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Whether you believe in the whole virgin birth thing or not, one has to admit that during the Christmas season, the focus of our society turns towards love, joy and peace. History has shown that even the most brutal battles have taken time-out for Christmas.

The three words “I Love You” are full of a variety of meanings. When I say I love you it could be because I want something from you; when I say I love you it could mean you have done something that makes me happy. Often people equate the feeling of happiness and  belonging as being love. But authentic love, the love that comes from God is so much deeper than that.

Man’s love says “I’ll love you if”; God’s love says “I love you regardless. Man’s love says, “I may love you today, but tomorrow I may fall out of love; God’s love says, “nothing you can say or do will keep me from loving you. Man’s love says, “I can’t forgive you for that; God’s love says, “I’ll forgive you again, and again and again.” Man’s love can be unfaithful; God’s love is always faithful.

Authentic love can only be found when we find God for he showed his love through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.


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. Isaiah 9:6

The Isaiah passage mentioned above is a common passage quoted during this Christmas Season. What a marvelous promise it brings to us that that little baby born in a manger would someday bring bright hope into a world of darkness. When Isaiah wrote these words the world was much like it is today, without hope, struggling with the empty darkness of the soul. Then, as now, the promised coming of the Christ-child would change all that. The Christ child brings us hope when hope seems absent

Hope often eludes us because we are, in essence, damaged goods. Our hearts are wounded from years of abuse from others and ourselves. Our minds are limited by the inability to see beyond today and that view is tainted by our past. The external pressures of worry, doubt and anger keep us from feeling the power we need to continue.

What gives us hope? When we are sick physically we go to a doctor who knows our physical condition based on tests, education and experience. When we struggle emotionally or relationally we may go to a counselor who tries to help us mend in much the same way. The problem is, our hearts don’t respond the way our bodies to because each of us is wired differently. That’s why we need a ‘WONDERFUL COUNSELOR’. Someone who sees into the deepest recesses of our souls.

Jesus Christ is our WONDERFUL COUNSELOR. As God, he created you in his image so he knows exactly how you are wired. As man, he understands our struggles because the Bible tells us he experienced the same temptations, the same struggles, the same rejections we have (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus Christ is our WONDERFUL COUNSELOR because he cares for you. He cares enough to listen to your pain so you can turn all your fears and frustrations over to him. He cares enough to tell you the truth in love. Truth without love is abuse; love without truth is neglect. Truth bathed in love and forgiveness is refreshing.

Jesus is our WONDERFUL COUNSELOR because he is committed to you. Each of us knows what it feels like to be betrayed. Each of us knows what it’s like to rely on people only to find they are unreliable. Jesus Christ promises to be with us through the struggles of life. Jesus Christ promises to be our refuge and strength. Jesus Christ promises that no matter how bad things get, he will be with us. Always. He shows that commitment through his Word, the Bible. He shows that commitment through his Holy Spirit that promises to guide you. He shows that commitment through the body of Christ, like minded believers who will love you regardless of your bruises.

This Christmas season, don’t forget the most important gift, a gift of allegiance to the one who understands you, cares for you and is committed to you. Visit a house of worship where you can feel his presence. He will give you everything you need to endure life. He will give  you hope.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. Thank you for loving us so much. During this season in which we remember your birth allow us the strength to remember that during those times of loneliness and frustration you are there to comfort and lead us. Amen.


Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14

It’s important to remember that angels, while possessing some supernatural powers, aren’t omniscient or all powerful, as the Father God is. While we know little about them, we do know that they exist simply to be God’s messengers, God stewards. They, like us can’t see into the future like the Father can so they rely on the signs and wonders of God in the same way that we do.

Some believe that God created the Heavens and the earth, then angels. But something was missing. He saw the earth, he saw the universe, he saw all the life he’d created and still longed for one thing to make his world complete. That’s why he came up with the idea of man. Once Man was created he realized that man needed a partner, someone he too could love. So he created woman. A beautiful union of love, respect and teamwork came from that marvelous creation…until the fall damaged it with sin of course.

Can you imagine what the angels were doing all through history? They saw Adam’s power, courage and valor. They marveled at Eve’s beauty, quiet strength, devotion and compassion. No doubt they shuttered when the couple chose to willfully disobey their master. After all, they saw his power, his majesty and his love better than mortal man could.

Then there was Jesus. Our mortal minds can’t wrap around Jesus. He was there of course, all through the Old Testament years. He was God’s son. I wonder if they called him Junior? Okay, maybe a stretch, but it’s important to realize that the angels knew Jesus long before he became a baby in the manger. They knew him their creator. They saw his power and majesty as all throughout the history of the world he tended to the affairs of God’s kingdom.  He was God’s son. He was deity, he was the King!

The Angels most likely knew from the start that God had a plan to bring mankind back into the relationship he’d had in the garden. They’d seen him walk with Adam and Eve. Perhaps he even told them something like, “When I’m walking with them I don’t want to be disturbed.” The Angels learned about God’s extreme love by watching his relationship with mankind.

It’s no wonder then that the angels burst into praise and wonderment when they saw Jesus in the manger. We saw a baby, a tiny helpless, dependent infant. The angels saw an almighty, all powerful Creator God taking on human flesh. Now that he was there the angels knew things would be different. They praised God not only for this plan, but for the adventure that lay ahead for mankind.

PRAYER: All praise and honor to you almighty Father! The reality that you became mere man so that we could learn to love you is beyond my comprehension. Thank you for loving me enough to stoop to my level so I can rise in your strength. Amen.

 

 


They asked, “Where is the baby who was born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”Matthew 2:2 (NCV)

There is, perhaps, no time in the mind of a child (of any age) more full of expectancy and anticipation than Christmas. The excitement and wonder of the lights; the brightly colored packages and the hopes that are within them all add to the anticipation.

Will I get that bicycle I’ve always wanted? Will the doll that talks be in this package? Will I finally get that video game I’ve been hinting about all year? I hope…oh, I hope it’s what I think it is. Will he give me the ring at Christmas? The princess thinks with a noticeable twinkle in her eye.

One year my nephew put socks on his Christmas list. Since he worked hard and worked outdoors often, we decided that would be a good, useful gift for him. So we bought him a couple packages and wrapped them with sincerity and love. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in the family. Yep, that’s right. EVERYONE. 25 packages of socks! Needless to say his anticipation was smashed and he never asked for socks at Christmas again!

The promise of a coming messiah was hundreds of years old by the time the star finally appeared in the sky. It had been so long that many had forgotten about it, thus it went unnoticed by the priests, the King and everyone else.

We aren’t told exactly where the Magi were, only that they were ‘east of Jerusalem’. What we do know is that their anticipation, their expectancy never waned, not for a moment. I wonder what it was like when the first of them noticed the star. Night after night of watching. For many an entire lifetime of watching! But then. Then the night came when someone said, “Look! There it is! In the western sky! He’s here! He’s been born!”

Did you get goose bumps? I’ll bet he did. Did the excitement almost overwhelm you? I imagine it did overwhelm him. Had there been cell phones back then he’d have awakened every one of his colleagues.

“The King has been born. We must hurry. Get the caravan ready. Load the Camels with gifts. Hurry. He’s been born!”

Jesus says we must be like children in our faith. May we be like children in our ‘expectancy’ as well. May this Christmas season rekindle the excitement we had as children, only let that excitement be due to the coming of the Christ-child.

The Magi are known for their gifts, but gifts wasn’t their main reason for coming, worship was. In the same way, as we look forward to the Christmas season; as we enjoy the company of family and friends we rarely see; as we enjoy the giving and receiving of gifts and sharing all those holiday goodies, may we remember to worship the King.

PRAYER: Father, I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas, the lights, the food, the music, the gifts. But in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season please remind me to worship you for sending Jesus. Amen.


But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. Philippians 2:7 (NCV)

Christmas has long been touted as a holiday when we think of love. We give gifts. We travel across the country (or sometimes the world) to spend time with those we love, all in the name of Christmas. Churches hold extra services, relationships are restored, new relationships are built, all in the name of Christmas!

The ultimate example of love comes in the form of grace. Grace is, and always has been, God reaching out to man. When Adam and Eve sinned, who was it that sought to restore the broken relationship? God, God reaching out to man.

When Moses killed the Egyptian and ran for his life, wandering for forty years when God had chosen him to lead his people out ofEgypt. Who came to restore the broken relationship and restore hope? God did. God reaching out to man.

When David had an affair and spent months in agony and cover up. Who reached out to restore the relationship and offer forgiveness? God did. God reaching out to man.

On a small, dark hillside inPalestine. When religion had a stranglehold on worship. Who came to restore the path to God and eternal life? God did. God reaching out to man in the form of a little baby.

Grace has always been about relationship, not rules. What better example of a relationship than that of a young couple gathered around the bedside of their first-born child. The wonder. The awe. The realization that this little life would change their lives forever and produce a legacy, a heritage that would go on for years.

That’s grace. God reaching down to man in a way that would build a relationship with the people he desires to reach most of all.

That’s grace. God offering forgiveness to you and I when we don’t deserve it. When we’ve rebelled, gone our own way, refused to forgive others, abused others with our fists or our words.

This Christmas, amidst the glitter and brightly colored packages. While you sit at your meals or play your new games. Spend some time with the babe in the manger. The one who gave up the glories of heaven to endure the pain of the cross on your behalf. You can do nothing to deserve this gift. It’s freely given because God loves you and wants to forgive you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, on this Christmas day, I thank you for coming to earth. So often we get so caught up in celebrating the holiday we forget to worship the reason. All praise and honor and worship is due you. Alleluia. Amen.

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