By Iverna Tompkins
As transcribed by Jane Vaughn
December is such a wonderful time of year! It’s also a very important time and one that causes the whole world to have to sit up and take some notice of the God-man, Jesus. That may answer for you why so much – I’ll just say, “stuff” – has been happening – to you and in your home. The enemy does not like it when Jesus captures the focus of a few, let alone so many multitudes, and he is very active meddling in lives. That’s why the Pastor said, “No matter what has been happening, we can praise the Lord” – because he experiences that kind of victory.
I think the enemy is fearful during this season of the year, the time we acknowledge and recognize the birth of Christ. It’s not that Jesus was actually born in December. Who cares what the exact date was? It just isn't that important. But this is the time we set aside to recognize the actual birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God, who was prophesied to come and He came! (Is.7:14; Lk.1). It’s that time on our calendars for us to remember and celebrate!
It’s also time for us Christians to recognize that it’s not about the pretty trees and all those other things we enjoy and that make everything so festive. Now, if you’re so legalistic you can’t have a Christmas tree – I’m so sorry for you :-) because God made the material for the false trees – we simply copy what He created so beautifully in the natural. And He gave man the ability to put it altogether for our pleasure. I just feel sorry for people that are Christians and still are serving the Law. That’s just a very heavy way to live.
Have I read the articles about how they used trees and decorated them to worship the foreign gods? Oh, absolutely I’ve read them – and burned them – because I have no false gods. So – I put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with all the decorations that I own. I put up signs and nativity figures as well. I LOVE this time of year! :-) Good for you as you find your liberty is in the Lord! (cf. Gal.5:1).
One of the things I fully enjoy at this time is the lights. We put up lights – lights – lights! Everywhere we can! In fact, I don’t even have to turn on a lamp in my den anymore, because everything is so bright! :-) Well, that’s as it should be! And the reason it is “as it should be” – even though people in the world do not recognize why they decorate at Christmas time with lights – but we know that Jesus said: “Ye – are – the light of the world” (Mt.5:14). And so, we put lights on our house and all over the trees and so forth, and we recognize it as a beacon shining out there for the neighborhood. We display the Light.
Christians ought to walk through the Malls these days – instead of pulling out our credit cards and being sorry in January :-) – we need to walk through the malls and simply enjoy it! Enjoy the brightness! And realize that one day, we, as God’s jewels, are going to light up the whole earth! Absolutely! And when you walk into a store, you ought to have a big friendly smile on your face. :-) Then when the clerks are harassed and busy and – crabby, growling: “next!” :-) you should just step up there and say, “I made it to the front of the line! It’s good to see you! How are you? Are you doing okay today?” Just create a little joy in people’s lives. Watch their faces lighten up when you bring your light!
I want us to read a passage from the Bible now – a very short piece of Scripture. And you’ll think then I’m going to quit, but I’m not, because later, we’re going to read a very long passage. :-) First, however, I want to set the stage for declaring the greeting: “Merry Christmas!” Will you read with me, Luke, chapter 1, beginning at verse 26? I’m going to read from the Weymouth translation – which is very similar to the King James – or whatever one you have (text in italics below).
“Now, in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth.” I’m going to make four points that I hope will stick with you.
This opening sentence is interesting to me because of what it tells me: First, God knows exactly where we are. He knows what you’re going through. He knows the situation at work, the situations at home, the situation in your health, and all the other troublesome situations in your life. He knows where you are. And when He wants to say something to you, He can find you! Isn’t that good?
You don’t have to worry about whether you are going to hear from God or not. You are going to hear when He gets ready to say something. And you had better hope that you’re in a position that what He says will be a delight to you. :-) Church in the back, did you get that? :-)
Remember in the Garden when the Lord said, “Adam! Where are you?” (Gen.3:9) Yes or no – do you remember that? How many of you think God didn’t really know where they were? :-) Why then, would He call: “Adam, where are you?” I believe it’s because He wanted Adam to recognize where he was. Oh, Selah.
Sometimes the Lord just says to you, “Where are you?” And our response, so sadly, pathetically is: “Well… I’m just sort of… down. I’m this – I’m that…” And God says, “I thought so!” :-) because He already knew that.
“Adam, you’re hiding from Me. Where are you?” The pitiful response is almost whined. “Well, ummm, we were naked and didn’t want to have our usual walk with You. Things just aren’t the same any more, God. And, well, just – leave me alone, please. I’m not worthy to walk with You.”
Have you ever been there? “Oh God, I’m not even going to ask You for a blessing. I’m just a… I’m not good.” You see it, don’t you? God knows where you are and you are never a shock to God! When you sin, He doesn’t lament and exclaim, “Oh! I didn’t know they’d do that!” :-) What He wants is for us to be able to say, “I have sinned Lord, cleanse me.” (1Jn.1:9) and then get on with our walk with Him (1Jn.1:7; Is.2:5; Rom.6:4; 8:1; 2Cor.5:7; Eph.4:1,17; Col.1:10; 1Th.2:12; 4:1; 1Jn.2:6).
