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Dear Friends,

Thanksgiving is over, which means it is officially the Christmas season. So decorations are going up, Christmas music is playing, and the countdown to the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior has begun. In the midst of all the activity that usually accompanies this time of year, one of my favorite passages to meditate on is Isaiah 9:6. If you’re not familiar with that verse, it says: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The reason I love to ponder this verse during the Christmas season is because it not only foretells the birth of Jesus, but also describes the different roles that Jesus will play in the lives of those who follow Him. So it challenges us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, while at the same time, encourages us with how our lives can be different because of Christmas. The prophet Isaiah does this with a simple pattern - he gives us a noun that explains WHAT Jesus will do for us, and then adds in an adjective that tells us HOW Jesus will do these things for us. And for the past few days I’ve been especially pondering the first noun/adjective combination - “wonderful counselor”.

According to the dictionary, a “counselor” is defined as, “someone who gives advice, or instruction”. This really is a great place to start when talking about the role that Jesus plays in our lives because He IS a counselor to us. And because He’s the Son of God, He’s able to reveal the mind of God to us - meaning that He gives us input from God’s perspective. Which is a wonderful thing for us to have. So if we have questions about life - about anything from relationships, to work, to money, to our futures, to what happens after we die - we can turn to Jesus and He will guide and instruct us from God’s point of view. And some of the primary ways He gives us this counsel is through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and through the church. By doing this - by being our “wonderful Counselor” - Jesus helps us understand how our Creator not only designed us to live, but also how He desires for us to live. And He does all of this because He understands us, He cares about us, and He’s committed to us.

So how does all of this help us get ready for Christmas? Well, first of all, it helps us understand the reality of what God gave us over 2,000 years ago. It’s not just a sweet story for us to tell each other once a year. Instead, over 2,000 years ago, God gave us a wonderful counselor. The gift is already given, the only thing left for us to do is make an appointment. So let’s do that. Let’s all take time to be with our wonderful counselor. Let’s turn to Him with our questions and concerns - let’s turn to Him with our worries and cares - and let’s turn to Him with our hearts and minds open to receive His loving advice and direction for every area of our lives.

Amen?

Daniel

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