Hopefully, you were able to see the “Christmas star” on Dec. 21, the longest night of the year. Even if you didn’t, I hope you had a nice Christmas with your family. I think every family experienced some non-traditional elements, but maybe you will turn those into new traditions. During the Christmas season we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We read in Matthew 1:18-24 that he was born of a virgin, Mary, who became pregnant through the Holy Spirit. His earthly father, Joseph, protected her through the pregnancy and when He was born they called His name Immanuel, which means God with us. Have you ever noticed that as you read on to Matthew 2, the first phrase is, “After Jesus was born…” It is not known as to whether Jesus was born in what we call December or even at the end of the calendar year, but this year with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, we see some alignment. As you read on, we will see what advice Scripture has for us after Christmas - in the new year.
Seek Jesus “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matt 2:2) We don’t know much about the identities of the Magi. Some speculate they were magicians, some say they were astrologers, others say they were kings. We don’t know how many there were, but we assume three because there were three gifts. We know that they paid attention to the heavens, found meaning in the star, and sought Jesus to worship Him. In today’s world with the Internet, there are so many different ideas out there - YouTube channels, Facebook groups, political parties, so many things we can choose to follow and ascribe to certain ways of thinking. We must be careful that we are not choosing those things, thinking we are a good person and that will get us into heaven - it won’t. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) He didn’t say anything about being a good person, and if you think you are a good person read Paul’s words in Romans 3:9-20. The only way to heaven is through belief in Jesus. We celebrated His birth at Christmas, and in the new year we should seek Him and live the way He taught us to live.
Pay attention to your dreams. Be obedient. “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.” In Matthew 2, there are four separate instances of holy communication through dreams. I don’t know how often this happens today, but I can attest, that on multiple occasions I have gone to bed with something heavy on my mind, and when I awoke, I knew what needed to be done. For some, maybe more rest is needed in 2021. Maybe you need to sleep in silence rather than with the TV or music playing. We know that the Holy Spirit speaks to us in a gentle whisper, so don’t inadvertently drown it out with nonsense from another source. Be quiet sometimes. Once the Holy Spirit has spoken, be obedient.
Repent “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt 3:1-2) Don’t try to bring in the new year as a new you without first taking time to repent of your 2020 sins. 2020 was a tough year, we all saw things that made us wonder and say things that need repentance - I know it wasn’t just me! To repent means we must admit our sins, ask forgiveness for those sins, and turn away from those sins. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
Prove it. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matt 3:8) These are the words of John the Baptist as he preached in the wilderness. I typically use NIV, but I think the New Living Translation is more clear for this verse. It states, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” When did you repent of your sins and turn to God? Sometimes at church with every head bowed and every eye closed we are invited to raise our hand if we want to be saved. The Lord has saved many souls in this manner, but after this moment, there should be a change and it should be noticeable to those who know us. What might you need to do in 2021 to prove to those who know you that you have repented of your sins and turned to God? Even if you repented long ago, it’s easy to slip back into our old ways - particularly during a stressful year like 2020. What do you need to do in 2021 to prove your salvation and potentially lead others to Christ? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)
What a blessing to see 2021!
Thank you all!