Friday, December 12, 2008

TRIALS, STRENGTH AND CHRISTMAS


Waiting for a job is not easy when you are living on a dime. We have made the hard decision to sell household items so we have a roof over our head one more month…hoping for a job.

I love Christmas and always have. I will admit in past years I “just had” to have gifts for those I love. It was expected and I delivered. We never put Christmas on a credit card but I did pressure my DH for money to get Christmas. This year it has changed. Yes, I would love to be able to give the grandkids a gift but it is out of the question. I gave the Lord my desire to gift them with “things” and he gave me the desire to give them the gift of time.
He helped me see I can look ahead and He will help me make their birthdays a special day. I am Ok with that.

Now back to Christmas…. what is Christmas to you? Is it the giving and receiving…is it the tree and tinsel…is it the carols and caroling…is it the baking and the turkey…is it the wonder in the eyes of your kids and grandkids…is it family and friends…is it serving or being served…is it Santa or seasons greetings?

I have searched my heart and see that in years past it was somewhat in the toys I gave, the goodies I baked and the parties I had. These things are OK when kept in the proper prospective and are part of the season for us. But it hit me this season that Christmas is Christ and Christ is Christmas. That is the bottom line. We read a lot about the miracle of the birth of Jesus in the Bible. It is a story we teach the kids and they love playing with the Nativity and being in Christmas pageants at church. But I am afraid as we grow up the commercial part of the holidays becomes part of our lives. Did you ever wonder what we could do with the money we spend on new ornaments for our trees to keep them up to date? What about the money we spend to wrap what we buy? Beside the money we need to think of all of this going to a landfill and the harm to our environment. I have a friend that wraps in tea towels, bath towels, and fabric or she uses baskets…anything the receiver can really use. The gifts are always attractive and are appreciated. Why does it take glitter and bright objects to get us into the mood we want in the season? I have heard so many folks mention since the tree is up they feel Christmas or when 10 types of cookies and candy are made it smells and feels like Christmas. Is it because we have really lost the wonder of a virgin having a baby and His name is Jesus?

Think of this with me…..you are a virgin and are carrying a baby and betrothed to a man that still marries you. Can you really feel the fear at first and that the wonder of this miracle? Can you travel with Mary and Joseph to pay their taxes and you have to ride on a donkey? I can’t because I have rode on a donkey at Camp Hebron and it is not a comfortable ride at all. Than she is carrying a child…now that is a tough ride. Think about her attitude when there was no room in the Inn and they had to go to the stable and there birth her child? The miracle of the birth of Jesus brings tears to my eyes.

Can you imagine being a shepherd and all of a sudden seeing angels that are singing and announcing the birth of Jesus? If they came and told us would we label them as delusional? Would you believe them and follow the star? Can you even imagine how they felt when they saw that new born baby? I think they “knew” it was the promised Messiah.
The Wise men are really a story by them selves and I did a word study on them for my journal time. I started at this sight and suggest you do also.
http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/wisemen.html

You will see why this indeed a part of the miracle of the birth of Jesus.
I believe if each of you reading this blog were to get up early one morning and study this miracle or stay up after all are gone to bed and ask the Lord to take away the commercial out of Christmas and instill the miracle of His Birth and why He came to earth you will energized and your family will slow down and see Jesus. Why we run to and fro and get so frazzled is beyond me. Maybe instead of a huge Christmas dinner we need to have a simple meal and share what we might have spent with a family that needs food. Not only will you be blessed but your waist line will be blessed too.

Why did it take a stressful time in my life for me to really see Jesus in Christmas? I think it is because my pride has been stripped, my holiday planning needs no planning, I need no extra gas to shop for what someone may not use and I feel peace…real peace in this season.

Back to no job and no income and all our 401k money used….I read in a book that is getting worn called “Wisdom for the way, Wise Words for Busy People” by Charles Swindoll. He has a way of speaking a book in one page and it points you to Jesus. The verse was Psalm 27:14: (Amplified Bible)
“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.”
He says wait is Hebrew verb (kah-wah) and means to “twist, stretch” and noun for “line, thread or cord”. That brings a picture of the making of a strong and powerful rope. He says “…and weaving ourselves so tightly around the Lord that our weakness and frail characteristics are replaced by His power and unparallel strength. It describes very literally the truth of what has been termed the ‘exchanged life’…
The last line hit me and I praise the Lord for it!
“Strength and courage are developed ‘during’ a trial, not after it is over.”

Mary and Joseph must have been perplexed by the twists and turns in their life but I believe they knew the Lord was in control. I believe they became strong in these circumstances and this is a lesson for you and I during this season. The economy is awful for many, the unemployment is high, groceries are up but all of this can twist us into a strong rope that gives us the strength of the Lord… we also will have the strength to help others struggling. How can you help another today?
Yes, Christmas is Christ and Christ is Christmas.

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