“At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.” -Numbers 9:18-19
Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe it’s the end of 2017 already? I feel like we were just ringing in the year, and now it’s coming to a close. It’s crazy how fast this year went by. I felt like I blinked and it was gone.
However, this year was indeed filled with many things. Many good, and a few bad. Over all, I can say that 2017 was a good year for me. Probably the best in recent years. And during this year, I had this idea to write down these lessons that I had been learning, and boy am I glad that I did. While I’m only going to give you 17 of the ones I had written down that I had learned from this year, I was stunned when I looked back on the pages of pages of things I had written down! It’s been such a blessing to me to look back on these lessons, and to carry them forward with me into the future.
If I had to choose one word that summed up 2017, it would be surrender. This was a year that was, especially in the last half of the year, characterized by surrender. Surrender of relationships, dreams, and plans. And these things were not always easy. However, it was out of some of these things I had to surrender that some of the most powerful lessons came about, many which are listed below.
So without delay, here are the 17 things I learned in 2017 that I wanted to share with you today. May these strengthen you in your own walk with Christ and in seasons to come in your own life.
Well, that’s about 17, ya’ll. I hope these are an encouragement to you. Thank you for all of you who take the time to read what I write and for those who have been an encouragement to me over the past year. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2018. May it be a year of growing in Christ, loving Him more, and watching His marvelous plan unfold.
“An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD.'” – Luke 2:9-11
Many people are familiar with this passage taken out of the Christmas story in Luke 2. As I was thinking about Christmas and heard this passage, two things stuck out to me this year. Good news and Great joy. This angel was sent from God in heaven to announce the birth of the Savior to a group of Shepherds in the field at night, and when the angel arrived, they announced that there was no need to be terrified at its appearing, but in fact the angel was bringing an announcement. This announcement was good news that would cause great joy. And that this announcement was good news that would cause great joy for all people.
Just like today, the people in Israel 2000 years ago could use some good news that would cause great joy. The people of God had been long awaiting a Savior to rescue them from their oppression of their time. In fact, at the time Jesus had been born, the people had gone 400 years since a word from God. But all the while, they trusted and waited that God would send a Savior to them. And that the Savior had been born was the greatest announcement ever made, and the Shepherds tending their sheep in the field—a people group who was considered too unclean to even worship in the temple at the time no less— received this announcement. The announcement proceeded with this: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD” (vs. 11). The long-awaited, long-promised Savior had been born. The one who would free them from their bondage had come! God hadn’t forgotten about them! God hadn’t forgotten His promise! God hadn’t forgotten His people! This indeed was good news that would cause great joy, not only to the Shepherds and the people of Israel of that day, but to us as well. We are included in this good news that causes great joy today just as much as the Shepherds were that night when the angel appeared. Jesus wasn’t just born for His people, though He was born for them too, but He was born for us. He was born for you.
But there’s more to the story then just an angel appearing at night to a group of Shepherds. I mean, nothing ordinary was happening surrounding the birth of Jesus. A young women yet to be married and who was a virgin was pregnant and called favored by God while society would see her much differently? The angels announced the birth of Christ three separate times? A star indicated where the Savior had been born? The Shepherds were the first people group to know the Savior had been born?
Let me say this: the birth of Jesus just isn’t some event that took place 2000 years ago by chance. Every detail about His birth was carried about by the exact plan and will of God. It was 2000 years in the making. Every event in history leading up to that point happened so that this event could take place at this exact moment. The roads built years before Jesus came so that this message could be spread to people around the world. The census that was called right before Jesus was born. And the list of God preparing the stage goes on. And why did it take place? That you and me might be saved and forgiven by that same baby and have an eternity in the unending presence of God Almighty. That He might show us His love and power in an unimaginable way. And that we might have a relationship with Him once again.
That’s what Christmas is all about.
Its about a God who keeps every promise to a T every single time. Proving that He does what He says He’ll do. That His love for us is more than we can fathom. And that He deserves the highest of praise. Every detail of the Christmas story was set in place at the perfect time. That a perfect Savior might be born. And God’s perfect plan would unfold. It was a plan set in motion from the beginning of time. From when God knew Adam and Eve would sin in the garden. He knew it before He created Adam and Eve with a free will. He knew it before He spoke the world into motion. The same world He would send His Son into at that precise moment in history to undo all the wrong humanity had done. And He did all of it knowing that the greatest and most costly price would be paid at the end of this baby’s life. But He did it because He’s a God of His promise. Because He is a God who loves us that much. Because He’s a God who went to the ultimate length to buy us back to Himself. And this is the good news that causes great joy for us today and forever. So when you think about the birth of Jesus this year, remember the reason He came. The love that was given. The price He came to pay. And the victory He came to win. This is the good news. This is the thing that causes great joy. And it’s the thing that will last into eternity.
So, yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate. This is the single event in human history that allows us to be free from every sin that held us captive, and be engulfed forever in a love that is unimaginable. Indeed, we who are forgiven have received good news that will cause great joy. May this good news and great joy consume your heart this Christmas season and in the year ahead.
And for fun, here are my top picks of Christmas songs this year:
When I Think Upon Christmas- Hillsong Worship
Little Drummer Boy (Live) – For King and Country
Baby Boy (Live) – For King and Country
White as Snow – NewSong
Noel – Lauren Daigle
I Celebrate the Day – Relient K
His Favorite Christmas Story – Capital Lights