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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” – Luke 10:41

If we want to keep Christ in any Christmas, then we keep our love of this world’s things out of it (1 John 2:15).  Otherwise, it is just a catchy slogan about Jesus, without much truthful teeth behind it.  Some people may already be encumbered, perhaps even overcome with many misguided worldly thoughts and financial worries about this impending holiday season.

With hearts and heads already wrapped around the earthly hustle and bustle the last few weeks of each year can bring along with them.  Concluding with the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas, when more visit emergency rooms than any other day.  When nerves finally get stretched out too far and too tight like an elastic band until they snap from all the strain.

Holidays can press upon a soul and create internal stress before beginning.  A barrage of Christmas ads before Thanksgiving may have already killed the so-called “holiday spirit” in many.  Still, a lot of people will likely feel they “have” to do all kinds of cooking and cleaning, send out cards, put up decorations, trim trees, and go visit special people – or have them visit.

It all harkens back to a story from Scripture about another special visitor.  No, it was not Jolly Ole St. Nicholas – but Jesus.  Christ had entered a certain village where two sisters named Martha and Mary received and welcomed Jesus into their home.  Right away, Martha set about in a whirlwind of busyness – encumbered with much serving around the house.

Most probably fixing a meal, doing some cleaning, and a bit of straightening up.  In the meantime, Mary simply sat at the feet of Christ, listening to the words God’s only Son had to say.  Well, it did not take long for Martha to get a little upset – because Mary wasn’t helping out.  Martha asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”

Christ answered her, “Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).”  Matthew Henry once wrote, “Martha was for much serving; plenty, variety, and exactness.  Worldly business is a snare; keeping God’s Word from getting to our souls.”

Every season of Noel can bring mind-numbing and discordant noises not in harmony with heaven, nor in tune with His truth.  Along with laundry lists of what people think they “have” to do – trying to keep as many people pleased as possible (Galatians 1:10).  It can be exhausting if our heart is not right with God. Keeping up appearances; trying to seem “merry.”

Instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus like Mary and hearing what God’s Son has to say (Luke 6:46).  So, if we want to keep Christ in each Christmas, we keep the Word in it – and throughout our lives.  Otherwise, we’re always in danger of being overcome by bondage again to worldly clocks and calendars – observing days, months, times, and years (Galatians 4:9-10).

“The Christmas Guest” is a poem by Helen Rice.  It is about an old widowed man who owned a shop … and who almost missed the message of the season.  As the cock was crowing on Christmas morning, he was told by the Lord to expect His visit that day.  He had been busy getting everything “just right” like Martha did for Jesus.  Now, he waited to hear footsteps.

Sitting quietly inside his festively decorated shop, he listened carefully for any noise outside his window – not wanting to miss the knock heralding the arrival of Jesus.  However, Christ never showed up … or did he? The man rose in anticipation each time he heard a sound outdoors, soon followed by a knock.  Each time, he opened the door to three different visitors.

The first was a shabby beggar clad in ragged clothes looking for better shoes and a warm coat.  After he left, an old woman showed up a short time later, cold and looking for some hot food – and a place to rest (Luke 3:11).  The third visitor was a lost child who had wandered away from her home too far.  Each time the old man helped with a joyful and glad heart.

However, it was now getting very late and he was getting very worried.  Where was Jesus?  Heading off to bed thinking he had misunderstood the message about the promised visit, he prayed for an answer. Jesus replied, “Three times my shadow crossed your floor – three times I came to your lonely door.  For I was the beggar, the woman, and the child.”

The old man had not entertained angels disguised as strangers unaware (Hebrews 13:2), but Jesus himself. The cock crowed that Christmas morning.  However, he did not deny Jesus three times like Peter did – but had acknowledged Christ thrice (Matthew 26:34,75). Will we do the same this season, or will our worldly whirlwinds keep getting in the way (Hosea 8:7)?

Keeping Jesus Christ in our life at all times begins with keeping Jesus Christ in our hearts at all times. We can’t do this without being born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  So when times like holidays roll around, we don’t put on a show of Christianity.  Rolling our eyes around in our heads as we put on phony smiles and false fronts, or speak fake words of love.

When we receive the gift of the Spirit from above, we become rooted and grounded in His love (Ephesians 3:16-17).  We are returned to the Shepherd of our soul (1 Peter 2:25).  We receive a firm anchor for our spirit (Hebrews 6:19) so we don’t drift to and fro with this world’s motions (Ephesians 4:14) – all entangled in its deceits or cares (Mark 4:19, 1 Peter 5:7).

So production of spiritual fruits He commands begins, as we grow up in His grace (Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30, Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 3:18).  So we can show all others and God we are learning Christ from the inside out (Ephesians 4:20-32).  So our love is purified as it flows fervently and unfeigned to all, and is no longer purposeful lust (1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Peter 1:22).

