This Advent, some of us dwell in relative safety and plenty. Others persevere amid wars and rumors of wars. Still others keep the faith in the face of persecution from states, neighbors, even family members. Despite our differing circumstances, the worldwide Body of Christ joins in heart and spirit to celebrate Emmanuel, our God who is with us.
Over the next few weeks, Christian leaders from four continents will offer Scripture meditations and share about Christmas customs in their homelands. We hope this devotional series will encourage you as we celebrate the Lord’s first coming and anticipate his next. This week, Raymond Ayayee in Ghana reminds us that Jesus is the reason for this season.
The Republic of Ghana has long enjoyed political stability, religious tolerance, and peace among its diverse population of 32 million. Among Ghana’s multiethnic and multilinguistic people, around 71% identify as Christians and 20% as Muslims, while 3% exclusively practice folk religions. Currently, Ghana faces economic crisis amid surging inflation (nearly 40%), weak government finances, and alarming depreciation of its local currency (cedi).
Raymond is pursuing a PhD in Theology at Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture in Ghana. His research focuses on holistic discipleship and missions. Raymond will assess the legacy of parachurch organizations in Ghana and identify effective models for promoting spiritual and sociocultural transformation in African contexts.
Since 2003, Raymond has worked with the Great Commission Movement of Ghana, a ministry of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ International), and currently serves as the National Leader of Campus Ministries. Raymond and his wife Esther, who is also a missionary with Great Commission, live with their son Josh and daughter Aseye in Kumasi, Ghana.
Raymond shares the following devotional and prayer requests:
Christmas: The Reason for the Season
Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet, many other activities also characterize this season.
For us in Ghana, children in the hinterland celebrate with bonfires, cantatas, and Christmas plays. Carol services are held in churches. Our homes, especially in the cities, are brightly and colorfully lit. Favorite Christmas songs and merrymaking are enjoyed. Families share special meals with dishes like jollof rice, fufu, and banku with tilapia. It is also a time of family reunions and fellowship for those who work far from home.
But why is Christmas really JOY TO THE WORLD?
Though not all people have the same definition of sin, everyone is conscious, to some extent, of evil, wrongdoing, misfortune, deterioration, and ultimately death. There must be something responsible for all the disharmony and death!
The Bible says:
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – so that they should live on forever and not see decay. […] But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. – Psalm 49:7-9;15
The above text and others like it are known to us through Hebrew prophecy. Through this special communication, we realize that only God Himself can save humanity eternally.
Hebrew prophecy also helps us to understand that the process of redeeming humanity and the rest of creation requires God to come in the flesh (Is. 9:6, 7:14). The process also requires atonement by death.
The reason is provided in the New Testament:
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. – Hebrews 2:14-16
The requirements of the redemption process have been made known to the spiritually discerning, even beyond the Jews (Mt. 2:1-2). Hence, many have anticipated the fulfillment of God’s promises. Humanity’s greatest expectation was fulfilled in the mystery of Deity dwelling in human flesh (Jn. 1:1, 14), on a mission to accomplish atonement by death.
The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of the mysterious requirements for redemption, thus calls for the most joyous celebration!
As we celebrate Christmas in Ghana and throughout the rest of the world, may the reason for this season overshadow all other traditions and purposes. The reason for the season is God’s salvation of the world!
Salvation requires believing that:
- God created and loves us.
- We have all sinned and fallen below the standards of God, and we cannot save ourselves.
- Only God can save us. God’s salvation for us is received through faith in Jesus, by believing who He is and what He has done to save us:
- Jesus is God (Jn. 1:1, 2; Is. 9:6, 7:14; Titus 2:13; Deut. 6:4; Jn. 8:24, 10:33).
- Jesus became flesh and was born sinless (Heb. 2:14-16; Jn. 1:14; 1 Jn. 4:2).
- Jesus died and resurrected to save anyone who believes in Him (Is. 52:14, 53:4,5; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Cor. 15:3-7).
- Jesus is the only one who can save us. By prayerfully accepting Him, we chose to obey God through Him (Jn. 14:6, 1 Tim. 2:5, Eph. 2: 8-9, 1 Jn. 5:11-13, Matt. 1:21, John 3:16-18).
Kindly pray for all people to have access to the saving knowledge of Christ. Consider sharing this message as a Christmas gift to as many people as possible.
Kindly pray for God to continue to preserve and provide for my family.
Ask for His intervention in my country’s current situation.
Ask for Him to make my research a blessing to the Church in my context and across the global community.
May the Lord also bless our financial and prayer partners.