Luke 2:9-12 (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.”
Our church is celebrating Christmas today with a special service. This breaks the normal routine of just one service on Sunday but today there will be two. It’s a good thing as life gets really busy celebrating the season with parties, gatherings, shopping, gifting, stressing and such. I believe the night that Jesus was born was busyness as usual – pun intended. The census was big busin ess to Bethlehem. Every hotel, motel and Holiday Inn was filled to overflowing. I would think that every dining hall, restaurant and Olive Garden had a two-hour wait or more. As Mary and Joseph entered the town, they did not notice the crush or rush of the season but rather the pain and pressure that was pushing God’s Promise into this world. This busy world. This distracting time. This life that never makes time for rest or revelation just constant rushing and reacting. God was about change things significantly but no one had the time to stop.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them. Many Christmas pageants will reenact this moment today if their program has not already taken place. The radiance of the Lord’s Glory that surrounded this moment may somehow be missed in the revelry. The shepherds who encountered God in such a glorious way were at first terrified. But the angel of the Lord would not allow such fear, doubt and discouragement to overtake them and said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” All people even you who is weighted down by heavy burdens or drowning in unmet expectation. You who are fighting unseen enemies in prevailing darkness trying desperately to act normal groping to find your way out. Those who are draped in artificial trees, lights and splendor of Christmas colors but inside only see black and white images of deep depression. Yes, you who are exhausted and overwhelmed in the rush and crush of “Christmas”. God is speaking to each of us today in whatever state this season has brought to the surface to say, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to you of all people.” Do you have joy this Christmas? You will always find joy in Jesus.
The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born…you will recognize him and you will find him. In the midst of the statements is hidden the Truth that can make this last week joyful. The kind of joy that doesn’t stop after the gifts are open, everyone fed and you can finally put your feet up and rest. This is the kind of joy that prevails over happiness and haphazard life to keep us in constant peace filled with inexpressible joy all year round. We must find our Savior, Messiah and Lord.
Luke 1:46-50 (NLT) Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.”
Poor Mary! Can you imagine? She was a single mom in a staunch religious culture that frowned heavily and punished young ladies in such a position. She had done nothing other than say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” She said, “Yes!” This commitment to God would not be recognized by others though she tried to share her side. Even her fiancé, Joseph, doubted her until the Lord came to him, too. Our response to the Lord doesn’t always make everything calm and peaceful. No most of the time all hell breaks loose around you as the enemy wants God’s Promise inside of you.
I have been pregnant five times. I have had relatively easy ones, praise the Lord. However, with all three in the midst of transition, when arrival is imminent – I lose it. Generally erupting in an internal conversation that sometimes makes its way out. What were you thinking? I just want to quit. Lord, no more. I once told a midwife that I was done and leaving. I didn’t want to do it anymore. She simply smiled and said, “Okay.” Ugh! Birthing God’s Promise physically and spiritually is no different. There is pressure and there is pain but our persistence pushes past all that as God has His Way. What is your response today to the Savior? Jesus cannot and will not leave you in the same condition that He found you. Ever. If you seek the Savior – then you will experience deliverance from sin, shame and guilt. You cannot have the Promise and the past. Choosing the promise will always become a pregnancy that leads to pressure and pain at times.
Luke 4:17-21 (NLT) The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Jesus is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. When He began to speak and told the people, “the scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day” – it was a line drawn in the sand and every demon in hell even satan screeched loudly at the transgression. They would not be defeated. Jesus had a mission. God sent Him on purpose. He came to save the world. He also came to empower each of God’s Children to achieve and execute His Power after Jesus was gone back to Heaven. He intended to march into hell retrieve the keys to open the life and release the promise of every man and woman bound, hindered and headed for death and the grave by sin. His Grace would be released to all mankind along with all the love, joy and peace Heaven has to offer. Are you living under the powerful anointing of Jesus Christ in your life today?
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Are you living free and clear in Jesus Christ today? I believe that this is often missed in our Christian life. We come to the Savior. Live in repentance. Strive to stay close to Him. Love Him. Choosing grace and grabbing hold of mercy. We see the wretchedness of our weakness. Know that we are powerless against sin. BUT where is freedom? Where is the power that He promised us? Is it still locked inside of us?
Jesus said, “It is finished.” The Bible says that after He spoke these final words that He released His Spirit to inhabit the hearts of His People. He gave us His Power which we accept with His Grace. However, many people never experience God’s Power because they don’t have enough faith to be confident in His Grace. His Saving is sufficient but many worry that their sin is too great, their weakness too obvious, and their rebellion too real. His Grace is enough for you today. It is enough for me. Even on those days that I fail, give up, give in and request do-over after do-over – God is with me, in me, and pushing His Promise out of me. To find Him – we must not only look for a Savior but our Messiah full of awesome power, too.
