Archive for Christmas

Christmas Moments

So Christmas Eve is like, tomorrow. I’m still not really ready for it to be Thanksgiving yet…

Yes. The decorations are up. The presents are wrapped. I have all the fixings for our holiday snacks.

We have been Christmas caroling and to the parade. We have read Luke 2 and ate candy canes. And yet…

My heart isn’t in it.

I’ve read the Advent devotions and pondered the greatest gift. I’ve been to church and soaked it all in… But I’m still not in it. Not really.

Maybe I am just getting older. Maybe it’s just me. But maybe, just maybe, I need to repent. My Christ-centered Christmas is still based on the flesh.

Based on doing and getting and giving and going.

Maybe, just maybe, it should be about praying and praising and really just knowing.

Knowing that Jesus came into the busy. Knowing that first Christmas didn’t feel that special either. Not at first. It was frantic and stressful and really not great.

They traveled and toiled and then in a moment, everything stopped. Baby Jesus was here. They weren’t ready either. They weren’t prepared. But He came nonetheless. He came into the mess. The mess of the stable. The mess of the culture. The mess of that first Christmas has nothing on me.

But for a moment that first Christmas everything stopped. Baby Jesus was here. Shepherds came to worship. Angels sang their praises. Wise men came to see Him. And then the moment was done.

The mess closed back in and our Savior was on the run.

So even if I am not ready for Christmas right now. That’s okay. Even if Christmas grips my heart for just snatches of time, that’s enough.

Moments.

Christmas isn’t about being ready. It’s about what God did for us when we weren’t ready. It isn’t found in a season, but in moments. Moments when you know. You know God is with you in the midst of your mess.

I have found many Christmas moments this year. Today when my daughter showed me the Christmas stocking she made at school last week. It featured baby Jesus in the manger, with a bright shining star beaming down on Him. To one side was a Christmas tree, to the other side was the cross, and the empty tomb, “because He’s in heaven now” in her words.

Life is made up of moments. Some are short, some are long. Some are lived among the mess of life. The moment I shared was smashed between me finishing up a work project that is over due and trying to get the house clean enough for Christmas company. But just for a moment, I stopped to rejoice. To hug my baby girl and thank God that she gets it, even when I sometimes don’t. But of course, she doesn’t always get it either. There are still presents that vie for her attention. Just like cleaning and doing and going and giving vie for mine. But there are moments.

Christmas moments.

Moments when Christ is so clearly the center. When He is clearly on His throne. And even in the moments that we don’t stop to adore Him, He is still there. Still King. Still loving us.


Christmas is Coming

If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll enjoy Heather’s upcoming devotional, Christmas is Coming. This devotional was inspired by this blog post. Heather was tired of the holiday season flying by while she was left feeling like she was grasping at straws. She didn’t want to be so busy trying to do stuff that she wasn’t able to enjoy the moments.

With a devotion for every day of December this book is perfect to help you refocus your heart on Jesus this holiday season. It’s coming to stores everywhere November 15th, 2018, but the Kindle edition is already available for pre-order.

Click here to find out more.

The Women of Christmas: Anna

“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’”

~ Luke 1:28

The third and final woman of Christmas is one who is hidden in the pages of Scripture and not often considered. Anna, the prophetess, was 84 years old and never left the temple. Some might have considered her a zealot, others, maybe just a little unwell in the head, but she was faithful none the less.

Let’s go ahead and see what the Bible tells us about Anna…

Luke 2:36 tells us that she wasn’t just a prophetess, but the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. It also tells us that she was very old. When we do the math with the information in verse 37, we learn that she was in fact 84 years old.

And she was a widow.

“She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Verse 37

Let’s go ahead and stop there. I don’t know if you are married or not, but I love my husband with every fiber of my being. If I lost him, it would feel like Jesus was all I had left. Yes, my life is full with my children, ministry, etc., but Paul is part of me.

To quote Jesus, “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:7 & 8)

If I lost Paul, it would be like losing a part of myself and the only way I could go on living would be to turn to Christ and let Him make me whole.

While I pray I never have to experience that, I can imagine what Anna must have been going through.

In my mind, she is praying for God to come. To bring her home to Him where she will once again be whole.

It is to this broken woman, that Christ our King is shown.

There she is, fasting and praying and just calling out to God, when she sees our Savior across the way.

Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (verse 38)

Can you just imagine what it would feel like to be her at that very moment?

To be heartbroken and begging for God to make you whole, and then to see Him? To know that God was letting you know that He heard you?

What a balm to her soul.

This is the last we hear about Anna in Scripture. That’s all she gets, three verses. But when we peer beyond the words on the page we can learn so much.

God knows where each one of us is.

He is listening.

He cares.

Mary and Joseph could have had Jesus in and out of that temple without ever catching the eye of Anna, but it was God’s plan that she saw Him. It was His plan that she knew who He was. It was a God thing.

Have you ever experienced a God thing like that?

Have you ever been broken and just known that God heard you?

Anna may have only got three verses in Scripture, but those three verses tell us of God’s love for us. He loves all of us and in the midst of the greatest story ever told, He took the time to let a broken-hearted woman know that He cared for her.

Take heart in that dear sister. Wherever you are this Christmas season, remember that God cares for you. Jesus was a gift to each of us. And in all of the hustle and bustle, God still sees  you. He still listens. He will never be too busy to take time for you.

 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

~ 1 Peter 5:7

maryandbaby

 

Addition:

My pastor recently preached a sermon about Simon and Anna. I wanted to share a couple of things he said about Anna that really stood out to me:

Anna was old, but God still used her.

