This time of year you will often hear the religious folks say that “Jesus is the reason for the season” but you wouldn’t think it if you have been out in the world over the last few days. The stores, the traffic and all of the holiday activity makes that notion a bit hazy.
Now that all the shopping, parties and rushing around is over, we have a day to catch our breath. Take a time out from the world. Some of you are enjoying watching children open their presents while you spend time with you family. It is a day to reflect and maybe think about this day.
The excitement from watching the results of us buying gifts for others arrives and soon it will be over in a flash after weeks of anticipation. The gifts that were open under the tree will eventually lose its excitement and our days will find its way back to the routine of our lives. We are reminded that the gifts aren’t what makes us happy but it is the relationships with the people we care about that last.
In spite of the evidence we see, the birth of Jesus is the reason we have Christmas. No, it isn’t his actual birth date and there has been a lot of pagan rituals mixed in over the years but the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago was the most significant birth in the history of the world. Of course today people get so easily offended if you say anything about Him or wish someone a Merry Christmas.
That’s crazy. The birth of Jesus shouldn’t offend anyone. The problem is the people who try to sell Jesus or push their version of Him on people.
You can have a relationship with Jesus without having to be super religious. Sadly too many religious folks give Him a bad rap. Don’t be turned off by the crazies. You don’t have to act weird to have a relationship with Him. He wants to have a relationship with us.
A relationship with Jesus Christ is the gift that many fail to open but can be the greatest gift of all. I won’t lie to you, your problems won’t be over but it will be different. I can’t possibly convince you with my words, you have to experience it yourself.
My own life has revolved around the church and being taught about Christ. It has just been the past ten years that my relationship with Him has changed and evolved into a more personal experience rather than the emotional cheerleader experience of the previous years. I have found a God that you don’t have to yell and scream (or speak in tongues) at to get His attention. It has been a gamechanger for me. I like this version of Jesus much better and He is more like the one I read about in the Bible. No, my life hasn’t been perfect and I haven’t always done the right thing but life with Christ has been wonderful for me. His grace and mercy has helped me through the many ups and downs and twists and turns in my life.
The birth of Jesus is a gift to us from God. 2 Corinthians 9:15 says “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”
A baby can change your life. Just ask any new parent.
Life after the arrival of a baby is vastly different than before he or she is born. The baby creates change in the home. Priorities change. Lifestyles change. Diapers change. The focus goes from your own life to the new life. Although I have never been a parent myself, I have noticed this change in others. It isn’t anything I can really describe except there is a joy that I can see in their eyes and in their faces that wasn’t there before the baby’s arrival.
There is another baby who was born in a Bethlehem stable over 2,000 years ago, that can have an even greater impact in our lives. Throughout the course of human history since His birth, He has changed the lives of people of all ages, all races and all nations. This baby brought salvation to mankind. There was never a doubt about His “Purpose Driven Life”. Matthew 1:21 tells us “and she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.”
His birth and His purpose was to save us from our sins. To repair the separation between God and man. The law which instituted the method of animal sacrifice for the redemption of sin was replaced by a baby who would begin His journey to the cross from His humble beginnings in a stable. All this to save us.
How is it possible that we can be saved by a Jewish baby born in a smelly stable for animals in Israel a long time ago before any of us were born ourselves? How can this baby save us?
This baby was God in a human body. He wasn’t a super hero like Superman. He didn’t come from another planet with powers and abilities but He came to empower us with the indwelling of His Spirit. This baby was born from thousands of years of prophecy. He fulfilled everything that had been said by the prophets about Him.
His own people didn’t understand the significance of His birth. They were looking for an earthly king to save them from the tyranny of Rome but this baby didn’t come to save from an earthly kingdom but to establish a heavenly kingdom. The little baby in the manger didn’t save us. It was the innocent Christ who freely gave His life on the cross which brought salvation to us all. Each Christmas we have cute little Christmas plays to tell us of the miraculous birth but His birth was shadowed by the cross which was His destiny. What we celebrate on Christmas is the wonderful gift that God gave to us. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift. (1 Corinthians 9:15)
Are you saved? *cringe* *cringe*
When I hear this question, due to my Pentecostal background, I get the image of some zealous religious fanatic on a busy street corner asking people who walk by if they are saved. People who are unfamiliar with this Christian cliché would respond to this zealous street corner preacher: “Am I saved? Saved from what?”
