As we look ahead to Christmas this Advent season, I'm thinking of some things we look to and look for…
We can't look too far at the minute without seeing advertisements for Christmas shopping… for hampers, turkeys, mince pies, sofas… the list goes on!
Christmas trees have been appearing all over East Belfast in the past few weeks - earlier every year! If we look down our streets we can see the glow of Christmas lights, and the 'Stop here Santa!' signs!
Children everywhere are looking ahead, counting down the days until Santa comes! Mums are trying to fit all the things they need to do into their diaries, shaking their heads when they realise there probably aren't enough days left!
Perhaps we are looking back… At this time of year when many memories flood back, good and bad, we can remember times gone by. So many find this a difficult time of year, when emotions are evoked by thoughts of friends and family, some now gone. Or of happier times before life changed beyond recognition.
It's a time of year when many look inwards. Sometimes the overwhelming bustle just serves to point out how numb and deadened our hearts can feel. There is something or SOMEONE missing in the middle of the shiney, flashing whirl that has become Christmas.
The shepherds came to Bethlehem looking for the Baby King after the angels appeared to them. They weren't looking for a heavenly vision that night. They probably had settled in the darkness with maybe a small lamp that lit up a few yards around their beds for the night. Suddenly the entire sky was illuminated, and they hurried into the town to find the dirty animal shelter where Jesus had been born. (Luke 2 v 15)
The wise men came looking for Jesus some time later. They had been directed by the Star which they had never seen before in all their studies of the skies. They even came to the palace to see if the child was there, leaving no stone unturned until they found HIM, and worshipped Him. (Matt 2 v 11)
Almost 150 years ago a teenage boy had just lived through a much less flashy Christmas than today, but still knew that something or SOMEONE was missing. Despite coming from a religious family, Charles was looking for the way to reach the SOMEONE he knew could transform his life forever. On a snowy January morning, he was forced by the weather to worship in a little Methodist chapel in Colchester. Charles listened to the uneducated and rough, but sincere words of a local cobbler who had to step up when the minister was detained by the weather. The elderly man's text was this:
Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
(Isaiah 45 v 22)
The young man looked to the Lord as the ONLY One who could save him from the heaviness of sin in his heart, and in that moment C. H. Spurgeon came to belief in Christ as Saviour through this verse. Who knew then of the many thousands who would be brought to the Lord through this young man, in his lifetime and beyond.
So what are we looking for this Christmas? - Indulgence? Receiving gifts? Parties?
In the middle of the whirl, let us remember Who to look to and look for. Even the commonly enjoyed things about Christmas, like family and friends aren't what it's really all about. Let us look to HIM for our salvation if we don't know Jesus as our Saviour. And if we are already blessed to be in His family, let us look to Him for His leading on how we may bless others, sharing what we have, so that they may see the LORD through us. Wishing you all every blessing in HIM this Christmas.
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!