Volume. XXXVII, No. 26
Sunday, 25 December 2022

From the Pastor’s Heart: Christmas Day Thought

Let me share a story of my first Christmas in America.  I went to America to study with a small amount of money from my part time work.  I lived in a school dormitory where I shared a room with one roommate, whose name was Mark.  He and his parents were kind enough to invite me to join them for my first Christmas in their country.  During school holidays, all students were expected to leave the school, and I joined Mark happily.  He drove more than 12 hours to get to his house in Wisconsin.  It was cold, and the place had lots of snow.  His family took me to shopping malls and restaurants, and everything was very new to me.  His parents took me to a shop selling typewriters and asked my opinions of different brands.  They did not buy any then, and I casually checked them and came home.  On the night of Dec 26, they called me to their living room and gave me a brand-new typewriter, which was the one I recommended them to consider, if they were planning to buy one.  I did not even know that there was such a thing like “Boxing Day Sales.”  They paid only half of the original price we checked during our previous visit to the shop.  They waited to buy me a typewriter till Boxing Day.  I could not afford to buy one, and I used to go to the computer lab to do my class projects.  Their gift was something I had never expected from them, and it was a very thoughtful gift.  I was emotionally overwhelmed and burst into tears.  I was very thankful for their kindness (They were not rich people at all.  In fact, my friend’s mother was at home and his father worked as a cleaner at a local school.  Thus, their gift cost them a big portion of their savings) and showed me God’s grace (He knew my needs and provided a typewriter in His own way in His time). 


Coming back to Christmas, all begins with a story that God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  It was His mercy and love that sent His son for us.  John 3:16a says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son….” God saved us while we were yet sinners (we were truly unworthy: Rom 5:8), when we were still lost like lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7), and Jesus laid down His own life for us (John 10:11).  Ultimately, Jesus suffered and died for us to be delivered from eternal condemnations.  1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” We rejoice that Jesus was born in the flesh to be our Saviour, and we recognise that He was born to die.  We praise God for His wisdom by which He prepared a new way for our salvation through Jesus Christ.  Without the birth of Jesus, there is no redemption, salvation, resurrection…..  Christmas was an act of God’s giving His gift to His creatures, which is salvation.  God so loved us…. 


Giving is a huge part of Christmas spirit.  I also think that giving is a huge display of God’s salvation.  There is a passage in Matthew 25 talking about both giving and salvation (but it is not about salvation by work of “giving,” which I’ll not elaborate here).  Jesus gave His disciples a parable, a prophecy about what would happen at the final judgment.  25:31-33, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”  Sheep and goat grazed together during the daytime, but when the weather was cool they were divided at nightfall.  Shepherds often had to separate their sheep from their goats because goats tended to huddle together at night.  It must be a common practice that Jesus and His men were familiar with in those days.  When it comes to the time of nightfall on human history, there will be a separation between sheep (the saved) and goat (the unsaved), and this separation will be permanent. 


We must be interested in the sheep.  Who are they?  How are they identified with the sheep, not goats?  The answer is found in 25:34-40, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  The sheep are distinguished by their acts of giving – helping, being charitable and compassionate, sharing….


Then, who are the goats?  Matthew 25:41-46, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”


Jesus delivered this message to His disciples only three days before His betrayal.  He was, then, anticipating His suffering.  However, Jesus was looking beyond the suffering on the cross to the final judgment, as Ecclesiastes 12:14 explains, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”  The Day of Judgment will be full of surprises.  I like the words Philip Graham Ryken wrote in his book, City on a Hill, as follows: “Imagine how surprised the relativist will be when God applies an absolute moral standard to everything he ever did…and everything he decided not to do.  And imaging how surprised the narcissist will be to discover that he is not the center of the universe after all.  Judgment is coming, and my people will be surprised when it comes” (p. 150). 


Here is another surprise – the standard that Jesus will apply is an act of serving, helping, giving, being compassionate and merciful to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the sick.  As far as Jesus is concerned, whatever we do or do not do for the poor, needy, naked, and sick, we are doing or not doing for Him.  Jesus identifies Himself with all such people as described.  The sheep will be surprised by saying, “… Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?” (vv37b-38).  The goat will be equally surprised (v44).  See how important it is for the sheep to do something they could hardly even remember doing - showing mercy to seemingly insignificant others.  As for the goat, this statement goes backward.  The sheep will inherit the kingdom of God (v34), while goats will be destined to everlasting fire (v41).  Christmas is about “God’s giving of His Son” for “our Salvation.”


Can you see what you and I must think about on this Christmas day?  You judge.



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Wishing all Hopefuls a blessed Christmas.
  • Today’s offering collection will be designated for Dn Kevin. Please designate offerings as “Christmas”.
  • Christmas greetings from Rev Sun Sokha & family & Faith Krang Angkrang Church (Phnom Penh), Bro Ginno Paolo from House of Hope (Cebu) and Sis Ang Liang Phoa (Batam).
  • Watchnight Service this Sat @ 7.30pm.
  • Sanctuary Clean-up today: Choir.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Working Bee and helpers yesterday.
  • Journey mercies: those who have travelled.



  • Missions: Rev & Mrs Ken Olson (USA/Brazil); Sis Ang Liang Phoa & ministry & Christmas activities in Batam.
  • Healing: Rev Pong Sen Yiew (post-surgery) & those unwell.
  • Journey mercies: all those who are travelling.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041