Christmas at a Frontier Pastors House- By a Pastors wife.

The Following story is not mine but borrowed. The author is unknown, and I trust it will help encourage your heart as it has done mine.

I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold, our salary had not been regularly paid, and it did not most our needs when it was.

My husband was away much or the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing, and at last none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re-patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

The people in the parish were kind and generous too; but the settlement was new, and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most my faith began to waiver. Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had leaned upon the promises in dark times, until I knew as David did, “who was my fortress and my deliverer.” Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer. My husband’s coat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral. Many times our breakfast was Indian cake (corn bread) and a cup of tea without sugar.

Christmas was coming: the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were craning a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

I new it seemed impossible, but oh I wanted to give each child its present. It seemed as if God had deserted us, but I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily. I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could. The morning before Christmas James was called to see a sick man.

I put a piece of bread for his lunch – it was the best I could do. I wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.

That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early for I could not bear their talk when Ruth went to bed, I listened to her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lively when she whispered to me, “you know I think they’ll be here early in the morning, mamma.” I sat down alone, and gave way to the bitterest tears.

Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings slipped off with them, and his feet were red with cold. I wouldn’t treat a dog that way let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face, and the look of despair, it flashed across to me – James had let go too. I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and to meet God, and tell Him his promises were not true; my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

There came a sound of bells, a quick stop, and a loud knock at the door. James sprang up to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark, I brought around as soon as I could get away. Reckon it might be for Christmas. At any rate I said they shall have it tonight. Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along, and these other things I believe belong to you.”

There was a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night he rode away. Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a red blanket, and then we saw that beneath it the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands, “I can’t touch them.” He exclaimed, “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering?” I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

“James”, I said clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask him together to forgive us.”

“Wait a moment dear I can’t talk now,” He said. Then he went into another room. I knelt down, and my heart broke. In an instant all the darkness, all the stubbornness rolled away. Jesus came again and stood before me, with the loving word, “daughter!”, sweat promises of tenderness and joy of soul. I was so lost in praise and gratitude that I forgot anything else. I don’t know how long it was before James came back, but he too had found peace. “Now my dear wife,” he said, “let us thank God together,” and he then poured out words of praise, Bible words: for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.

It was 11 o’clock, the fire was low and there was the great box, and nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles, and began to examine our treasure. We drew out an overcoat. I made James put it on; just the right size, and I danced around him. Then there was a cloak, and he insisted in seeing me in it. My spirits always affected him, and we both laughed like foolish children.

There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There was a dress for me, yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us. In mine was a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher, “thy shoes shall be iron and brass and as the days so shall thy strength be.” In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written, ” I the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not I will help thee.”

It was a wonderful box, and packed with thoughtful care. There was a suit of clothes for each of the boys, and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarves and hoods. Down in the center of the box was another box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll. I burst into tears again.

James wept with for joy. It was too much. We then both exclaimed again. Close behind it came two pair of skates. There were books for us to read, some of them I had wished to see, stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, thread and actually a muff, and an envelope containing a ten-dollar gold piece. At last we cried over everything we took up.

It was past midnight, and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea and cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire, how we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

You should have seen the children the next morning, the boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates. Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word then she went to her room and knelt by her bed. When she came back, she whispered to me, “I knew they would be there, Mamma, but I wanted to thank God just the same. We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the ice with all their might.

My husband and I tried to return thanks to the church in the east that sent us the box and have tried to give thanks to God everyday since. Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted Him, dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. Over and over again we have proved that “they that seek the Lord shall not want anything.”

* Just as the Lord supplied the Savior so many years ago He supplies today.

* We have been fooled into thinking that we have to have more and more to be happy. When we have so much that we have trouble being happy with our bounty.

* Maybe this story will help all of us to be a little more content with the things we often take for granted

Was Jesus Born in December?

By John Stormer

For too many years, pastors and teachers have said, “Of course we don’t know when Christ was actually born – but the time of year is not really important.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have taught that Christmas was “invented” in the fourth or fifth centuries. The supposed goal was giving a “Christian” facade or influence to the wild pagan or Satanic holiday observances during the winter solstice (the shortest days of the year).

What’s the real story? Is there any real evidence that Jesus Christ  was born at Christmas? A careful examination of a number of seemingly unrelated Bible passages gives clear indication that the Lord Jesus was indeed born at Christmas time. Such study will give new emphasis to what Christ came to do. It will also provide a much deeper appreciation of all  that is hidden in the Word of God which can be discovered by those who prayerfully search the scriptures.

