christmas

22
Dec

Should We Really Celebrate Christmas?

Well, Christmas is upon us again! December 25th seems to roll around earlier and earlier each year. Are you ready?

Among all the holiday festivities, Christians everywhere are gearing up to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And they should since He is the Reason for the Season! Yes, long before Santa Claus stole the show, Jesus’ birth was (and for many of us still is) the centerpiece of the day.

But what does the Bible say about celebrating Jesus’ birth? Would it surprise you to know we are not commanded to commemorate it?

Other than the recorded account of Mary’s pregnancy and His birth (Luke 1-2), it doesn’t say anything about an established celebration. Now, that’s in stark contrast to the Lord’s Supper, which commemorates Jesus’ death and was given to us by Jesus Himself as a command to do regularly (Matt. 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23, Mark 14:12-26).

Therefore, I ask, should we celebrate Christmas?

Absolutely!!! In fact, we need to celebrate everything about Jesus every day! In a world that is growing increasing dark, we need to shine the light that has been strategically placed in our hearts on every occasion. And since Christmas, one of the largest holiday celebrations of the year, draws people from all walks of life to the Church, we need to maximize that opportunity to share the love of our Savior with the world.

The fact of the matter is there is no Christmas without Christ. To overlook the sacrifice He made to leave Heaven and dwell among us is unfathomable. Therefore, we must continue to tell His story from beginning to forever!

In that vein, I would just like to pull a few truths out of the nativity story that are tucked behind the scenes and yet are so critical in telling Jesus’ story.

First, we so easily forget that Jesus’ existence didn’t start here on earth at His physical birth, but that He was One with the Father prior to that fateful day and that Their existence has never been constrained to what we know as time.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 14 KJV

Second, His entire purpose in being born was to die for our sins and restore our relationship with the Father. (John 3:16-17)

Matthew Henry once said: “Come, and see the victories of the cross. Christ’s wounds are thy healings, His agonies thy repose, His conflicts thy conquests, His groans thy songs, His pains thine ease, His shame thy glory, His death thy life, His sufferings thy salvation.”

And lastly, there is no purpose in Christmas without the victory of Calvary, which is celebrated at Easter.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:55-57 ESV

I hope these truths speak to you and bring your Christmas celebration to an even deeper level. Oh, by all means, enjoy your family, the food, and the exchanging of gifts! But this Christmas, let His story draw you back in again and remind you of the true joy we celebrate. My Christmas wish for you is that your heart will overflow with the love of the Father and the sacrifice of the Son.

And don’t forget, tell His story!!!

Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

 

 


Scripture References from:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

King James Version (KJV). Pubic domain.

 

 

14
Dec

Silent Night ~ Holy Night

“Silent Night” is perhaps one of the best known Christmas carols to date. It is by far my favorite! I love that it brings us back to the real “reason for the season” –the birth of the Savior.

I relate to the scenery in the song that is specific to the skyline that night, mainly because I live in the country. And living in the country does have its advantages. One of them is the ability to look up into the night sky on a clear night and see millions of stars glimmering right back at you. Another is that deep into the evening, it gets quiet –deathly, but peacefully, quiet.

Having stood out recently on one of the chiller nights we have had, with stars laid out as far as the eye can see and silence all around, I closed my eyes and let my mind focus on that glorious night when Jesus made His entrance into the world as a tiny baby boy.

There in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary would find themselves in a barn surrounded by animals, such as cows and donkeys. It wasn’t glamorous or royal by any means, but quite ordinary. They would be isolated from family and friends. Joseph would be there watching Mary careful and yet feeling quite helpless at the same time. And Mary, still a virgin, would endure every moment of childbirth naturally. And yet, in that place, under those circumstances, they would birth a King.

We have to take a moment to remember some details leading up to that night. Would you indulge me for a few minutes? Thanks!

  1. Jesus’ destiny was already arranged. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:20-21
  2. Joseph was a righteous man who obeyed God. When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. Matt. 1:24
  3. Mary was chosen from among all women. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” Luke 1:42
  4. Bethlehem was a prearranged birth place. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:6-7

Yes, Joseph and Mary were in the right place. A magnificent Lord would start off in humble beginnings, but He was not destined to stay there. Isaiah describes Him best:

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6

Yes, that 7-8 lb baby wrapped in strips of cloth would start out in lowly circumstances, but He became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And even now, we are yet to see Him in all His glory! What a day that will be!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. I also hope you will take some time to ponder what a miraculous event occurred that night. I am right there with you, sometimes getting caught up in the tinsel, presents, and fun that occurs this time of year. Let’s not forget to be silent, even if just for a few minutes. Let’s quiet ourselves and experience that silent night, the holiest of nights and savor the moment!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!!!

