Hope: A reason to celebrate
Dec. 1, 2017 at 5 p.m.
When I got my first iPhone, I had no idea what to do with it. I would watch my kids with theirs and think, "This thing has so much to offer. I've got to learn how to use it."
Once they started showing me all the cool features and apps I could use, the device became much more useful and much more enjoyable. It was proof that to fully experience and appreciate something, we must first fully understand it.
I feel this same way about the Christmas season. So many times our celebration of it is actually more stressful than it is enjoyable simply because we don't have a full understanding of what - or who - we are celebrating. When we completely understand Jesus, who He is and why He came, our celebration of the season takes on a whole new meaning.
See, Jesus didn't just randomly appear. He came at a specific time for a specific purpose.
In fact, out of the 1,000 prophecies in the Old Testament, 353 center around Jesus, and through His birth, life and death, He fulfilled every single one of them. Understanding this creates an awe in our hearts that makes us want to celebrate.
One of the main ways we celebrate at my house is through the advent candles. Advent means coming. As we light each of the four candles, we remember and celebrate something specific about our Savior.
The first candle is all about hope. Certain hope - the kind that is so sure you don't question it. As we light that candle, we are reminded that when we focus on the hope God gives, our lives lead to major blessing.
In the story of that first Christmas, we find someone who did just that. His name was Simeon. His promise was that He would live to see the Messiah born on Earth. As he got older, I am sure that was easy to doubt. But in Luke 2:25-26, we are given four reasons that His promise came to pass.
The first is that he was righteous. He was a person of outstanding character.
He was also devout, completely dedicated to obeying God, even when it didn't make sense.
He was patient, extremely patient. He waited on God, looking to Him for the answers, even when his reality didn't make sense.
Finally, the Scripture says He lived empowered by the Holy Spirit. Instead of striving in his own strength, he focused on receiving divine help.
So how are you feeling about this holiday season? More stressed or excited? If you're not enjoying it as much as you wish you were, I encourage you to take some time to remind yourself of the true reason we celebrate. Turn your focus to hope - the hope that Jesus is and the hope that He gives. Remind yourself of God's promises every day. And like Simeon, live in a way that allows those hopes to be realized.
God's path is sure, and that's a huge reason to celebrate.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit myffc.com.