Sometimes when crazy things are going on all around us, it’s hard to remember that God keeps His promises. He reminded me of this in my Old Testament Sunday school class recently when we talked about Daniel, who was incredibly steadfast in his faith. He is one of the only Bible characters that doesn’t seem to mess up. As a teenager, he is taken from his home and made to serve the king (who is probably insane I might add), and the first thing he does is make a deal with his official to let him stay kosher.
Most people remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001.
That morning, I walked into my math class where my teacher uncharacteristically had the radio on, listening to the news. The first plane had hit. When class was over, a few of us rushed down to the school library where they had a TV on the news channel. We watched the footage, horrified, as they played the images of terrorism over and over.
This is a depiction of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It’s a picture of complete surrender.
The surrendering of our will to our heavenly Father’s can be agonizing at times. That’s what I love about this image. Jesus didn’t make it look easy. In fact, Scripture tells us He experienced such anguish in the garden, such overwhelming sorrow, that His sweat became like drops of blood.
We hear it every year, see the nativity plays, add the star to the top of our Christmas trees. Most of us could probably recite Luke 2 in our sleep.
Mary and Joseph. The census. No room at the inn. Shepherds and angels. Jesus, wrapped in cloth and laid in the manger.
The Christmas story can become so familiar that it can lose its meaning to us. Especially surrounded by the busyness of the holidays, filled with long lists of to-dos, events, church services, family and traveling. Our focus shifts from the birth of the Lord to getting everything done on time.
No matter how you celebrate Christmas, try to find some time in the chaos to spend with Jesus. Alone, with your family or friends, at church, wherever you are, stop and take a moment to reflect on the best gift God could ever give us, the gift of His son, Jesus.
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! – Luke 2:14 (HCSB)
WORDsearch wishes you a merry Christmas celebrating the birth of our Lord!
Have you ever lived a life so filled with pain and despair you begin to wonder why God would allow you to survive a lifetime of suffering? What did you do to deserve this pain? As Job cried out, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (Job 7:20) For me the irony dug deep as a man with bipolar disorder, over the years I began to feel the pull into ministry. It seemed ridiculous at first; that I, a man with so many issues, should become a shepherd of Christ. The words of James in particular become a stinging conviction; “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:6-8)
For many of us, our loved ones are starting school again soon. This can be a hard time of trying to get back in the swing of things, and we can find ourselves getting distracted by the many tasks before us. We are back to traffic, schedules, soccer practice, Sunday school, Bible studies, homework…while trying to make sure we get enough sleep, good food and quality time.
All of this, plus all the distractions that come from our smartphones and other technology, can really pull us away from God. Sometimes a week will go by and we won’t have spent any time in His Word. We can miss a red flag from a friend in need because we are too busy checking our email while trying to write good discussion questions for our Bible study. We usually end up with no energy, or the excuse of “I’ll just do it tomorrow.”
But remember that even Jesus was tested by distractions–and by the master of temptations.