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Excerpt for Christmas by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




CHRISTMAS

THE BEST LOVE STORY EVER





















Babatunde Timothy Smith
































Literal Guide

Johannesburg . Lagos. Windhoek
















An imprint of Literal Guide Publishers Lagos, Nigeria.

+2348064308507

Literalguide@gmail.com


CHRISTMAS: Copyright © 2019 by Babatunde Timothy Smith





Christain Lifestyle/ Christmas/ Spirituality/ Faith



All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work in any form whatsoever, any entity whatsoever must request for a permission in writing from the author or publisher. Except for brief passages in connection with a review.





















*Acknowledgement*

I appreciate everyone who had impacted my life and one way or the other, especially those who have made we see the love of Christ in practice not just as a teaching.

The Christ Apostolic Church at large especially the family of the Christ Apostolic Church, Oke-Iyanu Lagos. Also, the family of God in the Reformation Platform, Dominion Height Christian Missions, Unfailing Life Ministries and The BlackSmith House. I learnt to love through these different families.

I appreciate men and women who have added virtues to my life; Brother Abraham, Pastor MacPaul Okolo and Reverend Hizkiah. Brother Gbile Akanni's life and works have been a huge blessing too.

My different families made it easy for. I have seen how love is lived through our daily experience. Thank you so much Oluwaseun, Jochebed and Zion for making our everyday a Christmas and for helping us be a blessing to many.

The Williams, Ayeni, Ariyo, Thomas, Ojenike, Babatunde, Orogun and more; all of you made this work easy.

A big thank you to Adetayo Esho who encouraged me to give this work out after it has tarried a long while on my desk. The story is about you too. Also to Literal Guide Publishers, you edited and made the manuscript ready for publication. Everything of praise belongs to God. If there is any error in this work, I take the blame.

To God be the glory.











DEDICATION





To the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church, their love story is all consuming and eternal.

To my wife, Babatunde-Smith Deborah Oluwaseun, the one I am am making a divine love history with on earth.

















FOREWORD

This body of work is excellently written to call the attention of Christians into another dimension of Christmas we had not known before. It is written to affirm and encourage the pilgrims already in this narrow but slippery road without side walks and to awake the sleeping sojourner whose love and zeal is draining. It is carefully written with everyday grammar, easy to understand and also an eye opener into the forgone responsibilities of Christianity in the family, community, nation and in the world at large.

Its instructive and educative nature is distinct and it lingered into the family, church and nation. Its very dangerous to ignorance and unfriendly to close mindedness. Its depth is beyond words. Its a book even the Bishops must own and read and also every layman Christian needs a copy too. The book is revolutionary and it will untwine the tangled mythological perceptions of people about Christmas and clear the warped perspective of everyday person about Christmas. It will enlighten the church and will cause a paradigm shift from the money conscious church to a God centered church, wealthy in good works than in flamboyant showmanship. The depth knowledge from this book triggered my imagination far and wide on Christian ethics. Sincerely, that’s the kind of book8

I yearn for at my stage as a Christian, a book that is multidimensional and not just a stereotyped single storied religious jargon. It also anchored on relationship and delve some phantom deep on premarital counseling and virtuosity. I recommend this book to everyone who is a seeker of the true light of Christmas.



MICHAEL MBUKO

C.E.O Literal Guide Publishers International8





INTRODUCTION

Two forms of love are portrayed through Christmas. The first is the most heard of though less understood and believed; THE LOVE OF GOD to humanity as revealed in the birth of Jesus the Son of God. This is the greatest form of love ever shown, there is none like it and there cannot be any like it ever again. Christmas preaches the greatest love ever revealed to man. The part of gaining the true understanding of what the love entails is of great concern and will always be. Though men speak of, read of and hear about this love not just in season as Christmas but all the time, yet they seldom appropriate the weight of the love it presents into their lives. The love of God is often looked upon in the light of the corrupted love of man.

The other form of love, which is the thrust of this present study, is the love that came out of the revelation of the earlier mentioned love. It was this love and it was by this love that the love of God was introduced to man. This was after man failed to internalize the love shown to him in the beginning perfectly. Joseph loved Mary; likewise, Mary loved Joseph with the love of Christmas. It was from the love these two express to each other that the love of God (Christmas) became revealed. They brought the love of God into a physical manifestation. Through them, the love of God became flesh.

