Saturday, December 18, 2010

Expecting the Christ

This time of year you see a lot of people getting ready for “The Claus”. Shopping, parties, cutsie sweaters with matching socks, and “stockings hung by the chimney with care”. Then the season has come and gone, and all that lingers are the decorations we accidentally miss as we put our house back in order, and the debt we went into to make sure that everyone around us got what was expected. But what if….just what if…what was expected was The Christ?

In Matthew 1:20 the Word says that “while he (Joseph) thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Mary was truly “expecting” the Christ. For 9 months she dealt with questions, pointing, ridicule, and shame put on her by others because she was literally and physically expecting Jesus to appear. God had chosen her. That did not mean the road was easy, it meant that He would also enable her. Day by day she would live expecting Jesus Christ, but also the hand of the Lord on her through her journey. Truly she was blessed.

Later, John the Baptist would also live in expectation. In Luke 3:15-16 we read “and as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” The people of the day knew the prophecy of the coming Christ. They got it wrong, but at least they were looking for Him to come. John the Baptist had it right. He was doing all the Lord had asked of Him in expectation that The Christ would soon come. He lived his life serving a King that he did not fully understand or even realize was close by, but when God was ready for His Son’s role as the Christ to be revealed, John had lived in expectation long enough, and dedicatedly enough that He knew The Christ when He showed up. Would you or I? Have we lived our lives in quiet obedience with our eyes open for The Christ to be revealed to us in our day? Do we truly expect the Christ to walk in our days and our hours with us? Do we live like we even know Who He is?

Paul also walked in close relationship with the Lord. In Philippians 1:19-21 we hear Paul’s words as he writes, “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The Christ, His earnest expectation. His intense anticipation, and from the head, as the original language speaks it. Meaning? The thought of The Christ was always in the front of his mind. He lived his life intensely mindful of watching for The Christ in all things, in all conversations, and in everything he did. He lived his life with the purpose of serving The Christ with all that he was and all that he had. Now, he had met the Lord face to face. Once a murderer of the Christians, he met the Lord face to face on the road to Damascus, and was never the same again. Some of us have met The Christ. Some of us have come face to face with Him as He searches us out, calls us to Himself, and hands us His gift, paid for by His blood, His gift of salvation and trust in who He is. Others of us have heard Him calling and turned the other way. For some, this may be the first time you have even thought of this life changing Christ. Can I just tell you that living a life “Expecting The Christ” is the greatest gift you could receive. James 1:15 states that “when lust has conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” You see, whether we realize it or not, we make a choice. We either live Expecting the Christ, or we choose to expect sin and its price of death. The best gift you can give your family this year, is the gift of knowing Christ yourself. God says he sets choices before us this day…life and death, blessings and curses. And then He gives us the answer just in case we were confused. “Choose life.” Choose Christ and live. Live a life of great expectation. Meet him face to face today, and have your own Damascus road experience. Call out to Him and He will answer you.

For those of you who claim to be living a life of expectation and intense anticipation. Sometimes the world around us can steal our zeal. Cheesy way of saying it, yes, but true. We get dull, we get lukewarm, we doubt our vision or desires, and we get to where we blend in with the crowd. Take a look back at Matthew 1:20. I am just going to quote a section. “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Do you see it? Babies are not the only lives that God births within us. He births ideas, gifting, ministries, prayers, understanding of the scriptures, and love. Not too long ago, I was whining to God about our ladies ministry. What I thought it should be or look like by now, was this really what He had called me to, was I just out there living my own ideas separate from Him, because I just knew that if He had called me to it, He would have made it look very different. This verse was in my daily reading …that day. When I read it, it jumped off the page at me. What was conceived in me…the vision of what He had given me to do, the heart for the women’s ministry…was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He put it there. He had a part in it. He was nurturing it and growing it as only He could. What an amazing God we serve. What are the dreams He has given you? Have you turned your back on them because they did not look the way you thought they should? What about The Christ Himself…have you quit living “Expecting The Christ” because it did not go the way you thought? What will it take for you to return to living your life in intense anticipation of seeing The Christ at work in you, through you, and all around you?

This Christmas, how about we worry more about anticipating The Christ than we do the Claus. This much I know…the joy, excitement, and vision will not diminish after the 26th of December, or even the 1st of January. If we ever truly live our lives Expecting The Christ, it will carry over day to day, week to week, and year to year. It may not always be easy, we may meet opposition, but we must keep pursuing the goal of being able to say that “for to me to live is Christ.”

I choose “Expecting The Christ”.