Tag Archive | Christmas

Hold On

Advent is not just a time of waiting and remembering Jesus first coming at His birth, it’s also a time to turn our hearts toward anticipating His second coming. Today’s devotional, reposted from faithgateway.com, calls us to pause in the midst of our Christmas celebrations to remember whose birthday we’re celebrating, and also that He is coming again.

 

As Christmas Day approaches, you can feel the excitement building. The children are out of school, family begins to arrive, last-minute packages are wrapped. But what if, by declaration of Congress, Christmas Day were delayed? How long would the anticipation hold?

The disciples were certain Jesus would return shortly. Yet as the years passed, these faithful found it harder to hold on to that belief. James wrote to encourage them. He likened their wait for Jesus’ return to a read more

source: faithgateway.com

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5 Healthy Decisions

I think touchy-feely devotionals around Christmas time are wonderful. They keep us focused on the true “reason for the season”. However, with all the madness and brokenness in our lives we sometimes may be tempted to just pitch the whole thing and check out until after New Years day.  I really like a quote from today’s devotional reposted from Dr. Carol’s blog: “We need Christmas not because everything is great, but precisely because it isn’t. Jesus entered our messed up world on Christmas to bring new life.” Before you decide to give up on the holidays check out the five suggestions listed in this devotional and put them into action.

photo: sharefaith.com

Family is a big deal around Christmas. The memories you have of Christmases past – both good and bad – almost certainly revolve around family, as do your expectations of this Christmas. Family stuff at Christmas can be filled with both heartache and happiness. How can you keep family dysfunction from ruining Christmas?

If your family of origin is/was dysfunctional you may dread going “home” for Christmas. If your marriage is unhappy Christmas may seem lonelier and more hopeless than other times. Blended family issues become even harder to read more

source: drcarolministries.com

Skeptic’s Christmas

Here is a link to a wonderful Bible Gateway devotional that is an excerpt from a book by Lee Strobel. The publisher allowed us to post a link on our blog to the devotional. We hope that  you will take a moment to read through and think about what the author has to say.

http://links.biblegateway.mkt4731.com/servlet/MailView?ms=NDc1ODY5MTMS1&r=MjcyMTUxMDk0NDUS1&j=NTgxODMwNzQyS0&mt=1&rt=0

Names

Included in the Advent celebration in some churches are the O Antiphons which focus the worshipers attention on a different aspect or name of Jesus during the Advent season. The song “Come O Come Emmanuel” is a combination of 5 of the antiphons. But if one reads the Word through, one will find that Jesus has many names and attributes – more than can be listed. He is the I AM THAT I AM, and He is all that we need. In the bulletin this past Sunday one of the suggestions for observing Advent is to meditate on the names of God. Click on the link below for a list to get you started. You can add more names that you find in your study of the Word and through life experience as you come to know Him more and more throughout your life journey.

Names2

When Exactly is Christmas

Following is a thoughtful article by Dr. Wayde Goodall.

“When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son born of a woman…”
Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)

“For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the night between December 21 and December 22 is the longest of the year; it’s called winter solstice.

Christmas seems like the longest day of the year to many people.  Bad memories, bad relationships, poverty, debt, anger, conflict, guilt, health problems, etc., etc. prevent positive holiday memories.

When Exactly Is Christmas?

There are a lot of viewpoints about the exact month and day that Jesus was born. We might not know the exact date but the Bible tells us that God specifically chose the time when Jesus Christ would come to earth.  It was not an accident; He specifically chose that particular time in history for Jesus’ birth.

“There is a time for everything.”Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

As we approach Christmas this year, we can remember some lessons the angels gave to the shepherds on the very first Christmas:

1.     God will help us face our fears:

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid”Luke 2:10

Someone said, “Life is just exchanging one set of problems for another set of problems.”

There have been many times that I have been afraid.  Looking back, I realize that when I trusted God with my fears, he gave me courage.  John tells us,

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

What are you worried about?  What are you fearful of?

You are called by God. You will face difficult and anxious times.  Can you trust the God of the universe and decide to release your fears?

2.    He has good news for us:

“ I bring you good news that will cause great joy!” Luke 2:10 (NIV)

Someone said that if God wanted to communicate…

with birds – He would have become a bird.

with cows – He would have become a cow.

with dogs – He would have become a dog.

But God wanted to relate to you and me, so He became like us… a human being.

I have no idea how to relate to an “impersonal power in the sky” . . . But when I see Jesus in human form, I can say, “That’s what God is like!”  I get it. Part of the good news is that I know that God understands me (and you).  He identifies, he enables, and he gives a deep sense of joy to our lives – in spite of our circumstances.

