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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Christmas Promise: Celebrating Immanuel

As the old song says, "Christmas time is here." I decided to deck the halls a little early this year. I respectfully waited until after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, but the Nat "King" Cole music started way before the turkey hit the oven.

Yeah, I'm one of those people, and I’m not apologizing for it. I’m just two steps away from putting reindeer antlers on my dog.

I love this season, and I always have. As the only daughter and youngest child, it mostly meant getting loaded down with toys. Then, as my teenage years approached, I stopped being such a gift-hog and started to see the real joy of the season.

I couldn’t wait to see all of my family in one place. My father, mother and I had a ball decorating the tree—in spite of how much we fussed at each other. Our late-night ride through the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights still makes me smile.

I’ve always been a fan of all the plastic angels, scented holiday candles and tinsel. There’s a lot to love. Besides the non-stop parties and shopping, it represents so much more. At its core, Christmas is all about the joy of a promise fulfilled.

I've been heavily into the Old Testament for months now, just studying the lives of men and women who struggled and died hoping for a better day. I encourage anyone to spend some serious time in the Psalms with David. Most of the beloved book was written on the run from King Saul and the armies that wanted to kill David.

He wrote verses like Psalm 68:1 ("Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him" [KJV]) and Psalm 119:143 ("Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights"). While he often expressed how sick and tired he was of persecution, David was a man who loved the Lord. His devotion stretched beyond the fact that he lived in a world that had not yet seen the ultimate salvation for its sins.

And then there are all the prophets. Think of the amazing faith of Elijah that was strong enough to call down fire from Heaven (1 Kings 18:36-38). God spoke to Elijah often, yet this is all before the coming of the Holy Spirit.

How about Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Their dedication to God took them respectively to the lion’s den and the furnace (Daniel 6 and 3). They were willing to die for their faith, yet believed strongly enough that a God Whom they had never met would save them.

Then there’s Isaiah who constantly spoke of a great man whose 33 years of life would change the world forever. He even foretold of the first Christmas in Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel" (NIV).

Christmas is the celebration of Immanuel — "God with us". God did what He said He would. Jesus was born. The prophets didn't labor in vain, because the Messiah finally came.

Maybe this year has been a rough one for you. Perhaps you’re not seeing a lot of reasons to celebrate. Let’s take this holiday for all its worth as the breakthrough that we’ve been waiting for. Know that your work and toil haven't been forgotten. The time is coming where your world will illuminate with God’s love and every good and perfect gift will be yours. After all, the good tidings of great joy were simply this: God keeps His promises.

Copyright © 2005 Jennifer E Jones. Used by permission.

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