Tag Archive | Christmas

Arminianism Agrees With Roman Catholicism, Calvinism Agrees With The Bible

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Arminianism at Home in Rome

But, however frivolous his cavils, the principles for which he contends are of the most pernicious  nature and tendency. I must repeat, what already seems to have given him so much offence, that Arminianism “came from Rome, and leads thither again.” Julian, bishop of Eclana a  contemporary and disciple of Pelagius, was one of those who endeavoured, with much art, to gild the  doctrines of that heresiarch, in order to render them more sightly and palatable. The Pelagian system,  thus varnished and paliated, soon began to acquire the softer name of Semipelagianism. Let us take a  view of it, as drawn to our hands by the celebrated Mr. Bower, who himself, in the main, a professed  Pelagian, and therefore less likely to present us with an unfavourable portrait of the system he  generally approved. Among the principles of that sect, this learned writer enumerates the following:

“The notion of election and reprobation, independent of our merits or demerits, is  maintaining a fatal necessity, is the bane of all virtue, and serves only to render good  men remiss in working out their salvation, and to drive sinners to despair.

“The decrees of election and reprobation are posterior to, and in consequence of, our  good or evil works, as foreseen by God from all eternity.”

Is not this too the very language of modern Arminianism? Do not the partizans of that scheme argue on the same identical terms? Should it be said, “True, this proves that Arminianism is Pelagianism revived; but it does not prove, that the doctrines of Arminianism are originally Popish:” a moment’s cool attention will make it plain that they are. Let us again hear Mr. Bower, who, after the passage just quoted, immediately adds, “on these two last propositions, the Jesuits found their whole system of grace and free-will; agreeing therein with the Semipelagians, against the Jansenists and St. Augustine.” The Jesuits were moulded into a regular body, towards the middle of the sixteenth century: toward the close of the same century, Arminius began to infest the Protestant churches. It needs therefore no great penetration, to discern from what source he drew his poison. His journey to Rome (though Monsicur Bayle affects to make light of the inferences which were at that very time deduced from it) was not for nothing. If, however, any are disposed to believe, that  Arminius imbibed his doctrines from the Socinians in Poland, with whom, it is certain, he was on terms of intimate friendship, I have no objection to splitting the difference: he might import some of his tenets from the Racovian brethren, and yet be indebted, for others, to the disciples of Loyola. Continue reading

The Matter of Church Discipline

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The Matter of Church Discipline

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Mat_18:15-35)

In this passage our Lord and Savior anticipates two things. First, he anticipates the fact that differences would arise among his disciples, causing offenses. It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that God’s people in this world are sinners still. We love one another; but those who are the objects of our most ardent love are the very people we are most apt to offend. The offenses are excuseless. We ought to exercise great care not to offend. But offend we do. What husband, wife, son, or daughter has not wept bitterly after needlessly offending one in the family dearly loved? Paul and Barnabas were both brethren, faithful servants of God. But they had a falling out over John Mark. Yes, God’s people, true believers, often trespass against one another. Continue reading

Why Don’t All People Come To Christ?

Turning away

Don Fortner

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Faith in Christ is set before us in many different ways in Scripture. Faith is looking to Christ. — “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). — “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us” (Psalms 123:2). Faith is trusting Christ, as a son trusts his father. — “O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee” (Psalms 84:12). Faith is seeking Christ, as a man seeks something he has lost. Faith is laying hold of Christ, as a drowning man lays hold of a life-line. And saving faith is described in Scripture as coming to Christ. The Lord Jesus is able to save to the uttermost all them that come to God by him. Believers are described by Peter as a people coming to the Savior. — “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, andprecious” (1 Peter 2:4).

How often poor, needy sinners came to Christ, or were brought to him in desperate need, while he walked on the earth. And as often as a needy soul came to our omnipotent, ever-gracious, all-merciful Savior, he obtained the healing power and saving mercy he needed (Matthew 8:1-3; 9:1-8, 20-22, 18-26, 27-31). Salvation is obtained by coming to Christ. The Lord Jesus is able to save all who come to God by him. The Lord Jesus has promised that he will save all who come to him. (Matthew 11:28; John 6:37; John 7:37-38). And in the Gospel narratives every poor sinner who came to Christ obtained the salvation he sought.

In John 5:39-40 our Lord Jesus is talking to religious people, people who went to church every week, people who read and studied the Bible. He says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” These were Bible thumping, conservative, religious, church going people, people who read, memorized, and studied the Word of God. Yet, our Savior said to these religious people, — “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Continue reading

Blinded By Satan

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INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, APRIL 16, 1893. DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 31, 1889.

