’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ’God with us’ —Matthew 1:23
I may not always “feel” the presence of God; but He is with us. He is with me. Christmas is not about the Christmas “spirit” or a “holiday” feeling or even “good will to men.” Christmas is a fact of history. God is with us and that changes everything. Through His presence we have access to Him, and His redemption, salvation, sanctification.
If I observe and listen in the Spirit, I can confirm His presence. I see him in the face of a child. I feel His arms as I wrap mine around a little one or a loved one. I can look the the footsteps of my history and see His presence and intervention in my life. I can see lives changed by the hearing of the Gospel and the work of the Spirit.
God is with us and that means everything.
God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . —Galatians 6:14
Tonight is our traditional Sigur family Christmas gathering. I was born the oldest of nine children. Our mom and dad and one of my sisters have gone on to be with the Lord; but the rest of us enjoy getting together each Christmas Eve Eve. I am proud of our family. Our parents did a lot better raising us than I realized they were doing at the time. I am proud of my beautiful daughter, grand and great grand children. My beautiful wife and I have been together for over forty years now. It’s a wonderful time.
It makes all the more impressive the admonition that I should not boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do I long to be so closely identified with Jesus that I am of no value for anything except Him and His purposes? I don’t think I am there yet. It is said that the proof that your old life is dead, having been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20
), is the amazing ease with which the life of God in you now enables you to obey the voice of Jesus Christ. I still don’t find it amazingly easy to obey the voice of Jesus Christ. But at least this year I have learned that should be my goal. I am trying to set aside pride and today will just say I am thankful for all the gifts He has given, especially my family. I will continue to listen for His voice and pray for the strength of obedience.
We have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God —1 Corinthians 2:12
Most of us know someone (maybe the man in the mirror) who has run from place to place looking for spiritual experience. Rallies, retreats, and revivals are all great, as are mission trips and ministry where God moves. These experiences can excite and encourage our faith; but can not be the basis of our faith.
Faith based on experience is not faith; faith based on God’s revealed truth is the only faith there is. Faith grows fed by the day-to-day movement of God and the working out of His revealed truth in our lives.
Praise God when He blesses you with mountain top experience; but praise Him also as He walks with you through the valleys in victory and joy.