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Friday, December 21, 2018

God’s Promise for the Pain of Christmas

In review of Joel 2:13, it says, “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (NIV).

Today’s verse is from Joel 2:13. In it, I’m reminded to not tear my clothing in my grief, but tear my heart instead.” Return to the Lord my God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

Deep remorse in Old Testament times was often shown by tearing one's clothes. But God doesn’t want an outward display of penitence without true inward repentance. I need to be sure my attitude toward God is correct, not just my outward actions.

We often have an idealized and romanticized picture of the days leading up to the first Christmas. We see Christmas cards and nativity scenes, and we assume those days were stress-free. But that’s far from how those involved in the first Christmas actually felt. The very first Christmas didn’t start out as a merry time for most of those involved. The news that Jesus was coming stressed everyone out.

Mary was confused and worried. An angel had told her that she would give birth to the Son of God. She didn’t know what would happen to her engagement. Her future seemed bleak.
Joseph was hurt and brokenhearted. His fiancée had told him that she was pregnant. He felt hurt and cheated on. The shepherds were afraid. They saw a bright light and watched angels appear out of nowhere. The wise men were exhausted. They traveled a long way to get to Jesus. They were ready for rest.

What does this Christmas story say to me?

Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the wise men had one thing in common: They turned to God.

This verse reminds me to, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13 NIV).

No matter what I’m going through, God loves me. When I turn to God, he won’t turn away.

On that very first Christmas, every one of these characters turned to God. They all looked to him to meet their greatest needs.

God was there for Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men. He’ll be there for me, too.

Bottom Line:
Let your remorse be truly inward and just outward facing. Return to God for he is gracious and merciful.

What this means to me:
Let my any of my remorse tear at my heart and not just outward signs.” Return to the Lord my God, for he is gracious and merciful. He is not easily angered; he is full of kindness and anxious not to punish me.

In summary, no matter what I'm facing or what I'm going through, I need to return to the Lord, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to forgive and not punish. However God doesn't want just a surface display of my remorse, he wants true repentance within my heart. I need to be sure my attitude toward God is correct, not just my outward actions.  So at this time in my life, no matter what I'm going through, God loves me. When I turn to God, he won't turn away. I can look to him to meet my greatest needs.

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