Happy Holidays?

by Martha on December 4, 2017

It’s that time of year again–the Holidays. For most children in the United States, the holidays are a time of excitement and anticipation. There are some children, though, in every part of the world, who dread the coming of the holidays. These are the children of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Many people know that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas. They actually don’t celebrate any of the holidays, religious or governmental, or even birthdays. The Watchtower tells them that all holidays, except the celebration of the Lord’s death, are pagan holidays. (See Colossians 2:16-17 for the biblical view.)

As a child growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I would tell people I couldn’t miss what I never had, whenever they were insensitive enough to ask me if I missed celebrating Christmas. I didn’t mean it; I was just parroting what my parents told me.

I did miss having Christmas. I missed the joy that it seemed to bring to the people with whom I went to school and in my neighborhood. Deep down I missed it all. But I never truly felt the loss until I finally experienced Christmas for myself.

This feeling of missing Christmas happened to me today.

My seven-year-old granddaughter Megan, who until last year was being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, came down to visit. About a month before Christmas last year, her parents decided that they would let the kids celebrate Christmas. It was quite crazy around here, but we managed to have a very Merry Christmas last year.

So today, when Megan came in the house, I asked her if she wanted to watch a Christmas movie with me. She told me that they had watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas already, but that she would be happy to watch it again, so we did. After she left, I cried.

I cried tears of joy for being able to watch a Christmas movie with my grandchild. It was the first time. Such a silly little thing to most I imagine.

But I got to experience again that feeling of the first Christmas I had had at 19. It was something that I missed enjoying, but didn’t know how much until I did celebrate the birth of Christ. Now I am beginning to realize that there are a whole lot of other things I have missed doing with my grandchildren that I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy with them yet! I can’t wait to start!

So, if you see a little old lady acting giddy over the smallest of Christmas celebrations, just remember me. Some of us are getting to celebrate these little joys of Christmas for the very first time with these little people we love so much!

And if you know of a child who is a Jehovah’s Witness, please keep in mind that this child is programmed to not to want to celebrate Christmas. But that doesn’t mean that child doesn’t miss the joy of this season.

The joy of giving. Yes, it is better to give than to receive, but that doesn’t mean there is no joy in receiving, too. If you have one of these children in your sphere of influence, give them some little gift before or after December 25th, unwrapped or wrapped in plain wrapping paper. I guarantee this giving will bring you more Christmas joy than you can imagine, and you will be sharing it with a child who would otherwise never get the chance to feel this joy, …

…the joy of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Jesus, God’s Son who came to earth in the womb of the Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26-35)

He lived a sinless life (1 Peter 2:21-24) and then become the Perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29).

He gave His life and conquered death by His resurrection that we might experience the gift of salvation if we only believe in Him and receive His gift of eternal life.

Romans Road–follow it to life in Christ: Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 11:6; 4:5; 10:9; 10:13

 

 

 

 

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IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS

Job and Joseph

Part 2g, the final installment

From our previous Part 2f, we learned that God is connecting the pieces of our sufferings, whether we understand them or not, so that He can help us to reach our destiny; to have a deep intimate relationship with Him and to be used by Him so others can also have a deep intimate relationship with Him. And the reason God does not allow us to see all of the details that He is working out as He writes our story, is because He wants us to walk in faith, trusting Him completely.

I brought out two points earlier in Job’s story that I believe are very important to those reading this. The first was that in just moments, Job lost everything and everyone he knew and loved. As I studied the story of Job, this point brought back memories of all that I had personally lost.

In a blink of an eye, as I chose to stop going to the Kingdom Hall, I lost everyone I knew and loved. Everyone disowned me; family, friends… everyone. I suffered pain that I never imagined I ever would. I didn’t understand at the time why, but here I am now fourteen years later. God has taken my ashes and turned them to beauty as He pursued a relationship with me because He loves and desires me.

I know that there are many who have experienced this same pain. I know that pain is hard and you feel broken, empty, and alone. But don’t give up hope! God’s got you right where He wants you! He knows your heart, sees your tears, and feels your pain; just like He did mine. And no matter what you’ve been taught, NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM GOD’S LOVE!

“Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, or any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be be to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” –Romans 8:38, 39

The second point was that Job’s hedge of protection or covering was taken from him. I remember feeling great pain and fear, just like Job may have felt, as I walked out of the Watchtower organization. I thought that the only way to have a relationship with God was to be a part of an organization or religion. I was so wrong!

