Tag Archives: Christmas

merry christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11 says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”

You and I have been given a gift. The gift is Jesus. Jesus brings the gift of grace. He came to help us. Jesus did not stand at the top of the mountain and tell us to climb. He came down to hold our hand as we climbed. Jesus did not stand on the opposite side of a gulf and tell us to cross the bridge. He came across to help us. Jesus came as our Christmas gift.

The angel’s good news to the shepherds is for you and me also. As you celebrate today, I hope you have a moment to reflect on the gift of Jesus.

I appreciate you spending part of your day reading this, and I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas. Please share this post.

baby is born

A census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

There are many take-aways for you and me in Jesus’ birth. Here are just 2.

  1. Christmas shows the extent of God’s love. God had such a sacrificial love for the world that he came to us to help rather than stay at a distance. John 3:16-17 says God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn it but to save it. Christmas comes out of love for you and me.
  2. The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but the Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. We wouldn’t expect God to show up in this situation, but he did. There are many situations which seem less than ideal from our perspective, yet God shows up to do some mighty work. God is always at work.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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perfect love caused christmas

“At the beginning of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is in sad shape. It’s Christmas, and he knows he should be happy, because the pond is open for skating and he likes getting Christmas cards, but something doesn’t feel right, especially after Snoopy has entered a doghouse-decorating contest and his little sister is asking Santa Claus for money in the form of Hamiltons and Jacksons.

The commercialization of Christmas has left our hero searching for answers. For a five-cent co-payment—and the beautiful sound it makes rolling around in the can—neighborhood psychiatrist Lucy suggests some possible diagnoses for Charlie Brown’s depression.”

Lucy offers some suggestions for Charlie Brown’s depression as defined here, and eventually concludes Charlie Brown has Pantophobia. This is the fear of everything.

What is causing you to have fear this year?

Charlie Brown is not the only one who struggles this time of year. Christmas can be an emotional time. We celebrate Christ’s birth, but paralleled to our celebration can be feelings of loneliness and emptiness for many people. These are real emotions, so I certainly do not want to minimize them in any way. In fact, I wish I had a “magical” answer that could take away these emotions at Christmas time. Obviously, I don’t, but I can offer one piece of encouragement from God’s Word.

1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

It was this perfect love that caused Christmas. The Bible teaches Jesus was willing to leave the majesty of Heaven to be with us to save us. It is in this perfect love we find the Lord’s mercy and grace. It is in this perfect love we find the absence of fear, especially the fear of judgment. In this perfect love, Jesus says we are his friends, and we can be open with him.

This means we can talk with the Lord about feelings of loneliness and emptiness. This means he will be with us even if it is not a joyous time of year. God’s perfect love is what caused Christmas, and it is his perfect love that will carry us through the difficulties of the season. Jesus longs for you and me to shelter ourselves in his perfect love this Christmas season.

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come and see

One day as John the Baptist and his disciples were together, Jesus came by. John pointed out Jesus was the Messiah. The one who had been sent full of grace and truth, so Andrew and John started to follow him.

“Jesus looked around and saw them following, ‘What do you want,’ he asked them. They replied ‘Rabbi,’ which means Teacher, ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come and see,’ he said…” (John 1:38-39).

When Andrew and John heard Jesus was there, they investigated, but they didn’t just want to talk with Jesus. They asked for his address. They wanted to spend time with him. They wanted to go and see what Jesus was about. John’s Gospel tells us Jesus welcomed them and allowed them to spend time with him.

Andrew and John were not the only people who wanted to go and see what Jesus was about. The shepherds left their flocks to go and see him. The Magi traveled a great distance to go and see him. The Gospels teach many followed Jesus, and he welcomed them.

Are you interested in seeing what Jesus is about? His invitation is the same to us as it was to Andrew and John. “Come and see,” Jesus invites. He welcomes us just as he welcomed them.

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Visited & Redeemed

Jesus’ birth is a miracle, and leading up to his coming, the Lord performed another miracle through Zachariah and Elizabeth. Luke’s Gospel tells us they were older, so no one expected them to have a child. The Lord had another plan though. As the Lord promised to Zachariah in the temple, Elizabeth gave birth to a son. As everyone was celebrating the birth, Zachariah helps us see his son, John, was going to be a forerunner for someone awesome!

Zachariah says in Luke 1:68-70, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.” Many were waiting, and now it was time for the Lord’s visit and redemption.

Has Visited

The Bible teaches Jesus is the one who has come from God full of mercy and truth. John 1:14-17 says, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness, and we have seen his glory – the glory of the Father’s One and Only son. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, ‘This is the one I was talking about when I said someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am. For he existed long before me.’ From his abundance we have received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ!”

Charles Stanley writes, “Jesus is far more than just a great teacher or a mighty prophet. In fact, he is God with us. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature because he is God himself. Whatever Jesus does, he does with grace. Whatever he says, he says in truth. If you want to understand what God is like, look to Jesus.”

