Isaiah 9:6 KJV — For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
“As you think of Christmas, let me encourage you to think of a cross.” Pastor Chuck Swindol
Pastor Swindol went on to explain how the horizontal beam of the cross is the line “a child is born” and the vertical beam of the cross is “a son is given”.
God chose a human to bare His own Son, as He came from Heaven to Earth.
Who would have thought a baby would be the answer for mankind’s desperate need of a Savior?
Only God could weave such an incredible story.
Even Jesus’s disciples did not expect the cross, but God knew the way to conquer sin was to sacrifice His Son.
As weighty as the sins of all mankind were, they had no power over Jesus Christ, for His death on the cross was actually a victory which was clearly displayed when Jesus rose from the dead.
A symbol of Christmas is a cross, for it was as much a part of Jesus’s miraculous life as His birth.
The light of salvation shines through Jesus, for He is the light of the world.
May our Redeemer be reflected in our lives this day.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your incredible gift. Lord, during this Christmas season please help us to live as You did, to love as You do, and to rely completely upon You. Lord, please help us to keep our focus upon Your blessed gift of redemption. Please help us to freely give the gifts You’ve given us: forgiveness, joy, compassion, understanding, and truth. Lord, please help us to be faithful in doing good, looking for the opportunities You provide to share the truth of Your birth. Lord, please keep us from growing bitter, hardened to those around us. Instead, please remind us that You died to save the lost. Thank You! You are the reason we can celebrate and have hope for eternity. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:8-12 KJV
God announced the birth of Jesus in such a manner as to dispel any confusion.
He sent an angel to tell the shepherds and gave specifics as to how they would know Him.
The angel proclaimed, in detail, who He is: a Savior, Christ the Lord.
It was obvious to the shepherds that responsibility came with this announcement.
They didn’t miss it, but went and found Jesus.
Then they proclaimed all they knew.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Luke 2:17-18 KJV
We too are privileged with the knowledge of Jesus’s birth.
With that knowledge comes responsibility: we should be seeking Him daily and proclaiming the truth of who He is and what He has done.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your miraculous birth and all the blessings of it. Thank You for the shepherds who were the ones chosen to spread the announcement of Your birth. Lord, thank You for Your Word and the blessings we have in these events being recorded for us. Lord, please help me to be diligent to seek You daily and to live a life which proclaims You. Thank You, Jesus for all You have done and are doing. Thank You for Your love. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
1 Peter 3:15 KJV — But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
I’ve been struck by these words often of late.
When preparing for the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve not always thought to prepare my heart to the same degree in which I prepare the meal.
This I state to my shame, but am thankful for the Lord’s correction.
Thus, for the days leading up to Christmas, I’ll be focusing upon preparing my heart to celebrate the birth of my Savior.
Not neglecting the preparations of food and hone, but rather looking at these things as an out pouring of my heart’s desire to bring glory to God and gratitude for the greatest gift: salvation.
Psalm 30:12 KJV — To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your precious sacrifice and gift of salvation. Thank You for the gift of life eternal through Your redemption. Please make my heart ready to set apart myself for You in a special way as I celebrate the blessings You have given. Please place Your Word in my heart and may my lips sing Your praises continually. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
Although gingerbread cookies are a common Christmas tradition, it isn’t one of ours.
Our family has always baked cookies at Christmas, but for some reason gingerbread men wasn’t one of them.
However, we have had a family tradition of gingerbread houses.
These were last year’s and we had a good time making them.
But this year, I have needed to let go of some family traditions.
One of them being the baking of gingerbread houses and then the activity of putting them together on Christmas Day.
Instead, Anne and I baked gingerbread men and she is currently busy making frosting so people can decorate their own.
I only frosted two dozen for putting out with the other cookies.
We will have many things which are different this year, but I’m certain it will still be a lovely holiday.
The Lord reminded me yesterday that it is best to hold tightly to Jesus, rather than traditions.
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Matthew 15:1-6 NKJV
It is easy to get carried away in trying to follow things as they used to be or to uphold the expectations of others and ourselves.
But if our traditions are encroaching upon our joy at the birth of our Savior the tradition needs to change.
Because it’s our hearts that truly matter, not what foods we eat nor what gifts we give or even how fancy our decorations.
If we manage to fulfill every obligation and check off all on our lists, but fail to worship the One whose birth we are celebrating, then we’ve sadly missed the point.
Christmas is about Christ Jesus.
May we each set aside whatever is needed so we can truly worship the King of kings whose birth we remember on December 25.
I’m thankful to God that He has altered some of our traditions and I’m praying we can remain focused upon Him.
I pray the same for you and your family.
May God bless and keep you dear reader.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your birth and the opportunity we have to celebrate it. Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me of the importance of You in the midst of all our preparations. Lord, please help us to remain focused upon You during the family, food, and fun. Lord, please bless those who are struggling, the hurting, the sick, the needy, and especially those who mourn. For although Your birth was an incredible gift and reason to rejoice not everyone was glad and that led to great loss. May we never forget those among us who are suffering. Thank You that You love each and every one of us. Thank You for Your salvation, Jesus. Happy birthday! Amen.
Sometimes, we don’t want to change, because we fear what will be lost in gaining the new.
That was me recently.
My husband had ordered me a new cell phone because my old one was falling apart.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t excited when he informed me of my new phone, because I didn’t want a new one.
I’m not very technically savvy.
Yes, I know the age I’m in requires it.
Yes, I’ve been blessed by the ability to access things from home which used to require a trip to town.
No, I’m still not techy.
I have had to learn how to do many things on my computer or cell in the past and when that season was over, I enjoyed the freedom of not having to spend hours on either device.
