Ready or not, it is time for Christmas.
The Crisis of Christ. Jesus was born in a time of crisis. His birth is a crisis. Even in the best of situations, birth is hard! The unknown. The changes. When Esther was born the doctors let Sally and me hold her. After a few moments she started turning blue ~ I was pretty sure that was not normal…they whisked her away and five hours later we saw held her once again.
Making the decision to become a Christian, to give your life and loyalty to Jesus Christ is a crisis, because it means change, it means the unknown…. The Good News of Jesus Christ sounds good, but it is only a good idea until you actually embrace Christ and experience him in your life. Known problems are more comfortable for many people than unknown answers. How common for people who are facing enormous problems to work hard to find solutions and at the last minute sabotage the treatment program, the living situation. Some people cannot stand peace, stability….Becoming a Christian is a crisis.
Ready or not, it is time for Christmas! Are you ready for the crisis of Christ? This message: how to handle a crisis. How to handle the crisis of Christ. Crisis is coming. That is a fact of life. There will be sudden change, decisions, birth, death, loss of job, the need to move, the unexpected ~ the need for a savior is overwhelming in this world, one to walk beside you, guide you, love you, care for you.
How to understand and respond to crisis. How to handle the crisis of Christ.
#1 ~ God’s story for us is BETTER than the story we would write for ourselves. If it were up to us, we would never include drama… our story would include a fairy tale ending: and they all lived happily ever after. The story we would write includes the perfect job, gradually getting more income, able to afford a car, an apartment, a house, a family, traveling, eating out, entertainment, a nice comfortable life. But then reality hits.
When Esther was born, we imagined a simple easy process, but then reality hit. And it changed us. God is constantly at work in the crisis of life, shaping us, molding us, guiding us.
I have my doubts when Joseph found out Mary was pregnant he said, “it would be great if right before it is time for you to give birth, we go on a 100 mile trip ~ and oh boy it would be funny if there is no room anywhere and you have the baby on the floor of a stinky barn and put the baby in a feeding trough. That would be an adventure! ” No one ever said, “I hope for a meltdown today!”
Just as God wrote the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, so he is writing your story. What a beautiful story of the birth of Jesus Christ, a story Mary and Joseph would not have chosen, yet here it is. The crisis of the birth of Christ is a beautiful story because God wrote it, and because of how Mary and Joseph respond to it.
God is the author of our story. But God leaves it open to us in how we respond ~ resistance or acceptance. Are you humble or will you grumble?
#2 ~ When Crisis comes Control what you can….the best way I can understand hwo divine will and human choice work together is that I believe God often gives us a measure of control in how we respond to what happens to us. What is amazing about Mary and Joseph is the peace and joy in the middle of the crisis of birth. Everything goes wrong, yet they accept it, make the best of it, and everything is right. Isn’t that the substance of all the people we admire, all our heroes ~ how they handle crisis?
When a crisis drops into your life, figure out what the facts are! “Caesar Augustus” is emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus is a fact that Joseph could do nothing about! By the time Jesus was born, Augustus had been emperor for 25-30 years. He was only 19 when his father and great uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated; he rose to the highest office of the Roman Empire after defeating Marc Antony and Cleopatra. He ushered in a golden age of the Roman empire, serving 40 some years as emperor. He built roads, expanded the empire. And you know how he did it? Taxing the people in his empire. And you know how he taxed people. He made them register. Joseph and Mary were caught up in the grandiose visions of the empire. Even worse, the emperor had visions of greatness for himself, he was no mere mortal, he saw himself as a god! Augustus is not a name, it is a title, a grandiose title of greatness, Octavius was the man’s name ~ Augustus is his description of greatness, approaching the level of a god. “And everyone went to his own town to register.” In all likelihood, the Romans were accommodating Israel. Rome did not care about ancestral identity, but Israel did. Joseph and a very pregnant Mary were caught up in the decision of two governments and had no choice but to travel. That’s a fact.
