An Unhurried Holiday
by Karen Ehman, crosswalk.com
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2:16 (NIV)
“Hurry up! We’re going to be late to the choir concert!”
“Come on kids. Help me unload these groceries right now. I’ve got to get these cookies baked before bedtime.”
“Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don’t miss out on the deals!”
With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many women are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!
Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.
As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.
I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ’s birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too?
Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn’t to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.
The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.
If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.
Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.
As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.
How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.
Saying “Yes” to God
by Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com.
It seems like every day one hears about all kinds of troubling behavior from people who ought to know better. A family friend leaves his wife and children for his secretary. A pastor resigns from his parish after his drug addiction is discovered. A CEO is caught with his hands on company money. We see it in the news. We hear about it from friends. It invades our households. Destructive, self-centered, sin. And so often the guilty party seems completely blind to his error, or unable to fathom how he ever made such a huge mistake.
As a recent member of what most would consider the “adult” world, I have often pondered how seemingly well-adjusted, often God-fearing members of society can justify such actions in their minds. In fact, in my more panicky moments, I have had a fear of suddenly lapsing into some dreaded sin myself – like these perfectly capable people I see all around me.
After all, does my righteousness exceed that of the Pharisees? How can I claim to have more wisdom than my parents or my pastor? Do I know more about the world than my professors? Could I possibly have a better understanding of morals and truth than my government leaders? If I watch them stumble into seemingly obvious moral blunders, how could I possibly escape the same fate?
The hard part is that often our sin nature is just as appealing as the prompting of Holy Spirit. Far too often we know right away what the godly course of action would be. Humility. Purity. Hard work. Compassion. Faithfulness. But we still get tired, exasperated, lustful, and proud. So we start making decisions which violate our consciences. Tiny decisions that seem meaningless. But those tiny choices grow and grow. Eventually, our life becomes a messy sin explosion and we cry out, “Where did I lose control?”
The comforting part is that it’s a process. I won’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden think it’s totally OK to steal someone’s car or send nasty, gossipy emails about people I don’t like. 1 John 1:7 says that,
“If we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
If I say “yes” to God when he shows me how I can remain faithful to him in my lifestyle, in the little things, that will strengthen me to say “no” to life-wrecking choices.
From: 2020 by Harvest Ministries
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:23–24 nkjv)
If you knew bad things were about to happen, would you still give thanks?
Jesus did. He gave thanks, knowing that He was about to look into the throat of Hell and bear the sins of the world.
The Bible tells us, “The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23–24 nkjv).
Jesus knew the future. He knew what lay ahead for Him would not be easy or pleasurable.
He knew that no one would deliver Him from the cross. In fact, He even knew that one of His own handpicked disciples, Judas Iscariot, would betray Him. He knew the others would go into hiding. And He knew that Simon Peter would openly deny Him.
Jesus knew the whole story. That’s because Jesus is God, and He is omniscient—all-knowing.
Then why did Jesus give thanks? It’s because He knew what His suffering would accomplish. The greatest good of all time came from the worst travesty of justice.
So if someone says they lost their faith because of a certain crisis, then I would say that’s good, because they need to get rid of that faith. It’s worthless. The faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.
Anyone can praise God when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. But if you can praise God when the roof caves in, when the bottom drops out, and when things go wrong, it says to me that you’re a true follower of Jesus Christ.
We must remember that despite our immediate circumstances, God is always at work. And that’s a great reason to give thanks.