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Tag Archives: Christmas

  • The Most Important Christmas Choice

    Posted on December 4, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.'" Luke 2:13-14 (NLT)

    Tis' the season to be merry... and stressed. Although it should be a season of peace, this month can often make us feel more tangled up inside than a messy string of Christmas lights.

    Some people dread the hustle, bustle, and emotional rustle this time of year brings, knowing that irritability, loneliness, or depression will threaten. While there are others who may love the Christmas season, but worry, busyness, family conflicts, and unmet expectations take their toll.

    In either case, we have a decision. We can choose to get bogged down with stress or we can choose to bow down in worship.

    Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of praise in Luke 2:13-14. When Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds sharing the good news. Then many other angels joined together and praised God.

    "Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.'" (NLT)

    That's not the only place the Bible records angels worshipping the Lord. In Hebrews 1:6 it says, "And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, 'Let all of God's angels worship him.'" (NLT) And Revelation 5:11-12a says, "Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus." (NLT)

    Angels serve as role models of worship. They bow down before Jesus. They shout with incredible joy as they sing songs of praise. Through worship, angels spread the news of God's glory and exhibit holy reverence. Angels intentionally and deliberately spend time praising God.

    Keeping Christ in Christmas is more than just a cliché. It is an intentional act of worship. It requires a heart of adoration, much like the angels had. When Jesus is the focus of our holiday, we're centered on His love, peace, and joy.

    This prompts us to be His hands and feet to others in need. When worship fills our hearts, it leaves little room for aggravation in long lines at the store. We focus on what Christmas is truly about—the amazing gift of a Savior—rather than stressing out over buying the perfect presents. We exhibit grace to someone when we'd rather do otherwise. Worship turns our attention to giving thanks to Jesus for all He has done, rather than letting stress strip His joy from our hearts.

    And it might even mean joining in with the heavenly chorus to sing praises to Him, even if we can't carry a tune!

    The holidays can bring a flurry of heightened emotions and can often result in an unhealthy level of stress which can prevent us from engaging in worship and praising the One we are supposed to be celebrating.

    There will be lots of choices to be made during the month of December: where to serve, what gifts to buy, and how many events to attend. The most important choice we can make is to worship and sing praises to our Lord. For His gift. For His love. For His peace.

    And when our hearts are at peace, our holidays can be too.

    Lord, I choose to intentionally worship and praise You during this Christmas season. Help me stay focused on You and Your goodness. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Pick a praise song that you will commit to sing to the Lord this Christmas season as a way to intentionally focus on worshipping Him.

    How have you allowed the emotions of the season to distract you from worship?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 148:2, "Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Luke, Christmas

  • Liz Curtis Higgs - The Women of Christmas

    Posted on October 10, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
    Let earth receive her King;
    Let every heart prepare him room,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
    —Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World,” 1719

    A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God. Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.

    Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way this season. In The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, bestselling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of these three women, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

    Earlier this year, I sat down with Liz to talk about her new book. In reading this, you will notice a woman who is passionate about the birth of Christ and how it is the unveiling of a much larger start. The redemption of God's people.

    John: You have a new book coming out this fall called The Women of Christmas.

    Liz: Not The Good Girls of Christmas. (Laughs.) They are pretty amazing women.

    John: Elizabeth, Mary and Anna. Want to talk a little bit about that book?

    Liz: Sure. Of course they are in chronological order. Most people would say, "Well heavens, wouldn't you mention Mary first?" Not if you're going in chronological order. If you go in the order they unroll in the Bible, that's how it goes.

    It started as a message that I shared at a conference. It's fun to begin that way, because you get immediate audience response. You see what speaks to people's hearts and what you need to dig deeper on. One of the challenges of writing without having shared it anywhere else is you're like, "Well, I'm excited about this material, but will a reader be? Will an audience be?" I don't do it that way often, but that time it started with audience response and going, "Okay, I think there's something here." Then I blogged about it.

    I have a Bible study blog once a week. This summer I did the 20 verses you love most. I asked about 1,000 people to tell me their favorite verse in the Bible and then I tallied them up. So they're really my readers' favorites. You know, people I know as opposed to just a published list. So fascinating. We've done kind of a countdown style. Of course it still lives on the blog, so if you're curious what those 20 verses are, they're there.