How you respond makes the difference. Mary and Joseph did what they needed to do. Who knows if there was a time of grief as they travelled, fear, feeling sorry for themselves, but they went ~ no doubt having been visited by an angel helped. When they went, they were surely hoping to return home for the birth, but God had a different plan. “While they were [in Bethlehem] the time came…” From bad to worse… isn’t that how a crisis works? From bad to worse… not hard to imagine Joseph thought a room in the inn would make sense. But another stubborn fact ~ No rooms available! From bad to worse. Isn’t that how a crisis often works? But how you respond makes all the difference. Control what you can. Make the best of what you are given. That’s the control the good Lord gives us as he writes our story.
READ Luke 2:7. Children simply need to be love above all else. Do your best within what you have. Adults need the same thing, you know. Do your best within the measure of control the Lord gives you. He’s writing the story of your life, but he let’s you respond. The savior of the world lay in a feeding trough. God does not demand the best, he demands the best of what you have available to you, whatever is within your grasp, your control. When crisis comes, figure out what you can’t control, and then make the best decisions you can within the limits of your power. You will make it through the crisis a stronger person!
#3 ~ God’s timing is all that matters…. We get so impatient with God, we question his timing. Yet God wrote the story so that at just the right time Augustus issued a law to take a census, at just the right time it came time for Mary to give birth. God’s timing shapes your life. The events you cannot control. Politics. Personal crisis. It all comes together at just the right time according to God’s purposes. Prophecy told us the savior would be born in Bethlehem, history intersects with world events with a local inn that ran out of room so that Jesus Christ was born at just the right time, in the right place, in the right manner. Just as God orchestrated the birth of Jesus Christ, so he is orchestrating your life, so that you meet the right people, the doors that are closed, the changes that are beyond your control.
#4 ~ I love this… There is always something good in a crisis, but the Good often flies under the radar…(before I talk, watch this video that went viral of police officers, people are expecting something bad, but instead they get something good….) Everything that is wrong gets most of the attention in this world. How nice to be confronted by goodness.
I have come to the conclusion that negative people are lazy. It’s easier to be a victim. Easier to complain. You don’t need any goals, no dreams. It takes a lot more work to be positive! To see the good. To be optimistic! By nature we worry. We imagine the worse. Crisis hits and the negative is overwhelming. The loss of what will never be again… After the initial panic of the crisis, and you have a moment to catch your breath, there is always something good. Don’t be lazy and only see everything negative, but search for the good. Look for something amazing.
Death is still real and a reason for tears, yet out of the ashes there is always resurrection. Out of poverty comes appreciation. Beyond the tears is peace. The good is easy to overlook. Ready or not, it’s time for Christmas, put aside what did not happen, the stress of the day and simply appreciate what unfolds. On that first Christmas, the whole world was in crisis, nobody even noticed Jesus ~ that was the point ~ he was out back in the stable because nobody even knew what was happening. The innkeeper is no villain; he was just doing his job. Augustus is too busy thinking he’s a god to be bothered with the humble beginnings of the Savior born in an out of the way place in an out of the way country in a small corner of the empire. You have to look for the good in all of the stuff of life. The drama is screaming for your attention, fear is seeking to consume you, destruction threatens to overwhelm you ~ slow down and look for the good, those who seek will find. The kingdom is like a treasure that is buried, you need to search, pay attention. The savior is found in a feeding trough….
When crisis comes….Remember God is the author of your story. How you respond is up to you…God let’s you determine if it is a good story or a bad story depending on what you make of it ~ make the best decisions you can within the limits of what God allows. God’s timing is all that matters ~ a crisis is never convenient, it is his timing… and look for the good ~ the negative screams for attention while the good is harder to recognize.
The crisis of Christ. the promise of Christ is available to all. Crisis will come. If not today then tomorrow. A crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. Sometimes it comes with the feeling of being overwhelmed, dread. Sometimes specific events, sudden change, or maybe a general confusion. God is the author, but he gives you the power to determine if the story is Good News or Bad News. How do you respond to the crisis? Embrace Jesus Christ and make him the Lord of your life. What you do with Christ determines if the story God is writing is a good story or a bad story. It’s all his timing. Look for the good and you will discover Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Ready or not. It’s time for Christmas. God is writing the story. Make the most if it. It’s all his timing. Look for the good. May the Lord bless you. Amen.