"No, thank You God!"
"No, thank You God!"
From the heart of Dr. Rexella Van Impe
When I was a little girl, the one day of the year when I never had any difficulty waking up early was on Christmas morning. I knew that Mom and Dad - and, of course, when I was very young, Santa Claus - had gaily wrapped presents waiting for me under the Christmas tree. Oh, how excited and thrilled I was to get those gifts.
At our house, gifts were a very important part of the love we shared one with the other, and my brothers and I were always very anxious to see what we were getting. For every gift, we would say, "Oh, thank you, Mama ... thank you, Daddy!" Or, "Look what Santa brought me!"
My parents were always careful to teach and stress the true reason for the season and the real meaning of Christmas. We children learned early on that the gifts we gave and received were just reminders of God’s greatest gift of all, His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior and soon-coming King.
Sadly, in our society today, it seems the focus is on holiday gifts rather than the Gift of Christmas. And if the story of Christ’s first coming is even told, many people glance at the baby in the manger and fail to recognize Jesus for who He really is. How tragic to trade the greatest Gift that could ever be given for commercialism’s flash and glitter or the secular emphasis on feasting, partying, and sensual celebration.
The Gift of Christmas is not a throwaway present to be swept away with the wrappings and ribbons. It is a for-all-the-year Gift. It is not something to open up and then forget about, but Somebodyto receive and have forever. The Gift lasts all our lives through ... and into eternity. The Bible says, "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
We live in two worlds, one outside our being and the other inside. The outer world is filled with conflict and turmoil, hatred and international tension, struggle and strife. Inside we must deal with hurts and disappointments, discouragement and fear - none of us are free from difficult situations. But if we receive the Gift of Christmas, we have an inner peace and strength to overcome negativism and chaos. We have faith and hope for today and the future.
The Miracle of Christmas
The first miracle of Christmas was that Jesus was born as a result of what has been called an immaculate conception. The word immaculate means "spotlessly clean." The Word of God says that the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, came upon a young Jewish virgin, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, and she gave birth to the Son of God (see Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:30-35).
Some time ago on our weekly telecast, "Jack Van Impe Presents," my husband was addressing the momentous new development of man’s scientific ability to create clones. A number of different animals have now been created in laboratories - sheep, cows, and several other species. And scientists now feel sure that it is possible to clone a human being. Jack said, "This means that the skeptical preachers who have questioned the virgin birth over the years now have a real problem - because every clone is a virgin birth! If man is able to do it now, why is it so difficult to believe that God accomplished this more than two thousand years ago?"
My husband also pointed out that a clone is an exact image, and the Scriptures teach that Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God - a clone as far as His birth is concerned!
The human race cannot take credit for the Gift of Jesus
I think it is tremendously important to realize that Jesus was not man’s invention -man’s genius or effort did not develop Him - Jesus was and is the Gift of God. His story is not of a man becoming God, but of God becoming man.
A few years ago a fine Christian doctor, a gynecologist, sent us an article he had written that explained the role of the father and mother in the conception and birth of a baby. Dr. Strohshein, now gone home to be with the Lord, had done years of research, proving that while the mother carries the child for nine months as it develops, feeds the unborn baby, and gives birth to the new life, none of her blood is within the child. Dr. Strohshein’s article went on to show how the seed of the father determines the blood and the crucial characteristics of every offspring. The Bible says, "The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass (or surround) a man" (Jeremiah 31:22).
Why is this so significant? It means that when Jesus later sacrificed His life for the world on the cross, the blood that was shed did not come from Mary, but from His Father God! So it was not human blood, but divine! What an awesome thought. That’s why the Gift of God that mankind received on that first Christmas is so remarkable and unfathomable.
Remember that Mary was not a princess with a huge estate or a great prophetess with a large following. She was a humble teenager who was engaged to be married to Nazareth’s local carpenter, a good man named Joseph. And when it was time to give birth, she was not pampered or given special care and attention. Rather, after riding a donkey over rough trails to accompany her husband to Bethlehem to be taxed, she ended up in a rustic stable - probably a cave - surrounded by barnyard animals. There, on a bed of straw, she gave birth to a son, wrapped him in rough-woven cloth, and laid him in a hay-filled manger.
The familiar Scriptures tell us that His first visitors were not society’s elite, the wealthy and powerful. Instead, angels announced Jesus’ kingly entrance into this world to the lowliest, poorest people of all - the shepherds who watched their flocks outside the city. And they came to find the Lord quickly, gladly, still in awe that the King of glory had come to dwell among them.
They came to find Immanuel - God with us ... with ordinary people (see Isaiah 7:14). Imagine common folks being able to come into the presence of divinity and have fellowship with the Son of God! How could such a thing be?
