We felt as if our Christmas was being canceled last year. Actually, our flight to see family in Missouri was canceled due to snow. It’s been our tradition for quite a few years to celebrate Christmas with them, so we were greatly disappointed when we only got as far as Minnesota and had to return home to Michigan.
On Sunday, in a message we would have missed, our pastor spoke about expectations for Christmas. He caught my attention when he said, “If our expectations for Christmas are gifts and time with family, we have set our expectations too low. Those are enjoyable and things we’re thankful for, but Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Christ and His redemption.”
Simeon and Anna celebrated the coming of Jesus and His salvation when Joseph and Mary brought Him to the temple as a baby (Luke 2:25-38). Simeon, a man who was told by the Spirit that he would not die before he saw the Messiah, declared: “My eyes have seen Your salvation” (v.30). When Anna, a widow who served God, saw Jesus, she “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (v.38).
We may experience disappointments or heartache during the Christmas season, but Jesus and His salvation always give us reason to celebrate.
How wonderful that we on Christmas morn
Though centuries have passed since Christ was born,
May worship still the Living Lord of men,
Our Savior, Jesus, Babe of Bethlehem. —Hutchings
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? . . . Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.Psalm 42:5”
I love living where there are four seasons. But even though I love settling down with a good book by a crackling fire when it’s snowing, I must admit that my love for the seasons grows a little dim when the long gray days of winter drone on into February.
Yet regardless of the weather, there is always something special about winter: Christmas! Thankfully, long after the decorations are down, the reality of Christmas still lifts my spirits no matter what’s happening.
If it weren’t for the reality of Christ’s birth, not only would winter be dark and dreary, but our hearts would be bleak and have nothing to hope for. No hope for the freedom from guilt and judgment. No hope of His reassuring and strengthening presence through dark and difficult times. No hope for a future secured in heaven.
In the winter of a troubled life, the psalmist asked, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” The remedy was clear: “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance”.
In C. S. Lewis’ tales of Narnia, Mr. Tumnus complains that in Narnia it is “always winter and never Christmas.” But for those of us who know the God who made the seasons, it is always Christmas in our hearts! —Joe Stowell
When our lives are heavy laden,
Cold and bleak as winter long,
Stir the embers in our hearts, Lord;
Make Your flame burn bright and strong. —Kieda
Let the reality of Christmas chase away the blahs of winter.
“Approved to God”
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth —2 Timothy 2:15
If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don’t, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God’s winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God’s truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, “I’m not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I’ll just borrow my words from someone else,” then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else.
Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.