Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTMAS 2015

CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE 7:00 PM
CHRISTMAS DAY WORD AND SONG - 10:15 AM

“He knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.”

“You’d better be good or Santa won’t bring you anything for Christmas!” Many a parent has used these words to warn a child that Santa sees all and knows all. It’s usually used by parents to get their excited children to behave in the days and weeks prior to Santa’s arrival. According to the Christmas song, Santa “knows if you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good; so be good for goodness sake.”
How would you feel if someone really knew everything about you? What if they knew your strengths and weaknesses; your troubles; your most private thoughts? That might trouble us if the one who knew all this was not our friend. If it were someone who liked us, it would not bother us as much. What if the person who knew everything about you was someone who loved you with all their heart; someone who cared about you deeply and could help you in any way needed?
Christmas announces the arrival of someone who can do all this and more. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, God’s dear Son. Because Jesus is God, he knows when you’ve been “bad or good” – “naughty or nice.” Jesus knows when you’re tired and frustrated, excited or disappointed. He knows and understands everything that is going on in your life. He knows you better than you know yourself.
Are you facing problems? Jesus understands. He was born in poverty and had to flee from King Herod, who was trying to kill him. Are you being treated unfairly? Is a friend turning against you? Jesus was betrayed and forsaken by his own disciples. He was denied by Peter and betrayed by Judas. He was beaten and put to death by those whom he came to save. God is not oblivious to our problems. Jesus knows what is going on in the world and more importantly what’s going on in each of our lives.
“Santa knows.” These words might bring fear to the heart of a naughty child hoping to get gifts at Christmas.  “Jesus knows.” These words bring comfort and courage to those who believe in him. They bring comfort because God loves us whether we have been naughty or nice. He doesn’t like it when we do wrong. He hates the sins we commit. But, God loves the sinner. He showed that at the cross.
God knows and has the ability to do something about our situations. He can remove our problems, or he can help us cope with them. Even sin and death are no match for Jesus.
Merry Christmas! Through Christ that’s more than a hollow wish. We can have a merry Christmas because God is on the job. He gives us the best of presents also, his own Son.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Be careful about what you say about others.


“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” Have you ever spoken that familiar phrase?” Has anyone ever spoken them to you? These words serve as a good defense mechanism for someone who is being ridiculed and taunted. But those who use this phrase also know that it’s not true. Words do hurt! Words sometimes hurt more than cuts and bruises inflicted by sticks and stones. Moreover, the pain from hurtful words seems to linger far longer than any physical abrasions and welts we may have received.
How we use our tongues or the gift of speech is the subject of the Eighth (Ninth as others number them.) Commandment found in Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” This commandment barely touches on the many sins we can and do commit with the precious gift of speech. Marriages destroyed, friends alienated, wars between nations started – all over words.
As we enter another campaign season, we can find ample number of examples of sins against the 8th Commandment. Political mud-slinging and name-calling have been going on for years as candidates conclude that degrading and denouncing their opponent will eventually win them the election. Unfortunately, in our sinful world today, that approach is often successful. That however doesn’t make it right.
Yet it is not just politicians who sin against the Eighth Commandment. We all do it. When we lie to or about someone else, when we betray another person’s confidence, when we say things that ruin another’s reputation, we are sinning. Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (Mt 18:15). What usually happens is that we will tell everyone else about what our brother did but never speak to them.  “Did you hear that Randy is having an affair?” “Did you know that Angie is pregnant and she’s only 16!” So it goes. We spread the news. We destroy people’s reputations. We hurt their feelings. We sin against the Eighth Commandment and we do it over and over again.
In James 3:2 we are told that if we could control our tongue and keep it from sinning, we could control the rest of our body as well. The truth is – “we can’t.” We need God’s forgiveness in Christ.
If only we would follow our dear Lord’s example. Speak the truth in love. Use your words to help and heal, to admonish and instruct, to witness to the Lord and praise his Name, to bring the Good News of the Savior to others. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Use your gifts to the glory of God!

