Look again, do you see that hint of light on the horizon? It is just enough light to make the tree pop, giving definition to each gnarly naked branch.
What’s going on in your life right now? Is it filled with joy and excitement for Christmas, or are you under a cloud of dread and gloom? Maybe you are in the midst of a trial that is weighing you down in darkness. Do you feel all alone? I’m told these are very common for many people around the holidays.
Do you think you can let a little bit of light in?
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Jesus wants to shine light on and through you. Call out to Him! He will light your path and lead you through this time of darkness.
According to Mark 7, in response to criticism from some Pharisees, Jesus replies:
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” Mark 7:6-8
As Christmas approaches, ask yourself, “Am I holding man-made traditions higher than celebrating fulfilled prophesy, the birth of Jesus? Am I truly honoring Jesus through this advent season, OR is my heart and attitude actually far from God overwhelmed with crazy busyness/stress due to traditions?”
Remember, it’s not christMAS; it’s CHRISTmas.
Father God, forgive us. We are just like the Pharisees. We tend to proclaim Christmas as a celebration of your birth, yet we push you to the background focusing on our man-made traditions and fanfare. May we have softened hearts to honor you throughout this advent celebration. To God Be the Glory! Amen
Are you full of joy this Christmas, or are you struggling to be joyful about anything? For some this coming week will bring family and friends together in great celebration. For others, it may seem terribly long and lonely. Let’s be honest; some days are extremely difficult to be joyful. Those are the days I must intentionally find my joy in Jesus. He gives strength to get through the darkest times, and for that, as the psalmist writes, my heart is filled with joy,
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7 NLT
Christmas is less than a week away, no matter what your circumstances, look for the joy of Jesus. In Luke 2, the angel brought the good news of great joy.
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!12 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
Earlier in the day, I watched as two gaggles of geese flew over the yard. Honking as they went, one gaggle continued northward and the other southbound. This stumped me on this lovely fall day. It appeared that those geese weren’t sure if they should be coming or going.
Do you ever feel that way? In the hustle and bustle of the quickly approaching holiday season, it is easy to wonder if we are coming or going. Be careful not to allow yourself to fall in that harried trap. There may be a lot of cooking, cleaning, shopping, gift wrapping, traveling, parties, and obligations that can become burdensome and exhausting. Remember why you have all these tasks, and maybe ask yourself a few questions along the way.
Do I have to do everything, or can my husband and children help?
Are there any family, work, or social gatherings that can be attended every other year instead of every year?
How can I make the holidays more enjoyable and less stressful for myself and my family?
Oftentimes, my biggest stresser is holding unrealistically high expectations.. When I can relax those expectations, the holidays are more enjoyable for me as well as for my family. Maybe you share the same problem.
Most important is staying focused on the purpose of these holidays, and that is evident in their names:
THANKSgiving, CHRISTmas, NEW Year.
When you find yourself wondering if you are coming or going, Stop! Give thanks, reflect on Christ, and anticipate memory making in the New Year.
I love family gatherings where stories of days-gone-by are swapped. You know, the ones that siblings spill each others’ shenanigans; or the “when I was your age…” tales. These stories help the generations connect with one another.
I came across a quote the other day. It said, “Every day the chairs would meet and share stories.” This made me wonder, “If my two old rockers could talk, what stories would they tell?”
Oh! And what about the old church pew?
I’m sure it would have stories…
of the church elders, heads bent, petitioning God
of the widow who sobbed quietly as Preacher read the eulogy
of the new believer waiting to be called forward for baptism
of the dad who sat soberly as his daughter said her “I Dos”
of the littlest angel who wiggled and squirmed until time to suddenly appear to the shepherds in the Christmas play
Christmas is a great time for sharing stories. In a couple days we will gather four generations together. I wonder if my dad will tell about the Christmas when he got an air rifle, or if my Mom will tell about Grandpa always reading the Christmas Story from Luke 2?
As your family gathers for the holidays, linger at the dinner table for some story telling. To get started, you might ask, “What is your best childhood Christmas memory?” That’s all it usually takes and other stories will spin off there. The results usually will not disappoint. End your dinner with some laughter, learning something from others and observing how the generations connect through story telling.
“Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9
Are you eagerly anticipating a holly jolly Christmas with everything merry and bright, or are you dreading a blue, blue Christmas? Madam Blueberry of Veggie Tales sings “I’m so blue-oo-oo, blue-oo-oo, blue-oo-oo, blue. I am so blue I don’t know what to do.”
So often in our hustle and bustle of shopping, baking, and celebrating we over look those around us who are having a hard-candy Christmas, barely getting through. Some may be very lonely and sad because they cannot be with their family. Others may be in the midst of a difficult time financially or struggling with their health. The empty chair of a loved one is yet another reminder that he or she has passed on forever leaving an empty hole in the lives of the family.
God loved us so much that He sent his one and only son that first Christmas so long ago. This year I’m looking for ways to share that love with others who may be dreading the holiday season. I’ve been brainstorming ideas: offer to help put up decorations, bake extra goodies and share, have a game night, Christmas carol, invite to be part of our Christmas day, stop in for a visit, call and visit, leave an anonymous gift on porch… Can you think of other ideas? If so, please share a comment.
There are 25 days until Christmas and a whole month until we ring in the New Year, I challenge you to intentionally look for someone that needs their Blue Christmas turned to White, and then do something to share the Joy of Christmas.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12 NIV