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Living for Christ the Rest of the Year - Advent Devotional - Dec. 31

by Pastor Jack Graham

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
Luke 1:46-55

It's always a little sad, isn't it? Christmas is over, and soon decorations will come down and be put away in boxes for the next 11 months. It's like we experience this feel-good high that crashes to the ground.

Unfortunately, that's the way many live the spiritual life, just waiting for the next big event so they can get their feel-good fix. But Mary's first Christmas was anything but feel-good.

Mary sang and praised God for the same reasons that we ought to be singing every day of the year: She sang because of her salvation. Mary knew the challenges that were on the horizon and was getting ready to face some severe scrutiny for turning up pregnant and unwed! And never mind the anguish she was going to cause her family, who would be forced to disown her or face the same rejection.

True praise isn't grounded in your circumstances. So as you unwind from Christmas, don't just settle back into business as usual. Take something special from this Christmas like a better appreciation of who Christ is and what he did. Because while you may celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, you should experience the life of Christ every day as he lives through you.

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Your Story, God's Story - Advent Devotional - Dec. 30

by Daniel Darling

Luke 1

Why is Christmas such a magical time of year? I think its because everyone is expecting a miracle at Christmas. Consider all the popular movies. Each one has a miracle as it's central plot. Whether it's a boy hoping his parents get back together, a shop-owner hoping he can keep his business running, or a town who needs a new hero to help "save Christmas."

You might be reading this and wishing for your own miracle this Christmas. It's probably much smaller than what makes a holiday movie. But it no less important to you.

Maybe you're hoping our prodigal comes home. Maybe you're wishing for a job. Some are yearning for a special someone to sit next to you by the fire.

2,000 years ago, there was a couple who hoped for their own miracle. But like many, they had long given up on this dream. Zacharias and Elisabeth prayed for a child, but year after year, that prayer went unfulfilled. So, they gave up on the dream.

But this couple didn't give up on God. They stayed faithful. Then, one ordinary day, the extraordinary happened. Zacharias, a priest in Israel, was chosen to give the incense at the altar. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, a rare honor for such a common man. Then, as he performed this sacred duty, an angel of God appeared, breaking God's 400-year silence with Israel.

The angel told Zacharias that he and his wife, Elisabeth would have a son after all. He would have a special purpose an would prepare Israel for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

This all sounded impossible to Zacharias. Not the miracle itself—that Jesus would come, that John would be the forerunner. Zacharias, as a believing Jew, knew the Scriptures and believed this.

He just had a hard time thinking God could use silly old him. After all, he and his wife were well past the child-bearing age. But, true to His word, God performed this miracle in the lives of Zacharias and Elisabeth. You know the rest of the story. John the Baptist led revival in Israel and would later baptize Jesus Christ, the very son of God.

But let's focus on Zacharias and Elisabeth. They were faithful people in a time of unfaithfulness. And yet they had given up on the dream God had planted in their hearts—the dream of having a son. What's interesting is that Zacharias had no problem with the big miracle: God sending a Son to be born of a virgin and be the Savior. It was the little miracle he had trouble with, the miracle in his own life. Even though God had done a similar thing in Sarah and Hannah and Rebekah and Rachel, Zacharias refused to believe his wife, Elisabeth could bear a child.

He did something we often do. We believe in the big things of God—sending a son to be our Savior, Creation, Heaven—but when it comes to littler miracles, we limit Him. It's as if we say, Yes, God can create the earth in six days, be born of a baby, and send us to Heaven, but He can't possibly change me, fix a relationship, get me a job.

And God's answer is Yes I can. You see, the biggest miracle has already been done—Jesus. Everything else is small to God.

So maybe today, like Zacharias, you're letting God know that there is something too big for Him. Something even He can't fix.

And the story of Zacharias tells us that there is nothing too hard and that God is still in the business of doing miracles. Even in your own life.

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The Color of Christmas - Advent Devotional - Dec. 28

by Greg Laurie

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19–20 NKJV)

Red is the color of Christmas—not because Santa suits are red or because we wrap packages in red. Red is the color of Christmas because of the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed.

We see a battle being played out in our culture today that is actually the battle of the gods. It is the God of the Bible, the true and living God, versus all contenders. This battle goes back to the first Messianic verse in the Bible when, after Satan tempted Adam and Eve to sin, God said to him, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). Thus, Satan wanted to stop Christ from coming.

The cradle was pointing to the Cross. The Incarnation was for the purpose of atonement. The purpose behind the birth of Jesus was the death of Jesus. This is New Testament Christianity. It’s the division between light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil, and right and wrong

Interestingly, it’s actually through conflict that we can find real peace. For example, when someone walks into a dark place and turns on a bright light, it changes the entire dynamic. Through this conflict, through this disagreement, the ultimate unity will come. Why? Because as a Christian, you make people aware of their sin—and they don’t like it one bit. You don’t even have to say anything, really. You’re just being you as a Christian.

So don't be upset because there is a little conflict. Just hold your ground and keep praying. This division can result in people thinking about their souls, considering the claims of Christ, and then ultimately turning their lives over to the Lord.

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Never the Same Again - Advent Devotional - Dec. 27

by Pastor Jeff Schreve,

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.
Matthew 2:12

When I was 17 years old, I heard the true message of Christmas. It finally made sense to me, and God showed me that I needed His Son - not just to know facts about Him in my head, but to really know Him personally in my heart. You see, Jesus was born in Bethlehem so that you and I could be born again.

