By Pastor Claudia Castellanos
In the book of Luke, God teaches us about the birth of Jesus. It tells us that the only thing that Mary and Joseph found was a stable to stay for the night, but even though this was a humble place, what made a big difference was the presence of God. His glory descended upon that manger and made that night the most glorious night in all history. It was a magnificent night. In the heavens, the shepherd's saw what seemed to be a court room filled with angels that carried trumpets in their hands and sounded them off as other angels chanted, "Glory to the God on high, and peace to all good men!"
Some shepherds that were caring for their flocks saw the angels and announced: "An extraordinary thing has occurred today! The Savior of the world has been born! He has been born in a manger!" When the shepherd's went to see the sign of the angels, they found the baby wrapped in cloth. This night was extremelly glorious. Even three wise men came to visit Him. They brought with them gold, incense, and myrrh as presents because they knew that this child was the hope for redemption. This was the night that Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the world, was born.
There are four aspects that characterize Christmas:
1. Christmas is an expression of love.
The Lord said: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." God expressed His love by giving us the best that He had. Christmas is an expression of love. In this season, we give and receive many gifts because we remember the best gift en God gave to us. God always gives us the best and He offered His Son. He did this not just so that He could be born into this world, but so that He could take our place in death as well. This is the greatest way God could have shown us His love. Before receiving any material riches, God wants us to receive spiritual riches. Many people draw near to Jesus with their hands wide open. Some receive this gift of God with certain conditions such as a change in their spouse or children. Others say, "I'll receive God so He can give me a good Job," and this is why they never obtain the complete blessing of God.
God wants us to first receive Him for who He is, not for what He can give. Once we understand the miracle of the manger, in other words, Jesus' birth, it allows us to open our hearts and say: "Lord, I want my heart to be like this manger, a simple and humble heart that will never be too occupied for You." In that region of Bethlehem, everything was occupied. In the same way, Jesus has knocked on the doors of many hearts that are too busy with the pleasures of this life. But today, you are going to tell Him, "Lord, there is a vacant space for You in my heart. Maybe I don't have luxuries or possessions, but I have a simple, humble heart for You to reside in." God's gift is of great value when we accept it. Today, we are going to tell Jesus that we accept His gift.
2. Christmas is the fulfilled hope.
For many centuries, Jesus had been proclaimed to be the Messiah and the Redeemer. When Jesus came to the earth, people didn't place any interest in Him. Many people with financial problems say, "My life would change if I could only get a better job," but they get employed and their financial status doesn't change. Other single people say, "I know that if I get married I will behave correctly and will only fix my eyes on one person," but when they get married, they stay the same and sometimes become even more unfaithful. The majority of people don't see changes in their lives, even after they receive what they had asked for.
When Jesus lives inside of us, a change must take place, because Jesus came to transform lives and change hearts. The Lord said: "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
When we understand the grand riches that are in Jesus, we find how our problems come to an end. It is important that today you have the same determination and tell Jesus: "I'm going to give You all of my life, and serve You for as long as I live."
3. Christmas is the opportunity of change.
If we have Christ in our hearts, everything changes. When we accept Christ in our lives, God the Father is in us as well, since they are one God. Many people think that the Christian walk is resumed in trying to imitate Jesus; but they are wrong. No one can imitate Jesus. No matter how righteous or upright we may think we are, we can never measure up to Jesus. The success of a Christian is that Christ lives within us. Christ alone is holy and if He lives in me, His holiness will flow through me.
So, can a bad person do good things? There are people who naturally do what is wrong, but when they accept Jesus in their lives, their nature change; their old nature is crucified on the Cross of Calvary, and the nature of Jesus comes and takes control of that person. Therefore, Christianity is a man called Jesus that is living within us which allows us to love through Jesus or Jesus through us because He lives inside of us.
4. Christmas is acceptance.
We need to accept the gift of Jesus. Generally, when a person offers a gift, he extends his hand to give the gift and the person receiving the gift can either grant an expression of gratitude to the other person or can simply take the gift, leaving it unwrapped and forgetting about it. However, what usually happens is that the person that receives the present opens it instantaneously, longing to see what the package has to offer them. Jesus can be this closed package, and you can say: "I have Jesus in my heart, and it doesn't matter to me what He can give me, offer me or what I can get from Him." We shouldn't be like that. Instead, we should tell Jesus: "I receive Your life, but I also receive the benefits You have for me." This is when we begin to study the Word of God, and, as we read it, the treasures of God are opened for us, allowing us to understand the great truths God has for our life. My whole life was transformed when I began to discover the treasures the Bible holds.
Christmas doesn't only imply salvation, it also implies restoration in our families, love and peace in your life, and provision for your home. You can have everything you need through Jesus, but don't allow Jesus to become a closed package. Discover everything He has for your life, which is written down in His Word.
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