Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11).
Rick and I are celebrating our 58th Christmas as one, our 49th as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. What a year this has been! I could write many pages about the multiple hardships and abundant blessings we have experienced this year. There have been hardships (such as Rick’s hip surgery that resulted from a fall in May and subsequently it’s not healing that led to a second surgery in November); as well as the never-ending doctors, rehabilitation, and physical therapy. But, there have also been abundant blessings, such as our sweet youngest daughter traveling from Texas to help us after Rick’s first surgery despite her debilitating Lupus; our dear oldest daughter’s continually sunny attitude and trust in Jesus also despite her severe and ongoing health problems; and our son and daughter-in-law’s rescue of three little ones off the streets of Phoenix. They are presently in the process of adopting those children. He is also starting his own business after recently being laid off from an executive position with American Express. Please pray for these middle-aged parents, the four-year-old twins, and their little two-year-old brother.
With these and many other exhausting events in our lives this year we have found ourselves unprepared for usual Christmas celebrations. We are unable to put up decorations of our own, but we are enjoying watching our neighbors hang lights on their cactus and palm trees (we do live in the desert after all). Virginia’s usual cooking, baking, and candy making has been reduced to just a few favorites. Nevertheless, our inabilities have been a blessing because they have helped us to concentrate more on the “reason for the season.” The reason, of course, is to praise God for sending His only-begotten Son to be our Savior.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world (1 John 4:14).
However, as we contemplate the celebration of Christ’s birth, we also realize that it is important our thinking should be more than just remembering the birth of the baby Jesus. The realization that He was born as the sin-free, God/Man Who was to be the sinless-living perfect sacrifice for all mankind should cause us to want to know all about Him. Not only about His birth but about His entire ministry on earth. His sacrifice to be our personal Savior and all He continues to do for believers is worthy of even more celebration. It is impossible for us in this short letter to list all that God’s Word reveals about Jesus, but here are just a few of the wonderful truths it reveals about who Jesus is, and what He has done for us—His children.
- He is God’s Only Son, and God is His Father. (See Hebrews 1:4 & 5)
- He suffered death and has been crowned with glory and honor so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (See Hebrews 2:9)
- Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His character. He upholds all things by the word of His power. He purged our sins and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (See Hebrews 1:3)
- Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (See John 3:16)
The results of these gifts from God’s grace are indicated in every period of a believer’s life: justified from the penalty of sin now and forever, direct access to our Father while we live on earth, and full confidence in personally enjoying the glory of Jesus in eternity.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1).
The authors of the song, Mary, Did You Know? obviously recognized that the baby Jesus was more than just a normal infant. Two lines from this song are, “Did you know this Child that you delivered will soon deliver you?” And that, “When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?” (You can find the complete lyrics of this song written by Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry on the Internet.)
As Rick and I celebrate Christmas 2016, we are not at the point of hopelessness over our aging and health issues. We deeply believe we are in God’s loving hands through ALL things. We face suffering (so far) with an appreciation for the opportunities of spiritual growth it presents and the witness of His Power (1 Peter 3:15). We do not say this as a boast but due to His gift of assurance that comes through His Word; we KNOW in whom we have placed our trust. We bow our heads in humble gratitude to God for sending His Son and for His Holy Word where we are able to learn about Him.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).
We pray that each of you has a very blessed Christmas and a New Year as you come to know the resurrected Jesus as our Lord and Savior more fully than you ever have before.
James R. and Virginia Ruth Fugate, 12/18/2016