Greater things. Jesus said that anyone who believes in Him will do the same “works” (miracles, signs and wonders) that He had done. But the Messiah doesn’t stop there. He goes on to promise that we will do even greater works when He completed His Work and went back to the Father. Well…Jesus did it. Are we doing it? Do we believe? Those who do will experience the Glory of God as the shepherds did in the field. They will feel the tug on their heart of the wise men who had to honor Jesus. We must seek not only a Savior but the Messiah, too.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
Jesus is not only our Savior and Messiah. He must be our Lord. You know I find that when I set out to do a certain task around the house, maybe I am just looking for something, that I can get distracted and forget what I was after in the first place. Distractions are a way of life. Have you ever walked into that room and thought why am I here? Your life will always hold distractions and detours set by the enemy to get your mind off of the real thing you are after. People are not the problem but become problematic. Children become teenagers. Work gets chaotic. Change is constantly evolving. The enemy is desperate to steal and kill God’s Promise for our life. Our promise is to build a kingdom. You are part of the Body of Christ. All our human body parts represent a certain function necessary for perfect health and wholeness. You are important to the development and fulfillment of the Body. You – yes you, all by your lonely. You are important. You are significant. Is Jesus your Lord today?
I know the plans that I have for you. God knows exactly what He created you to do and what will satisfy your soul. Jesus saved you for this purpose and has empowered you to fulfill it. Our faith takes these two qualities of Christ to serve Him as Lord. To make Jesus Lord of our life is not about church doctrine, Christian guidelines, or any other manmade rule. To make Jesus Lord is to love Him wholeheartedly. I struggle with sin every day. I am able to overcome some of them simply because I love others too much to do them and even more when I started loving Jesus too much to do the rest. Religion cannot make Jesus Lord of our life. It is our relationship with Him that changes everything. To fall so in love with Jesus that you do not want to sin or allow anything to come between the two of you. I don’t want anything I do to drive a wedge in our relationship.
Jeremiah 29:11 is widely known and accepted. Everyone loves the fact that God has a plan for our life. We celebrate even more that they contain a future and hope. Yes, Lord. Seldom do we dig deeper. We want the promise but not the process. What does it say next? This is pivotal to fulfillment and our part in the process. When you pray, I will listen. Busyness is probably the #1 joy killer in every Christian. We go so long not communicating with the Lord that the absence or void becomes filled with other things. We must clear our schedule and make time for our relationship and pursuit of Jesus every day. If you look for me, wholeheartedly, you will find me. Are you looking for Jesus today? Are you searching desperately for the Savior, longing for the Messiah, and wholeheartedly pursuing the Lord? We need the full person of Jesus Christ in our life every single day. It seems so ironic that a season created to celebrate His Birth is the time of year when the suicide hotline rings off the hook, families fall apart, and people become completely overwhelmed in doing, running and rushing to meet unreasonable expectations. We must seek Jesus wholeheartedly and save Christmas once and for all.
Luke 2:15-20 (NLT) When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
I laugh as I wonder if the shepherds were as surprised to find Jesus as I am when God’s Word holds true. Time and time again, the Lord has done exactly as promised and yet I am still amazed that God would do such wonderful things for me. When I make the choice to seek Him wholeheartedly, it always turns out just as He said it would. Sometimes the road to fulfillment is short and others are long journeys filled with high highs and low lows, but the Lord is with me through it all. He really does prepare feasts for me in the presence of the enemy. He does everything His Word says. He is doing it. What am I doing? If the Promise God gave you has not come to pass, it is important to make sure that you haven’t given up in the process and that you are still seeking Him wholeheartedly not halfheartedly. The Lord knows the difference and so do you. Jesus said, “It is finished.” This is a word just for you. He came to save you. Heal you. Deliver you. Anoint you. Empower you. Fulfill you. Complete you. In all this, Jesus came to free you. You are free to live your life as you choose. This is His Gift to you this Christmas.
In Luke 17, there were ten lepers who called to Jesus from a distance. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus sent them to the synagogue to show themselves to the priests and as they went they were healed. But only one of them came back seeking Jesus – no one else returned to give thanks or glory to the God who healed them. Hmmm. We come to Jesus in our time of need and press in to His Presence to meet our need and relieve our burden. He gives us salvation. He sets us free. What we do next determines fulfillment in our life? He will heal people who never pursue Him. He will set free some who will never return. Jesus is our Savior, Messiah and Lord. His Character and Qualities are not driven by my behavior or my response. Remember – who the Son sets free is free indeed. My choice is to use my freedom to seek Jesus wholeheartedly until I find Him. What is yours? Wise men (and women) still seek Him. Is your life lackluster is your love drained and joy fading in the midst of all the busyness and distractions of this holiday season? It’s not too late. Make this week count. If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him and Christmas will be joyful all over again.
I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.