Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are You Ready For Christmas?

As we head toward Christmas, I thought I would post this piece, written during last year's holiday season, for your reading pleasure. May it bless and challenge you. Enjoy!

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
and the government will rest on His shoulders; And His
name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Once, in a time and place far distant from the here and now, a promise was made. The One who made the promise was, is and shall ever be Excellent, True, Merciful, Omniscient and Omnipotent. He promised to send a Rescuer to His people. And so the people hoped.

Generations were born and died. People were conquered and taken into captivity within their own land. Time continued to pass and the people continued to hope.

They looked forward to the day the Promise would come to pass. They imagined what it would be like when the Rescuer came. They pictured a great warrior enrobed in shining garments, carrying mighty weapons, riding a powerful war steed into battle and decimating their enemies.

Hundreds of years had passed since the time the Promise was made and the people continued to anticipate the Advent - the coming of the Rescuer.

On one starlit night, in the fullness of time, an emissary appeared to an innocent young girl and declared, “The Rescuer is coming and you will give birth to Him.” The girl, while puzzled by how this could happen since she was as innocent and pure as a virgin could possibly be, accepted the emissary’s decree and rejoiced. “I am blessed among all women,” she said.

The girl gave birth to a Son. He was not born into a home of wealth or privilege. He did not spend His days enrobed in shining garments, carrying mighty weapons and riding a powerful war steed into battle. He did not decimate the people’s enemies in any predictable way. He didn’t look like the Rescuer they had envisioned.

But He was the Promised Rescuer. He came in a way that was most unexpected and did things that spoke to the people of something far greater than powerful steeds and shining robes. The Rescuer was a mystery that had been unraveled and a miracle that had been seen. He still is. He will appear again.

To the modern mind, such a story sounds rather like a fairy tale. To the Christian, it sounds like the story of Jesus.

Jesus - born to a virgin, in a manger, surrounded by straw, stench, animals and shepherds.

Jesus - grew to manhood as the child of a humble blue collar worker and lived a life of absolute perfection.

Jesus - took the transgressions of the world on Himself and paid the ultimate penalty for you and me.

During the holiday season it’s easy to focus attention on the Nativity, but many churches first spend several weeks focusing on the Advent. This season is a time where we ready ourselves to celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ birth in a manner truly reflective of who He is and what He has done for us.

Consider this: Jesus’ own people, who had waited for His arrival for many generations, didn’t recognize Him when He walked in their midst. They weren’t truly prepared for Him. In particular, the ones who should have been ready - the religious leaders of the time - didn’t see Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah that He was and is. Instead of being prepared for Him, they made themselves His adversaries.

It’s a rather cautionary tale for those of us walking the earth today. So, what are we to do about it? We prepare and we celebrate.

We “make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” (Mark 1:3)

We “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)

We “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

We care for those who are needy and in distress, giving joyfully and keeping ourselves unstained by the world. (James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 9:7)

We remember the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10-11)

We “celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:9)

Most importantly, we remember that there is another Advent. Jesus promised to return. He is coming for a Bride who is spotless and without blemish. Furthermore, He has promised to make us that Bride who is spotless and without blemish. He forgives and cleanses us from all sin and unrighteousness every time we confess our sins. He is faithful and righteous to do that, every time. (1 John 1:9)

Death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, height, depth - nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39)

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

This Week
Rejoice that the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, was born. Be grateful that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes will have eternal life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you repent and prepare for Christ’s return.

“Lord, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude for the great gift of salvation. Thank you so much! Please, grant that I would, by the power of the Holy Spirit, live repentantly and be prepared for Your return. Amen.”

See original post on the Words of LIFE site.

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