Joy Amidst the Pain: Meditating on the Real Reason for Christmas

This coming February, Nigerians will line up at the polls to vote for their next president– or to reinstate their current president, Goodluck Jonathan. The APC (All Progressives Congress) is making sure promises that if their candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, wins the election, there will be such change that 2014 will be their “last Christmas in bondage.” Problems such as lowering oil prices, the devaluation of the naira (the country’s form of currency), government and military corruption, and the Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgency have caused Nigerians to lose confidence in Nigeria’s social and government institutions. Amidst such major problems, it can be hard– almost impossible– to have a joyous Christmas in Nigeria, especially in Northern regions.

This Christmas, countless Nigerians are grieving their loved ones, suffering economic downturns, and living as displaced people in places such as Maiduguri, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Because of the government’s failure to serve their people, Nigerians are outraged and looking for any ounce of hope to get them through this depressing holiday season. Yet, among reports of worsening developments, there is a cause for joy: the true meaning of Christmas, Christ’s birth, expresses that God has become Immanuel, or “God with Us.”

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
(Isaiah 7:14, NIV)

Because Christ is with us– because Christ is close to those brokenhearted and contrite in spirit, as Psalm 34:18 proclaims– we as believers can face the traumatic experiences of life with confidence that those events do not define us or dictate our worth in Christ.

“…For everyone born of God overcomes the world. “
(1 John 5:4, NIV)

In light of these truths, it becomes evident that Nigeria doesn’t just need a new president, or a new political party ruling over them; they need the true source of hope: a personal, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. The APC promises a better Christmas in 2015 for Nigerians, but what this political party cannot promise is a joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. Thankfully, numerous Christian Nigerians have Christ’s birth to meditate on– and that is a cause for celebration, indeed. Hopefully, they are thinking on and drawing joy & peace from this beautiful event that forever changed mankind’s relationship to the Father.

This Christmas, please be praying for the protection of the Nigerian population. There is risk for the Boko Haram to attack soft targets– places like schools and churches– during this blessed time.

Pray that as festivities in the better-off Southern half of Nigeria go on, the people of Southern Nigeria would have the people of Northern Nigeria on their hearts and minds. Pray they would reach out to those who are displaced and grieving during this holiday season.

Pray also for the February 2015 election of Nigeria’s new president. Pray that whoever the winner may be, they’d have a heart for following and honoring Christ. For Nigeria to truly be reformed, they need to know and honor Christ.

Please pray for the  revival of Nigeria. In a nation with such war, corruption, and crime, a new commitment to Christ is needed for any meaningful, lasting change.

During this holiday season, let us keep in mind that Christ came to be “the light of the world,” for those in darkness, as stated in John 8:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
(John 8:12, NIV)

May the people of Nigeria warm themselves in His glorious light this Christmas.

Do you know Christ?

This holiday season, are you feeling alone, empty, or without purpose?
Are you afraid of being insignificant, unloved, or not remembered?

All mankind was born sinful, and all have sinned against God (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23, NIV). Because of this, we experienced the death sin brings, and were separated from having a personal relationship with God, which is called hell (James 1:15Isaiah 59:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, NIV).

Christ came so that we would never have to face this life alone, drowning in our own sin and shame. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born as God-in-Man to the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18John 10:30-33, NIV). Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and was resurrected again on the third day, forever proving that the death caused by sin had no power over Him (1 Corinthians 15:3; Acts 10:40, NIV).

Christ is the only way to have a relationship with God (John 14:6, NIV). This means that all those who believe that Christ is who He said He was– God-in-Man, the Savior of the world– and confess Him as Savior, can have a personal relationship with Christ, and are forgiven of all their sin (Ephesians 1:17; John 1:10-13, NIV). This personal relationship means that the Holy Spirit lives within us, helping us live a set-apart life to God (Acts 1:8; John 14:15-27, NIV).

Would you like to start your personal relationship with Christ? Would you like to receive the Holy Spirit into your life, so that you can live a life completely for God? Say this prayer with me, or say one of your own:

Dear Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God, God-in-Man. I believe that you were born of the virgin Mary, and died for the sins of the world. I believe you were resurrected on the third day, and now sit at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19, NIV). I have sinned against You in thought, feeling, word and deed; because of this, I deserve hell, but I pray that You would come into my life, forgive me of all sin, and live in my heart so that I can live a set-apart life for you. Amen.

If you have said this prayer, I am glad to say that you have been forgiven of all sin, and you have a fresh start on life! For “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV). This does not mean that you never sin, or that life is trouble-free; rather, it means that you have the power, by the Holy Spirit, to live righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with Christ your God (Micah 6:8 NIV). It means that Christ has overcome the world, and that through Him, you can overcome it too (John 16:33, NIV).

Be praying that Christ would use you to further His gospel to the unbelievers in your life (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).

If you want to know more about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the gospel, click here.

Be blessed in your walk with Christ! 🙂

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