A Christmas to Remember
Four wonderful ways to make the most of this Christmas season.
During the Christmas season, the popular children’s animated television show Bob the Builder and Hallmark, the “comfort and romance channel,” share a movie title. They each air a movie called A Christmas to Remember. Though the storylines differ, the plots are similar: Characters deal with a problem during the Christmas season; the problem gets fixed; and a wonderful, memorable Christmas is had by all.
Ahhh, if only life were really like that. Of course, it is not, especially this year in the midst of a plague, stressed economies, societal unrest, and a political divide in America unlikely to disappear after the presidential election in November. This Christmas may be one many will want to forget; or if we remember it, it will be for the wrong reasons.
The cumulative effect of these problems is causing untold misery. Suicides and domestic violence have increased, and economic growth has declined. In the United States, we are dealing with a new way of life that affects our schools, workplaces, travel, entertainment, and even shopping.
People reportedly are experiencing huge mood swings, along with feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, and depression. Many have struggled with the agony of being forbidden to visit a loved one lying alone in a hospital with COVID-19. Or worse, they’ve had to cope with a loved one dying of the disease.
On television we’ve seen huge crowds demonstrating, rioting, defacing and destroying property, and shouting obscenities. Meanwhile, candidates for political office attacked one another’s character and physical appearance, rather than discuss the issues. It’s disheartening.
Life isn’t like Hallmark when you gaze at an empty chair where a loved one once sat. Life doesn’t mirror Bob the Builder, who always has a job. Yet even in the midst of these trials, I make this appeal. If you know Christ as your Savior, you can still make this a wonderful Christmas to remember. Here is how.
This year let’s not argue about the actual date of Christ’s birth. Rather, let’s focus on the fact that Christmas is not simply about a baby born in a manger or a birthday to be celebrated. It is about the incarnation of the God of the universe who came to Earth to save us from paying the penalty of our sin. Think about that fact. Let it percolate in your heart.
The incarnation is no easy concept to grasp. But if, in the midst of everything going on, we can lay hold of the implications of that truth, it will change the way we deal with the challenges in life. The God of the universe took on human flesh (which He created) to demonstrate His love and mercy to us.
This Christmas, focus on that truth. Meditate on it, and you will find confidence and peace as you rest in Him. Immanuel, “God with us,” is the theme of this issue of Israel My Glory. The articles will help you appreciate the Lord like never before.
Worship God. When things are at their worst, worshiping God may seem counterintuitive. But that is when we should give Him the most worship. Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe called worship “the loving response of the heart to all that God says, does, and is.”
Many of the psalms help us worship. Psalm 95 tells us to sing as we come into God’s presence. Maybe you don’t feel like singing. Do it anyway. Enter His presence with thanksgiving, acknowledging His greatness, and bow down—literally. Kneel (if your knees can take it) before Him. Giving God His due on Christmas will bring great blessings to you.
Give God your time. At Christmas we think of presents. As parents and grandparents, my wife and I love to put smiles on our family’s faces. Since I’m a Jewish believer in Jesus, I add a few more smiles by giving presents on Hanukkah as well.
But giving our time is different. Time is an asset we all possess in equal amounts. We all have 24 hours each day, and we can choose to offer time to the Lord. Go to your pastor or community leader and ask how you can donate your time.
I know a woman (I dub her the cookie lady) who bakes Hanukkah and Christmas cookies for nursing-home residents and delivers them herself. She faces many challenges in life, but she derives great joy from taking time to serve, in addition to the joy she gives others.
Another believer I know asked a local rabbi if he could serve as a doorkeeper at the synagogue on the Sabbath. Perhaps you are the answer to your pastor’s prayer if you serve in your church congregation.
Give your testimony. Psalm 96 says, “Declare His glory among the nations” (v. 3). Look for opportunities to share the story of God’s grace in your life. A special woman I know makes and distributes little heart-shaped pins with colored plastic stones that help explain the salvation story—her way of sharing the gospel.
Adopt a Joseph and Paul attitude. Genesis 37:27—50:20 explains how Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites and lied about it to their father, Jacob. Joseph became a slave and later was falsely accused and imprisoned.
But he rose to power, becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt. Later, he reconciled with his brothers. Through the long ordeal, Joseph remained faithful to the Lord, telling his astonished brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” (50:20).
We see the apostle Paul’s attitude in the letter he sent from his prison cell to the church in Rome, telling believers there, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Joseph and Paul knew their difficult circumstances were not lost on God. They knew He had a purpose for them.
God operates the same way in our lives today. Which brings me to Jesus’ words to His disciples when they desperately needed encouragement: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:1–2). Then He said, “I will come again” (v. 3).
Perhaps your life is not going well this Christmas season. Maybe you are not going to have a Christmas like Bob the Builder or the characters in the Hallmark universe. But that does not mean you cannot have a great Christmas to remember. Give God praise and worship, no matter what your circumstances.
Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who rescued Jewish people during the Holocaust and narrowly escaped the Nazi gas chambers at the Ravensbruck concentration camp, famously said, “There is no panic in heaven, only plans.” So take heart. God has you exactly where He wants you so that you can bring glory to Him and accomplish His purpose. Have a joyous and worshipful Christmas!