O Holy Night

All this [our being new creation] is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. … God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. … For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:4, 8, 9

If you have children or grandchildren, you probably are singing, Santa Claus is Coming to Town! And if not, you remember … right?

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

John Coots / Haven Gillespie

With our grandsons we pantomime checking off a list … weighing the scales … and then we go online to see if they are on the naughty or nice list.  I use claus.com.

Here’s what is says about one grandson: “Nice, but has naughty lapses. High marks in the good deeds department. Better than average manners. Hopefully, thoughtfulness will continue to be as good as last month. Neatness needs improvement! When I read these, the boys giggle, and they usually share something they shouldn’t have done that they want to fix.  In the end I tell them that the website is just for fun – just a guessing game. And you can see the gears whirring in their heads – just what does Santa see?  What does he know?

When I play this game with my littles, I am reminded that there are no balance scales in God’s home.  I am particularly thankful that He is not making a list, checking it twice, to see if I’ve been naughty or nice. I really don’t want to know if my “good” deeds will outweigh the “bad” – I wish they do, I can even hope they do, but that’s not the point! I’m counting on GRACE because He tells me faith, grace, salvation is MY GIFT!!

God says our salvation, even the faith by which we accept salvation is His gift to us!

Quote by Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

We accept His gift by recognizing that it’s something we need! In acceptance we agree with God that we are undone, lost without Him. In the eyes of a holy and just God we don’t measure up without the gift of salvation!

The babe of Bethlehem’s story isn’t just about Christmas!  He came to earth, lived as a man and yet without sin. He willingly allowed himself to be nailed to a Cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, my sins, yours, too …for all those that would believe in him. He died, was buried, and rose again … was seen by many.  This is the gospel – the Good News – the GIFT given that we might not perish but have everlasting life!

Good deeds are, well, good!
It’s just that the good deeds are not what puts us on the “nice” list!
Accepting the GIFT offered by the babe of Bethlehem-
that’s the key to God’s “nice” list!

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land,
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend;

He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

Originally by Placide Cappeau, translated by John Dwight, 1855

As you pray today, thank God for the gift of faith, grace, salvation – the gift of Christ himself living in your heart. Praise Him today that His gift is not based on our own merits but on His completed work on our behalf! Rejoice in the coming of the newborn babe!

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