The Christmas season is an excellent time of year to examine our hearts. Too often, even for the born again believer, there is a drifting and stagnation that occurs within our souls. Maybe joy to the world has been replaced with an attempt to find “joy” from the world. For others, the trials of this sinful planet have shaken the earth beneath their feet, causing a loss of God’s true peace.

The path on this side of eternity is neither smooth nor comfortable. For many, it is filled with more valleys than peeks and over time those valleys may eclipse the light of Christ. The weary soul may be tempted to turn inward instead of upward for its consolation. Complacency and self-preservation may set in in an effort to keep from traversing more of this world’s rugged paths.

Sadly, while attempting to keep from engaging in difficulties, we are actually robbing our Lord from the very work He seeks to do. (1 Peter 1:6-9) It’s the flesh that longs for this present darkness. It longs for worldly pleasure and comfort and often, if not filled daily with God’s Word, we heed the beckoning cries of the old man instead of the clarion call of our precious Savior. And over time the ways of God can be ever so slowly replaced with the things of this temporal sphere.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” isn’t simply a cute call from a mystical figure clothed in scarlet. It’s really more of a reminder that the world is beckoning, pressing in, ever desirous to “bless” mankind with the temporal trinkets that can only offer, at best, distraction and momentary satisfaction.

Instead of “Ho! Ho! Ho!”, let us consider true faith, hope, and love.

FAITH– The Lord often reminds the born again believer to be sanctified by His Word, to daily take up our cross, denying ourselves, and following Jesus. (John 17:17, Matthew 16:24) He teaches us to carefully examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to diligently keep in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Only then can the mettle of our faith be tested and trusted. The house on the rock stands firm! True faith becomes substantive as we reject the often not so subtle attempts of the world to entice our focus away from Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Lord reminds us in Hebrews 12, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:1-2.

HOPEWherever faith resides is where hope is derived. Biblical hope is not wishing upon a star, hoping that we can somehow manipulate the Creator of the universe to give us what we want. True hope is rooted and ground in the absolute assurance of God’s faithfulness and the reliability and sufficiency of His Word. As the hymn goes, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” God’s Word is true from the beginning and forever settled in Heaven. The world’s promises and treasures have nothing on this. We will be constantly distracted, disappointed, and disgusted if we seek to place our hope in mankind and this world’s ungodly economy of life. And it seems that most recognize it, yet many are simply unwilling to acknowledge the truth.

True hope is a continual theme throughout God’s Word.

“[The Lord] delights not in the strength of the horse: He takes not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy” Psalm 147:10-11.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” Romans 15:13.

“For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Galatians 5:5

Not only does God fill us with steadfast hope (assurance), He, Himself, is our hope. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability [permanence] of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which enters into that within the veil; where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus…” Hebrews 6:17-20. Jesus doesn’t merely provide eternal hope. He is our eternal hope!

LOVE– It’s easy to let our love grow cold. Even the Ephesians were indicted by Jesus for this and it’s no small matter. It really is the heart of everything. The world constantly barrages us, all with one simple goal, to draw our hearts away from Jesus and His Word. The enemy is smart. He knows he doesn’t have to turn away all our love in one fail swoop. A little pull here and a slight tug there will do. He knows that’s all it takes. Over time even a small compromise has the potential to compound and left unchecked, we’ll eventually find ourselves 180 degrees from eternity. That’s why the Ephesians were commanded to repent and return quickly to their first love. (Revelation 2:1-5). True love is the key! That’s why Jesus said the entire law and prophets hang on two laws- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as you already love yourself. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30)

Contrary to the world, the Christian’s love is neither self-induced nor self-centered. It flows from the God who first loved us; the God who is love! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! Amazing love, how can it be that You, my King, would die for me!

All that the world offers, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life might be alluring, especially during a season filled to overflowing with nostalgia and commercialism, yet it cannot begin to hold a flame to the brilliance and splendor of our King!

Whether our hearts have grown cold through trials, persecutions, or the pleasures of this world, let us repent from heeding this world’s beckoning to preserve the flesh and all its ornaments. Instead, let us make way for the real King. May we fill our hearts and minds with the true faith, steadfast hope, and everlasting love of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Only then will we be able to joyfully join in the angel chorus, praising God and giving Him all the glory. While we’re on this sullied soil, we can know assuredly that true and eternal peace only comes though Jesus Christ, the true light of the world!

Merry CHRISTmas!

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and [the shepherds] were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” Luke 2:9-14.

“Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” 1 Peter 1:6-9.

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