Are you ready for Christmas? It's only three days away, you know.
I recently asked that question of students in a local Christian school chapel program. In this week's blog post, I ask you the same thing and offer a few thoughts about Christmas to help ensure that you are really ready for the big day.
As a kid, of course, I looked forward to opening my gifts on Christmas. As an adult with a young family, things changed for me a little. I still enjoyed receiving gifts, but I enjoyed even more watching my children open their gifts. Now I'm enjoying watching my grandchildren open their gifts. And I find myself thinking as I do so, "It seems as though I was just a kid myself a few months ago! Can I really be so old as to have grandchildren?!"
But as I get older, I realize that there's so much more to Christmas than material gifts, whether receiving or even giving them. There's something much greater than that, and here are some facts that prove it.
Christmas means that God is with us. John 1:14 says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Jesus Christ is the Word. And He came to us; we didn't have to go to Him. In Isaiah's prophecy of His coming (Isa. 7:14), he said His name would be Immanuel, and Matthew gave the meaning of that name--"God with us" (Matt. 1:23).
God hasn't forgotten us. The 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament are called the "silent years," when God didn't speak. But then Jesus was born in Bethlehem. God remembered His promise and fulfilled His word by sending Jesus. He said in Isaiah 49:16 that He has "graven thee upon the palms of my hands," just the way people sometimes write phone numbers or email addresses on their hands so they won't forget. God always remembers us.
Jesus understand us. Because God became man, He fully understands all we go through--problems, temptations, trials, sorrows--because He experienced them, too. Therefore, He not only sympathizes with us in them but also can empathize with us. Hebrews 4:15 says, "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." He fully understand us.
Jesus came for a specific purpose. First John 3:8 tells us what that purpose was: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested [i.e., revealed in the flesh], that He might destroy the works of the devil." He came to crush Satan (Gen. 3:15). In doing that, He brings light and truth to a world that is darkened by sin (Isa. 9:2). The light of the world is Jesus.
The Christmas account is good news for all people. In announcing Jesus' birth to the shepherds, the angel said that it was "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10). It was good news. And that is the literal meaning of the word gospel--"good news." What's so good about it? In coming to earth, Jesus provided eternal salvation to all who will believe in Him. Moreover, He will come again to receive those who believe in Him to be with Him in heaven (John 14:3). And that's the greatest possible gift, the best good news!
God always keeps His promises. We tend to get impatient over a lot of things: daydreaming drivers who sit there when the light turns green, people who are slow in answering texts or emails, etc. God, however, works according to His own timetable. No matter how slowly we think He works, He'll always deliver on what He's promised. People waited a long time for the promised Messiah, but "in the fullness of time" (Gal. 4:4)--God's perfect time--He fulfilled the promise. Second Peter 3:9 assures us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise." What He says, He'll do. This should encourage us as we await His second coming!
These truths should cause us to praise Him. It's interesting to note how often joyful music is associated with Christmas. When Mary announced to Elizabeth that she was "with child," she sang praises to God. Her song is called "The Magnificat," and the lyrics, or words of the song, are given in Luke 1:47-55. Then, when Zechariah prophesied Jesus' birth, he sang, and we find those lyrics in Luke 1:68-79. And the shepherds heard a choir of angels whose lyrics are in Luke 2:14. Even today, centuries-spanning carols are symbolic, traditional aspects of our modern-day celebrations of Christmas. They'll long outlast any jingles about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer or Snoopy shooting down the Red Baron on Christmas Day! God is worthy of true praise because He gave us the greatest gift of all--His Son!
Are you ready for Christmas?
If you have accepted God's gift offer as your very own, you are. If you haven't, you'd better get ready because "time's a'wastin'!" He's coming again soon.
Be sure you're ready by believing.
To all the readers of this blog, I pray you'll have a blessed Christmas this year.