May 20, 2015

One night May Lemke was awaken to the sound of someone playing a piano in the other room.  She got up to investigate because only she, her husband, a young son lived there. To her amazement, it was her son Leslie, who was playing. He was not only playing but playing one of the symphonies of Tchaikovsky and to her amazement was playing it perfectly note for note. She was amazed because Leslie had never sat at the piano before. He had never had a lesson. In fact, Leslie could barely get around, could not speak and could barely feed himself.
Leslie was abandoned as a baby and the Lemke’s took him in. The doctor's said that they should not waste any time on him since he would not live long and he would never amount to anything because of all his medical problems.
Some of that was true. He had many problems. For many years he couldn't do anything. He was blind. He couldn’t walk, speak, or feed himself. Only after days, months and years of working with Leslie did he finally begin to do such things. His ability to speak did not come for years.  Yet, here he was in the middle of the night, playing a Tchaikovsky symphony, something he had heard not long before.
Like the character portrayed by Dustin Huffman in the movie "Rain Man" Leslie had a gift. His gift was in music instead of mathematics. Leslie's mind is like a tape recorder. Any song he hears he can play - note for note. He needs no practice, only to hear the song once and it is filed away forever in his mind.
Many years ago, on national television, when asked why he thought he was able to do something so amazing, he declared that it was a gift from God and to his glory.
How can someone, anyone, do such amazing things with so many handicaps?  It is truly to the glory of God. But, in reality, it is no more amazing than learning to walk, to speak, to read a book, to analyze a problem, to write a poem, or do any one of the countless things we learn to do over a life time.
Like Leslie, we need to remember that "Every good and every perfect gift" comes from God. The abilities we have are not something we can take credit for. We can waste them. We can use them; develop them. Yet, they are gifts from God.
Let us never cease to marvel at what God has done in someone like Leslie but let us never cease to marvel at what he has done in us as well.  Thank God for your gifts and use them, like Leslie, to the glory of God.


 Written by Pastor Stuppy

Thursday, April 2, 2015

EASTER MAKES ME SMILE


I heard a story that I would like to share with you. It goes like this - Three friends had just attended a service for a friend who had died. It got them thinking about their own funeral and what people would say about them. One of them asked: "What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?"
The first of the friends said: I would like them to say, he was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community. The second said: I hope they say, “He was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow.” The third friend said, “I would like them to say, ‘Look, he’s moving!!’" 
This story made me smile and I wanted to share it with you. Many things in life make us smile. We smile when we see a close, old friend. We smile when people surprise us with a gift. We smile when we get a raise at work or that promotion we wanted. Mom and Dad smile when their son or daughter comes home from school. These are just a few of the things that bring a smile to our lips. 
Can you imagine how the followers of Jesus must have felt when they first saw Jesus and realized that he was alive? They must have been grinning from ear to ear. Tears of joy streamed down their faith. Gladness filled their hearts. Excitedly they went to tell others the good news. "Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed!"
During the Lenten season our focus is on the cross. We are reminded of how much Jesus suffered on our behalf. We are reminded that it was our sins for which Jesus died. We heard again how he endured the wrath of his Father and the pain and torment of hell in our place. Sorrow fills our heart when we hear these things and know we are to blame.
But you and I know that not long after Good Friday, Sunday came. Not just any Sunday -Easter Sunday! It's the day our precious Lord rose from the dead. It's the day he proved to all that the sacrifice for sin was complete, the payment had been made, and the salvation of the world secured. It is also the day that assures our resurrection from the dead for Jesus promised, "Because I live, you will live also!” On Judgment Day, when Jesus calls all the dead from the grave, those who are alive on earth will say, “Look, he’s moving!” Now, that should put a smile on your lips. For the believer the grave is simply the door to eternal life. Jesus rose and on the Judgment Day we will too. We will rise to join our Savior in glory forever. Thank you, Jesus!
A blessed and happy Easter to you all!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

YORK TOWN CRIER ARTICLE

Written by Pastor Stuppy

February 18, 2015






What do you see when you look at a cross?


If you were to walk into any Christian book store or look into any display case at a jewelry store, the one symbol that you will find every where is the cross. We display crosses on the walls of our homes, our lapels, on jewelry, and on the steeples of the church. They can be found in cemeteries, on car bumpers, on necklaces, just about everywhere.

A non-Christian coming into the United States from a non-Christian country might wonder why there are so many crosses. After all, crosses are instruments of death. In fact, it was one of the cruelest forms of punishment devised by man until many years after the birth of Christ. I've read that the cross was first used as a means of punishment by the Phoenicians and later adopted by the Romans to put to death slaves and the most hardened of criminals.

