Christmas is here and I love this time of year. Like most of you I want to carve out time to sit and reflect and ponder the meaning of the season. Even if you can only take five minutes a day, please pause and meditate on the source of true joy. Look up the words of some Christmas hymns and worship songs and just read and think about the truths that are proclaimed in those words.
No matter what our culture may try to impose on us, the reason for the season is Jesus and the celebration of his arrival in human form on earth. Our world history is divided into B.C. and A.D. (Before Christ and Anno Domini – in the year of our Lord). The arrival of Christ on earth is the turning point in all of world history.
The arrival of Christ on earth is the turning point in all of world history.
Why is Christmas such a big deal? The coming of Jesus (God in human form) in our world was planned from the beginning of time. A traditional Christmas hymn proclaims the coming of the long-expected Jesus was reason to rejoice because he was “born to set his people free.” Another well-known Christmas carol, The First Noel, proclaims,
“Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord, Who hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with His blood mankind hath bought.”
In the beginning ….. God created the world from naught (that means nothing). Think about that; it is much more logical and believable to accept that God created all the beauty and symmetry and order and detailed intricacies of our world than it is to assume that somehow on accident or boom or bang it just happened.
God created all that is, including us. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s choices to disobey God, he even had a plan for that. Thus the world waited long for Jesus, the Messiah, and when he came to earth he provided freedom from sin to those who believed him. As the hymn above says, “with His blood mankind hath bought.”
The Messiah did not come as the people expected him to come, but he came as God designed, and he fulfilled all the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament during the centuries B.C. Jesus died on a cross to pay the price for our sins; if and when we accept his sacrifice, he frees us from the bondage of sin and fills us with purpose and joy and contentment and peace way beyond what things of the world can offer. He does not force his salvation on us but it is hard to believe that any would reject such a great gift.
I want to sing of this joy and encourage everyone I know to believe and receive. As one of the most well-known songs proclaims,
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.
He is King, whether we accept him or not, and the Bible assures us that one day “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord….” (Phil. 2:10-11)
At church yesterday our pastor reminded us that we belong to the largest organization in the world and that is the church. Followers of Jesus Christ in our world are literally the largest group that exists. Currently, in many countries of the world people are receiving the gospel and accepting Jesus’ gift of salvation as never before! Those of us in the USA may feel more and more under attack because we are Christians. Pressure to water down God’s word and to be tolerant as the culture defines tolerant is prevalent and even creeping into the church. But the power of the gospel is stronger; let’s don’t forget that!
Here at Christmas as we remember and celebrate the plan of God, I want to encourage you to trust God, obey his word, resist temptation to conform, and rejoice that Christ came. He did not have to die, but he willingly sacrificed his life for you and me. That is worth celebrating and Christmas is a great time to accept or renew commitment to him.
Love as Jesus loved; consider the needs and feelings of others; reach out and share kindness with someone you know who is struggling or is lonely. The joy that comes from Jesus living in your heart gives strength for hard circumstances and hope that is eternal. Share that strength and hope with the people God puts in your life.
In my Bible reading this week I came across this passage in Isaiah and it keeps resonating in my heart and mind. God’s word is relevant and alive and active. Hear this word from God: “The Lord is exalted for he dwells on high . . . and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge . . . .” Isaiah 33: 5-7
he will be the stability of your times
A great deal of my peace and contentment comes from knowing that it is in him we will find stability in this crazy old world!
In closing, read afresh the timeless words of truth from the hymn, He Lives:
“I serve a risen Savior; He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see his hand of mercy; I hear his voice of cheer. And just the time I need him he’s always near.
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart (aka give/provide).
You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.”
Amen, Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!