A big welcome to you all, including those who are regulars
and those who are new to the Word for the Month. We
pray that the Lord will bless you as you read on…
We are surrounded by Christmas lights, decorations and singing. Carols,
and Christmas music. “Joy to the world”, we sing! Or Beethoven’s
9 th symphony (choral): “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee”.
Or Handel’s Messiah with its resounding finale – “Hallelujah”.
Shouldn’t joy be at the forefront of our experience? It’s Christmas!
Yes, it’s bitterly cold as I write these words. I look out of my window at the hoar frost on the beach and the tide gently lapping it. Yes, it’s cold inside and my hands ache. Yes, there are strikes, disrupting so many hopes and plans. Yes, we experience the tensions of heating and eating and keeping the bills paid; and we look ahead with dread as we imagine the impact of strikes in a winter of discontent. Older ones have been through it before and know that it isn’t fun at all.
We remember the poor, sleeping on the streets. The thousands in Ukraine with shattered homes and dreams, suffering far lower temperatures than us and without power or heating. A nation immersed in warfare and suffering and loss.
If having a thankful heart might not be a description that fits easily with you in the current climate, look at young children. See their joy, their sheer excitement – and hear it! The carols, decorations, coloured lights shining in the darkness, choirs singing, gifts given and received, families and friends coming together to celebrate. Christmas food. Crackers! All expressions of joy. Even many of those who have no faith find themselves caught up in the season.
Is it right to even speak of joy at such a desperate time as this?
Paul reminds us clearly that we are to:
Here’s the point: God wants the best for you and He desires that you should live in a spirit of thankfulness, whatever your circumstances. That’s how you live the life you were designed for – a conqueror over everything the world, the flesh and the devil throw at you.
If you live through dreadful circumstances with a thankful heart, surely you won’t fit in comfortably with everyone else though, will you? No, you will stand out. You will be a city set on a hill, a light exposed, a beacon of hope to the world.
Remember these challenging historical events?
- Peter in chains in prison, sleeping peacefully between two soldiers, even though he is expecting to be killed the following day (Acts 12:6)
- Paul and Silas, unjustly beaten with rods, now in the inner prison with their feet in stocks, praying and singing hymns to God at midnight, while the other prisoners listened (Acts 16:25)
Could you and I respond like that in those circumstances? Is it even possible to live modern life with that sort of attitude?
How can we rejoice? How can we give thanks like that? How can we be filled with joy?
Because unto us a child has been born. A child has been given. The Prince of Heaven has come. A mighty teacher like no other; full of compassion; a wonder-worker, a healer; the Way, the Truth and the Life. He died for our sins, but He rose on the third day, having taken away our guilt and set us free from condemnation and shame. Exalted to the right hand of the Father, Jesus is now the King of the Kingdom of heaven and has given that kingdom to us, just as the Father delights in. He has received the Holy Spirit and poured him out on all flesh. That’s you and me. And the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God in our hearts and floods us with joy that will last forever. Rejoice? How can we not rejoice?
Surely we shouldn’t deny the reality of the difficult circumstances we and the rest of the world are facing, should we?
No, things really are bad. However, there is always reason for thanksgiving, and thanksgiving leads to praise, and praise reinvigorates life itself.
We need to be clear sighted and realistic about the circumstances, then lean back into the Father’s arms and trust Him. After all you are the apple of His eye. He watches over you. That does not mean that He will rescue you out of every situation. He won’t ever abandon you, though. If you are thrown to the lions, He will be there with you. Into the fiery furnace – He will be found there too. The end of your life’s story will be – life with Him forever. Every enemy vanquished, even death. No more wickedness, pain, grief; no more tears. Jesus will then shine fully as the light of the world. No need of sun or moon – He will be our light – no planet could ever outshine him.
Faith in God means more than surrender. It’s a trusting abandonment to God.
We see it with Mary. A young, teenage girl visited by an angel who brings her an extraordinary greeting and a promise. ‘You will be with child, supernaturally.’ Very few young girls would welcome that news! The sheer unlikeliness. Unbelievability; who would believe her? The shame, reviling, disgrace that would likely be her lot. She would have to cope with her father’s shame and disappointment in her. What now of her promise to marry Joseph one day?
But hear her amazing response:
Thirty years later her son could be found, agonising in the Garden, saying something very similar as He, too, faced suffering, humiliation and shame.
Yet Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame for the sake of the joy that was set before him.
We are called to live in the moment and have faith and trust in God in each moment. He preserves us and sanctifies us. Jesus is enough. If we have him, we have everything, so we do not lack any good thing. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not with him freely give us all things?
We have the Father.
We have the Son.
We have the Holy Spirit.
We have a new hope.
Rejoice this Christmas time, and on through the New Year. Jesus places circumstances under your feet. Rejoice, disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ! Rejoice! Again I say, Rejoice!
Lord Jesus, thank you for laying down your rights in heaven so that you could come to earth and rescue me.
Thank you for coming as a baby, growing up and humbling yourself, even to death on a cross. Thank you for your willingness to be broken, despised, rejected of men, to have nowhere to lay your head. Thank you for your blood which cleanses me and silences the enemy. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of sin and its penalty. Thank you for all the promises that are stamped Yes and Amen because of you.
Father, open my ears and my mouth to join in the Christmas songs as you fill my heart with love and joy through the Holy Spirit.
Please put your hand upon my home, family and friends, that Jesus may become more real to them.
As I look ahead to the coming New Year, please help me to rest and put all my trust in you.
Friends, I bless you in Jesus’ name and write his name across your lives and circumstances. You are purchased because of his relentless love.
May the Lord bless you through the Christmas period and on into the New Year.
May He hold you safe and secure, regardless of any circumstances which may arise.
May He make His face to shine upon you, warming your heart and lighting your way.
May He treat you tenderly and lovingly.
May the Lord bless your heart and expand it with joy because He has become Immanuel, God with us, and Christ in us, the hope of glory.
At this Christmas and New Year period, may He, the Prince of Peace, hold you in peace and cause the joy at the heart of Christmas to overwhelm your heart continually.
We agree with God’s plan to bless you and we rejoice and we add our blessings too.
The Lord be with you!
If you have found this Word for the Month to be encouraging, would you please share it with others? Thank you. If you have any encouraging words for us in response to this Word, or to previous Words for the Month, please let us know through E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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© Roy Godwin 2022