Ministers of Jesus Christ
Church of The Lord Jesus Christ
Assemblies of The Apostolic Faith
Atlanta, Georgia - USA
Apostle Dennis G. Smith, Pastor and Spiritual Overseer

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Date: December 13, 2020

To all the Saints of God,

     Grace and peace be unto all the Saints of God around the World.  As this Coronavirus Pandemic continues, we are continually reminding the Saints of God that we are obeying the magistrates and following the guideline of the health and governmental authorities for the safety of all people. 


     Health authorities and governmental officials continue to strongly encourage people to wear face coverings in public and use social distancing, wash your hands, and get tested to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.  In some places wearing face mask is mandatory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces. 

     As of November 25, 2020, the City of Atlanta, Georgia remains in Phase II of the Reopening Plan.   Georgia’s “shelter in place” orders have expired for the majority of Georgia businesses. However, statewide orders state that businesses must continue to operate with social distancing and sanitation rules to keep customers and employees safe. The Public Health State of Emergency remains in effect through December 9, 2020.  

     We are continuing limited in-person gatherings to maintain the requested social distancing and online service through Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube.  The “shelter in place” order has expired for Georgians over the age of 65 unless they are “medically fragile.  Baptism and prayer service is continuing using personal protective equipment.


     As we obey the Magistrates, we have complete faith that God will continue to hear our prayers and provide a way for us through these uncertain times.


Romans 13:2-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.


TITUS 3:1-2 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

This week’s encouraging words of growth focuses on:

The Celebration of Holidays (part 2)

By Apostle Dennis Smith


Luke 19:1 – 10   And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.  And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.  And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.  And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

     Zacchaeus of Jericho was a wealthy, chief tax collector who was also despised as a sinner and traitor for working for the Roman Empire, and not the benefit of the Jewish community.  In the eyes of the people, he was a sinner, so he confessed to the Lord Jesus Christ that he gave half of his goods to the poor and restored to anyone that he had done wrong by false accusation four times that which was taken and yet he was still despised because of his occupation as a tax collector for the Roman Empire.  Yet the Lord Jesus Christ chose his house to lodge in.  This should be a clear example of how to bless them that curse you and the real guidance of the Holy Spirit to save all that have been lost which may not be popular in the eyes of man.

      In understanding this scripture, you should also clearly see that any celebration or commemoration should emphasize the purpose of what is being memorialized.  When the celebration events deviate from the purpose, the celebration or spirit of the celebration is then false.  You cannot incorporate lies and fantasy into a celebration that brings to the memory for all mankind the need to turn from sin and be saved if you are seeking to deliver the truth. 


     Zacchaeus, who was also a descendant of Abraham a family member of the community was pressing to see Jesus even though he is considered a sinner and does not have the height in statue to be seen over the crowd or perhaps to even see over the crowd but in his determination, he climbs into a sycamore tree and is seen and called down by the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has to break through the obstacles of his height, the crowd, and his status as a tax collector in his effort to see the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and as a result becomes an example of the earthly mission of Jesus Christ to bring salvation to the lost and those despised by men.  This is the example that we sing about when we say, “I am not going to let nobody turn me around.”


     If the Catholic Holiday called Christmas is about the salvation of all men, then the world should have a Christmas Celebration every day of the year.  If the celebration is about uniting Christians elements of love and giving to those in need with pagan elements of false gods, sun worship, and the colors of witchcraft to create a world empire then it is not promoting the whole truth about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  This is the reason why you should plan you family gatherings with only the elements of Jesus Christ. 


     Usually, this period begins near the start of November and ends with New Year's Day. Holiday season in the US corresponds to the period that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year's Eve. Some Christian countries consider the end of the festive season to be after the feast of Epiphany.


     Notice that Religious holidays are usually linked to the purpose of a belief system and faith. Christian holidays are defined as part of the liturgical year, the chief ones being Christmas and Easter in memory of the birth and death of Jesus Christ in the flesh for the salvation of all mankind.

  Some Christians annually commemorate death of Christ on the cross as payment for the sins of all believers, but do not celebrate other holidays with any religious significance such as Easter, Christmas, or New Year's by name of a day especially true for those holidays that have combined and absorbed pagan rituals, false and lying overtones, and practices from non-Christian beliefs into the celebration.


     Christmas traditions like decorating trees and decorating colors (green, red, and white) have very similar ideas to Wicca, which is witchcraft (a modern Pagan belief) or Yuletide celebrated by the pagans about December 21- 22, the winter solstice considered by pagans to be the birthday or rebirth of the sun.


