Friday, December 23, 2011

Rejoice With Heart, Soul and Voice

In the merrymaking of the Christmas holidays it is so easy to miss the true meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ expressed in the Christmas carols we sing and the advent stories we read in our bibles. We forget that it must have been a very difficult time for Mary and Joseph. There was no room in the inn and the young couple had to cope with the birth of their first born in a manger. One can only imagine the fears and anxieties they had to face.

The humble and difficult circumstances of the birth of Jesus Christ provide encouragement and hope to those of us facing the pains and struggles of daily life. Some of us are facing life threatening illnesses, the emotional storms of interpersonal conflicts, or the sorrow of loss. Such struggles are especially difficult to face in a season of merrymaking especially when God seems silent and distant.

The good news of Christmas is that Jesus came to share our pain, fears and burdens. For Jesus is Emmanuel - God With Us. Christopher Maricle noted that “God did not send Jesus to solve all our problems; Jesus came to teach us how to live with our problems. This human life is difficult, full of hardships and disappointments interlaced with occasional joys and successes.”

Jesus came to set us free from our bondage to the evil in the spiritual dimension, the evil philosophies of the world and the evil within ourselves. Jesus is God's wonderful gift to help us know and experience God’s unfailing love for each one of us.

But first we need to receive the gift. We need to come to our senses like the prodigal son and see how far we are from our Father's Love. The darkness in our lives is but a reflection of far we have turned away from the love of God. We need the spirit of repentance to turn back to our Heavenly Father.

Secondly, after receiving God's gift of salvation, we need to make full use of the gift. It may be easy to receive Jesus as our Saviour but the real problem for many of us, if not all, is to make Jesus the Lord of all our lives. It is so easy to be caught up with all the spiritual blessings of our new life in Christ and use it for our personal gain instead of using them to do God's will. We need to remember Jesus' warning in Matthew 7:21:

"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter."

We need to remember that the will of God is for us rejoice always and to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:16-18).

The Upper Room devotional today reminded me that the best gift we can give is the news of God's love shown in Jesus Christ. So let us rejoice and sing:

"Good Christian men, rejoice

With heart and soul and voice;

Now ye need not fear the grave:

Jesus was born to save!

Calls you one and calls you all,

To gain his everlasting hall.

Christ was born to save,

Christ was born to save!

May the humble and simple obedience of Joseph and Mary inspire us to experience the birth of the living Christ in our hearts this Christmas.

May you have a Blessed and Joyful Christmas!

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