Christmas Thoughts and Greetings for Today

Bennett Park, Charlotte, MI  Photo by Mark J Booth
Bennett Park, Charlotte, MI Photo by Mark J Booth

Merry Christmas to all of you who subscribe to my blog or read my posts.  May each of you enjoy this special time of year with family and loved ones.  This Christmas for me is very special.  Sharon and I are glad to have our whole family with us for three days.

As we think about this time of year we can’t forget the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here are three thoughts that I pray would be a blessing to those who read them.

1. Do not fear God’s plan for your life. Embrace it! God does know what He is doing. “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30)

2. Do not ever limit what God can do with your life. What may seem insignificant to man is very significant to God. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2) In the birth of Jesus, God used 1) an insignificant young woman (Mary) 2) an insignificant object (a manger) 3)an insignificant city (Bethlehem) 4) an insignificant nation (Israel). God wants to use each of us “insignificant” people for His purposes and His Glory. Can we say: “Here, am I Lord, use me.”?

3. Do we know the One who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago?  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
1. He is the fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy.
2. He is the coming King.
3. He is the Savior of the World
4. He is the Messiah (the Deliverer)
5. He is the Lord.
6. He is God in the flesh.
 

“Dear Lord
Help me to see beyond the lights of Christmas and see you, the Light of the World.
Help me to see beyond the gifts of Christmas and see you, the Gift from God the Father.
Help me to see beyond the food of Christmas and see you, the Bread of Life.
Help me to see beyond the activity of Christmas and see you, the Rest for my Soul. Amen”

The Wonder of the Babe in the Manger

The Canadian Rockies-Photo by: Mark J Booth
The Canadian Rockies-Photo by: Mark J Booth

Christmas in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1983 was quite different for our family of three. I had always been accustomed to cold weather and snow in Michigan.  In Johannesburg, it was the middle of the summer.  What could we do special with our toddler?  We ventured out one evening to nearby Joubert Park to see the annual Christmas displays.  We were surprised that the displays had nothing to do with Christmas.  Each display depicted a fairy tale story.  What did the Three Blind Mice and Little Jack Horner have to do with Christmas?   Where was Jesus in the manger?  Where was the Christmas music?  Finally, in a quiet corner, we found the manger scene lost in the midst of the fairy tales.

An Old Photo of Joubert Park without the Christmas displays.
An Old Photo of Joubert Park without the Christmas displays.

Today, those displays remind me of how easy it is to forget Jesus in the midst of all the activity, lights, music and shopping of the season.  We may give Jesus a little corner of our lives as the baby in Bethlehem, but are we willing to allow Him to rule in our hearts and lives?

Seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah prophesied concerning the birth of Jesus Christ.  He not only spoke of His birth, but revealed the character of the coming Deliverer of Israel.  These words are quite well-known; yet do we know the meaning of this description of Jesus?

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

This description of Christ creates a spirit of prayer, worship and praise unto Jesus.  Yes, He came to earth as a baby, but He is unique.  He is God in the flesh.  Do we take the opportunity to pray, honor and glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  Will you join me in the following prayers based on the greatness of the baby in the manger.

“And His Name Shall be Called:

  1. Wonderful-“Dear Lord Jesus, As I read the Bible, I often treat it as textbook from which to learn truth.  I can lose the wonder of being in your presence.  I can lose the wonder of all that you have done in my life.  Please restore the wonder of your birth, life, death and resurrection in my life. With wonder comes true worship. You are worthy. Amen”
  2. Counsellor-“Lord, you are always there to guide me. When I don’t know what to do, you show me the way. When I need to pour out my heart to someone, you are always ready to listen. Thank you for being my counselor always and in every situation. You are truly the All-Wise God! Amen”
  3. The mighty God-“Dear Lord, I often find myself trying to live the Christian life without you. I try to deal with life’s difficulties on my own. I forget that you are all-powerful and that nothing is too hard for you. Help me to lean upon your all-powerful arms. Help me to trust you in every situation and to remember that nothing is impossible with you. Thank you for your patience towards me. Thank you that you are the mighty fortress to whom I may always flee. Amen”
  4. The Everlasting Father-“Dear Lord, because you are the Father of Eternity, you are always with me. You love, protect and provide for me. Thank you for giving me eternal life. Help me to love you even in a small way as you love me. Help me to learn at your feet and be quick to obey you. Thank you that I can call out to you as My Heavenly Father, and you always answer! Amen”
  5. The Prince of Peace-“Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for me, so that I may have peace with you! I also thank you that when I cast my cares upon you, I may also experience your peace every day. Please work in the hearts of the many people who don’t know you as THE PRINCE OF PEACE. Amen.

