Editor's Note: This Christmas season, international worship leaders Planetshakers released their first holiday offering, the four-song Christmas Vol. 1 EP. With the birth of Jesus in the forefront of these Aussies' minds, Planetshakers' Rudy Nikkerud shared some devotional thoughts.
Luke 2:8-15 (NLT) 8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
Christmas--what an incredible time of year! In Australia, it's the middle of summer, so we never get to experience the white, snow-filled Christmas that many of you enjoy. Still, it's Christmas all the same: trees decked with ornaments and surrounded by presents, stockings filled with gifts on Christmas morning, shopping malls covered in decorations. As the saying goes, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." However, I've discovered that for many, it isn't.
At Planetshakers Church, we do a big Christmas show every year with lots of rehearsals and preparations. And for the first time this year we've also recorded a Christmas EP. This means we've been focusing on Christmas quite a bit, and working on Christmas songs for many months. Throughout this time, I've been thinking about the different difficulties some people experience during the Christmas season.
Christmas most often means giving gifts and having multiple family gatherings, often with people you may not have seen the rest of the year. And it can be a reminder of those we're separated from. Instead of being a time of giving, relationship, and celebration, it can be a painful reminder of our lack, family brokenness and loss.
For a moment, putting all other thoughts of Christmas aside, I want to ask you to think back to the very first Christmas, the night Jesus was born. Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was born in a small, mostly insignificant town called Bethlehem. I'm not sure that anyone who experienced that night really understood the supernatural, monumental aspect of the event. The angels, however, knew what was happening. They couldn't contain their excitement! One angel came to make an announcement, and it's like the others just couldn't hold back. They just wanted to be a part of this!
"Suddenly, the angel was joined by a great host of others"
It was the greatest gift humanity had ever received. The gift of Jesus brought forgiveness, healing, salvation, peace, wholeness, breakthrough, victory... THE LIST COULD GO ON! Jesus gave HIMSELF! The first ever Christmas gift.
And with Him as our example, the challenge for us is that we not lose sight of the real meaning, and real gift of Christmas. As Jesus has led the way, we now get to offer gifts to people--forgiveness instead of unforgiveness and bitterness, healing instead of hurt, peace instead of turmoil.
Instead of dwelling too much on those we've lost, we can thank God for the time we did have with them. Instead of allowing broken relationships and family situations to cloud this season, we can carry healing. Instead of stressing about the gifts we can't afford, pass on the greatest gift of all--the Love of Jesus!
This truly is the most wonderful time of the year! A time of opportunities, and a time to spread the joy of the season. We've been praying that as you reflect on the reason for the season, Jesus, you would experience and encounter His love like never before!
I encourage you to pray, and ask God to show you how you can give this Christmas -- in forgiveness, healing, peace, love. Take a moment and read James 1:17 and Philippians 2:8-11. This is why Jesus came!
Forming for the first Planetshakers Conference in 1997, Australian Christian Worship band, Planetshakers is passionate to see generations worldwide unite together to worship God.
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