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not.” 2 Corinthians 4:4.

THE practice of blinding men is a horrible process, too horrible for us to say another word about it, but there is also a spiritual blindness which comes upon some men. These are, to begin with, unbelievers. The god of this world does not blind Believers—but he blinds the minds of them which believe not. It is, therefore, a very dangerous thing not to believe on the Son of God. The penalty of unbelief is death and condemnation—and that penalty begins to fall on men when, in consequence of their unbelief, their foolish heart is darkened, their intellect loses the power to perceive spiritual ob-jects—and the god of this world blinds their mental vision. Ah, my Hearers, how anxious Satan is to secure your destruc-tion, since, rather than that you should see the saving Light of God, he takes the trouble to blind your eyes! God grant that no man here may die under this dreadful deprivation of Light which is caused by Satanic influence upon the minds of men who have not believed in Jesus!

Remember that this blindness to spiritual things is quite consistent with much sharpness as to natural things. A man may be a very keen politician. He may be a first-rate man of business. He may be an eminent scientist, a profound thinker and, yet, he may be blinded as to spiritual Truths of God. How often is it true, “You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes”! As an old writer says, “Poor, ignorant men often find the door to Heaven and enter in, while the learned are looking for the latch.” Yes, a man may have clear eyes for worldly things. He may be very keen as to his insight into the problems of life and, yet, the god of this world may have blinded his eyes! Continue reading

Evil Came Down From The Lord

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Don Fortner

Evil Came Down From The Lord Audio sermon:


Sermon notes :

Let’s begin tonight by reading the 1st chapter of Micah’s prophecy together.

Micah 1:1-16 

The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof. And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot. Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls. For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem. Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust. Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing. For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem. O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee. Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel. Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.
(Micah 1:1-16 KJV)

UNIVERSAL MESSAGE

The singular object of Micah and of all prophecy was to prepare the way of the Lord. By the writings of His prophets the Lord God prepared His Church for the coming of Christ. Continue reading

Holding Fast The Faithful Word

preach-the-word

Don Fortner 

It is very easy and a very common thing to teach false, damning, heretical doctrine using only Bible terms. God’s servants faithfully expound the sense the Scriptures, giving out the message of God the Holy Spirit conveyed in the text from which they preach.

“Preach the Word!”

2 Timothy 4:2

Those who piously insist that we say exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less, prove themselves terribly hypocritical by the fact that they never follow the practice. Like heretical Campbellites, they refer us to a word, phrase, or statement in the Bible, and then explain their meaning in words totally contrary to that which God the Holy Spirit has stated in Holy Scripture.

Words are vehicles of communication. They express ideas. The ideas expressed by any use of words can only be determined by the context in which they are used. In preaching the gospel we interpret the ideas (the doctrine) conveyed in a passage in the light of its immediate context and in the light of the whole Volume of Divine Inspiration, and declare that doctrine honestly in the language of the people we address. When a man takes refuge in a pretense of using only the very words of Scripture, it is because he is either uncertain of the meaning of those words, or those words convey something he wishes to hide.

     “Holding fast the faithful Word,” as we have been taught by God the Holy Spirit, let every faithful gospel preacher boldly and confidently expound exactly what God says in the Bible, no more and no less,by sound doctrine,” “for there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” I say with Paul, to all who are responsible to proclaim the gospel of Christ, “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine,” for the time has come when men “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” — Brethren, “PREACH THE WORD!

How Continue reading

Grace or Works ?

Grace or Works

By Donald S. Fortner

CULTS, SECTS, AND DOGMATISM

Acts 28:22

            When men cannot refute our doctrine, or choose not to pay the price of being decidedly committed to the message of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, their only weapon is slander. One of the surest ways to raise suspicions about a preacher, a church, or a religious group is to refer to it as a “sect,” or a “cult.” That immediately congers up images of horror. This has been one of Satan’s ploys since the beginning. When the Jews came to visit Paul in prison, they said, “Concerning this sect, we know that it is every where spoken against.” Do not allow such slanders to scare you or make you feel uneasy in standing firm against the tide of human opinion. Let men call me sectarian, cultic, and dogmatic, or scandalize my name if they must. I rejoice to walk in the company of a great multitude, though scandalized and always in the minority in their day. Yet, I am not, in the least, daunted by the fear of standing alone against all the opinions of men. Here are three things I affirm with every fiber of my being. They are not rash, youthful, novice opinions, but the deliberate statements of thoughtful judgment and consideration. Continue reading

