Encouragement for Today - December 12, 2005
Encouragement for Today
“Wait for the Nativity”
Van Walton, Director of Spanish Ministries, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Luke 1:38, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’ And the angel departed from her.” (ESV)
Is it beginning to look like Christmas in your home? Your house is decorated, presents are hidden in safe places and excited children can hardly wait for the big day! But wait they must while you add the finishing touches.
Have you ever evaluated the time and energy it takes to get ready for Christmas? We drag boxes from the attic, scurry from store to store, eat way too much at so many gatherings, stress out over not being ready, and, although Christ’s Nativity is a time of reflective celebrating, we never accept that we are all set for Christmas! For some reason it is in vogue to create a list of things to do that will never allow us to relax, rest and reflect on the reason we celebrate this season. Today’s busy woman becomes so consumed with preparing for Christmas, she actually misses it!
Why have we allowed ourselves to be overwhelmed with Christmas when we know that Jesus came to bring peace to our lives? I looked around and decided to find out. I began by researching the definition of Christmas. What does ‘Christmas’ mean? I learned that the word Christ is a title, like prince, king, or president. It means one who is anointed, set aside or chosen for a sacred or holy purpose. It is the title given to Jesus. A mass is a worship service or celebration. So, Christmas means celebration of Christ. It is the celebration of the nativity – the birth of Jesus, God’s Son.
Of course! God has planned an event of universal proportions, a gala to which ALL are invited. Now I understand our need to prepare. But, have our preparations gone too far? Have they gotten out of control?
My pondering led me to consider what might happen to contemporary Christmas if, instead of engaging in our frenzied Christmas habits, we would simply RSVP to God’s invitation by waiting in reverence and awe for the royal celebration.
The heroes in the Bible knew how to respond to the Lord’s announcement. They
prepared for the Nativity by watching, anticipating, and their inherited treasure.
Prophets, priests, and patriarchs WATCHED for signs. They believed a king would liberate them from oppressive rulers. They watched for a great commander to march into the land, returning what was rightfully theirs.
In the days of Samuel, the priest, the people begged, “There shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may… go out… and fight our battles." (1 Samuel 18:20)
Don’t you sometimes long for someone to be your advocate, to fight your battles, to see your side of things? We haven’t changed much since the times of the prophets who lived in the Old Testament. Like us, their lives were hard, defined by illness, pain and brokenness. With uncertain futures, they were desperate for escape. A small and insignificant nation, the Hebrews were misunderstood by the world. They longed for a reason to celebrate, to abandon themselves to music and food and dancing, to forget the hopeless past, and anticipate a fruitful future. Do you ever feel like these people of long ago - desperate, uncertain, lonely, fearful, conflicted, wishing for a party or an event that would wipe out all your cares and celebrate the good times, a celebration that would never end? Maybe you catch yourself looking to people in high places, hoping for a significant someone to come along and fix it all, one with all the answers and solutions?
Jesus is that person – the One whose birth we celebrate.
The trusted prophet, Isaiah, wrote: “the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted!” (Isaiah 61:1)
“For a child will be born…, a son will be given…; And the government will rest on His shoulders…; And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, eternal Father, Prince of Peace”. (Isaiah 9:6)
The people began to WATCH for that promised liberator.
After watching for a conquering king to gallop onto the scene with his armies, a Son was given, but he wasn’t a royal ruler. He wasn’t a hero who managed mightily from a powerful throne set in a high palace. Those who sought a marching monarch learned that the Prince of Peace snuggled quietly on a bale of hay in a manger.
Also waiting was one who anticipated. Mary, a bride to be, looked forward to her dreams coming true. Engaged to be married, she lived daily ANTICIPATING the moment her bride groom would whisk her away. But in the midst of her preparation for the greatest night of her life she received a message that canceled the wedding feast. Mary exchanged her wedding night for the one night when the course of history was changed forever. Instead of giving her heart away to her betrothed, she allowed her heart to be stolen by her son – Jesus, the Christ.
There were shepherds who had INHERITED sheep and pastures. The animals provided their only security. But, when the shepherds heard the angels, they turned toward the manger. They left their lambs and bowed before the Lamb of God, becoming heirs to His everlasting inheritance.
There were wise men who valued earthly and celestial treasures. Studying stars for signals, they recognized a cosmic occurrence - the birth of a king. Worshipping at the nativity, the star gazers laid down their treasures, recognizing the eternal TREASURE whose value never changes.
Waiting ~ WATCHING, ANTICIPATING your INHERITED TREASURE
Let this season’s waiting for Christmas take on a new meaning.
My Prayer for Today:
Jesus, You are the promised Son who has come to conquer my desperation.
Help me to realize that burying myself in holiday busyness will only multiply my desperate state, increase my loneliness, fuel my fear, and feed my uncertainty. Lord, I want to come before You like the prophets and priests who watched for Your arrival, like the wise men and shepherds who laid down their worldly possessions. I bow before You in celebration of Your nativity and in Your Name I pray, Amen.
Make a list of tasks you feel must be completed during the Christmas holidays. Now cross off each non-essential item. Replace it with a few minutes to spend time contemplating the Nativity. Decide today to keep Jesus as the center of your holiday planning.
The devotion you just read, mentioned four types of people and how they adjusted their waiting. How can you adjust the way you wait for Christmas?
What are you watching this season? How does what you watch affect your relationship with the Lord?
What are you anticipating during the month of December? How will you find it?
What defines who you are? Do you need to exchange that identity for God’s plan for your life? As you create your Christmas wish list, do you really believe that the presents you want will make a difference in your life? How so?
Psalm 61:5, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.” (NAS)
Micah 7:1, “I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.” (NAS)
Hosea 12:6, “ What are you waiting for? Return to your God! Commit yourself in love, in justice! Wait for your God, and don't give up on him - ever!” (MESSAGE)
Habakkuk 2:1, “I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what He will say to me…”(NRS)
Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ.” (NAS)
Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas, by Sharon Jaynes
The Christmas Story: Experiencing the Most Wonderful Story Ever Told, by G.A. Myers
The Power of a Christmas Prayer, by Stormie Omartian
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