A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

Tradition dictates the way many of us celebrate Christmas. We have traditions for how and where we spend time with family, how we decorate, when we shop, and whether or not we go caroling. We carefully organize the details for each part of our traditional celebration—wreaths, trees, nativity scenes, charitable contributions, church productions, meals, gifts, and more.

But as these traditions take on a life of their own, we can wear ourselves out trying to attend to all the details. It might make you wonder why in the world you’re doing all this. Are homespun traditions all there is to Christmas? Of course not. Christmas is about celebrating God’s goodness to the world through the birth of Jesus Christ.

Our Christmas traditions should, in some way, point to God’s fulfilled promise of redemption for His people. God gave fully and loved perfectly in Jesus Christ. He didn’t give His gift to beautiful and gracious people who deserved redemption, but to people who were filled with enmity and hatred. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Love brought Jesus down so that God’s people would have a right relationship with Him. He gave His Son to be born as a helpless baby in a manger and later to toil as a young man in a carpenter’s shop. He gave Him to the Pharisees and the scribes, who slandered His immaculate character. He died a criminal’s death and took on the sin of the world, forsaken—for a time—by His beloved Father. He took on our judgment and death so that we might be reconciled to God.

As we prepare for Christmas this season, let us infuse our traditions with new ways to remember, appreciate, and share God’s fulfilled promise of redemption.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for getting wrapped up in traditions that don’t matter. I pray that You would help me this Christmas season to keep my traditions focused on the fulfilled promise of redemption. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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