Christmas Is Over, Now What?

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” – Corrie Ten Boom.

It’s the day after Christmas and all through the house there are piles of junk, cast-off toys, and piles of unwanted gifts to be returned as soon as possible.  Perhaps you’re hoping to exchange the flannel shirt Uncle Pete gave you. The kids have already found that the cardboard boxes their toys came in are more interesting to play with than the items which the boxes originally contained.

You’ve already made the decision to put the tree out on the curb for pickup tomorrow and get ready for the new year. Maybe this year should be different. It is the time to pause and answer a question: “Is there any correlation between the focus of the Christmas holidays—and what drives and motivates your life after the Christmas decorations are gone and the poinsettias have wilted?

Yes, it is Jesus’ birthday, but it is also the beginning of the gospel story. We are not just celebrating the fact that Christ came as a baby. We are celebrating that He came and brought redemption to our world. In other words, He came to redeem everyone who believes in His name.

Here is how Paul answered that question in I Timothy 1:15: “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.” Paul was thinking about the grace of God shown to him. He could not get over it. We too should be amazed. We too should not be able to get over it. We too should be in awe of God with us. We should be in constant astonishment at God’s grace and mercy that began for each of us on that first Christmas night.

Some people want to put Christmas behind them until next December.  But others bask in the reality of the meaning of Christmas, the Incarnation.  For them, Jesus is not a babe whose manger is getting pretty old and dusty.  He is the living Savior, the One who became flesh at Bethlehem, the One who wants to touch the lives of people today. He can be pushed aside by packing up the Christmas decorations. Moving on after Christmas should include the risen Lord who will someday return from heaven. May we enter the New Year with our eyes focused on the risen Savior.

Take the time and the step of remembring the Christmas story during the year. Try to understand what “God with us” and “unto you is born a Savior” really means all year long.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think about Christmas year-round?
  2. What would you suggest are a couple of practical ways to help refocus on the true meaning of Christmas during 2023? 

The Gospel Changes Everything…Including Me

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” – Romans 10:9-11. 

You may be thinking that the gospel is pretty abstract. Yes, it applies to me but it doesn’t seem tangible, practical, or applicable. The gospel is all those things. The gospel comes to life in the stories about people who were heroes of the Kingdom. We want to be brave like David, who slew the giant with a stone. We want to be as faithful as Abraham, who did not hold back his only son. We want to be righteous like Noah, as wise as Solomon, and unwavering like Paul. But if we spend too much time reading stories of the heroes of the Bible, we may miss the greater story those heroes are pointing us toward.  

Throughout the Bible, God is telling one story: God’s plan to rescue His people from sin through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the gospel. And the gospel changes everything. 

 Somewhere along the line, we underestimate the role of the gospel. The gospel is words – we need to use words, and the word of God, to explain the gospel. But they are powerful words. God-breathed words. But the gospel is more than merely religious words and ideas that we get out and admire in church on Sunday, then we put them back on the shelf till next week. The gospel is a message of power, a message used powerfully by the Spirit of God, to convict people of their need for Jesus. The gospel message has the power to change lives.

We believe that it is just about us and Jesus and our external home. But the gospel is so much more. The gospel transforms societies, renews families, and heals relationships. It is a message of action. The gospel is not to merely inform but transform. The gospel should change our lives. Otherwise, we are left with mere words, mere facts, and mere formality.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 says, “We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.”

We know that God not only loves you but has selected you for a special purpose. The gospel in action to the world is simply being real in love towards all men, women, and children: smiling, looking them in the eye, giving way to them, being truly kind, telling them God loves them, and praying for them. This is the gospel in action. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think of the gospel on a daily basis? If not why not?
  2. What can we do this week to make the gospel a part of our daily lives?