    I just did a verse a week. You're thinking, "A verse a week? What would you say about a verse?" Oh dear, about 1,500 words of pulling it apart. I love to do that! Look at the different translations. Look what the commentators have to say. Though, before I ever look at a commentator, I look at the Word as it is, and ask God what He wants to show me. That's what I share. It's just been a pure joy.

    The Women of Christmas was five posts on my blog in December of 2012. Going a little deeper into their stories I thought, "Oh my word, there's so much here!" You've got angels showing up, the first one with Zechariah at the altar of incense, and then Gabriel next appears to Mary. We have Mary talking to Gabriel, then we have an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream, then the shepherds get one angel and then they get the Heavenly Hosts. Thousands, the Bible says, thousands of angels singing.

    Though I have to say, all the Bible says is "saying." It doesn't use the word "sing." But I think if thousands of angels were saying, "Glory to God in the highest," it would sound like music, simply because that many people trying to speak at once would have to have rhythm and movement. I think it must be a singing like nothing we've ever heard, a sound beyond anything human.

    So, you've got angels appearing. The Holy Spirit keeps showing up. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, that's how she knows that Mary is filled with Jesus. Then Mary bursts into song, and that song, those are not Mary's words. She was 12, 12½, uneducated and poor. Yet you look at The Magnificat, the words are exquisite. They're drawn from a deep well. You'll recognize little bits of Hannah and Hannah's words, and Isaiah's words in there. I mean it's a deep, rich well that had to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. It wasn't just this 12-year-old saying, "Wow!" It's really exquisite, beautiful wording.

    John the Baptist in his mother's womb leaps because he is filled with the Holy Spirit. That was an expectation promised by Gabriel, that the son would be filled with the Spirit even before he was born. Then later Simeon, by the Holy Spirit, sees that this is the baby Jesus, and Anna knows this is the Messiah she's waited her whole life for. We have angels, we have the Holy Spirit at work, we have unexpected appearances, we have visitors from afar. It's a remarkable story.

    You're going, "I know Liz. It's the Christmas story. We've all heard it 10 million times." It's the stories you've heard 10 million times that you need to look at most carefully, because we've had so many layers put on that story by culture, by movies. I mean, don't you always picture Mary riding in on a donkey just about to go into labor? That's how it's always shown, but that is not in the Bible. It never has her on a donkey. It never has her coming in at the moment of delivery. It just says, "While she was in Bethlehem, the time came to give birth." I know, I know. You're saying, "Liz, you just blew my image. My creche scene is already not looking right."

    John: What do I do with my nativity scene?

    Liz: That's right. What am I going to do with the scene? The wise men, when do they come? We don't know for sure. We know they come, but we don't know for sure when. We know that they're in a house when they come. The word that's used is house not a manger, not a barn or anything like that, so maybe it’s a little later than we're picturing it. I'm not trying to tear down Christmas or trying to tear down our image of Christmas. On the contrary, I want us to go as closely back to the real Christmas as we can, because in that is the power of the story that is so overwhelming. It's not red and green (laughs), but it is amazing. It's just amazing.

    These women in particular all touch Jesus. They all have an encounter with Jesus that brings out the most incredible things. When Mary walks in the house, Elizabeth is blown away. “How is it that the mother of my Lord… “My Lord”! He's, at most, two weeks in utero. “My Lord.” Wow. We struggle to commit to our Lord when He is a risen Savior and His whole story is told in the Word. I mean we have so much to go on.

    John: And she was right there.

    Liz: She was right there. That again is the Holy Spirit stirring in her. "I felt my baby move with joy," she says. It's interesting, the part about “with joy,” because babies can move for lots of reasons. She's six months pregnant at that time, so babies are moving around by then. You have what they call the quickening, the sense of life in you if you have something cold to drink or eat something sweet. Elizabeth knows it's joy. It wasn't, you know, a pomegranate. It was joy that moved her son.

    Amazing women. I'm so excited about this one. I'm so excited to do a real, I hope, substantive Bible study and to put it in a gift book so that it is gift-able. And for the one month of the year you can give somebody who doesn't know God, you can give them a book about Christmas and most people will receive it with joy. "Oh thank you, a book about Christmas." For whatever reason, they're not afraid of it as long as it's December (laughs). As long as it's December, you can give them a book about Jesus.