John 1:18 teaches, “No one has ever seen God, but the unique one who is himself God is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” He has revealed God’s grace and truth, and he has come to be with us. He has come to redeem us.

Has Redeemed

Zachariah said the Lord sent a mighty Savior. Another way to say it is the Lord has risen a horn of salvation for us. Jesus has come with all power and might to be on our side. If God is for us, who can be against us? No one! The Lord is more powerful than anyone or anything. He has come to save us. The work is already done, and the gift of redemption is under God’s Christmas tree. We just have to receive it.

As you open all your gifts this year, consider opening the gift of God’s grace.

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changed

“When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.’ 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 2:15-20).

The shepherds were truly changed by their encounter with the Lord. Luke says they returned to their flocks praising God. This is not the only time we see a life changed due to an encounter with the Lord. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and Saul became Paul after coming across the Lord. Perhaps your life has been changed by the Lord’s grace also. It is impossible to find the Lord and walk away the same way you came.

Make sharing your joy and faith a part of your holiday celebrations this year. God did not make a mistake sending the angel to the shepherds. The birth of the Messiah was an event causing great joy for all people. The shepherds started spreading the joy they experienced, and you and I should continue spreading that joy.

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how to respond like a shepherd?

The sheep were asleep. The shepherds were gathered around a small fire talking as some of them dozed off. The stillness of the night was suddenly interrupted by an angelic visit. The angel brought news that a Savior had been born. The shepherds listened intently as the angel spoke, and when the angel had left them, they hurried to investigate this news.

The shepherds’ response to the angel’s news is worthy of modeling. As their initial terror subsided, the shepherds responded with much faith and overflowing joy.

“When the angels had left them and gone into Heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

The shepherds responded to the angel with much faith. Believing the angel, the shepherds acted upon their belief. The writer of Hebrews says the Lord rewards those who earnestly seek him. How are you and I responding to the Lord in faith? Are we taking him at his word and allowing our curiosity to spur us on to see his promises fulfilled?

Along with their faith, the shepherds experienced overflowing joy. “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” (Luke 2:17-19).

The shepherds were so filled with joy they could not keep it to themselves. They had seen the Lord, and they wanted to share their joy with everyone. As you and I find the joy of the Lord, we should attempt to share it.

We can share our joy in an appealing way. We can share our joy by starting a Pay-It-Forward chain at our favorite coffee shop. We can help purchase Christmas gifts for a family who otherwise would not have gifts. We could prepare a shoe box gift for Operation Christmas Child. We can call to check on a neighbor who may experience loneliness this time of year. There are many ways we can share our joy, and this is the perfect season to share it.

Many have commented they will be glad when 2020 enters the history books. It has been a sad and difficult year for lots of folks. It seems they may be hungry for joy and hope more this year than before, and the joy of the Lord can be prevalent in our lives. We can be like the shepherds and spread joy.

Please share this post, and thanks to Light for including this in a recent edition.

why shepherds?

Another night had come. The little town was crowded by travelers passing through on their way to register for the nation-wide census. A young couple came into town looking for a place to stay, but they were later than most. There was no room in the inn, they were directed to the nearby stable to find lodging.

As they were seeking rest in the stable, the time came for the baby to be born, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2:7). The routine of their travels was interrupted by the joyous birth of a baby.

Meanwhile, a short distance outside of town, shepherds had their sheep bedded down for the night. A small fire was providing warmth and light. The activities of the night were routine. The shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks as always until the routine of their night was interrupted by an angel.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the Heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:9-14). This was the birth announcement of Jesus Christ, and it was delivered in a powerful way to – of all people – shepherds.

Shepherds were not thought of highly; they were considered to be social outcasts. The occupation required a nomadic, isolated lifestyle. As their sheep grazed, shepherds had to continually move to stay in green pastures. They had to live with their vulnerable flocks, so they could remain aware of needs and threats.

Shepherds were even accused of blurring the lines of right and wrong. Perhaps they helped themselves to a lamb or two as flocks multiplied on the pastures. Accusations allowed as this was a socially unaccepted group. Yet, they were the first to hear good news that would cause great joy for all people.

The world is the Lord’s palate; he could have chosen any method to announce the birth of Jesus Christ. He could have made an audible announcement from the Heavens. He could have appeared to a king, emperor, or pharaoh. He could have revealed it to the religious leaders of the day, but he chose a different way to make the announcement. He instructed an angel to appear to a group of socially outcast shepherds staying approximately 2 miles outside of Bethlehem.

“Why shepherds,” one might ask. From the very moment of his appearance, grace permeated from Christ Jesus. This announcement only begins to illustrate how this good news will be for all people. The Lord’s message is not just for a select few, but everyone. And, you and I can learn much from the shepherds and their response.

