Friday, December 13, 2013
I hope you’ll read this special story and maybe share it with your family this Christmas.
“Ninety nine years ago this Christmas, Germans and Englishmen were dug into trenches, battling each other on the front lines of World War I. In Flanders fields (located in northwestern Belgium between France and Germany) the winter winds were cold, the skies were gray, and the ground was muddy. Though it had only been 4 months since the war began, each side had suffered agonizing losses. Newly invented machine guns were proving painfully proficient at wounding and killing combatants.
As the sun rose on that chilly Christmas morning, soldiers on each side lay shivering in their trenches. They longed for the love, warmth, and comforts of home. An unusual and eerie silence fell across the battlefield. There was no cracking of gunfire or whizzing of bullets overhead. Each army was awake, but neither was fighting.
Peeking above ground the British were surprised to see Christmas trees being hoisted along the German lines. And then the strange silence of that Christmas morning was broken as the German soldiers began singing Christmas carols to each another.
To the utter amazement of the Brits, first one, and then another German soldier shouted across the enemy lines, “Happy Christmas to you Englishmen!”
Though the British command was suspicious, and the German officers were displeased, the soldiers on each side began shouting “Merry Christmas,” to one another.
The Germans sang a carol, and the Brits answered with one of their own.
“Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht, alles schlaft, einsam wacht…” the Germans sang. The words were foreign, but ah that tune was familiar.
Then it was the British who sang, “Oh Come, All ye Faithful, Joyful and triumphant…”
The contagion of Christmas so touched every soldier, they all stood and joined together to sing, “The first Noel, the angels did say… Born is the King of Israel!”
One soldier courageously shouted out, “You no shoot, we no shoot!” And against the orders of their superiors, the trenches were emptied as the battle scarred, weary worn soldiers met, embraced, and exchanged small gifts in no man’s land. They even played games of football and roasted pigs before sitting down to eat Christmas dinner together—a dinner unlike any the world had seen before.
One Scottish soldier described the scene in his journal, “What a sight—little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! …we could hear laughter…where they couldn’t talk the language they were making themselves understood by signs, and everyone seemed to be getting on nicely… Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!”
The Christmas Truce lasted through New Year’s Day in some places along that war weary line. And so it is to this day, wherever Christ is celebrated and wherever Jesus is crowned Lord of Lords, there you will find fighters laying down their weapons and embracing, “Peace on earth, and goodwill towards men.”
Tragically the Generals on both sides cut short what the soldiers began that Christmas day. But the Christmas Truce of 1914 will never be forgotten nor should it be!
Why it is that at this season of the year, when we celebrate God’s Gift of Love—His only begotten Son—we see so many who are at war.
“Well Pastor,”—I can hear it now— “I want to have a peaceful Christmas but you don’t know how I’ve been treated… you don’t know what they have said to me… you have no idea how they made me feel…” And, you are right, I do not know what you have endured. I am very sorry that you have been wounded and hurt.
But here is what I do know.
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ( J O H N 3 : 1 6 )
If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. ( 1 J O H N 4 : 1 1 )
How exactly did God “so love?”
He loved us when we didn’t love Him.
He loved us when we didn’t want Him.
He loved us when we didn’t care to know Him.
He loved us when we didn’t listen to Him.
He loved us when we didn’t respect Him.
He loved us when we didn’t speak well of Him.
He loved us when we didn’t follow Him.
He loved us when we didn’t deserve His love.
He loved us! And the Scriptures teach us to love as we have been loved! So…
We love people who don’t love us.
We love people who don’t want us.
We love people who don’t care to know us.
We love people who don’t listen to us.
We love people who don’t respect us.
We love people who don’t speak well of us.
We love people who will not follow our example as we follow Christ’s example.
We love people who do not deserve our love.
When we are born of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with love. God’s transcendent love transforms us. The love ideal described in 1st Corinthians 13 becomes the love real in our hearts and lives. Now our love,
…Suffers long (that’s longsuffering)
…Is Kind, (always)
…Does not envy, (not jealous of others)
…Does not vaunt itself (push itself forward),
…Is not puffed up, (proud asserting its own importance),
…Does not behave unseemly, (self controlled, temperate, never rude or inconsiderate)
…Seeks not her own, (seeks the salvation of everyone, not just himself)
…Is not provoked, (temper is banished where divine love prevails)
…Thinks no evil, (assumes the best)
…Rejoices not in iniquity, (is not glad when sinful acts or sinful actors prevail)
…Rejoices in the truth, (thrilled to hear and to know the truth and to advance the truth)
…Bears all things, (covers rather than conversing about the sins and foibles of others)
…Believes all things, (is ready to believe the best about others)
…Hopes all things, (anticipates the restoration of the fallen)
…Endures all things, (bears all things with perfect submission and peace)
…Never fails, (is constant in every circumstance)
Just imagine what a Christmas would be like if everyone was filled with love like this. Our Christmas Truce would become a lifelong Christ bought Truce, reconciling men to God and men with men. And that exactly why “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
THIS WEEKEND, Sunday, December 15, is our CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PROGRAM! The buses will be picking up the children in the afternoon. A sack lunch will be provided. At 6:30 PM you will enjoy seeing a reenactment of the first Christmas, hearing the sounds of new and traditional Christmas songs, and munching on delicious Christmas cookies. Bring along your cameras for this wonderfully special evening.
