"...A True Taste of CHRISTmas"

Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1:23, Amplified Bible
      It’s Christmas Eve … already. Yet another full year has passed since the beauty of this season last beset us all throughout the world. Sadly, many seem to have lost what the true meaning of this divine season is all about. It seems like a race more and more each year as to which retail store can bring out their Christmas decorations the earliest. Once again, I believe the winner goes to WalMart who had one aisle of Christmas items ready for those “early” shoppers … back in September! In the wisdom of Charles Schultz’s classic Peanuts cartoon, “Good Grief Charlie Brown!” It is true that today more than ever, the Christmas season has in many respects been allowed to be hijacked by many on the Train of Commercialization for the sake of making another dollar of greed-driven profit. That truth tends to rob many of the true Christmas Spirit that is ever present at this time of year – and year round as well. I think what happens for most of us is that the enemy comes in to our lives and diligently works to skew (‘stealJohn 10:10) our focus from that baby child born in the manger on that very first Christmas morning to that of the re-created carnal version of Christmas today that is far away from the reality of what took place in that manger in Bethlehem. Often what we need is a personal taste (divine experience) of that Christmas Spirit to bring our focus back onto the truth of what this season is truly all about … the coming of God’s Son, Jesus to “to save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Psalms 34:8 invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” I believe we each have that divine opportunity extended to us every new day with our freewill choice in allowing Christ to live in and through you as you faithfully serve as His witness (Acts 1:8) before a needy, lost world around you. I was blessed to experience that divine taste of His grace during a recent ministry opportunity. My 6-year old son, Aaron Joseph, and I had the honor to meet “Curtis” (55) and his wife while serving at a weekly church outreach to needy families and the homeless. Curtis and his wife have a 10-year old son who has to stay with his grandmother while his parents are forced to live in a tent deep in the woods here in Cabarrus County – they have no car, no job and no means of self-support - they are completely dependent upon others for the basic necessities of life – food, water and clothing. As we fellowshipped together, Curtis shared with me that he grew up working in the mill after having to quit school in the 10th grade. His life had been riddled with loss and great pain - he lost his mom to cancer and his dad died of a heart attack - both before the age of 58, he lost two brothers and a sister (all before the age of 65). This Christmas, Curtis told me he will be the only member of his biological family remaining. He and his family had stayed with a brother until he passed away from cancer this past July, leaving he, his wife and his son homeless. What truly amazed me was that as he shared his testimony, there seemed to be no sense of bitterness nor resentment for his journey of life. During our time sharing, I asked Curtis if there was ever a time in his life where he had given his life to Jesus Christ, receiving His salvation and daily living for Him. Curtis immediately shared that he had asked Christ into his life during his early teen years, but had wandered away at various times during his life. He acknowledged that it was the Lord who sustained he and his family, despite the difficult circumstances to which they now live. At one point as he was sharing his story, Aaron Joseph came around him and placed his hand on Curtis’ shoulder – a universal symbol of love and support, even from a little 6-year old boy. I asked Aaron Joseph to pray for Curtis and his family to which he did. As I have since reflected upon my meeting Curtis, I realized that God had come down that evening and allowed my son and I to both “taste and see that He is indeed good!” It was a divine reminder that despite the life challenges which our family, like many of your families as well, may be facing right now, we can all experience the true Spirit of Christmas this year. For many of you today, you may feel so overwhelmed by your present life circumstances that the enemy may have effectively skewed your focus away from that precious newborn lying in a manger on that first Christmas night over 2,000 years ago. I ask that you take a moment today – on Christmas Eve – and truly count your many blessings. I think it safe to say that if you are reading this devotional, you and your family are not currently living in a tent in the middle of the woods like Curtis and his family. I know that many have lost jobs, many are experiencing health struggles, financial challenges, relationship problems and all sorts of trials that have shaken the very foundation of our faith (Psalms 11:3). Just remember that no matter where you are, He is there with you always (Matthew 28:20)! Over 2,000 years ago, God peeled back the corner of eternity and placed His Son into our world through the virgin birth (Matthew 1:23) to live a life where He would experience every pain and temptation known to man, yet He would remain pure and sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Just 33 years after that His divine arrival on that first Christmas night, He would obediently follow that long road of suffering to His death on Calvary’s Cross where He assured all who would receive Him by faith victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:57) and eternal life through His forgiveness and cleansing us of our sinful hearts / ways (John 3:16 / John 1:12-13). My prayer is that no matter where you are in your life journey, know that the Spirit of Christmas is with you! I invite you to experience the Christ of CHRISTmas this year unlike never before! Look around for someone whom you can bless with the love of God this Christmas – and know that in so doing, you just may entertain an angel without even knowing it (Hebrews 13:2) - perhaps an angel named “Clarence” (i.e. It’s a Wonderful Life), or maybe even one named … “Curtis.”

Today's Spirit-led video (embedded below) is "God With Us" by CCM Artist Todd Agnew.


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