I can’t tell you how excited I am to write this blog. Last week I was praying about what to say that was new and insightful. If you have been connected to this ministry for a while, you might know I have already written close to 10 blogs about Christmas. What more was there to say?
The Lord knows how desperately I desire to encourage every educator to embrace their calling. Our jobs are so important. The impact God empowers us to have on the lives of others, especially children, is nothing short of miraculous. However, it is easy to get discouraged because the needs are so great. The best way I know to stay inspired and optimistic this Christmas season is to be reminded of the gift given over 2000 years ago. You know the one I’m talking about – the GIFT that keeps on giving.
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Our pastor shared this familiar verse last Sunday, and something in me was ignited. It was as if God was saying, “This is what you need to share!” I have heard this verse countless times in the past, but this time I was overwhelmed by what the birth of Jesus afforded me. Had I lost sight of the magnitude of God’s gift in my life? Not only are we forgiven of our past sins and saved for eternity with Christ, but Jesus has so much to offer us NOW! Despite our circumstances, our hearts can be filled with tremendous joy this season when we stop to ponder these words spoken by Isaiah.
Unlike any gift we have ever received or given, the gift of Jesus keeps on giving. The actual name, Jesus, means “the Lord is Salvation,” but Isaiah wanted us to grab hold of what is included with the gift of Jesus. With salvation comes a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. We cannot let these attributes wash over us like an all too familiar Christmas story. Take time this Christmas to soak in all God has given through His Son.
Jesus is…WONDERFUL COUNSELOR
When I think of someone being wonderful, I imagine them as a step above everyone else. There is something special about them, something to be admired. I find it interesting that the Hebrew word used here for wonderful (pele) is a noun, not an adjective.1 The KJV of the Bible puts a comma between wonderful and counselor as if to emphasize that Jesus is incomprehensible. His wonders exceed anything we could imagine. We can only be filled with wonder when we reflect on his birth, miracles, love, suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection. There simply are no words to describe how truly wonderful Jesus is!
What is one thing Jesus is wonderful at? Counseling! As the new commercial says, He Gets Us. John says that Jesus knows all there is to know about human nature; He also knows what is in our hearts, at the very core of our being (John 2:25). Not only does He understand us, but the Bible also says that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3). He knows all there is to know. The next time you need someone to talk to, remember Jesus! The Wonderful Counselor is the gift that keeps on giving.
But I am telling you the truth: it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you. John 16:7
When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears and will tell you of things to come. John 16:13
Jesus is…MIGHTY GOD
As believers in Christ, there can be no question in our minds—Jesus is God. Isaiah stated it long ago, and that truth is reiterated in John 1:1, Romans 9:5, 1 John 5:20, John 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:16, and Hebrews 1:8. In his own words Jesus told His disciples, I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Many people today are okay with the concept of God, but they shy away from Jesus. Jesus was God’s gift to every believer, and without Him, there is no mighty power of God available!
Once again, I am at a loss for words when I think of the mightiness of God. How can one describe the majestic mountains, a rush of wind, miracles of healing, breath in our lungs, and transformed lives? Sometimes the tasks before us can feel insurmountable. Our resolve becomes weak, and our strength is drained. It is during these times we need to remember that our God is mighty! When Jesus lives in our hearts, His strength becomes ours. The Mighty God is the gift that keeps on giving.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:19-20
Jesus is…EVERLASTING FATHER
Nothing lasts forever. Possession, relationships, circumstances, jobs, titles—all will eventually come to an end. I still remember the day I lost my earthly father. The pain and loss I felt are indescribable. Years have passed. Although I still miss him dearly, my grief has been replaced with fond memories and the promise of seeing Him again. I had to come to grips with the fact that there is only one forever father, and that is Jesus. His fatherhood is everlasting, without end. I never have to experience loss when it comes to Him!
I realize some have been blessed with Godly fathers, but others have not. To understand Jesus as our everlasting Father, it’s important to know the context in which Isaiah penned these verses. During this time, the father was seen as the protector and provider for the family. The Israelites were in dire need of protection and provision, and Isaiah assured them that one day the Messiah would come to serve as their father forever. Little did they know that the prophecy would be fulfilled 700 years later through the birth of Jesus (Galatians 4:4).
What the Israelites longed for long ago, we get to experience today! Would you believe there are over 150 verses that refer to how God provides for us?2 One of the most familiar is Philippians 4:19.
"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."
Jesus not only provides all we need, but He also protects us even when we don’t know we need protecting! We often think of protection in a physical sense, but most Scripture passages speak to spiritual protection. Hardships are part of this life, and none of us are immune to suffering. However, the Bible says Jesus is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
God’s way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for those who look to him for protection. Psalm 18:30
No matter what we are going through, Jesus is always providing and protecting. The Everlasting Father is the gift that keeps on giving!
Jesus is…PRINCE OF PEACE
Jesus spoke many encouraging words to His disciples. He knew how tumultuous their lives were about to become after the crucifixion. After He promised the Holy Spirit would come to guide them, Jesus granted them another invaluable gift.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
The peace Jesus was referring to was a quietness of spirit, a place of rest, a stillness of mind when all around us feels out of control. Jesus is the ONLY one who can give us this kind of peace. Why? Because He is the Prince of Peace.
When Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and rose from the dead, He was, in essence, taking charge of our welfare. He made a way for you and me to be complete, to be restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). It is why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
When we accept Christ as our Savior, the Prince of Peace takes up residence in our hearts. True peace comes from the inside out, not the outside in. Circumstances cannot give us peace. Are you worried or anxious today? Turn your thoughts toward Jesus and experience perfect peace. The Prince of Peace is the gift that keeps on giving!
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
There is so much more we could say about Jesus. He truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Yes, He came to save us from our sins. Yes, He came to pave the way for us to spend eternity forever with God. This is certainly worth celebrating this Christmas. But what about tomorrow? Two days from now? Next year?
When we need help or someone to listen, let us remember to go to the Wonderful Counselor who knows us better than we know ourselves.
When we need strength, let us remember we have a Mighty God who is powerful!
When our hearts are fearful, let us be assured the Everlasting Father’s provision and protection will be enough.
When our spirit is troubled, let us turn to the Prince of Peace who will ease our suffering.
As you look at the nativity this year, it is my prayer you will be excited and encouraged in a way you never have been before. I hope you see the gift that keeps on giving!