Christmas! A season so profound, so life changing, so rich, so joyful, so full of hope and grace—it is here! JOY to the World!
“Thanks be to God for His indiscernible GIFT!” 2 Corinthians 9:15
As we started decorating our home this year, we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a family! I don’t think I’ve watched that movie since I was a child. But as many times as I’ve seen it in my life, I was struck so profoundly by the scene when the Whos in Whoville woke up Christmas morning to find all their presents stolen right from underneath them by the Grinch. Can we all agree that that would be a complete and utter nightmare? They seemingly had nothing to be thankful for and they had every right to be mad, enraged and disappointed. But what occurs next on the screen is what brought tears to my eyes: instead of freaking out, they join together hand-in-hand, to happily sing joyous and heart-delighted Christmas songs. Christmas wasn’t ruined for them as the Grinch had originally intended. As he peered down from Mount Crumpit, he was aghast at what he saw and heard. Moments later, though, a light bulb goes off in his head (as it should for all of us) and he utters the famous lines that are so true and stunningly beautiful:
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” - Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
What a simple, yet powerful reminder from a children’s movie, of all things, that our hope and joy and satisfactions does not ever come from a gift, from a store, from a box, etc. Isn’t that the lie of the enemy? He whispers, “if only you had that piece of jewelry, that iPhone, that car, that raise at work, that group of friends, that trip, that money, that home, that status, you would be happy and fulfilled.” When does it ever end? *Spoiler alert* it doesn’t! If we can’t fundamentally grasp that none of these things will ever satisfy the desires of our heart except for ONE THING, we will miss THE greatest gift of all time and will live ceaselessly searching to feed the desperate condition of our hearts! That One thing is what we celebrate at Christmas! Christ our King! He is WHO and WHAT we were designed/created for. As cheesy as it sounds, we all were created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts—a gaping hole! We all feel and experience it—this something that’s missing, something that’s lacking. A longing. Just like a cookie cutter, our heart wasn’t meant to have other “things” or “items” shoved in there. They won’t fit. (I’m a super over-the-top visual person, so sorry for that likely horrid example, but the creative visual helps me understand things better!) As I heard recently, we are all “wanting machines,” but satisfaction won’t come from the next toy, or as you get older, it won’t come from the next home, trip, status, etc. As we teach our kids this truth, I’m finding Ellis and I’s talks with them are more for us than anything else J Recognizing that our hearts were fashioned and intended for our Lord, our Savior alone to fill it (to rest on the throne of our hearts) is truly one of the secrets of finding true and lasting peace, joy and hope in this life.
What overwhelmingly abundant lives we would lead if we all found our joy, identity, pride and confidence in the One that will never let us down, will endlessly satisfy us and will provide everything we need! We only need to look up and cry out, “Invade my life, Lord! Fill those empty, hurting and longing places - that were created for You alone. In you, I find everything I’ve always been looking for.” This isn’t something you or I will ever master, but it’s key to grasp and humbly recognize this daily battle and vital to extend ourselves a little extra grace in the process. There is importance in abiding (John 15) and anchoring yourself to the Lord (Hebrews 6:19) daily! We aren’t ever “grace graduates”…it’s only “manna for the day”, “daily bread” – not a one stop shop! Which I love! Because that makes the daily relationship with our God that much more intimate, personal and truly real!
As we celebrate coming of the Christ child, I’d love to take a look at why He came! I’d love to put a fresh spin and give you a renewed perspective on Christmas!
On Christmas morning, light exploded into the darkness -- into this dark, lost, broken and desperate world. Doing what we couldn’t do for ourselves! That’s why we have Christmas trees, right? To symbolize how the Light of the World hung on a tree, how He came to die in our place and rise again defeating sin and death – what we could have never defeated on our own.
Jesus’ love for us is fearless - it isn’t guarded or limited; it’s vulnerable and raw - He knows He will get hurt, ignored, betrayed, lied to, misunderstood, written off, mocked, sinned against and yet He doesn’t distance himself from us. No, He jumps in anyway. (“He knows the depths of my heart and He loves me the same!") HE doesn’t make His final response to us one of judgment. He chooses grace. He comes to us. Moves towards us. He meets us right where we are with arms wide open full of redemption, compassion, and forgiveness! His love is fearless! He dove head first off His throne into this mess of a broken world. To heal it, to save it, to bring it a hope and a future, to die for it, to die for His accusers, His mockers, His unbelievers. His love for us is so grand that He died in our place with hope we would come to Him and give Him our hearts. And all the while, graces us with freedom, life-abundant, healing and wholeness. Freely. It’s the most beautiful love story of all time. A King who physically left His throne to come here to save and rescue you! Not to live in a palace. Not to be served, but to serve! The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! For YOU! He became the lowest to show us glory in the highest.
