A Christmas Message from John 3:16
by Reverend and Sir Knight Paul L. Phillips
At this season of the year, many of us are making out a Christmas list. How could it be otherwise when Christmas is about the greatest gift ever given to the world?
Our text reminds us of this gift. Note it carefully. "God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son." Now, when we think of our Christmas list, let us never forget God's Christmas list.
When we do, I think there are two types of gifts. First, there is the gift which is in general - a gift for everyone. What does that list contain? I think for one thing there is the gift of hope. In our world it is so easy to lose hope. So much is present to discourage us. There is war, crime, economic problems, and many more. Yet, in spite of darkness, there is hope.
The year 1809 was not a very pleasant year. Our nation was a small struggling nation. There was doubt it would survive. In Europe there were wars and rumors of war. This was the era of Napoleon and Europe was in great conflict.
One day a historian was looking through the history books and came to this realization. In 1809 Abraham Lincoln was born. In 1809 William Gladstone was born. In 1809 Alfred Lord Tennyson was born. Think of these great people. How much poorer our world would be if these men were not born. Yet, other than their families, how many people were aware of their birth? In this year of 2008, a lot of babies will be born, and many of these will grow up to be great people. That is the way God works. When a wrong needs righting, a truth needs preaching, or a reformation needs leading, God sends a baby into the world to do the work. That's why a baby was born long ago in Bethlehem of Judea. Yes, now as then, now as in 1809, babies are born who bring hope to the world.
Then there is the word "savior." We cannot earn a Savior. A Savior is given. A Savior is a gift. God so loved the world that he gave a Savior. The second type of gift is one which is personal-a gift designed for our personal needs. What are some of these?
First, I think the gift of guidance. Some of you may feel alone. You need a guide. How wonderful to know that there is a Savior who says "I am the way."
This idea is found in an Old Testament passage. Remember these words, "I will bring the blind by a way they know not. I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them and crooked things straight."
If you are facing a momentous decision, remember you have a Savior to guide you.
Third, I think of another gift for you, and that is the gift of one who will comfort us in a time of sorrow. Some of you have lost a loved one this year. If so, remember this truth. The Savior born at Bethlehem is the Savior who won the victory over death. He reminds you that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us, and there is indeed everlasting life.
Now, there is one more question I wish to ask. I Inquire, Is God on your Christmas list? Several years ago I read this Interesting illustration. Suppose someone wanted to give a birthday party. They prepare food and decorations and invite their friends. However, they make one big mistake. They forget to invite the one whose birthday they celebrate. One might say "ridiculous."
But in effect this is what many people will do at Christmas time. They will decorate their homes, buy gifts for family and friends, and prepare an abundance of food for family gatherings, and then they will forget to remember the one whose birth we celebrate.
At Christmas, let us remember above all the one whose birth we should celebrate at Christmastime. Let us above all remember the Christ who came to save us all and give to the world the supreme revelation of God. Let us above all invite Him into our hearts and lives.
Another Christmas approaches. We have a Christmas list. God also has a Christmas list, and we are on it. Is God on our list? This can and should happen to us all. How can this be done? It can be done when we remember the greatest gift of all, which is the gift of God's Son and our Savior.
Sir Knight and Reverend Paul L. Phillips is a retired Methodist minister and Past Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee. He resides at: 17 Battlefield Cove, Jackson, TN 38305