On a Monday night in January of 1980, I got down on my knees and asked Jesus to save me. I gave all I knew of me to all I knew of Him. And do you know what? He saved me. He forgave all my sins and came to live in my heart... and my life has never been the same since.

A CHANGE OF COURSE

The wise men from the east traveled a great distance (as much as 1000 miles) to worship Jesus, the new born King of the Jews. They brought expensive gifts and fell down in worship before the Christ child. When they went home, they did not go back through Jerusalem for fear of Herod. They returned "by another way." They changed course. Did you catch the spiritual significance of that phrase?

It is impossible to truly meet Jesus and not go "another way." It is impossible to receive the King of Glory into your life and not be changed as a result. Many times people will struggle with and agonize over the issue of assurance. They will ask themselves, "Am I really a Christian?" The acid test to know if you are truly His is this: have you been changed? Has something happened inside of you, calling you to go in a new direction? It is inconceivable to think that the Almighty, Most Holy God of the Universe would come to live inside of a person and that person not know it... and that person not be changed.

My life changed greatly after I received Christ. My friends and family noticed a difference in the way I acted and reacted. Although far from perfect, there was a change, a noticeable change. I had gone "by another way." I had a desire for God that I never had before... and I had a sorrow in sin that I never had before. As Adrian Rogers used to say, "The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is this: A non-Christian leaps into sin and he loves it. A Christian lapses into sin and he loathes it." That has been true of me from the day I surrendered my life to Jesus.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Have you really met Jesus? Has there been a genuine change? Is your life going His way now... or are you still going your way?

Christmas is a great time to rejoice... and to reflect: what change of course does He want to make in you? What adjustments are needed so that you can be all He wants you to be in your family... in your career... in your priorities?

I hope you have a great Christmas. May the King of the universe truly be King in you as you do like those wise men and bow your life before Him!

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How to Find Hope on a Long Silent Night - Advent Devotional - Dec. 23

by Alicia Bruxvoort

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.” Luke 2:8-9a (NLT)

I sit alone near the window at the end of a long December day, my weary frame wrapped in a wordless sigh and a plush red blanket. The wintry woods beyond the glass are as quiet as my children who sleep down the hall.

Moonbeams mingle with the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree, and starlight waltzes with the shadows on the floor.

I take a deep breath and seek solace in the silence. But my heart refuses to rest in the hallowed hush.

For years, when my wee ones filled the nights with wails, I dreamed of a quiet like this.

But what I didn’t know then — when my midnight hours thrummed to the rhythm of sniffling sighs and colicky cries — is that children aren’t the only ones who can fill the night with clamor.

Sometimes the quiet quakes noisy, too.

Doubts drowned out by the drone of the day can resurrect with a ruckus in the lull of night. Fear can run wild when our feet finally slow. And worry can howl reckless in the hush.

It’s in the quiet where we often come face-to-face with our questions:

Do I really believe that God is good?
Does He truly see my needs and hear my prayers?
Do I trust Him enough to obey when it doesn’t make sense?
Will His promises hold firm even if my hope falls short?

It’s in the quiet where we learn to fight for faith.

So, I shift my eyes from that twinkling tree to the Bible on my lap. And I read aloud from those treasured pages.

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8-12, NLT).

God’s Word dangles in the air like the velvet stockings hanging hopeful on my mantle. I close my eyes and try to listen to the truth of Scripture rather than the squall of my own soul.

I imagine the Hope of Heaven landing on the dust of earth … the squeals of fright and the blaze of light. The angel’s declaration and the shepherds’ consternation.

And I ask Jesus to show me something new in this familiar account of the very first Christmas.

Then all at once, I see it through a haze of grateful tears:

The message the angels proclaimed on that Bethlehem hillside long ago didn’t just change the course of one bygone silent night.

The good news of great joy changed the course of every silent night to come. Because we don’t have a God who merely pierces our darkness. We have a Savior who lingers beside us on our long silent nights (Isaiah 9:2-7).

The prophets foretold it (Isaiah 7:14). The angel repeated it. And His name confirms it (Matthew 1:23). God is with us.

And in His presence, we can find everything we need when the quiet quakes noisy.

Dear Jesus, thank You for sticking with me whether I’m full of hope or full of fear. I’m glad my doubts don’t diminish Your love and my qualms don’t offend Your faithfulness. Teach me how to rest in Your presence when my heart is unsettled. I want to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Luke 1:78-79, “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (NLT)

Matthew 1:23, “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (ESV)

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The Essential Message of Christmas - Advent Devotional - Dec. 22

by Greg Laurie

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” —Matthew 1:23

At this time of the year, we say, “Merry Christmas.” I prefer that to “Happy Holidays,” but I don’t get confrontational about it. Instead, I want to be gracious. After all, Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone. For someone who has lost their job, this is not the most wonderful time of the year, because so much emphasis is placed on a merry Christmas being a materialistic one.

There are also those who have lost loved ones. I am one of those people, and things that once made me happy at this time of year now make me sad. Those things that once brought happiness are now things that bring sadness, because they evoke memories of times we spent together. Therefore, Christmas becomes a difficult time for some.

There are many who are in need of encouragement at this time of year. They don’t need a Christmas present; they need His Christmas presence. They need to be reminded of what this season is all about. It is not about things. It is not about presents.