Christmas and the gift of election

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Every child of God is the object of eternal love without beginning and without end. This is one of the fat things full of marrow. Is it so, that I, a believer in Jesus, unworthy as I am, am the object of the eternal love of God? What transport lies in that thought! Long before the Lord began to create the world, he had thought of me. Long ere Adam fell or Christ was born, and the angels sung their first choral over Bethlehem’s miracle, the eye and the heart of God were towards his elect people. He never began to love them, they were always “a people near unto him.” Is it not so written, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee”? Some kick at the doctrine of election, but they are ill advised, since they labour to overturn one of the noblest dishes of the feast; they would dam up one of the coolest streams that flow from Lebanon; they would cover over with rubbish one of the richest veins of golden ore that make rich the people of God. Continue reading

Should believers celebrate Christmas?

Read Romans 14:1-23

No one knows the day of our Lord’s incarnation. The Holy Spirit did not reveal it to us. And, as believers, we must not be brought into a bondage observance of any day. We must not honor one day above another. We do not observe holy days and sabbath days of any kind. To be sure, the world’s observance of Christmas has little, if anything, to do with the worship and honor of Christ. For these reasons, and many others, some of the Lord’s people conscientiously choose not to join in any form of Christmas celebration. I respect their opinions and convictions – I must, because I once shared them. While we must not look upon those who differ with us in scorn or contempt (Rom. 14:1-5), I believe it is best for us wisely to use this season of the year.

At this season of the year people everywhere are reminded of the fact that Jesus Christ lived and died in this world. Above all else, I have chosen to celebrate Christmas, because it gives me an open door for preaching the gospel for the honor of Christ and the salvation of men.

Another motive for celebrating this season of the year is the fact that it is a time of giving. It does my heart good to see men and women engaged in seeking the happiness of other people. Such a spirit should be encouraged and nourished, not dampened and reprimanded.

And Christmas is a time for the family. More so than at any other season of the year, families try to get together for Christmas. All the children come home with all their children. It is truly a happy time. I am for anything that promotes such family feelings.

Yes, I think that it is best for us to celebrate Christmas, not as a religious holy day, but for the remembrance of that blessed event when the Son of God assumed our nature, that he might live and die as our Substitute and accomplish our eternal redemption. December 25 is nothing to us. But Immanuel is everything to us. We will magnify our Lord, our Savior, our King for his birth!

 Don Fortner

http://www.donfortner.com/html_firm/Grace%20For%20Today.htm

Six Ways Satan Is Stealing Christmas

John MacArthur – Grace to You

Selected Scriptures December 21, 2009

Six Ways Satan is Stealing ChristmasThe majority of people in the world will miss the next Christmas. But how can that be? How can anyone miss Christmas, given the amount of advertising, publicity, and promotion the holiday receives each year? Because although many celebrate Christmas every year, most don’t know what it’s about. In spite of all the media promotion of Christmas, the majority of people will miss it because it has become so obscured.

For those of us who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, Christmas is a time to focus on His birth. But even we can get caught up in the swirl of activity around Christmastime and can miss it in a practical sense. Satan has so cluttered the Christian concept of Christmas with such needless paraphernalia that its true meaning is easily lost.

A Brief History of Christmas

Most scholars doubt that December 25 th is the true date of Christ’s birth. There is no biblical support for it, and some against it. That date was decided upon by the church in Rome in the fourth century. They had a specific reason for doing so.

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John Calvin’s , Christmas Observance

By Bob Vincent

Many people who profess to be Calvinists are surprised to learn that while John Calvin was opposed to the bad things that have sometimes come to be associated with Christmas, he wasn’t against keeping the holiday as a celebration of the birth of Christ and saw it as a matter of liberty for the churches and the individual.

We can gain insight into Calvin’s views by reading two letters, one written on January 2, 1551; the other in March of 1555.  The relevant portions are below, followed by the full contents of both letters.  One may observe that Calvin’s understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship is not so much focused on the kind of uniform, narrowly limited kind of worship that came to be the legacy of Puritanism, but on protecting the liberty of local congregations and individuals.  One must never forget that liberty of conscience, under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking in the Scripture, is a fundamental of fundamentals for John Calvin.

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The Truth of the Nativity

John MacArthur – Grace to You

The story of the first Christmas is so beloved that singers and storytellers across the centuries have embellished and elaborated and mythologized the story in celebration. However, most people now don’t know which details are biblical and which are fabricated. People usually imagine the manger scene with snow, singing angels, many worshipers, and a little drummer boy. None of that is found in the biblical account.

