Archive for December 2009

Where are you in the Christmas Story?

December 23, 2009

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” – Matthew 2:1-4

One of the amazing things, to me, in the record of the birth of Christ is the different reactions to those who were involved.

Herod hated Him. Although he had never met Jesus, didn’t know a thing about Him, Herod wanted the Christ-child dead.

Some ignored Him completely. The priests and religious leaders of the day knew He was to be born in Bethlehem (they were the ones who told the Wise Men where to find Him). Yet, they apparently weren’t even interested in going along with the Wise Men to see the significance of the star.

Others regarded Him, but didn’t have time to do much more than pay decent respect. The inn-keeper didn’t have time to be bothered with the Child, so he put them in the stable – out of sight, out of mind.

Then there were the Wise Men. Although strangers to Israel, we are told they came to Christ with the intent of worship and acknowledge Him as King.

You know, this time of year, it is easy to see these same reactions in folks today. There are those who despise Christ today and want to see any reference to Him wiped out.

Others find it easier to ignore Him. Surrounded by evidence of Him and His truth, they just go about their business and pretend not to notice.

Others, especially at Christmas, will acknowledge His existence, a few carols here and there and then they’re done.

Then there are those who truly seek to worship Him. A popular saying is “Wise Men still seek Him.” I think that might be better stated, “Wise Men still worship Him.” My prayer for you is that is where you find yourself in the Christmas story.

I hope you have the very Merriest of Christmases!

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It’s a Control Thing

December 19, 2009

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.” – Luke 2:1-3

Does it ever seem like you have absolutely no control over your life?

We spend so much of our lives reacting to things, circumstances and even “putting fires out” for others.

No doubt that is the way Mary and Joseph felt. They were miraculously expecting and then they have to travel about 70 miles in order to register for the census. Could anything else go against them? We certainly couldn’t blame them if that thought crossed their mind.

But, with the benefit of hindsight, we see now that God was in control of the entire situation (no big surprise there – huh)? He was behind the conception, He was behind the census. Remember the prophet had foretold the Christ would be born in Bethlehem.

So, when things seem so out of control in your life, remember that God is still God and He is still in control over all. How much better off we are when we get in line with what He is doing!

Simple Christmas

December 15, 2009

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it”. – John 1:1-5

Eileen and I have always had a live Christmas tree.  Many years ago when we were first married, we had very little (as in no) disposable income to buy a tree. So we took a ride and saw a somewhat Christmas tree shaped scrub pine growing in a ditch alongside the road and cut it down and brought it home.

We each had a handful of family ornaments and a string of lights and we decorated that little tree and if there was ever a real life “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” that was it! We still have photos of it and it is still a wonder it looked as good as it did. It was very simple, yet so beautiful at the same time.

The passage above is the Christmas story as told by John. It is simple isn’t it? No frills, no angels, no shepherds, no inn, just Jesus.

There is so much to love about Christmas. But, it really is about the simple message – “The Light” of Christ shining into the darkness of this world.

My prayer for you this week is that amidst all the “extras” of the season, the simple meaning of Christmas will shine through – that you will simply  “comprehend” the Light. Merry Simple Christmas.

Do you have a memory of a “Simple Christmas”? I’d love to hear it.

Prince of Peace

December 4, 2009

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  – Luke 1:29-31

Thanksgiving is past now and here we are rolling into the Christmas season. Just about all of us are bracing for the rush. It’s kind of like going over a waterfall. We drift along through the year and then we get close enough to hear the roar (Thanksgiving). The next thing you know you are plunging headlong over it and trying to recover from the commotion (New Year).

We don’t have any control over all the outside activity involving the celebration of Christ’s birth, but we can direct our own actions, attitudes and expectations.

Imagine Mary’s interpretation of that first Christmas. Here she is a young girl getting ready for marriage. Not quite the event we have today, but a celebration nonetheless. Then the angel appears and tells her she is going to have a baby. Troubling news indeed!

What will people say? What will Joseph do? How could it even happen? In the middle of the flood of anxiety the angel says “Do not be afraid…” The Baby will be Jesus.

Now, our situations are certainly different today, but we all face anxieties which seem to be compounded this time of year. With gifts to buy and expectations to meet financial situations seem worse. Family gatherings magnify family troubles. There is so little time and too much to do. Stress levels go off the charts.

It may sound impossible, but you don’t have to be swept away in the rush. Follow Mary’s example. Trust God and focus the main thing – which is the wonderful gift of Jesus. He really is the reason for the season.

My prayer for you this week is that you will sense His peace in all things.