25. BEHOLD: The Christ

Behold, the warmth of a newborn baby.

Behold, the peace in the stable.

Behold, long journeys over that have only just begun.

Behold, the world forever changed in a moment.

Behold, the moment by moment blessing.

Behold, the hope we have forever.

Behold, the promise fulfilled.

Behold, the victory over sin and death.

Behold, the reason for the merry and joy.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.”

-1 John 5:1

Behold, Him, still. Still in the manger, still at work in the world, still seated by the Father, still in our hearts…stilling us in awe today.

Behold, behold, the Christ!

 

24. BEHOLD: The Merry

Merry Christmas Eve! Have the festivities begun? Are you making merry? Do you know what “merry” is all about?

The dictionary tells us:

merry def

Scripture also uses the word.

we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead,

and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

Luke 15:32

The Greek word for “merry” is “euphrainó.” Interestingly enough, in its definition, alongside have a cheery outlook and being glad, is the idea that merriment is the kind of gladness that comes because of a sense of victory. Within the definition of merriment is also the word feast.

“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

-Proverbs 15:15

Merriment is like having a feast before you. The cheery outlook of being merry is the perspective of seeing not just the glass full, but the whole table!

Is there not a sense of victory in that alone? Everything before you is full, abundant, enticing. The fullness of the table ahead offers certainty that you, too, will be full.

Anyone who has prepared a feast or attended one knows the delight and warmth of a full table. Especially one full of food and loved ones. That’s the sort of celebration thrown all throughout history when a victory is had.

At Christmas, we gather around our tables, our trees, and our trays of cookies. We gather with loved ones. We gather to revel in and celebrate the full victory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Born a king. Born victorious. Sin and death never stood a chance –not even before the least of these, a newborn baby.

The Lord uses the weak and the little to triumph over the strength of the powers of evil. Through that victory, God uses this time of year to fill our hearts with the fullness of Christ and the assurance that we will filled in Him forever.

Behold, the victory of the Merry Christ.

Behold, the merriment born of the fullness of Christ with us.

Behold, the merry heart that looks on us as ones to share the feast and fullness with.

23. BEHOLD: The Abundance

How many lights have you seen in the past few weeks? How many cookies have you eaten? Are there people in your life that you’ve seen, cared for, and appreciated lately? What a blessing. What a gift.

Is Christ in your life? Does the Lord ever provide for you? Are there moments when the Lord’s Word or Works make you smile? What a blessing. What a gift.

We are blessed with abundance.

It’s easy at Christmas to count every bit of abundance as a curse –so much money (spent), so many plans (so busy!), so much to do (to get ready). When those plans don’t work out or the gifts aren’t what we expected, it is also easy to count our abundance as insufficient.

But He:

“is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

according to his power that is at work within us,”

Ephesians 3:20

Further, the Lord is:

“a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15

All that the Lord has for us is sufficient. And what He has for us is abundance. It isn’t always in the time, memories, plans, or finances that we want.

He offers in abundance opportunities to come to Him, to pray, and to enter His wisdom. We are offered hope and joy beyond measure. The beauty of the world He has adorned for us is overwhelming. The ability to love and connect with others that He puts in our lives exceeds all that we can fathom.

We celebrate Christmas because of the abundant gift of life given to us through Christ. More than just coming, just saving, just being human like us, being completely passionate…or anything else…Christ is more. He is always more than we expect, believe, or dream.

His abundance is such that we always have cause to be in awe in of His goodness. That, itself, is a greater gift than all we can imagine.

Behold, the abundance of the Lord.

Behold, all that He gives filling us full with plenty flowing over.

Behold, the Lord whom we always have every reason to praise!

22. BEHOLD: The Settling

Settle down. These are words children hear as they leap around the house in anticipation of presents, cookies, parties, and celebrating. They are also words many of us adults need to hear.

Settle down. Take a rest. Be at peace. Don’t rush so much. More than that, though: be settled in your soul with the Lord.

We all have a debt to settle. We all have ways that we’re falling short and we need to settle up with those we disappoint, fail, or hurt. But we don’t like to feel like we’re settling for less than the best.

And good news, in Christ, we’re not.

Settling is a synonym for resolving or reconciling. To settle down is to resolve a flurry of chaos and be at peace. Settling in is the reconciling of one’s ideas with one’s reality. To settle for something is to resolve to accept it as is -that’s what Christ made possible for us before the Lord.

In Jesus coming as a baby, God settled things. He launched a major part of his plan:

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

-2 Corinthians 5:19

The little baby in the manger came to settle our unrighteousness with God eternally. Our debt is settled. The sinfulness keeping us from God is settled. And He came to settle our hearts. In the process, He’s settled in…

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith

Ephesians 3:17

We don’t have to live hurried or worried that things will be less than God’s best –the matter is settled. We can settle down and settle into peace with Him.