These things have their place, but we need to remember the essential message of Christmas, which is Immanuel—God is with us. And for the hurting person, the lonely person, the sorrowing person, this is the time of year to bring the gift of encouragement to them and say, “The message of Christmas is: God will be with you. God will help you. God will strengthen you.”

So look for opportunities to share the love of God during this season, because it is a time when we seem to be more open to engaging in conversation with others. Now is a great opportunity for you to bring encouragement to someone who is struggling. Who needs your encouragement today?

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The Essential Message of Christmas - Advent Devotional - Dec. 22

by Greg Laurie

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” —Matthew 1:23

At this time of the year, we say, “Merry Christmas.” I prefer that to “Happy Holidays,” but I don’t get confrontational about it. Instead, I want to be gracious. After all, Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone. For someone who has lost their job, this is not the most wonderful time of the year, because so much emphasis is placed on a merry Christmas being a materialistic one.

There are also those who have lost loved ones. I am one of those people, and things that once made me happy at this time of year now make me sad. Those things that once brought happiness are now things that bring sadness, because they evoke memories of times we spent together. Therefore, Christmas becomes a difficult time for some.

There are many who are in need of encouragement at this time of year. They don’t need a Christmas present; they need His Christmas presence. They need to be reminded of what this season is all about. It is not about things. It is not about presents.

These things have their place, but we need to remember the essential message of Christmas, which is Immanuel—God is with us. And for the hurting person, the lonely person, the sorrowing person, this is the time of year to bring the gift of encouragement to them and say, “The message of Christmas is: God will be with you. God will help you. God will strengthen you.”

So look for opportunities to share the love of God during this season, because it is a time when we seem to be more open to engaging in conversation with others. Now is a great opportunity for you to bring encouragement to someone who is struggling. Who needs your encouragement today?

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The Christmas Tree - Advent Devotional - Dec. 21

by Jim Burns and Doug Fields

THE

CHRISTMAS TREE

I KNOW WHO I AM

I am God's child. (John 1:12)

I am Christ's friend. (John 15:15)

I am united with the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:17)

I am bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)

I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)

I am the salt & light of the earth. (Matt. 5:13-14)

I am a member of the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:27)

I am free forever from condemnation. ( Rom. 8: 1-2)

I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant. (Phil. 3:20)

I am free from any charge against me. (Rom. 8:31 -34)

I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:18)


I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 2:6)


I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Rom. 8:35-39)

I am established, anointed, sealed by God. (2 Cor. 1:21- 22)

I am assured all things work together for good. (Rom. 8: 28)


I have been chosen & appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)

I belong to God

And that is who He says I am. How about you?

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make His face shine upon you

and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn His face toward you

and give you peace…”

Numbers 6:24-26

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM HOMEWORD!

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Hail the Incarnate Deity - Advent Devotional - Dec. 18

by Chuck Swindoll

On that still winter's night, something was up... something extraordinary... something supernatural. The shepherds raced to the City of David and found their Savior, just as the angel had said... swaddled and lying in a feeding trough. This was the Promised One, the Messiah! God had finally come to dwell with His people, but in such an unexpected way.

Just who was this holy Child the shepherds gazed upon? Make no mistake: He was incarnate deity. The newborn Jesus existed in eternity past as God the Son. He was coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus relinquished the privileges and the pleasures of His existence in heaven when He took upon Himself the limitations of humanity (Philippians 2:6-7). In emptying Himself, Jesus voluntarily set aside the prerogatives and prerequisites of life as He had known it, an existence He had enjoyed; He released His right to that kind of life, saying to the Father, "I will go."

Go where? To Bethlehem. He took "the form of a bond-servant, and [was] made in the likeness of men." Allow yourself to picture what the shepherds saw. There He is, the baby. Do you see His ten fingers and ten toes? His button nose? Can you hear the cries? There's humanity. In this holy infant is the beginning of an earthly life. Look deep into His eyes and see the beginning of life itself.

Later, this divine man, completely unique in His nature and in the perfect life that He lived, "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Isn't that amazing? Of all ways to die, He died on a cross—the most humiliating and painful kind of death.

God the Son lowered Himself. He took on the flesh of an infant. He died a humiliating death. As a result, God the Father "highly exalted Him." One day, all will bow in worship of the risen Lord, "to the glory of God the Father."

It's all about His glory. What a plan. What an execution. What a perfect, awesome wrapping! The God-man. Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity, two distinct natures in one person, forever. That's the baby in the manger!

See Isaiah 7:14 and Philippians 2:5-11.

The baby in the manger is undiminished deity and true humanity, two distinct natures in one person, forever.

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Star - Christmas Devotional - Dec. 16

by Rebecca Barlow Jordan,

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:10

FROM THE FATHER'S HEART

My child, search for Me daily with as much diligence as the wise men on the night of My birth. My "star" still shines. I still bring hope. I continue to light the way for anyone who seeks to worship Me. And as long as you keep Me on the throne of your life, you won't have to look far to find Me.

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE

In search of the star, I journey far to see my heart's delight. There, all along, in the day or the night, You wait to receive my gifts of praise and adoration. I have seen the light; I have found love wrapped in a manger. You, Lord, will always be the star of my life.

SIMPLE TRUTH

At the center of Christmas is the heart of God.

