Christmas is real good news of great joy for all people
I think, no matter who you are, there has been misinformation on both sides of about everything the past year or two. Sometimes we see something on social media, Facebook, or whatever, and it grabs our attention and seems pretty possible. Then there’s other stuff like this…
There is no coast of Austria. Austria is a land-locked country. And there is no Whale Team 6, at least that I know of. This story, of course, is just made up to be funny.
But, there has been a lot of bad news and a lot of false news this year. But, thankfully, I have something much different for you.
I have some incredibly good news and it is not fake!
First, I want to show you that this is not false news. That’s really important. Then we’ll get into the really good news. Of course, if the news were fake then it couldn’t be good.
Real News (Luke 1:1-4; 2:1-3)
Luke, the one who wrote one of the accounts of Jesus’ life, had a fourfold approach to his task. First, we see he did an investigation. He interviewed eyewitnesses. Second, he went back to the beginning. He didn’t pick up halfway through. Third, we see that Luke was thorough. He did his homework and “investigated everything.” Fourth, we see it wasn’t done in a roughshod way. Luke “carefully investigated everything.” So, the main impact of what Luke writes is that “Christianity is true and is capable of confirmation by appeal to what happened.”[i]
In fact, one author has said, “Wherever it has been possible to check Luke’s statements, his impeccability as a historian has come to light.”[ii]
Also, the Gospel of Luke doesn’t start out like a fairytale story: “Once upon a time…” It starts out by showing us that it is a biography. Luke did his research in putting together the account about Jesus. It’s not fake news. It’s real news.
The story of Jesus—of His birth and life—is not in the same category as fiction but history. Luke reports true historical events. Or, that’s certainly what it claims to report.
So, the issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like what the Bible teaches but whether or not the Bible is true.[iii]
The story of Christmas does not have value because it is a cute story about a down-and-out couple having a child in an unexpected setting. No. The story of Christmas has value because it is a true story about the good news of rescue through Jesus.
It’s very interesting to me that Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1) was the first, and many say, the greatest Roman emperor. Actually, Augustus means, “Revered one” and some worshiped Caesar Augustus as divine. But, in his day, someone much greater was on the scene, someone truly divine. And it is actually because of this other person, this person that was a crucified Jewish carpenter, that I even know the name of Caesar Augustus.
Friends, this is good news! God has provided a Savior and we desperately need a Savior. We all fail, we all sin. As James says, “we all stumble in many ways.” Sometimes when we’re not even trying to. We don’t love others or God as we should.
The coming of Jesus the Messiah shows us that God keeps His promises. His promises to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3), David (2 Sam. 7:16), Israel (Deut. 30:1, 5), and all people (Gen. 3:15). We see this truth highlighted a bunch throughout Luke chapters 1 and 2.
And that’s really good news. God kept His past promises. He said He would send a rescuer and He sent Jesus to rescue in ways that are mindboggling. And soon we’ll have perfect joy before Him. That promise too will come true.
Brothers and sisters, through the Messiah, we have light instead of darkness. Soon pervasive peace.
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,…
Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ…
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,…
Brothers and sisters, we have good news even in this stinky year because Jesus came to bring good news of great joy…
for All Peoples
Who is this good news for? It is “for all the people” (Luke 2:10). “Regardless of nationality, age, wealth, fame, social position, sex, education, etc.”[iv]
Also, Jesus’ birth was announced to shepherds. As a class of people shepherds had a bad reputation. They were often known for stealing. They were also considered unreliable and were not even allowed to give testimony in the court of law (Talmud, Sanhedrin, 25b).[v]
Jesus is the deliver, master, and anointed king. Yet, He is born among very common folk. He is not born with pomp in a palace. He’s born around stinky smells in a mere stable.
What an amazing irony that the most amazing event of history took place in a lowly manger. Yet, how fitting because God elevates the lowly, and He humbles the proud. We see this also through the angelic announcement. The King’s birth was not announced to other kings, though Herod hunted for news. No! The news, the amazing news, was given to shepherds. The announcement to the humble was a harbinger of things to come.
