Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great Joy and the Good News

Merry Christmas.

When you read that, think not of cliche sayings from holiday cards, for I truly wish you joy and merriment, but not only what the world gives. The best the world can give at Christmas is great food, great company, great presents, sparkly lights, and laughter in our gatherings. And it’s all wonderful, true, but it’s fleeting. The next day the calendar reads December 26 and life is the same again, after all that preparation and merriment.

It can be a let down after all the anticipation, but December 26 doesn't have to be like this. Remember, an angel appeared to the shepherds in the field, and the message given forever changed the human condition.

Luke 2:8-11
And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

“Good news of great joy.” What is this, exactly? When we seek and find the answer to this question, our joy is not only complete, but everlasting. December 26 and every day after it becomes a manifestation of the good news the angel announced.

When a newborn baby arrives in this world, it’s an occasion for joyous thanksgiving and celebration, for babies represent hope in the future. Babies are a new beginning, enriching and changing the course of our lives forever. Blessed is the family who welcomes a baby, either their own or one lovingly adopted. Either way, a baby is a blessed gift. Think of that joy! Nothing can match it on earth, for babies are a miracle so perfect, only God could be the Designer.

How fitting, then, that the good news of great joy came in the form of a baby…but this Christmas baby? He is more than hope, more than joy, more than blessing. He is Life itself! He came to give us Life—an overflowing spirit of peace in our hearts while we dwell here for such a fleeting time, and later, eternity spent in His presence. This later is oh so much greater than this now…this now being as a vapor.

Eternity spent in His presence. Think of the magnificence of that truth, as well as the comfort and inner peace He gives on earth amidst every ailment, every disorder, and every sorrow.

For four hundred years before the Baby was born to us, God was silent. No prophets, no miracles, no news; nothing but frightening quietness.

And then, suddenly, there is good news of great joy, as foretold by the prophets so long ago. God planned this day we call Christmas. He planned this good news. He foretold this Great Rescue, as we see in Micah and Isaiah, Old Testament books.

Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Eph′rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel? It means God with us. The long-awaited Messiah, the source of Life, the solution to our separation from a perfect, Holy God, has come. He is here. There is no separation for those who trust in Him. No more unanswered need, unanswered sorrow. No more emptiness of spirit. After four hundred silent years, and many more years of turmoil and failed allegiance, as documented in the Old Testament Bible, the Savior, the Messiah, has come.

I wish you a slow down, a time to set aside the offerings of a worldly Christmas. Trade what the world offers for joy everlastingjoy that doesn't end at midnight on December 26. Make the Christ Child your own good news this year, for the angel said: I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people “.

He was born for you. Enter into Joy everlasting. Take him into your arms, into your heart, where every baby longs to be. He is the good news of great joy your soul longs for. No one and nothing can ever fill us as He does. He is Immanuel, God with us. With is a joyous concept to hold on to, for it means we are never forsaken, never alone, always loved.

Wow! That is good news of great joy!

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