While in Job’s day, in Old Testament times, animals and livestock served as a provisional sacrifice to cover over human sins, they could not ultimately atone for humans. Instead, we needed Someone who knew no sin to stand in and take the punishment that is due to every human. Jesus stood in the place we rightly deserve to stand in, taking our punishment and shedding His precious and innocent blood to atone for us.

Hebrews 9:12 tells us: “He did not enter by means of blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”

God loved us so much and desired for us to be made right with Him that He provided His own sacrifice so that His own wrath could be removed from us. (John 3:16; Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) And now that Christ has died for our sins the ONLY requirement is to believe in Him as your Lord and Savior.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” –Romans 10:9

I emphasized that it’s not about religion. God never intended us to have a religion, but a deep and intimate relationship with him. I love this quote by Rick Warren: “God is love. He didn’t need us. But HE WANTED US. And that’s the most amazing thing.” God loves us so much that He actually pursues us, as Psalm 23:6 says: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…”

You may be at a place right now where you are empty and alone in your trials and sufferings, but God is working all things out in His providence, for His glory and your good. I believe He is pursuing you because He loves you with a deep, unconditional, everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3; Isaiah 54:10; Psalm 103:17; Romans 8:35-39) Don’t run away from Him in anger or fear.

You may feel broken and alone but you’re not. God will heal you to completeness and restore your wounds. He will turn your “ashes to beauty.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

He may have you placed as He did Joseph, to prepare you for helping other loved ones–family and friends, to come out of religious bondage and into His loving arms.

Or you may have Job’s story where He blesses you with family again; but this time with other Christians who may love you more then you could ever comprehend; without conditions just like God loves us.

Forgive those who have hurt you and give God your pain. Your sufferings are a privilege that God will use to prepare you for greater things and build your patience, faith and hope in Him as He brings you to your destiny through His providence! (Jeremiah 29:11; Zephaniah 3:17; 1 Peter 4:12-13; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5; Joel 2:25)

May the Lord God, Jehovah, and His Son Jesus Christ,

richly bless and keep you to the day of Jesus’s return in glory

and for all eternity with Him!

If you would like to read this blog series in its entirely, click here for the first installment.

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Part 2f

September 22, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS Job and Joseph Part 2f Not only did the LORD God restore Job, but he actually gave him a double portion as we learned in Part 2e. Job 42:12 says “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more then the first…” God didn’t restore him by bringing back […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 2e

September 15, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS Job and Joseph Part 2e From Part 2d, each of Job’s friends agree that his suffering is because of his own sin and that he is making things worse by not going to God in repentance. Their consolation turned into condemnation as Job rejected their reasoning and demanded a hearing with […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 2d

September 8, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS Job and Joseph Part 2d From Part 2c we found that in all his excruciating trials Job did not sin in what he said. Proverbs 15:1 says: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Of all the things Job could have said, even lashing […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 2c

September 1, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS Job and Joseph Part 2c From Part 2b we imagined the deep pain Job must have felt as the hedge of protection of his livestock, both a measure of his wealth and more importantly his means of atoning for sin, was stripped away from him. I wonder just how many […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 2b

August 25, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS Job and Joseph Part 2b From Part 2a we learn that in just moments Job is stripped away of his livestock and herdsman, his servants, his children and his home. Job 1:13-19 tells of how each of these were taken from him. Verses13-15 tell of a messenger who relayed the […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 2a

August 18, 2016

IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS Job and Joseph Part 2a In Parts 1a through 1e, we learned that Joseph knew and understood God’s sovereignty and providence. He trusted God no matter what he went through and in the end God worked everything out for His glory and Joseph’s faithfulness to the Lord was blessed. Joseph […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 1e

August 5, 2016

JOB & JOSEPH, Part 1e Faithful in Trials From last week: Throughout all of this Joseph chooses to trust God. He recognizes Gods providence and sovereignty in his situation. Never once does he curse God. Instead he puts his faith and trust in him knowing His ways are best, His ways are higher.  In Genesis chapter 42 Joseph is […]

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Disfellowshipped–Blessed by God’s Providence: Pt 1d

July 28, 2016

JOB & JOSEPH, Part 1d Faithful in Trials From Part 1c:  Can you imagine what must be going on in Joseph’s young head? His own family has betrayed and abandoned himand now he’s imprisoned for doing what is right. Sounds much like Job, “a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil,” now suffering […]

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