Encouragement for Today
“Tidings of Great Joy”
Micca Campbell, Director of Outreach, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Luke 2:10, Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidingsof great joy which will be to all people.
How much thought do we really give the Christ child at Christmas time? Children are more likely to dream about new toys, sweet treats, and a white Christmas while grown-ups plan for Christmas parties, how they will decorate, and what to buy for whom. Yet, I believe that we can be so busy preparing for the holiday that we miss celebrating the glorious birth of Christ. In fact, the stress of the holidays can rob us of our Christmas cheer and turn some of us into the Christmas Grench! I’ve been guilty of looking a little green during Christmas myself. While our plans may fill us with pressure and stress, God has different plans for us at Christmas time. His plan is to fill us with life, joy, peace, and purpose.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had her own plans, too. While Mary was planning a wedding, God was planning the arrival of a Savior. I don’t think anyone likes for their plans or dreams to be interrupted or destroyed, and the same was true of Mary. As far as she knew, her dream was about to come true. Mary was engaged to a young man named Joseph, who I always picture as being tall, dark, and handsome much like Charles Ingles.
According to the custom and culture of that day, a couple was betrothed to each other for a year in order to prepare for marriage and get to know one another. Both Mary and Joseph came from God’s people and had been taught to live a good and disciplined life. All was going well with their engagement. There was no reason at all, up to this point, that the two of them wouldn’t live a “happy-ever after” life together.
Then one day, as wedding plans danced in her head while doing her daily chores, Mary was interrupted by an angel who announced to her, “Do not be afraid, 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” (Luke 1:30-31). Wow, can you image how overwhelmed she must have been? She was preparing to be the wife of a carpenter. Now all of the sudden, she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary learns that her dream was not going to be fulfilled like she has expected.
Do you get overwhelmed at Christmas? Is it because you are anticipating the glorious celebration of your Messiah? Or are you overwhelmed because you feel pressured to reciprocate every Christmas card and gift you receive? Are you pressured to spend more than you can afford? Do you fuss over dinner and decorations, and which party to attend?
In the midst of God’s dream, He was offering Mary a unique opportunity — to give birth to His Son. No other woman in history would have such an opportunity. But what about her dream of marring Joseph? What would he say? Would he understand? This news meant that Mary’s life would never be the same. Would Mary submit to God’s invitation?
Mary responded to the angel this way. "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you said come true" (Luke 1:38). In beautiful submission, Mary yielded herself to the Lord in order that His plan and purpose be fulfilled. And it did. Mary and Joseph were married and Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born in a manger in the little town of
During the holidays, your plans may not go like you want. Perhaps you can’t afford to purchase gifts or send Christmas cards like you desire. Maybe because of certain circumstances your family can’t celebrate together. It’s possible that you’re all alone this holiday season. Maybe your heart is so broken that you can’t contain the joy of Christmas. I do understand that life doesn’t always go like we want it to go. As a result, we can feel depressed and discouraged. While we are focused on ourselves, we are missing the glorious birth of our Savior.
Like Mary, we have the opportunity before us. We can cling to our fallen plans or submit to God’s. Surrendering to God’s will allows the true meaning of Christmas to be birthed in our hearts. It doesn’t matter how many presents are under the tree, who won’t be there for the holidays, or that we were not invited to any Christmas celebrations. What matters is that you don’t miss what God wants to give you…His Son. Allowing Christ to be birth in your heart anew this season promises to fill us with great joy, peace, and love no matter what the circumstances are that surrounds us. The best part is…it’s a gift that keeps giving all year long.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us a Savior, Your Son Jesus Christ. Help me to focus on all that Your gift offers me instead of what I don’t have that I want. Create in me a thankful heart for forgiveness of my sins, heaven being my eternal home, and a new life in Christ. Fill me anew with Your love, joy and peace and help me to give it as a gift to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Stop focusing on your plans that are causing you stress and robbing you from experiencing the true meaning of Christmas. Push them aside. Confess to God that you have been concentrating on worldly things instead of heavenly things. Then, create ways to bring Christ alone into your heart and home. Maybe you can bake a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cake or put on a Christmas play using the story in Luke chapter one and two. Focus on Christ.
What’s the first thing you think of when someone uses the word “Christmas?”
Why has your stress increased during the holiday season?
Where is your focus…gifts, parties, family, decorations, or worshiping Christ?
Do you need to reprioritize the way you celebrate Christmas?
Christmas Conference (3-tape set), by Lysa TerKeurst
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas, by Sharon Jaynes
A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life, by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes