The best thing I ever heard about Christmas

What is the best thing I ever heard about Christmas, you ask?  How can anyone adequately answer that question?  The best music ever written was written for Christmas.  The finest art ever created pays homage to that holy night.

It has moved writers…or rather, it has seized them.  Billions of words have been dedicated to it.  When reason screams, “Don’t write anymore!” Christmas moves the foolhardy to try again and find some fresh meaning contained in the most often told story in history.

The power of Christmas turns children into righteous grownups.  Then it turns righteous grownups back into children.

A testament to its glory is the cosmic grudge Satan bears against Christmas.  He never leaves it alone.  He must commercialize it.  And, in one instance he grew so desperate to harm it that he used some misguided ministers to ban it in England, because they thought Christmas was carnal!  The London Times didn’t mention Christmas for 10 years!

Then in 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the story of Scrooge, and Christmas was back.  Here, is a passage from A Christmas Carol. It is one of the best descriptions of Christmas ever penned:

“But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from thatas a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

However, no musician, no orator, and no artist, no writer (including Dickens), can touch the best thing I ever heard about Christmas.

The reason is that the words were forged in heaven by God Himself.  It was a note sent on ahead to explain what He meant by sending His Son to earth.

He tenderly crafted what should be said.  Then God did what every good writer must do—He made it concise.  He compressed an eternity of meaning into short, simple phrases.

Then he chose messengers whom He solemnly charged to speak these matchless words.  Relive with me that night when the best words ever spoken about Christmas were given to man.

Luke 2:8, “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!””

Christmas says, “Do not be afraid of the supernatural!”   The angels knew humans are terrified when they appear.  Note that they often preface their message with, “Fear not!” God wants us to know that it is a normal part of the life of the righteous to see signs and wonders.  Don’t be afraid of needing miracles.  Don’t be startled by the way God answers your prayers.

Don’t let the package fool you.  Don’t let the fierceness of evil discourage you.  The mission will not be thwarted.

Not only is the supernatural normal—it is good news!  When the Holy Spirit begins to move in a sedate church, the pastor should recognize that it is not an emotional thing, or a heretical thing, but a glorious thing!  It is a heavenly takeover that will impel the work of God forward.  Miracles are not a menace.  They are the perfect solution.

“This will be to all people.”  Christmas will not stop until it has achieved its goal. Nothing can stop the conquering march of the Son of God.  Don’t let the package fool you.  Don’t let the fierceness of evil discourage you.  The mission will not be thwarted.  The kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.  And He shall reign forever and ever!

“Christmas has never been convenient.  It never asks for an appointment.  It barges in and pulls you into the dance.  It grabs you by the soul and sets it to singing.” 

This Holy Child is the perfect gift from God to you.  God has given you His best.  He has come because of your need.   Here is the absolute answer to mankind’s curse.  And this cure has no side effects!  This solution does not miss the mark.  It is for you, and it is from Someone Who knows everything about you.

Break out in Joy! Use joy as a weapon. Use joy for renewed strength.  Let joy do its job.  Don’t restrain joy because of the evil around you.  Release joy because of the evil around you!

Christmas has never been convenient.  It never asks for an appointment.  It barges in and pulls you into the dance.  It grabs you by the soul and sets it to singing.  It is not that you can’t fight Christmas…it’s that you shouldn’t!  And that is the best thing I ever heard about Christmas.   Merry Christmas!

Who were they?

Who were those shepherds who saw the angels that Christmas night? The answer to that question is more important than you know.

They are us. Their story is our story.  Their situation is our situation. We share a common theme.  We share a common enemy.  The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on the hopes of believers today.  They are so much like us!  Their future was sold to pay a debt to a foreign empire.  For them it was Rome for us it is China.  Their leaders forged an unholy alliance with Augustus Caesar.  Our leaders, preachers who should be leading the way back to Bible values, appease our enemies, apologize to the world for our greatness.

The faith of their Fathers was diluted by false ministers and mocked by pagans. Our Faith suffers the same fate! Their weak economy created a crime wave that forced them to stay out in the fields watching their sheep. We spend hours at our job, actually hoping for overtime and then the final insult of a cruel commute home.  Can you relate to getting through a day by choking down emotions and watching robots taking jobs?

What do we want most for Christmas?  Let me brave an answer.  What we want most in all of this mess is good news.  We could sure use some good news!  It would be so wonderful to see the unrelenting torrent of scary headlines, dire predictions and disappointing reports swallowed up by good news! But what would be good news to you right now?  What message do you need from God right now?

What we want most is a visitation of God.  It is easy to think that we want something else but nothing would help us more, nothing would do the job better, nothing can compare to it.

San Jose California 1982:

I watched San Jose enveloped by the Glory of God.  It was a time when the economy was as bad as it is now.  The prime rate soared to 22% and unemployment was high.  Yet thousands crowded into the meeting every night for 22 weeks!  The atmosphere in the building evaporated fear and worries.

Yes, the people needed jobs desperately but somehow it was overruled by the Glory.  Each night they sang their hearts out, each night tears of joy washed away the cares of their life.  Other things became important.  Something priceless had come to them and they were not about to let human concerns rob them of this precious moment of their life.

I am a Pentecostal it is that simple.  I know what it means to have the Holy Spirit drench me. I know that when the Spirit of God is upon me fear, worry and anxiety vanish.

What the Angels did is turn their priorities upside down.  We know the Bible says “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you,” but in our daily grind it can seem to be an impossible task.  Moments ago these men were taut with tension and defensive of their herd to point where they would have gladly have fought to the death to protect their flock.  Now they are ready to run to a manger oblivious of the sheep they leave behind.

Yes we need jobs, healing and many other things but what we need most is the Glory.  Glory will make our soul gaze at God and while we gaze distracted by His splendor God will fix the issues of our life.  Modern pulpits have done us a great disservice by focusing on “how to” Christianity.  It seems so right to get practical teaching on relationships, money and handling emotions.  And that is the very problem we learn to “handle our lives” and “fix” ourselves.

This is the bait of Satan: to get us to strive and fret and battle by our wits and not by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  What leaders are failing to do is to seek and obtain a move of God among their people.

Why did God skip the theologians, the Priests and the King and send these angels to the shepherds?   This is the question of the ages! How embarrassing to all of those in power and to all of those who made a life out studying the prophets, reading the times and being “in the know” who were overlooked in favor of these shepherds!

We are constantly trying to qualify for a career, a credit card, a club or some kind of status but are we qualified for a visitation of God?

Now they are warning that the stock market will crash again, and all the gains will be lost. The experts are saying hard times are coming. I believe that the attack will not come from that direction. I believe it is immorality that is making the times so miserable.

But something good can come out of these “bad times”?  Maybe in these hard times you are holding your loved ones closer, praying a little deeper and trying a little harder to be humble and grateful.  Maybe instead of suffering, you are merely getting into position to be visited by God.

“…but the people who know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.” Daniel 11:32

Who were those shepherds that saw the angels that Christmas night?

mock up copyWho are these shepherds? They are us. Their story is our story.  Their situation is our situation. We share a common theme.  We share a common enemy.  The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on the hopes of believers today.  They are so much like us!  Their future was sold to pay a debt to a foreign empire.  For them it was Rome for us it is China.  Their leaders forged an unholy alliance with Augustus Caesar.  Our leaders appease our enemies, attack Christian values and apologize to the world for our greatness. The faith of their Fathers was diluted by false ministers and mocked by pagans. Our Faith suffers the same fate! Their weak economy created a crime wave that forced them to stay out in the fields watching their sheep. We spend hours at our job, actually hoping for overtime and then the final insult of a cruel commute home.  Can you relate to getting through a day by choking down emotions and robotic ally doing your job?

What do we want most for Christmas?  Let me brave an answer.  What we want most in all of this mess is good news.  We could sure use some good news!  It would be so wonderful to see the unrelenting torrent of scary headlines, dire predictions and disappointing reports swallowed up by good news! But what would be good news to you right now?  What message do you need from God right now?

What we want most is a visitation of God.  It is easy to think that we want something else but nothing would help us more, nothing would do the job better, nothing can compare to it.  In 1982 I watched San Jose enveloped by the Glory of God.  It was a time when the economy was as bad as it is now.  The prime rate soared to 22% and unemployment was even worse than today.  Yet thousands crowded into the meeting every night for 22 weeks!  The atmosphere in the building evaporated fear and worries.

Yes, the people needed jobs desperately but somehow it was overruled by the Glory.  Each night they sang their hearts out, each night tears of joy washed away the cares of their life.  Other things became important.  Something priceless had come to them and they were not about to let human concerns rob them of this precious moment of their life.

I am a Pentecostal it is that simple.  I know what it means to have the Holy Spirit drench me. I know that when the Spirit of God is upon me fear, worry and anxiety vanish.

What the Angels did is turn their priorities upside down.  We know the Bible says “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you,” but in our daily grind it can seem to be an impossible task.  Moments ago these men were taut with tension and defensive of their herd to point where they would have gladly have fought to the death to protect their flock.  Now they are ready to run to a manger oblivious of the sheep they leave behind.

Yes we need jobs, healing and many other things but what we need most is the Glory.  Glory will make our soul gaze at God and while we gaze distracted by His splendor God will fix the issues of our life.  Modern pulpits have done us a great disservice by focusing on “how to” Christianity.  It seems so right to get practical teaching on relationships, money and handling emotions.  And that is the very problem we learn to “handle our lives” and “fix” ourselves.

This is the bait of Satan: to get us to strive and fret and battle by our wits and not by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  What leaders are failing to do is to seek and obtain a move of God among their people.

Why did God skip the theologians, the Priests and the King and send these angels to the shepherds?   This is the question of the ages! How embarrassing to all of those in power and to all of those who made a life out studying the prophets, reading the times and being “in the know” who were overlooked in favor of these shepherds!

We are constantly trying to qualify for a career, a credit card, a club or some kind of status but are we qualified for a visitation of God?

What if these are not the bad times?  Maybe the bad times were back when you had money and toys.  Maybe in these hard times you are holding your loved ones closer, praying a little deeper and trying a little harder to be humble and grateful.  Maybe instead of suffering, you are merely getting into position to be visited by God.