Well, here we are, another week into the longest pandemic on record. This is a year of lessons learned, and we cannot look back for looking forward. Do you find it strange that Christmas movies have been playing on television for the past six months? I have even heard people talking about this strange addiction. Why do you think this is happening? It is because, built into the Christmas Message are faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. I have to admit, I have watched a few, myself along with GayNell. Each of these made for T.V. movies has a happy ending and that is the message the producers, the screenwriters, and the broadcasting company are attempting to communicate. It is called subliminal suggestion, and the advertisers believe the viewers will buy more of the products that are being advertised during the broadcast.
Personally, I can’t get the real meaning of Christmas out of my mind during this special season. I know too much about it and have lived to relive the message every day of my life since my conversion to Christ. I remember well how Christ became real to me on the night I asked him into my heart. The evangelist, the pastors, and Brother and Sister Leonard Gilmore were not aware of what happened that night and could never dream of where it would take me as a result of the exchange that took place that night.. I traded my sorrows and I traded my shame, I laid them down at the foot of the Cross. That was in October, 1961, and I have never regretted my choice that wonderful day. Can you imagine how in-credible it really is to exchange gifts with the One who was given a name above every other name, a name that says it all; “God with Us.” What a name it is! “His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
Would you allow me to unwrap for you this priceless gift we have received? There is a word found in Romans 12:1,2 that most of us are familiar with. It is the word, ‘yield’. It actually can be translated ‘present’, which I think conveys the point more clearly. Have you ever thought of yourself as a present, presented to God?
In context, it reads like this:
So here’s what I want you to do with God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eat-ing, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering (i.e.; a gift). Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops a well-formed maturity in you.
You see, it is in this manner, that we become a gift to the world; and for that matter, Ambassadors of Christ.
Have you ever thought of yourselves as Christ’s gift to the world around you? This would be a good prayer of rededica-tion for Christmas 2020.
“ Lord here I am alive from the dead. Here I am, take every bit of me. I am done with sin just as you were done with it at the Cross. I want to live my life as living unto You. I (present) myself unto you as one from the dead.”
A songwriter wrote,
Jesus use me, Oh Lord don’t refuse me,
Surely there’s a work that I can do.
Even though it’s humble,
Lord help, my will to crumble.
Though the cost be great, I’ll work for you.
Have you ever wondered why the old songs and choruses mean so much to us who have walked with the Lord for many years? It is not that hard to figure out. They were the love songs we sang week after week and day after day as we walked and worshipped The Lover of Our Souls.
This is a good example of what I am writing about:
I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
And it told thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
And be closer drawn to thee.
Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.
O the pure delight of a single hour,
That before thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To thy precious, bleeding side.
When GayNell and I stood before the preacher and said our vows, she said only two words “I Do”, and we were joined for life. This is that kind of presentation. She gave herself to me as a present of priceless worth. That is what our giving back to Christ is about; and of all seasons, this should be foremost on our minds at Christmas.
Last Sunday, two of our missionaries spoke for us, reminding us that our missionaries are our gift to the world. A wonderful offering was given, and on Tuesday of this week Vernel and Brittany traveled to Kenya to celebrate Christmas with the children of Kings Children’s Home in Bumala. It is through your gifts and pledges that these min-istries continue as our gift to the world.
Thank you for giving to the Lord! Just as I was changed in 1961, through our giving others will come to know the Lord and follow Him just as you and I have. We are reaching into the future with our gifts just as Isaac reached into the future and blessed his sons, in Hebrew 11:20. It is in this fashion we bless the sons and daughters to come. We are living epistles, known and read of all men.
I am praying for you as I write this letter, and hopefully, you will know how much it means to GayNell and I to serve you as your pastors.
I am with you in spirit, and praying for His Presence to fill your homes and lives as you read this letter.