Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 25, 2009

"Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." Luke 1:18-19

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:34-37

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:18-21

We live in an age of "reality" TV shows, virtual reality devices and a 24/7 media that seeks to shape your sense of reality.

No wonder people are questioning, "What is real?"

Christmas give us the answer. Christmas clearly proves that God is real and faith in Him defines, yes, redefines our reality.

The events of that first Christmas challenged how Zechariah and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph defined their reality.

For Zechariah and Elizabeth, in their "real" world, old barren people didn't have babies. They had long since cashed in their dream of being parents. They had done all the right things and lives served the Lord. But He had not honored them with a child. Disappointing as that was, they chose to remain faithful to God. They had adjusted to a world of barreness. And then one day, an angel showed up with a word news from God that challenged their reality.

When the angel asked them to believe the unbelievable they had to decide which reality would define their belief.

Mary and Joseph were both the kind of young people you would love to claim. They were faithful to God and lived with integrity. Their wedding was fast approaching and they looked forward to completing their love and being man and wife. Honoring God in their relationship wasn't easy, but it was right and they had done so.

Then the angel confronted Mary with a word from God that challenged her reality. How can a virgin conceive? She had saved herself for Joseph and now her first child would not be his. She had to decide which reality she wanted to live in? Did she want to please God and risk her relationship with Joseph, or disappoint God to protect her marriage plans?

Would she believe what made sense or would she believe the unbelievable and trust God - and Joseph? She had never heard of anything like this before. Could she trust God to do the impossible or remain in the world she knew?

We are not sure how the news came to Joseph that his fiance' was pregnant. Did Mary tell him or did the rumor mill get to him first? If she told him then she surely told of the angel and the plan of God. I am sure he wanted to believe her but it was an unreal story. Virgins don't get pregnant. He thought he knew Mary, but her story didn't square with the reality he knew. What would he believe?

And then the angel came to him in a dream and confirmed Mary's story. Now he would have to be open to a new reality.

Each of these principles in the Christmas story were asked to believe the unbelievable. They were asked to shift from a reality of limited possibilities to a new reality where "nothing is impossible with God"! Everyone of them took the leap of faith. And through their altered reality, God changed reality forever!

So, on this Christmas Day 2009, we find ourselves in the very same place they were. Christmas challenges our reality. Are we going to believe what we know and what we see? Are we going to live in the limited world of sight and sound and senses and previous experiences, or are we going to believe God?

Christmas was impossible - but now it is real! Before Christmas, salvation was impossible, but now it can be real! Before Christmas we were limited to a world of human possibilities, now we can step into a new reality of infinite power, presence, and peace.
Christmas is the ultimate reality show! Which reality will you show?

December 24, 2009

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7

Sadly, for some people ChristMAS becomes ChristMISS.

In the Christmas story that truth is illustrated by the innkeeper and his wife.

With all the people who were in Bethlehem that day, the innkeeper hit the jackpot! He was able to rent every room and do it at a premium price. That is a small-businessman's dream!

But, when Joseph and Mary showed up, there was no room left for them. Because they couldn't make room for the birth of the Christ, they missed a once in an eternity opportunity. They could have partaken in the single most important event ever! But they had no room for Jesus. For them, the first ChristMAS was a ChristMISS. They hit the jackpot, but missed the joy.

Unfortunately, there have been recent contemporary examples of this same sad situation.

Most obvious is Tiger Woods. Tiger is the first sports personality to earn a billion dollars. He is healthy, good-looking, charming, has an incredible golf game, a mansion on the water, a 160 foot yacht, a beautiful wife and two lovely children. He has hit the jackpot! He has earned it. It just seems that he has missed the joy.

I pray that he can salvage his marriage. I hope he doesn't lose the jackpot trying to find the joy. I pray that he will understand his need to make room for Jesus. Jesus IS the joy!

Brittany Murphy was a beautiful young actress with a successful career, a Hollywood Hills home, and a husband. It appeared she had hit the jackpot. Then, a few days ago she was found dead in her bathroom. While the cause of death is yet to be determined, it is highly unusual for a healthy 32 year-old to die of a heart attack. Preliminary evidence does not look good.

It apprears to be another incident of someone who hit the jackpot but missed the joy. She made room for everything - except Jesus.

For the innkeeper and his wife it was ChristMISS. The same for Tiger. And for Brittany.

How about you? Have you made room for Jesus? Will you make room for Him at the center of your being?

If you do you will discover that the joy IS the jackpot!