Behold, the status of the saved: settled with God.

Behold, the settling down of our restless hearts when we embrace His gift.

Behold, the one won’t settle for less than is perfect(ly in His will!)

21. BEHOLD: The Unifier

Treaties are signed, even temporarily, for Christmas. In families and between countries, the agreement to live in peace for even just a short time is often made for the holidays. People step out of their normal routines, paying more attention to the needy and giving more than any other time of the year.

At Christmas, people seem to feel more unified.

There’s a reason for that, even if it’s wrapped up and stuffed away inside of many, many layers of worldly tradition and philosophy: Christ unifies us.

He came as a baby. We’ve all been babies. He had a childhood, friends, and even a job. Christ was fully man, making Him just like us. He was even tempted as we are tempted, so that:

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

Hebrews 4:15

Though He did not sin, Christ died. Just like all of us, He had a time appointed for his life to end. We find unity in that life, and that death.

For those of us who know Him, we also find unity in the hope and promise we have that we will also live –and die- and then live forever with Him. In light of who Christ was and that gift He freely gives, we have every reason to join together in worship, gratitude, and praise.

Our model for unity is found in the trinity. All belong to each other because selfish ambition and pride is absent. In belonging to another, the will in the same, and the goal of each shared. Each one unified is unified for a reason:

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

John 17:23

That godly gift of unity is found most when we enter the presence of the Lord, coming near to Him, because He is the unifier.

Behold, the only reason we can be unified despite out warring flesh.

Behold, the One who unifies us in praise.

Behold, the unity found in the Christ was fully man and fully God.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing

20. BEHOLD: The Song

Do you hear what I hear? Hark the herald angels sing! Unto us a child is born. In that little town of Bethlehem. On a cold winter’s night that was so deep, it came upon a midnight clear.

Oh, Holy night! All is calm, all is bright. On Mary’s lap He is sleeping. Down in a lowly manger, our humble Christ was born.

Born is the king of Israel. Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!

Oh come, all ye faithful. Come let us adore Him. Come, adore on bended knee, Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.

Repeat the sounding joy. Let loving hearts enthrone Him. Come and behold him!

“Praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”

Luke 2:13-14

Behold, the one we sing about, His song resounding in our hearts as the joy of Christ rings clear.

Behold, the song whose words we’ve only just begun to learn.

Behold, the Conductor at the front, teaching us line by line to sing His praise in harmony.

19. BEHOLD: The Coming

Places to go, people to see. We’re on the run, dashing through the (snow? Please?) At the time of Christ’s coming, it seems we’re all going somewhere.

Do you know the feeling? As you grab your keys and try to balance your stuff in hand while you scramble out the door, the sense of going pushes you and stresses you out. It’s not until you’re almost there that you being to feel more like you are coming than going.

When you’re halfway there, you begin to feel drawn instead of propelled. You feel invited, not obligated. Once the “going” is done, the “coming” begins, and the journey takes on a forward-facing purpose.

It’s no surprise that Jesus says:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

-John 14:6

To go to God is to map out one’s own way. To go implies that He is removed, far, or shifting. But to come is to be led along. Coming means following a path and accepting an invitation. In coming, we arrive not as the lost, but as the found.

Christ came. With his whole focus on being here with us, the Messiah came as the prophecies foretold. Christ is known for coming by the Holy Spirit and coming through a woman. He is known for coming as a lowly baby and for coming specifically to Bethlehem. When coming as a king, He came riding a donkey colt.

Every disciple He called he came to find. Each town He stopped in He came to, not stumbling by accident on the way or going as a matter of course. Christ was always coming alongside, coming to, and coming for.

The Shepherds and the wise men in their praise were comers. Mary and Joseph were blessed by the coming of their son. They came to Bethlehem to deliver the King.

We are blessed by that same coming, and we can emulate the beauty of it by, ourselves, coming.

Come to the manger. Come to the celebration. Come to the cross.

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Revelation 22:17

Don’t wait to be pushed and to hurry last minute. Don’t just go, with your mind focusing on what you’ve left instead of what you approach. Come, and behold Him!

Behold, the one has come for us.

Behold, the one who is coming for us.

Behold, the one to whom we never “go” as lost, but always “come” to, found.

18. BEHOLD: The Re-arranger

There are certain things required, in many people’s minds, to build the perfect Christmas. From the tree to the gifts to the food to the company, every piece fits just so to create beloved traditions and memories.