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Why a Manger? - Advent Devotional - Dec. 14

by Skip Heitzig

A few years ago my Mom gave me the Nativity scene that was in our house when I was a kid. It evoked wonder in my early years, and it's still wonderful, but there's something not quite right about it. For one thing, the figure of Jesus looks more like a two-year-old than an infant. For another, He has blond hair and blue eyes—and from what I know of the Middle East, I have kind of a problem with that. Obviously, this Nativity set was crafted by a European!

And the manger is made out of wood. Of course, that's how most of us think of it. But the word in the Bible translated "manger" could mean either a feeding trough or an enclosure for animals. In that part of the world animals were kept in caves, and feeding troughs were made out of stone, so Jesus was probably born in a cave around Bethlehem somewhere, and laid in a stone trough.

Now, I know I've probably destroyed a lot of your mental pictures of Jesus' birth. But the important question is "Why a manger?" Why wasn't He born in a palace, and His birth heralded in the Jerusalem Post?

The answer is in two words, humility and accessibility. His mother wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, like any peasant of the time. This great gift came in simple wrapping. The one who would be called "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6)—the Creator—became an embryo, and then a baby. It's amazing, and the more you think about it, the more staggering it becomes. This humility would depict His entire life and ministry. And when He died He was buried in a borrowed grave, another cave similar to the one He was born in.

Because He was humble, He was accessible. Going into a throne room to see a king would be intimidating, but there's nothing intimidating about going into a cave and approaching a feeding trough. You don't need special credentials, you don't need to have to have an appointment. The shepherds could just come in.

And again, this marked not only His birth but His entire life. Jesus was always accessible to people. He said, "Let the little children come to Me" (Matthew 19:14). He also welcomed the woman with the incurable disease because of her faith (Luke 8:43-48).

So it's not really important what your Nativity scene looks like. The important thing is what you think about the Child who was laid in that manger. In the words of an old Christmas carol, "Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall; oxen lowing, little knowing, Christ the babe is Lord of all."

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The Reality of Emmanuel - Advent Devotional - Dec. 13

by Pete, Jill and Stuart Briscoe

How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts!" —Benjamin Franklin

I have to be honest, I really do love the holiday called Christmas. Our church is a beehive of activity. Our home is a menagerie of laughter and friends and family. I love the food. I love the decorations. I love the way Christmas smells. And who can argue with a couple of cool presents under the tree with my name on it!? Not a bad way to observe Someone's birthday.

Yes, the holiday works for me… IF I stay mindful of the core precept behind its observance AND if I'm willing to put that precept into practice. In that sense, Christmas is really just another day. It’s one more special day to revel in the wonderful mystery of Emmanuel, God with us. The fact is, God is with us, and the command given to Joshua is the command to us as well:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

So yeah, I’m looking forward to the holiday. It's another day to release my battles and my fears and my self-righteousness. It’s just another day to embrace the incredible love of God and celebrate the reality of His presence in my life. Yes, Emmanuel, “God is with us.” That truth makes every day a celebration!

Jesus, thank you for this holiday. I praise You for one more day to experience the promise of Your presence. Because You are in me, I trust You to be strong; I trust You to be my courage. Thank you that You are with me wherever I go. Amen

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When Your Heart Grows 3 Sizes - Advent Devotional - Dec. 10

by Jim Liebelt

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

In Dr. Seuss's classic Christmas tale, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch suffers from having a small heart. The source of his heart problem is his lack of understanding the meaning of Christmas. As the story goes, the Grinch tries to put a stop to Christmas, but in the end, he comes to understand what Christmas is all about and his heart grows three sizes! This heart change makes a big difference in his life.

I'm not sure what Dr. Seuss' intentions were when he wrote the story back in 1957, but it certainly comes across as a Christian parable to me that parallels the change that takes place in a person's life when he or she comes to understand the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Jesus, God's Son, who was born to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). When the light of the Good News of Jesus dawns upon the heart of a person, God replaces the old heart of stone, with a new, fleshy heart - and a new person emerges. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"Welcome Christmas - While we stand - Heart to heart - And hand in hand." It might just make all the difference in the world.

Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in;
Be born in us today!

We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!
(from O Little Town of Bethlehem)

We celebrate Christmas because of the power Jesus brought to change our hearts.

Going Deeper:

1. Give an example of a time when you changed your mind about something.

2. How did the words or actions of others influence your change of heart?

3. Towards the end of the story "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," what happened that caused the Grinch to change his mind about Christmas? What lessons might we learn from the story?

4. How has understanding the true meaning of Christmas made a difference in your life?

Family Time:

Gather your family together and watch the classic half-hour Christmas cartoon, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then, using the content above, lead your family in a discussion about how Jesus has the power to change our hearts.

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Turning Christmas Chaos into Christmas Joy - Advent Devotional - Dec. 9

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:16-20, NIV).

Friend to Friend

According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans take medication for stress-related causes each week. During the holiday season, another one million people battle what experts refer to as the holiday blues.

I am very familiar with depression and the pain it holds and must constantly battle to stay out of that pit.

To deal with depression, we must first come to a place of total surrender to God and His plan of healing, even if we cannot see or understand that plan. The bottom line of God’s heart toward His children is always restoration and healing.

While I am not a big fan of television, I do enjoy watching home improvement shows. On a recent program, an interior decorator and homeowner were discussing a list of changes that needed to be made in order to update the home.

“First, we have to do something about those windows,” the decorator announced. I was surprised that she listed this task first – until I saw the house.