The Lord cares for all and identifies with ordinary people.
Respond to the News
Look at Luke 2:13-14: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.'”
The angels themselves are in awe of God! The angels can’t help but praise God! The fact that God became flesh and was born to a poor family in a mere manger was indescribably awesome to the angels. They had never seen the wonder of God’s love shown to such an extent. And they responded as we all should. They praised God! And they desired that others give Him His rightful praise too.
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim:
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing:
‘Glory to the newborn King!'”
How will you respond?
Let’s look at how the shepherds responded in Luke 2:15-20:
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
The shepherds were in the middle of something, they were keeping watch over the sheep. Yet, we see they hurried off. We don’t even know what they did about the sheep. The shepherds’ main concern was to act. To respond. To see the Savior.
Yet, we should understand why. Is there more amazing news?!
That’s news to be told, at least, if we actually believe it.
Do you really believe it?
Do you really believe this is real news of great joy for all people?
Brothers and sisters, this news is real. Jesus did come. Jesus, who deserves to be magnified forever, was born in a manger. And the good news is He came as our Rescuer, our Savior. So, treasure up this truth in your heart and praise the Lord for the real good news we celebrate at Christmas.
On a day, a real day in history, in a city, in a real place, the Savior, came to take our sin away. The Messiah came to fulfill our hopes and keep His promise. The Lord came to defeat death and make us safe forevermore.
That’s why we have great joy. That’s why Christmas is such great news.
That’s why Christmas is real good news of great joy for all people.
[i] N. B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Luke to Christ, 44.
[ii] William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Luke, 141.
[iii] See Keller who makes this point in The Reason for God p. 210.
[iv] William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Luke, 152.
[v] Leon Morris, Luke, 101.
*Photo by Tim Mossholder
“In those days…” shows us our days are in God’s hands
“In those days…” shows us our days are in God’s hands
One of the most profound parts of the Christmas story is the small phrase “In those days.” This concept comes up repeatedly in the Nativity story. In those days there was a powerful Roman Caesar, a cruel Edomite king, a young virgin girl, an elderly Jewish priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, a righteous but clueless man named Joseph, startled shepherds in the fields, Magi from the East, a devout man named Simeon, an old prophetess named Anna, and John the Baptist. In those days…
God’s timing has always been perfect and will always be perfect.
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…” (Ps. 139:16)
“He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live… so that men would seek Him…” (Acts 17:26-27)
“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman born under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
“The mystery… to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment…” (Eph. 1:9-10).
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…” (Rom. 5:6).
“He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time” (1 Tim. 2:6).
“The time has come… Repent and believe…” (Mark 1:15).
The coming of the Messiah was with exact timing. God does all things with precise timing.
Historians point out some elements of the exact timing of the arrival of the Messiah:
Pax Romana (Roman Peace)
For around 200 years (BC 27-180AD) there was remarkable peace or lack of war in the Roman empire. This provided a safe passage for the Messiah and His message.
Julius Caesar was killed and his stepson Octavius, later named Augustus, established peace by powerful armies and began taxing people to pay for those armies. He traveled with 23 legions—23,000 men. This tax is what is spoken about in Luke 2:1. Augustus also began the practice of deifying the Caesar. A practice the Jews and Christians resisted.
During a period of 700 years the Romans built 55,000 miles of roads. These roads were built to move troops and maintain order in the kingdom (similar to our modern interstate system of highways).
The Roman roads were:
- straight, the Fosse Way only veered a few miles in 180 mile length
- paved with stone, had bridges, and drainage
- marked with signs and mapped
- protected and patrolled
- taxed and tolls were collected
- durable, it was the 19th century before roads of this quality and scale were built again
The Romans thought they built roads for the glory of the empire, but in reality, they built them for the glory of God. The Roman roads enabled the Gospel to quickly spread throughout the Roman Empire.
All the way to the British Isle and Germany and France, which affects many of us to this day.
At the time of Christ, the entire Roman empire spoke and wrote the Greek language and used Greek logic. This enabled the good news of Jesus to spread.
