At Just the Right Time for Christmas
By Col. Scott McChrystal, Battle Ready Ministries Board Advisor
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Have you ever stopped to consider the importance of timing? Technology controls everything from traffic lights to the number of beats per minute of a human heart. Factory assembly lines precisely time the production of everything from cell phones to cars. Precise timing has guided people to the moon and to the lowest depths of the ocean.
But the most precise human timing pales in comparison to what God does every second of every day. From our planet, to our solar system, to our galaxy and beyond, without precise timing our universe would devolve into chaos.
More amazing yet is God’s timing in coming to Earth to rescue us from our sins. “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4:4,5 NIV). Just think—at the perfect point in history, Jesus made a way for you to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. The Creator of everything cares so much for you that He sacrificed His Son to pay the penalty for your sins. The door is wide open for you to come into right relationship with God.
But God’s perfect timing isn’t limited to your future in Heaven. His sovereign ability to act at just the right moment in your life today demonstrates His incredible love for you. Sometimes we recognize God’s miraculous intervention, but so often it goes unnoticed until we look back and see what God has done.
I’ve experienced God’s perfect timing on numerous occasions, but one stands out. Eight years ago, my wife started telling me I needed to see a dermatologist. For months I ignored her comments. Finally, she scheduled an appointment, and I went to see the doctor.
The dermatologist quickly created a bloodbath, cutting numerous skin samples for processing at the lab. Days later we got a phone call saying I had melanoma and needed immediate surgery. I didn’t even know what melanoma was, and I certainly didn’t know how deadly it could be.
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I had surgery. When I woke up from the anesthesia, my surgeon looked me in the eye and told me how fortunate I was. Apparently, the melanoma had penetrated several layers of skin in my shoulder area but had not made it through the final layer. Had the surgery occurred even a week later, the melanoma would likely have spread into my bloodstream and killed me just months or even weeks later. The Lord spoke to my wife at just the right time. Thankfully, she listened.
What about you? Can you recall events when the Lord intervened at a pivotal moment? It doesn’t have to be a life-or-death event. He cares about every aspect of your life. Maybe He opened a job opportunity or helped locate just the right deal on a car purchase. Perhaps He allowed you to hear your baby’s first words or see your son score his first touchdown.
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God’s perfect timing, though, doesn’t automatically generate a positive outcome. Our participation and choices can make a difference. All too frequently the Lord’s perfectly timed intervention is rejected. One of the saddest verses in Scripture is John 1:11: “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”
We’re fast approaching Christmas, the day we celebrate God’s sending Jesus on a great rescue mission. The Bible tells us in several places that Jesus came at “just the right time.” Some received Him, but many rejected Him as the Messiah. The same applies today.
So let me pose two questions. First, have you accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord? If you have, that’s awesome! If not, may I remind you that your decision to accept or reject Jesus is the most important and far-reaching choice you will ever make. It will echo into eternity.
I’m not trying to frighten you—simply reporting what God’s Word tells us. Jesus is coming back. We don’t know when, but it could be soon—very soon. Please don’t miss your opportunity.
Second, even if you’re spiritually right with the Lord, there are likely people in your life who have yet to receive Jesus or you simply don’t know their spiritual condition? They may be family members, friends, or co-workers. Believe me, I know how difficult it can be to approach someone you care about on this topic. No one likes to feel rejected, or even hated. It has happened to me on many occasions. Jesus reminds us: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18 NIV).
The Lord is always faithful to do His part and do it at just the right time. Perhaps today you can make a phone call or set up a lunch appointment to share the gospel with that person who has not yet decided to follow Jesus.
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Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal, Ret.
Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal was commissioned in 1970 and served 31 years on active duty, 10 as an infantry officer and the remainder as a United States Army chaplain. His line officer experience included a tour in Vietnam as an Infantry Platoon Leader and three assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His final assignment was as the senior chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He retired from active duty in 2005 and served as the Military/VA Representative and Endorser within the Chaplaincy Department for the General Council of the Assemblies of God from 2005-2019. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Award, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, and the Army Ranger Tab. His education includes a Master of Business Administration Degree, a Master of Divinity Degree, a Doctor of Ministry Degree, and graduation from The United States Army War College. In recent years, he and his wife have written several Christian devotionals. In addition, Scott co-authored a Christian action-novel and served as the managing editor for the The Warrior’s Bible, an application Bible for the military community. He presently serves as the Executive Liaison for The Warrior’s Journey, a non-profit organization that supports the military community. He’s also a member of the Distinguished Advisory Board for Battle Ready Ministries. He and his wife, Judy, live in Springfield, Missouri, and have 4 children and 12 grandchildren.
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A Prayer for the Christmas Feast
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your love that brought Jesus to the earth, and thank you for your love that brings us to this Christmas table. Today as we share this Christmas feast, may we also share with one another a joyful heart and a warm smile. ABBA, help us to understand that Christmas is a celebration, a time for giving and not simply a day we exchange gifts. The spirit of Christmas is in the "togetherness," it's in the thought to which we put into thinking about others, it's a selfless time, where we forgive, take stock of what's important and become "better" versions of ourselves. May our Christmas dinner be filled with kindness. And may the memories of today warm our hearts for years to come.
In Jesus' Precious name we pray, Amen.