During the Christmas season we may think about gifts, Santa, sleigh bells, cookies, music and joy.
To those that are believers Christmas day is also a day to remember what Christ did for us. So powerful was the day he was born that angels rejoiced, filling the heavens with song.
As powerful as that was, his life of obedience overshadowed it. While on this earth he set people free from sickness and death, replacing those strongholds with hope and joy. Still more incredible was the death he endured taking on all our sins, all our sickness to the pit of hell with him and leaving them there. It was in his death that he became victorious, rising to new life, so that we might live forever with him.
All of these events melted down to his obedience to his heavenly Father. He often stated that he only did the things his heavenly Father told him to do. At any time he could have called legions of angels from heaven to fight the battle for him. It would have been more epic than any war in history or any Hollywood movie attempting to portray the battle of good vs evil.
Instead, the angels prepared for battle, alert and with swords drawn, keeping their eyes focus on Jesus. They waited and watched as the Son of God laid down his life for each of us. His life was not taken, he gave it. He gave it because of his ultimate love of the Father; his ultimate love for us. He didn’t want to endure that cross.
BUT…he said to his Father in desperate prayer, “Not my will, but yours be done!”
“During his life on earth, Jesus prayed to God, who could save him from death. He prayed and pleaded with loud crying and tears and he was heard because of his devotion to God. Although Jesus was the Son of God he learned to be obedient through his sufferings.” Hebrew 5:7-8 (GWT)
We will not be void of suffering in this world. But in the end, obedience will be the only way to bring real joy.
“He saw the JOY set ahead of him, so he endured the death of the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him.” Hebrews 12:2 (GWT)
Obedience is a word that is peppered throughout the Word. It is a key that unlocks the joy that Christ desires for each of us. But sometimes it feels like death to obey.
Joseph obeyed and took Mary as his wife, although he did not really understand. Several times he obeyed and moved Mary and Jesus because Jesus’ life was being sought from the day of his birth. His obedience saved our Savior.
It isn’t easy to obey when you feel left out. Everyone wants to belong. It isn’t easy when you look strange or weird because everyone wants to be accepted.
I am sure it wasn’t “easy” for Noah to build an ark when there was no water. People mocked him and surely thought he was crazy. But he and his household were saved.
It wasn’t easy for Joseph to obey and run from a woman who tried to seduce him, losing all that he had because of a lie. Nor was it easy for him to see his brothers after so many years apart and forgive them for selling him into slavery. But because of his obedience he saved a nation from starvation.
It definitely wasn’t easy for Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh to repent. In fact he didn’t obey at first and found himself in the belly of a huge fish or sea creature. But later, because of his obedience, the nation repented of their ways.
Ananias obeyed the Lord and laid his hands on Saul (who became Paul) to receive his sight again. Just days earlier this man was rounding up followers of the Lord to be killed. Through Ananias’ obedience Paul did receive his sight, was baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit and immediately spread the gospel, writing many books of the Bible.
Obedience is a key.
So today, who do you obey? Do you listen to the voices of a people who pressure you or do you obey the Lord? Each person has to give an account whether they choose to obey their Lord. Even in America, the land of the free, we see people who stand alone trying to obey their Lord. Remember the lady who decided not to give out marriage license to people of the same-sex? She was mocked and ridiculed and called names. But she felt she had to obey her Creator instead of the overwhelming crowds. People also have lost their businesses in similar cases. Obedience to their belief over road what society believes as truth.
But that is nothing.
I just read on social media about a pastor and his wife from China who have been thrown into prison for not abiding by the governing laws regarding their beliefs. It isn’t that they did a horrific act of disobedience. It was that they chose to obey God over manmade rules. This is going on in several countries that disregard freedom of religion. Some are beaten, some are killed and yet the faith of Jesus Christ prospers in the face of persecution because of obedience.
Daniel did the same thing and was thrown into the lion’s den. The king was amazed that his God protected him from the lions and worshipped the God who can close the mouths of lions.
You might ask why a God of love would allow people to walk to their deaths. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that he gives grace and mercy to those who ask for it. I also know that he desire that all people are saved from the fires of hell. Only he understands what our act of obedience will do for each of us and for those who witness our walk. Perhaps it will save a soul.
Not everyone will give their lives for our Lord. But each of us will come to a crossroad where we will need to decide if we are going to obey our Lord. Do we mean it when we state that we are believers? Or is our lives filled with mushy compromise? I am asking myself this question, too. I am not saying something that the Lord isn’t already asking me. When the heat goes up (and it will) will we walk away from our Lord?
We celebrate Christmas with a world that really may not understand the power of its meaning. Some celebrate while enjoying freedom. Others may not have freedom, but celebrate the freedom that Christ can bring.
During this holiday season, I pray that you will come to know the God of creation and understand that he loves you. And if you already are a believer, I pray that this next year will be one that will draw you closer to your Lord.
Remember the old hymn, “Trust and Obey”, written in 1887 by John H Sammis. The refrain goes:
“Trust and obey for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
How true that statement is!
God bless and have a Merry Christmas.