Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas: The Word Sustains
Words engage and implore. They are engraved in granite to remember and inspire.
Words tear down and destroy. Unloving remarks can be forever engraved in our minds.
Words are important.
Out of his love for us, God became the Word in flesh. By a virgin birth, God sent his Son into the world so that he may be fully human. The Word became flesh to be our perfect substitute. Only through the Word that a soul receives salvation. Only through the power of the Word within us, we receive a sure hope and a future.
This Christmas, we wrap our arms around the Word lying in the manger – and our hearts around his name – the Christ, our Savior.
In the final of a three part series, we prepare our hearts for Christmas by trusting that God’s Word sustains.
God’s Word works effectively. It encourages, rebukes, commissions, and sustains.
God’s Word produces faithfulness.
The new Christians in Thessalonica were struggling. They were facing fear, persecution, sufferings, and trials. They could easily turn away from Christ and allow themselves to be absorbed into a pervasive culture. In his letter, the Holy Spirit inspires the Apostle Paul to write a message of encouragement that still resonates with believers today.
“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children. Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10-13)
Paul comes across pretty smugly in these verses. It seems that he has a high opinion of himself. In what appears to be Paul bragging about himself, he is really bragging about the work of the Word in him. It is the Word that Paul is pointing to as the means to receive encouragement, comfort and most important of all… hope.
Where does true hope come from? To what ends will hope lead us? Do we spend more time focusing on the journey rather than the journey’s end?
False hope looks to earthly solutions to provide relief from our present circumstances. Real hope broadens our scope that looks beyond our circumstances. It does not yearn towards receiving a comfortable life without pain, loneliness, or suffering, but points to that time when God call us home to heaven.
The Word prompts us to be watchful for that time when the trumpet calls and Christ returns. Hope recognizes that everything that happens in our life is a means for which Christ keeps us watchful and not distracted by the world. The hope of salvation is what sustains our faith in God’s promises.
And there lies the promise this Christmas – innocent and pure. A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. Jesus did not come to save us from present problems – as the Israelites hoped the Messiah to be, but to rest in eternal security through the forgiveness of our sins.
The Word became flesh to dwell among us.
The Word is Spirit that dwells within us.
The Word is at work – to sustain you.
God is trustworthy and reliable. True joy rests in the Christmas promises – Christ came to live, so he may die for you.