Death by crucifixion was a slow and cruel way to die. Death by crucifixion was an agonizing process. For in spite of the indescribable pain caused by the wounds and by the unnatural strains and tensions placed on the body - the heart, brain, lungs, and vital organs remained undamaged – at least for awhile. Sometimes death was delayed by as much as 4 days. How awful such a death must have been.

And yet, this cruel instrument of death, is found everywhere we go. It is boldly displayed before all. And yet it when we look at a cross our first reaction is not to be repulsed. We don’t see it as something repulsive. We see at as a symbol of victory.

During the Lenten season which begins on Ash Wednesday, our thoughts are directed to the cross. As believers gather to worship their thoughts turn to the pain and suffering that our Lord and Savior endured for us. The cross serves as a vivid reminder of what our Lord went through for us.

But the agony of the cross was only part of our Lord's suffering. The cross stands as a symbol of the agony Jesus went through as he endured the pain and torments of hell, as he faced the wrath of his Father. This he went through in our place. He was punished in our place. And all of this culminated on the cross.

But the cross stands for something else as well. We see it not only as an instrument of death but of life. For through Jesus' suffering and death, we received the gift of life. The enemies of Jesus, Satan included, may have thought that the cross would bring Jesus' plans to an end later learned that it brought them to fruition.

So we view the cross and the Lenten season with mixed emotions. We see the tragic results of our sins, the pain and suffering of our Lord. But we also see in it the path Jesus took to win the victory over sin, death and the devil.

Take time this Lenten season to review, in God's Word, what Jesus did for you. Come to his house for worship and prepare for the glorious Festival of the Resurrection!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

YORK TOWN CRIER ARTICLE

Written by Pastor Stuppy

February 11, 2012






Love is at the heart of Valentine’s Day and our life as a child of God.


"Will you be my valentine?" That's the question everyone is asking each other this Valentine's Day. Tradition has turned this day into a day for sweethearts. It's an opportunity for a young shy boy to let some girl know that he has a crush on her. It's a day for those dating to express their fondness for each other. Husbands may find themselves in deep trouble if they forget to do something for their wife on this special day and vice versa.

It's nice to express our love for each other. Husbands and wives may go days, weeks, or even months on end without expressing their love for one another. Friends may simply take their friendship for granted. They never let their friend know how much their friendship really means.

Telling someone that we love them, that we value their friendship is something that should be a regular part of our life. How much better off we would be if we regularly told others how much we cared for them. Wouldn't marriages be much healthier if spouses expressed their love every day? If candy, flowers, or cards were not given simply on anniversaries, birthdays, or on Valentine's Day?

We need to have more love for one another. After all, isn't that one of the marks of a child of God? Read the epistles of John. Read the Lord's words in the gospels and over and over again you will find the call to show love to everyone, even our enemies. Take note that the love of romance or friendship is not the type of love God calls for in his followers. It is a special love, divine love, love that comes from God and dwells in the hearts of those who believe in him. "God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him shall have eternal life" (John 3:16). That’s the kind of love God is talking about. That’s the kind of love God wants you to show to those around you.

Is that how you feel? Is that what you do? Look into your heart, deep inside, and explore your feelings. Think about the people around you. Do you love them or simply put up with them? Do you love all people, like Jesus asks, or are you selective? Do you find reasons or excuses for withholding your love from some?

Like his Father, Jesus showed us what our love is to be like. We see his love in the tears he shed for those who rejected him as he wept over the city of Jerusalem. We see his love as he reached out to Judas and sought to rescue him before it was too late. We see his love for the world as he laid down his life on the cross.

Unconditional love - that's what Jesus showed us. It is love that has no strings attached. His love reaches out to you and me in spite of what we have done, thought, or said. He loves us even though we are sinners through and through. How can that be? I don't know. All I know is that he does. He loves because that is his nature. "God is love."

Let this Valentine's Day be a reminder of God's call to love all people just as he loves each one of us.

Friday, January 23, 2015

 
Written by Pastor Stuppy

January 14, 2015
The State of the Union


It will only be a short time now. On Tuesday, January 20th, President Obama will deliver this year’s State of the Union address. This speech usually does three things. It looks at what has been accomplished during the last year. It reports on where we are as a nation. Third, it lays out an agenda on what the administration and President would like to do in the year ahead.