Now, in the sixth month the Scripture says, He goes exactly, precisely, to the place where He is going to speak. “To a maiden betrothed to a man by the name of Joseph, a descendant of David” (Lk.1:27). In other words, God says that the prophetic word that the Messiah would come through the lineage of David is going to happen – here and now – just like the scripture said it would. That is what this is all about. “The maiden’s name was Mary” (vs.27b).
He not only knows where you are, darling, but He knows who you are. You can fool me – I’m easily fooled. You can give me a false name. Judy over here could introduce herself to me for the first time and say, “Hello, my name is Denise.” I wouldn’t know any different. And we do the same thing without it being our name – when we sometimes represent ourselves as being something we are not. Hello? I mean, we can put on a “church face.”
When it is useful, we put on a church face and we even speak a “church language.” That is, we speak differently in our church environment than we do at home. There we might be cross with the children or upset with one another – in the house – at times. Well, maybe only one or two of you are that way. :-) But then on that same morning, we head out for the church service, step inside the church building and say so nicely to everyone we see, “How are you? God bless you! It’s so good to see you.” Church faces.
I watch it happen every single service right here – in this church. What I observe is that we walk in, sit alone or with our same friends – often in exactly the same place week after week. We’re not interested in anyone else – until the leader says, “Now, turn around and tell five people that you love them.” Then suddenly, we’re all declaring: “I love you! Love you! And you! And you! And you too!” (Is that five?) :-) And we become totally different people from the way we came in just moments before this one. But, hear me, the Lord doesn’t buy into those facades. He also doesn’t believe it when we sing to Him – if it isn’t true! Hello.
In fact, as much as we enjoy the singing together – and we do! You do, don’t you? :-) Well, I enjoy that time – most of the songs (well, some of them… :-)). But, we do enjoy that time of musical worship. It’s wonderful – the corporate anointing for worship is simply wonderful. We sing, “I love You, Lord. I just came to tell You that I love You – more than anything!” When we sing that together and I hear the voices, my whole spirit leaps like Mary’s must have in the presence of the heavenly messenger. It’s thrilling! Do you understand that? Don’t you feel that way? When we come together singing, offering to Him that united voice: “And I love You, more than anything.” Powerful. It’s truly a powerful experience.
But, let me tell you how the Lord listens to it. He knows the truth in each heart of those singing: “That’s true. That’s not true. That’s true. That’s not true. Are they listening to these words? The words are great – but I’m after their hearts.” That’s what it’s all about when the Scripture says, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup… worthily…” (1Cor.11:27-29).
We have to do the same thing in praise and worship! Our hearts must be pure before Him. And if you are in need of it, you can become cleansed – instantly. You can come to Him simply and honestly in any given moment and say, “Lord, I ask Your forgiveness for… I’m so sorry, I put other things before You.” Then when you sing: “I love You, more than anything…” He’ll say, “Oh, that is true!” I pray this is making sense to you.
The words of the songs we sing – I love them! – even when I don’t know the melody or can’t keep up with the beat. I do love those words – because they express, honestly and truly, a reality of what’s inside me – from the inside out. We sing a chorus that goes something like that: “from the inside out…” I don’t really know the song or the lyrics, but I sing along with it every time. :-) And – I mean it! I agree with the words from deep within my heart! Because I want cleansing from the inside out – and I – love Him! – from the inside out! Are you there with me?
So, don’t you sit there and think complaining thoughts: “I don’t know that song – so I’m not going to participate.” Don’t do that – because He is marking it down. Listen, He’s saying to you, “I miss your voice! The choir is incomplete without you! I want the praises of all My people – to resound from – Truth!” He knows who you are.
Here’s Mary so innocently at home – “So Gabriel went into the house and said to her…” Wait a minute. How would you feel if that happened to you? Be honest, now. You’re just sitting there – and all of a sudden there’s the angel: "Joy be to you, O favored one! The Lord is with you." I dare to say that at least half of us do not believe that statement as the truth – that we are actually favored by the Lord. Oh – we sense His Presence – sometimes – particularly when we’re gathered together in worship. But when things go awry (well, that’s an antiquated word, isn’t it? :-)). When things aren’t so good – when there’s a shadow over your life – and when God didn’t do what you told Him to do – in Jesus’ name, of course. :-) I think you know what I’m saying.
When it’s a very difficult time for you and someone says, “Aw, come on, the Lord is with you. He really loves you.” Have you ever replied: “Oh, yeah, well if He is with me, how come this…?” I don’t really feel so guilty about that attitude, sometimes, because I read it in the good Book – that others have felt the same way.
Remember? Gideon said, “Lord – if the Lord is with me, where are all the miracles?” That’s in Judges, chapter 6 – you read it. Gideon just dared to say it aloud to the Lord. And many times, David in the psalms cries out something so similar to that. But negative situations in our lives do not change the fact that the Lord – is – with us.
Go to Part 2