The existing glass was not only an ugly shade of gold, but it was thick and chunky as well. The windows let in no light and made it virtually impossible to see in or out. The result was a dark isolated home. The distressed homeowner protested, “But I like my privacy. And if I thought anyone could see in, I would feel totally exposed.” When it comes to dealing with depression, many people feel the same way.

We construct walls over which no one can climb because the cost of friendship is too high. We fill the windows of our soul with emotional excuses in order to avoid dealing with pain. The result is darkness, loneliness, and missed opportunities for restoration. We don’t want to understand depression or find the treasures of that darkness; we simply want to be rid of it.

Many people try to understand and deal with depression on a surface level – refusing to face painful experiences, difficult relationships, and the broken places where darkness lives. We look for the nearest exit, hoping to bypass transparency because the price is just too high to pay.

Emotional integrity is an essential step to dealing with depression. We must be real before we can be right. Until we are willing to risk being transparent, we can neither understand nor effectively deal with depression during the holidays or any other time of the year.

The holidays seem to tug at the masks we carefully hold in place and push the emotional buttons we desperately try to hide. The arrival of certain family members can resurrect painful issues that have never really been resolved. Financial pressure opens up like a sinkhole, waiting to steal our joy and destroy our peace. Schedules demand every ounce of energy, and false expectations leave us empty and hollow. The dark slimy pit waits for us to fall in.

We can choose to make this Christmas different. Choose to give God praise. Choose to focus on the victories and joys you have experienced during the year, and then find ways to share that victory and joy with others.

Christmas can be a true celebration of fresh starts and new beginnings if we choose to focus on a tiny baby born in a manger, come to save us and give us true life. The darkness can be destroyed if we choose to face and deal with whatever it holds.

Right now, choose an attitude of joy by focusing your mind on the things of heaven – not earth, and by fixing your heart on Jesus Christ. Your Christmas chaos will turn into Christmas joy!

Let’s Pray

Father, I want this holiday season to be filled with light instead of darkness. Please help me discard my emotional masks and be real before You as well as my family and friends. Father, help me make this holiday season an offering of praise to You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Luke 2:1-16. Answer the following questions after reading the Christmas story.

What was the attitude of Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem?

How did the shepherds react to the news of Jesus’ birth? What did they do?

How would you describe the emotions and thoughts of Mary?

How can your choice to “ponder” the miracles of Jesus’ birth change your perspective of the holidays?

Write a letter of commitment to Jesus, asking Him to empower the choices you have made. Make a plan or a list of “dos” and “don’ts” that will help you experience the best holiday season of your life. Include your family in making this plan, and make the commitment to hold each other accountable.

More from the Girlfriends

Do you want to revolutionize your prayer life? Check out Chair Time, a new E-Book written by Mary’s husband, Dan. It not only will teach you how to hear from God – it will change your life!


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Show Your Joy to the World - Christmas Devotional - Dec. 8

KAREN EHMAN

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)

When you think of the phrase, “Christmas is coming!” … what sort of emotion does it evoke?

It might be any one of these:

Panic: I only have three more Saturdays of shopping before Christmas. I’m never going to get it all done!

Frustration: Ugh. There are so many activities this month. We are going to be running all over the place with very little time to just be together as a family at home, enjoying each other’s company.

Regret: Why did I say we’d host the family get-together? Now I have to straighten and scrub this place from top to bottom AND make the dessert I signed up to provide, as if I didn’t already have enough to do this month.

Envy: I noticed on Facebook the gorgeous holiday decorations my co-worker has in her home. They look like they are straight from an HGTV Christmas special. Our place looks like we bought ours from the clearance bin at the local secondhand store.

So many sentiments can invade our hearts and minds. But these emotions don’t stay there.

Often, they weasel their way into our behavior. We appear distracted when talking with a friend. Our frustration morphs into hurry as we frantically try to get it all done. Our regret makes us a grumpy and ungracious hostess. Our envy leads to ungratefulness and can prevent us from experiencing the joy that should come from the whole reason for the celebration of Christmas in the first place.

Are these the attitudes we want on display during the month of December? Or should we choose the attitude reflected in the old familiar hymn, Joy to the World?

Joy.

The emotion that ought to be deeply experienced during the Christmas season — and, in turn, displayed in our behavior — should be joy. Today’s key verse states, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. ”

This verse declares that our reaction to the salvation God freely offers — which began when Jesus came into the world as a baby that very first Christmas — should be that rejoicing.

In this Old Testament verse, the word translated for rejoice actually means “to exult, to go about or to be excited to levity.” What a stark contrast to the emotions we usually display during the yuletide season!

But what if we tried to take our roller coaster of emotions to God, asking Him to replace them with joy instead? If we choose to consciously thank God for the indescribable gift of salvation through Jesus, perhaps we could learn to recapture the joy of Christmas. And not just to feel it in our hearts, but to go about during the season, excited to the point of levity, exulting God in the process.

The word exult means “to leap for joy,” and it’s usually connected with a triumph of some kind. Through Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, He triumphed over death. We need not fear the future because of the miracle of Christmas. If we have responded to the gospel — the good news about Jesus offering us salvation — we too can experience a victory over the grave and dwell with God forever in heaven someday. What a reason to rejoice!

Today, let’s chase down some Christmas cheer. But not just keep it to ourselves. Parking our minds on the truth of salvation through Jesus helps us show joy to the world during the Christmas season. A spotless house and homemade fruitcake are optional.

