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
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!
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.
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?
Wow, I can’t believe how time has flown!! Where did the last few weeks go? I feel like we haven’t talked in ages!
I wish I could tell you the last several days have been filled with big red hearts and unicorns, but it hasn’t! In fact, it has been some of the toughest days I have had in a while. I have felt the world slowly caving in all around me, and that I was unable to stop it! I have felt isolated and maybe even a little abandoned.
I just wanted to go out my front door and yell to the top of my lungs, “World, are you out there?”
Can you relate?
Well even when the sun doesn’t come up for me and the gray skies hang around way too long, I know this – He still loves me. Even though I have thrown a temper tantrum or two over the last couple of weeks and told Him He is taking way too long on this one – He is still patient with me. And yes, even when my 40-something, hormonal self is just sitting there pouting, though I know what He has promised – He probably is just laughing at me!
The last few weeks has reminded me why I love Jesus so much, even when I am completely and totally unlovable at times. He is faithful and He is true.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV
I love to read the writings of the Apostle Paul. Here is an example of a person radically changed by the love of Christ. Following his Damascus Road transformation, he was willfully consumed by the task of proclaiming the Good News. But to appreciate Paul’s new found attitude, we have to remember who Paul was before that extraordinary day.
Paul, formerly named Saul, was a Pharisee. This means he was not an ordinary Jewish citizen, but in fact a well-educated, highly intelligent student of the scripture. He knew the written laws of God intimately and would have strictly followed them from an early age. Yet, he lacked genuine knowledge of the Word made flesh.
Saul began his life as one of the most notorious characters of the Bible. Not only did he once hate the Church and all it stood for, he was determined to drive Christ followers out from among the Jewish people. He believed it was his responsibility to jail them, to terrorize them, and even murder them in the name of righteousness. He was someone to fear and someone far from Christ.
Then something miraculous happened –Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus. In His grace and mercy, Jesus did not do to Saul what Saul had done to others. Instead, He speaks to Saul in a tone of offered forgiveness.
This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Consider reading John 11:17-44 prior to reading this post.
So as we move on with our story – Jesus has arrived in Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. It has been 4 days since Lazarus’ death. Take note of the number of days. 4 days leaves nothing to chance, 4 days means finality, 4 days means only He could be the Messiah, because only the Messiah could cause death to retreat in its tracks.
As Jesus nears the city, word gets back to Martha He is coming. Being the assertive sister, she goes to meet Jesus just outside the city.
When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” John 11:20-22*
Martha has faith, but has limited the options it can produce. Even after Jesus tells her Lazarus will live again, she continues to misunderstand the gravity of Jesus’ remarks.
This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Today, consider reading John 11:1-16 prior to reading this post.
As chapter 11 begins, we see that Lazarus is sick and his sisters, Martha and Mary, have sent word to Jesus (verse 3). Surely, their friend, but more importantly their Messiah, would come quickly. However, instead of leaving immediately, Jesus stays where He is, not just for the moment, but for two whole days. His only remark:
But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” John 11:4*
Imagine the disciples listening to Jesus calmly state Lazarus’ illness would not end in death. Several things could have been assumed:
1. Jesus did not feel compelled to leave the city He was in due to bigger, more pressing priorities. Sure, Jesus loved Lazarus, but did Lazarus’ family really expect Jesus to just drop everything and come to them? Thousands of people wanted the Messiah’s attention. How could Jesus show such favoritism to one when He was needed by so many?
So excited to be participating in Literacy Night at Chick-fil-A (Main Street – Suffolk) on September 29th for 5pm-8pm. Come on out and support 3 local authors: Janice Holland, Nan O’Berry, and myself!
My book, Love Echoed Back, can be purchased 3 different ways:
I will be available to sign books, discuss possible speaking engagements, and host a drawing for a gift basket containing items from the author, the Christian Bookstore of Suffolk, and Chick-fil-A.
Come early – there may be free chicken involved!! (hint, hint)
Remember, the holiday season is almost upon us, and this book would make a great gift!! Hope to see you, your family, and all your friends there!!!!
PS: The message of Love Echoed Back is meant to encourage and inspire those who are going through the tough stuff of life! Will you help me spread the word? If you haven’t already, consider following me on Facebook by clicking the LIKE button!!
Click here and visit my page: https://www.facebook.com/LoveEchoedBack
I am almost at 500 followers – would you mind helping me exceed that number so I can continue to reach those who need to hear the message God has given me? A simple click could do just that!!! Your support is invaluable to me and I thank you in advance!!! xoxo
I remember as a little girl in Sunday School some really terrific Bible stories. I had some great teachers who knew how to make Bible stories just jump off the page. One of the stories told over and over was the raising of Lazarus from the dead. As a kid, it was the coolest magic trick Jesus did. Now that I am older and wiser, I know the story of Lazarus coming back to life was much more than a trick, it was proof of the power of Jesus.
But, who the heck is Lazarus anyway? And doesn’t the names Martha and Mary sound familiar?
Before we get to the ‘good’ part of the story, let’s step back a little and gain some perspective on the characters in this story: Jesus, the disciples, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Most especially, we need to understand the relationship between Jesus and Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.