The drama, which their relationship unfolded, in that more or less unrecognized town, is a great wealth for mankind. As human beings, we need to take a lift from this experience as we consider our relationship with one another and with God.













PART ONE Chapter ONE

EVERYDAY IS NOT CHRISTMAS

As often said and believed, “Everyday is not Christmas.” By ‘everyday,’ we mean every given opportunity, every time, and every passing moment. People say this when they want to shy away from a responsibility or the help they are ought to render their fellows. When someone asks for something and you do it, it is Christmas, but when the person asks again and you cannot do it or you do not want to do it, then you say, “Every day is not Christmas”.

Is everyday Christmas? Can every given day, the entire day of every human life on earth be Christmas? This is the major question we intend to probe into through this study.

I am so sure that many people want all of their days to be Christmas, since Christmas for them is a time to stretch their hands to receive gifts from others. Christmas in the literal sense is funfair, joy and feasting. I guess there are people who would want their days to continue as a feast and festivity. There are beggars on the streets, homeless people, paupers and many of such kinds who know that they will feed on sumptuous meals a Christmas through the philanthropic gestures of Christians and Christian groups. Christian for them is the time they have new wears to put on. Such a group cannot but desire that all their day would be a Christmas. It is so unfortunate that it is only on Christmas (the day) that many people in the world have the opportunity to feed on sumptuous meals.

This idea of “Every day ought to be Christmas” is due to the mindset that these people have concerning Christmas. Apart from those who wait for Christmas at the receiving end, there are those who are the givers, such people are those who wait to give on Christmas. The sense of preparation these people make for Christmas, their mindset and the like buttresses this idea. They prepare themselves so much to show their philanthropic character during this festive period. People expect something from them and they would not want to let them down. For the givers, “Everyday cannot be Christmas” because they cannot be doing the giving everyday. Since for them Christmas is all about giving gifts (materials).

In a way, both views are correct, but they limit what Christmas is all about and all it should be. People tend to miss the essence of Christmas at the point of defining it. These are general opinion about Christmas and they are personal views what people see Christmas as not what it is. What people see Christmas as defines their opinion on the statement “Every day is not Christmas”. If Christmas is just about family traditions, church traditions, functions and the like you cannot see the whole essence of this glorious opportunity God has given to man to understand His love.

By Christmas we mean the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (December 25, or whatsoever date we choose). Christmas is just a day, a day to celebrate. It is like the days we celebrate our Birthdays, Marriages, and House warming. Like several dedications we do, of childbirth, baptism and the likes. It is nothing beyond a day and the day or perhaps the season.

One thing that is appreciable in all our thoughts and actions towards the day we have chosen to celebrate Christmas is that we are portraying some kinds of belief system or a tradition passed on to us. Beyond this, we are showing that we are aware of the birth of Jesus Christ and that it is worth celebrating. Through our celebration, we reference the fact that the birth of Jesus is a gift of some kind, so we have to give gifts to others during the season. This is good at least.

People also celebrate Christmas, with or without a belief in the essence of the birth of the person being celebrated. It is obvious that less people understand the essence of His birth, Christians and Church faithful inclusive. We only celebrate Christmas and not show or reveal it as it was revealed to us. How do we know that we are to reveal the essence of Christmas not just celebrate it, since we were not told. All that was passed unto us even in the community of believers was ‘you need to prepare for Christmas; you need to “show” as in “show off” the love of Christ to the unbelievers so that you can win some of them to the Master.



What Christmas is not but has become

Christmas has become just a day in the timing of man, a stipulated date on our calendar, fixed and unchangeable. A holiday period preplanned for family communion, homecoming, end of the year party, pleasurable relaxation, from the stress filled working year and all sort. It has become just a day for festivity, glamorous outings and fun fairs, grandeurs of all sorts. A singular day for sharing material gifts, the day for the revelation of Santa Claus. The world system has helped to add another day to Christmas so that we can open all that was given to us on Christmas, and ever share and receive more, the Boxing Day. A day we can give back to those we love, some selected few and those who at sometimes had given gifts to me. Christmas is the day, we reward people who have shown us favor and appreciate good gestures for this year in preparation for another.

