Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT)
What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
The rain has still not stopped blowing this Christmas. The wind is beating on the house. The dark clouds have hidden the sun. But excitement is in the air, it’s Christmas Eve. This year is different. It is not like every other year for the over a decade. We are changing things up. Yet in the midst of change there is peace. For the last three years, I have either just been getting home from Gainesville with our son or rushing to play catch up. It has been a long year filled with many highs and lows, but God in His Infinite Goodness never left our side as we just kept pressing on. Since my return in September, I have felt the winds of change. Not in the natural, but spiritually. The Lord is moving my life around behind the scenes as I try to wrangle my very human heart into obedience so when the timing is right, I will recognize and embrace what He is doing in our life. Waking up this morning, I took a deep breath. All the gifts have been bought and wrapped. Thank you Jesus for providing yet again so wonderfully for our family. For the most part, the menu is set. What would Christmas Eve be without one more run to Walmart? The kids will be filtering in this afternoon. Our house will be filled once again. So this morning trying to gain comfort in the peacefulness and restfulness that God has given me this year, I am moved by His Spirit to set the atmosphere today. I am not sure what that means or even where to look to find His Method of preparation. Then I see this passage in Ecclesiastes and it begins to make sense, God has made everything beautiful for its own time. We have worked hard so many years and been lost in the busyness of the holidays and life. But this year, we have been given the opportunity to rest and enjoy one another. This is what eternity will be like as we no longer try to be but become one with Jesus in His Glory. God is working in our life. He is moving through our life. We stress in doubt and distrust when to rest means just to love and believe. We don’t have to be busy and overwrought to do such things. So today, I will work to remain in this peace, joy and love that I have found. I will be happy. Enjoy myself. We will have good food and enjoy the fruits of our labors in the provision and prosperity the Lord has given us. These are God’s Gifts to us.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
I have a friend whose daughter is fighting the same cancer that our son has battled. She is struggling with spending the holidays in the hospital, at the doctor and playing nurse to a disgruntled patient. This is a difficult season. I have shed many tears for her. I know how she feels. On Facebook, there is a new application that will post a video/slideshow of your year in review using pictures and posts. She doesn’t care to ever remember this year. All she wants is for it to go away as quickly as it came. I understand. There must be some distance from the pain before we can ever embrace the healing. For everything there is a season. I believe that. In fact, looking over the first eight verses in this chapter, we may have touched on all of them in the past year. We have experienced life to the fullest including sickness, pain and healing. We have seen setbacks turn into victory. We have seen our lives torn apart and rebuilt into something beautiful. We have grieved loss and experienced the joy that comes in the morning. At the end of it all, we have determined that God is always good. His Love for us is worth having. Our faith is alive. Our hope is secure. Isn’t that what discovering Eternity is all about? Finding out that God’s Love is worth having, pursuing, holding on to, no matter what season of life we are in. It’s time to celebrate God’s Love for our family. It’s time to thank you for this gift called life.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
When I was a child, we would spend half of Christmas day at my mom’s house and the other at my dad’s house two very different environments. We would open presents, eat big meals and celebrate Christmas in each. As a child, I remember not wanting to be rushed by lumber around in my pajamas and enjoy the day. As I grew up becoming an adult, I struggled with depression every holiday season. It didn’t matter how many gifts were under the tree or how perfect the ham turned out or even how happy the children were, I would feel covered in sadness. My birth mom passed away this year. We had not seen each other in 13 years. She came to spend Christmas with us that year and it was a fiasco. When she passed, years of guilt and regret gave way to relief. Each year, I would try to find a gift, a fitting card or even make the call but I couldn’t feeling as though I would be sucked into her addiction again. Could it be this year that I am finally free to enjoy Christmas with my family by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ? My mom is finally free of years of pain and suffering. I am finally free from the hurt of losing someone to a senseless thing. We both found peace this year.
I believe that we take for granted our need for the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. We put ourselves in bondage to our emotions. The Spirit sets us free. This year, Jesus wants us to see the futility in human thinking and take on the Mind of Christ. It belongs to us. It was part of the salvation package. Rather than being sucked into what others make Christmas all about, we can find what we really want by allowing the Holy Spirit to have His Way in our hearts and homes. The Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Who doesn’t want all these things in their home and life? Everyone wants love. We need peace. Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness fortify families. Self-control always makes us better. These are the qualities that allow us to see the Glory of God and live in His Love.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
Tonight we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the greatest gift this world has ever known. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. His Peace never ends unless we allow it to be taken from us by doubt, worry and anxiety. We can have peace all the time when we live according to the Eternity in our hearts and not the waves of emotions coupled with winds of change around us. We are secure in our faith and by our hope. Salvation keeps us under the Lordship of Christ which allows us to have all the fruits of His Spirit to sustain us in the midst of the times and seasons of life. No matter what you faced last year, or what is coming in 2015 – the Peace and Love of God the Father and Jesus His Son belong to you and me. It is His Promise to us symbolized by the baby lying in the manger all the way to the man dying on the Cross and our Savior who came up out of the grave who is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. For to us this gift was given and it is up to us to maintain His Presence in our life. Change the atmosphere around you today. It doesn’t matter if the storm raining our life is real or imagined. It doesn’t matter if the wind is really whipping through the trees or simply swaying our heart. All the Gift of God’s Love to reign in your heart and home today. Ask the Holy Spirit to be a guest in your home, at your table and in the midst of every interaction. Tis the season…
Luke 2:9-14 (NLT)
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”