Christmas Cheer

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December is here and our culture’s “Christmas Season” is in full swing. There will be decorations, gift buying, work parties, family gatherings, and the obligatory Christmas music piped through the speakers into every public space. It’s been a tough year for many reasons. Perhaps we can busy ourselves with the festivities and forget our trials—at least for a spell.
But where are we to find this good will and Christmas spirit? Is it something that we must simply manufacture or find within ourselves? Or is there something deeper—something life changing, lasting and true? As we celebrate Christmas, we want to remind you of the good news found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This good news is depicted in Isaiah 61, where the prophet was inspired to speak from the perspective of the Messiah: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tiding unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you ministers of our God (Isa 61:1, 2, 3, and 6a).
This passage describes the work the Savior will do in you, the work He gives you to do, and the work that He has yet to accomplish.
A Work in Us
Jesus is able to heal your wounds. The word brokenhearted pictures a soul that has been violently broken, crushed, or shattered. Does this describe you? Jesus is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.
He came to set free those who are bound. Apart from Jesus Christ, every person is bound in a prison of sin, and our condemnation is deserved. But Jesus has opened the prison door—He has purchased your freedom with His own blood.
Is your spirit heavy with depression because you feel as if your life has been burned up, leaving you with nothing but ashes? He can give you a joy that springs from who He is and what He has done. A relationship that can turn your mourning into joy and lift your spirits in praise despite your circumstances. Your ashes will be exchanged for beauty.
All this the Savior will do for you—if you are meek. Humbleness allows you to see yourself as the helpless, sinful person you are. It gives you the ability to mourn correctly—not over “what the world has done to you,” but grieving for your sin against a Holy God. Meekness gives you eyes to see a loving Savior offering you everything you need to be whole. It enables you to repent and submit to Jesus’ call and claim on your life. And it is then that you will experience healing, freedom, comfort, and joy.
A Work for Us to Do
His redemption plan does not stop there. Jesus continues to transform you in ways you could not do yourself. He will make you into a “tree of righteousness” and give you a purpose as His minister. You will become stable and rooted, able to provide shade and nourishment for others. Jesus wants to use you to bring the good news and comfort to those who are as you were.
A Work Yet to Come
At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ first coming, when He proclaimed the “year of favor”—Salvation to all who will accept it. But we do well to remember there is something He left unfinished. It is the day of vengeance of our God spoken of in verse 2. This will be accomplished at Jesus’ second coming, which could be any moment. When He returns, the year of favor will be over, and your fate will be finalized. If you have not accepted His offer of salvation, do so today, before it is too late! If Jesus has set you free, proclaim the good news and be busy ministering to others while time remains.
Perhaps we should consider adding the old Hymn “He’s Coming Again” to our Christmas Carols:

Our Savior will come
Once more upon the earth,
Exalted on high
And not of lowly birth;

He’ll gather with Him
All those who love His name;
He’s coming, yes, coming again.
He’s coming again;
We do not know the hour;

He told us to watch
And pray to Him for pow’r;
That come when He may,
He’ll find us ready then,
And waiting His coming again.