Christmas is a season for Carols, the Silent and Holy Night where all is calm and bright a time to reflect upon the birth of the Messiah. We sing Carols, read scriptures reflecting the birth of Christ and then depart never to share such again until the next season for Christmas. We do a lot to show that we truly remember the birth of Jesus this stipulated day but not afterwards.

Since this cannot (or perhaps is not meant to be a continuous act) in our religious gathering, we conform ourselves to the mood of the season, try as much as we can to prepare the atmosphere for such reflections and all sort. One wonders why our reflections do not translate into an experience that can be carried all through the year. A reflection that can be so much impressed on our hearts, that it will become permanent and eternal, such that we will need not to gather like that again for another reflection. May I ask, since we have been running this course year in, year out what has been the result?

Christmas is just a December thing and we have to wait at least for Easter to come so that we can at least have something to reflect upon, now it is the death of the one we celebrated His birth the previous December. In Easter, the reflection is different so is the mood.

Christmas has become a Religious ceremony, not just a celebrated feast. Christmas today has we have it, is what it has become, not what it is meant to be. We try to add some sacredness to this day as we celebrate a part out of the life of Jesus. However, our sacred attitude and outburst of emotions only stand to corrupt the essence of this gift, the Son of God, in the sight of men, because what they see us proclaim on our Christmas day is different from what they see us practice afterwards.

Christmas has become a time to share and send Christmas greetings and cards. We try some special line of words to express our Christmas feeling to those we think we love. We speak with words that we do not use for them before this time; something new and dramatic. We so much prepare for it and even train our children for it. It is now a religious ritual that must be performed. Christmas is not just about words we prepare to tell people at a particular point in time, it should be about words that are consistent in our mouth day in and day out, words that translates into positive attitude towards those we have said our good words to, and not to them alone but everyone around us. Christmas is not saying, “I love you” on Christmas day and showing “how much I hate you” thereafter.





















Chapter TWO

WHAT CHRISTMAS IS

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? We who did not spare his own son, but gave Him up for us all-how will he not all alone with him be graciously give us all things

Romans 8:31-32 (emphasis mine)



For God so love the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1John 4:7-12

Lots and lots of texts in the Bible define what Christmas is all about. Our failure is that we look beyond the scriptures for answers to our pressing questions. We seek understanding about what is divine from this natural world. The world system teaches that we have to say thank you to only those who do good to us. Therefore, we think that Christmas is an opportunity to say thank you to God for doing a worth of good to us, while we lack a clear cut understanding of the good He has done and He is still doing to us.

This is not about debating over or giving illustrations about the history of Christmas as referenced in the account of several church historians, on how Constantine one of the Emperors of the Roman world used Christmas, the day, as a means of merging Christianity with secular Paganism. Thereby, renaming the day of the worship of Mars or Saturn (the gods of the Romans) as Christmas the day Christ is worshipped. Many have stayed at the point of arguing about history and have lost the essence of Christmas itself.

Yes, history might be right about such actions on the part of the then Emperor, but there is nothing a man can do that bypasses God. Oftentimes, unconsciously men tend to fulfill God’s will out of their own personal agenda. They go all about with their own personal intentions for selfish interest and God use their plan to fulfill His divine plan. What do we have to say about the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Men were trying to terminate the life of a supposedly rebellious fellow, but with the success of their actions came the success of God’s divine plan for humanity.

December 25, or whatsoever date as it were was God’s initiation and intention, it was His design for man, not necessarily man-made. This is one of the reasons we lose the essence of Christmas; we think the day is man-made, so we celebrate it with man-made patterns instead of the divine pattern.

Christmas is God’s way of telling you that He still loves you, no matter what. No matter how corrupt the state of the world is, Christmas is God’s way of saying I still love you the way I first loved you when I created you; the way I loved you when you fell through Adam, the way I loved you when I sent my only begotten Son to pay the price for your salvation. By Christmas, as He will always do every passing day on earth, God is still making it clear to mankind this truth, “He loves us”. He is still going to continue all through the day He has allowed us to exist, until we return to Him. Christmas, the day, only brings this love more obvious to us and writes it on the wall that we will give an account one day of what we did with this love that have been revealed to us.

Christmas is God’s love shown to you, no matter who you are. There are no barriers in Christmas; race, creed, color, culture, custom, tradition, politics and whatsoever. God is showing you that He loves you no matter how you relate with Him presently.