Every word in the Bible is there because God put it there. He has a purpose for every one of His words. Therefore, seemingly casual listing of periods of time, genealogical references, etc. have significance which can be discovered through prayerful study.

In Luke Chapter 1, the Bible records seemingly unimportant details about what a priest named Zacharias was doing when an angel announced to him that he and his wife were to have a child. The child was to be John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible further records that the Lord Jesus was conceived in the sixth month after John the Baptist was conceived. Therefore, if the time of the conception of John the Baptist could be determined, the birth date of the Lord Jesus could be calculated.

The scriptures say : “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course… ” Luke 1:5,8.

At this point Zacharias demonstrated his amazing faithfulness to his duties as a priest. Even though he had been given the wonderful news by the angel that he and Elisabeth would have a son, Zacharias stayed in the temple until the days of his course were completed.

“And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months…” Luke 1:23-24.

The passage then describes how an angel came to Mary to announce that she was to be the virgin mother of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. The scripture says: “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary…” Luke 1:26-27.

“And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.” Luke 1:39-40

Contained within these quoted passages are scriptures which point to the exact time when Jesus was born. (Remember that God puts every word and every detail into the Bible exactly as He wants it and for a purpose.)

In Luke 1:5 and Luke 1:8, we are told that Zacharias was a priest of the course of Abia and that he fulfilled his priestly duties in the order of his course. To understand the importance of the course of Abia and its bearing on the date of John the Baptist’s conception, it is necessary to turn to 1Chronicles 24:1-10. This passage describes how a thousand years before Christ, King David established the courses for priestly service in the coming temple. Twenty-four courses were established and numbered by drawing lots – twelve courses for sanctuary service and twelve for the government of the house of God.

Members of each course would serve during a month starting with the Hebrew month of Nisan. (Because of the way the Hebrew calendar fluctuates, the month Nisan can start anytime between early March and early April.) The sons of Abijah (the Old Testament spelling for Abia) were in the eighth course. Priests of Abia like Zacharias would, therefore, have each ministered for some days during the eighth month which in some years because of the fluctuation in the Hebrew calendar started as early as the fifth day of our month of October. Zacharias would have returned home when his days of service were accomplished and John the Baptist could have been conceived sometime between October 15 and the end of the month.

After conception the scripture says that Elisabeth hid herself for five months. Then in the sixth month of her pregnancy (which, based on the above calculation, would have started about March 15 and continued until April 15) the angel announced to the Virgin Mary that the Lord Jesus would be conceived in her womb by the Holy Ghost. If this took place on or about April 1 a “normal” gestation period of 270 days would have then had the Lord Jesus due on or about December 25. How about that!

There are other scriptural and natural indicators that confirm that the Lord was born at Christmas time. In the account of His birth in Luke 2:8, we read: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”
My son-in-law, who has a degree in agriculture, after hearing the above presentation, told me, “Certainly, the Lord Jesus was born at Christmas. The only time shepherds spend the night in the fields with their sheep is during the time when the lambs are born. The ewes become ‘attractive’ to the rams in the month after June 21, the longest day of the year. The normal gestation period is five months so the ewes start lambing about mid-December.” He added: Isn’t it natural that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world would be born when all the other lambs are born?

This “coincidence” was too amazing for me to accept until I checked it out. A former teacher from the school where I am the administrator is married to a Montana sheep rancher. She confirmed what I had been told. She said, “Oh, yes! None of the men who have flocks are in church for weeks at Christmas. They have to be in the fields day and night to clean up and care for the lambs as soon as they are born or many would perish in the cold.”

Isn’t that neat? God’s Lamb, who was to die for the sins of the world, was born when all the other little lambs are born. Because He came and died the centuries old practice of sacrificing lambs for sin could end.

There is another neat confirmation that God had His Son born at Christmas. The days at the end of December are the shortest (and therefore the darkest days) of the year. Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the world.” So at the time of the year when the darkness is greatest, God the Father sent God the Son to be the Light of the world.

The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life and was therefore qualified to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind (which is death). He paid it all – but all do not benefit from the wondrous gift God bestowed on mankind at Christmas.

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:11-12

(John Stormer, pastor emeritus, Heritage Baptist Church, Florissant, Mo., from the Pensacola Christian College magazine, The ABeka, Winter 1996.) HT