The Joy of Christmas

“Joy” is one of the most overused words of the holiday season. It’s on our Christmas cards, gift tags and more. It is the subject of our songs and carols.

Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It should be a time of rejoicing and good cheer. But what if you don’t feel joyful? Many fake it, which leaves them feeling empty inside.

Others quickly lose their joy when the feasting is over, the presents are unwrapped and guests go to their respective homes.

Where did all this joy go? Did it simply vanish into thin air? Did it go into the attic with the tinsel and lights? Did it disappear with that huge pile of crumbled paper and ribbon? Is it in the box with the crèche perhaps?

No, it’s not there.

Many confuse joy with happiness, but the two are not the same. Happiness depends on circumstance, while joy does not.

Many Christians use this time to rededicate their lives. They vow to do all the right things, even if it kills them and it often does, if not physically, mentally. They end up exhausted and joyless.

Let’s face it. Living the Christian life is hard work. In fact, it is impossible on our own.

But wait! Christ told us, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”

It is possible to leave Christ the baby in the manger and miss the real meaning of Christmas, the reason He came to earth and lived among us.

Maybe there was a time when you had the joy, so you know what I’m talking about. However, somewhere in your zeal to “work out your salvation,” the work part took over.

Bob George analyzed this problem in a little book called “Classic Christianity.” He points out that it is a human tendency to turn what should be a vibrant, personal relationship with Christ into a religion. We stray away from the basics and often substitute the good things for the real thing.

It is so easy to get caught up in the activity of the “shoulds” of the world and the church that we forget that the Christian life is Christ, not just a change in lifestyle.

When you become a Christian, you die to yourself. In other words, you leave your old self behind and invite the resurrected Christ to live through you. But our human nature dies hard. We must ask the Holy Spirit to indwell us each and every day. We must renew our minds with His word. We also need daily two-way conversations with our Lord through prayer.Prayer involves a lot more than simply thanking God for His blessings, asking for forgiveness when we stumble (and we all do) and giving God our wish lists. The most important part is asking, “Lord, what would You have me to do today?” In other words, we need to use our prayer time to substitute His wish list for ours. When you do that, amazing things begin to happen.

Jesus will be there to guide you and to help you carry out His will every step of the way. It’s like jumping off to “light speed.” And when you come up against a seemingly impossible task, He makes a way, where there is no way. Living in this knowledge is where the real joy comes in.

It puts the little things that can trip us up – things like cleaning up from this big holiday celebration – in perspective.

The Bible says, ”Ask whatsoever you will and it will be given unto you, if (and this is a mighty big if) you abide in Me and My words abide in you.”

Don’t miss the real thing this Christmas. Don’t leave Christ the baby in the manger. If you have never invited Him to come into your life, why not do so today?

Perhaps you think you are not good enough. No one is. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is why God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world, not only to teach us how to live, but to pay the price for our sins. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are washed white as snow.

So now that the presents are unwrapped, you can look forward, not only to a new year, but a new beginning.

Wishing you the peace and true joy that only comes through following Him.

Thanksgiving: What’s Missing

The holiday table is prepared for the annual feast.  There is turkey, stuffing, hot rolls and pumpkin pie, but something is missing.

The holiday spirit has taken a dive.  The abundance of food on the table is in sharp contrast to the condition of our country.   We are in debt up to our eyeballs to the communist Chinese.  The economy is stagnant and there is no relief in sight.  Unemployment is high along with the price of energy and every other necessity.  The promised health care reform has proved to be a sham, leaving us worse off than before.  

The once powerful United States of America has become a paper tiger in the eyes of the world.  We are no longer respected, admired or feared.  What is to become of us?  

Despair and uncertainty has griped the nation.  Not since Jimmy Carter, in 1979, has the country suffered such malaise.   As we prepare to celebrate with family and friends, we are searching for something, anything, to lift us out of this downward spiral.   Continue reading “Thanksgiving: What’s Missing”

The Price of Freedom

July 4 is the birthday of our nation.  It is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document by which the American colonies declared their independence from British rule, which had become burdensome if not tyrannical.

This was, however, not an end but the beginning of a struggle for freedom that would last for more than seven years and cost many of the brave men who signed that document their comfortable homes, their land, their fortune, their children and — for some — their very lives. 

The men who met in Philadelphia that fateful day in 1776  to sign that document were not poor, malcontent scalawags.  These were men of means who risk everything to give us this nation where 

“all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …”

It is important to remember that, while these men were declaring their independence from Great Britain, they were also declaring their dependence on the God who created us.  And in case that was not clear enough in this declaration of rights, they closed the document in such a way that it could not be missed.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred honor.”

The years that followed were difficult and victory would have been impossible without the direct intervention of the hand of God.  Those who doubt this simply do not know their history.  How else could a rag-tag army of colonists defeat the powerful British?  The miracles that followed are too numerous to mention such as the  blinding fog that allowed Washington’s men to escape from Brooklyn or just the right amount of snow and thaw on the icy Delaware River that paved the way for  — not one  — but three miraculous crossings. Continue reading “The Price of Freedom”