Friday, June 21, 2024
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTATE MISSIONS: The True Meaning of Christmas

STATE MISSIONS: The True Meaning of Christmas

The poem written in 1822 that has been read countless times, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. Sure, the giving of gifts gives us joy, but this should only be a small part of the meaning we find in Christmas.

The true meaning of Christmas is love. John 3:16-17 (NIV) says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.

The real Christmas story is the story of God becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. Why did God do such a thing? Because He loves us! Why was Christmas necessary? Because we needed a Savior! Why does God love us so much? Because He is love itself (I John 4:8). Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Out of gratitude for what God did for us. We remember His birth by giving each other gifts, worshipping Him and being especially conscious of those less fortunate.

“But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Christmas can be a season of great joy. It is a time of God showing His great love for us. It can be a time of healing and renewed strength. Sure, enjoy the season but remember to rejoice as well! After all, the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of God’s ultimate gift — the birth of Jesus, the Christ child.

From Our Missionaries

Misión Creciendo en Cristo (Growing in Christ), North Little Rock: Juan Carlos Posadas writes, “We celebrated the birthday of Jesus on Saturday and 75 people attended the party — 50 children and 25 adults. The children had a Bible class with Mrs. Sayra and five of them received Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“The adults were with me, but none of them made a decision for Christ. Children and parents had fun looking for words in an alphabet soup, painting and filling in crossword puzzles, all related to the birth of Jesus Christ. Two of the children who received Christ returned to Sunday School. Let’s pray that everyone will continue growing in faith and they, as well as their families, will join us. 

“Fernando Rivera preached for the first time on Sunday and he did very well. He is one of the four men who are studying at the Bible Institute. I thank God for Fernando. Let’s pray for him and his family as they have a lot of potential and are committed to the Lord. I have a strong case of the flu. Please pray that I recover soon.”

Ebenezer, West Little Rock: Ruben Isturiz writes, “We began a series of sermons at Ebenezer that have to do with the birth of Christ. Last Sunday we touched on the theme of the pre-existence of Christ with the biblical basis of John 1:1,14. This is a good season to remember that the reason for our celebration is the incarnation of a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

“We have a family that recently arrived from Venezuela. I was remembering yesterday that they have only been attending Ebenezer for one month. We have been helping them to adapt to this new culture and orient them to new jobs. Eduar told me on Sunday that he was out of work. It is a difficult time to migrate to the United States because of the weather, and the employment opportunities are diminishing. Pray for this family. I believe it will be a good opportunity for Ebenezer to adopt this family by buying new winter clothes and shoes for the children and buying a gift for Christmas. Help me pray for sponsors. Eduar has a son, age 13, and two girls, ages 9 and 4. It will be a blessing this season to be able to bless this family. To God be the glory!”

Faith Chapel, Flippin: Johnny Shew writes, “We had a wonderful service Sunday morning! We had a good number, and several that had been out sick or traveling were back, but several more were out for the same reasons. Between the flu, RSV, COVID and all of the other colds, viruses, infections and bugs going around, it is difficult to get everyone together at the same time.

But we still had a wonderful service, and we had a couple that has been coming faithfully for several months now join us. Praise God! That brings our membership to 45, and we are so happy to count them in our number.

“We were able to visit with Cornerstone at Lowell this week and tell them about our mission. That was a blessed trip and we love that sweet, sweet church and all of its members, and we know they love us, too.

“We are still working on our plans for the new building, and are trying to cover all the details and costs. We hope to begin with the power, water and septic system soon, followed by the pad and foundation. This is an exciting time for us, and it seems to be generating interest from the community.

“We thank you for your prayers and support for us, Faith Chapel and for Flippin. Please continue because God is answering them!”

The Table, Springdale: Clinton Morris writes, “Many have been ill this week, including me. I am still on the mend from sinus and ear infections. “I am so thankful for my Silas Partner and the future pastor of the church. He ran an excellent communion service last night. I am very happy with his growth in leadership, and the clarity the people have that he is their pastor.

“We have been scaling our outreach, and we’re happy to see that many of the conversations are blossoming.”

Faith Journey, Benton: Bryan Clay writes “As we look forward to the Christmas season, we began lessons from the Luke. Luke 1 shows us the power of prayer and faithfulness in your prayer life. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes and faithful in their prayers. They maintained a daily relationship with Him.

Even so, their prayers for a baby went unanswered for many years until they felt they were well past their childbearing years. Nonetheless, they continued to pray, and God sent an angel to tell them their prayers were to be answered. In that moment, when he should have been overjoyed, he doubted what the angel had told to him, leaving Zechariah unable to speak until the baby, which he was instructed to name John, was born.

“We can learn many lessons through this Scripture on prayer and faithfulness. When we pray, we should pray believing we will receive. That does not mean all prayers will be answered the way we hope they are just because it is our desire that they should be. Our sincere prayers to our Father will be answered by Him and for His will and for the advancement of His kingdom. We should continue to be faithful in our daily walk with our prayer life and study of the the Scriptures. My hope for everyone during the busy holiday season is that we remember how blessed we are to have such a loving Father who still answers prayers.

Misión Gracia Soberana (Sovereign Grace), NWA:Roberto Marcelletti writes, “We had a very special time during our Sunday service. Despite the fact that several families were affected with respiratory problems and others with COVID, we had good attendance.

“We see how wonderfully the Lord is ministering and transforming the people who are coming. The key I consider my emphasis on the gospel sung, preached and lived is fundamental to be a community where the love of God is appreciated and brings to the people that the Lord brings during the sermon — “Jesus the Cornerstone.” The Holy Spirit touched the hearts of many in the place and I could appreciate tears of comfort and others of thanksgiving as they hear the hope that the believer has in Christ.

“At the end of the service, we all went to the new house of a sister who graciously invited us and enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship. How they ministered to each other telling each other, their testimonies of the things God has done in their lives since they joined Sovereign Grace.

“I encourage all churches not to waste the wonderful achievement of gathering in our homes and sharing with our brethren. My question for reflection is ‘Can we live biblical examples and commands in a meaningful way only in the context of Sunday service?’”

Then this morning an unexpected problem led me to the hardware store where I met a neighbor. While we were visiting, he brought up wanting to come to our Bible study. I had invited him back in March. They had been thinking about it and finally made up their minds they wanted to try it! Pray they will make it.

“Also pray as we have our first worship gathering in the city library community room on Sunday night Dec. 18!”

Epic Life, Pea Ridge: Jake McCandless writes, “Don’t give up and God is going to come through. I’m learning that should be the mantra of church planters. We have been praying for our neighborhood and trying to reach others in it for over a year. Just yesterday, we were talking about how we didn’t know if it would ever happen the way it looked.