Which is your favorite gift under the tree?
We all have that one gift. The one we have been eyeing that has our name on it. Be it big with a red bow, or small with sparkly paper, there is usually a single gift that stands out above the others. We don’t know why. It just speaks to us. Then the day comes when we open it and get to see what we have been dreaming of.
Jesus is the greatest gift from God. The only gift that came to us willingly and because He loves us. He’s not under a tree, He’s near our hearts, knocking and waiting for the door on them to be open. He’s the only gift that so many ignore and refuse to open. He’s the only gift that so many others cherish above all joys, friends, family and even life. Someday He will return and we who love Him will get to see whom we have been dreaming of. He came once to save us from our sins, that was Christmas and Easter. But He is coming again to redeem us from this world, that will be our Revelation.
As Connie Scott sings, I’d rather be in Bethlehem tonight, just to be one of the shepherds, just to hear the angels sing.
I’d rather be close to the baby. Draw me closer to Him. Do we long to be closer to the King? Would we give up our presents and decorations to be in Bethlehem? To be there to see the wonder of wonders? To hear the angels and see the star? Would we want to be shepherds just so we could be amung the few who witnessed the baby in the manger? Do you long to be in Bethlehem tonight?
There must be more to Christmas
I really think we’re missing something
There must be more to Christmas
Lights. Camera. Action.
Isn’t that how Christmas seems to go? And that’s fine. There is nothing wrong with fun and decorations and a little healthy gift wrapping. But. We can’t forget the reason for it all. Not just now, but all year. I know we talk a lot about how people have missed the true meaning of Christmas, but if we’re honest what people have missed is the true meaning of life. Jesus wasn’t meant to stay under our Christmas tree, He was meant to be a part of our day to day lives. In Evie’s song a Shepherd’s prayer, the little shepherd begs to be moved closer to the savior. He wants to touch Him, to hold His hand. He isn’t satisfied by looking at the baby from a distance. We need to be like that. Not satisfied with just a short service at Christmas to remember Jesus, but instead to be obsessed with being with Him. I know talking about obsession isn’t popluar, and being a fanatic is claimed as wrong, but to have a sole focus on Christ isn’t a bad thing, if He is all we see then we will live better and do better. There must be something more, but what?
It’s not what, it’s who.
Jesus is our something more. We need Him, but we forget that and only give Him what is basic. He didn’t forget us, and He gave us everything not even sparing His own life. There must be more to Christmas. There must be more to this life. And that more, is Jesus.
And what of your promise now? -Judah
All I can say is, I don’t understand, but He must have a reason for this.-Man of God
At the foot of the cross.
It’s so hard when the promise’s outcome isn’t how we envisioned. Imagine how the deciples must have felt when they saw Jesus lifted on the cross.
There must be a mistake.
Must have been their thought. How could everything they had seen and experienced and been told, have led to this?
If they had read the prophecies they would have had the answer. But in that moment of agony of spirit the last thing on your mind is a prophecy from so long ago. Just like our promises. We read promises from God that He proclaimed some 2000+ years ago, and we are expected to believe them and hold to them. When things get hard and nothing makes sense, and the promise leads to something you don’t understand it’s hard to not feel like there must be a mistake- and what of your star and your promise now? Yet God has a reason, for all of it. What Isaiah foretold about Jesus coming, probably never crossed the minds of the weary shepherds when the star appeared. What had been fortold about Jesus’s death was no where in the minds of the deciples in the Garden, or at the tomb, maybe not even in The Upper Room. But God fulfilled His promise in every occasion. Just as He will fulfill His promise to you and me.
He’s coming back, just as He promised. Are you ready?
Jesus was brave. We don’t often use this word for Him, certainly not during Christmas, but He was brave. He was scared, of course He was, but that didn’t stop Him. He was sick with fear at the Garden, He was in agony at the cross, sometimes I wonder if as a crying baby in a manger He was crying for the future and what was coming to pass. Don’t say that a baby couldn’t know those things, that weight was His reason for being here on earth- He was born to die. He knew what was coming yet He spoke anyway, He knew what it would cause yet He healed and prayed for people and loved the rejected, and prepared for what was coming. From the Manger to the cross Jesus was brave. I can only hope that in this dying world that wants to kill off anything that is still alive, that I will be brave too. Just like Jesus.
Fly free souls and know that He is coming again, this world is not ours, this death is not ours, this pain is not ours, because of a baby born under a star in a barn in a small town called Bethlehem. That baby was called Emmanuel, and He is still with us today.
Follow that star that burns so bright, flee from it dark night, onward my feet and chase after it, there is something about it that I need but don’t have yet. Faster and faster, don’t slow down now, what’s that up ahead? It seems like a crowd. Braying sheep press close to the walls for warmth, a glow comes from inside, almost invisible because of the star’s great light. Feet you may sting and knees you may tremble but don’t turn back now, press through the wooly crowd, see you are not the only one who trembles – they all are at the presence here. So much power from someone so little and dear. He coughs in the cold and His Mother wipes His soft cheek, He is who the star drew me to, its Him whom I seek. Sleepy eyes turn and look my way, I back up, I am afraid. I am so dirty, so lowly so raw, I fall to my knees in the damp straw. A soft nuzzle tickles my toe, a little lamb has joined me as he escapes the cold. Fearless it lies against my knee. Now I get it, now I see. He is so perfect as He lies there unmarked, someday for sins He will be scarred. I can sit here dirty and blemished and broken, in the presence of one so pure, only because He will be broken for me and then my soul will be clean once more. Only because of His perfection do I stand a chance, only because of the love in His feet and Hands. I can walk away, soft lamb in my arms, because the lamb in the manger will shatter the dark. I will always seek Him, star or no star, because He is someone I need, He is hope, He is God.
