Merry Christmas! I send the faith, hope and love of Jesus to each of you. This time of year can bring such joy of family traditions, concerts and caroling, and reconnecting with old friends. It can also be a very painful reminder of the losses and the missing or stressful relationships in our lives. I want to encourage you to look at Jesus, the real reason for the season. His love and acceptance are reaching out to you today. Keep your eyes set on things above and not things on the earth. Keep your heart set on the eternal kingdom and do not let the lures and snares of this world pull you into despair, bitterness, or anxiety. Stay seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph 2) as you travel through this Christmas season. Look at what is happening through eyes that see as our Father in Heaven sees.
Mary's Yes: May we have the insight of Mary when she says, "Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said."
Mary was the mother of the Savior of the world. What a privilege and blessing! But have you ever thought about the cost she was willing to bear to be used in such a manner? To those around her, she may have seemed like a harlot, getting pregnant before she was married. She may have gained a reputation for being unusual as she disappears to Egypt without a trace. Those in the synagogue probably gossiped about her as her son went around proclaiming that He was the son of God and doing miracles. Somewhere in the mix, her husband dies and she lives with tensions between her children over Jesus and his ministry. And lastly, she sits at the foot of the cross bearing the agony of his death on the cross as He fulfills his purpose as the Savior of the world. She remains true to her Yes and to the joys and sorrows that her purpose brings.
Joseph's Yes: May we have the obedience of Joseph in the midst of trying times: "Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded: he took her to his side as his wife. But he had no union with her as her husband until she had borne her firstborn Son; and he called His name Jesus." Joseph provides and protects for Mary in her journey regardless of the danger or the criticism of those around them. By saying Yes, he adds his strength to the eternal purpose being fulfilled.
Wise men's Yes: May we have the wisdom and faith of the wise men. "When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy. And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him. Then opening their treasure bags, they presented to Him gifts - gold, frankincense, and myrrh." The wise men said Yes to long days of miserable travel to get there, uncertain of exactly what they were looking for or how long it would take. The wise men said Yes to worship and laying down their earthly possessions for the cause of Christ.
Let us guard our heart this Christmas. May we see the people around us and the days we live in through the eyes of Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men. Their eyes were on the prize; the prize of salvation; the prize of an eternal kingdom being birthed in the earth; the prize of billions of souls that lay in the balance. May we not let the pressure of the season overcome us or overwhelm our faith. Look for the joys of the season, the treasure in those around you, and the opportunity to share his love with a lost and dying world. As we share in His joy, may we also be willing to share in the suffering, whether it be large or small, we see His light shine. To God be the glory, honor, and praise for each day that we live and each breath that we take.
In the midst of this Christmas, let us appreciate the blessings He has given us - eternal life, an eternal kingdom without end, eternal principles which are brilliant and beautiful, and eternal victory over death and the grave. May we say Yes to the burdens we will bear as His children in His kingdom. Together, we are the church. There is unity in Jesus and being a part of His glorious family; we have an eternal mission that is worth living for and dying for. May we shine and be the hands and feet of Jesus in 2019. With love,