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Lately, we have all felt lonely. The isolation orders around the globe have created a distance unnatural to humanity. With the surge of COVID-19, depression, fear, and sickness have surged, as well. Many have expressed a lack of “the Christmas Spirit.”

However, it got me thinking: What is “the Christmas Spirit?” Is it possible to redeem this crazy Christmas and tap into the Christmas God always intended it to be?

God never intended Christmas to be about the presents, gifts, and gatherings, though we love these very much. God summarized the entire meaning of Christmas in one word.

Immanuel.

Which means “God is with us.”

Christmas is a time when we are to remember that God is with us, no matter what.

Let’s take a look at the Christmas story once again. In it, we can find five places where God can be found this Christmas.

1. God Is With Us in the Unexpected

Luke 1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

What is the very first thing the angel says to Mary? “The Lord is with you!”

Why would that be the first thing he says?

Because it was the first thing she needed to hear. This truth will become the foundation that will carry her through some extreme circumstances.

This angel declared that God was with Mary even before delivering the message of what Mary was about to do.

We must first know God is with us before knowing what He wants us to do.

Mary is about to get blindsided. Her life is about to change forever. This next season will challenge her and scare her, and there will be a time when it may not even look like God’s work at all.

More than anything else, she will have to rely on one truth: GOD IS WITH ME!

If we are not secure in this one belief, when God releases his promises, we may think God is against us!

I have discovered a spiritual law that is as true as gravity: The Devil is a jerk.

He always tries to attack and steal the promises of God in our life. If we are not careful, we will start to believe the hardship coming against us is from God. We might even believe hardships happen because God isn’t with us.

God expects the unexpected. He knew this COVID mess would happen. He knew the world would be in turmoil.

Those who believe God is only with us when times are good will think that this whole year results from God’s judgment and anger against us!

We must stand on this foundational truth: “God is with us and for us.” Even when we get blindsided.

But God says, “No! I am with you in and through the unexpected hardships!”

2. God Is With Us in the Confusion

29 But [Mary] was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel tells her that she is expecting a child. “Are you pregnant, Mary? No? You are now!”

Mary is so human — I love it. She doesn’t give a holy answer to this revelation. Her first reaction is, “Wait, what?”

When has something happened in your life when you felt completely confused like Mary: “God! How can this happen?”

I had a best friend pass away when I was in junior high, and for years I lived with this question: “How could God let that happen?”

Let’s see the answer to Mary’s confusion (and our own).

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. …37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Does the angel perfectly answer Mary’s question? Does he explain the science, the practicals, and the miracle?

No. His answer is, “The Holy Spirit will come. He overshadows and surrounds you.”

The explanation given for her confusion: “The Holy Spirit will come to be with you. Don’t worry. With God, it is possible.”

What she needed for her confusion was not an explanation as to why or how. She needed to know that God would be there through each step. That with Him, it would be possible.

This is what we need to know, as well.

It is ok to be confused, even afraid. Even then, God is with you, and that is what we must focus on even more than finding answers.

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3. God Is With Us in Our Brokenness

Mary wakes up the next day and tells her fiancee Joseph that she is now expecting a child.

If you were about to marry, and your fiancee suddenly came to you claiming they were carrying someone else’s child, how would you feel?

I would feel heartbroken. Hurt. Betrayed. (Read how to heal a broken Christmas).

Then they tell you that it was God? Ouch.

This is probably how Joseph felt. The Bible tells us that he even planned to call off the wedding. Who wouldn’t be broken-hearted if they had to cancel their wedding?

Right before he does, though, he has a dream. God comes to Joseph and says Matthew 1:20:

…Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” (which means, God with us).

There it is again! The answer to Joseph’s pain was “God with us.”

This situation was crushing Joseph’s heart. What did he need to know? He needed to know that God was there. He was in it, and God was with him!

Many of us are in pain right now. Pain from isolation. Pain from fear. Pain from depression. Pain from tension at home, work, or friends.

What we need right now are not answers. What we need to know is that God is still with us, even in the pain.

4. God Is With Us in Uncertain Times

Months go by. I imagine, like normal parents, Mary and Joseph are preparing for the baby.

They pick out clothes, decide where he will be born, where he will grow up, who will be in the room during labor. What would you do before your baby was to be born?

Dad is a carpenter, so he is probably making a beautiful crib.

But then, another curveball.

Luke 2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

The government issues a go-and-stay-at-home order. They command everyone to each go to their hometowns. When?  The same week as birth.

Of course, it is. It would be. At nine months pregnant, Mary has to go multiple days walking or camel riding.

No, they don’t know where they can stay. No, they don’t know where the baby will be born. It could be on the highway or in the ghetto.

Comfort and plans go out the window.

We are in uncertain times. It seems like just when we figure out a new normal, the government issues another new law, and changes everything again.

We don’t know if promises for a vaccine will come soon. We don’t know when businesses will open, and if they do for how long. We don’t know when our children will be allowed to go to school or how it will affect our jobs.

I won’t go into detail about how to react, you can read that here. But, these uncertain moments are when it is the most critical to stop ourselves and remember that God is still with us.

5. God Is With Us in Redemption

Luke 2: 6-7 When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. After wrapping the newborn baby in strips of cloth they laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village. 

Bethlehem means “The House of Bread,” Jesus would later be called “The Bread of Life.”

In the House of Bread, the Bread of Life is placed inside a feeding trough. A place to come and eat.

Dueteronomy 8:3b …Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Shepherds then come running in, claiming angels appeared, claiming that the world’s savior was born!

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.

What were “all these things” that Mary treasured? All the events that were happening.

All of these unexpected, confusing, broken, uncertain events became treasures on the other side of the promise.

Tragedies can turn to treasures when you know God is with you.

Mary and Joseph unknowingly fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies. Not because they knew what to do or tried to make it happen. All they could do was rely on the first word Mary ever got: “God is with you.”

The first Christmas did not go as she imagined. This Christmas season has not gone how we imagined.

But this perfect birth of the perfect Savior would forever explain the true meaning of “the Spirit of Christmas.”

This year, let’s not worry about the gatherings, food, presents, or lights. Let’s not let our hearts be disappointed. Let’s focus on the one truth that will hold us through it all.

Immanuel.

What are some ways you are going to tap into the “Christmas Spirit” this year?

Comment and let us know below!

Taylor Jensen

Author Taylor Jensen

Ignite the Fire of Your Faith

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