    I wanted a beautiful book. A book that would seem non-threatening. The Women of Christmas doesn't sound like, "Hi, I would like to change your life." But I would.

    Download the first chapter of The Women of Christmas by clicking here.


    This post was posted in Books, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Christmas, Liz Curtis Higgs

  • Brandon Heath Announces Holiday Album, Christmas Is Here

    Posted on September 16, 2013 by Family Christian

    Emmy Award-winning, five-time GRAMMY nominee Brandon Heath will release his first holiday offering, Christmas Is Here, Oct.15, 2013. Rich in musical diversity, Christmas Is Here takes listeners on a nostalgic journey through the most anticipated time of the year. “I want people to just hear a song and slip back into the past,” Heath says. “Good Christmas music is really about sparking people’s memories.”

    Heath has dreamed of creating a Christmas album for a long time and invited some friends to join him in the studio to make the process memorable. Sonja Isaacs, Ellie Holcomb and Matt Wertz all contributed background vocals, and Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Matt Wertz)  produced the album, which was recorded in mid-July.

    The award-winning songwriter looked to some of his favorite Christmas albums for inspiration—recordings by Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., Patty Loveless and Kenny & Dolly—desiring to craft a timeless release fans would want to pull out year after year. Reflecting his influences, Christmas Is Here features three originals and seven classics, including traditional arrangements of “The Christmas Song,” “O Come All Ye Faithful/Angels, We Have Heard on High,” “Silent Night” and “The Bleak Midwinter,” among others. The well-known Christmas songs showcase a spectrum of sounds ranging from big band to a cappella to bluegrass.

    Two of the three new cuts reveal Heath’s witty personality that has endeared the hit-making award winner to audiences. “The Day After Thanksgiving” pokes fun at the Christmas commercialism that sets in at the end of summer, leading most to completely overlook fall, one of Heath’s favorite times of year. “Momma Wouldn’t Lie to Me” is equally as lighthearted, with Heath putting his parents on the spot for the truth about Santa, mirroring a real-life conversation from his childhood. “Rest assured, no child-like beliefs will be harmed due to the listening of the song. No spoilers!” Heath proclaims.

    In his trademark storyteller fashion, Heath highlights a lesser known character in the Christmas story on “Just A Girl”—the innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph away. “I took a little creative license to tell what happened,” he explains. Through the innkeeper’s eyes, Mary is seen as an ordinary girl, but Heath notes the irony of the scene. “There’s a story [about] when a non-believer asked a Catholic, ‘Why is Mary so crucial to the Christmas story?’ And the Catholic says, ‘She’s just a girl who said yes.’ I think that says a lot for us,” Heath offers. “God is often giving us opportunities we don’t realize the significance of, but we just need to say yes. God can do things though ordinary people. Mary was just a girl, but she was also a catalyst in a huge event in the rest of history.”

    Fans can see Heath live on tobyMac’s “Hits Deep” Tour beginning November 7 and running through mid-December. The tour will hit 20 cities this fall and also features Mandisa, Jamie Grace, Colton Dixon, Chris August and Capital Kings. Heath and Mandisa will also reunite for select dates this fall on their popular “Brandisa” tour.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Brandon Heath, Andrew Peterson, Christmas, Chris August, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Matt Wertz, Colton Dixon, Jamie Grace, The Isaacs

  • Christmas Oranges Comes to DVD

    Posted on August 21, 2013 by Family Christian

    Share a slice of Christmas sweetened with friendship in this classic story based on the book by Linda Bethers and Ben Sowards. When an epidemic forces the closing of Greenwoods Orphanage, a young girl named Rose (Bailee Johnson) is abruptly shipped from the only home she's ever known. From the warmth and kindness of Mrs. Hartley (Nancy Stafford), Rose finds Irongates and its strict headmaster, Mr. Crampton (Edward Herrman), to be cold and cruel. When Rose learns that each child receives an orange on Christmas, she waits in eager anticipation, but will Mr. Crampton's cruelty take away her special treat on Christmas morning?

    Look for Christmas Oranges by clicking here.


