Three Principles to Remember this Christmas

Christmas, meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, our Savior and Redeemer, has been turned into the most hectic commercialized season of all. Of course, the circumstances surrounding the census and the birth of Christ were pretty busy and hectic too. I want to encourage you in this article to not over-complicate Christmas.

There are three principles we should all remember as we enter the Christmas season; First, keep it simple. Jesus was born into some pretty sparse circumstances. The son of two poor Galileans, he lived a life of humility and simplicity that became a key element of his ministry here on earth.

Reflect Christ-like attitudes by focusing on the small things, being intentional in our personal relationships, and focusing on quality over quantity. Instead all the distractions Christmas has become within our culture. How many times have we bought the expensive gift only to watch the child enjoy the box more than the toy?

Second, be present. We give love to people at Christmas when we show up in their lives, serving and celebrating. One way we tell our families and friends that we love them is by giving them our focused attention. Attention says, “I value you enough to give you my most precious asset – my time.” When you give someone your time, you’re giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time.

Third, give with delight. God uses giving as an antidote for materialism, and he loves it when we give with a delighted heart (2 Cor. 9:7). Jesus said there’s more happiness in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:35), but here’s an important point to remember at Christmas: Giving is a matter of willingness, not wealth. It’s attitude, not amount. Christmas is about heart, not possessions.

We’ve replaced true, heartfelt, delightful giving with a hollow materialism that keeps us all overspending during the holidays. Instead, we should give from our hearts. Expand your definition of giving beyond the financial. Imagine how much you could bless others if you simply shared your time and talents.

The essence of Christmas is that we simply and humbly give ourselves, just as God gave generously and sacrificially to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. This Christmas lets generously show up in the lives of others with our time, talents, money, possessions, and friendship.

Simple isn’t just beautiful; it’s powerful. You don’t have to cram your days full of activities, and you don’t have to make everything big, complicated, or expensive in order to enjoy Christmas. Keep your holidays simple, so you are free to serve those in need and celebrate with those you love.

Are You a Modern Day Obadiah?

One of the little known characters in Scripture is Obadiah. Obadiah was in charge of King Ahab’ palace. He was a devout follower of God. He even risked his life by hiding one hundred of the Lord’s prophets from Jezebel as she scoured the land for prophets to kill.

Coming out of a three year drought that was caused by God and prophesied by Elijah, 1 Kings 18:1-19 tells the story of Elijah asking Obadiah to connect him with King Ahab. Even though he believed in God, and knew Elijah to be a true prophet of God, Obadiah’s response was “What have I done wrong that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death?”

In this article I will use this story to reveal six characteristics of today’s modern “Obadiahs”.

1. Modern day Obadiahs love Christ, but do not want to take a strong stand (v.3,7-12). Many people want to claim Christ, but not to be identified with Christ. They want to lay low or fly under the radar instead of being a clear ambassador of Christ.

2. Modern day Obadiahs try to straddle the fence of lordship (v.7-9). You have heard it said that “Jesus is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all”. In reality it is impossible to straddle the lordship fence because straddling the lordship fence actually is not accepting the Lordship of Christ. Jesus said it this way, “You are either for me or you are against me.” Straddling the lordship fence makes one willing to debate with God.

3. Modern day Obadiahs want to be secret about their commitment (v.7-19). Secret Christians have destroyed the mission of the church for generations. Christianity was never meant to be a candle hidden under a basket, but rather it was meant to set up on a hill to provide light to the world.

4. Modern day Obadiahs consider the cost versus the personal benefits before choosing to obey (v.7-19). Jesus would say “Those who love me, obey me”. Obedience is always an issue of love and trust. Before committing they want a guarantee that all will work out comfortably.

5. Modern day Obadiahs are struggling to survive (v.7-19). Survival is the natural mindset of people who do not completely trust God with their future. They also want to remind you about the times in the past when them did something risky (v.13) as if that is a free pass to not obey God today.

6. Modern day Obadiahs are inconsistent in their commitment to God (v.7-19). Wishy-washy obedience is not true Christ-following. Competing mindsets and priorities lead to inconsistencies and create inner conflict (v.7-19).

The moral of the story: Don’t be an Obadiah. Choose to proudly follow Christ wherever He leads.