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Christmas Time

December 5th, 2014

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” Galatians 4:4 NIV.

God achieves His eternal purposes in the calendar and daily appointments of your life.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Christmas time.”

Christmas is a good time to thoughtfully examine life. Fast paces and busy schedules leave little time for purposeful reflection. Hurrying with little time to spare or running late and borrowing scarce minutes from the next event on your schedule, life becomes a blur. Lives are lived in a rush, wanting everything right now.

God’s plans rarely, if ever, coincide with your calendar. Nor does He submit them for your approval. But God is never late, though sometimes it may feel to you like He is. The psalmist trusted his times to God’s timing. “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIV. God has an impeccable sense of timing; your objective should be to synchronize your life with God’s plans and His calendar. “The steps of the Godly are directed by the Lord, and He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT.

The Christmas narrative begins in the story of Zachariah, a priest of the Levites, and his wife, Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary. As a young, loving couple they anticipated their first child as so many others have. Year after year they waited, until their dream adjusted to their reality. Apparently, they reasoned, they desired a child they would not have. Eventually, Zachariah’s appraisal was honest and accurate, “I am old . . and my wife is also.” Luke 1:18 NLT.

Then God startled Zachariah with news of the son for whom they had prayed; he was to be named John, a herald of the Messiah. At God’s time, your circumstances will not hinder Him from doing what He purposed to do – however long the years have been or whatever the circumstances of the moment. God is never late; you and I are often impatient.

God is neither cruel nor unfeeling, never unsympathetic or uncaring about your dreams and desires, but the calendar of eternity charts the purposes of God, not the random clocks of mortal plans. Your Father knows how and when to best fulfill your prayers, and precisely when and where His eternal plan intersects with His intentions and blessings. See Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. The trust issue is your acceptance, obedience, and faithfulness meanwhile.  

In the purpose and providence of God, the day would come; “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came to bear witness of the Light, that all through Jesus might believe . . and of His fullness we have all received.” Read John 1:6-9/16. God’s plan was more vast and inclusive than Zachariah and Elizabeth’s hopes and plans, “. . that all through Jesus might believe,” reaching even to you and me today, and all who will follow. God coordinated the birth of John exactly when he could be the herald of the Savior. They would be content with a child; God gave them a messenger of Messiah.

While they may have thought the answer to their prayers was late, Christmas time is always the best time. That is true in your life as well. Christmas came exactly when and as God intended, When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 NIV. God achieves His eternal purposes in the calendar and daily appointments of your life.

Today, my prayer for you is that you will expect God at any time while waiting for Him every time.

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A Christmas Impossibility

December 21st, 2012

Christmas is any moment or circumstance when eternity penetrates time.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NIV.

A few words at the end of a commercial caught my attention; “The impossible, true story,” as the announcer described it. What first seemed contradictory suddenly described Christmas perfectly to me, at least the real Christmas – the celebration of the Savior’s birth. God coming into our world, indescribable. A child born to a virgin, impossible. A Savior who came for sinners, incomparable. Christmas truly is the “impossible, true story.”

Centuries before Jesus was born, prophets foretold of Israel’s Messiah who would come. Isaiah wrote the most impossibly true words, “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel, God is with us! . . for unto us a Child is born and unto us a Son is given . .” Isaiah 7:14/9:6-7. A Son would be born in Bethlehem; a Savior would be given at Jerusalem. His listeners must have puzzled over at Isaiah’s words, asking themselves, “How can this be?” Still today, Christmas remains “the impossible, true story.”

Christmas is the perpetual reminder that the Almighty God changes impossibilities into possibilities and improbabilities into probabilities; our God delights in confounding the wise by doing what others say cannot be done. Our God is unlike any other! “Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This ‘foolish’ plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:24-25 NLT.

Mary also asked, “How can this be?” Then, with assurance from the angel she rested her impossibility into God’s hands. In a few words from Heaven, Mary’s impossibility became possible. Christmas would forever mean that nothing would – nothing could – ever be the same again for Mary. Christmas is more than a moment of ancient history or annual calendar event; Christmas is any moment or circumstance when eternity penetrates time with the promise of possibilities that can change anything that ever has been and everything that still could be.

For you this Christmas, the Angel’s bold declaration to Mary is still true, “For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NIV. Christmas’ truth changed every previous assumption Mary held. The same can be true for you this Christmas. Your situation that appears impossible; your need that exceeds your ability or resource; the obstacle that defies your efforts; the sinful habit that seems indomitable; your failure you thought had stolen your future; all and more are well within the immeasurable bounds of God’s power to redeem. “Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20 NIV.

My prayer for you this Advent is that you invite Jesus into your heart and home as Savior and Lord.

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A Christmas Focus

December 20th, 2012

Life is only complete when you hold the Savior in your heart.

“I have seen the Savior You have given to all people.” Luke 2:30 NLT.

Like Joseph, Simeon is another lesser noticed person in the Christmas narrative. But he shouldn’t be. Uniquely, he was a man with a focus on something more than that with which others were content. “Simeon . . was just and devout . . and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke 2:25-35 NKJV. God’s Spirit rests where He feels welcome. What little is known about Simeon is still remarkable; his testimony was that God had spoken to his heart that he would live to see the Messiah. “The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” Vs. 26 NLT. Simeon’s heart held a promise; his life had a purpose; his focus was clear.

Generations in Israel had waited for the promise of Messiah. God’s whisper in Simeon’s heart set the course and priorities for his lifetime. Imagine living your life with such a clear, persuasive purpose that supersedes every lesser consideration. See Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV. While others busied their days aimlessly or with trivial concerns, Simeon had a heart with a single focus – to see Messiah, Israel’s hope and salvation. He was single minded, strongly focused, fervently anticipating, patiently waiting, and actively pursuing.

That word in his heart brought Simeon to the Temple precisely at the moment Joseph and Mary arrived with the baby Jesus, now only days old. This was providence not coincidence. “That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord . . Simeon was there.” Vs. 27-28 NLT. Simeon was there, exactly when and where he should have been, because he was attentive to the Spirit’s direction. His life-long quest was fulfilled as he held the Savior in His arms. God can bring you where you need to be for the joy of your life to be fulfilled anew.

Imagine Simeon’s joy, “Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior You have given for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Vs. 29-32 NLT. Life is only complete when you hold the Savior in your heart. “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him . . you believe in him . .  and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV.

That’s Simeon’s story, but my concern today is about your story, and mine. This Christmas cannot be what it could be, unless Jesus is the heart of your expectation and celebration. There is no better place, ever or anywhere, than when and where your yearning successfully concludes with giving yourself to the Savior who gave Himself for you. Read Titus 2:11-14 NIV/Galatians 2:20 NKJV.

This Advent, the Angel’s announcement to the shepherds is also to you, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be to all people. Today . . a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 NIV. This is my Christmas focus: Christmas is an event too glorious not to be joyously celebrated with abandon, and too precious not to be gladly shared with one and all.

My prayer for you this Advent is that His holy day will be at the center of your holidays.

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