The Greeks came first then the Romans. The Greeks by way of Alexander the Great introduced language, culture, and logic. The Romans used Greek culture and language but established Roman government and military might.
There were two Greek languages used, Classical Greek and koine/Common Greek. The koine Greek used Phoenician or Hebrew alphabet.
The Greeks, following Aristotle’s influence, introduced inductive inference/reasoning (e.g. Geometry). Also, reasoned arguments like:
- All humans are mortal, I am a human, Therefore I am mortal.
- All have sinned therefore I am a sinner.
Sometime about 300BC in Alexandria Egypt, the Old Testament was translated into koine Greek. Tradition says by 72 translators. This translation is known as the Septuagint or LXX. Again, this prepared the way for the Gospel—God’s Word in man’s language. There is little to no doubt regarding the OT text because of the scholarship of these translators.
Beginning around 600BC, the Jewish people began to emigrate to the Mediterranean basin and eventually into all Europe and the Middle East. This was the initial channel for the Gospel into the cultures of the world.
In the first century (at the time of Christ), there were more Jews living in Alexandria Egypt than in all Judea (see Acts 2:7-11). Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD and all the inhabitants killed and the Jews were driven out of the land. The land was renamed Syria-Palestine. So, Jews emigrated to North Africa, Persia, Caucuses, India, China (Kaifeng) North Europe, and eventually the Americas.
The North American Jews are the most intermarried of all the groups. According to DNA, the North European Jews came from four Germanic women. It is thought Jewish merchants followed Roman legions to Germania and married local women.
Synagogue is a Greek word. Before the coming of the Messiah, the Jews began to develop the concept of the “spiritual temple” as opposed to the actual physical Temple in Jerusalem. So there were synagogues in all the towns and cities of the Roman empire. The priest became rabbi (cf. Mark 1:21).
This kept Judaism alive in all the diaspora. There were two distinctives:
- Calendar – Sabbath and Feast days (The Greeks and Romans did not have a weekend in their calendar)
- Diet – kosher diet
Also, many Gentiles began to enter Judaism. For example, Cornelius in Acts 10:1-2. It was first to these synagogues that the apostles went with the Message (cf. Acts 17:1-4).
“In those days…”
Someone has said: A miracle is an event with precise timing that brings glory to God. This was part of the miracle of Christmas. “In those days…”
Our whole lives are made up of a series of miracles, from arrival to leaving this world. God is still orchestrating all the events of the world and in our individual lives—for His Glory and our good.
As Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
The second appearing of the Lord will also be with exact timing. As Matthew 24:36 says, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
What is God doing with precise timing in your life today?
Colossians 1:9 should be our prayer: that God would fill us with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
May we all have confidence in the Lord’s good timing this Christmas. As God did long ago—He makes all things beautiful in His time!
Amy, my missionary daughter, has had to wait for a visa and I have had to tell her repeatedly, you need to be patient, this is often the hardest thing for missionaries to do—be patient and wait for the Lord.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps. 46:10).
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:8-9).
“In those days…” shows us our days are in God’s hands. And God is faithful.
 See Matt. 1:18-19 for Mary and Joseph, Matt. 2:1 for King Herod, Luke 1:5 for Zechariah and Elizabeth, Luke 2:1 for Caesar Augustus, Luke 2:8 for the shepherds in the field, Luke 2:25 for Simeon, Luke 2:36 for Anna, and Luke 3:1-2 for John the Baptist.
 Romans was wrote in precise Greek language and logic.
 Aristotle was born near Thessalonica (384-322BC). He was the tutor of Alexander the Great. What bearing does this have on Acts 17:11? Also, note: Very little of Aristotle’s writings remain yet no one doubts the authenticity of his work. Yet many doubt the Scriptures?!
 The apostles went to the Jews first (see Acts 17:1-4).
*Photo by Ivana Cajina
God is the ultimate Avenger and that’s a good thing.
God is the ultimate Avenger and that’s a good thing.
One of my kids asked me about this passage the other night. They were concerned and kind of distressed by it.
I asked my kids what it is the comic book heroes the Avengers do. They responded that they defeat the bad guys and protect the world. And I asked what would happen if they didn’t avenge and protect the world? They said the bad guys would win and the world would be destroyed.
I then asked my kids who the enemy is and what he seeks to do. We talked about Satan and how he steals, kills, and destroys (Jn. 10:10). We talked about how Satan, through human sin, brought a flood of chaos and curse upon the world.
We talked about the fact that we hate Lyme disease and want to kill Lyme disease because Leah, their mom, and my wife, is riddled with it. And we talked about how that is a good and just desire. In the same way, I am jealous for them and want to protect them. If someone wants to injure them, I will want to injure that person.
The LORD is the true Avenger. He is the true Protector. He will finally right the world of every wrong. The LORD loves fiercely.
That, however, is still a scary thing if we are standing opposed to God. If we are a cancer infecting and destroying the good world and the good people He loves. If we are in rebellion and promoting ruin, God’s love will drive Him to fierce wrath.
There’s hope for “HYDRA” (and all bad people)!
So, what hope do we have since we are all naturally enemies of God because of our rebellious sin—whether highhanded and intentional or through the struggle of our brokenness?[i]
Thankfully, God is an Avenger and Savior that carries out His wrath on all those set to destroy. But, He is also a Savior by bearing the wrath we all deserve (Reminds me of Dr. Strange, the avenger, not only defeating the enemy but dying—in his case again and again—so that others might live).
We see through Scripture that Jesus will not only crush His enemies—“the destroyers of the earth” (Rev. 11:18)—He is crushed to bring salvation and the ultimate renewal to the earth.
So, it is scary that God is an avenging God. But God, thankfully, is also good. He doesn’t pull a Thanos and snap half of the world out of existence. But He provides a way for all people to be saved by Himself providing salvation.
So, we see He is not just powerful. He is not just wrathful.
He is righteous (He always does what is right) and provides righteousness (Rom. 3:26).
[i] That is, there are intentional and unintentional sins, sins of commission and sins of omission.
*Image by 574nny
The Bible teaches that what we do matters.
The Bible teaches that what we do matters.
“For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27).
“The Son of Man is going to come.” That’s going to happen. Just as surely as Jesus came, He’s coming back. And He’s coming in glory.
No stable, no mere star. All of the world will see His utter glory. That’s going to happen. And Scripture repeatedly reminds us to be ready because it’s going to happen soon.
The One who took His cross and beckons us to take up ours will soon take His full rightful glory. All the world will be awed by His power. All the world will bow and acknowledge the reality that He is Lord (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10-11).
And as the Lord, He will dish out what’s deserved. The Just One will measure out justice. All will meet their deserved fate. There will be grace and wrath in abundance. And there will be peace.
A takeaway for all Christians: we must see the utter importance of our actions. Just because one is saved by grace through faith does not at all mean that what one does doesn’t matter.* Christians should be people of faith-filled sacrificial love. Because…
The Lord Jesus will repay each person according to what they have done.
What we do and don’t do matters. It matters a lot. Our lives and our actions have significance. They have significance because there is a Savior who reigns who will enforce His loving rule.
*Christians are saved by faith alone but the faith that saves is never alone. Those who are made new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), are to live as new creations in Christ. They are to live holy lives because they are holy (1 Cor. 1:2).
Our faith is often frail.
I was reminded of that when I was reading about Abraham, the man of faith. He left his homeland in response to God’s call (Gen. 12:4). He sent out trusting the LORD who had promised to bless. He stands out as a tower of trust. Indeed, he’s highlighted in the hall of faith (Heb. 11:8). Abraham’s faith was commendable. He was accounted righteous by faith (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3).
Yet, Abraham’s faith was sometimes frail. The solid pillar of faith, sometimes staggered. The same chapter that tells of Abraham setting out in faith, also tells of him lying in fear.
Our faith too is frail. It must be cultivated. Thankfully the Lord Yahweh’s faithfulness is not frail (Deut. 7:9). The LORD is mighty to save, even when we only have faith as a mustard seed.