So our hospitality is without grudging (1 Peter 4:9). So our charity is cheerful as purposed in our hearts – not out of worldly wants or desires to get something back while on earth (Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:8, Luke 6:35, 2 Corinthians 8:12-14, 2 Corinthians 9:7).  So God’s grace becomes sufficient always; so the power of Jesus may rest upon us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Otherwise, keeping Christ in Christmas, or any other season is nothing but a catchy slogan about Jesus with little truthful belief of His Word behind it.  This creates spiritual spikes and dips depending on what calendars dictate.  Leaving holes in the heart to fill up again after holidays are over, unless Jesus and God have truly been there all along (Ephesians 3:19).

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this?  For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You. – 1 Chronicles 29:14

– For it is in giving that we receive. – St. Francis of Assisi

We cannot receive anything in this life, unless it is given to us from heaven first (John 3:27).  It does not matter what we may give or offer to others – either time, love, money, materials, etc. – you name it and it came from God to begin with.  Freely we have all received from the One who richly gives us all things to enjoy – freely and willingly we are to give it away (lead verse, Matthew 10:8, 1 Timothy 6:17).

Not with tight fists, not grudgingly, nor out of any personal want or need, but cheerfully and fervently out of hearts purified by obeying the Spirit of truth within us (Psalm 23:1, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Peter 1:22).  Giving as purposed in our minds out of what we have – not out of what we do not.  Not so anyone is overly burdened or eased, but so there is equality among all people (2 Corinthians 8:11-14).

We brought nothing into this world – and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:7).  Therefore, in the time between the cradle and the grave, our lives do not consist in the abundance of things we possess (Luke 12:15).  We are not to spend our short time here seeking our own wealth – but the wealth of others (James 4:14, 1 Corinthians 10:24).  Sharing – for the profit of this earth is for all (Ecclesiastes 5:9).

If we have this world’s good, and see a brother in need – and shut up our bowels of compassion, how can we say the love of God dwells inside us (1 John 3:17)?  If we have two coats, and see one who does not, we are to give them one.  If we have extra food, we are to share it with those who are hungry (Luke 3:11).  Not telling others to come back later, if we have the ability to help today (Proverbs 3:27-28).

Always making sure we don’t sound a trumpet touting our well-doing and giving – for doing such signals we are searching for glory not belonging to us (Proverbs 25:27).  It’s not truth.  When we do our alms, we are not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing.  So when we give like this, only God notices – and rewards us openly (Matthew 6:1-4, James 1:27). Otherwise, our intentions have to be questioned.

We will not fool God if our inner motives for giving and doing good things are not pure and unfeigned before His eyes (Hebrews 4:12-13).  God is always pleased when we do good (Hebrews 13:16) – but not when we go around calling attention to our charity. Christians have been given the mind of Christ, and we are to always mind the example Jesus set before us (1 Corinthians 2:16, Matthew 9:30, 1 Peter 2:21).

If we are following Jesus as we claim, then God promises to supply all our need according to His riches in Christ (Philippians 4:19).  We are to be content with our wages, so we won’t needlessly spend time trying to exact more than what God has already appointed us (Luke 3:13-14).  This way, we can spend such time doing unto others as we would have them do unto us – even if they haven’t (Matthew 7:12).

If we bring all our tithes into the storehouse, so there is always food in God’s house – then He says “Try Me now in this.  If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing there will not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:10).”  If we’re hoarding all our stuff and money as some sort of earthly reward for our work – or as protection against future uncertainties, God has warned us.

The grounds of a certain rich man brought forth a plentiful bounty.  He did not have room to store it all. His solution?  It was not to share it.  It was to pull down the barn he had – so he could build even bigger barns to hold it all.  So, he could then say, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for years; take it easy – eat, drink, and be merry.”  However, all he had could not save him later that same night (Luke 12:16-20).

The man was rich towards himself, and not towards God (Luke 12:21).  The hoarding of his harvest was a personal reward for all his hard work in sowing and growing.  So he could sit back, relax, and take a break for a couple of years.  Why should he give away some of the bounty to people who had not toiled for it?  What was so wrong with stashing it away for personal use in case of future crop failures?

Because God’s economy is one of giving, not getting. When we do good and distribute to others with the right heart motivations, we can communicate this message to others.  So others start to see Christ in us (Ephesians 4:20-32).  When we give to all others out of a good conscience towards God (1 Timothy 1:5), with charity flowing from humble hearts established with grace (Hebrews 13:9) – it will be given back.

With good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men shall give into our bosom.  For with the same measure we give it out – it will be measured back to us (Luke 6:38).  By doing so, and considering the poor in the process, God will deliver us in our times of trouble (Psalm 41:1).  Laying up in store a good foundation for the times to come, so we may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:18-19).

 

 

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