Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"Christmas Season Joy" by Shane C. Montgomery

Sunday, December 11, 2011
    Christmas is the time of year when just about everybody becomes holy.  There is a great spirit of giving, a time of putting others before ourselves.  It is a wonderful time of year.  Many will go out of their way to provide for others less fortunate then themselves, putting in more hours at work to raise more money to purchase gifts for others and volunteering at shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals, the church and other ministries.  This is indeed the time of year when people put forward their very best, it is a time when we all become just a little more holy.  We hear people say, "Jesus is the reason for the season!" and rightly so.  We see more and more folks getting upset about when others use the dreaded abbreviation, "XMas" instead of "Christmas" and rightly so.  Even though most do not understand the "X" was the earliest known symbol for early Christians, as a way of marking themselves in secret so as to prevent persecution.  The Koine Greek letters "Chi and Rho" the first few letters in "Christ" were placed on top each other and that formed somewhat to look like a cross or an "X" depending on how it was written.  If you do not know Biblical Greek, you can easily find the alphabet on line by simply "Googling" it, and you can see the proper Greek symbol for those letters.

  Christmas is truly a great and wonderful time of year, where else do we see and hear so much about Christ outside the church?   We as believers are of course happy about this, this embracing of Jesus Christ by such a large portion of the world.  Even if they do not normally attend church, they will celebrate the birth of our Savior, and in this we are pleased, we often pray and hope for those we love who are not converted that a Christmas miracle will happen and those family members or friends might be saved and regenerated.  But usually within a few days of Christmas all that is behind most folks and these same people who were saying "Jesus is the reason for the season" are now planning their big New Years Eve party, complete with alcohol.

  We see this every year and we have come to expect it to be this way, those outside the Church embracing Christ for a short season and then returning to their old ways and their old sinful lives.

   Where do we go from here?  How about the Gospel of John chapter Three, verses 22-36?  What does these verses have to do with Christmas?   Or with non-believers?  Or even with believers?  Why and how would this bit of Scripture help us understand better?

    Let's take a look at what the apostle John testifies of:  "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet cast into prison. 25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."                                John 3:22-36 (KJV)

   The Jews, probably the very same Jews who questioned John the Baptist in chapter One, on Who he was and just what  did he think he was doing baptizing everyone anyway?    "And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."      John 1:19-27 (KJV)

  These same Jews from chapter One are again causing trouble, now they are trying to upset John and his disciples, they are trying to make them sin by envying what Jesus and His disciples now have, which is what they had prior to John witnessing about Jesus as the coming Christ.   You have to wonder how the Jews mind games worked on John's disciples?  But Scripture tells us that it did not work at all on John the Baptist, because he knew and understood what his role was!   He knew it was not about him but instead all about the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ!   So if Jesus is truly the God-Man, the Word made flesh and now dwelling among us in flesh and blood, then of course there is nothing to envy of, right?   John understood, revisit John
3:22-3 6 again and see for yourself.   See what John says, "......this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease."       John 3:29-30 (KJV)

  John knew that his true joy was in the simple fact that Jesus must now Increase, to take the center stage, to have His time now, John's time of fame was coming to an end, no longer would thousands flock to hear him preach and to be baptized, no more will others seek out his disciples, but now it will all be about Jesus Christ and this does not make John jealous at all.  He knows that if he is to have the joy that is to come in his life, it can only happen when He Decreases and Christ Increases!

   And that is the point, right there.  That is where so many stumble and miss out.  In order for our joy to be full, in order for us to be happy, and obey the most important commandment, "Love God and glorify Him, and love our neighbors as ourselves" (my translation)  Then we will never have joy.  See, if we obey God, we will have joy, and in order to do this, we must not stumble here, if we as believers do not step back, allow Christ to take His rightful place, let Christ be the center of our lives, in every way and at all times, and for us to step back out of the limelight and into the shadows of Christ, then there will be no joy, then there will be no means by which we can obey the Greatest Commandment, the one the Law and the Prophets point to.  Love God, glorify God, love your neighbor, care for each other, look after each other.   If we insist on keeping ourselves in the center, only living for self, only showing the world ourselves, our talents, our looks, our anything, and never showing the world Christ, then we will not just be without true joy, we are in fact yet unregenerate.   Just as the unbelieving Jews tried to get John and his disciples to sin by envy, so do the unconverted today stumble in sin, by keeping ourselves the center of our lives.  Until we humble ourselves as John did with the Jews, and as long as we show the world Christ and as long as we talk of Christ instead of ourselves, then we are truly living for Christ.   If you are Christian, and not just playing one, but if you are truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, if you repent unto God and put your complete faith and trust in Christ as Savior, then you will speak of Christ, you will show everyone Christ, you will have Christ in the center of your world, you will be humbled, and like John  the Baptist, you will say to those who ask, "My joy comes when Christ Increases and I Decrease"  because it is all about Jesus, not just at this time of year, this Christmas season, but all day, every day.  So when we say "Jesus is the reason for the season"  we better be showing it to be true in our lives, we better be showing that in the way we live and the way we love and treat others, not just those we love, but those who hate us.   Jesus is the reason, and for way more than just the Season, but for everything.

    My hope and prayer for you is that you deer reader, humble yourself as John did, knowing in your heart that true joy comes when you are less you and more Christ!

May the Grace of God
and the Peace of our
Lord Jesus Christ
be with you all!

Shane C. Montgomery


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