The LORD shows His “never stopping, never-giving-up, unbreaking, always, and forever love” in amazing and unexpected ways. We see this highlighted in Genesis chapter 15. God makes a covenant, a type of special promise, with Abraham.
The LORD obligated Himself to keep His promise and He said, “know for certain” I will keep my promise (Gen. 15:13). In that time when two people were making an agreement, they would do something very strange to us. They would take animals and cut them in half and then walk in between the divided animals.
They did that, it is believed, to represent what would happen to the person that failed to keep their promise. When God made His promise to Abraham only God “walked” between the divided animals (Gen. 15:17) because the LORD made Abraham fall asleep (v. 12).
The LORD God said He would take the curse of the failed covenant upon Himself. He would both keep His promise and take the punishment of the broken promise of His people. That is exactly what the Lord Jesus did. He always obeyed His Father, He kept the covenant, yet the curse was upon Him. He was sacrificed like the animals that prefigured Him.
I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness as seen in Christ. Even when our faith is so often frail, God is amazingly faithful.
With God’s faithfulness in mind, let’s press on in faith, not fear.
His name was Abram at this point.
*Photo by Sincerely Media
How is being hated by the world motivating?
“You will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
Wow. What an encouraging word. Not!
You will be hated by a ton of people. But, if you can take it long enough, if you endure until you die… Well… Well, then you’ll be saved!
How is that good news? Isn’t it too late for good news at that point? How is this verse at all motivating?
Being hated by all and enduring that hatred makes no sense. At least, it makes no sense if you don’t believe in who Jesus is or what He says. If, however, you experience the truth of who He is you are positioned to endure the reality of what He says. You are positioned to practice sacrificial love as He did and so many of His followers have.
We who have seen Jesus’ blooded limbs outstretched for us on the tree are in a position to take a similar posture. We know “a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (v. 24). We know the Lord of the universe took up His cross and we must too (v. 38).
We know singleminded devotion is not only required, it is right. It is in line with the grain of the universe. To be suffering for the Savior is to be in rebellion against a rebellious world. To be hated by the world is, in a sense, is to be Frodo and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia; it is to be on the right side. The dark side, with the contemptuous orcs, are wrong.
The world’s very fury is a sign of victory. As the world hated Him so must the world hate us. And as we are hated as He was, so we are His. And so share His victory. So, the more we look like the victims of this world, the more we are the victors.
Thus, it actually is good news that those who endure to the end will be saved. Because the reverse is also true: those who don’t endure, will not be saved. So, we don’t have to fear (v. 26). We do “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Instead, we “fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (v. 28).
If we know—truly know—who Jesus is, we will acknowledge. If we love Him, we will live for Him. If we delight in Him, we will die for Him. If we don’t, we won’t. But it’s important that we do. Jesus Himself says: “everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven” (v. 32–33).
Our endurance of hatred and a thousand hostilities is just what it means to be in the cosmic fight that we are in. No, it is not a fight we fight with fists and fury but with love. But a fight it still is. And it demands endurance. The endurance of Frodo and Sam on their mission to Mordor and the sometimes awkward encouragement of Leia and Luke.
So, endure. Fight to the finish. We’re in a real battle that is bigger than guns. There’s not always a happy ending. And there’s no reset. We’re in reality. And the stakes are high.
*Image by Gordon Johnson
Less than our Sins Deserve
“What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved” (Ezra 9:13).
I remember throwing the football in the house as a kid. I was throwing the touchdown pass to my sister but she didn’t catch it. I threw it over her head. And hit my mom’s collection of fancy things. And I broke a bowl that her mom had passed down to her.
What happened was my fault. I couldn’t blame it on my sister and I certainly couldn’t blame it on my mom. And yet my mom was not angry with me. She was upset that the bowl was broken. It was special to her. But she didn’t take it out on me. And she even cleaned up the mess I made, the broken shards of her bowl I broke.