I am sure that the President will report on the many accomplishments of his administration. He will likely refer to the creation of new jobs, the drop in the unemployment rate, the improving economy, low inflation, etc. The President will also, I'm sure, say that much more needs to be done. Here he may point to, education, the infrastructure needs, and immigration reform. With recent events that have taken place in France and Iraq, with nuclear threats coming from Iran, political tensions in the Middle East, many serious concerns face our nation and the world.

As a citizen, I have an interest in and concerns about all these political issues and more. Anyone who cares about the country will want to be informed on these issues and do what they can to address them.

The issue that won’t be raised and yet is the most important is the spiritual state of our nation. I wouldn’t expect the President to address this. This is not his job. This belongs to the church and to those who make it up. Only God can give faith, make it grow and become stronger. Only God can give us the desire to do that which is right and pleasing to him. God tells us this in Philippians 2:13, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

The spiritual ‘State of the Union’ is in much need of improvement. Now, I believe that could be said any and every year. But who can make a case that things are getting better spiritually. Church attendance is down. How seldom do people talk about what the Good Book says. Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings are filled with sports practices, games, and other activities.

Morality is a subject that is taboo lest one be charged with intolerance of others. Yet is morality that brings blessing to a nation. We read this in Proverbs 14:34 (NIV) –"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people."

What we dare not overlook is that a nation is made up of people, of individuals. Spiritual renewal begins in the heart. It is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. It takes place one person at a time.

To just sit back and complain how terrible things are makes us no better than the self righteous Pharisee who pats himself on the back as he prays to God. Our job politically is to get involved, to vote, to connect our representatives. Our job spiritually is to make faithful use of God’s Word. Our job is to share that Word with others. Only then can the Holy Spirit do his part. Only then will God’s blessing rest on our nation.
 
 
Written by Pastor Stuppy

February 8, 2012




Don’t Believe a Word He Says! He’s lying!



How do we know when someone is telling the truth? If we only knew that for sure! In a trial a person can enter the witness stand, place his hand on a Bible, and vow "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God" - then turn around and lie through his teeth.

A husband or wife may be having an illicit affair and, when confronted, look their spouse straight in the eye and deny the whole thing. How do we know when someone is telling the truth? For many people, sad to say, lying is second nature. It is something that comes easily. There are some who can lie with such ease that even a lie detector can be fooled.

All such liars are rank amateurs compared to the "father of lies." Satan has the art of lying down to a science. Satan is a fallen angel. In a futile attempt he hoped to overthrow God. The Bible tells us as punishment, the Devil and his allies were thrown into hell for all eternity. His goal is to control as many souls as possible by leading them into sin and unbelief, thus taking them away from God. I guess the saying, "Misery loves company." fits no place better than here.

We might add that if Jesus hadn't been successful in resisting the temptations of the devil, in living a sinless life and then suffering and dying in our place, Satan would have gotten his wish. Without the Savior, we would all be in our sin and condemned to hell.

But, the victory of Jesus' work at Calvary hasn't kept Satan from taking countless souls to hell. It still doesn’t stop Satan from seeking to lead astray as many as he can. His plan of attack is basically the same today as it has been from the beginning.

He wants us to believe that God is a liar. His message is that we should not listen to a thing God says. The devil tells us that money is what brings true and lasting happiness. That's a lie. The devil tells us that sex before and outside of a marriage relationship is fine. That's a lie. The devil tells us that it doesn't matter which god we worship so long as we are sincere. That's a lie. The devil says that it’s alright to get drunk, take drugs, practice homosexuality, divorce your spouse for any reason you want, to abort a child for any reason whatever. These are lies.

Satan has convinced many people that what he is saying is the truth. He has gained many converts, even among Christians. He has succeeded, as he did in the Garden of Eden, in casting doubt upon the reliability of God's Word. He wants us to believe that God is a liar and not telling us the truth.

The truth of the matter is that the Devil is the one who is lying. God says of the Devil "...there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) If you want the truth, listen to God. Jesus says, "If you continue in my word, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.(Rom. 8:31-32)" Use God's Word. Keep it in your heart. Then you will know whose telling the truth and who is not.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Written by Pastor Stuppy

January 14, 2015
The State of the Union


It will only be a short time now. On Tuesday, January 20th, President Obama will deliver this year’s State of the Union address. This speech usually does three things. It looks at what has been accomplished during the last year. It reports on where we are as a nation. Third, it lays out an agenda on what the administration and President would like to do in the year ahead.

