“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
Christmas is such a busy time of the year. Celebrations, shopping, family gatherings, all that is going on in the world and more dominate our lives at this time of the year. The focus of the holiday season seems to be on everything other than the most significant event that ever occurred at Christmas.
How often outside of church do you hear people speak of the wonderful story of Jesus Christ at Christmas? In fact, the world has moved from even saying “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” in search of political correctness. The world is consumed with the buying and giving of presents at Christmas. We are caught up in the insignificant things of life so many times.
The same thing occurred when Jesus was about to enter the scene in Bethlehem. There was a new census and taxes that may have been dominating what people were talking about. In those days, government was on the mind of people much like today. As well, people were consumed with the details of their lives just like today.
During all of that, the Lord spoke through the angels and said: “Do not be afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10
God interrupted all the insignificant things going on in this ancient world to share the greatest news that this world has ever heard. Think about this announcement for a minute. God so loved us that He sent His Son to be born in a stable and die on a cross that we might have life abundant and eternal.
At the time of His birth, it may have seemed insignificant to the Roman empire but it was anything but insignificant. As 1 Corinthians 1:27 says above, God used this event to confound the wise, change the world, and show Himself strong above all else.
I think we all need that reminder as we live this life. Indeed, the significance of Christmas is Jesus. Jesus deserves more than a mention not only this time of the year but every day of our lives. He deserves the primary place of honor and authority in our lives. He is significant! I pray that this Christmas we will not miss what is most important!
“So, fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone.” Joshua 24:14
The reality of growing up hit me when I was getting married. I realized that for the first time that I would now be responsible for taking care of someone else. Even though it hit me after getting married, the full effect did not come until a little later. It came when we had our first child. Up until the birth of our first child, I played church softball, basketball in the city leagues, golf, and tennis almost year-round.
I will never forget getting hurt playing church softball one summer. God used that instance to reveal something very powerful to me about the direction of my life. I was lying on the ground in pain from sliding into a base and it suddenly dawned on me it was time to move beyond being involved in every sport known to man and start focusing on the people that were most important to me.
Not only the people that were most important to me, but also it was time for me to start prioritizing my relationship with God so that I could be the husband and dad He wanted me to be. I knew it was time to put away all that stuff that I had pursued growing up. I was now a dad and I was overcome with the idea that I needed to devote my attention to doing all I could do to raise a Godly child. In addition, I knew in the back of my mind that God had more for my life in terms of my career. I would find out a few short years later that God would move me into full time ministry.
Similarly, there comes a time in the life of every Christian to realize that it is time to get serious about our relationship with the Lord. Joshua had one of those times in his farewell address to his people. Joshua had reached the point where he knew his time as the leader was coming to an end and he wanted to make sure that his people knew what was most important. Joshua’s words are so poignant that they still speak to us today.
First, notice that he told them to “fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly.” When you consider that Joshua is near the end of his ministry and his life, then his words in Joshua 24:14 take on extra significance. He is saying that it is time to stop playing games and instead start taking the purpose of our lives seriously.
Joshua goes on to tell them to “put away forever the idols” In other words, get rid of all the other stuff that is drawing your hearts away from loving and serving God. He is telling us that it is time to grow up. We are all at times being drawn away from God and what is most important in our lives by things that will never satisfy. I am afraid that many Christians have never allowed themselves to grow up spiritually because their affections have been stolen by modern day idols.
As a result, their marriages, their children, and their own spiritual wellbeing are all suffering. It is time, as Joshua says in verse 14, to “serve the Lord alone.” It is easy to get caught up in things that do not matter. I pray that the truth of the verse above will speak to our hearts and embolden us all to seek and serve the Lord with all our heart!
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.” Psalm 62:5
Someone once said that there are two things certain in this lifetime. Those two things being death and taxes. While that is true, I do believe that there are at least two items left off that list that are also a certainty for this life. I believe that having trouble and being attacked are as inevitable as death and taxes.
In Psalm 62, the Psalmist speaks of such a time in his life. Verse 4 says: “They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts.” He is under attack and is indeed feeling the pressure.
We also experience such times in our lives. I know from personal experience that when we are attacked can be some of the hardest times of our lives. We feel hurt and abandoned and all alone. It would be very easy to respond in anger and frustration at those who are attempting to hurt us. You want to be able to set the record straight and tell the truth.
How should we respond? The Psalmist instructs us that during these attacks that we are “to wait quietly before the Lord.” What? He is telling us not to respond and not to lash out but instead to wait on God. In fact, he tells us “with all I am” or in other words, with my whole being I am to wait. Why does he tell us to wait on God?
The Psalmist has realized what we all need to be reminded of as followers of Christ. The Psalmist has realized that “my hope is in Him.” He goes on to explain this further in verse 6 when he says: “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.”
The Psalmist is reminding us that no effort of our own to protect ourselves will work the way we want it to. He is reminding us that our best and only hope is to wait on the Lord. Responding to these difficult times requires that we too know that God “alone is our rock and salvation.” He is the only one who can be trusted to keep us safe and unmoved during these times.
I heard someone say once that “sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to discover that there is a rock at the bottom” and that rock is God.
For those of you who may be going through some tough times today, I pray that you will be encouraged to wait quietly before the Lord. I pray that you would find hope in resting on the rock of God Himself.
I pray that you will find God to be your “fortress where you will not be shaken!”