Yes it ‘tis. The time is indeed nigh as it’s closing in on what has been as ‘twas the night before Christmas.
Okay, I know some old language there. But hey it’s kind of fun and remember we are supposed to be celebrating.
As we spoke about yesterday I’m sharing some thoughts inspired by Rick Warren’s “ The Purpose of Christmas”. In his book, Warren notes there are three designs for the holiday.
The first of those purposes? That “Christmas is a time for celebration”. The next two are what we will discuss on this edition of “Becoming Today’.
So our second reason for celebrating is that “Christmas is a time for salvation” Here we need to develop a shared understanding of what that means.
Wikipedia offers us this explanation:, “Salvation is the state of being saved or protected from harm or a dire situation. In religion and theology, salvation generally refers to the deliverance of the soul from sin and its consequences”.
Salvation is defined by Merriam Webster’s as not only a deliverance from sin, but also adds these options: “ liberation from ignorance or illusion; preservation from destruction or failure; (or) deliverance from danger or difficulty”.
However in his study, Warren, says the meaning for our purposes goes even further
He notes that most people have a very narrow scope of what salvation means. They see it as “being saved from hell”. And he continues, “But God had so much more in mind than just fire insurance when he sent Jesus to be our Savior. “
“God’s gift of true salvation is freedom, purpose, and life in three dimensions.”
Hmm. Three purposes, three dimensions, involving the Trinity. I’m starting to see a pattern here.
Anyway Warren describes those dimensions “as your past, your present and your future”.
Ebenezer is this ringing any bells?
By the way did you know that Ebenezer is more than a name? It is also a formal noun, always capitalized, used to describe, “a commemoration of divine assistance”. That may even cause a miserly protagonist or two to pause and reflect, lol.
In each of those dimensions, Warren writes that there are very personal reasons for each of us to seek salvation. They are:
Jesus saves you from something. (Past)
Jesus saves you for something. (Present)
Plus Jesus saves you by something. (Future)
Briefly, let’s explore each of these areas.
First “Jesus saves you from something”. More precisely some things, plural. He came to save you from sin and yourself.
We can all be our own best friend or worst enemy depending upon the choices we make. Not seeking actively to receive salvation creates more distance between us and God. That does nothing but gives us headaches, sometimes literally.
The further we are from an open honest relationship with our Creator the more problems and even diseases of mind, body and soul we are exposing ourselves to. The roots of our English word come from “dis” and “ease”, which literally mean distance from God.
In accepting His salvation, freeing us from our pasts, we are given all we need to be free from anger, anxiety, depression, doubt, fear, guilt, hate, regret and shame. Why not give yourself the gift of peace this Christmas and celebrate by accepting, recognizing and receiving His salvation?
As we have slipped from the past into the present, in this dimension, Jesus came to save you for a purpose. One created uniquely for each for us.
Warren shares that, “ When you finally begin fulfilling the purpose that God created you for and Jesus saves you for, you realize, ‘This is my niche! This is why I am alive. This is my reason for being. Now I know why I exist.”
I can’t tell you what your purpose is. That’s a conversation you need to have with the Lord for yourself. However I can give multitudes of testimony about how freeing and wonderful it is when you learn and embrace your role in life. It in fact is contained within the very essence of your “Becoming”.
Then the third aspect of salvation is that Jesus saves you by something. That something is His Grace.
The Grace of God is beautiful and simple, yet complex and often not understood. It is life sustaining, fulfilling and rewarding. The shortest definition I can offer is that Grace is God’s love in action. Given to us freely, though none of us deserve it. It is a gift that can only be accepted, we can not repay it nor does He expect us too.
To take a deeper look at Grace, you can click here, for our discussion about it earlier this year.
Celebrating our Salvation this Christmas and so afr that’s only part of its purpose, the third aspect is to commemorate it as “ A Time for Reconciliation”.
Reconciliation is another of those terms that can have multiple meanings. Today along our shared path, we’ll focus on it as seeking the peace of God.
Again in line with that pattern I noted, Warren shares with us, the three kinds of peace Jesus came to share with us:
Peace with God.
The peace of God.
And Peace with others.
To be at “Peace with God”, we need to be reconciled with Him. I like to say I am always seeking to “be in accord with the Lord”. Surrendering that his will and not yours will be done. Understanding and trusting that with God all things always end in all is well.
When you are able to embrace this I can attest to that suddenly you will find yourself more relaxed, stress free and able to accomplish so much more without forced effort.
Jesus also offers you, “The peace of God”. This is available by living, “Day By Day”. Living presently, in the moment. Accepting the peace of God as expressed in the Serenity Prayer:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Oftentimes the prayer is shortened to just the first verse, but you can see here that the importance of the moment is sincerely expressed in the full text.
Accepting that we can not control everything and learning that life is far more about how we react to circumstances than the situations themselves is a wonderful present to receive at any moment.
Then Jesus also came to teach us how to achieve, “Peace with others”.
Quoting from the book, “Once you’ve made peace with God, and you begin to experience the peace of God in your heart, God wants you to experience the joy of being at peace with all the people in your life”.
Understandably this dimension requires some dedicated effort and work. As does much of our “Becoming”.
The first step is learning to forgive. For me the toughest lesson here was learning to forgive myself.
To fully forgive involves allowing ourselves to let go, To actively and consciously release the need to hold on to past baggage, old quarrels, unfinished business or the need to get even.
You can not create a state of “Becoming”, if you aren’t willing to let the former or current realities go.This is a vital part of “Becoming”. Not only forgiving others for perceived wrongs, and asking for forgiveness from those you may have hurt but also forgiving yourself.
It is then, and only then, that you can let go of anger, guilt, shame, or any other feeling limiting your growth. Let it go. Face forward, look upward and then you can get busy moving on.
To let go of past hurts, you need to make the conscious decision to take control of the situation. However, this can take time and practice. Be kind to yourself as you practice self care and love.
Then you can say good-bye to anger, guilt, shame, or any other feeling limiting your growth. Let it go. Face forward, look upward and you get busy moving on.
Moving on to a place of peace and for today that very well may be another reason to celebrate.
Christmas is indeed a celebration of salvation and reconciliation. A time to celebrate light and love and honor one and all while glorifying the One who makes it all possible.
So enjoy yourselves responsibly in a manner you and yours are comfortable with, expressing love and peace for all.
I pray you are enjoying a blessed and joyous day. Tomorrow, I promise I’ll keep it brief, but make sure you stop by because I do have a gift for each of you joining us here along this shared journey we call “Becoming Today”.
Until then, as I don my ‘kerchief, let me say Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night….