In the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts from the past, present and future. In our existence as God’s created beings, we are also confronted by each ghost but encouraged by the gift of salvation to deal with each one.
SAVED FROM THE PAST
We all have a past. Who hasn’t done things in the past that they regret? We have all said things that we shouldn’t have said and done things that we wished we hadn’t done. Sometimes the ghosts from our past still haunt us today. We can be assured that we all came from the same place; we all have sinned. (Romans 3:23) No one has been born without sin. Sin is the default condition when we are born into this world. A child does not have to be taught to do wrong. Due to the sinful condition of the world, we are born in sin. There are many times I think about the stupid things I have done in my life. I wish I had a time machine where I could go back and change some of the things that I have done. In reality, the problem with the past is that none of us can go back to change anything. The past is done. We can’t have a “do over” but we can have an “extreme makeover” through the power of salvation.
Jesus offers an escape from our past. Although we can’t see the literal blood of Jesus today, we can be assured that His blood sacrifice is still as powerful today to wash away the affects of our past sins. The past does not have power over us! All things have passed away, behold all things are new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Religious folks have a term called being “born again”. This term confuses the average person just as it did Nicodemus in the New Testament. Obviously, it is not physically possible to return to your mother’s womb and be born again. The rebirth is spiritual. Instead of becoming a baby on the outside, your inner being becomes new. You are no longer defined by your past. Yes, people may still hold your past over you but God will not throw it up to you. Never. We are SAVED from our past.
SAVED FROM THE PRESENT
We all have problems in this life. If you are not currently experiencing problems at this time, just be patient, here is one on the way soon. That’s just life. We deal with stress, relationship problems, financial problems, physical pain, etc. I get rather aggravated when I hear a preacher on television make it seem that if you are a believer in Christ that you will live the good life and won’t have any problems. This is not the reality we live in. It might be good television and convincing for a few more people to “sow their seeds” into those ministries but even Jesus told us that we would have problems. (John 15:18) But, it isn’t all gloom, despair and agony on us. No matter how bad things get, we can still have peace. Jesus said that we will have trouble but to be happy because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33) As believers, we may not have the material wealth as some preach but we will have God’s favor in our life. His favor comes in many ways, some that we do not even give Him credit for. Jesus is more than one that can calm the storms in our lives, He is also the one who can calm us in the middle of the storms. He SAVES us in the present.
SAVED FROM THE FUTURE
When you are saved by this baby, you never have to worry about the future. The future is secured by His eternal promise. Heaven is reserved for you. Until then, His Spirit is dwelling on this earth and guiding your path. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us to store up our treasures in heaven because it will be safe there. Recently I attended a retirement seminar where we were told that the current Social Security program will be bankrupt by the year 2018. We were forewarned not to expect Social Security when we are eligible for retirement. There is no such problem with God’s retirement plan. No one will bankrupt it, no politician will spend it for something of waste and no natural disaster or terrorist attack will destroy it. You can count on it being there because it is backed by the creator of the universe and made possible by the baby who became our Savior.
The future of the world will get worse, evildoers will get more evil as the end approaches. I have grown tired of politicians and all the things they promise. Our Senators, Congressmen and President are NOT the answer. Our future is in God, not a political party. Our future is secure in the salvation of Christ. He SAVES us from the future.
Let us be wise men and women and trust in the salvation that was made possible by a baby in a manger. He has not only saved us from sin, but saves us from everything that tries to snatch us from His care. We are promised eternal life and no one can take that away from us. (John 10:28-29) God gave us a precious gift to assure our place with Him. In our search for gifts during this season, let’s pause to reflect on THE gift we were given by the birth of a baby. A baby who saves us.