I am sure that the President will report on the many accomplishments of his administration. He will likely refer to the creation of new jobs, the drop in the unemployment rate, the improving economy, low inflation, etc. The President will also, I'm sure, say that much more needs to be done. Here he may point to, education, the infrastructure needs, and immigration reform. With recent events that have taken place in France and Iraq, with nuclear threats coming from Iran, political tensions in the Middle East, many serious concerns face our nation and the world.

As a citizen, I have an interest in and concerns about all these political issues and more. Anyone who cares about the country will want to be informed on these issues and do what they can to address them.

The issue that won’t be raised and yet is the most important is the spiritual state of our nation. I wouldn’t expect the President to address this. This is not his job. This belongs to the church and to those who make it up. Only God can give faith, make it grow and become stronger. Only God can give us the desire to do that which is right and pleasing to him. God tells us this in Philippians 2:13, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

The spiritual ‘State of the Union’ is in much need of improvement. Now, I believe that could be said any and every year. But who can make a case that things are getting better spiritually. Church attendance is down. How seldom do people talk about what the Good Book says. Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings are filled with sports practices, games, and other activities.

Morality is a subject that is taboo lest one be charged with intolerance of others. Yet is morality that brings blessing to a nation. We read this in Proverbs 14:34 (NIV) –"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people."

What we dare not overlook is that a nation is made up of people, of individuals. Spiritual renewal begins in the heart. It is worked in us by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. It takes place one person at a time.

To just sit back and complain how terrible things are makes us no better than the self righteous Pharisee who pats himself on the back as he prays to God. Our job politically is to get involved, to vote, to connect our representatives. Our job spiritually is to make faithful use of God’s Word. Our job is to share that Word with others. Only then can the Holy Spirit do his part. Only then will God’s blessing rest on our nation.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

 

Written by Pastor Stuppy

January 7, 2015
Want assurances do we have that we will have a happy new year?

Now that New Year’s Eve has come and gone once again, what will the days ahead have in store for you? I am sure that we have plans and goals. Maybe, we’re hoping to buy a new car. A promotion? A raise in our pay? A new job? Is the arrival of a new child a possibility? An addition to the house? A trip to the Super Bowl by the Dallas Cowboys? We all have things we would like to see happen in the New Year? Some of them may take place and some not.


But, what happens when things don’t go as well as we hoped? What if the new year is filled with trials and troubles? What if God’s plans for us may include adversity, loss and grief? This new year, we may lose someone we love. Our health may decline. We may be diagnosed with cancer, altsheimers, or some other disease. Our unwed son may father a child or our daughter become pregnant before marriage. We may get laid off from work or be involved in an accident that leaves us paralyzed or disabled. Some of these events or those like them may also be in our future. In fact, we can be sure of it.

How are we to face such trials and unpleasant times? Do we simply take the good with the bad? Do we grin and bear it since there is little or nothing we can do about it? Must we simply make the best of a bad situation? None of the above.

For the child of God, the future is always good. God has promised that there is nothing and no one that can separate us from his love for us in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:33-39). He has promised to give his angels charge over us to keep any harm from coming our way (Psalm 91:11). He has promised to always be with us and never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to answer all our prayers (Matthew 21:22). He has promised to turn every misfortune, trouble, and adversity we face in life into a blessing (Romans 8:28).

And, more importantly, when we leave this life, God has promised that the death and the grave cannot hold us (I Corinthians 15:55-56). He has promised that our sins will not condemn us (Romans 8:1), that we shall have eternal life (John 3:16).

What a way to start the New Year! What a way to start each day! What more could we ask from God than what he has promised to us. Namely, to bless us in every way. To give us good things to enjoy and to turn our so-called "troubles" into blessings.

With these assurances from God you can be certain that you will have a happy and a blessed New Year. You have God’s Word on it.

Written by Pastor Stuppy

December 30 2014

May the peace of Christ be yours in the New Year and forever!

Certainly one of the most beautiful words in the English language is the word "peace." Just the sound of the word brings comfort to the heart. The thought of peace is something many want more than anything else.

Peace is a word that is applied to many different things. To the person in pain, peace means relief. To a nation embroiled in war, peace means a stop to the fighting. To the aged and the ill peace may be finding rest in the grave. Peace means many things to many different people.