Christmas is God’s love revealed in His only Son, Jesus. This revelation was only brought to the lime light in His birth. It has been there for so long, ever before His birth and this revelation was finally consummated on the Cross. On the Cross God finally gave His only begotten Son. On the Cross He turned His son off completely. He was not with Him; He gave Him up totally at that point when His Son bore the sin of the world. This is the reason it will be so foolish for us to stop our thanksgiving service for the giving of the Son of God on December 25 or the Sunday after it. God did not stop giving His son at the time He was given birth to (if you share the rationale that it was at this time that He was given birth to or a time close to this date). He did not stop even at the Cross; He is still in the act of giving His son, to those who want to receive Him. He wants to give His son to you now if you are ready to receive Him.

For God, Everyday is Christmas because He gives Christmas to men in their millions everyday as they seek Him. On the day Christ was born on earth, God only showed man what He wants to give for His redemption. Christmas was the beginning of God’s new way of showing man that He still loves him no matter what. It was not the time to celebrate yet, until He Son finally gains the victory, and then He will celebrate, even though He knows victory was sure.

Unlike us that our Christmas highlights the height and the best of what we can give and it is all just for that day alone, God’s Christmas was just the beginning of it all. Jesus is not just all He wants to give to us. He is only the beginning of and the means to the “All things” He wants to give to us.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:32

Christmas is not the height of His giving, though it is the best, but there are still more things to give and He throws it at us each day keeping lots more for those who have accepted His first gift in heaven.

Is your Christmas not just about the best I can do, and want to do this day (December 25th), after this there is nothing more until the next season. Christmas should look like this- this is the type of what I will be giving henceforth; this is the beginning of my givings, more is yet to come.















Chapter THREE

KING XERXES’ EXAMPLE

This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in one Citadel of Susa, and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present. For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty, when these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the citadel of Susa. By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way. For the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man he wished. Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the woman in the royal palace of king Xerxes.

On the seventh day, when king Xerxes was in high spirit from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him…to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendant delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger….

Esther 1:1-22

There are several accounts of Kings in biblical times showing good gestures to their citizens at a particular time or in a particular time. David (2Samuel 3:20) and Solomon (1Kings 8:65) were typical examples. The account of King Xerxes’s story is very elaborate and it suggests a kind of the festivities that Christmas highlights.

King Xerxes at a time planned to celebrate his kingdom and reign. The feast was all about revealing his glory and splendor. He did this for 187 days. He prepared delicacies for a large number of people, but not all of his citizens. It was just about feasting with some selected few, people living in the citadel of Susa and across his provinces. He did all to make them happy as their king.

His feast was all practically a show off, much like a President who invited dignitaries into his land to show them the beauty of the land in order to gain some respect and applause. His primary purpose is that the people can come invest into his land, become his ally and the likes. It was nothing but for selfish gains than blessing others.

Yes, the days of such feasting would be remembered, but not for long, because it did not have a lasting impression on the hearts of the people in the land directly. Those who were invited would desire that the king would make it a yearly thing, so that they can come next year to see a better feast something they can take home to better the lives of their own people.

The funny thing in all of this was that the 187 days fasting was not actually for those who needed the meals, those in poverty, orphans, widows, the hungry and the likes. It was prepared for those who already had stable meals on their table. It was meant for nobles, princes, military leaders and others. It was only in the later part of the 187 days that the people living in the citadel were celebrated possibly for hosting the first 180 days. The king gave them seven days of rest and feasting. Still these were blessed people of the middle class. The food and drinks will have only little impact on their lives. They will drink wine to stupor just because it was made available to them and they will not be paying for it directly.

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Proverbs 20:1

If you are good at loving people by giving them wine, or you are good at receiving love from people by drinking wine at their tables, you are not wise just as they are not.

King Xerxes also participated in this; he gave them the wine and filled himself up with it, until he became possessed by it to the level of lusting after and showing the height of his wealth and splendor. He asked Queen Vashti to come and show off her beauty to his guests.