I’m thankful my mom showed kindness even though I didn’t deserve it. But I’m especially thankful that God shows kindness even when we don’t deserve it. God, since the beginning, has punished us less than our sins deserve.
God even takes the consequences of our sin upon Himself in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. Upon Him was the punishment that brings us peace (See Isaiah 53). The wages of sin is death and eternal separation from God in whom alone there is life, yet Jesus takes the wages upon Himself and pays the price we owed.
God has compassion on us and through Jesus casts our sin into the depth of the sea (Micah 7:19). Jesus removes our sin from us, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). God does not give us as our sins deserve. He gives grace.
We deserve to be paid death for the sin and ruin we’ve worked (Romans 6:23). That’s our due. Yet, God has “punished us less than our sins deserved” (Ezra 9:13).
Every day and every good thing is an undeserved gift of God. From the smile of a dog to the sip of cider, it’s all an undeserved gift from God. Every good and perfect gift comes from our Father above (James 1:17). And it’s a gift because it is underserved. We did not earn it.
*Photo by Alvan Nee
Deeply Known yet Deeply Loved
Christmas and Christian Mission
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20:21).
We don’t often think of Christmas as connected to missions but it really is. Let me show you. First, “Christmas” is actually shorthand for “Christ’s mass.” The English word “Mass” comes from the Latin word missa, which means to be “sent.” So, Christmas reminds us that Christ was sent.
He was sent to accomplish something. And His mission was not just to be a cute little baby. Jesus’ mission was to bring salvation. That’s actually how He got His name.
Matthew clearly spells it out for us: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The name Jesus is actually the Greek form of the name Joshua. And it means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.”
Friends, the bad news is we have not loved and listened to Yahweh, the one true God, as we should. But, the good news is, Yahweh saves. He saves in unexpected and amazing ways.
He saves by sending Jesus, the Promised One, to be born in a mere manger. He saves by sending Him to die the death we deserved to die.
So, Jesus was sent on a mission. He accomplished that mission. And we see that we now are sent on mission. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
We are sent on a different mission but in the same way that Jesus was sent we too are sent. We too must carry out the mission. Christians join Christ in the Missio Dei, the “mission of God.” We are not the good news, but we tell the good news.
Christmas—Christ’s mission—should remind us of our mission. Thankfully, it is not our mission alone. Jesus did not leave us alone to accomplish the mission. He Himself is with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And He Himself sent the Holy Spirit to be with us as our Helper.
 This Latin shows up in missions and in missionary.
 See John 20:22 and John 16:7-8.
Sometimes life gives you a gift that you want to lose but you have to use.
Do you view singleness as a gift? Sometimes we receive gifts that we don’t want to use, don’t know how to use, or don’t even want to possess. I am afraid many of us feel this way about singleness. We don’t know what to do with it, we don’t know why we’re stuck with it, and we just want to get rid of it.
The Apostle Paul saw singleness as a gift. In 1 Corinthians 7:7–9, he says “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Pastor J.P. Pokluda from Harris Creek Baptist in Texas said about singleness “sometimes life gives you a gift that you want to lose but you have to use.” Singleness is a gift from God.
If singleness is a gift, then how do we use this gift?
In 1 Corinthians 7:32–35, Paul says “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
The most important relationship that we can ever pursue is our relationship with God. Singleness teaches us about the sufficiency of Christ. He alone satisfies. Until Jesus is enough for us, no person, relationship, or marriage will ever be. Singleness is a unique time to pursue undivided devotion to the Lord. Contentment in life comes when we find our worth, identity, purpose, and satisfaction in Christ alone.
To the single person reading this, I encourage you to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Singleness is a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the church and the world that Christ is sufficient. Marriage is not the most important thing ever, Jesus is. We exist to live in relationship with Him, enjoy Him, and bring glory to Him.
Whether we are single, dating, or married let us “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). No matter what your relationship status is, we are called to be satisfied in Him, devoted to Him, and abiding in Him. Singleness is a gift, a unique opportunity to pursue undivided devotion to Christ. Let’s use this gift for the glory of God.