Watch for God’s wonderful Christmas surprises
What would you say is the biggest Christmas surprise you ever experienced? If you believe the TV commercials, someone is going to walk out their front door Christmas morning, and a shiny new Lexus will be parked there with a red bow on top. Surprise!
Last Christmas, Mike Simon of Mundy Township, Mich., surprised his wife with her 3,800-square-foot “dream home” on Christmas day. After opening presents, the family loaded up to go to brunch, and Mike intentionally drove his family by this house that his wife had been admiring and had been calling her “dream home.”
Out front of the house was an “open house” sign that Mike had sneaked into the yard. They decided to turn around and visit the house. So they pulled into the driveway, stepped through the front door, and there in the foyer was a large banner that read, “Merry Christmas, Dianne, welcome home.” Mike somehow pulled off the purchase without his wife’s involvement or knowledge.
Surprises, those unexpected happenings that bring joy, are part of the excitement of Christmas. New presents appear under the tree, and some of them have your name on them. You pick up the package, shake it a little, examine it carefully, and wonder what it could possibly be.
That first Christmas was filled with wonder, and God was full of surprises. As Isaiah 55:8, 9 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” God works in unexpected ways.
For instance, God uses small things to bring great results. God used a stone slung by a young shepherd boy to slay a giant. God used a simple lunch to feed a multitude of hungry people. God used a little town to birth a Savior.
Of all the places God could have chosen, He chose Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. Micah 5:2 reads, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me, the One to be Ruler in Israel . . .”
Today, Bethlehem is still a small village on the same Judean hillside, and is located about six miles south of Jerusalem. It is separated from Jerusalem by the extensive security wall that seals off the West Bank. A total of 30,000 people live there, but their tiny streets are filled with over one million visitors a year. Most come to visit the Church of the Nativity that is built over the small cave in which Jesus was supposedly born.
God chose a simple place, not a prominent or glitzy place. Bethlehem reminds us that in God’s way of doing things, the small shall be great, the last shall be first, the weak shall be strong, and the lowly shall be exalted.
Also, God chooses ordinary people who are willing to be used. God chose a simple, ordinary, peasant teenage girl named Mary to bring His Son into the world. He chose a young carpenter named Joseph who was pledged to marry Mary. He worked in both of their lives, and both demonstrated a spirit of surrender and obedience.
God chose shepherds to be the first to hear the news that Jesus was born. These low-class sheep handlers weren’t special to anybody but God. The biggest barrier they faced was that their work made it impossible for them to observe the Jewish ceremonial laws and temple rituals, so they were considered religiously unclean.
Yet God sent the angels to share good news of great joy to shepherds. That made a statement: Jesus was coming to everybody, and every person matters to God.
God still works in mysterious ways to perform His wonders, and He’s still full of surprises. How will He surprise you this Christmas season? Be watching for His hand at work.
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga. The church family meets at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org. The Christmas eve service begins at 6 p.m.