Elaine


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

25
Dec

Merry Christmas!

To you and yours!

15
Dec

Twelve Scriptures of Christmas

Nativity scene

Today, I want to share 12 sets of scriptures that I reflect upon during Christmas. Some of them may be familiar verses heard at Christmas, and others are a deeper reflection of the promised Savior. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1-5

“For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. Jeremiah 23:5-6

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 1:14

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23

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7
Dec

Spiritual Pruning

The Vine_v2

So the Christmas season is upon us! Hopefully by now you have your decorations up and a little shopping done. I, personally, haven’t started Christmas shopping, but mainly because my Christmas list is very small. I don’t have a huge immediate family, and in recent years, my husband and I have committed to doing very small gifts for each other.

I do, however, have the tree and all the other decorations up. I especially love our Christmas tree. We have had the same tree for several years. It is the old kind of tree that requires all the branches be inserted individually, and the lights put on it one string at a time. I know, I know … get into the 21st century Elaine, and get a tree that comes in parts and already has the lights on it.

Every year I say, “Next year we are getting another tree.” But, honestly, ever year I put up our old tree (no small feat) and once it is done, it is amazing how good it looks. Something about sitting in the glow of that tree and looking at all the ornaments on it, each representing some beautiful memory from our life together, I fall in love with it all over again!  

Christmas tree 2

Yep, I’m a sap at Christmas! (no pun intended!)

So as I think about Christmas trees, the phrase “trimming the tree” comes to me. While we use that phrase to mean putting decorations on the tree, Jesus talked about “trimming” from a different perspective. In the New Testament, Jesus referred to trimming as pruning, and more often spoke of pruning vine branches versus a tree. 

In John 15, Jesus describes Himself as the vine, and his followers as the branches that remain on the vine. However, there was a second type of branch, the kind that “did not bear fruit” (John 15:2). Notice these unfruitful branches were ‘cut away.’ However, the branches that remained and bore fruit were pruned!

At first, it sounds like both branches are being punished, but those who regularly prune shrubs or bushes understand the process of pruning is a good thing. The act of pruning actually makes the branch grow back, and grow back both stronger and more fruitful than before.

The bearing of fruit is important, as it proves our connection to Christ:

This connection is vital. Connection to the vine (Jesus) is connection to life. Jesus tells us clearly that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Was Jesus being arrogant? Absolutely not! To carry out all that Jesus has for us, we must draw off His strength and power. When we do, the fruit of the spirit becomes obvious in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23 ESV

So, I pray this holiday season that you will endure any spiritual pruning that occurs, and that you bear some awesome spiritual fruit!


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

27
Nov

Black Friday!

Black Friday

Hard to believe another Thanksgiving has gone by, and the Christmas season is directly in front of us. I hope you had a wonderful day of family, food, and fun! Today, many of you are just coming back from some early (and I mean early!) Black Friday shopping, and others are getting ready to head out the door. I don’t really want to bring you down, but I do want to speak to your heart today!

We get so excited about Thanksgiving, and some of us are even more excited about Black Friday. While I definitely see the positive side of Black Friday (who doesn’t want to shop for 50-80% off!), I also see the other side of it –the side we tend to ignore, at least until the 6 o’clock news comes on, and we hear the stories of people literally being tramped over by the crowds rushing in the store to buy their child the latest and greatest toy. Ironic that we can be so thankful one day for all that we have, and then desperate the next day to buy, buy, buy.

Now, I realize that most folks are actually out there buying gifts for someone else, but the reality is they really love the hunt for bargains, to be able to say I got “this” for “this price.” But the gifts we give at Christmas should be reflective of the person who we are celebrating, shouldn’t it?

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8
Dec

Christmas – Not Just a Holiday

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:30-33 NLT

Christmas is my favorite time of year by far. I love the decorations, the baked goods, and the spirit of joy that falls upon us! I also love to worship my Savior. No other time then Easter does Jesus feel so close. If only we could hold on to that feeling everyday.

I believe the key to keeping our Christmas cheer all year-long lies in the source of it. If we focus on the gifts and all they entail, we probably won’t be spirit filled much past the first of the year. However, if the object of our faith – Jesus – is front and center, we can draw from His love all year-long. What a God we serve to love us enough to send His only child to take our place and wash us clean from our sins.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NIV

As you enter the Christmas season, remember to praise the Lord for all He has done! He loves you as much today as when He first dreamt of you. What a gift!

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas!!!


Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.