    This post was posted in Movies and was tagged with Featured, Movies, Christmas

  • God With Us

    Posted on December 25, 2012 by Family Christian

    Boyd Bailey

    “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:22-23

     

    Wow! The Creator came to dwell with His creation. The all knowing One came to teach teachers and students limited by their lack of knowledge and understanding. The ever present One came to comfort hurting people stuck in their suffering. The all powerful One came to serve weak people, empowering them with His Spirit. The Almighty sent His only son Jesus into the world, fully God and fully man. Yes, the Word became flesh! 

    God is with us to face down our fears by faith. God is with us in our doubts. God is with us in our hurts, applying His healing balm of grace. God is with us in our transitions to grow our trust in Him.  God is with us at work and at home. God is with us in our uncertainty.  God is with us when we feel His presence and when we don't feel Him near. God is with us in our successes and in our failures. God is with us and for us for His glory!

    "And surely I [Jesus] am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)

    God is with us in our modern technology and our antiquated activities. The Lord is with us in our big cities and our small towns. Jesus is with us when we feel joy, laughter and loss. Christ is with us to comfort us in our pain and encourage us to persevere for Him. He is with us in the ups and the downs. He is with us and He is in us to work through us!

    Therefore, because Christ is with you, you can be confident of His wisdom and direction. Fools flounder for lack of faith, but you have the Faithful One as the facilitator of your circumstances. Immanuel entered the earth by birth and entered your heart by new birth. Your Savior Jesus has saved you from your sins and your Lord Jesus commands you to follow His ways and experience His life. He gave His life and came to life for your life!

    “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for being with us on earth and for being my life.

    Related Readings: 1 Kings 8:57; Isaiah 8:10; Psalm 46:11; Acts 10:41; Ephesians 2:6

    Post/Tweet today: Immanuel entered the earth by birth and entered your heart by new birth. #Christmas

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Matthew, Isaiah, Christmas

  • A Christmas Prayer

    Posted on December 25, 2012 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

    Thousands of years ago God gave us the gift of His one and only Son, born in a humble manger. Making room in our hearts for Jesus through prayer during this busy day is a gift we give to Him, and ourselves. Right now, let's quiet our racing thoughts and take a moment to enjoy the hush of Immanuel—God with us.

    The Manger of My Heart
    This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
    Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
    As I prepare for this Holy day and gifts to be given,
    Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.

    The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
    You came as a baby born in a manger.
    Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
    Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.

    Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus' birth,
    when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
    Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
    And angels announced, "Into your darkness, God brings His Light."

    "Do not be afraid," they said, to shepherds in the field.
    Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
    Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
    Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.

    Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
    Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
    Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
    In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.

    This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
    Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
    Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
    Keep me close to You, Lord. It's in Your wonderful Name I pray.

    God's presence in our lives is a gift we can open not only today but every day of the year.

    Dear Lord, I'm so thankful for the gift of Jesus, Immanuel, my God with me. Help me be still when I feel frazzled and remember You are God. I want to make room for You in the manger of my heart this Christmas and unwrap Your presence each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    When you feel anxious, empty or stressed, pause and pray each word of today's Christmas prayer. Why not print it and share it with family today?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 91:1-2, "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (NIV)

    © 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Isaiah, Christmas, Prayer

  • Night Before Christmas

    Posted on December 24, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:4-5

     

    It was the night before Christmas and Jesus, who was from the line of David, was to be born in the city of David. He was coming, not as a King, but as a Savior to shepherd the souls of hurting humanity In God’s eyes His Son had always been and always would be. But to mankind the birth of Jesus was the defining moment in history (His story!). Calendars began to divide time: BC (before Christ) to AD (Anno Domini: in the year of our Lord). 

    In a similar way we define our conversion to Jesus as a new birth into His kingdom. The calendar of our soul is clearly categorized as before Christ and after Christ. The night before our new birth we were lost in our sins. But at the daybreak of our faith, we stepped into the light of forgiveness and  were saved from our sins. Indeed, Jesus was born into the world to seek and to save the lost. He was born, so that we could be born again!

    “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

    Have you made room for your Lord Jesus at the inn of your soul or is He in the hay barn of your heart? The world’s activities are loud, busy and demanding. It’s easy to drift under their demands and forget the words of our Lord, “Follow Me.” Yes, once the excitement of your new found faith wears off the world can wear you down. So, be intentional as humble shepherds and wise men to search out your Savior. Give Him gifts of gratitude.

