Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Christmas Hope

Isaiah 40:1 "Comfort, O comfort my people," says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received from the Lord's hand Double for all her sins.

Christmas comes on the shortest and darkest time of the year for us here in the Western Hemisphere. In my area, most of the November and December days are pretty gray and dark, saying nothing of the bitter cold of January and February soon to follow. Holidays, thought to be a happy time, can evoke painful memories of people we once had in our lives who are no longer with us, through death or their own choice to separate from us for some reason. No matter the reason why, these losses seem more difficult at the holidays.

I read of many Christians being driven from their homes by persecutors, or those even being martyred for their faith. I have read of bombs being dropped on Christian villages in Africa, and of millions of Syrian refugees, living in camps. Though I have had what I would consider a difficult year, my suffering does not compare in any way to theirs. And yet, even though there is so much evil in this world, I rejoice when Christmas rolls around each year.

It is not because of presents, but I am reminded of His Presence, the best present of all. It is staggering to think that God Himself would reduce Himself to a tiny baby, and choose to be born not in a palace like royalty, but in a filthy, cold manger among animals. It is unimaginable to think that the very Creator of all the world came to visit us in His Incarnation yet mankind could find no place for Him in their inns. That He knew quite well all the suffering He would have to endure, but chose it gladly so that He could call us His brothers and sisters.

If I focus on people and my hurts, yes, I could be depressed on Christmas. But I choose to delight in the fact that this very God could love me,
me, and not only me, but all the other sinners of this world as well. He loved me so much that He took care of everything that would stand in the way of me having a relationship with Him. He actually took my own sin and shame upon Himself and gave me His very own righteousness in its place. There is no other religion on this planet that can offer you that.

"...God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."
"He made Him who knew no sins to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Corinthians 5:19,21

Buddhism may proport to give karma, but only God can pour forth abundant grace upon grace upon undeserving creatures. I love what John the Apostle says: "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

If I focus on my failures, again, I could be depressed on Christmas. But my slate has been wiped totally clean and each day I receive a fresh start to grow in grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior. For you see, God does not look at my sins, or yours either. They were all taken away on a single day. That is why David the King, who committed such a great sin as killing Uriah the Hittite, could say: "How blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! (Psalm 32:1)

I am not saying that we can just get away with sin with no consequences, but I am saying that God will not charge us with our sin, for He charged them all to Christ. It is to our advantage not to sin, for we will reap what we sow. But, as it says in I John 2:1-2: "...And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for ours; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

If I focus on the world around me, once again, I could get very depressed this Christmas season. In fact, when I think of all the waste of food and money in this country on the holiday while most of the world is starving, it does make me pretty sad. But, there is coming a day when righteousness and peace will reign in this world. For my Savior not only died for the sins of the world, but He is also coming again to put down evil forever and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The way things are going on this planet, I believe it won't be much longer until He does come again for His Second and final Advent. This time, it will not be as a meek and mild baby, but as a victorious King. Zechariah 14:3-4, 9, states:

"Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations (*who oppose Him), as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south...And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one." (*my explanation)

If you happen to be reading this without the assurance that you know this wonderful Person named Jesus Christ, you can know Him today! Simply believe that God sent His only begotten Son to take your place on the cross, that He paid in full for your sins and was raised from the grave never to die again. For you see, this simple verse of John 3:16 is really the best Christmas present of all: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Give yourself the best this Christmas. Believe in Christ today.

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