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Gems Christmas Message

December 17, 2019

It is now one week out from Christmas. I have had several Gems readers write and ask if I would post my usual comparison between Santa and Jesus. Here it is again,  but I have added other more significant things to it.





Santa lives at the North Pole. 

JESUS is everywhere.


Santa rides in a sleigh. 

JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.


Santa comes but once a year. 

JESUS is our ever present help.


Santa fills your stockings with goodies. 

JESUS supplies all your needs.


Santa comes down your chimney uninvited. 

JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.


Santa lets you sit on his lap. 

JESUS lets you rest in His arms.


Santa says "You better not cry". 

JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."


Santa may make you chuckle. 

JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.


While Santa puts gifts under your tree. 

JESUS became our gift and He died on a tree. The cross!


Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?"

JESUS knew our name even before we were born. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future. He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.


All Santa can offer is "HO HO HO".

JESUS offers health, help and "hope."




Christmas is summed up with eight golden Bible words: 


The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” 

(John 1:14)


All of the Bible points toward this moment when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (That is what Christmas is all about.)

As Eugene Peterson in the Message translation put it: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.”


“Dwelt among us” is a deep and very significant word. Some versions have “tabernacled” among us. In the Message version Eugene Peterson translated it “moved into the neighbourhood”. I think if I wrote an English version of the Scriptures the Vail Version (VV) would read pitched His tent among us. This word is taken out of the tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles from the Old Testament and is the one used for them tabernacling in the fields. They built their lean to, their bivvy, their pondok and camped in the fields to celebrate the Lord's provision but also to await the coming of His Glory. The Coming of the Messiah. The Son of God / Son of Man come to earth. He dwelt among us. Why? So that we might see His glory. So that we might have Him near. He is the God who came near. Who came to show Himself. God became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood. 


It makes me think of when Tania and I came home to New Zealand from Indonesia one year and Riss and Josh’s house was too crowded for us to spread out on the lounge floor, especially so for a whole month. So we hired a caravan and made that our bedroom for the duration. Jaeden and Vaeh (the grandkids – Kyla had not yet been born) were so excited. They were busting themselves to come out the caravan each morning and bring story books and lie in bed with Gran and Poppa and snuggle. We were in the neighbourhood. We had pitched our “tent” in their front yard. Wow the excitement. 


Transfer that excitement to human kind in response to God coming close. We ought to be ecstatic but John said some of his creatures rejected him. (John 1:11) He came to his own [ta idia] his own creatures, the inaminate objects he created from dust but his [hoi idioi] his own people rejected him. Just imagine the moment. 


I used to think the significance of this golden verse was in the temporariness of the coming. Like the temporary dwellings in the fields during the Feast of Tabernacles. But NO, the significance and the excitement is in the availability of Creator God among us. WOOOOOOOW to that. The word John used for tabernacled is the word [eskenosen]. It is made up of the same three letters [SKN] found in the word Shekinah which signifies the Glory of the Presence. Like the Glory that came down on the Tent of Meeting when God met with Moses or the Glory that descended on the Temple when Solomon dedicated it. God is the God who comes near. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you and change your life forever!  


Stop rejecting Him and instead this Christmas open your life up to the work of His Spirit in you. Changing you from the inside out. Christmas and Easter are more than dates on a calendar; they mark the coming and going of the most influential man in human history – Jesus. The coming of Jesus is not just an historical event, it is a daily experience available to you.We need to put Christback in CHRISTmas! Why on earth would you substitute God’s gift of Jesus for a funny old man in a red suit? It makes no sense. By all means take a break over this Christmas - New Year period but don't let it be a break from the Bible or from God who is your ever present help in time of need. You need God’s Word like you need air. 


I am reminded of another Ian Story - a time of movement between Indonesia and New Zealand. This time going back the other way. JPCC had made a two or three month focused theme on Levelling Up. We had been in NZ for a month when we got back to Jakarta and our cell group. The leader asked everyone what they had done to level upover the holiday. Person after person responded in the same way. I haven’t heard Ps Jeffrey or Jose’s messages at JPCC over the holiday. I have been away.That comment was acceptable to the leader as being normal. When he came to me he said “I guess you and Tania are the same Ian. You have been away so you haven’t heard the messages and been levelling upeither.” 

I said, “Quite the contrary. I have been levelling upover the time we were away just as I would if I were here in Jakarta. I don't level upto Jeffrey or Jose’s sermons. Ilevel upto the Word of God. My levelling upis dependent on the Holy Spirit not Ps Jeffrey or Ps Jose and the Holy Spirit is always with me. I don't take a break from the Word of God.  


My advice to you is to kick out Santa this Christmas. He is unimportant. He will never teach you to level up or measure your life against the Truth of the Word of God. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are the only ones to Whom you have to level up. Don’t take a holiday from the Word of God.  




PS:- I am currently working on Ian Stories and finding them among the Gems. I highlight them in green, a carryover from our family label as MINT -  Marissa, Ian, Natalia and Tania. 



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