    Like Joseph, be responsible in care of the mundane: be compliant to the government, know the condition of your family, identify their needs and give them security. Indeed, it’s out of your every day obedience to Christ’s commands that He births faith, hope and love. Your heavenly Father takes care of you, as you take care of His business. Christmas Eve is a celebration of Christ’s entrance on  earth and  the joy He brings to all who believe!

    “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Christ’s birth and for my new birth of faith.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 20:7; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 6:4;  John 4:14, 7:42

    Post/Tweet today: Jesus was born so we could be born again. #Christmas

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Isaiah, Christmas

  • Giving, Not Getting

    Posted on December 24, 2012 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families ..." Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV 1984)

    "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" The loudspeaker blared out the joyful lyrics of the familiar holiday song that snowy Christmas Eve afternoon.

    Everywhere I glanced, people were searching for last-minute gift purchases, holiday baking ingredients or that one final string of twinkle lights that would make their Christmas downright Norman Rockwell perfect.

    However, as I stood in line paying for the ingredients for my assigned Cheesy Potato casserole for our family gathering, a lump formed in my throat. Soon my lips quivered and hot tears fell onto my wind-chapped cheeks.

    How can everyone be so happy? Why is the world going on as if nothing happened? My friend Julie died last night leaving behind a husband and eight children who need her. Doesn't anyone care?

    I wanted to scream. And I wanted Christmas to be cancelled that year. There was no holiday cheer in me and I thought the rest of the world should follow suit and just 'humbug' the whole celebration.

    Our family made it through that holiday. My young children, although sad about their friends' mother's death, perked up Christmas morning, eager to open their gifts. My husband and I carried on with our normal life and, over the next few months, tried to help lighten the load of our now widower friend.

    Several in our circle of friends made meals on a weekly basis. A college girl offered to clean their home. One of Julie's sons joined our home school for kindergarten a few days each week. Although we still experienced great heartache knowing our friend wasn't coming back, lightening her husband's load and cheering the children made us feel as if we were fulfilling the mission God had for us.

    Ever since that year, our family has become even more aware of the fact that for many, Christmas isn't the most wonderful time of the year. It is downright painful.

    Loneliness looms. Depressions darken. Even suicides soar. While scores of us delight in the season, drinking the sights, sounds and smells, others are numb from pain and despise the season.

    And so I'm reminded of what a sweet neighbor of mine once told me, "Christmas is an excuse for making someone's life better." She was so right! There are souls waiting to be encouraged and included at the holidays. If only we would cease our own sometimes self-focused hustle and bustle long enough to see!

    After that sad season, we've made it our mission to reach out at the holidays more than we play the commercialized "gimmee game."

    Christmas is not about getting. Its very essence is giving.

    When our family has been intentional about being Jesus' hands and feet at the holidays, He has allowed us to brighten the lives of many. We sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, decorate homes and address Christmas cards for widows, shop for the needy, bake for the brokenhearted, and often include the lonely in our normal Christmas activities as if they were part of our family.

    Because really, they are. Maybe it is your family God wants to set a lonely soul in this year.

    Let's vow this Christmas to make someone's life better, richer in love, and fuller in the comforts of knowing they are noticed and cared for.

    Dear Lord, at this time when You sent Christ to earth, may I too reach out to make someone's life richer, fuller and far less lonely. I want to be Your hands and feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith by Karen Ehman

    Reflect and Respond:
    Gather the family. Solicit responses to the following questions, "Who do you know that might be lonely at Christmas this year? Now, what creative way could we help to combat their loneliness and make them feel loved?"

    List the action steps you will take to make these ideas a reality. Mark the calendar to ensure it happens.

    Has there ever been a holiday season where you felt gloomy or alone? Did anyone do something to make you feel loved and included?

    How can reaching out to the lonely be a reflection of God reaching down from heaven to us on that very first Christmas?

    Power Verses:
    Matthew 25:40, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (NIV)

    © 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Christmas, Giving

  • First Christmas

    Posted on December 23, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.” Luke 2:11-12

     

    The focus of the first Christmas was Jesus. It was His day. There was no competition from commercialism seeking economic gain. The gifts were given to Him. God was the recipient of gratitude and generosity. He was glorified on this day of salvation for all who would come to believe in Jesus as God’s only Son. There was an appreciation for the Almighty’s descent into the decadence of humanity. There was no feuding from other faiths jockeying with each other for time in the Savior’s spotlight. On the contrary, there was a religious respect and humble worship from those who traveled great distances from their diverse origins of belief. On this day, Jesus unified sincere seekers of truth.

