.

We regret that some are offended at the celebration of the birth of our Lord. They wish that we would be quiet and even silent. Some are so perturbed and offended that they seek by rules and legislation to forbid any public signs of celebrating Christmas. On the one hand, we should be respectful of those who disagree with us. On the other hand, we should not be ashamed of our belief and faith. On our coins and currency we read, “In God we trust”. The houses of Congress and the Supreme Court open their sessions with prayer. Read the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and the signers appealed to the authority of God. The solid rock of the laws and authority of God was a foundation on which our nation was built.

If we forget and deny that truth, the structure on which our nation is built will crumble. Those who founded our nation understood that we are dependent upon God and his purposes. Let us not be deterred by those who say they are offended, nor by those who attempt to rewrite our history. If we follow them, we will find ourselves shipwrecked. We should stand for our right to affirm what we believe, but we should do that in the spirit of the teachings of scripture:

James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.”

We do not seek to deny the followers of other religions or beliefs the celebration of their festivals—neither should they deny us that right. Have a wonderful Advent and a Merry Christmas!

 

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you. More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs. ‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!