They say we are all hiding or running from darkness. Darkness within us, darkness around us, just the dark in general. They say that is why when winter comes we tend to light candles and plug in our Christmas trees- to drive away some of the darkness. Maybe that is true, maybe not, but the permeating darkness is very real. I like summer. Long days of sunshine, lighting when it rains, full brilliant stars (though are stars these past few winter nights have been pretty amazing), in honesty the Christmas tree lights are about the only thing that keeps me happy in the midst of the darkness of winter. Though I do enjoy the brisk nights when the stars are shining and I’m out with my horse and we are the only living things awake in our yard, that’s a pretty spectacular feeling. The difference is that summer darkness is shorter and it’s warm, where winter darkness is long and cold so it’s not as enjoyable. Sort of like the darkness in our souls. A long- cold darkness. A darkness there since birth. The darkness of being without a savior. They say light brings joy, isn’t it fitting then that our Lord would come to earth in a quiet manger under a brilliant -bright star? And that when the Angels appeared there was a bright light, some Bible translations say it was blinding. When the one who would drive out darkness and give us joy and hope came to earth He was the cause of so much light that the light is still remembered so many years later. We who are striving to flee from darkness already have the hope of a brilliant and blinding light- One that is warm and loving and full of hope- I call Him Jesus, some call Him Emmanuel, others call Him Yeshua, or Rabbi, or Abba, Friend, Teacher. No matter what name He is going by He will always be our Savior and He is here to bring light to our darkness.
I am just one of the legion.
Legion -if I recall correctly- is an army of more than 1000. The Bible speaks of legions upon legions of angels in Heaven, waiting to come down from Heaven and battle for us. We have people around us empowered by the Holy Spirit who are here to fight on our behalf also, somedays we are the soldier fighting on behalf of others, somedays we we are fought for- we are all part of God’s army.
Dark skies loom, daylight doesn’t exist as the shaking of armor is deafening your forces. You look around and see others who look like you, frightened, a dull glow flowing around them. Then you focus on the blinding white lights of the angels around you. No dull glow of a soldier of Christ being held back by human weakness but the powerful light of the fully acknowledged Christ warriors. You look at yourself and feel the power of God’s glow in you growing and connecting to the glow of those around you until you are one body of light. Your weak human glow empowered by the Holy Spirit, its not by our power, but by the power of God through the Spirit. If we could see the battle around us and the forces that fight with us and against us, I wonder if it would look like this.
We are just one small light in a legion of soldiers- angels and people standing together serving God. I hesitate to speak on angels because they have developed an odd reputation, even to the place where people worship and pray to them, which we are not supposed to do, only God is to be worshiped, the angels themselves said that. That being said we must not forget them. They are God’s special soldiers who are empowered by God to do amazing things. We are part of an army that is made up of God’s Heavenly army and His earthly one. I once heard two powerful preachers being called generals of God’s army, I like that. We are soldiers fighting for one cause, we are part of the legion. Angels came to the shepherds and the light grew, this was the two fellow sectors of the army of God coming together. The glorious angels and the lowly shepherds. Both serving God’s army in similar ways but by different methods. The angels came to the shepherds and the light grew. We are just part of the legion, when we look around afraid we need to open our eyes to the army that surrounds us, fighting for the same cause. We are not alone. Pick up your weapon and fight for your family, your friends, your neighbors and yourself! You do not battle alone, your light is attached to the light next to you and to the one next to you is attached to the one next them until it is a blinding light of Christ, because we are one body in Christ, standing together- bold.
The first candle of Advent
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:2-7 NIV
These are the words that begin Christmas for so many of us. However we rarely read the whole verse. We do the ‘unto us part’ and leave out the rest. God saw the sin and death and destruction and pain and bloodshed and said to Himself, ‘I have to send somebody,’ God knew He had to send His son because He was the only one who could right the wrongs caused by the devil through people, He knew that only Jesus could save us, and He knew the pain they would both feel for the sake of our souls. He knew all this and loved us enough to create us anyway, He knew all this and yet loved us enough to send His most beloved treasure to save us. The prophet speaks of more than a baby and a king, he speaks of God ending the darkness and sending His light, and he also is speaking of a Father’s love for His broken and lost children.
One Christmas tradition that often gets over wrapped in tinsel and stage perfection is the tradition of having a Christmas pagent.
I used to love the pagents. Every year but one I was a sheep, and everyone knows that the sheep has the best role. We get to go all over the stage and crawl on our knees and bahh every so often. No elaborate speaches or moments of forgetting lines. Just being there, part of the show.
Perhaps that is the problem with Christmas these days. We get so caught up in what we should do we forget to just be part of the story. We feel we need to put on a great spector of glitz and glory more suited to the glittery gifts of the Wisemen but we forget to be the lowly sheep, on our knees before the King. No words to say. No spotlight. Just there. Part of God’s story.