     The Jewish holiday or the Spring Feasts of Pesach or Passover in the Bible, commemorates the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egyptian slavery, when God "passed over" the houses of the Israelites during the last of the ten plagues.  From these examples you can clearly see how some have tried to unite paganism with biblical truth.  You must always put away and not observe any actions that is not following truth. Notice that we are not speaking of a day but the actions or conduct of each person happening on the particular day and whether or not the celebration event is true or false.


Ephesians 4:25 - 29 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:  Neither give place to the devil.  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.


We continue with a Message from Apostle S. McDowell Shelton ….Is This What The Birth Of Christ Is All About………




By Bishop S. McDowell Shelton


"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6 - 7)


     To the officials of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, saints and friends—this is Bishop S. McDowell Shelton coming to you from Apostolic Square at 22nd and Bainbridge Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  We are coming to tell and forewarn those who are engaging in so much activity—with the purchasing of gifts, and shopping for the various decorative ornaments—that they are preparing for something that does not please God, and forcing upon Him something He did not ask for.  The Scripture lets us know that — “…in vain do they worship me …” (Mark 7: 7); indeed, they worship Him in vain. 

     Most people, from the very beginning, are just not that naive to believe that God is really in this winter holiday called "Christmas", with all its riotous festivity and ungodly celebration.  And thus, when making out their Christmas list or gift list, they have no intentions, whatsoever of doing anything for God. This is the hypocrisy of it all! They call it Christ's birthday and, yet Christ does not benefit from it at all—in word or deed.  If you were to look over most people's lists, you would see that God is not once mentioned.  And even if they did write Him on their lists, he still would not be on It.


“ . . this people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7)


     Now, if God had declared and decreed that mankind could only be saved by commemorating His birthday: by spreading it abroad that He was born on the 25th day of December, and keeping that day holy—no one would be interested in it. They would not be concerned at all.  But fact is there is no record or place in the Holy Scriptures which states the birthdate of Jesus Christ in the flesh.  And of course, if you had the revelation that He is God Almighty you would readily understand why there is no emphasis on His natural conception.  Because He is the first and the last, the beginning and the ending—He that was and He that is and He that shall be (see Rev. 1:8, 11), you could not localize or confine Him to a birthdate anyhow.


     "Birthday" implies day of birth or bringing forth.  It is not possible to confine the Lord God of heaven and earth, whose existence is more timeless than all the ages, to a specific point or day of origin.  When confronted by the Jews who sought to waylay Him and catch something from His mouth, He told them—"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.  Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am?' (John 8:56 - 58)   And when one of His disciples asked Him about the Father, He replied— “... he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)   So, how are you going to affix a birthdate to someone like that, who transcends time itself?  The flesh part of God—that human body which was born of a virgin by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost—was not the important constituent or part of God which we were to commemorate and revere.  This flesh was only temporary, and was destined to die on the cross for the redemption of humanity. It was going to be offered as a sacrifice and was not going to last forever.  But it was the spiritual part—that eternal Spirit—which was going to live for evermore. Therefore, when He came to tabernacle with men in the flesh, He did not magnify or glorify the birth of His natural body. 

     If you really knew why He came, you would see that Christmas, with all its festivities and carefree joy and happiness, is nothing but vanity and vexation of the spirit. Christ came here to die. To this end was He born and to this end came He into the world: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth."(John 18:37)

     The Lord of glory came here to die, and you mean to tell us you are going to party and indulge in other vain frivolities? The world is so out of tune and out of touch with the true profundity and reality of the birth of Christ. They get drunk and carouse at the coming of one whose sole purpose, sole objective was to die and be offered as a blameless sacrifice.  If anything at all, it should be a time of sorrow and great remorse.


  "Surely he hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded. for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)

     When He came into the world, evidently there was no room for Him in the inn.  And in most places, in most hearts—there still is no room for Him. Because there was no room for Him in the inn, He ended up being laid in a manger.  So please tell us, what is all the festivity about?  Though Christ profiteth not (and yet, you label it His birthday), one thing that does profit and flourish is the economy.  It is the businessmen who love Christmas. It is those who receive the gifts who love Christmas.  But God has never said He loved it.  God has never said it was of Him. 

"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written. This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7)

     When God dwelt here on the earth in His flesh, the people were so full' of traditions. They asked Him: "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.  But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (Matthew 15:2-3)  

And people are still like that today; they put all the emphasis on trivia. Here God Almighty came and was put to death in the flesh.  (We perceive the love of God because He laid down His life for us.)  He came here to offer up His life as a perfect sacrifice and to suffer much persecution for our sakes.

