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Celebrate the holidays with love for everyone

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During this holiday season, Christians should place a huge focus on love. How can one celebrate such a special day as Christmas without love for his fellow man? God sent His Son into the world to save us from our sins. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV) Therefore, Jesus is love! He was born and died out of love for all mankind. I John 4:8 (ESV) says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Those who continue to celebrate Christmas with hate in their hearts truly do not understand the birth and death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. According to Luke 6:35, we must also love our enemies. If we take a few minutes just to assess the situation in our society today, we will find that we do not love as we should. Hate is a cancer that is continuing to grow all over the land, yet some who are guilty of such will say, “I have the love of Jesus in my heart.” Not so! Jesus was born in humble conditions of love: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 6:7 ESV). In II Chronicles 7:14 (KJV), we are plainly advised, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We must humble ourselves and love our fellow man because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us out of love. If the love of Jesus is truthfully in your heart as you celebrate His birth, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit someone in a healthcare facility with good cheer, contact a shelter to see what you can do to help women and children who are there, visit someone in jail or prison sharing the love of Jesus Christ, share His Word with an unbeliever, call someone with whom you have not spoken in a long time, offer to take a neighbor shopping, go to a nursing home and sing Christmas carols to the residents, and the list goes on. Jesus came to serve, not to be served, and that should be the same for us who proclaim His love. If we have the love of Jesus in our hearts, we must demonstrate it in our daily living. That will further show we know Him. I leave with you this week Melvin Newland’s story, “Recognizing Jesus.” Please read it with this thought in mind: “Jesus is Love”! “One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the old shoe cobbler who dreamed one Christmas Eve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true. “So the next morning he got up, went out, cut green boughs, decorated his little cobbler shop, and got all ready for Jesus to come and visit. He was so sure that Jesus was going to come that he just sat down and waited for Him. “The hours passed, and Jesus didn’t come. But an old man came. He came inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobbler talked with him, he noticed the holes in the old man’s shoes, so he reached up on the shelf and got him a new pair of shoes. He made sure they fit, that his socks were dry, and sent him on his way. “Still he waited. But Jesus didn’t come. An old woman came. A woman who hadn’t had a decent meal in two days. They sat and visited for a while, and then he prepared some food for her to eat. He gave her a nourishing meal and sent her on her way. “Then he sat down again to wait for Jesus. But Jesus still didn’t come. “Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of his shop. He went out and talked with the boy, discovered that the boy had been separated from his parents, and didn’t know how to get home. So he put on his coat, took the boy by the hand, and led him home. “When he came back to his little shoe shop, it was almost dark, and the streets were emptied of people. And then in a moment of despair, he lifted his voice to heaven and said, ‘Oh, Lord Jesus, why didn’t you come?’ “And then in a moment of silence, he seemed to hear a voice saying, ‘Oh, shoe cobbler, lift up your heart. I kept my word. Three times I knocked at your friendly door. Three times my shadow fell across your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave food to eat. I was the homeless boy on the street.’ “Jesus had come. The cobbler just didn’t realize it.” As you continue celebrating the Christmas season, remember that Jesus is love. Therefore, we must be about the love of Him and our fellow man. Have a wonderfully blessed Christmas, and never leave home without Him! (Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at abrightcolumn@lowcountry.com)

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