Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Joy to the World

Hey guys!  Sorry about recent lack of Advent posts- I’ve been quite busy and was out of town last weekend.

Anyways, this has been an interesting Advent season for me.  I started out wanting to make sure and share the heart of Advent and Christmas with you all, and it turns out that I’ve needed to be reminded of the Joy of Christmas myself.
When we are young, the Christmas season is a time of unexplainable excitement and wonder. December takes about a year and a half to pass by,  everyone you meet seems full of the Christmas spirit, you could pass a whole day just talking about what might be under the Christmas tree, and every time you hear the Christmas  story or look at a manger scene, you get the feeling that you were old friends with Mary and Joseph and played an important part in that story.  And in the blessing of that season, you are fully aware of the fact that God loves you.

So what happened?
Just when and where and how did we lose that childhood view of Christmas [or the world for that matter]? Why are we just a little more reserved in our excitement? Why are our hopes a just a little less wild? Where did the childhood wonder and joy go? Am I the only one who feels like my heart is two sizes too small once in a while? What’s the deal?
 Some people call it growing up, some people call it real life, some call it experience, the way things are, a dose of reality, or site any number of other reasons for things “just not being the same”.

God calls it a fallen world.
You and I and every other human being on this planet are born into and grow up in a world that is full of sin, and heartache, and hopelessness, and strife, and tears, and lies, and pain. Childhood innocence is quickly replaced by grown-up “reality”. At some point we have all had our bodies, our trusts, and our hearts broken. It is a part of life in a broken place. Our mistake though is not realizing that there is evil and hurt in the world, but that as we mentally adjust to the people, places, and circumstances around us, we sometimes re-think our perspective of God [or His perspective of us]. 

It’s the “What-does-God-think-about-when-He-thinks-about-me?”question. If this life isn’t exactly what we’d hoped and thought it to be, is God maybe not everything we hoped and thought Him to be? Satan wants to put a little wedge of doubt in our hearts about God’s heart toward us; and he tries to get us to look at God in light of our fallen world- instead of looking at our fallen world in light of God. Satan has used the tactic of calling God’s heart into question ever since the garden of Eden. 

Part of what led Charles Darwin to look for a worldview that left out God, was his idea that all the pain and suffering in the world proved that God wasn’t loving. Charles Darwin was a man- and no stranger to heartache. His mistake was using his pain and sorrow as his lens when he looked at God, not letting the Comforter be the lens with which he viewed his world.

So how can we really know God’s heart toward us? 

I’ve heard it said that a lot of the time our perception of God’s heart toward us is subconsciously based on our own heart toward ourselves. If we are having a good day and pleased to see that we are doing the right thing, then it’s easy to believe that God loves us. If, however, we are struggling on a given day and falling short and feel worn down etc., then it’s a lot harder to believe that God loves us. 

Thankfully though, God’s heart doesn’t change. Our moods, minds, hearts, and circumstances change, but God is constant- the one being who will never let us down, never be in a bad mood, never be too busy for us, and never stop loving us.
I love to remember God’s message to us on the birthday of His Son:

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel of the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ So it was when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.”

What incredible and healing words for a broken world to hear. If we can get past the Bible-eese of these verses that we sped through as kids, we will find a treasury of blessing in the major statements of God’s heart toward us on that night in Bethlehem. 

God sent his message not to the priests- not to the king- not to somebody the son of somebody the son of somebody- but to some shepherds out in a field. I don’t guess these guys were on the Pharisee’s top 10 best Jews list either- they were regular guys. They were broken, they were disenchanted with themselves and with the world, and they desperately needed a Savior. 

God loves us enough to be that Savior. 

He didn’t resign Himself to have to put on His boots and help us [again], His whole world plan ever since man was first broken, was making ready the coming of our Redeemer.  

Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us. 

In case you’ve forgotten, in case you never heard, in case you just need to be blessed by the realization once again, allow me to remind you [and me] that God desperately, madly, wonderfully,  fully, securely, strongly, foreverly, unchangingly, unstoppably, unexplainably, undeservedly, completely, and amazingly,

Loves us.

That’s why He came. That’s why He still comes. That’s why He gave and still gives. And that’s why we have 



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