The Unaccepted Were Welcomed

As social outcasts, society may have shunned the shepherds, but the Lord welcomed them with open arms. Perhaps you can relate to the shepherds. You do not feel welcome by various people and groups. If so, remember, the Lord welcomes you with open arms. The Messiah’s birth was announced first to a group considered to be outcasts.

As Christians, you and I should possess the same welcoming spirit. We should welcome others with open arms. Their lives may be messy and we know the Lord can cause change, but first, they have to find the safety of God’s grace.

A mother recently posted on Facebook her young daughter had made friends with the neighbor boy. The mother was uncomfortable because the boy’s family was nothing like her own. Their living conditions were less than ideal, and the boy would use inappropriate language without knowing it. After all, he heard those words frequently.

One Saturday, the mother was cooking lunch while the kids played. She was okay with it because her husband was in the yard with the kids. When lunch was ready, she called her crew, and the boy asked if he could come too.

Her instinct was to send him home until after lunch, but something compelled her to welcome the young boy and give him a seat at the table. The boy was a little dirty. His clothes were torn and his shoes were worn. His fingernails in need of a trim. As they ate lunch, they tried to have a conversation.

School was about to begin for the year, so the mother asked the boy if he was excited to start the first grade. “No,” the boy replied. “School can be a scary place for a guy like me.”

The mother’s heart sank as a thought pressed on her mind like a ton of bricks. “If school was not a safe place, and home was probably not a safe place, where was this child’s safe place?”

They finished eating and everyone went outside except the mother. She stayed in to cleanup and cry. She told the boy he was welcome in their home any time. There are many people seeking a safe place, and as the hands and feet of Christ, we should have the same welcoming spirit the shepherds experienced on Christmas night.

Please share this post, and a big thank you to Light magazine for using this in a recent edition.

sensitive

One night as they were studying the stars, the wise men noticed a new star. The star was a brilliant light in the night sky which would grab the attention of anyone studying Astrology. It could have been an alignment of planets or a supernova. The Magi may have noticed the glory of the Lord as Jesus’ birth was announced to the shepherds. Luke 2:8 says, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them…” After all, Christ’s birth was supernatural, so why wouldn’t the Lord use a supernatural way to capture the wise men’s attention. No matter how the Lord placed the star in the sky, the Magi were sensitive enough to recognize the Lord was pointing them in a direction.

Following the star was not the only time in their journey the Magi were sensitive to God’s leading. Matthew 2:12 says, “When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route. For God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.” Herod requested the Magi inform him of Jesus’ location. He wanted to kill Jesus as he felt threatened by this new child in town. God warned the Magi not to return to Herod, and they were sensitive to his leading.

Joseph too was sensitive to the Lord’s leading. He had to sense the Lord’s direction a few times in Jesus’ early years. Joseph was going to privately divorce Mary when he found out she was pregnant, but the Lord led him to a different decision. Joseph was warned in a dream to take his family to Egypt, and he did. Later, he was told to return to Israel, and he did. It was the Lord’s leading which placed the family in Nazareth. Joseph sensed the Lord’s leading and responded.

As Christians, you and I should be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. How sensitive are we? Challenge yourself to spend time in Scripture so you have a heightened understanding of the Lord’s character. Challenge yourself to spend time in prayer so you have a keener sense of his direction.

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sharing with the lord

Kevin, age 5, and Ryan, age 3 were waiting on their mom to cook pancakes one morning, and the boys began to argue about who would get the first pancake. Seeing an opportunity to teach a moral lesson, their mom said, “Jesus would let his brother have the first pancake.”

Kevin quickly said to Ryan, “Hey Ryan, why don’t you be Jesus?”

Matthew tells us the Magi shared with Jesus. Matthew 2:11 says, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” The Magi shared with the Lord.

The wise men brought gifts to Jesus, because they wanted to share with him. As Christians, we should be willing to bow before the king and open the treasure chests of our lives to share with the Lord. The gifts the Magi brought can help us see ways to share with the Lord.

Gold

They presented gold to Christ. Gold is obviously something of great value. Instantly, tithes and offerings come to mind, but we can share in other ways. Our time, our talents, and our abilities are some ways we can share. We can share our words by being the Lord’s spokesperson. Our words can be used to encourage one another; building one another up in Christ. Our words have the ability to help another person more fully grasp the Lord’s grace. Money is not the only valuable thing we can share with the Lord. We have much to share.

Frankincense and Myrrh

Our prayers are the incense we share with the Lord. Revelation 5:8 reminds us prayers are a sweet smelling fragrance at the alter of the Lord. He wants to hear from us. The Lord longs for us to talk with him. He wants to hear our thanksgivings and our struggles.

The Lord desires for us to share our lives with him. How well do we share? Try sharing a part of your day with the Lord. Spend some time in prayer or offer an encouraging word to a neighbor. The Lord wants to live life with us.

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