It’s finally upon us. It’s Christmas. A very Merry Christmas from all of us here at The Rested Life, and may this day mark the start of another year that is filled with our Father’s blessings of protection and provision.

So, what plans do you have for the day? How are you going to mark this momentous occasion? How do you intend to spend Christmas? I know that for many of us, this will be a busy day. But before you start diving headlong into your plans, I’d like for us to think about how we are going to respond to Christ this Christmas, and what this day really means to us.

But first, what are we responding to?

On the very first Christmas, two responses were recorded for us.

“And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” Luke 2:16-20

The shepherds were amazed. They couldn’t contain themselves. They not only made haste to see the baby Jesus, they then went about telling others about their experience, glorifying and praising God with their words and actions.

But what were they responding to?

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
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, goodwill toward men!”” Luke 2:8-14

They just had an angelic visitation. They just witnessed a miraculous and supernatural event. So they were responding like any of us would, with a little bit of ‘are you sure’ which turned into a whole lot of ‘you’ve got to see this’.

And that is to be expected. After all, when we experience something great in our lives, when we have had a miraculous turn around in our circumstances, we share our story, don’t we? We tell the world about it. We post it on our social media accounts. And our friends start ‘liking’ what they see and they start commenting, and sometimes, it goes viral; just like the shepherds.

But theirs wasn’t the only response recorded. Mary’s response was recorded too.

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Her response wasn’t quite as exuberant, but rather one that was more muted and pensive. But then again, that is rather in keeping with her circumstance, especially when we remember what she is responding to.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”“ Luke 1:26-28

Her circumstance was rather different to the shepherds. Her miracle had come but it also came mixed with a little ‘complication’. You see, when she was told that she would be with child, she and Joseph were just about to get married. And it doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to see just how big a ‘complication’ being found pregnant before you have been able to consummate your marriage with your husband can be.

So it is little wonder then that on the day that Jesus was born, Mary was less than exuberant and came across rather more pensive. For we do remember that when she was visited by the angel the first time around,

“...she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.” Luke 1:29

And so, even though God had kept His part of the bargain and saw to it that everything happened the way He promised, she probably still had some doubts running around in her mind; because her miracle was still in His early days and His time had not yet come.

What about you? What are you responding to today? Are you like the shepherds? Have you just experienced a big miracle in your life? Are you just like them who

“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing.” Luke 2:15-16 [MSG]

Indeed, ‘seeing is believing’, isn’t it? Have you just been led to see and so now believe?

Or are you a little more like Mary? Though your miracle has come, though you can see that God is slowly putting things in place for you, it’s not quite what you had in mind, and there is still a lot of room for improvement; so, you are still having your doubts? Are you just taking it all in; keeping all these things and pondering over them in your heart, the way Mary did?

You know, beloved, whether you are like Mary or the shepherds, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the fact that our Father know the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you and give you a future (Jeremiah 29:11). And it doesn’t change the fact that He will still carry out His plans for you at a pace and in a manner that best suits you; because how you feel doesn’t change the extent and intensity of His love for you.

You see, our Father is not in the habit of breaking promises. In fact, He only knows how to keep them. For indeed,

“God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19 [AMP]

Whatever He’s got planned for you, you can be sure that He is going to see it through, even if things look a little dubious at the moment.

So in the midst of your feasting and merry making, take some time this Christmas to respond to Jesus. Whether it be sharing how good He has been to you this past year, or quietly pondering how His plans have been unfolding in your life, take some time to reflect on all that has happened, for you will then begin to realize afresh, just how much He loves you.

Have a blessed Christmas.

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