One of my favorite songs is “Glorious Day” by Passion Worship Band – it’s not a Christmas song but the words always weigh heavily on me, because they describe my life, but also the reasons why He came for us this Christmas season—why He came to earth as a baby!
I was buried beneath my shame
Who could carry that kind of weight
It was my tomb
Till I met You
I was breathing, but not alive
All my failures I tried to hide
It was my tomb
Till I met You
Now Your mercy has saved my soul
Now Your freedom is all I know
The old made new
Jesus, when I met You
I needed rescue
My sin was heavy
But chains break at the weight of Your glory
I needed shelter
I was an orphan
But You call me a citizen of Heaven
When I was broken
You were my Healer
Your love is the air that I'm breathing
I have a future
My eyes are open
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave!
Until you recognize that intense need for a recue, for something greater than yourself, for something you cannot provide yourself, you don’t get it! I didn’t get it my entire life!! In a season of deep sadness and despair, this song brought me tremendous hope!! I met Jesus long ago, but I didn’t know Him until recently! I’m sure you’ve met Him too— I think we all pretty much have—but do you KNOW Him? Know who He is, know what He is offering you, know and believe His truths? The haughty, prideful and self-righteous don’t get it. I was full of the delusions of my own strength and reliant on my strong-willed feisty personality to be able to muscle my way out of tough things. It takes real courage to admit your need for help, real valor to admit you are wrong, real bravery to humble yourself. Being ok with that desperate need for rescue. Understanding your brokenness. Understanding the need for a Savior. Humbly admitting the need for a power greater than yourself!
“We assess we are more righteous than we actually are, and because we do, we don’t seek the help that we desperately need.” The enemy loves to keep our world small, private and limited. “God knew that our condition was so desperately grave that He was willing to go to this extent to reach and rescue us…. simply because we had no power whatsoever to help ourselves out of our desperate state….we would never be able to conquer it on our own. The reason the birth of Jesus is such glorious wonderful news is that in his birth God offers you and me the only solution to the fundamental brokenness of sin that is core tragedy of every one of our lives. So confessing our brokenness is the only way we will ever fully understand and celebrate the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. … Good news is only ever good news to people who need good news. Ten dollars is extremely good news to a poor man, but would not even get noticed by a rich man. The promise of healing is wonderfully good news to a very sick woman, but wouldn’t even get the attention of a woman who was in good health. Jesus’ birth is both the worst and best news ever, and understanding of both will change you life forever.” - Paul David Tripp
He didn’t come because of what was in us, no, He came because of what was in Him. Praise the Lord we don’t reap what we’ve sown, we reap what Jesus has sown AND get to blessedly partake in forgiveness, righteousness, abundant life now and forevermore because of who HE is.
We’ve all read and heard the most well known verse John 3:16, but have you heard, understood, believed, grasped, and received the next verse 17?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did NOT send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
“At Christmas we celebrate a God who is glorious in His abundant love and patient mercy. He chose to give grace to those who could never deserve His favor. He chose to rescue those who could not help themselves. He chose to forgive those who had rebelled again and again. He chose to not leave us in our blindness, but to open our eyes. He chose to empower the unable. And because He chose all these things, He chose to send His Son. The glory of the birth of Jesus becomes even more glorious when it is seen through the humbling lens of the desperate condition that was the reason for His coming. Accept the very bad news of Christmas today, so that you can celebrate even more joyfully its wonderfully good news!” - Paul David Tripp
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
If you haven’t read it or are unfamiliar with the Christmas story, I’d love to encourage you to read the entire story in Luke 2! It’s a beautiful place to start!
Come as you are today, don’t wait another day. Come and lay down your illusions of strength, surrender and find everything you’ve always been looking for in Christ Jesus. You will find a willing and able Savior, Healer, Helper, Rescuer, and Redeemer! His law is grace and His gospel is peace!
Today, we celebrate and stand in awe of the WONDERS of His love! His mercies are new every morning, His promises always hold true, and He is faithful even when we are not.
Jesus came here to meet us where we are, to make us whole, to replace shame with a double portion, to bring hope to the hopeless, to bind up the broken-hearted, to give us a spirit of rejoicing instead of mourning — to heal, rebuild, redeem and restore us. We hope you know Him, find Him, cling to Him, experience Him, call upon Him and the realness of His unending love and powerful life-transforming grace! Praying love abounds and you find true and lasting peace, joy, mercy, freedom, and refuge in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Glory to God in the highest!
We rejoice together as a family in our Prince of Peace, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Blessed Hope - the only one who satisfies our souls!
“The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!” Psalm 126:3
Oh, come let us adore Him!