As Andy William's would sing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" To me, it most certainly is. A lot of that has to do with the way and the place I was raised. I was raised to enjoy Christmas from every aspect. As with others there were the snowmen, the Santa's, the elves, wreaths and lights etc,... but there was also, and perhaps more captivating, the real meaning of Christmas that never failed to grab my attention -- the nativity of Jesus! One of the things I prized myself on was trying to draw a picture of the Magi coming from the east to encounter the King! Each year through my childhood I would try and replicate a drawing of what it must have been like that very night. To be honest, I was never too good at it but it was always worth the time to try.
But as I grew older I found there was something else worth the time to try. I personally met this Jesus that Christmas was all about. Yes, after having trafficked in all the sin and bling the world affectionately offers I realized there was truly something big missing in my life. I was not one bit fulfilled. That missing piece was the One I often sang of and was amazed at during the Christmas season. Like the Shepherds who stood shaking in ecstatic awe at the sight of the angels and the newborn King, and like Mary who beamed at the beauty of the omnipotent God as she cradled Him in the swaddling cloths meant for Bethlehem's newborn sacrificial lambs, and finally like Joseph doting over the beauty of the babe in remembrance of the nocturnal words of God one sleepless night, "You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew1:21), so too, I kneeled in humble abeyance of who I had been and turned my heart in humble obedience to the Savior of all mankind. It was there, on my knees, that I met Jesus. Maybe this year you can too. Maybe you also can start the life of trusting in Jesus for yourself. There is nothing greater than having a personal relationship with Jesus.
The Apostle Paul once said to his new church in Corinth, "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3). It is a sad fact that in America there are so many who, anymore, just ignore the life of Jesus altogether. The Enemy of souls has done a good job of inflicting blindness on the unbelieving through many different ploys (see 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). For instance, there are a lot of "pie-in-the-sky" and "genie-in-the-bottle" teachings about Jesus out there that many have fallen for only to find disillusionment. Often when trouble strikes many have been taught to believe if they just rub the lamp a little harder by saying more than one prayer or give a little more money to that TV or radio evangelist that "val-aah" all their wishes and prayers will come true.
One highly popular teacher just recently asked his audience to give "Day of Atonement" offering to him or their church by Sept. 23rd to receive forgiveness of sin! I had a lady call me and ask how she could give to First Baptist! I had to set her straight that the only atonement offering that is valid is the One given on a Cross nearly two-thousand years ago. Many have tried doing this or things like it and have watched their prayers pass unanswered as if never uttered. When questioning why they may be counseled, "You have to pray harder," or "you didn't ask in faith," or one of my favorites, "there must be some hidden sin in your life!" Honestly, this has brought on a lot of disillusionment with Christianity in the West. My heart aches for those who have been so deceived by people claiming to be shepherds of the souls but in fact are ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. Jesus told us to beware of them.
This Christmas season I hope that you will not just take a passing glance at the Savior; that you will not just hear the Christmas story and let it pass on by. My prayer is that you will tell yourself "this year I am going to seek to find out if their is any real validity to the Christmas story. This year I am going to seek to learn more about Jesus." If your heart is empty it is because Jesus is calling you. He wants to come in and really, that is what Christmas is all about. The star. The angels. The babe. The manger. The cross. The resurrection. Eternal life!
Ahh, Christmas!!! My favorite time of the year!
Ecclesiastes 12:12-14, And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. (13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. (14) For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.