3.     God will forgive us for all our failures and mistakes. He will also help us forgive those who have hurt us:

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,  because He will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21

The University of Michigan discovered that the holiday season might be a good time to forgive others, but not everyone wants to forgive (or be forgiven).  Some of what was discovered:

  • 52% say they have forgiven others for past transgressions.
  • 43% say they have actually gone to others to be forgiven .      . . Asking for forgiveness can raise stress levels.
  • 71% of men and 77% of women believe they have been forgiven      by God for their mistakes.
  • 56% of men and 57% of women say they have forgiven      themselves.
  • Women are more forgiving than men.
  • Middle-agers and older adults are more likely to forgive –      than younger adults.
  • Forgiveness may be an antidote to anger.

I’m reminded of an old Peanuts Cartoon where Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “Charlie Brown, it’s Christmas season.  I think we ought to bury our differences, forgive each other and try to be kind and get along.” Charlie Brown says, “Great! But why just this season?  Why not all year?” Lucy says, “What do you think I am, some kind of fanatic?”

This year might have been full of disappointments, hurts, or bad decisions.  Can you forgive others?  How about yourself?   Forgiving others and ourselves is a life long process.

4.     You are worth more than you can imagine:

“… a Savior has been born for you; he is Christ the Lord!” Luke 2:11 (NIV)

Remember that God wants to show you his love and his favor.  As you determine to draw close to him . . . to listen and learn from him . . . He will help you understand how valuable you are to Him.

“It is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (ESV)

God wants to remind you of his goodness on your life.  The Savior has been born for YOU – He is Jesus Christ.

Many leaders are disappointed with themselves and their struggle with insecurity.  I’d like to remind you that God is pleased with your efforts on His behalf, He knows how you seek Him and of your desire to serve him.  He is pleased with YOU.”

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among  those with whom he is pleased” Luke 2:14 (ESV)

(c) 2013 Wayde Goodall D.Min Dean, College of Ministry Northwest University

http://eagle.northwestu.edu/academics/college-of-ministry/watchmen/

This is a wonderful devotional by Roy Lessin. Good food for thought for this season.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: Matthew 2:11 KJV

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:6 NIV

Wise men worshipped the young child because He was the Son of God. He was the One who was there at the beginning, speaking into existence the heavens, the earth, and all that live upon it.  He was the One who knew eternal fellowship with His Father in heaven, and He was the One who was adored by the entire heavenly host.

The greatest revelation that came to the wise men was the discovery that the answers they sought were not to be found in pagan practices, but in a person.  They left behind the darkness of the Medes and Persians as they followed the light of His star. They left behind the rituals and reasoning of man as they sought the true Wisdom of God. They left behind the practices of magic and sorcery as they looked for the One true Master. They left behind the vanity and idolatry of corrupt rulers as they journeyed to worship the new born King.

Worship is so much more than singing choruses, playing musical instruments, or lifting hands in praise. Worship is not found in the volume of our voices, but in the meekness of our spirits; not in the beat of our music, but in the bending of our knees; not in our outward gestures, but in our yielded hearts. To know Him, to really know Him, throws the doors of worship wide open. Worship is about Jesus—His beauty, His glory, His majesty, and His loveliness. When our hearts see Jesus we worship—we can’t help ourselves.”

(c) Roy Lessin 2013 Used with Permission

http://www.meetmeinthemeadow.com/2013/12/worshipped/

Unusual Christmas Ideas

In this last Sunday’s bulletin we listed some unique ways to make celebrate Advent/Christmas. One way was to make Bambino Bread. The recipe and a link to the site follow. If you’d like to see the whole list you can return to the home page and scroll down to find the post “O Holy Night” that has a link to Sunday’s bulletin. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Looking for something special to make this Christmas? Try this bread recipe, shaped to resemble Jesus in swaddling clothes.

    • 2 cups lukewarm milk
    • 2 packages active dry yeast
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 beaten egg
    • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 5¾ to 6½ cups of all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, sprinkle yeast over milk and stir to dissolve. Let stand for 5 minutes to develop.
  2. Add in sugar, egg, butter, and salt and mix well. One cup at a time, add 5 cups of flour and beat thoroughly after each addition until flour is incorporated. Add enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough that is slightly sticky.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding small amounts of flour as necessary to keep dough manageable. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and satiny.
  4. Lightly oil the surface of the dough and place it back into rinsed bowl and cover with a clean, dry towel. Allow to rise in a warm place free from drafts until doubled, about 60 minutes.
  5. Punch dough down and divide in half (one for each bread).
  6. Roll each half of the dough into a rope about 24 inches long, and form the braid as illustrated.
  7. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet; cover with a clean, dry towel and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled.
  8. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes

http://www.catholicdigest.com/recipe/231/Holiday_bambino_bread