Fair enough, a lot have been said and written about the pride of this woman. How proud she was not to heed to the call of her husband the moment she was needed the most. At the height of such celebration, her coming would have sealed it all. King Xerxes would have been glorified as possessing the most beautiful object in the world. Vashti was his most prized possession, the object of his own pride. Truly what he requested her to do was not a wrong thing, it is part of the tradition of the land, great man, kings and generals, show forth their glory in this manner, but I ask, what greatness is in lust after being glorified as a result of the infilling of wine. God did not parade Jesus or just show Him off to the world; He gave Him completely. Xerxes on the other hand was just parading not giving what He priced the most.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel! Not for kings to drink wine. Not for rulers to crave beer lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish, let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Proverbs 31:4-7

Is it possible to forget poverty of the heart by taking wine? No way, give it to them in million of jars, their poverty will yet be remembered. I tell you he who tries forgetting his poverty (of the heart) in this manner will only have it doubled. Remembering our misery and poverty at times helps us to search for a permanent way out.

Is this not what happens at Christmas today? Men settle for the jars of wine at December 25, so they can forget their poverty. They drink much so to drown their sorrows as they prepare to enter into the New Year. My opinion candidly is that such people should prepare to bear the weight of doubled their poverty in the year they are preparing for in the wrong way.

Because of their poverty, these poor fellows went to King Xerxes’ Christmas party to wine and dine thinking this would settle their crisis since they will not pay any dime for the drinks. I tell you that the wine they will take there will help multiplying their sorrows.

King Xerxes presentation of Vashti would have been the order of the day for those who were there. If the queen had come out that day, the rest officials would have both gone home lusting after her and using that against their wives at home. That would have made their wives an object of reproach in their sight because they are not in any way like Vashti. How can a man already given to stupor look at a woman decently without lusting after her. They were all drunk, yet Xerxes sees it a good thing to present his precious jewel in the sight if drunkards. For Vashti, it was a matter of feminine abuse. Remember that she also hosted the woman of the royal court in a banquet.

Yes, this queen’s disregard of her husband’s command should be punished, but what sort of command is one that came out of an infilling with wine. Am I saying that women should disregard their husband in their drunken state? No! Nevertheless, I say this boldly; any man giving to wine should not stand in the position of authority no matter how small it is.

On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirit from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him- Mehuman, Bistha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas- to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.

God did not send His Son out to this world on Christmas to display Him. He did not come to this world because He was lovely to look at. His presentation by God was not out of the high spirits from wine, it was something else entirely. At that point in time, God was showing the world that He so much loved them, which was not in king Xerxes’ case. He was presenting His Son for a definite purpose. He was giving off His Son and not showing him off. He was not just hosting a 187 days to honor the world; He was presenting to them an everlasting feast. Sending His Son to the world was to bring men back to His presence eternally not just momentarily.

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:1-3

The Son God presented to the world was truly the height of His glory, but He did not present Him as such. He was not presenting Him so that men might praise or glorify Him like Xerxes wished in his presentation of Vashti. He was not doing it for any selfish gain. Instead, He gave His son freely for our salvation. It was all for love, the Love He loved us.

Xerxes did Something Better

If you read the account of the life of this king Xerxes to the end, you will see that he showed a different worth of love through Esther the new Queen after Vashti was sent out of the palace for her pride and disobedience. Chapter five through to the tenth chapter of the same book tells of the evil Haman plotted against the Jews. How he lured the king into selling off the Jews to death with his own hands. He gave his seal (the irrevocable Yes decree) to the death warrant of the Jews under his jurisdiction then.

Something about the wine came up again but on this occasion, it was for a different reason. Queen Esther after lots of intercession (standing in the gap for her people leading to the unexpected show of mercy by the king as he allowed Esther into his presence unrequested) prepared a banquet for the King and Haman. This was just a two-day banquet unlike the 187 days feast that the king prepared earlier.

Esther’s banquet was not for merry making, it was not a show off, not the time to exploit the interest of the people by giving them wine instead of granting them their basic social needs; it was not a funfair at all. All Esther’s banquet meant was a salvation plan for the Jews. She was able to win the king’s favor for the first time as the king granted her audience in his presence. Now the banquet was to bring the King to Esther’s presence; it was to set the mood for Esther’s request for the salvation of her people.

Yes, she gave them wine to drink, but it was not to tune them off into stupor and lustful madness. She placed them on royal menu; both the savior and her people’s enemy. Of a truth when we feed our enemies with the best of love that we have, they will become full until they get busted. Christmas is not the love of God shown to the good alone. When God sent Jesus, the best wine ever, He was sent to the wicked. There was no one who can be identified as good at that time; we were all sinners (Romans 5:8).

