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Charles Stanley – Christmas Message

December 6, 2012

Dear Friend,

In the midst of your holiday preparations and festivities, do you take time to read the Christmas story? Is it still as beautiful and meaningful as it was when you first came to know Jesus as your Savior? Or do you skim the verses, thinking, I know this well. No rooms at the inn, the manger, the angels, the shepherds—I have so little time, and I don’t really need to go over it all again.

I hope that rather than skipping the biblical account, you make it the centerpiece of your celebration. I pray you read it anew, allowing it to speak into your life. This is my habit as Christmas approaches each December—meditating on the awesome day when God “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). I think about Christ’s birth and consider all it means to our world and to me personally. Though I’ve studied the Christmas story countless times, I never want it to grow stale. I want the reality of “God with us” (Matt. 1:23) to remain fresh in my mind and the glory of His eternal plan to pierce my heart just as it did the first time I read about it in His Word.

Each year, the Father reveals to me something new about what He accomplished at Christ’s birth. For example, one year He showed me the awesome wisdom and simplicity of the name “Jesus.” Any child can say it. Imagine if the Messiah’s name had been Bartholomew, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, or Zachariah. Any of these would have been far too difficult for little ones to pronounce.

I remember my sister could not say “brother” when we were small, so she always called me “Bubby.” That was the only way she could address me at that early age. But she could certainly say, “Jesus.” She could declare the sweetest name on earth—the name that literally means “God’s deliverer.” When the Father showed me that in Scripture, it strengthened my faith.

The truth is we can easily overlook His astounding wisdom and loving provision, especially at Christmas when things become more difficult and can pass in a blur. That is why there is nothing better we can do than take a long look at the account in Luke 2:1-20 that sheds light on Christ’s incarnation (see also Isa. 9:6-7, Matt. 1; and Phil. 2-11). We need to take an intimate look at the birth of Jesus. It can only benefit us to ask, “What is it that God has to say to me about this right now?”

Perhaps you’re not quite sure how to meditate on these biblical passages or how to listen for what the Father wants to teach you. Here are some simple principles that will help you get the most from the account of Christ’s birth and all of God’s Word.

First, think deeply about the passage. As you read Scripture, ask questions such as who, when, where, what, why, and how about key details or things that do not make sense to you. For example, as you read Luke 2, you may wonder, Who was Caesar Augustus, and why did he call a census? What is so significant about Bethlehem that Jesus would be born there? Why is it important that Joseph was from the family of David? Sometimes it will be easy to find answers in Scripture, but at other times, you may need commentaries and lexicons to help you understand what the verses meant when they were written. However, asking questions such as these can help you gain insight into passages and help you draw life-transforming principles from them.

Second, realize that the Father wants to reveal Himself to us in a personal way. It makes a tremendous difference in our Bible reading when we realize that God has a message He wants us to receive. We are not simply memorizing facts or being entertained with a story. We are interacting with our living Savior who, “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (Phil. 2:7) so that we can have a relationship with Him. This is what the Christmas story is all about. He desires for us to experience His presence, obtain comfort in His grace, and find direction for our daily lives. If we examine Scripture with the anticipation of hearing Him, we’ll be amazed at what He will show us.

Third, ask God to teach you how to apply what you read to your circumstances. Simply inquire, “Father, what are You saying to me? How does this account relate to my life, and how should I proceed with what You reveal to me?” In fact, you may wonder, The birth of Christ was more than 2,000 years ago—how can it possibly relate to me today? Be assured, He wants to show you. In fact, He promises, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).

Finally, trust God and submit to Him, regardless of what He tells you to do. The Lord does not require you to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable. At the time, it may not have made much sense for our Savior to be born of a virgin in a rough stable in Bethlehem, but we know it was God’s perfect plan for our salvation. Learn from the faith Mary and Joseph demonstrated, and trust the Father—however He may lead you.

I hope that rather than skipping the biblical account, you will make it the centerpiece of your celebration this Christmas, meditating on the awesome day when our Savior came to dwell among us. Surely, spending time in God’s holy Word is the very best present you can give yourself. May the Lord bless you as you focus on Him. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. If you would like to learn more about God’s awesome wisdom in orchestrating Jesus’ birth, I invite you to read this month’s In Touch magazine. In it, I’ve written an article entitled “Before the Ages,” in which I discuss the intricacy of God’s redemptive plan. I pray it will be a blessing to you. As always, thank you for partnering with In Touch in leading people worldwide into growing relationships with Jesus Christ.

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