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« On the Death of My Friends | Main | Kenneth F. Haney »

Christmas and Beyond

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God…”Luke 2:8-20

            While giddy anticipation reigns during the interminably long period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, dread and dismay set in for many folks December twenty-sixth.  Long return lines, seeing items costing full price slashed in half, paying the cards that were so lovingly charged, eating leftovers and wishing they had as much energy to take down the decorations as they had putting them up—such are the dubious rewards of the modern celebration.   We can’t wait until Christmas comes; then, we can’t believe it’s here; then, we are so glad it’s over!  And, some insightful soul said, “Nothing is as over as Christmas when it’s over!”

            Mary and Joseph alone were privy to the day before the first Christmas.  The shepherds, along with Mary and Joseph, were in a unique position to know about Christmas Day. But, after Christmas, we are left with two viewpoints: Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart; the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God.

            Whenever a day of great significance takes place, the impact forces a change on the rest of the world.  The repercussions of the change usually register a much greater degree than the original impact.  December 7, 1941 was one such day.  Most of us know firsthand what a monumental change has taken place in America and the world since September 11, 2001.  Likewise, historians can chart the changes that reverberated out from the unlikely village of Bethlehem after the first Christmas.

            The thoughts that Mary kept and pondered in her heart never left her.  They churned in her so deeply that she must have finally realized the answers.  No doubt, the reason she spoke so confidently to the servants at the marriage of Cana was that she knew Jesus was a man of destiny.  The shepherds slipped under the scriptural radar, but they sowed the seed that turned into a ripened field for the gospel.  The day of the event calls for celebration; the aftermath calls for decision and action.

            Something big happened on the first Christmas Day, bigger than Jingle Bells and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” bigger than Santa Claus, Rudolf or Frosty, bigger than new watches, iPads or designer jeans.  If all God wanted to say with Bethlehem, Gethsemane, Calvary, the Empty Tomb and His ascension at Bethany was “I love you,” why didn’t He just come down and say, “I love you?!”  No. 

When Jesus Christ is born in your life, when you have an encounter with Jesus, do not think that the experience is all there is to it.  Do you think that the enormity of redemption’s story—that God became man, that he died on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and resurrection the third day with victory over death—had as its overarching purpose to give man a temporary thrill?

If you have had an encounter with Christ, something bigger than a religion tweak happened.

Something happened that now brings you face to face with a sobering thought:  Now what?! 

You’ve been healed.  Now what?

You got your miracle.  Now what?

You got your answer to prayer.  Now what?

Yes, God does great things for us. But the significant truth to observe is this: When God does great things for us, He places on us an awesome responsibility! In effect, He says to us, “Now that you have had an encounter with My power and presence, what difference will this make in your life?  What difference is this going to make in your relationship to me?”

Answered prayer asks us for reciprocating sacrifice. Look at the example of Hannah. “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD.” I Samuel 1:26-28. Hannah wanted a son, but God wanted a prophet. Samuel’s tremendous influence on the history of Israel hinged on two things: God answered prayer and Hannah responded.

A miracle from God demands that we do the will of God. When Elijah  challenged the prophets of Baal, God sent fire to consume the bullock, the altar and the water. But the miracle was not for a show. It demanded a response. “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” I Kings 18:39 -40. Difficult though it may have been, Elijah made the Israelites slay the prophets of Baal after the fire fell on the sacrifice.

An encounter with God calls for greater trust in God. Gideon’s fleece was not a set-up for God, but for Gideon. The first time Gideon prayed, the fleece was wet with dew but the ground was dry. Nervous about the answer, Gideon prayed again. “And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” Judges 6:38-40. The next verse finds Gideon rising up early to fight against the Midianites.  He knew that when the answer came through, it was time to move.

Have you been granted


·a reunited marriage,

·a restored family,

·a miraculous healing,

·a financial blessing

·a job, new or saved

·an anointed ministry

·impossible situations worked out

·revival and the fruit of your labors

Whatever God has done for you, mark it down—He has done it for a reason.

It’s the day after. The anticipation is over. The celebration is over.The box is open; the wrappings are scattered; the surprise is over.  Now, it is time for commitment.

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Reader Comments (1)

Brother Jordan, I love it "the box is open now is the time for commitment..." Have a fab new year

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

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