The first day of the banquet, she said nothing, she only allowed the king to enjoy himself, as well as the enemy. The enemy took pride in that opportunity, told the whole world about it and waited for the next day. For Esther, the first day was just to set the stage. She wants it to be obvious that the banquet was not just about her request but also her gratitude towards the favor that the king granted her.

How we all need to learn this gracious attitude! We do not just need to go into the presence of God to bombard Him with our many requests for solutions concerning our problems. How we need to enter His gate with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, giving thanks to Him and praising His name (Psalm 100:4). We need to cultivate this attitude of gratitude for who God really is in our lives and for the numerous blessings, He has granted us. It is a great privilege to have access to His presence and to be called His own. Similarly, there should be another day to do good. Goodness must not be tied to just a day; there should be another day after the first day, another day after the second day. In all there must always be the “another day”.

We miss the opportunity to see God really exalted in our praises, because even the time we set aside to religiously praise Him, we spoil with what we end our period of praise with; petitions upon petitions, complaints upon complaints. Praise and thanksgiving will do their works if we allow them to go freely without any additions.

Do you know that some people use the Christmas day to make their request known to God? Maybe you are one of such people who still ask God for lots of things this day. At least let us take it that we have tried to set aside that day to honor God for what He has done and honor others for what God has done. After God has given us all things; we then agree that Christmas should be a day to praise Him, yet we steal out of this time to stay on mountains, valleys, religious gathering seeking for what is not from the God, instead of using that moment in service unto Him for the gift He has given. This day should be one when we lay down our lives again, rededicate our hearts in worship (service) to God. A time to say God you have given so much, yet I have given nothing; take all that I have and all that I am.

This was Esther’s attitude the first day. She just made herself available for the king and her second guest. She was there just to serve both of them. When she was asked to make her request known even up to half of the kingdom, her reply was, “my petition and my request is this; if the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question” (Esther5:7-8). I guess no one would want to miss such an opportunity. Any ordinary individual given anything close to this will pour out all that has been piled up in his/her heart instantly. It was the king who asked her to make her request not just an ordinary man. Unlike the girl who was lured into asking for the head of John the Baptist at a time like hers, Esther only asked for another day to be of service to the king and Haman then she will make her request known. She does not want to spoil the atmosphere already given. She knew that she had already won the king’s heart, so she wants to keep it that way believing that God was on her side.

When the second day came, she did not go all out immediately, she also gave them wine in the banquet. This was not the wine he (the king) took earlier while he hosted the 187 days festival; it was a pleasurable wine, a wine poured out of love. He never drank it to stupor; he was not in high spirit when he asked the queen what her petition was.

Such wine of love poured out to God from our heart goes a long way to bring Him hastingly into our situation. We do not need to say much before He comes to our rescue.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.

Romans 12:1

If we pour out our lives in worship to God, He is ready to do the same for us all over again. Already, He knows what we are going through; He sees it all, but how well do we trust Him to leave everything, laying it all at His altar and not minding what happens next?

Esther could let the case of her people who her in a dying state wait for another day, because she was so sure that at the end everything will turn into her favor. She was so sure that the battle has already been won in the place of prayer. The king has favored her so much and that is all that matters.

There was no delay when she made her request that day. Her people were rescued (saved) instantly and the enemy was made to pay the price for treason with his life. He never knew Queen Esther was part of the people he hated. He thought he was fighting against Mordecai and his people alone. He did not know the savior of the Jews was in the royal court. It was an unfortunate end for him though he has been warned earlier.

His adviser and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him- you will surely come to ruin!

Esther 6:13

Esther’s banquet was not for entertainment, it was deliberate and purposeful. It was not for self or vainglory; it was not for exhibiting herself or how well she can cook. She was all out for the salvation of her people. This was unlike the banquet queen Vashti hosted, unlike the one king Xerxes hosted; it was a banquet aimed at the deliverance of those in bondage.

