When Exactly is Christmas

Following is a thoughtful article by Dr. Wayde Goodall.

“When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son born of a woman…”
Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)

“For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the night between December 21 and December 22 is the longest of the year; it’s called winter solstice.

Christmas seems like the longest day of the year to many people.  Bad memories, bad relationships, poverty, debt, anger, conflict, guilt, health problems, etc., etc. prevent positive holiday memories.

When Exactly Is Christmas?

There are a lot of viewpoints about the exact month and day that Jesus was born. We might not know the exact date but the Bible tells us that God specifically chose the time when Jesus Christ would come to earth.  It was not an accident; He specifically chose that particular time in history for Jesus’ birth.

“There is a time for everything.”Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

As we approach Christmas this year, we can remember some lessons the angels gave to the shepherds on the very first Christmas:

1.     God will help us face our fears:

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid”Luke 2:10

Someone said, “Life is just exchanging one set of problems for another set of problems.”

There have been many times that I have been afraid.  Looking back, I realize that when I trusted God with my fears, he gave me courage.  John tells us,

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

What are you worried about?  What are you fearful of?

You are called by God. You will face difficult and anxious times.  Can you trust the God of the universe and decide to release your fears?

2.    He has good news for us:

“ I bring you good news that will cause great joy!” Luke 2:10 (NIV)

Someone said that if God wanted to communicate…

with birds – He would have become a bird.

with cows – He would have become a cow.

with dogs – He would have become a dog.

But God wanted to relate to you and me, so He became like us… a human being.

I have no idea how to relate to an “impersonal power in the sky” . . . But when I see Jesus in human form, I can say, “That’s what God is like!”  I get it. Part of the good news is that I know that God understands me (and you).  He identifies, he enables, and he gives a deep sense of joy to our lives – in spite of our circumstances.

3.     God will forgive us for all our failures and mistakes. He will also help us forgive those who have hurt us:

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,  because He will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21

The University of Michigan discovered that the holiday season might be a good time to forgive others, but not everyone wants to forgive (or be forgiven).  Some of what was discovered:

  • 52% say they have forgiven others for past transgressions.
  • 43% say they have actually gone to others to be forgiven .      . . Asking for forgiveness can raise stress levels.
  • 71% of men and 77% of women believe they have been forgiven      by God for their mistakes.
  • 56% of men and 57% of women say they have forgiven      themselves.
  • Women are more forgiving than men.
  • Middle-agers and older adults are more likely to forgive –      than younger adults.
  • Forgiveness may be an antidote to anger.

I’m reminded of an old Peanuts Cartoon where Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “Charlie Brown, it’s Christmas season.  I think we ought to bury our differences, forgive each other and try to be kind and get along.” Charlie Brown says, “Great! But why just this season?  Why not all year?” Lucy says, “What do you think I am, some kind of fanatic?”

This year might have been full of disappointments, hurts, or bad decisions.  Can you forgive others?  How about yourself?   Forgiving others and ourselves is a life long process.

4.     You are worth more than you can imagine:

“… a Savior has been born for you; he is Christ the Lord!” Luke 2:11 (NIV)

Remember that God wants to show you his love and his favor.  As you determine to draw close to him . . . to listen and learn from him . . . He will help you understand how valuable you are to Him.

“It is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (ESV)

God wants to remind you of his goodness on your life.  The Savior has been born for YOU – He is Jesus Christ.

Many leaders are disappointed with themselves and their struggle with insecurity.  I’d like to remind you that God is pleased with your efforts on His behalf, He knows how you seek Him and of your desire to serve him.  He is pleased with YOU.”

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among  those with whom he is pleased” Luke 2:14 (ESV)

(c) 2013 Wayde Goodall D.Min Dean, College of Ministry Northwest University

http://eagle.northwestu.edu/academics/college-of-ministry/watchmen/

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