God with us meant the end of loneliness ... the end of facing life’s trials alone. As the popular Southern Gospel song declares, "I don’t know a thing in this whole wide world that is worse than being alone." So God gave us Immanuel. No wonder the apostle Paul exclaimed in awe and wonder, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Rejecting the Gift As incredible as it seems, down though the ages - in fact, from the very beginning, starting with Cain, the son of Adam and Eve - mankind has rejected the Gift of God. As we know, the Old Testament saints were saved and redeemed exactly as we are, the difference being that Jesus hadn’t come yet. So they looked forward to the Redeemer while we look back. They offered the blood sacrifice of animals, knowing that it was not sufficient to take away their sins but only to cover them until the Gift of God came.
We look back to Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary and say, "Yes, the Gift was good enough. Jesus’ blood can wash away the stain and the penalty of my sin."
But Cain killed his brother Abel in a dispute over the proper sacrifice (see Genesis 4:1-8). In effect, Cain said, "No, thank You, God. I choose not to follow Your plan. I will offer my own sacrifice of the fruit and vegetables I have grown. I want to do it my way, not Yours!" (Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12).
The Bible records examples from virtually every generation of people who turned from God’s way and "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6). They were saying, "No, thank You, God. I’ll try to make it on my own."
Tragically, even in our society today people are still rejecting the Gift, saying "No, thank You, God, we’ll go our own way." The Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that a display of the Ten Commandments could not remain in the courthouse. Military academy cadets will no longer give thanks at mealtime. The European Union new constitution has removed all references to God. And, of course, for years in America’s public schools, prayer has been forbidden.
More and more today, our nation is being molded by what is "inclusive," culturally acceptable and politically correct. "Well, that might be one way, but we must be sensitive and recognize that it’s not the only way." Or, "Yes, that is one religion, but there are many great religions in the world, and we must be tolerant and accepting of all of them."
But what is really being said is, "No, thank You, God. We’ll find our own way of getting to heaven ... if it really exists. Or maybe we can mix all the religions together and make a unified belief that everybody can accept."
A giant step in the wrong direction
What happens when society says, "No, thank You, God. We don’t want to go that way"? The historical record is painfully clear. It is a giant step in the wrong direction - toward doom and death and destruction.
Mohammed is dead. Buddha is long gone. Hinduism’s 100,000,000 (one hundred million) idol gods are not the answer. No other religion offers the Gift. Jesus is the only living Savior, the only God the human race cannot take credit for creating. Like it or not, the Word of God unequivocally declares, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
So any time anyone turns to the man-made religions of the world, he is saying, "No, thank You, God."
This Christmas, the world’s people will again seek to celebrate a wonderful, fun holiday season. They will grasp for the benefits of Christmas, without making any personal commitment to the Gift.
Merchants will publicize Christmas, encouraging everybody to shop and to buy gifts. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Families will come together to enjoy fellowship, sharing, and a great feast together. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Those in the travel industry love the holiday because so many people take to the highways and airlines to visit friends and relatives around the world. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Where we fall short during this time is in forgetting the Gift of Christmas - of either willfully or negligently communicating, "No, thank You, God, I don’t need what You have to offer."
Watch out! Don’t make the mistake of the Laodiceans, who said, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." The Spirit replied, "You don’t even know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (see Revelation 3:17,19).
I realize that this is a very different Christmas article from those the Lord has laid on my heart in the past. But we are living in very different times ... and this could well be the last time some of us will celebrate Christmas. I am not trying to be overly dramatic. Our world is filled with terror and uncertainty, and seems to be careening towards disaster.
There is only one certainty ... and His name is Jesus. He is the Gift of God. What He offers is salvation, peace, and life - abundant life, eternal life, now and forever.
Make the right choice!
A Sunday school teacher once gave a little boy his choice of two gifts. One was in a beautiful box, with shiny foil paper and multicolored ribbons. The other was a plain and simple metal can. The little boy wisely chose the plain container.
The teacher said, "First we will open the package you did not choose, the one that is so beautiful on the outside." When she opened the lid, the box contained only old, shredded newspapers.
Then she handed the very plain can to the little boy, and he pried off the lid. A big smile spread across his face as he saw that the can was filled with holiday cookies and candies.
What is the lesson? Don’t be deceived by the outward appearance - it is what’s inside that counts. Jesus came to the world in very humble surroundings, and associated with the poor and humble people of the world. But He brought - and is - a Gift beyond description, for which mankind can’t take the credit.
That wonderful Gift is offered to you again during this holy season. Oh, yes, the world also offers its counterfeit present, so don’t choose the wrong package. Please don’t make the mistake of saying, "No, thank You, God." This Christmas - right now - accept anew the wondrous benefits He has to offer and join in singing, "Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for You."
By SIMPLY DIVINE LOVE on Monday, December 06, 2010