Christmas is not like king Xerxes’ banquet or that of queen Vashti. Esther’s banquet is quite close to it, because the victory it won was celebrated beyond that time. That banquet is remembered even now. The Jews still celebrate the Purim today because of the victory won for them starting from the banquet of Esther. Yes, it was after they fought for their lives that the victory was given, but if there was no banquet from Queen Esther, there might not be the opportunity to fight to victory for their lives (Esther 9: 1-32).

Purim is a type of Christmas, a celebration of the hope that was lost and of life regained. The Jew has been sold to death and it was like there was no way out; but God came to their rescue. The Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who joined them should observe and reflect on this victory every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.

These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.

Esther 9:27-28

The Jews in Susa however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. That is why rural Jews-those living in villages-observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting; a day for giving present to each other.

Esther 9: 18-19.

Fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar became days of purposeful feasting and rejoicing. These people had their first Christmas and Boxing Day. They observe these days as days of feasting and sharing gifts. Our Boxing Day truly had a good background. However, we hold this day to another historical background and have designed different occasions around it. The Jews celebrated because they were delivered from the claws of death. Even the next generation that came later followed this custom because if the initial generation was not delivered, they would not have been in existence.

Why do you celebrate Christmas? Why do you feast and rejoice? For what purpose do you call your friends and families to come around to rejoice with you? Yes, you do so because Jesus Christ was given to humanity, not because He has been given to you personally. Christmas is only worth celebrating if its essence has been made revealed and fulfilled in your life, if you have had a personal experience of the coming of the Son of God into your life as an individual. Christmas, the day you celebrate it, makes no sense if you have not been delivered from the claws of sin and eternal death. If Jesus has not been giving birth to in your life, then what you are remembering and celebrating is not Christmas.

When Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus Christ, she asked the angel “how will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered her “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 1:35

If the Son has not been born in you, if He has not delivered you from the bondage of sin and the eternal death warrant that has been signed and sealed concerning your life, your Christmas celebration is worthless, it makes no sense, it will only be a feast and festivity, not a banquet unto the King of kings.













Chapter FOUR



MERRY CHRISTMAS

When you say merry Christmas next time, ask yourself truly if there is anything to make merry about. Our world today is filled with lots and lots of false merrying, people say merry Christmas without having anything cogent to make merry for, except for some few who has made tangible success out of the year before December 25 and those who want to appreciate God at least for saving them through another year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance! Is there anything true to make merry for and about.

For God so loved the world that He gave is one and only Son…

John 3:16

We are familiar with this statement and can even recite it clearly, but I tell you most of us do not have it written on our heart yet. Only those who have this statement written clearly on the tablet of their hearts will have something to merry for not just on December 25, but all the days of their lives.

Looking at the statement clearly, “for God so loved the world”, do you truly believe that God loves you or perhaps if you claim you do, do you truly understand what it means that God so love you, not just you alone, but the world?

Are you not among those who sit alone on Christmas asking themselves, “Does God truly love me, if He does, why did He allow all the sufferings in my life, why do I have to go through my life struggling and trying to survive, is that all that His love means?” You know that many people ask these questions even on Christmas day. If God truly loved the world, why the calamities, why the natural disasters, pains and sufferings, why the diseases and sickness, why the wars and all forms of crisis? How can God so loved the world yet allow all these things?





The World God Loves

Until we understand the nature of the world that God loves, we cannot really understand God’s love. The world is not what you think it is, not now, then or ever before. The world has never merited God’s love, and He only loved because of who He is. With what the world has become today, God still so loves the world.

In the beginning, God created the world (earth) and everything in it for His pleasure. He wants to take pleasure in all that exist, past and present. If He did not love this world, He would not have thought about creating it at first. In the text we are considering (John 3:16), the word “world” in there implies the people of this world, not the system or places God does not love the system of this present world because man has given its control to the devil. The devil is the one who influences the thought of humans who think they are the one in control. He is interested in the geographical state of this masterpiece (earth) that He designed, but not as much as He is for the people in it. He created the earth (space) for man, not man for the earth. What concerns God most is the man He created inside the earth.

In the beginning, there was no other system controlling the earth than that of God Himself. It was a theocratic rule (God has the head of the theocracy). Man has dominion over all that God created as much as God has allowed him. There was no other system, no worldly system, only God is Lord over all. There was nothing called evil, only good reigned. There was nothing called suffering and pain, no sickness or disease, no crisis, no natural disaster, no calamity, no war. There was nothing against the peaceful order and co-existence of the human race.

Man was placed in charge of all God created. He was given dominion because God so loved him. When we speak of “the world”, humanity, man is highly referenced. Why this gigantic edifice, why the earth, if not because of man? The earth is important because man resides in it. It will not take God anything to make this earth non-existing and possibly bring another one into existence. This is actually what He will do soon. May I let you know that soon this earth as it is now will pass away, it will become non-existing, it will be , to put it in the right perspective, and a new one will be made.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying “Now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and He will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelations 21: 1-4

Praise God! This is not how things will continue. This old order will soon pass away; and you have to choose if you will pass away with it or not. What you see now, all you are accusing God for, all suffering and all sort, will pass away. A new world order is coming soon, a new earth, a Holy city where God will dwell with man, no more pain, sorrow, all that is here present, named as evil will pass away. You need not wait to see it happen, before you join the people who are getting ready for this new order. You can join now. Give your life to Jesus Christ, so that He can give His life to you. Only those with the life of Christ will experience this new order.

Now we are back to the beginning where man was given dominion over everything. He was created to be in charge, he was the head over all as God was his head. God made him rule freely. God gave him the hand of fellowship. He was not just man; he was god on earth.

Then God said, “ let Us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the live stock, over all the earth, and over all the creature that move along the ground. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1: 26-27

Man was in charge. God gave him the earth that He created and his task was to tend and care for a portion of it; Eden (Gen. 2: 1-25). He was given everything he needed, the authority, the right of ownership and all that pertains to such. He was given the helpmeet he needed. Everything was at his beckon call. He lacked nothing. The earth was in his hand to recreate to his taste. God loved him so much that He placed in his hands all that he created.

There is one more part to what God created, that is the devil, Lucifer. He is part of God’s creation, and he is not left out of what God placed in the charge of man. He was already on earth before man came, and God placed man over all that was on earth before he came into it, the devil inclusive.

The devil was one special thing in heaven before pride filled his heart and he was thrown down to the earth. At first, what was in his mind was how to come over God; I mean become greater than God (Isaiah 14:12-15), but he was thrown downward. This meant, he will not just be under God, he will also be under man. This new development sounded ridiculous to him. If he cannot be over God, then he will not allow what God created like him to be over him. Thus, the battle of supremacy was raised; man versus the devil. God already knew about this battle and will always act the impartial judge. God has blessed the man with all he needed to win this battle. He has given him His word and His love, which stands above all things. He made him in His image, meaning, he has in his possession more than the devil has. In him (the man) was the breath of life which was not in the devil. The devil though was created out of beautify stones; man was made in the nature of God. He was god on earth at that particular time. He was ahead of the devil in all direction, thus, the head over all that exists on earth. Therefore, God was sure His man will not lose; for God, it was a settled deal. The devil lost in heaven (Rev. 12:7-12), so it was evident he will lose on earth.

God set the ground of the battle. For Him, it was not a battle; rather it was His way to approve of the man. He was ready to show forth the man not to show him off. He loved the man so much to have been so sure that he would do what is right. This also does not suggest His partial knowledge of what will be the outcome. For God, whatsoever the outcome is, it will still end in the favor (for the good) of the man He created in His image.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “you are free to ea from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat it you will surely die.”

Genesis 2:15-17

What God did in the case of Adam, He also did for Job. Job’s tale reveals God’s love for him in a dimension, which the men of this world have not yet understood. God released His man into the hand of the devil because He was sure of this man. God does not love you less when He allows you to go through suffering. He is all wise and so wise to know that you might not understand His dealing thus, hate or dislike Him. God knows that you want Him to do only good and allow goodness to visit your life all the time and this might make you love Him. However, His ways and thoughts are different from yours.

Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.

Job 1:8

At some point in Job’s story, it was as if God was not being fair. It was as if He hated Job but the latter end of the story made it clear God so loved Job. With his life, God has revealed Himself to humanity in that dimension. When it seems God is not making sense in your life is when the best of all sense is being made. At some point in your life, if it seems that God is not there again, as if He is absent or not caring; may I let you know that He is so much present and the end of the story will tell it all. If you would just allow Him, what He will produce out of that life of yours which seems to be in the mud at the present will be so glorious. He is always there when it seems He is not.


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