by Niki Turner
It's Christmas Eve! I love the atmosphere of Christmas Eve... anticipation and hope and excitement, no matter your age.
Are you wrapping up your preparations (and those last few presents)? Bustling about baking scrumptious things for your family and friends to enjoy? Excited to see people you don't get to visit with very often, or just happy have a day to relax at home?
We're all painfully aware of how easy it is to "lose" Christmas in the middle of wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, candy, kids, and gifts, so we remind ourselves that Christmas is about Jesus, and God's love for the world, and giving is better than receiving, and so on.
I want to encourage you to ponder something this Christmas Eve that will stay with you long after the tree comes down and the lights are tucked away in their boxes: the promises God has made to you.
Whether it's a scripture verse highlighted by the Holy Spirit as you read your Bible or a devotional, or the whisper of comfort that comes to your soul in times of prayer, or the promises we see prophesied in the New Testament, God has made many, many promises to us. And God, unlike man, is always faithful to His Word.
When I read the Christmas story, I'm awed by the way Mary, Joseph, and those nameless shepherds responded to God's message.
Oh, in our modern world we like to think their experiences were somehow more supernatural, more obvious, more like special effects in a movie, than our encounters with the Holy Spirit. Surely we would respond the same way if an angel appeared to us, or we had a blatantly spiritual dream, or the heavenly host appeared overhead while we're at work to serenade us... But would we really? Or would we question, and doubt, and fear, and hesitate?
As I read the Christmas story tonight with my family, I'll renew my commitment to respond like Mary: "be it unto me, according to Your word, Lord." To yield like Joseph: "Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him." To take action like those shepherds: "So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger."
What promises has He whispered in your ear? What step of faith has He asked you to take that you've avoided, ignored, or otherwise neglected? I know I have a few things on my Holy Ghost "to-do" list.
Take another peek at that nativity set today and remember how they — real people, following a real God — responded to what they heard and saw, and let us follow their faith.