To find out what true peace is we need to go to one who is an authority on the matter. We go to Jesus. In Isaiah 9:6, the sacred writer calls him the "Prince of Peace." That is because only Jesus can bring real peace to our hearts. Without Jesus, such peace cannot be obtained.

One’s first thought when we hear the word peace is most likely war torn areas like Iraq and Israel. It seems like this area of the world has always been plagued with conflicts of one kind or another. Jesus said that until the end there will always be wars and rumors of wars. One conflict may end but others will begin.

What’s true in the world, however, is also true in our own lives. Peace, inner peace, is impossible to come by. Husbands and wives may get along for awhile but conflict is never far away. The potential for strife between parent and child is never gone either. Struggles at work, difficult decisions we must make, personal trials and problems, all seek to rob us of the peace. Even though we want it so desperately, peace, real peace, escapes us.

That’s what happens when we are looking for the wrong kind of peace and seeking to find it in the wrong place. The peace we need, real, lasting peace can only come from Jesus. As sinners, our conscience won’t let us rest. It reminds us over and over that we have sinned. We can find no peace. We are reminded that sooner or later we must stand before God on Judgment Day. Again, we can find no peace. That’s where Jesus comes in.

If you want peace, go to the Prince of Peace, to Jesus. That is why Jesus, the Christ-child, came into the world. Your Savior and mine! Rejoice! The King, the Savior, the Prince of Peace came for you and me!

There is a lot a talk about peace in the world around Christmas time and the New Year. Yet, there is no real and lasting peace without Christ. If you want real peace, look to Jesus, the Christ-child as your Lord and Savior. May this peace be yours now, in the year ahead, and forever!


 
 
 
Written by Pastor Stuppy

December 17, 2014




May the joy and happiness of Christmas be yours!




A five year old girl went out shopping with her grandfather. They had traveled to a Christmas tree farm to cut a live tree for their home. Over and over the little girl told Grandpa that she was going to pick out the perfect tree. After they arrived, Grandpa with his experienced eye led his granddaughter to some great looking trees. Once they were inspected, however, the young girl would say, "Not that one. It’s not perfect." After several hours of searching, Grandpa began to grow tired and a little impatient. He finally told her that they had to pick one out even if it is not the perfect tree. She agreed and then remarked. "Maybe we’ll find a tree with lights on it next year." This little girl had her idea of what the perfect Christmas tree should be like. It was one with lights on it. Something less than that meant disappointment.

Lots of people approach their Christmas celebration like that. They have their idea of what the perfect Christmas should be like and anything short of that leaves them disappointed. For many getting the perfect gift, having all the kids home Christmas Eve, having the yard and house decorated to the max are essential to having a really great Christmas.

No wonder so many are depressed around Christmas time – their expectations for the holidays have not been met. They have no job and have no money for paying the bills let alone buying gifts. They are in the hospital recovering from surgery. Their spouse is deployed. There will be an empty chair at the dinner table this year because Dad past away. You fill in the blank.

Isn’t that the way most of us approach our lives? We’re happy and joyous only when our lives are perfect. When our job goes well, when we feel good, when the kids are doing well in school, then life is good. When these expectations are not meant, joy and happiness flies out the window. How can someone be happy who comes back from war without a limb? How can parents not feel anything but despair when their five year old dies from cancer? What reason is there to smile when we are spending our first Christmas alone since our spouse ran off with the secretary? We’ve lost our job, our health, a loved one. Don’t all these things make it impossible to find joy and happiness especially at Christmas time?

They do if our lives are not centered on the Lord. Knowing Jesus, knowing his love and forgiveness turns things around. When we know that he will turn every trial into a blessing, the loss of our job or a loved one, while difficult to endure, can be seen as something good. God’s primary concern is not how many gifts we have under the tree or how much money we have in the bank or how big our house is. His concern is our soul.

We have every reason to rejoice when we believe that the baby born in Bethlehem is our Savior. We have every reason to be happy when we know the peace that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven through Christ. We have every reason to look to the future with hope because God is watching over us and has promised us eternal life with all its blessings.

Our lives may not be easy. In fact, they may be down-right difficult at times. Yet our Christmas joy cannot be taken from us if it is focused on Jesus our Savior. It is joy we will have every day of our life; a joy nothing can take from us. Joy to the world! The Lord is Come!