1John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

     And then, someone puts the emphasis on a big-bellied man dressed in a red suit and adorned with a red nose.  To make matters worse, they say this fatso comes down people's chimneys while they are asleep (one of those creepers, you know, who is supposed to slide down there during the night.) They put emphasis on this lie and fable, rather than on the grave meaning and profound implications of God's supreme sacrifice—His birth and death in the flesh.

     This mythical lie is adapted to which every society.  In the warmer countries, particularly the islands, you will see little statutes of him on water skis with water dolphins pulling him.  Of course, most of the children in the tropical area have never seen snow or even heard of the North Pole, so it would be quite unrealistic to talk about him coming on a sled and snow.  But in the cold northern countries, he comes from the North Pole with sled and reindeer.


     As was afore stated, this fable is accommodated to whatever society that will receive it and, thus, perpetuate it.  Emphasis is placed on mistletoe, holly. Christmas trees, candy canes if you please, and stockings.  But we ask you, is this what the birth of Christ is all about?  Is this what He was born for and died for?  Stockings and candy canes and lollypops'?  We asked you a question, and we would like to have an answer.  

     When you hear people talking about Christmas, they mention all the trivia and concern themselves with all the exterior.  They reminisce about their fond childhood Christmas memories and all those other things which have no lasting value.  Rarely—indeed, rarely will they even mention Christ, and when they do try to make it or declare it to be His birthday, they just mention it briefly and go on to the next topic.  Now you know, people are really taking a lot for granted and being self-willed when they just give you a birthday, whether you want one or not.  God did not ask them for this birthdate, yet they imposed December the 25th on Him anyhow.


     You would think that, since this so-called birthday of Christ has been changed so many times throughout the history of mankind, the zeal and enthusiasm of the people would have subsided by now.  But no! They are as persistent as ever in assigning "He who is infinite" (without limit), a birthdate of finite character.  The birthdate of our Lord is nowhere sanctioned in the Holy Scriptures, neither does the Scriptures state it.  But, regardless of this fact, regardless of the inerrancy of the Word of God, they (the people) still insist that Jesus Christ was born on the 25th day of December.  

     God is not asking for a birthday or a birthday celebration, neither is He concerned about lollipops and candy canes or all the Christmas stencils and bright lights.  But He is requesting, yea, pleading that you "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11 :28) The voice of the Lord is saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)


     You are so concerned about His natural conception, but will you do that which He is actually requesting?   Will you consent to be born again of the water and Spirit according to Acts 2:38?


"This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me ... " (Mark 7:7)


     During the Christmas season, you will find drunks with bottles in their hands coming down the streets singing, "Silent Night. Holy Night' '—now what is that?  When people give gifts to relatives, friends, or just people on the job, they generally select those who can give them one in return.  And if they do not receive a gift in return, you do not have to worry about receiving another one from them for many years to come.  After the excitement and fanfare has died down and the holidays have past, if you were hungry and asked these same individuals for some money to buy a sandwich, you probably could not get a dime out of them.  But oh my, how their hearts are so open during Christmas.  They will say, "Yes, this is the time for giving." We wonder, however, how many would obey the Scripture and actually feed their enemy if their enemy hungered, even during this season, which is supposed to be the season for giving?


".... in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7)

     That is exactly what they teach—the commandments of men for doctrine.  They teach all these strange doctrines and vain philosophies of men, and when it came to Christmas, they made no exceptions.  They fabricated all manner of lies and fables to embellish it, and added new fables to the so-called "Christmas Story" as the centuries rolled on: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."      (II Timothy 4:3-4)

     This winter festival, which got its popularity mainly under the Roman Empire, has no actual affinity with the birth of the Lord Jesus, The sun worshippers at Rome, whose ultimate aim was sensual pleasure and joy, often conducted ceremonies or rituals venerating the sun called "Brumaia" during this time of the year (December 17 to the 24th).  It was a celebration of the shortest day in the year and the new sun or the beginning of the lengthening days.


     Another sect that popularized the 25th day of December were the followers of Mithras—a Persian denomination within the Roman Empire who gave each other gifts on this day.  In comparison to the more intemperate sun worshippers, the followers of Mithras were of a quiet and somber disposition.  The sun worshippers, however, seemed to have triumphed over the influence of the Mithraists (with the exception of their gift giving, which prevailed nonetheless) and dominated this winter festival with their carnal merriment, because this festivity spread throughout the Roman Empire.

     Gradually, this winter celebration was even absorbed or assimilated in most of the practices of the various countries that branched from or became separate Empires from the old Roman Empire.  But Jesus had nothing to do with this at all.   Neither did Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.  The ultimate elevation of December 25th as Christ's birthday came about when the Bishop at Rome of the Roman Church (because God's Church started at Jerusalem—see book of Acts) attained ascendency (power) over the entire Roman Empire, due to the seat of political power being at Rome. It was during this time it was finally decreed throughout the Empire that on this day a special high mass would be said in honor of Christ's birthday. Thus, we get “Christmas"; or a mass for Christ (Christ-mass).


