Happy Christmas?

By: Kristen L. McNulty

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The picture of Christmas is a happy, joyful time of year. A time where everyone is smiling and every family enjoys the perfect day.

The reality is often quite different. For many Christmas is a painful time of year. It emphasizes loneliness. It adds pressure to an already unstable financial situation. Or it brings memories to light of those who we've loved and lost.

Christmas isn't always a happy time of year.

So where does that leave the person hearing joy to the world and just not feeling it? Or the one ready to smash the radio if they hear jingle bells again?

To answer that question, we need to look back. Way back. And get a glimpse of what the bible says about the people taking part in the very first Christmas.

And to be honest, there isn't a lot there when it comes to knowing the players in the story and what was crossing their minds at the time. We don't know if any of the shepherds were facing financial problems or feeling lonely. We don't know if the wise men were married, single, widowed, or facing divorce. And we don't know if one of Mary and Joseph's relatives were sick or dying.

We don't know the background. We don't know all the circumstances. But we do know one thing and that thing is the cornerstone to the Christmas story: once they caught a glimpse of Jesus everything changed.

Mary and Joseph's lives would never be the same again. The shepherds went from watching sheep to praising God. As soon as the Son of God entered in, everything changed.

And that's the Christmas story. Not that life is perfect, but that we have a hope in a savior who brings hope to the hopeless. Peace to those in turmoil. And rest to the weary.

And that can be your story this Christmas. Because life isn't perfect and that's not what Christmas is about. If Christmas was about perfect circumstances, Jesus wouldn't have been born in a manger. You see Christmas isn't about the circumstances we're in, but rather it's about what this savior came to bring.

Christmas happens when we come face to face with Christ. When we get a glimpse of the savior and everything changes.

That's what the wise men found. That's what the shepherd's experienced. Their Christmas was a life-changing encounter and ours can be too.

You see, the reason Christ came was because we were in need of a savior. Yes we like to think we've got it all together, but that's not true. We all have messed up in life and we've all found ourselves separated from God. So Jesus came to change that. He came to die for our sins so that you and I wouldn't be separate from God any longer. Both here and now and in eternity.

Jesus came to give forgiveness for sins. Strength that would sustain. Peace that is unexplainable. And joy that can encompass us when even happiness doesn't.

So will you accept what Jesus came to give? It's very easy to do. The Bible says that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. So why don't you pray with me?

Lord Jesus,

I believe in you. I believe that you came to earth to be born as a baby and later to die for my sins. I ask for your forgiveness and I accept the gift that you've given to me.

Come into my heart and make it yours. Thank you for this amazing gift.

In Jesus' name, amen.

If you prayed that prayer with me, heaven's throwing a party right now because the Bible says all of heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.

So this Christmas, let's celebrate the One who came to give us life everlasting. The One who loves us even more than we could possibly understand. And when we learn to celebrate that gift, His joy will fill our hearts as we remember what Christmas truly is all about. Not the circumstances we find ourselves in. Or the gifts under the tree. But God entering mankind and changing the lives of everyone who meets Him.

Merry Christmas!

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This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.