(December 14, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring Christmas comfort…
Forget about timewasting debates about when Jesus was actually born, the day, the month… no one knows! The point is that he was born and for many years the church has traditionally been celebrating this historic event of good news from heaven on December 25 and calling it Christmas Day!
With joy we praise our caring heavenly Father for his special ‘Christmas gift.’ For Christians and the church the carol Tis the season to be merry… is very relevant! Thank God for his love and goodness in sending Jesus!
Let’s be as happy as Mary and Joseph, the astounded shepherds and the faithful magi who came along later would have been. Precious people who were trusting God in uncertain times.
This is the month when one sees posters everywhere advertising cherry Christmas carolling either in churches (organised by churches) or in local parks (organised by councils or community-minded organisations)… a time of expected good cheer, family fun and caring friendship. Even several stores are playing pleasant traditional Christian carols relaxing their customers.
Christmas is indeed meant to a joyous time, especially for Christians and the church of Jesus Christ. But, sadly, we’ve been hearing from some folk that it won’t be so for them as some tragedy has hit them or their family hard… such as unexpected lost jobs, passing of loved ones, ministry upsets or abrupt changes, marriage problems, lack of godly pastoral wisdom/counsel, strange health issues, sleepless nights, troubled minds. And other nasties …
Some friends have also expressed concern over Christians being harassed, bullied, even imprisoned in India, North Korea and elsewhere – and about the increased crime rate in our so-called ‘Lucky country.’
Christmastime concerns can steal Christmas joy
Yet while we hear many people wishing one another ‘Merry Christmas!’ – as yet we haven’t heard one add the traditional ‘And a Happy New Year.’ Neither from Christians or non-churchgoers. It’s like the 2018 catchphrase of ‘moving ahead’ has done a back-flip with some people and a vision for 2019 just isn’t there. Yes 2019 will reveal fresh satanic attacks on Christianity and churches but our hope is always in the head of the church, Jesus, the one we praise God for at this Christmas season.
Personally we feel for everyone with heavy hearts at this time, who have lost their joy due to dwelling on negatives, unable to find comforting answers and good advice. These concerns can be so side-tracking and destructive. This week we ourselves had what immediately seemed a disaster drop on us out-of-the-blue that could have thrown us!
Aware we didn’t have a solution and that our own Christmas could be spoiled, we very quickly gave it over to the centre of the reason for the season – Jesus. Not the babe of Christmas the church worships at this time but our Lord Jesus whom we trust about everything in life and who will return to earth not as a babe next time but as King Jesus who even now is the one we honour by following and serving.
And as we did so we were mindful of the truth behind Peter’s great pastoral advice: ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). Message Bible reads, ‘Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.’ Verse 8Mge begins ‘Keep a cool head. Stay alert’ and goes on to warn us that ‘The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.’
Within a few hours good news came through that the hassle was rectified! And not by our cleverness but as an answer to prayer and trust in our caring God.
Sometimes what we call prayer is just thinking things through and quickly, quietly asking God’s leading. Trusting is the next step, even if we have to hang in there for answers!
And many times that’s the only solution we can really give to troubled hearts… not smart, meaningless, or religious answers, but simply this:
- Give it over to God in prayer (‘prayer’ simply means to talk’).
- Then leave it there and relax (the Holy Spirit is the great comforter).
- Go with the flow (however you then feel led).
- Know in your heart that King Jesus is Lord of all and that includes every challenge, every problem.
- Understand that at times we won’t receive immediate answers and solutions… we just have to trust.
- Don’t allow the enemy to side-tract us and rob us of the joy and assurance that only Jesus can give!
Recently we again watched that great down-to-earth 2011 movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which has some great quotes. Here’s one that helps when we have to wait for answers, for our God to make his move… ‘Everything will be all right in the end – so if it is not all right it is not the end.’ Got that?
At that first Christmas (whenever it really was) there were several people trusting that everything would work out well in the end… Joseph and Mary, badly needing accommodation; those workers of the low, humble trade of shepherding, astounded by the good news they’d heard from an angelic host; the late arriving magi, having dared to be believe they could be led by a strange star. They all moved as they were led… and they all beheld the wonders of God!
Christmas is a time to care!
Life is life and things go wrong, peace destroying things pop up out of the blue and even very strong believing followers of Jesus can suddenly be thrown!
This month Dr George Forbes challenges us to take every local opportunity to share the good news that a Saviour is born who is Christ the Lord – this is caring for lost souls. Maureen encourages us to be expecting from our own expectancy (see links below).
We can care for those with needs such as mentioned above. In Galatians 6:2, Paul exhorts us to ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ ‘Carry’ is bastazo – to bear, lift with the intent of removing. The Message says, ‘Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law.’
This is what was done for us at Christmastime – in his love and through his grace, God our great heavenly Father stooped down from the glories of heaven to reach us, undeserving sinners that we are!
And now, redeemed through the shed blood of the Son of God on Calvary, we must reach out to our God-family brethren who need prayer, love, and encouragement this Christmas.
The shepherds brought comforting news from heaven to their Rome and religion enslaved kinfolk. Whatever is robbing our God-family of joy at this time, let’s take every opportunity God gives us to act and encourage them! As we take our lead from the creative Holy Spirit friends, even strangers, will be so encouraged as we bless them.
Abundantly encouraging others
Traditionally Christmas services often remind us that a troubled Joseph had an angelic visitation that encouraged him. The shepherds too had an angelic visitation that encouraged them. Sometimes – note: only sometimes! – God still organises such events.
But we’re not angels – yet we are God’s messengers of good news! We too can bless and encourage and help remove burdens! May we not miss opportunities this Christmas season. Let’s readily help troubled people experience joy – and encourage them to keep it!
Carrying a problem yourself? Maureen’s favourite scripture is Romans 15:13, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ ‘Overflow’ is perissueo – to superabound, be in excess.
In other words, when we trust God to cheer us, we’ll have enough cheer to share this Christmas!