To make it all fit, couches get pushed back. Coat racks get cleared off the rack. Space is made on crowded counters for jars of cookies. Some people give up their beds for a night or two. Some people travel by donkey to far off towns while pregnant and end up giving birth in a stable.

From the very first Christmas, re-arranging was a part of welcoming Christ in the world.

“God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.”

–Psalm 55:19

Christ’s coming to the world brought to us salvation, hope, and eternal joy. For those in the Bible, and for us today, Christ also brings humility as He does not change, but our plans and ideas must. When the Spirit comes to live is us, we ought to:

“Pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Ephesians 3:16-17

As is the case any one settling into a dwelling place, Christ dwelling in our hearts rearranges. He humbles us, as mentioned. There’s also a strengthening, and an empowering. He creates in us purer hearts and sets up a battle station against our flesh.

Sometimes, His rearranging extends to our circumstances and our plans. Like Scripture says, we plot our own way, but He establishes our steps. To live well through all this sort of re-arranging, we need to be flexible.

Being flexible is a Godly trait when flexibility means being open to anything God gives, regardless of what it requires from us.

If the Lord has to re-arrange our priorities, take it as a good gift. If making room for Him to settle deeper into our hearts means tossing out some of those secret, sneaky, “less-bad” sins, we can have the flexibility of faith and respond with “thank you.”

Behold, the deep-cleaning of the Lord through re-arranging.

Behold, the re-ordering to restore order to the world and to each of our hearts.

Behold, the gift of godly flexibility, given through faith in Christ.

17. BEHOLD: The Surprise

Shh, it’s a surprise. That’s what we say when we pick out unexpected gifts and tell others about them before Christmas day.

On Christmas morning, we want our loved ones to open their gifts and light up with delight over the surprises inside. We make goodies for friends and randomly bring cookies to work, just to give a little bit of surprise joy to those around us.

The idea of gifts being surprises was God’s idea first. Imagine Mary’s surprise, to be chosen as his mother as a virgin. And Joseph’s -when an angel showed up with the best but most unexpected news. The Shepherds in the fields surely lit up in shock and awe when the skies came alive with praise.  Then, to find the newborn king lying in a manger of all places?!

Still, the surprises continued.

Many of the expectations people had regarding their coming Messiah were thrown off. They thought we would come and reign on earth immediately, not (when? Oh we still don’t know the time!) Instead of conquering with swords and great, terrifying power He won us over from death by…dying. Surprise!

When we look at all the unexpected gifts God has given and gives, we react like the Shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the Disciples with more fear than delight.

“Do not be afraid”

Luke 1:30

Matthew 1:20

Luke 2:10

There’s a reason that this phrase is so often repeated in Scripture. We, as control-seeking, nervous, limited human beings, are not big fans of surprises…until we see them work out in our favor.

Upon being surprised, we scream. We’re often terribly confused. And, if the surprise does not turn out to be wonderful and beneficial, it often becomes a story told only as a “what-not-to-do.” (Don’t we all know of “oops” surprise stories?)

Surprises from the Lord are treated in much the same way. Our first reactions when the Lord does something unexpected are often fear and confusion. We ask “well, what about this?” or “what if?” before we say, “Lord, your every gift is perfect! Thank you!” Fortunately, his grace is sufficient. His kindness does not fail.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

1 John 4:16

We can look back through history, and the Bible, and our lives, are recognize that His surprises are delightful. No mystery of the Lord’s is shrouded in darkness and risk. When we see His surprises fully revealed, we are in awe of the gift-giver.

Behold, our reason to trust even in the unexpected.

Behold, the one whose endless grace and love continue to surprise us.

Behold, the Lord whose surprises are always perfect.

This post is being shared on: #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.

16. BEHOLD: The Light of the World

These photos are from Longwood Gardens (visit if ever you get the chance!)

IMG_3891

The Christmas display at Longwood is gorgeous. At night, it’s mind-blowing. There are lights everywhere. Half a million light strands, actually.

As you walk around, the whole property is dark. Acres and acres of pitch black. There are no street lamps to guide you. All you have are the lights adorning the trees and bushes.

You realize as you explore how important light it is, and how beautiful. Without light, we’re left to stumble. There’s a reason people are afraid of the dark.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”

John 8:12

But with light comes possibility. With light, there is hope and cause for wonder and awe without fear.

When light adorns trees, and homes, and mantles, they take on a new quality that extends beyond whimsy and tradition. Light transforms.

Exposing, highlighting, and illuminating, light rightly separates things from darkness and declares them worthy of being gazed upon.

And there is Christ, the light of the world.

Behold,  the illumination of the hope we have.

Behold, the transforming light of our Lord.

Behold, the way: lit first for us by a humble, tiny babe.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday