Arrested and Set Free

Everything was pretty much normal for a Christmas Eve Service. There was good music planned and God inspired me with a dialog to share for the evening devotion. The service had been 'prayed over' and it was hoped that some who normally do not attend church would enjoy this service.

Everything was going well until one of the musicians took the platform to play his guitar. This gentleman is an excellent player and does not have music in front of him as he performs. As he started to play, his mind went blank and he could not remember the selection he was to play. After the third attempt, he apologized and asked what it was that he was supposed to play.

It was during this episode that I was arrested. During this disruption, God spoke to me about planning and wanting the perfect service that we became performers rather than worshippers. In submitting to Him in confession of my pride, out of His grace He set me free to genuinely worship. This was one of the best preparations I have experienced as I prepared to celebrate the Truth of God coming to earth and living with us!


The Forgotten Man

Many statements concerning Christmas have been passed from generation to generation. Most of us probably know that some of what has been passed along is not totally accurate but that is a discourse for another time.

In most of these accounts, there is one individual who is relatively obscure. While his name is often mentioned in connection with the events of Christmas, very little is attributed to him in the grand scheme of things. Matthew (one of the New Testament books) states that Joseph was a "righteous man" (chapter 1, verse 19). However, there is little stated as to why he is deserving this accolade. He is the husband of Mary and the step-father to Jesus.

Becoming concerned with this matter, it seems that there are two subtle reasons given for this compliment. The first is found in this same verse (19) and is the respect that is shown to Mary. According to the Jewish law, Joseph could have made Mary an object of public disdain and ridicule but he chose another path.

The second one is found in the 24th verse of the same chapter. In this verse, one sees an immediate response to God. As soon as Joseph has an opportunity, he put into practice what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.

In all of the theological definitions of "righteousness" there is something simple in the practical example of Joseph. If one is to respect people and respond to God, would this not give a vivid testimony of what it means to be righteous? From this account in Matthew, it seems that it is sufficient in the eyes of the Holy Spirit.


It's Not About the Economy

At the time of creation, God choose to create people in His image. After creating us male and female, we were placed in a pristine garden and instructed to enjoy all that was designed. The reason for the gender distinction was that humans were to find companionship with the other person.

While we cannot fully grasp the enormity of what it means to be created in this divine image, we do receive a few windows into what it might be. One of the main reasons is for companionship or fellowship. Jesus informed us in the seventeenth chapter of John that he longed to return from His journey on earth to the fellowship that the Godhead enjoyed prior to His mission on earth. Thus, we see that a key aspect of living in the image of God is genuine fellowship. We fill our longing for this type of fellowship with many futile ventures. We may gain wealth and not find fellowship. We may gain power and not find fellowship. We may gain fame and not find fellowship.

A distinct desire of humans that separates us from the remaining animal kingdom is a craving for peace. It is not found in the exchange of gifts at Christmas nor is it found in the festive occasions which frequent the holiday season. The only fulfillment is to live in fellowship with God. Jesus came to earth to give us insight to the nature of God (John 01:14—18). As Christ concludes His time on earth, He longs for the type of fellowship that is available through living in unity with God. This Christmas would be a perfect time to learn to live in this unity. The benefits will not be found in receiving the ideal gift but rather finding the perfect relationship.