Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Christmas Prayer...

 

I find myself alone at home for a few short hours as the family is at our Church's Christmas Eve Service.  It's easy for feelings of sadness to hit...especially on Christmas Eve...and especially being alone.  If anyone knows me you know how much the Christmas Season means to me...all the traditions of Caroling, Christmas Eve Services, Christmas Concerts, Baking Christmas Cookies, Christmas Parties, Sending Christmas Cards...you also know what a people person I am and how I get energy from being around people.  It's been draining being confined to bed this year...and not being able to get out for anything except Doctors appointments, tests and treatments.  It's made me really sit back and ponder what the Christmas Season is all about....when all the traditions and fun events are "taken away"....what's left?  What is it about?  How do you find joy when so many things you found joy in aren't available?  How do you HOPE when every Christmas you think you'll be better than the one before....and you're actually more sick?  We say that Jesus is the reason for the Season...but is that really how I've been living?  Can I say that with my heart being all in it?  Where is Jesus?

  Today I spent a lot of time reading through Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2..... So much Redemption.  Words escape me at the beauty of the stories and words found in those chapters! <3 So much beauty.  So much hope. So much Joy.  SO.MUCH.JESUS. <3  As I was reading and re-reading those chapters....first as an overview--and then slowly to try and just begin to grasp the deepness of each sentence...it struck me, "THIS IS CHRISTMAS!" <3 Yes, the traditions are beautiful and wonderful and very much joy-filled.  Seeing treasured family and friends is a HUGE God-given blessing.  But this....these chapters in Matthew and Luke...this is what it's all about.  Of course I've known that my whole life because I've been blessed with Godly parents who never let me believe in Santa but always made Christmas all about Jesus....but something new broke open in my heart today reading through the stories of our Savior's Birth.  The realization that Jesus comes...at the perfect moment...when you least expect it...in the most mysterious way...and when He comes it's with beauty, truth, humility, victory and HOPE. He comes...to fulfill His Word...to fulfill His promises and to reward those who diligently seek after Him.

 Zacharias and Elizabeth-it says, "They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in ALL the commandments and requirements of the Lord." ~ Luke 1:6  And yet...The child they longed for had never come.  Although they had prayed and been so faithful to the Lord and probably wondered why other people were "blessed with children" and they weren't....the way seemed long...but then...just when it seemed like all HOPE was gone for a child...GOD CAME.  "But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.  You WILL have joy and gladness, and MANY will rejoice at his birth. For he will be GREAT in the sight of the Lord; and He will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.  And he will turn many of the son's of Israel back to the LORD THEIR GOD.  It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the Father's back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteoous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."~Luke 1:13-17 - This is Christmas, preparation of hearts to receive Jesus. <3

Mary- A young virgin engaged to be married who had been a faithful follower of God all of a sudden perplexed by the greeting of an angel!  "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David, And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end....the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will over-shadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God....for with God NOTHING will be impossible." ~Luke 1:30-38 Were there thoughts of this ruining her reputation?  Who would believe her that she had gotten pregnant because of God? Were there thoughts of Joseph not wanting to marry her anymore?  Was there fear or questioning or doubting God's Word?  Possibly all or none of those questions raced through Mary's mind, but she had obviously already chosen to obey God in the small things of life because God trusted her with this big thing, and she said yes to God. "And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word."~Luke 1:38 - This is Christmas, surrendering everything to the Jesus who comes to save you. He may not come in the way you would have chosen...I don't think Mary would have chosen to give birth in a stable or have to flee right afterwards because of Herod trying to kill your son or possibly being considered an outcast because of becoming pregnant before marriage....but it's how Jesus came.  It was the perfect way....and this, is Christmas. <3

Joseph - A young man, preparing to marry a pure, radiant, faithful girl. All of a sudden...the unthinkable. I don't know what went through his mind...pain...distrust...shame?  But he listened to God..."Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold, an angle of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." ~Matthew 1:12-21  He obeyed God.  Joseph became the "adopted physical" father to Jesus...he took care of Jesus growing up...he took care of Mary.  This is how Jesus came...to an unsuspecting Carpenter & his wife.  This is Christmas - gentle, faithful, humble love and trust displayed through Joseph to Mary.... a picture of Jesus....a picture of Christmas. <3