Christmas has become the product of an odd mixture of pagan ideas, superstition, fanciful legends, and plain ignorance. Add to that the commercialization of Christmas by marketers and the politicization of Christmas in the culture wars, and you’re left with one big mess. Let’s try to sort it out. The place to begin is in God’s Word, the Bible. Here we find not only the source of the original account of Christmas, but also God’s commentary on it.

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Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told

From – Truth for Today  ~  A Daily Touch of God’s Grace , by John MacArthur

~ 25 December ~ Devotional ~

Why was Jesus Born?

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve , and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear.

Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it – for Jesus’ death , though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact , it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished.

~John MacArthur~

This Devotional book available here

Christmas is coming! Quite so—but what is “Christmas?”

Xmas

by A. W. Pink

“Thus says the Lord—Do not learn the way of the heathen…for the CUSTOMS of the people are vain.” Jeremiah 10:1-3

Christmas is coming! Quite so—but what is “Christmas?” Does not the very term itself denote it’s source— “Christ-mass.” Thus it is of Roman origin, brought over from paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior’s birth. It is? And WHO authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth. Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born? The Bible is silent thereon. It is without reason that the only “birthday” commemorations mentioned in God’s Word are Pharaoh’s (Gen. 40:20) and Herod’s (Matt. 14:6)? Is this recorded “for our learning?” If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?

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POLL: Celebrating Christmas in the traditional way on December 25 is…?

Grant Swart

Another year is coming to an end, and for me personally, another dreaded “festive” season is fast closing in. As a child, Christmas time was by far my favourite part of the year; school holidays, presents, friends, feasting and families. Even while our children were growing up and lived at our home, Christmas always had a very special place in our calendar, for all the traditional reasons and some of our own.

Those comforting, warm (Southern hemisphere) and fuzzy days of simple togetherness and caring have long gone and have been replaced with over-priced consumer goods, mad shopping frenzies, enormous traffic congestion, escalating crime rates and death on the roads. It is all very sad. Quite frankly, I would probably be safer, more comfortable and my normality would be less disrupted if I found myself evangelizing on some Far-Eastern quiet Bhuddist island on December 25 this year.

As the years have passed, the “festive” or holiday season, which includes Christmas time, has become a commercialized farce, along with other similar festivals such as Mothers Day and Valentines Day. The original meaning and “reason for the season” has been replaced with lavish parties, extreme festivities, entertainment and expensive gifts. No longer is it “the thought that counts”, rather the value of the gift which apparently demonstrates the level of affection one has for the recipient. Rarely is the birth of our Saviour brought into the picture on Christmas, except in some churches and, of course those are quite empty over the holidays.  Almost half of the congregation has gone to the beaches and leisure resorts of the world and the other half are in the shopping malls. The vast majority of children in the world will never know the true meaning of Christmas or experience the love which can surround the day.

Additionally there is a war being waged on the traditional Christmas by the secular world, atheists and falsely religious. “Merry Christmas” is being replaced with “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. This, of course, is being done in an attempt to promote a religiously tolerant society and an acceptance of a secular world religion. The battle for your bucks in the countdown of shopping days to Christmas has also become a major spiritual battle.

That brings me back to the controversial issue among many Christians, which is the celebrating of Christmas in the traditional way. The debate as to whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas on December 25, or any other date for that matter, has been raging for centuries. There are sincere Christians on either side of the debate, and many reasons as to why or why not Christmas should be celebrated by Christians.

One argument against Christmas is that the traditions have origins in paganism. Another argument is that the Bible forbids Christmas trees, and the passage in Jeremiah 10:1-16 is cited as biblical disapproval, even though that passage has no relevance to Christmas or Christians. Some regard the fact that the Bible gives no indication as to the birth date of Jesus as reason enough not to celebrate the day on December 25.  Others, on the other hand, regard the fact that the Bible is silent on the issue as tacit approval by God over the celebration issue.  Some say that because the world celebrates Christmas, Christians should avoid it. And so, on and on the arguments pro- and anti-Christmas are cited.

As in all things we should prayerfully seek guidance over the matter of Christmas, particularly if it is a divisive issue for the Christian family. Please tell us what you think about Christmas in our poll below.

God bless all those who, like myself, will be ever so slightly traumatized by the upcoming rush toward the end of the year and the fake celebrations of a Christ-less Christmas, and God also bless those who will enjoy every moment of celebrating the birth of our Saviour on December 25.

Particularly, I pray for God’s blessing on those who will not have a morsel of food, a drop of water or who will have to fight for their very life on the day that the rest of the world goes shopping and tolerates spoilt grandchildren demanding more expensive toys.

- Grant

 

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