Father, may my mind dwell this season on the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus that is the source of all joy in this life and the life to come. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 89:15-16, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.” (NIV)

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I'll Be Home for Christmas - Christmas Devotional - Dec. 6

by Alex Crain

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
Hebrews 13:14

Recently, I got my parent’s old Christmas records out of storage and began making mp3 files of them so that we could play them again around the Christmas holidays. Bing Crosby’s classic rendition of "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" came on. Its melancholy sound filled the air.

I pictured the war-weary allied troops hearing this song the year it was recorded in 1943, listening to it on their radios at night, spellbound by the sound; longing to be back at home with their loved ones.

I'll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me.
Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree.
Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas… if only in my dreams.

Does any other version of the song capture the sense of sadness to the same degree that he did?

Believers in Christ are soldiers engaged in war (Ephesians 6:10). And deep within us there is a longing that nothing can suppress. We want to be home. It’s great to know that we are on the winning side, but we often get weary of the fight.

Hebrews 13:14 encourages us to remember and find strength in the fact that “we seek the city that is to come.” It’s a losing battle to pursue lasting satisfaction in this life. The words "Here we have no lasting city" drive us to only source of contentment: the promise that Christ is always with me (Matthew 28:20) and that He’s bringing me home to a place where love, joy, and satisfaction never end.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

In the words of author, Randy Alcorn, "Things won't always take a better turn on an Earth that is under the curse. Sickness, loss, grief, and death will find us. Just as our reward will come in Heaven, laughter (itself one of our rewards) will come in Heaven."

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Why Bethlehem? - Christmas Devotional - Dec. 5

by John Piper

Bethlehem is scarcely worth counting among the clans of Judah, yet God chooses to bring his magnificent Messiah out of this town. Why? One answer is that the Messiah is of the lineage of David and David was a Bethlehemite. That's true, but it misses the point of verse two. The point of verse two is that Bethlehem is small--not that it is great because David was born there. (That's what the scribes missed in Matthew 2:6). God chooses something small, quiet, out of the way, and does something there that changes the course of history and eternity.

Why? Because when he acts this way we can't boast in the merits or achievements of men but only in the glorious mercy of God. We can't say, "Well, of course he set his favor on Bethlehem, look at the human glory Bethlehem has achieved!" All we can say is, "God is wonderfully free; he is not impressed by our bigness; he does nothing in order to attract attention to our accomplishments; he does everything to magnify his glorious freedom and mercy." ..

God chose a stable so no innkeeper could boast, "He chose the comfort of my inn!" God chose a manger so that no wood worker could boast, "He chose the craftsmanship of my bed!" He chose Bethlehem so no one could boast, "The greatness of our city constrained the divine choice!" And he chose you and me, freely and unconditionally, to stop the mouth of all human boasting. This is the point of Romans 11 and this is the point of Micah 5.

The deepest meaning of the littleness and insignificance of Bethlehem is that God does not bestow the blessings of the Messiah--the blessings of salvation--on the basis of our greatness or our merit or our achievement. He does not elect cities or people because of their prominence or grandeur or distinction. When he chooses he chooses freely, in order to magnify the glory of his own mercy, not the glory of our distinctions. So let us say with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest!" Not glory to us. We get the joy. He gets the glory.

Excerpted from "From Little Bethlehem Will Come a Ruler in Israel" by John Piper

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The Real Reason for Christmas - Christmas Devotional - Dec. 3

by Rick Renner

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

Do you plan on taking the time this Christmas to tell your children or friends about the purpose of Christmas? If so, what will you tell them?

Although we usually meditate on the birth of Jesus at this time of the year, His purpose in coming to earth was not to give us the sweet picture of a baby in a Bethlehem manger. That little baby was born to die for you and for me and thus pay for the forgiveness of our sins. He was born to die on the Cross that we might be reconciled to God.

For this reason, I always told our sons when they were young, "Don't just think of a baby in a manger at Christmastime. Christmas is about much more than that. It is about God coming to earth in human flesh so He could die on the Cross to pay for your salvation and destroy all the works of the devil in your lives! That is what Christmas is all about!"

People rarely think of the Cross at Christmastime because it is the time set aside to celebrate Jesus' birth. But in Philippians 2, Paul connects the two thoughts. As Paul writes about God becom­ing a man, he goes on to express the ultimate reason God chose to take this amazing action. Paul says in verse 8, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Because today is Christmas Eve, I want to use this Sparkling Gem to discuss the real reason for Christmas, which is contained in the truths found in this verse.

Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus was "…found in fashion as a man…." That word "fashion" is the Greek word schema. This is extremely important, for this was precisely the same word that was used in ancient times to depict a king who exchanged his kingly garments for a brief period of time for the clothing of a beggar.

How wonderful that the Holy Spirit would inspire the apostle Paul to use this exact word! When Jesus came to earth, it really was a moment when God Almighty shed His glorious appear­ance and exchanged it for the clothing of human flesh. Although man is wonderfully made, his earthly frame is temporal dust and cannot be compared to the eternal and glorious appearance of God. However, for the sake of our redemption, God laid aside all of His radiant glory, took upon Himself human flesh, and was manifested in the very likeness of a human being.

This is the true story of a King who traded His kingly garments and took upon Himself the clothing of a servant. But the story doesn't stop there. Jesus - our King who exchanged His royal robes for the clothing of flesh - loved us so much that He "…humbled himself, and became obe­dient unto death, even the death of the cross"!