    The first Christmas, however, was not without controversy. Politically, He was a lightning rod (some things never change). Government leaders felt threatened, as if a traitor had infiltrated their influence over the masses. Involuntary spies were sent to validate His presence. Once His birth had been verified, the powers-that-be went to work. Insecurity and fear drive people to commit irrational acts, and it was no different back then. So what started as a celestial coronation for the Prince of Peace ended with jealous leaders taking severe and deadly action. The Christ-child was driven from their pitiful, but powerful presence. They destroyed other God-fearing people in the process. The community was cast into chaos when Christ was removed from their culture.

    We can learn from the first Christmas, to keep Christ central in worship and society. He is the wonder of our worship. He is the reason for our giving gifts. It is because we celebrate His birthday that we pause to pray, reflect, and plan to follow His will in a more robust and intentional manner. Our Master came to earth and made Himself like man. He took on the form of a servant, though He could have crowned Himself as King. He pointed us to the love and forgiveness of His heavenly Father. The Christ-child was born of a virgin. He was God who dwelt among us, but sometimes we forget Him, even on His birthday. 

    One reason we have failed to keep Christ in Christmas is that we have failed to keep Him in some of our churches. Why should the culture embrace the Christ of Christmas, when some of our churches have marginalized their Master? Let’s start by inviting the Almighty back into our churches with fresh and revitalized reverence in worship, evangelism, and discipleship. Let’s prayerfully and responsibly “lay hands” on leaders who fear God, hate sin, love people, and teach the Bible. Christmas is losing its luster for the Lord because Christians have forgotten to fear God.

    His birth is only significant if His death and resurrection are significant. The Christ of Christmas becomes compelling when we, as followers, flock to Him in faithfulness and obedience. Let all who name the name of Jesus revisit Him in the awe and worship of that first Christmas. Let’s exclaim with enthusiasm, to a hurting world, that He has come to heal broken hearts and revive sick souls. We unapologetically celebrate His birthday with passion because God is with us. He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son. Let’s make this Christmas like the first Christmas. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, and love while we worship our Lord together. The first Christmas fuels our faith and recalibrates us to Christ.


    Post/Tweet: Christmas celebrates Almighty God’s descent into the decadence of humanity. #Christmas

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Christmas

  • Christ in Christmas

    Posted on December 22, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

     

    Christ in Christmas is like memorial in Memorial Day, mother in Mother’s Day, father in Father’s Day, labor in Labor Day, independence in Independence Day, and thanksgiving in Thanksgiving Day. However, in our attempt to not offend other religions and to become politically correct, we have diluted and desecrated the true meaning of Christmas.

    Indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season. He is the explanation for eternal life. He is the answer from almighty God for grace and truth incarnate. He is the beginning and the end, a bright light in the darkest darkness. He is our hope on earth as we prepare for our home in heaven.

    If Christ is not in Christmas, then churches can convert to corporate offices and missions can morph into humanitarian agencies. Christ in Christmas creates a tension for those who have yet to trust, but to us who have been saved, it is the most significant celebration.

    “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).

    Christ in Christmas means you live for a purpose much grander than merchandise and commerce. Your children have a legacy of love for God and country, and service to others. You work as unto the Lord and give generously out of gratitude for God’s bountiful blessings.

    Christ in Christmas motivates you to live like you were dying and to die like you were living, all in a spirit of faith, hope, and love. By God’s grace you promote a Christian worldview populated by praying people and full of eternal opportunities, while on guard in Spirit-led discernment to Satan’s schemes and evil’s deceptive intentions.

    Christ in Christmas compels you to exclaim, “He was born so we would believe, He died so we would live, and He rose so we would rise!” Therefore, in humility and with pride, boldly keep Christ in Christmas. His birth is your excuse to brag about Jesus.

    The Bible says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

    Prayer: How can I keep Christ in Christmas with my church and family traditions and my everyday life and conversations?

    Related Readings: Isaiah 19:20; Malachi 3:1; Acts 2:36

    Post/Tweet: Christ in Christmas means we live for a purpose much more compelling than commerce. #Christmas

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mailwisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Galatians, Christmas

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