Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Living in Hope

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; or unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:8-12

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!”

Christmas carols are playing and the message we hear once again is the hope of a king who is coming to bring us joy, peace and love.  Songs of the shepherds, the star, the wise men and the manger retell the story of God’s coming to earth in the form of a babe.  “Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!”  The world sings loudly the triumphant message of God’s wonderful grace given for the souls of men but is that gift really complete unless it is received?  

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”  

Sadly, this time of year we can misplace our hope, singing the songs out of tradition and missing the message of Christmas.  The King of Kings, Jesus, has come.  He is the long-awaited Messiah, the hope of the world, God's promise fulfilled.

“Let earth receive her King.”  We easily misplace our hope not because God has not provided the needed gifts, but that man has not “received her King.”  There in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night there were a few who were extremely joyful.  But even the joy they experienced was an expectant joy.  While the Lord had come, His work was not done.  The joy was in the promise of His fulfilling the further prophecies of His work here on earth.  For right now, He was merely a baby in a manger.

Too many feel that joy is the product of circumstance.  They wait for something to come into their life that will create feelings of happiness, joy or peace.  For them, joy is something that happens to you, not something that you carry with you.

Consider the expectation of the birth of a child and the mixed emotions that are a part of the waiting.  When the day of delivery comes there is an abundance of happiness.  But the real hope is for the change that the coming of the child will bring in the days that follow.  Life will be different; and that joy of the promise is the deeper joy that fills the thoughts of the parents and family.  Receiving the child into their homes and lives will transform their lives.  The same is true with Jesus.

How many missed the coming of the child that night but “received their King” later - a blind man sitting by a roadside, a tax collector whose life was transformed by the Master, a woman caught in adultery, some fishermen who laid down their nets and followed - all found joy.  I received Him and I pray you have as well but the joy I find in His coming is not just the experience of today but the promise of tomorrow and all of eternity.

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come” is not an empty pronouncement but the invitation to receive a new perspective on our lives and our world.  As we anticipate His impact on our today and our tomorrow, we can experience the joy of His presence and power.  His coming changed eternity for all men but it can also change our today as we joyfully live in the hope He brings for our future.  

"You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth”.  Luke 1:14

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