The word "humbled" is the Greek word tapeinao, and it means to be humble, to be lowly, and to be willing to stoop to any measure that is needed. This describes the attitude God had when He took upon Himself human flesh. Think of how much humility would be required for God to shed His glory and lower Himself to become like a member of His creation. Consider the greatness of God's love that drove Him to divest Himself of all His splendor and become like a man. This is amazing to me, particularly when I think of how often the flesh recoils at the thought of being humble or preferring someone else above itself. Yet Jesus humbled Himself "…and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

The word "obedient" tells me that this was not a pleasurable experience that Jesus looked for­ward to in anticipation. To humble Himself to this extent required Jesus' deliberate obedience.

As pre-existent God, Jesus came to earth for this purpose. But as man dressed in flesh, He despised the thought of the Cross (Hebrews 12:2) and could only endure its shame because He knew of the results that would follow. For Jesus to be obedient as a man, He had to choose to obey the eternal plan of God.

The word "obedient" that is used to describe Jesus is the Greek word hupakouo, from the word hupo, which means under, and the word akouo, which means I hear. When these two words are com­pounded together, they picture someone who is hupo - under someone else's authority, and akouo - listening to what that superior is speaking to him. After listening and taking these instructions to heart, this person then carries out the orders of his superior.

Thus, the word hupakouo tells us that obedient people are 1) under authority, 2) listening to what their superior is saying, and 3) carrying out the orders that have been given to them. This is what the word "obedient" means in this verse, and this is what obedience means for you and me.

You see, even Jesus had to come to this place of obedience. Although He knew that He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, that didn't mean His flesh was excited about dying as the Lamb of God on the Cross. According to this verse in Philippians 2:8, Jesus had to humble Himself and become "obedient" in order to follow God's plan. He wasn't looking forward to the expe­rience of death on a Cross; He made a choice to humble Himself and to go to any measure in order to accomplish the Father's plan.

Part of the Father's plan was for Jesus to humble Himself "…unto death, even the death of the cross." The word "unto" is from the Greek word mechri, which is a Greek word that really means to such an extent. The Greek word mechri is sufficient in itself to dramatize the point, but the verse goes on to say that Jesus humbled Himself unto death, "…even the death of the cross." The word "even" is the Greek word de, which emphatically means EVEN! The Greek carries this idea: "Can you imag­ine it! Jesus humbled Himself to such a lowly position and became so obedient that He even stooped low enough to die the miserable death of a Cross!"

I heartily recommend that you take the time today to read the April 24 Sparkling Gem order to refresh your memory on the full process of crucifixion. It was genuinely the worst death a person could ever endure. For Jesus to humble Himself to the point of death, EVEN the death of the Cross, demonstrates how much He was willing to humble Himself to redeem you and me.

Just think of it - Almighty God, clothed in radiant glory from eternity past, came to this earth formed as a human being in the womb of a human mother for one purpose: so that He could one day die a miserable death on a Cross to purchase our salvation! All of this required humility on a level far beyond anything we could ever comprehend or anything that has ever been requested of any of us. Yet this was the reason Jesus came; therefore, He chose to be obedient to the very end, humbling Himself to the point of dying a humiliating death on a Cross and thereby purchasing our eternal salvation.

So as you celebrate Christmas, be sure to remember the real purpose of Christmas. It isn't just a time to reflect on the baby boy who was born in Bethlehem so long ago. That baby was God manifest in the flesh. He was born to die for you and for me. Jesus was so will­ing to do whatever was required in order to redeem us from Satan and sin that He humbled Himself even unto death on a Cross! That is what Christmas is all about!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I thank You for coming to earth so You could redeem me. When I think of the extent to which You were willing to go in order to save me, it makes me want to shout, to celebrate, and to cry with thankfulness. You love me so much, and I am so grateful for that love. Without You, I would still be lost and in sin. But because of everything You have done for me, today I am free; my life is blessed; Jesus is my Lord; Heaven is my home; and Satan has no right to control me. I will be eternally thankful to You for everything You did to save me! I pray this in Jesus' name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that Jesus Christ loves me! He demonstrated His love to me by leaving behind Heaven's glory and taking upon Himself human flesh. And He did it for one purpose: so that one day He could go to the Cross and die for me and thus reconcile me unto God. There is no need for me to ever feel unloved or unwanted, because Jesus went the ultimate distance to prove that He loves me! I declare this by faith in Jesus' name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

1. When you compare Jesus' ultimate act of obedience to God with your own will­ingness to obey God in every area of your life, are you satisfied with your level of obedience to Him? Or do you find yourself falling far short of what He requires?

2. What can you do on this Christmas Eve to more fully "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5)? Are there specific ways you can show humility toward others or prefer someone else above yourself?

3. Now that you've read today's Sparkling Gem, what will change in the way you talk to your children or your friends about the real purpose of Christmas?

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The Reality of Immanuel - Christmas Devotional December 1

by Stuart and Jill Briscoe

How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, His precepts!" —Benjamin Franklin

I have to be honest, I really do love the holiday called Christmas. Our church is a beehive of activity. Our home is a menagerie of laughter and friends and family. I love the food. I love the decorations. I love the way Christmas smells. And who can argue with a couple of cool presents under the tree with my name on it!? Not a bad way to observe Someone's birthday.

