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!
Twas the night before Christmas (well morning actually) and all through the house not a creature was stirring except for our little dog not much bigger than a mouse. Christmas Eve is here. Walking quietly as not to awaken three sleeping kids, I am acutely aware of my surroundings today. The silence gives me time to think. It reminds me that my life is not as chaotic as I sometimes perceive it. I realize that this house of barely six months has become our home. Even more so I feel, then the last one of twelve years. I love its rooms. Yesterday, I painted our daughter’s room so the “girl wing” of our humble abode is now coming together nicely. The Christmas tree illuminates the family room that is comfortable and homey. Under it lies more gifts and packages than one family deserves wrapped and ready to be torn open, Lord thank you for blessing us. The endless list of home improvement remains but I see all the things accomplished for some reason today. Timehop, the phone app that recounts past years in personal history, shows that for three long years this day would be spent traveling back from Shands Hospital. The battle is over. Cancer lost. Jesus won the victory for our son who will soon graduate from college and start his new life. I guess with all the busyness I forgot those years shared with hospital staff rather than baking with family. Lord, you are our Healer. It is easy to be consumed by life, all its hurts and heartaches along with daily responsibilities both common and unexpected. To focus on the things undone rather than achieved. It is easy to overlook a Savior who came to us in the middle of our self-consumed rush hour to change everything in a single moment that might take our whole lifetime to see.
It’s Christmas Eve. The day before the Greatest Gift of all time would arrive. The Messiah was not what anyone expected. Yet in that tiny baby was exactly what we needed to saved, healed, delivered and fulfilled. Our Lord of opportunity bearing His Own Gift of a brand new life. His arrival was a statement. The enemy put on notice. Satan knew that if Jesus made it to the Cross it would be finished. The one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us could not stop the King of Kings and Lord of Lords from fulfilling His Mission. The Gift was given. Will it be received? The enemy did not stop at the Cross, throw up his hands and admit defeat. If he could not stop the Kingdom at least he could wage war against it taking as many souls as could be distracted, deceived and drowned in darkness. What will be our choice today? To see the Gift of Jesus and enjoy all of His Blessings and Benefits or allow the enemy to capture us, saturate our mind with fear, worry and anxiety, separate us from family and friends with mere words or thoughtless actions, be consumed with everyone else forgetting the One tomorrow named for.
Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
The arrival of Jesus Christ marked the Word of God becoming flesh to demonstrate a love that prior to that time mankind could not comprehend. He didn’t come as they expected. He was not who they built Him up to be. The logic of a baby born in a stable becoming King of Kings and Lord of Lords would demand a faith and trust far greater than human beings could find on their own. When Jesus died, He released His Spirit to each one of us. He is the Wonderful Counselor. What is a counselor worth if nobody listens or does what is suggested? I have struggled with the holiday blues for many years. My husband was shocked by the revelation. He had no idea. I have hidden it well as I intended to, but today I do not feel sad, lonely or depressed but filled with hope.
Hope never is reliant on what we see now or how things are in this moment but is reserved for that which is coming. To be alive is the opportunity to grow our faith which is focused on unseen things not reality. Faith becomes logical when the Word is applied to our life rather than the things happening to us right now. Thankfulness recounts former faith made into the manifested promises of God. There is no better way to show appreciation for a gift to the giver than to say thank you. Thankfulness is not only in words of appreciation but acts of affirmation. How do we do that? We affirm our appreciation by using that which has been given.
I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I can tell others that I am a Christian. There are many who profess to believe in Jesus Christ by calling themselves Christian but remain exactly the same as the day they asked Him to live inside their heart. Why? They have left the Gift of Salvation wrapped in His Love and Grace unopened. Why not make a difference this year? To be present in Christmas rather than getting wrapped up in presents. The Wonderful Counselor will guide us through the holiday rush just like He will do every single day – if we let Him? We must clothe ourselves in love. We must be representatives of Christ this Christmas. We don’t do that by putting on the best performance but by basking in His Love and sharing it with others.
Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing in creation will ever be able to separate me from the Love of God revealed in Christ Jesus my Lord. Say it again. Jesus came to make a statement. Nothing in this life can separate me from the Mighty Love of God when I choose Him to be my Savior and make Jesus my Lord. Despite all these things, every tactic of the enemy to make us let go of faith and confidence in God’s Love should be removed by this promise. The Gift of God’s Love did not come from a weak and whimpering being who could not maintain it. No, it says that overwhelming victory is ours in Jesus Christ. It is not earned and completely undeserved but His Love for us maintains it even when our choice is to give in or even give up. His Love is maintained by His Power. Where do we find His Power – in His Grace! When I am weak, I become strong simply in trusting that His Love never fails and He is more than equipped to maintain it.
John 1:12-14 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Do you believe? No not in Santa, but in Jesus Christ the Father’s One and Only Son. Do you believe that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life? If your answer is “yes”, you are a Child of the Living God. He is our everlasting Father who created us fully knowing what we were capable of and still decided to send His Son to make sure there would be a place for us with Him forever. A father’s love longs for his children all of his children. This holiday season brings families together. Families are dysfunctional. ALL families are due to imperfection and human nature. When gathering together, if for a moment could put our full expectation in our Everlasting Father maybe then we can cut each other some slack. My parents are not perfect and neither am I. My birth mother died addicted to alcohol that built a barrier separating her from children and grandchildren. I loved my mom even though I could not have a healthy relationship with her. My siblings are a little crazy, too. My own children get on my nerves sometimes but I would do anything for them. This year maybe if our expectation was in our Everlasting Father – relationships could be mended. Walls could come down. Lives brought together again in harmony and unity which our Father loves the most as evidenced in the Gift given to maintain one with us.
Prince of Peace
Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Holiday stress is overwhelming. Depression is heightened during the Christmas season. Fear, worry and anxiety will take over if not dealt with completely. Stop. Today. Just stop. Put the list down. Push the bowl aside for just a minute. Drop the scissors. Just stop. Jesus is a wonderful counselor. The Lord came offering joy and peace in the midst of our personal chaos and expectation. He offers to help those who weary carrying heavy burdens. When was the last time that you sat down and talked to Him? Minus the list, the worry and every other distraction this time of year brings. Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor. He understands distraction. He knows that it is our habit to grab hold of more than we can carry. He says, “Come talk to me.” What will our heart respond today? On the Eve of His Birthday, will you grant the Lord some time?
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.
In the classic Dicken’s story, A Christmas Carol, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge a cold-hearted miser who hates Christmas. The story is about redemption. Traveling through his life past, present and future – onlookers can see the details of life that molded this man and froze his heart within him. When he awakens to find that it is Christmas Day and he is very much alive, Scrooge sets out to change his ways. As long as there is breath in our body, there lies within the opportunity to take advantage of every spiritual blessing, gracious gift and hidden purpose that Jesus Christ brought with His Arrival and released to us in His Death and Resurrection. Our life remains the same only if our choice is to remain that way. If Christmas is stressful, busy and overwhelming, it is our choice to change that tradition. I cannot take something new without releasing old things – ways, habits, attitudes and actions. Jesus Christ is the Gift that takes all the details of my life and makes them work together for my good. He is the personification of God’s Love for me that brings victory. He is the One who helps me work through the tough times and heals my brokenness. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. My life is proof of that and so is yours if you woke up today. Why not visit the Savior today? Why not come to the Lord? Spend some time with the Gift you have been given. Jesus Christ changes everything for those who do.
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!