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Experiencing Growth this Season

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

by Dr. Paul Chappell

"And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him."

Luke 2:33-40

God desires that you'd grow closer to Him as you celebrate His birth.

A popular show this time of year is the depiction of Charles Dickens' famous novel A Christmas Carol. Many schools will act out this story, many churches use it as a script for a play, and some cartoons are even shown of Dickens' work. The story is of a miserly man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who doesn't like Christmas and seeks to ruin everyone else's joy. He is visited by three ghosts who try to show him how his hatred has hurt others and how much happiness could be had.

One scene from the play is especially poignant. After the ghost of Christmas past visits him, Scrooge awakes from his sleep and mutters a "bah humbug" about what he had just been shown. He then remarks, "Just a bit of last nights undigested beef. There is more gravy about you than the grave."

In the novel, the ghosts were sent to Scrooge to change him of his ways and help him grow into a better person, but he scoffed at the idea and intended to continue his miserly ways. In a far more significant way, the Lord wants to bring growth into our lives as we celebrate His birth and remember His love. Will you keep your heart turned toward Him or scoff at His plans? Let this Christmas be a time of growth in your relationship with the Lord.

Consider the life of Christ. Even as the Son of God He still had to mature and grow in His earthly form as we see in Luke 2. We aren't told much of this time of His life, but we're told He grew in spirit, in mind, and in body. And as He grew, the grace of God was evident in His life.

If the Son of God had to grow in these areas of His life, how much more do we need to? One thing about the Christian life is that we're never "fully grown." Until we reach Heaven, there will always be room for improvement and growth in our lives.

Realize that God desires for you to grow this holiday season. Often we can become so consumed by the holiday, the joy, the shopping, the gathering, the family, and other things that we unconsciously edge out God's plan for the season. God wants you to celebrate His birth, but to also be growing according to His will.

How are you growing this time of year? Don't become like Scrooge, set in your ways and unwilling to change. Take some time in prayer to ask God how He wants you to grow closer to Him. Maybe it's through extra time reading and studying His Word. Perhaps it's through dedicating a day to pray for those in need. Maybe it's through giving to others and showing God's love. Whatever God's plan for you, be tender to His leading and commit to growing closer to Him even as you celebrate His birth this season.

To learn more about the ministries of Lancaster Baptist Church and Pastor Chappell, please visit lancasterbaptist.org, paulchappell.com, or follow him on twitter.

Daily Bible Reading
Zachariah 1-4 | Revelations 18