The following Sunday, December 22, at 6:00 p.m. you will want to see our TEEN CHRISTMAS PLAY, “ANOTHER CHRISTMAS MIRACLE” We have over a dozen teens involved in this year’s performance.
At 7:00 p.m. the lights will dim for our traditional CANDLELIGHT SERVICE. Soloists, the FCC Chorale, Congregational singing, and meaningful readings from God’s Word will make this one of the highlights of our church year. Invite your family and friends for this wonderful evening.
We pray that the SON OF GOD, LOVE’S PURE LIGHT will fill your heart at this holy season. Forget the crass commercialism, ignore the superficial folklore, and focus on Him who’s birth changed everything! Let Christ’s love fill your heart so that your Christmas Truce stretches into a lifetime of peace with God and others.
Pastor Richard M. Jones
FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH – A Crusaders Church of America
2969 North Lindbergh Blvd, St. Louis, Missouri 63074 - Telephone (314) 298-5840; Cell (314) 607-1424
Sunday, December 15 CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PROGRAM, 6:30 p.m
Wednesday, December 17 CHRISTMAS CAROLING, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 22 CANDLELIGHT SERVICE w CHORALE, 6:30 p.m.
Thanks for remembering to pray for our financial needs. Our giving this Fall has not kept pace with our needs. We want to end 2013 with all our bills paid. We’re asking the Lord for $12,000 between now and December 31. If the Lord would impress you to help us, we would be most grateful. Don’t forget, you can also remember FCC in your will. It will be so great when our mortgage is cleared.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
I J O H N 4 : 8 – 1 2
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
THE SPIRIT of CHRISTMAS is LOVE! "God so loved the world that He gave..." (John 3:16).
It's a spirit that the devil despises. And you can be sure he is doing all that hell can do to destroy that spirit.
THE DEVIL DENIES GOD'S LOVE.
He tells us "God does not love us." The old liar denies the existence of God, questions the reality of love, and rationalizes that we are simply pawns in a cosmic accident. Just as he lied to Eve, "God hath not said," he lies to us, "God does not love you."
THE DEVIL DIMINISHES GOD'S LOVE
The enemy urges us to look around at the problems, the circumstances, and realities of a world gone awry, and then he suggests that God is either powerless to do anything, or that He is love-less. "What kind of a loving God would make a world like this?" he suggests.
Of course we know the truth, the world that is is not the world that was. In fact, the world that is not the Creator's fault, it is the Desecrater's (The de-creator's) fault! "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Romans 5:12).
THE DEVIL DEPERSONALIZES GOD'S LOVE
If he cannot get us to deny the reality of God's love he convinces us that God's love is abstract and impersonal. Sure God loves the world, but He really doesn't love me.
THE DEVIL DILUTES GOD'S LOVE
Should we ever begin to entertain the notion that God loves us, the enemy dilutes God's love into an unconditional grant of divine favor without personal implication. "Of course God loves us. He made us! He has to love us. So what?" By diluting God's love, the enemy renders the love of God powerless and inconsequential.
THE DEVIL DISTRACTS US FROM GOD'S LOVE
If we fall into believing that God's love is strong, sincere, and serious, the enemy sets about distracting us from thinking about God's love. By keeping us away from prayer, away from God's Word, and away from solitude, He keeps us away from the Author of Love.
THE DEVIL RE-DEFINES GOD'S LOVE
Finally, when all else fails, Satan strikes at the meaning of love. He whispers that love is relative not absolute. He rationalizes that God's love is of a different sort than the love we have, or can have.
God loves us unconditionally. We love Him conditionally.
God loves us with an everlasting love. We love Him occasionally.
God loves us sacrificially. We love Him selfishly.
And that's all just fine, because after all we're just human.
But it's not just fine.
GOD SO LOVED...and His great purpose is that we would SO LOVE AS WE HAVE BEEN LOVED.
SATAN SO HATED ...and his great purpose is that we would HATE AS WE HAVE BEEN HATED
I choose LOVE DIVINE all love's excelling!