Whoever thought of the marketing tool “Christmas in July”? 

But, there is something hopeful about looking forward this year. Maybe things will be back to normal by then? 

I watched QVC sell their Christmas merchandise for a while this weekend. Then, I noticed Hallmark had Christmas movies all weekend. (Apparently, they release their annual ornaments each year in July.) 

I had just finished doing some last-minute work on this year’s Advent book. I wrote a Bible study lesson on the faith of Mary and Joseph. I’m surrounded by thoughts of Christmas and it’s been great. 

Why is Christmas in July a good idea?

Look backward to look forward 

When I study a story from Scripture, I see real people dressed in their robes and sandals and living as history teaches they lived. I read the Bible as a history book, not a novel. One of the most important ways to understand Scripture is to view the biblical passages through the eyes of history before seeing it from our own. 

Looking back is a good way to see into the future. 

People spend a lot of time “looking to the future.” Businesses study trends and projections because it helps them be ready to meet the needs of the future. It was interesting to see the Christmas merchandise that quickly sold out on QVC. A lot of it was designed to be nostalgic and remind people of a different time, a memory of a simpler Christmas. 

What projections and trends should we be noticing today? 

First Chronicles 16:12 and Psalm 105:5 say the same thing: “Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.” Jesus told his disciples to continue to celebrate that last Passover meal, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). 

One of the best ways to understand what God is doing today is to look back on what he has done. The Lord has always done wondrous things and he always will. God is going to redeem these days for a greater good. That’s why God allowed them. 

How will he do that in your life? 

Live in the present 

Life today isn’t normal. We don’t randomly get in our cars and go wherever we want to go. The news we most want to hear are the predictions that offer hope for the future. QVC sold over 140,000 of their Christmas-related “Today’s Special Value.” (Confession: one of those is on its way to my house.) Apparently, a LOT of us enjoy thinking about Christmas in July! 

But, today matters or the Lord wouldn’t have given it to us. 

I’ve always loved Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That verse is for July 2020 too. 

When you remember July 2020, will you realize you survived it or remember how you lived it? 

What are you learning about yourself and about God during these months? 

What will the Lord teach you today? 

This season of “captivity” seems long. We don’t need to be Pollyannaish about it, but neither do we need to be like Scrooge. 

Daniel and the others who were taken captive to Babylon spent seventy years in Persia. Our present situation looks pretty good with that perspective. The nation of Israel returned to their land, humbled, poor, and knowing their need of God. Captivity was a “reset” for God’s people. God knew they needed a new course, and so a new course was provided. 

Is that what God is doing today? 

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). That would be a good perspective for God’s people right now. If we are simply “waiting” for the present to pass, we are going to miss what God has for us to discover, learn, do, and learn to “redo” today. 

Practically speaking: 

  • What are you accomplishing right now? 
  • How are you growing? 
  • Whom is the Lord using you to encourage and bless? 
  • How have you changed and learned to do things differently? 

Every day we receive God’s daily bread. That bread is for today, and it won’t be any good tomorrow. 

We should pray as Jesus taught us to pray and then live with what we have learned.

How does the Bible teach us to look forward? 

Spend some time today thinking about a favorite verse as it relates to July 2020. 

The Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome when he wrote the book of Philippians. His perspective should help ours today. He said, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

What if Paul had shut down his ministry when they put him in prison? We wouldn’t have Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, or Philemon. 

Paul had no knowledge that those letters would one day be considered Scripture. He was just a servant of God who adjusted his life to continue doing ministry, even though imprisoned. In fact, it is almost certain we wouldn’t have the letters had he not been in prison. 

Paul was “sure” that the Lord was still at work, continuing the completion process, until “the day of Jesus Christ.” The Apostle was sure he wasn’t finished serving because he was still alive

Christians have a lot to look forward to. What God said in the past will come true. What God promised for the future will happen. Paul was “sure” of it and that confidence inspired his ministry.

Today

Live with the certainty that if you have been given today, God has a plan for it. 

If Jesus hasn’t returned, we still have things to learn, people to love, and ministry to accomplish. 

“This is the day the Lord has made.” How will you rejoice, and be glad it in? 

You will have that answer when you ask for and receive your daily bread. But, when you take of it, remember Jesus. He died to provide you a future, filled with hope. And what you do today has eternal impact. Today is a gift God has given you for the sake of heaven. 

“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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” —Isaiah 9:6–7 

Merry Christmas . . . in July.

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