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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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England’s Christmas History

An Old English ChristmasAugustine of Canterbury was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him in 595 A.D. to travel to England and to convert King Æthelberht and his Kingdom of Kent to Christianity. Augustine succeeded in converting King Æthelberht and thousands of the king’s subjects were baptized on Christmas Day in 597 A.D. The English began celebrating Christmas by the end of the sixth century. In the year 816 A.D., the Council of Chelsea enforced the observance of Christmas on December 25 in England.

Along with the Reformation in Europe came some very serious questions about Christmas; how it should be celebrated; and if it should be celebrated at all since it had not been observed by the church in the first two centuries. After all, the Bible gives us no command concerning the birthday of Jesus. In 1647, the English parliament passed a law making Christmas illegal. Festivities were banned because feasting and revelry on a holy day were considered immoral. In 1660, with Charles II established on the throne, the thirteen year ban was lifted.

The popularity of Christmas in England received a boost in the 1800s. Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, introduced the custom of Christmas trees and carols from Germany. The first Christmas card was posted in England in 1840.

 

Bitterness

The Pursuit of HolinessJerry Bridges:

Bitterness arises in our hearts when we do not trust in the sovereign rule of God in our lives. (The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 120)

Peace on Earth

The Logos International Bible CommentaryChristmas PointsettiasThe Logos International Bible Commentary:

The birth of the Lord means peace on earth, but only for those “on whom his favor rests.” Indeed, the Savior’s birth is a meaningless gesture by the appraisal of many persons. But for those people who receive Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord, they find the peace that can only come from the favor or grace of God.

God Adopts His Enemies

The Puritans on AdoptionOne of the things that make grace so amazing to me is that while we were sinners and rebels against God, God – in His great mercy – granted us son-ship in His kingdom. God adopted us as heirs – His very own children – that we might be to the praise of His glory. L.R. Shelton, Jr. writes:

Think upon this precious truth that God should adopt His enemies. If a man adopts another for his heir, he will not adopt his enemy; but that God should adopt us when we were not only strangers, but enemies, is the wonder of His love. For God to have pardoned His enemies was a great act of love; but to adopt them for His heirs sets the angels in Heaven to wondering, and also this poor soul of mine.

Again consider that God should take great numbers out of the devil’s family and adopt them into the family of Heaven. Men adopt usually but one heir, but God is resolved to increase His family. He brings many sons to glory. God’s adopting millions is the wonder of love. Had but one been adopted, all of us might have despaired, but He brings many sons to glory, which opens a door of hope to us.

Once more meditate upon this truth that God should confer so great honor upon us in adopting us when we should be cast out of His presence in hell forever! “For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19).

Let me sum it up: Adoption is that act of God whereby I, who was by nature a child of wrath, even as others, am, entirely of the pure grace of God, translated out of the evil family of Satan, and brought actually and virtually into the family of God, so that I take His name, share the privileges of sons, and am to all intents and purposes the actual offspring and child of God.

I close by saying I am utterly amazed at the great love and grace of my heavenly Father to adopt me into His family as a child, when I deserve nothing but His wrath. I can only praise Him and give Him glory for it is all of grace. What a blessing; what a privilege to be a child of the heavenly Father and an heir of God Himself and a joint heir with Christ, all because of my blessed Lord’s redemptive work for me. (“Adoption”)

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