This time of year is a great opportunity to renew our wonder in the attributes and works of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  Let’s not view Jesus as the babe in the manger, but as the Savior of the world and the Lord of our lives. Let’s do more than keep in Christ in Christmas.  Let’s keep Christ in the center of our lives.

What about Bad Tidings in the Season of Good Tidings? (Psalm 112:7)

Storm brewing over Downriver Area of Metro Detroit.
Storm brewing over Downriver Area of Metro Detroit (2011)

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7)

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” is a Christmas Carol that people sang since the 16th century in England.  If is a song of joy as expressed in the words: “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”  However, not everybody receives good tidings during this time of year.  We still face trials, sorrow, and pain.  Many people even feel a deeper sense of loneliness during this time of year than at any other time of the year.  Yes, evil tidings don’t stop during this time of year: however there is good news from God in the midst of evil tidings that may come our way.

In the Bible, we see many people who triumphed over the evil tidings in their lives.  Joseph overcame many evil tidings, including betrayal, slavery, and prison, to become the prime minister of Egypt.  Ruth overcame the evil tidings of the death of her husband and living in poverty.  She would soon marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of King David.

God gives us his Word to encourage us as we face the evil tidings of life that may come our way.  Every day, “bad news” can surprise us. We don’t ask for it, but it is a package delivered to the doorway of our lives.   How can we triumph even in the midst of bad news?  How can we see good news come out of the bad news?  Psalm 112:7 gives us some answers to these questions.

Normally, our first response to bad news is to be afraid or fearful.  Fear paralyzes us.  It causes us to focus upon the bad news instead of our Great God.  God tells us that we do not have to be afraid of the “evil tidings” that enter into our life.  God knows that fear will keep us from seeing Him clearly.  Fear causes us to doubt the goodness and the power of God.  For this reason God gives us many verses that command us to “fear not”.

  • But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob,and he that formed thee, O Israel, FEAR NOT: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
  • ” FEAR THOU NOT; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
  • “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID.” (John 14:27)

When fear departs in the midst of the bad news, then we are able to do the next step in facing our bad news.  We now can “fix our heart” upon the Lord.  Our bad news is an opportunity to focus upon God.  We can focus upon all of His attributes and promises.  When we fix our heart upon the Lord, it may not change our circumstances, but it will change how we face our circumstances.  We will understand with the Apostle Paul that
God’s grace is sufficient for the “evil tidings” that may come in our life.

Once fear has departed and we have fixed our heart upon the Lord, then we can have faith in Him.  Faith is responding to all that we know about God.  The more we know the Lord, the more we will be able to trust Him.  True faith knows that God will never leave us, nor forsake us regardless of the “bad news” that may come our way.  His love is an unchanging love.  He loves us with an “everlasting love.”.  Faith in our Lord will dispel any fear in our life.  It will enable us to bear whatever “bad news” that comes our way.

In summary, when we receive bad news, Psalm 112: 7 tells us three ways to respond to the “evil tidings”

  1. Do not allow fear to dominate our thoughts and actions.
  2. Fix our heart upon the Lord.  Let our thoughts focus on the Lord.
  3. Place our faith in the Lord.  He will carry us as we face the “bad news’ in our life.

When the “evil tidings” enter into our live, God has a way of turning those evil tidings into an opportunity to see Him work in our life and in the lives of those around us.  God will turn those “evil tidings” into “good tidings” that will draw us closer to Him, and bring glory to His name.

“Dear Lord, the news that I receive is not always good.  I see people who are suffering.  I visit those who have marital problems.  I talk with those who have a loved one who is dying.  I see people who have turned away from you.  I also face difficulties from time to time in my life.  My tendency is to face the bad news with fear.  Help me, to turn my eyes off the “bad news” and fix my heart upon you.  Please, increase my faith.  Help me to believe that you will take this “bad news” and make it into something good. Thank you for your great plan for my life. Amen”