The Angels & Shepherds- oh, the angels!!  How desperately sad it must have been for them to see the destruction sin brought to the perfect, beautiful world that God had originally created.  How they must have watched in wonder and delight when they realized that God was coming to earth to SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS!  How excited they must have been to proclaim it to the bewildered Shepherds!!! "And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them. and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you GOOD TIDINGS of GREAT JOY which will be to ALL people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is CHRIST the LORD. And this will be the sign to you: you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host PRAISING GOD and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" ~Luke 2:9-15  It goes on to say that with great haste they went and found the place where Jesus lay in a manger just as the angels said.  THIS is Christmas - The JOY He brings when He comes and running to Him with great haste! <3

The Wise Men - "when they saw the star, they REJOICED WITH EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY." ~Matthew 2:10  The wise men traveled from FAR to find Jesus....they left behind their homes in search of the One they knew would be King. They came from far to worship Jesus....a picture of Christmas. Us giving up our selfishness, the grasp we have on what we want our lives to look like....and searching after Jesus! <3 Searching after Jesus to worship Him, to love Him and to live for Him...because He came to save us. This....this is Christmas. <3

Simeon & Anna - The fulfillment of the longing in their hearts to see the Messiah was completed when they saw Jesus.  Simeon, when he saw Jesus as a baby, "took Him up in his arms, and blessed God and said, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." ~Luke 2:28-32  And Anna when she saw Jesus, "coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem." ~Luke 2:38 - Yes, Jesus DOES COME!  His promises will always be fulfilled. This is Christmas, looking for Christ...longing for Him...seeking Him....and Him coming. <3

So to me....as I ponder the meaning of Christmas....it means this to me:

Jesus HAS come!
Immanuel IS here!
We ARE saved!
Darkness has VANISHED!
God's deliverance is being revealed!
JOY TO THE WORLD!
The newborn King...God in the flesh...here to save, redeem, restore, heal, reclaim, conquer, and win over Satan's death, sorrow, sin & bondage.

Yes...Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 are some of the most hope-filled, precious and sacred words for all humanity that has been, is and will to come. Why?  Because Jesus came....there is no more a need for priests to communicate with God.....because HE IS Immanuel.  GOD WITH US.  Our prayers are heard...just like with Zacharias and Elizabeth..."...your prayer is heard..." ~Luke 1:16  God might not quite answer in the way we thought He should or expected He would.  But He will answer....and however He answers....it will be the best.  Because our God is the God of the impossible and there is none like Him. <3

And so....my prayer for this Christmas:


Dear Jesus, Immanuel, Savior,

Thank you, Jesus...thank you for coming...thank You for giving up Your throne in Heaven to come down as a helpless baby.  To be born from a woman - as a human - in a manger.  You were rejected, humiliated, scorned, and killed...for me...for the world. Oh Jesus, don't let me ever lose the wonder of this season!  May I always, like the angels, sing with great joy for all the world to know of YOU coming as Redeemer and Savior. May I always, like the Shepherds - come with haste to see you.  May I always, like the Wise Men, leave everything in search of You, bring you all the meager gifts I have, and may my heart rejoice with exceeding great joy at the wonderful GIFT of KNOWING YOU.  May I be faithful in obedience, prayer, trust and belief like Zacharias and Elizabeth.  May I be blessed & highly favored like Mary and entrust my life in surrender to You.  Like Joseph, may I walk being led by Your gentle love and humility.  Like John the Baptist - may I be anointed to prepare hearts for Jesus and his coming.  Like Simeon - may my heart long to see Christ's coming and may I be so in tune with Jesus that I am led by His slightest whisper every moment.  Like Anna, may my heart be full of continual prayer and praise - and like You, Jesus - may I be willing to give up a life of Splendor - for a humble life consisting of all of Christ and none of me - living with the knowledge that nothing is impossible with God, He answers BIG prayers and He ALWAYS comes to break the chains of bondage, to shine bright light in the darkness and to conquer evil with His Hope, Peace, Joy and Victory!

Thank You, Jesus...

Thank you that "Christmas" is ALL.ABOUT.YOU. <3  Thank You for all your precious promises.  Thank You that you are here with me...with us.  Thank You for loving us. <3  Thank You, that even though there is absolutely nothing deserving in any of us...that YOU brought us eternal life through coming to this world as a little baby. <3  Thank You. <3



Merry Christmas!





 

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God bless you with a *beautiful* day.

~Monica