I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! It’s been a busy week around here, as our youngest son’s 10th birthday was three days before Christmas and I still hadn’t finished my shopping yet that day, so I was among the last-minute people braving the holiday crowds in the stores and parking lots.
All of the hustle and bustle was totally worth it, though. Like the kids, I was looking forward to time for everyone to open presents. I wanted to see the smiles on their faces and hear the squeals of delight as they got at least some of the things that were on their Christmas wish lists.
Do you think God does the same when He blesses us with something special? I wonder if He watches in delight as we savor a special gift, or an opportunity that we’ve prayed for, like a pregnancy test that has two lines, or an announcement of a long-awaited job opportunity, or the moment you meet the person who will be your spouse. I bet He’s smiling when we admire a beautiful sunset or when our eyes (especially our kids’) light up in the winter after we wake up to a snow-covered yard. And I bet He cherishes those moments when we bow our heads or lift up our hands in prayer and say, “Thank You, Father,” and give Him a heavenly hug.
1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (NKJV).”
When we look at all of the beauty of nature, or into the face of a newborn child, His Love is written all over them. His love was also written all over a blood-stained cross – and His love was the Hope that appeared to the disciples a few days later when they thought that Hope was lost.
After Jesus had been buried for three days, Mary Magdalene and another disciple named Mary (possibly Mary of Bethany) came to see the tomb, and were surprised to see an angel. “But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.’
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:5-9).”
Can you imagine the look of delight on His face as He shouted, “Rejoice!” and surprised them with His presence? He had come to announce the greatest News yet: that victory had been won. And He gave us the greatest Gift of all: salvation. We have good reason to rejoice, and Jesus told the disciples that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).” He loves us so much that when we finally come “home” and ask Jesus into our hearts, He has a big celebration over each one of us!
A book by a Christian author once (can’t remember the author or title) stated that through His death and resurrection, not only did Jesus rescue us, but He also played the biggest practical joke in history on Satan! It’s true if you think about it. Just as the devil thought he’d won, Jesus got up and walked right out of that grave, even leaving the linen handkerchief that had been around His head folded neatly off to the side (John 20:7).
We can rejoice not only in knowing that victory is ours if we have placed our faith in Jesus, but that there are even greater things to come. Jesus told the disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:3).” He’s with us today, and we’ll physically be with Him in Heaven one day. I can’t wait to see what great things He has prepared for us up there!
As we get ready to go to bed tonight, I hope we’ll pause and think of some of the greatest gifts/blessings that we’ve been given this year, and tell our Heavenly Father “Thank You,” and “I love You.” I believe that will bring a big smile to His face, and to ours too!
“Father, I thank You so much for so many ways in which You’ve blessed me, big and small. I thank You for Christmas, and for Jesus and His great Gift of hope and salvation, and for the victory that has permanently been won over sin and evil. Please help us to keep the joy and wonder of Christmas in our hearts all year long, and to share that joy and wonder with others, Lord. I pray that our faces will light up when we think of You and how good You are, and that we will smile more each day as we grow closer to You through Your Word, Father, and it becomes more and more real in our lives. I thank You for grace, and for a brand new day each morning. Help me to appreciate and make the most of the gifts that You’ve given me, and to offer You praise and glory. Let me turn my blessings into praise to You, my King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”