Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas (Day 19)

The Magi specialized in astronomy which is the study of the stars. These learned, cerebral men were not Jews – they were pagan astrologers from the East. Today we would term these wise men “diviners” or “magicians”. They are probably the types of people that you and I would stay away from today. Perhaps, in the 21st Century, we would call them “humanists … “the left side of academia” … “weirdos”.

 

These magic men came to King Herod asking where they could find the new king, because it was their ultimate plan to worship Him who was born King of the Jews.

 

King Herod became perturbed at this news and gathered the scribes and priests to figure out where the Messiah was to be born. These leading church scholars of the day were able to quote to King Herod a prophetic word from Micah that confirmed that the heaven-sent Ruler would be born in Bethlehem.

 

King Herod then called for a second meeting with the Magi and sent them to Bethlehem, telling them to let him know when the Messiah was found because he also desired to come and worship this new born King.

 

Was King Herod actually going to worship Jesus? Absolutely not! King Herod was plotting to kill the Baby who had come to bring peace on earth! The worship of King Herod was mere lip service. His heart had no intent of worshipping the Christ Child, even as his mouth formed the evil lie meant to manipulate the plans of the Magi.

 

What is your plan this Christmas? Will you only give him your lip service? Will you say that He is Lord while acting quite a different way?

 

Christmas is a time when the motives of our hearts are laid bare. Will you worship Him with only your mouth … or will your heart and your life join in the high praise that He deserves? Only you can determine this type of worship. You choose whether to worship Him with lip service alone or bring to Jesus, the Baby in the manger, the worship that is accompanied by a lifetime of loving actions.

 

Oh come! Let us adore Him!

Mateo 2:1-8

I’ve been reading the Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas Reading Plan at YouVersion.com. You might enjoy it, or one of the many other plans that are available. Check it out.

Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas (Day 18)

Angels are an intrinsic and dynamic part of the Christmas story. Christmas simply would not have happened without these God-sent messengers from heaven. We don’t know whether or not the angels were clothed in flowing, white robes, whether they had a halo that was sparkling or even whether or not they flew with wings into the Christmas scene, but what we do know is that these angels carried the heart of God concerning the momentous event that was about to take place!

 

Angels appear four times in the traditional Christmas story and each time, although they carried different pieces of information concerning what was to happen, their message is always the same, “Do not be afraid!” It was what the angel said first to Zachariah, then to Mary, then to Joseph and finally to the shepherds on the hillside.

 

“Do not be afraid!”

 

I believe that this may be the message that heaven is sending to your heart this Christmas season. Christmas plainly declares that Jesus and fear are mutually exclusive. When Jesus arrives on the scene, there is no reason to be afraid. His presence powerfully removes any reason for fear.

 

It is time for you to step away from your fear and into His presence. I pray that this Christmas, and for every day of the coming year, you will realize that when Jesus has been birthed in your heart, there is absolutely no reason for fear or worry. The message of Christmas has not changed much in 2,000 years and I can guarantee that the words of the angels are still ringing clearly into our 21st Century world, “Do not be afraid!”

 

When your circumstances are falling apart, remind yourself, “Do not be afraid!”

 

When there is not enough money to pay the bills, remind yourself, “Do not be afraid!”

 

When you are dealing with disappointment, pain or loneliness, remind yourself, “Do not be afraid!”

 

God has promised that He would give His peace to those whose hearts and minds are fully stayed on Him. Peace is not the absence of trouble; it is the presence of God. And because of Jesus, this Christmas, and every Christmas, you can rest in His overwhelming and satisfying peace!

Mateo 1:20

I’ve been reading the Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas Reading Plan at YouVersion.com. You might enjoy it, or one of the many other plans that are available. Check it out.

Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas (Day 17)

David Taylor came home from school sad and discouraged one day in early November. With tears rolling down his freckled cheeks, he told his mother that his teacher told him that he couldn’t sing in the Christmas program.

“She said that I am awful and that I sing too loud,” David explained between sobs.

David’s father was sitting in the living room reading the afternoon’s paper and overheard his son’s heartbreak. Mr. Taylor was indignant and furious. How could any teacher do this to a child?

Mr. Taylor decided to help his son learn how to sing. After dinner that night, he took David into the living room and had him stand beside the family piano. Mr. Taylor began to play the familiar melody of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. As David opened his mouth, a cat-like screech came out.

“David, part of singing is listening. Listen … then sing,” instructed the patient father.

David’s second attempt was worse than his first! But when the father was tempted to give up, he thought of the unfeeling teacher and realized, “If a father doesn’t do this, who will?”

The days of November faded into December, while Mr. Taylor and David spent every evening at the piano going over and over and over the melody to the song. “Peace on the earth good will to men …”

When the day came that David sang for his teacher, she said that he could be in the program! David was front and center in the third-grade Christmas concert. He was angelic and on pitch as the song ended with the glorious thought, “The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing!”

On Christmas Eve, Mr. Taylor looked out the window and saw his pajama-clad boy in the front yard looking toward the sky.

The father quietly walked out the front door and put his arms around David without saying a word. The son leaned into his father’s chest and said, “The world is lying still, Dad. Just like the song says.”

“Do you hear them, Dad? Do you hear the angels singing? I hear them … do you, Dad?”

The father thought that he was teaching a little boy to sing a sweet song at Christmastime, but what had really happened was that the little boy had taught them both to listen … to listen for the angel’s song.

Lucas 1:13-14

I’ve been reading the Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas Reading Plan at YouVersion.com. You might enjoy it, or one of the many other plans that are available. Check it out.

Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas (Day 16)

The shepherds of the Christmas story spent weeks in the fields with their sheep, sleeping under the stars in wind and rain. These muddy specimens of humanity huddled cold and shivering around campfires in the inky black of night, while trying to stay awake to guard the animals in their care. And the sheep were by nature dumb, disobedient, restless, and smelly.

They were uneducated men with grime under their fingernails. I wonder if perhaps they felt hopeless… with nothing to look forward to, knowing that nothing about their lives would ever change. Life can become quickly pointless if you are a man who lives with sheep drool on his clothes and sheep dung between his toes.

 

Unexpectedly, heaven exploded into the small, cold and dark world of these shepherds. The song of the angels burst forth into the war zone of earth and proclaimed the joy of heaven into their stagnant, changeless existence! Stars were falling and bursting in rare and glorious colors, while the heavens opened and a majestic angel choir began to sing a mighty symphony that can still be heard today!

 

Jesus invaded this dark, cold world with heaven’s joy and it is still His gift to you today. His presence in your life makes shepherds dance and angels sing. Your heart can become an explosion of joy because of the birth of a Baby over 2,000 years ago.

You can receive joy because of Jesus … you can walk in peace because of this Baby.

The first word that the angels used to describe the birth of Jesus Christ was the word “joy” … and it should be the first word used to describe you as well! Joy is the birthmark of a Christian because when you accept Jesus into your heart you are branded for life with His joy. You have become a vessel of His presence where there is always fullness of joy.

 

Your life becomes purposeful as you carry the Christ child to this inky, restless world. The hopelessness of your life dissipates as you realize the honor of transmitting the joy of His presence to humanity.

 

Mary was the first human being to be pregnant with God so that we could be carriers of the divine DNA as well! Heaven’s DNA is spelled J-O-Y!

Luke 2:8-14

I’ve been reading the Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas Reading Plan at YouVersion.com. You might enjoy it, or one of the many other plans that are available. Check it out.

Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas (Day 15)

It probably took Mary and Joseph nearly a week to travel the 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem due to Mary’s advanced pregnancy. Although the timing of the journey was inconvenient, perhaps it was a relief to get away from the wagging tongues at the village well and the old women counting the months on their fingers. Mary and Joseph were required to travel away from their hometown in order to register for the census that had been decreed by Caesar Augustus.

 

As Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem, the streets were teeming with a mass of humanity. It was in those moments while Mary was being jostled by the crowds that she felt the first of her labor pains. Perhaps her water broke on the crowded street, wetting her garment and the donkey on which she was riding.

 

Did she quietly whisper while in pain, “Joseph! Please find a place for me to rest!”

 

Joseph found nothing more than a cave … a barn … a stable in which to prepare for the quickly approaching arrival of their Son.

 

The stable was likely cramped with animals from the visiting crowds. It inevitably smelled of manure and urine, and I imagine Joseph’s difficulty in finding a clean spot in the hay. Perhaps a mouse or two scurried away in fear as Joseph cleared a space for Mary and slid a manger of hay closer for coming Baby. The cows munched on their hay and the sheep bleated as Mary labored and bled. It was into this ignoble and earthy atmosphere that the Savior of mankind entered the world!

 

My heart stops as I picture the enchanted face of this teenage mother meeting her baby Boy for the very first time! She was gazing into the face of God … and He was looking back at her. God had wrapped his tiny hand around her finger and around her heart as well.

 

He was her Son … yet her Lord. He was her Baby … yet her King.

 

She could not take her eyes off of Him, so great was her love for this Child. And the greatest miracle of all … was that He could not take His eyes off of her so great was His love for mankind.

 

Don’t take your eyes off of the true meaning of Christmas. Know that when Jesus was born … He was born for you. Allow the Baby in the manger to wrap His love around your heart.

 

I’ve been reading the Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas Reading Plan at YouVersion.com. You might enjoy it, or one of the many other plans that are available. Check it out.

Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas (Day 14)

Bible historians believe that there may have been as many as 1 million visitors slogging the streets of this small city named “Bethlehem”.

What would happen if 1 million people invaded your town? What would that do to the traffic patterns? Or the lines at the mall? Or to the already overcrowded hotels?

We have never experienced “busy” compared to Bethlehem on this momentous night. There were donkeys braying and vendors shouting; there was a cavalcade of camels, people, tax collectors and city officials pushing and shoving their way through the dusty streets of Bethlehem. There was the odor of manure and the smell of cramped and sweating bodies on every corner of every street.

People’s nerves were taut, their pocketbooks were empty and they were all fed up with a greedy government! It was a mass of humanity who didn’t know where they were or how to get to where they needed to go. Sounds a lot like the 21st Century, doesn’t it?!

God chose this moment of chaos and confusion … of frayed nerves and economic failure … as the birthplace of His Son. God chose to invade the traffic jams of humanity with His little Boy.

We have allowed our lives to become as chaotic, confusing and out of control as any city, in any part of the world, at any time in history. The beauty of Christmas is that His presence changed the purpose of the busy-ness!

God desired to neutralize our expensive way of living and so He sent the Prince of Peace.

God knew that we would need an answer for our stress-induced meltdowns and so He sent heaven’s Darling to be our answer.

In the midst of humanity and endless voices, a Savior was born. My prayer is that this year, in the middle of your overly active life, you will have time to gaze in wonder at the Baby in the manger.

Don’t miss the divine appointments of Christmas because you are so wrapped up in the temporary aspects of the season! The glory of Christmas is the miracle of His presence … a baby lying in a manger.

Luke 2:1-6

I’ve been reading the Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas Reading Plan at YouVersion.com. You might enjoy it, or one of the many other plans that are available. Check it out.