“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”– Luke 1:30-33
If you searched your heart, where would you find hope? What it is that you have based your hope? Job security, finances, significant other, stuff? I will go out on a limb and say that these things will at least at some point lead to disappointment, discouragement and desperation.
Our hope is found in the fact that God has keeps His promises. Hope began in the Garden of Eden where satan is told that from the seed of the woman would come a savior, Emmanuel and that Savior would destroy all of the doubt, sadness, pain and suffering and ultimately satan himself once and for all.
His name is Jesus!
He will do battle with Satan and even though the enemy would strike a seemingly fatal blow against Jesus, he will not defeat him. Jesus will crush Satan and his power. Jesus will destroy the pain of death and sin giving us hope as we wait confidently for His return.
Is there hope in this world? Yes! Hope was born to the world 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Do you want hope? Do you need hope…real hope? Confident expectation? Do what the shepherds did so long ago. Make “haste” and bow before the King. Are you willing to humble yourself and bow in faith before the Lord Jesus Christ?
Some people think about Jesus each year at Christmastime. They are deeply touched by the season, the songs and the spirit, they promise to know him personally. Then Dec. 26th rolls around and the moment passes. Life’s pressure drag us away from the birth of Jesus, even His life, death and resurrection. Make the personal commitment that Jesus Christ will be your Lord and Savior. Is there room in your heart for Jesus? May God give you grace to make room in the Inn of your heart.
Lord, help us to put aside the pressures of gifting and receive Your sacrificial gift of love. Thank you God for loving me enough to leave Your heavenly throne and relentlessly pursue me. I surrender all to You. In Jesus Name…Amen.
On Sunday, the magic of Christmas really shined through. With all the normal pressures and stresses of Christmas if you are not careful, you could miss the magic. For me it began Sunday. 3 high school students started off the service at church. As the string ensemble started off with “The First Noel”, I imagined myself walking down the streets of yesteryear, people wearing overcoats and top hats and on the corner a street lamp decorated with Christmas greenery and ribbon, maybe seeing Ebenezer Scrooge. It was a simple thing but it really moved my heart as the instruments sung, “Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel”.
Later that afternoon a group gathered at the church to go see the Festival of Lights in Charlotte. To many is may sound boring but it was magical. The first sight my eyes beheld was about 14 students with every sort of hat to keep their head and ears warm; from camo and the strangest most awesome rooster tail hat worn by one of the boys, students were running around laughing and smiling exhibiting some carefree joy in what has become a stress-filled season.
We all pile into vans a head toward the lights and on the way the kids are chattering away about the excitement of Christmas and even the unspoken, “I’m glad we are all together.” As we arrive at the speedway and pull in the gate we notice some more Christmas magic – snow. With that beautiful white stuff beginning to fall accompanied by some of the most amazing lights I’ve even seen I felt like a kid again. And not just strings of light everywhere but lights that told a story – everything from Humpty Dumpty actually falling off the wall to the 12 days of Christmas to Santa’s sleigh taking off to castles and more. My particular favorite was up in the stands; a light show that moved and blinked in time with a Christmas Radio station playing on the radio.
As we park, we move through the village of Bethlehem where a Nativity scene was set and villagers great us with, “Welcome to Bethlehem.” We move inside and just about everybody grabs some HOT CHOCOLATE. I was blown away by how it tasted – rich and creamy and of course very hot. It seems as though everyone in the place was smiling (except for one lady when I got in the way of her picture she was taking – oh well, Ebenezer)
Now I have to tell you that there was even Christmas Magic when we ice skated….on plastic. That’s right…a big piece of plastic. When we got there it was as though no one was going to go first so Zak went for it right away and I wasn’t far behind him. And let me say that it was tough. I tried and tried but it was tough and after about an hour a guy came on the ice and sprayed some stuff down to make it….you guessed it…slick. Until then I had not fallen so you can guess that shortly thereafter I was on my back,,,or front; but only twice. The rest of the time it looked like sidewalk surfing with an ear infection. And as hard as it was it was a magical, amazing time to spend with the students, watching them laugh and fall and wobble and for me to provide entertainment for ALL the onlookers – I could have charged money for the show and not have to work again.
It came time to make our way home so of course I needed to stop again for something hot to drink, this time coffee and as we walked through the doors to the outside the snow was really coming down. Even though I knew there was little chance for sticking much less accumulation it was beautiful. We mounted again in the van and drove through the backside of the speedway to view the remaining lights which were just as spectacular as the rest leaving me breathless and bid the lights farewell.
Christmas is Magical!
Max Lucado writes in his book “One Incredible Moment” these words – “a ragtag chorus of longshoremen, Boston lawyers, illegal immigrants, housewives and a thousand other peculiar persons who are banking that Bethlehem’s mystery is in reality, a reality. “Come and behold Him” we sing, stirring the sleepiest of shepherds and pointing them toward the Christ-child. For a few precious hours He is beheld. Christ the Lord.”
Can you see the magical Christmas now? If not from my memories of Christmas with the students or from this small excerpt from a heartwarming book, then from the hope that come to everyone in a magic time, a wondrous time – a time of good will, a time of hope, a time of joy that truly everyone can feel. I am reminded of one of the most hopeful passages in the scripture that comes from Luke chapter 2…
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven and peace on earth and good will to all men.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Joy to the world my friends – the Lord is come. Let the magic of Christmas and the hope that it brings warm your heart and give you peace knowing that He has come and He is coming again – returning soon to get His people and wipe away every tear, cure every disease and right every wrong. Make haste friends, make haste. Run! Seek Him! Come and see! Run to see this magical thing called Christmas and may the present that you receive this year be the Christ-child
I have shared my little piece of magic and the magic that Jesus brought to the world. What about the magic that you have experienced this time of year? Please share. Merry Christmas!
Andrea and Joshua (2 of my Children) are a trip. It never fails. Whenever I break out a Little Debbie snack cake, not just any Little Debbie, but the little ones with the chocolate cakes held together by chocolate fudge icing covered by milk chocolate – that’s right, that’s the one. When they hear the sound of that plastic wrap crinkling…they know and they come running! They want a bite of the good stuff that dad has.
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. – James 1:17-18 NLT
I like that! “Whatever is good”, “whatever is perfect” comes from the Father! The Father has the good stuff – truth, love and hope. He wants us to have these things in abundance. I always have those Little Debbie in the fridge, they just taste better that way, so the crinkling plastic wrap is always the same – a chocolate covered Little Debbie. The children know what they are going to get – the best that I have to offer. Not much chance of that changing. Not much chance of my children being anything less than my prized possessions either. So we learn from God and about God that in the vastness of time and space, out of all creation, we are important to Him and that He loves us enough to save the good stuff for us – truth, love and hope.
Lord I am thankful that You never withhold from us the good stuff; that everything that is good is given in great abundance. Help me to receive these gifts from You with a glad, thankful heart – Amen