      It should be remembered that Constantine, the pagan Emperor of Rome, also played a significant role in combining this pagan influence of December 25th with the birth of Christ.  Before he was converted to the so-called Church, he was a member of this same sun worshippers' cult in Rome.  Thus, when he declared himself ruler of the Roman Empire and the Roman (Catholic) Church, he did everything in his power to unite his pagan and so-called Christian subjects.  In effect, the birth of Jesus was united with the celebration of the sun.  

     How can anything be right that inspires thieves to rob and mug other people in celebration of it?   During this time of the year, you have a drastic increase in stealing, shoplifting, and pickpocketing.  To avert this crime wave, most stores find it necessary to hire extra guards.  You ask someone, "Say, what are you going to do. Shoplift for Christ's birthday?"  Oh, my!  How pathetic.  They are going to steal a pair of hot-pants or whatever to celebrate the birthday of Christ.


     No wonder the Scripture says, “you hypocrites . . ."  Jesus Christ, who is God Almighty, said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)   But they lay that aside and "…hold the traditions of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things . ..” (Mark 7:8)   Gladly do they indulge in kissing under the mistletoe and drinking spiked egg-nog, for they love these customs, these traditions.  And while they may not wash pots as in the days of old, they will certainly smoke some pot. 

     We had previously asked you, is this what the birth of Christ is all about?  Is this the way to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ?  "And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7:9)  You claim that December 25th is the birthdate of Christ—the Lord's day, but us examine a certain "day of the Lord" in the Holy Scriptures:

"Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.  As if a man did flee from a lion and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?" (Amos 5:18-20)   


     It said the day of the Lord was darkness, even very dark—a day with no brightness in it.  But you have tried to make it bright; you have added light therein. You hung out your various Christmas lights and decked your Christmas tree with the shiniest tinsel and most brilliant multi-colored Christmas bulbs you could find.  Your objective was “the brighter the better, the more lights the merrier.”  But "darkness and not light," warns the Word of God concerning this day; the day of the Lord is surely darkness.


"I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols." (Amos 5:21-23)


     This is what God thinks about these feast days which He has not ordained. You are singing some kind of "Joy to the World", but God is saying, "I hate . . ."; "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs . . .".  To your so-called religious midnight services or masses He is declaring, I despise…I will not smell in your solemn assemblies:"


If you want to do that which can be found in the Bible and is pleasing in the sight of God, come and be baptized in water according to Acts 2:38 — "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Now this is a commandment of God which can be found in the Scriptures.  Christmas, or that Christ was born on the 25th day of December, is not confirmed in the Scriptures. 

     So remember, when you indulge in such pagan festivities and vain celebration, God is saying, "In vain do you worship

me." "I hate, I despise your feast days."  And when you try to proclaim this day to be His birthday, He is condemning it as a commandment of men.


     We invite you to come and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. (See John 4:23)   Come to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and be born again of the water and Spirit by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you and eternally hold you in the center of his will, may he open your understanding that you will come to know that you must repent of your sins and be baptized by immersion in water in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, then continue in prayer, tarrying until you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with the sign following speaking with other tongues as the spirit gives you utterances.  Then you must leave the principles of the doctrine and go on to perfection overcoming the love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life and continue steadfastly in the Apostle’s Doctrine remembering always that he that endures until the End, the same shall be saved.  In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who is God Almighty. Amen

With perfect love,
Apostle Dennis G. Smith


Present Guidelines for Individuals and Businesses in Phase 2:

·        Stay home except for essential trips

·        Wear face coverings in public

·        Frequent hand washing

·        Social distancing followed and enforced where practical

·        Small private gatherings of no more than 10 people, with social distancing

·        To-go and delivery orders from restaurants

·        Continue practicing teleworking

·        Frequent cleaning of public and high touch areas


 Social Distancing guidelines:

When to Wear a Mask:

Those who are staying home and have no close contact with people who are infected with COIVID-19 do not need a mask most of the time. However, wearing a nonmedical or homemade mask may be helpful in certain situations or for certain populations. Wear a Mask when:

Because homemade masks protect everyone else from the droplets created by the wearer, it is important that as many people as possible wear these masks when leaving their homes. This helps prevent those who may be infectious but are only mildly symptomatic or not symptomatic from spreading the virus to others in the community.

Everyone should remember the phrase: “My mask protects you; your mask protects me.” By increasing the overall number of people who are containing their coughs, sneezes, and other droplets, it will help us control the overall spread of the virus.