I must admit that I have not had a lot of time to think about Christmas this year. A couple of weeks ago I was desiring to purchase and put up some lights around our covered front porch so as to blend in with some of our neighbors who have decorations and lights on their houses. But that plan went up in smoke after a couple of emergency room visits for Piper turned my attention to her immediate needs. When you combine that with settling in to the new house (ie; digging through the mountain of boxes stacked in various places around the house), purchasing and assembling some new furniture, home care nursing visits, follow-up doctor’s appointments… and the list seems to go on and on… Let’s just say that I have been a bit distracted!
I did manage to get the new tree we bought last year up, but can’t seem to find the boxes containing the ornaments and other Christmas decorations. At least it has lights on it! I also noticed that I just don’t have much desire to get into the Christmas excitement.
The last few years have been difficult for me around the Holiday season. The bottom line is that I miss sharing and celebrating this special time of the year with the full input and recognition of my wife Piper. It is sort of like I go through the motions, but don’t have the zeal behind the actions! Have you ever been there?
Today’s Tuesday, the FOURTH week of Advent reading tells of the excitement and adventure that the young teenage Jesus must have felt as He sat at the feet of the religious teachers and scholars during the family’s annual trip to Jerusalem. That picture stirred me up today! As I focused on God’s Word this morning, I began to feel a fresh tinge of excitement and expectation for the things of God in Piper’s and my life. It felt like the Holy Spirit had dropped another big log into the fire that was smoldering in my heart.
As the flames began to brighten, I began to discover a new hope and a new joy for the promises we have been standing on for about six years now. And even though Piper had kind of a rough start today, I am still sensing that new surge of excitement for Christmas and the New Year that is just around the corner!
Do you ever find yourself fighting a bit of discouragement or depression in the midst of the celebration of the birth of the Christ child? Well, I believe that the excitement and adventure that you’ll read about today, can and will have the “SPARK” to reignite your trust, faith and expectation in God’s best for your life!
The Greatest Gift!
Tuesday, the fourth week of Advent
Today’s Readings: Exodus 23:14-17 / Deuteronomy 16:16 / Luke 2:41-52
As the end of our daily look at the story of the first Christmas draws near in this season of Advent, it is only fitting that we take a peek at “the only passage of story recorded concerning our blessed Savior, from his infancy to the days of his showing to Israel at twenty-nine years old…” (Luke 2:41-52 Matthew Henrys Commentary on the Whole Bible) It is interesting to note that this incident takes place when Jesus was about the same age as His mother when the angel Gabriel originally appeared to her as a young teenage girl.
Many years had passed since the miraculous set of events had occurred to Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Jesus as a young man of twelve was at the age when “boys began preparing to take their place in the religious community the following year.” (Luke 2:42 footnote in NIV Study Bible) But there was something different about this lad that separated Him from others his age. I believe that this unique quality that set Him apart is the key to understanding this portion of scripture.
Jesus had a hunger for more of God. He was also at the age where He was beginning to develop greater cognitive abilities and understanding of the world around Him, as well as seeing the first light of dawn concerning His divine purpose. His retort to His mother after she had shared Joseph’s and her concern for Him was not one of rebellion, but simply an honest answer as seen through the eyes of a typical Middle School boy! He was so focused on the revelation that was beginning to unfold to His understanding that I believe He did not even consider the worry and anxiety that His actions had caused His parents. He was beginning to see that He had a job to do and decided that He would do it!
Jesus walked in the footsteps of David as He marveled and sought after the Lord’s precepts. (See: Psalm 119:99-106) And like the Apostle Paul who would come after Him, He sat at the feet of the rabbis who were the experts in Judaism, absorbing their every word like a sponge absorbs water! (See: Acts 22:3) But as the realization of the unveiling of His calling was beginning to come to Him, Jesus was also “an obedient child, whatever sense He also had of another relationship unconnected in itself with subjection to human parents. Consciousness of the one did not injure His perfection in the other.” (Luke 2: 41-52 John Darby’s Synopsis) Jesus duly obeyed the word of His earthly parents, went back home with them to Nazareth and “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 NIV)
The example for us to draw from this portion of our story is Jesus’ hunger for the things of God. His pursuit and obedience to His father’s Word was the foundation for everything He became in life. Every action that He took was based on His intimate knowledge of His father’s love and faithfulness to His Word. That is also the key to yours and my success in the New Year ahead. Jesus was the ultimate gift given to the world on that first Christmas over 2000 years ago. It would be quite a shame to leave a gift of that magnitude unopened under the tree this year!
Think about the look of excitement and adventure that must have been glowing in the eyes of Jesus as He sat at the feet of the religious scholars while they expounded the truths of the scriptures to Him! You can experience that same excitement, peace and joy that will lead you through every adventure that you face ahead. 2 Timothy 1:7 declares that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power (or ability) and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV) All the tools and all the answers are to be found in His Word… and they are all very user friendly!
As you open presents with family and friends this Christmas choose to remember to open and then fully utilize the greatest gift of all. Then you’ll experience life in the New Year to come with a peace and joy like you’ve never realized before! Have a Blessed and Joyous Christmas! Stay in tune to His Word, share this reading with another today and keep asking yourself… What Exciting and Adventurous things am I expecting today and to continue through 2016?”