But the draw back is, I’m sadly behind the times on working with the latest app or program.
Yet, for this season, I feel my priorities are in dealing with the people directly, especially our son as I homeschool.
Thankfully, the Lord has helped me learn many things so I’m still able to do what is required.
But starting over to learn a new phone isn’t what I want to spend my time on right now.
However, it is what was needed.
My old phone was dropping calls, requiring me to talk with the speaker on so others could hear me, and often refusing to work at all.
The Lord has been quietly walking me through another new in the midst of this transition.
He’s been so good at reminding me of His truths throughout.
His peace has been shaping my heart and putting an end to my fears.
For His timing is perfect and His blessing is without limit.
I’m thankful to the Lord for giving me so much new.
I’m blessed to walk into each day, letting go of my personal expectations and clinging to God’s direction.
There’s a good deal of discomfort in change, but it’s been the tool of the Lord to teach my heart.
I keep returning to these words:
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV — Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Simple and concise, they bring both encouragement and comfort.
I know this time of year, although often construed as “the jolliest” season, can become anything but “peace on earth”.
Our full schedules and frazzled nerves can make us struggle to find “goodwill towards men” or women or anyone.
My prayer today is for each of us to find both peace and goodwill first in our Savior and then for one another.
That we might be truly filled with joy and gratitude to the One whose birth we are celebrating.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your Word and the comfort it brings. Lord, thank You for making me learn things I didn’t want to and for stretching me in ways I wasn’t aware were a possibility. Lord, thank You for walking me through these days of uncomfortable and still finding rest in You for all that is required. Lord, You know the long list of things which await our attention and I praise You that You have been teaching me how to wait, not to rush forward trying to get it all done. Lord, thank You that Your timing is perfect. Your truth is my refuge. Your love is enough. Thank You for these days. Please help each one of us not to get list in the busy, but rather to cherish the opportunity to celebrate Your birth. Next to Your Resurrection, it’s the most important event we celebrate. Lord, please help us to treasure the greatest Christmas gift ever given–You. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
Last year, the Lord impressed upon my heart to take each day of the 10 before Christmas and focus on a part of the Nativity story.
As I looked at the calendar this morning, I realized.
It’s ten days before Christmas.
So, beginning today, I’ll be focusing on a different part of the Nativity.
Matthew 1:23 KJV — Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew is quoting the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:14 NKJV — “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Truly, the prophecy is incredible, roughly 700 years before Jesus was born of a virgin.
In the book of Luke we get a close-up of what this young woman felt and experienced.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Luke 1:26-27 NKJV
I love that it is clearly recorded the name of the angel and makes careful to note, “was sent by God”.
This was not a chance encounter, it was a special moment in history.
And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28 NKJV
God was announcing the coming of the Messiah!
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:29-33 NKJV
No matter how familiar this story, let’s not miss the incredible news related here.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:34-37 NKJV
Mary is struggling to see how this can be when she’s unable to be a mother in her current circumstances.
(How often does God hear from us ‘But I can’t?’)
He wasn’t saying she should do something.
His message was letting her know what He was doing.
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37
Her response is wonderful.
(And should be our example.)
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38 NKJV
Mary was a young Jewish woman, living in a village, in a country under the foreign rulers from Rome.
The Bible doesn’t record her education, nor her physical description, but it does show us the beauty of a life surrendered to God.
As we look at the mother of Jesus, we can praise the Lord for His grace and mercy.
He chose the humble to be the ones He worked through.
God still uses the humble.
A life surrendered to Him is truly beautiful.
Today, the 10th day before Christmas, let us hold the truth and love of Christ Jesus close to our hearts and surrender our lives before Him.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for working through those whose hearts are Yours. Lord, thank You for the example in this young woman who said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord!’ Jesus, please help me to be Your servant. To live for the joy of You each day. Lord, to walk in Your ways and speak Your truths. Lord Jesus, thank You for coming as a tiny babe. Thank You for walking among us, teaching us about Yourself and the Father. Lord, thank You for dieing and raising again. Thank You for eternal life. Amen.
He’s been telling me that this year would be different.
Recently, He had me block out the ten days before Christmas.
I even put a note in for today: Start the 10 days before Christmas.
So, I’ve been praying.
“What exactly are we doing Lord?”
Look for Me in Psalms.
Well, okay. I put my audio Bible on Psalm 1 and started listening. I’d pause and take note of any scripture which seemed to point to Jesus.
I found some nuggets, but nothing seemed to be it.
Until Psalm 23.
My room seemed to disappear and inside my heart I was listening to Jesus.
“The LORD is My shepherd,”
My mind pictured a tiny babe in a manger with on-lookers whose sheep had strangled along behind them.
With those humble shepherds gazing at our Savior, His voice reminded me again,
The LORD is My shepherd,
John 5:19 NKJV — Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
John 5:30 NKJV — “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
John 8:28 NKJV — Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.
Jesus, our example in all things, was led by God the Father.
John 8:29 NKJV — “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”
Jesus, the Savior of the World, came through the will of the Father.
In all Jesus did, He lived unto God alone.
He was the perfect lamb. (John 1:29)
To remember this beautiful truth on our first day of the 10 days till Christmas, we are each going to draw a lamb.
On the back we are writing Psalm 23:1a.
Each of us will have the opportunity to add other scripture as well.
As you can see, mine is on an index card.
Anne is using drawing paper.
It doesn’t matter how large or small.
But in these next ten days we are each going to craft our own pictures of the Nativity while we look for Jesus in Psalm 23.
We’d love to have you join us.
Please feel free to share your comments, pictures, and scriptures with us.
Christmas is about the best gift ever given.
As we find a new way to remember Him, I pray our hearts grow even more in love with Jesus,