C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S.

I can remember growing up and hearing a song that my dad sang in church once when I was a young child.  In fact, I can remember hearing the chorus and taking it all in to view the true meaning of Christmas as a young man.

The chorus was simple, yet powerful when discussing Christmas day, and I would encourage each of you to take a moment this week and truly focus on what Christmas truly means.  If you have children, share it with them, and let us all get back to the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas…let’s remember this Christmas to keep Christ in it and tell the story of a Savior that was born to save the world.

The verse of the song talks about being a child and Christmas meaning just one thing…getting presents.  I feel this is the common thought that goes through the mind of children everywhere…you can see it in their eyes when they enter a room.  For many of them, the first place they head is to the tree to count how many presents they have.  The song continues with the writer mentioning their mother sitting them down and teaching them to spell C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. The Chorus of the song fits into the acronyms that I have been doing over the past few weeks, and goes like this:

“’C’ is for the Christ child, born upon this day; ‘H’ for herald angels in the night.  ‘R’ means our Redeemer, ‘I’ means Israel. ‘S’ is for the star that shone so bright. ‘T’ is for three wise men, they who traveled far; ‘M’ is for the manger where He lay.  ‘A’’s for all He stands for, ‘S’ means shepherds came and that’s why there’s a Christmas day.”

As we approach the Christmas season, let us look upon Christmas by remembering the real reason for why we celebrate the birth of the Savior.  Another song that can help put it into perspective during this season is “Christmas is all in the Heart” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Chapman touches on the subject of Christmas with sincerity and heartfelt reality that can hit home during the times we are in during the Christmas season.  One set of the song’s lyrics sum it up this way:

“No, it’s not in the snow that may or may not fall, and it’s not in the gifts around the tree. It’s in the love heaven gave, the night our Savior came, and that same love can still be found wherever you are, ‘Cause Christmas is all in the heart.”

I would encourage each of you to look over every aspect of the season, focusing on the true meaning.  You may not have the money to have a great Christmas (in the eyes of the world), but in the eyes of the Lord, you can have the best Christmas you have ever had when you realize the most amazing gift that you have ever received – Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus the focus of your Christmas season?  Are you able to celebrate Christmas, even if only in your heart?  Focus on the true meaning of Christmas this year and share it with your children and those around you.  Take the time to read the Christmas story, but remember that Christmas doesn’t end with the manger; Christmas ends with the Cross of Calvary, where the joy of the Christmas season ends with the redemption of the world.  Jesus came to the world to save the world, and it all started in a manger in Bethlehem.

Mary Did Know!

One of the most popular songs for the Christmas season is “Mary Did You Know?” and it is a beautiful song full of references to who Jesus is, but I want to offer this explanation…Mary did know who Jesus was, and it is evident to us through the text  in Luke 1:39-55.

We see a conversation where Mary and Elisabeth discuss her pregnancy because the Holy Spirit revealed to Elisabeth that Mary was with child because of the leaping of her baby in the womb.  What follows in verses 46-55 is a song of Mary that truly shows us that she knew much more than we may give her credit for:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.  His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy, just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” (HCSB)

Mary seems to have known quite a bit about what was happening within her body.  She was praising God for her salvation…she was praising because of his mercy and grace, not only to her, but to all generations…she was praising God for his promises that were being fulfilled through her…she was praising because she knew that God had chosen a poor, humble girl to fulfill a prophecy that was made generations before…and that this promise was being made to her and for generations to come.

Do you feel like nothing? Do you feel like you have no reason to praise? Look at Mary’s circumstances…she was young, she was poor, she was unmarried, and now, she finds herself pregnant…all of which would make her somewhat of a social outcast at the time, but God chose her to bring himself into human history.  Mary understood the depth of the request God had made of her, and she willingly answered with a “Yes! Let it happen as you say!”

Are you willing to follow? Are you willing to praise Him as Mary did? Are you willing to accept what He is calling you to do? Today, embrace who you are…embracing what God is calling you to do…and embrace your place in the Kingdom.  Praise Him no matter what your circumstances today.  Allow yourself to praise Him for all the blessings He has given you!

The Next Five Minutes

One of my favorite songs a few years ago was the song “Next 5 Minutes” by Steven Curtis Chapman.  The lyrics of the song truly speak to me about what we are promised, and now more than ever, because we never know what we are promised.  I have said over and over in my ministry that we need to make decisions for the Lord now and not let the moment pass because we may never have the opportunity again.

You never know when you will take your last breath, so why would you live as if you have forever?  The chorus of the song goes like this, “I’m living the next 5 minutes like these are my last 5 minutes, ‘Cause I know the next 5 minutes may be all I have.  And after the next 5 minutes turn into the last 5 minutes, I’m taking the next 5 minutes and starting all over again.”

I would encourage you to take the next five minutes and live it as if it were the last five minutes that you have.  When that five minutes is over, take the next five minutes and do the same thing.  If we all adopted this as our lifestyle, we may be surprised at the way the world around us looks and seems.  I would venture to say that we would see things differently.

Jim Greene was a great example of this to me, and I’m sure to many of you.  Dad viewed life in this way, and when his time came, I am sure he welcomed it with open arms.

One example of this that I can think of from history is the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  There was a revival being held in Chicago during that time.  On Sunday, October 8, 1871 the revival started, and the minister holding the revival opened up the possibility of knowing the Lord.  He then asked everyone to take an opportunity to go home and make a decision and come back on Monday night ready to make a decision for the Lord.

That night, the fires began, and those folks never got the chance to make that decision…do not let that be you!  Choose this day if you will serve the Lord…but know this, I would encourage you to make a decision for Christ because you do not know what may come your way that could keep you from doing so.

Joshua 24:15 speaks to this the best, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Who will you serve today?