Yes, the holiday works for me… IF I stay mindful of the core precept behind its observance AND if I'm willing to put that precept into practice. In that sense, Christmas is really just another day. It’s one more special day to revel in the wonderful mystery of Emmanuel, God with us. The fact is, God is with us, and the command given to Joshua is the command to us as well:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

So yeah, I’m looking forward to the holiday. It's another day to release my battles and my fears and my self-righteousness. It’s just another day to embrace the incredible love of God and celebrate the reality of His presence in my life. Yes, Emmanuel, “God is with us.” That truth makes every day a celebration!

Jesus, thank you for this holiday. I praise You for one more day to experience the promise of Your presence. Because You are in me, I trust You to be strong; I trust You to be my courage. Thank you that You are with me wherever I go. Amen

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The Christmas Plan - Christmas Devotional - Nov. 30

Christmas was required in God’s plan because the righteous life he requires was not attained by Adam or any of his fallen descendants. God, prompted by grace, chose to fulfill the holy human standard himself. The incarnate Deity chose to live the life we should have lived – the perfect childhood, the spotless teenage years and the righteous adult life.

Had we been able to present to the Father the righteous life he requires so that we could perfectly enjoy his presence and his presents, God would not have needed to become a man and live among us. But we couldn’t, so he did. Were it only our sins that needed a payment, Christ could have arrived on the day of his crucifixion. But our deficiencies were more than our acts of transgression (doing the things we shouldn’t do), our problems included the “Romans 3:23” (failing to do the things we should do).

It is with gratitude that we celebrate his advent as an infant, because we know that as our sins were atoned for on the cross, so it was that all our human deficits began to be rectified by one perfectly-lived life starting that very night in Bethlehem.

-- Pastor Mike

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Ready for Christmas? - Christmas Devotional - Nov. 27

EDITOR'S NOTE: While Advent officially runs from December 2-24 in 2018, Crosswalk will proudly present one Christmas-themed devotional per day during an Advent season running from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve. Check back every day for a new devotional reflection about what the Incarnation - the coming near of our Savior - means for us still today. And Merry Christmas!

by Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2 NIV).

Friend to Friend

It seems like everywhere you go during the month of December people ask the same question. At the grocery checkout counter - "Are you ready for Christmas?" At the bank drive through window - "Are you ready for Christmas?" At the doctor's office - "Are you ready for Christmas?"

I think the answer to that question depends on how you define "ready." Let me ask you this question: "Are you ready for Jesus?" Now that puts the idea of being ready in a completely different Christmas light, doesn't it?

John the Baptist was sent by God to get the people ready to meet Jesus. Here's what Matthew had to say about him:

In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

"A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight paths for him.'"…"People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River" (Matthew 3:1-3, 5-6).

We don't like the words "repent" or "repentance" very much. They mean "to make a radical change in one's life, to turn and go in the opposite direction from sin (another word we're not too fond of today) to God". Repentance involves an element of grief over the way we have lived apart from God and a decision to run toward the Father. That was God's idea of the way to prepare for Christ's arrival in the book of Matthew, and it is still God's idea of preparing to worship Him today. Now that's what I call getting ready for Christmas!

Let's reflect for a moment on the words to this poem and then answer the question, "Are you ready for Christmas?"

"Ready for Christmas," she said with a sigh
As she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high…
Then wearily sat for a moment AND READ
Til soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.
Then quietly spoke a voice in her dream,
"Ready for Christmas, what do you mean?"
She woke with a start and a cry of despair.
"There's so little time and I've still to prepare.
Oh, Father! Forgive me, I see what You mean!
Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree.
It's the heart swept clean that He wanted to see,
A heart that is free from bitterness and sin.
So be ready for Christmas - and ready for Him.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I want to be ready for Jesus today and every day. I come to You now in repentance for my sins: my sin of selfishness, stubbornness, and rebellion. I turn from my self-centeredness today and commit to keep my focus on You. God, I cannot do this on my own. I am not able. So I ask that You fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

In Jesus' Name, Amen

Now It's Your Turn

What do you think it means to be "ready for Christmas?"

What do you think it means to be ready for Jesus?

Go back and read the parable of the ten virgins in Matthews 25:1-13. Notice the difference between the five who were ready and the five who were not. Which group more resembles your readiness for Christ?

judithscott.wordpress.com/
Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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11/25/18 6:35 A

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An Unhurried Holiday - Christmas Devotional - Nov. 25

EDITOR'S NOTE:

While Advent officially runs from December 2-24 in 2018, Crosswalk will proudly present one Christmas-themed devotional per day during an Advent season running from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve. Check back every day for a new devotional reflection about what the Incarnation - the coming near of our Savior - means for us still today. And Merry Christmas

By Karen Ehman

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger." Luke 2:16 (NIV)

"Hurry up! We're going to be late to the choir concert!"

"Come on kids. Help me unload these groceries right now. I've got to get these cookies baked before bedtime."

Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don't miss out on the deals!"

With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many women are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!

Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.

As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.

I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ's birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too?

Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn't to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.

The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.

If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.

How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.

Here's to more "white space" this Christmas; space that creates more room in our days for meeting with Jesus!

Dear Lord, remind me daily that it's You I should rush to during the holiday hustle. Not things. Not activities. I want to seek and find only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

What activities and responsibilities threaten to make you rushed and stressed at the holidays?

Pull away from the holiday hustle and spend time with Jesus.

judithscott.wordpress.com/
Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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