Christmas and Changed Lives

Christmas as a heart experience remains forever.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Christmas and Changed Lives.”

The wait for Christmas Day seems interminable. Each day grows busier and busier with preparations until the day arrives. The family and friends gather; the dinner is served and enjoyed; family gifts are shared, and carols sung. But then what? Inevitably, Christmas as a calendar event too soon concludes. Christmas as a heart experience remains forever. How you enter the Christmas celebration is not as personally impactful as how you exit the occasion.

Consider Joseph and Mary’s experience of the angels’ visitations, the shepherds’ hurry and wonder, royalty’s worship and lavish gifts, and then life returns to normal or unfolds in ways you could not have imagined. Obviously, Joseph and Mary could never be the same as they had been before the wonder of that amazing, miraculous night in Bethlehem’s stable. But the initial aftermath was not as idyllic as you might expect it should have been.

Disruption appeared to be Joseph and Mary’s new normal. Christmas does not mean that everything will always be pretty and peaceful. An angel came again to Joseph in a dream, warning of Herod’s evil determination to destroy the young Messiah. The angel instructed, “Flee to Egypt and stay there until I bring you word . . when Joseph arose, he took the young child and his mother and departed for Egypt. And was there until the death of Herod.” Read Matthew 2:13-23 NKJV. A miracle changed their lives and purpose forever.

In Luke’s masterful narrative of the Christmas angels singing to shepherds on a Judean hillside, there came the inevitable moment, “When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven.” Inevitably, angels return to Heaven and people return to everyday life, potentially changed forever by such moments of Heavenly encounter. “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go and see this thing which the Lord has told us’ . . The shepherds returned [to their flocks] glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:15-16 NKJV. Every lamb that was born would remind them of the night they bowed before the Lamb of God, “Who takes away the sins of the world.”

Angels inevitably return to Heaven. But there are still lives to be lived, families to provide for, responsibilities to be fulfilled, work to be done, but also an unbelievable story to be told to all who have an open heart to listen. Matthew writes of a similar experience for the Kings who travelled from so far, “Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, [the Wise Men] returned to their country by another route.” Matthew 2:12 NIV. I know those words merely describe the different geography of their journey home, but I cannot avoid the application that life is never quite the same after you have seen and worshiped the Christ. Read Matthew 2:1-12 NIV. Their lives were never again the same.

At Christmas, you cannot bow with a true heart of worship, and afterward return to your everyday routines as you were. Christmas holds the power to change everyone, as well as everything that was, is, and will yet be. Changed lives are the real evidence of Christmas. The Savior changes routines, shifts priorities, adjusts values, and especially redeems and redirects lives. Ultimately, the observance of Christmas will pass but the Savior can and will change your life forever. Christmas is so much more than the beauty and pageantry of mangers, angels, shepherds, or Eastern kings.

Christmas is about a Savior who changes lives now, and for eternity. If you worship at the manger, you are expected to live for the Savior and point others to Him. The Apostle Paul was clear, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV. When you were given the gift of grace, you were also given the ministry of reconciliation.

Today, I pray for you to to receive the gift and embrace the joy of His Good News.

Christian Communications 2017

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