Anna was a widow, but God still used her.

God used her to tell others about Him, and she was faithful.

Whatever you are going through, remember that God can still use you. Even if _______? Yes, dear sister, even if ___________.

The question is, will you be faithful?


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The Women of Christmas: Mary

“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’”

~ Luke 1:28

The second woman of Christmas is the one we usually think of first. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is probably the most well-known women in the Bible.

Let’s kick off today’s study by covering what we already know about Mary…

Luke 1:26-28 tells us that she was a virgin, pledged to be married, favored by God – how old would she have been? (12 or 13)

In Luke 1:31-33 we find that she is going to be the mother of God’s Son.

Luke 1:35 discloses that she will become a mother through miraculous conception.

And in Matthew 13:55 we learn that she would go on to be the mother of other children

Luke 1:36 tells us that she is Elizabeth’s relative.

And I think most importantly, we see in Luke 1:38 that she was willing.

Taking the angel at his word, Mary left immediately to go visit her relative, the first woman of Christmas, Elizabeth.

Read: Luke 1:39-45 and Luke 1:46-55

And then read:1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 1:11-12; Romans 15:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

God used Elizabeth and Mary to encourage one another. Do you ever need encouragement?

Mary is most commonly thought of as the most blessed woman in the Bible. She “found favor” with God (Luke 1:30), and was chosen as the mother of His child. What an honor! …But that honor came at a high price.

Mary’s life wasn’t an easy one. For starters, she was an unmarried, pregnant teen. Read Matthew 1:18-19. Do you know what would it have meant to be in those circumstances in that day and age? What would have happened to Mary?

Had God not intervened, she would have possibly been stoned, and at best, be forced to raise her child as an outcast. As it was, God did intervene, but that doesn’t mean life was easy. Read the rest of that passage in Matthew 1:20-25

Then, she had to travel from Nazareth to Judea in the end of her pregnancy, and give birth in a barn. Read Luke 2:1-7

So often when we think of the virgin birth, we remember how miraculous it was. We glamorize it and focus on the shepherds and wise men. Let’s take a moment to think about Mary. She gave birth in a barn, and was visited by a bunch of strange, socially unacceptable, men she didn’t know. And then she had to leave – to run away – to save her baby. Read Matthew 2:13-18.

We don’t know how old Jesus was when they had to leave for Egypt. The shepherds and wise men had all come and gone. Jesus had been circumcised and presented in the temple. Many scholars believe he could have very well been three years old by this time. Have you ever travelled with a toddler?

If you have a moment, look at some of the other situations Mary was put in as the mother of Jesus: Luke 2:41-50-52; John 2:1-5; Matthew 12:46-50; John 19:25; Matthew 28:1-10

Mary isn’t someone to be worshiped. Yes, she was blessed by God, but she was still just a woman. She still faced hardships and doubts. She still had to deal with peer pressure, heartache, and loss. She was the mother of our Savior, but she is also our sister in Christ. As you think about Mary this Christmas season, remember that God favor doesn’t always mean worldly honor, but the gift of salvation we have been given through His Son.

 

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

~ John 19:25

maryandbaby


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The Women of Christmas: Elizabeth

“‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.’”

~ Luke 1:25

As we start our journey through the women of Christmas, the first woman we come to is Elizabeth. We all know her story…

Her husband Zechariah was a priest, who, being well along in years, finally got his turn to serve in the temple. And it changed his life, and hers, forever. While he was serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel came to him and told him that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear him a son. Because he and Elizabeth were both old, Zechariah wanted more proof than just the word of an angel, so he was struck dumb. That’s the background that leads us to the first woman of Christmas.

We don’t know much about Elizabeth (she is only mentioned 11 times in all of Scripture, and all of them in Luke chapter 1), but let’s go ahead and look at what we do know. What do the following verses tell us about Elizabeth?

Read: Luke 1:5-7; Luke 1:13; Luke 1:24-25

One of the first things we see is that Elizabeth was “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (NIV). What would such a woman look like?

Read: Isaiah 66:2; Matthew 6:33-34; Proverbs 31:26; Proverbs 31:17

Elizabeth was a servant of God. There was no doubt about that. But she was also a wife. Can you imagine your husband going to work, and coming home unable to speak? What would that be like?

Scripture doesn’t give us the answer, but it does say they communicated by making signs and writing (vs. 22 and 63). It also says that Elizabeth chose to live in seclusion for the first five months after this happened. It doesn’t say if Zechariah’s condition had anything to do with that, but it might have.

Finally, Elizabeth was also a mother. While we don’t know how old Elizabeth was when all this happened, we do know that in her husband’s eyes she was past the age when most women bore children. She had lived as barren woman for all of her natural childbearing years. And then God stepped in and answered the prayer. Have you ever had to wait for an answer to prayer?

Read: Matthew 21:22; Psalm 27:14; Lamentations 3:24; Micah 7:7; Romans 8:25; Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 3:5-6

Elizabeth’s son was an answer to prayer, but it’s possible he wasn’t the answer they were hoping for. John lived his life in the wilderness. He was scorned by the priests, imprisoned, and ultimately beheaded. We don’t know if Elizabeth was alive to see any or all of that (she was well along in years before he was born), but even if she wasn’t alive for all of that, she was still his mother. Can you imagine being the mother of John the Baptist? What feelings would she have experienced?

This first woman of Christmas could very well have been any of the women sitting here today. She was a woman of God, a wife, and a mother—all things we can relate to. She was a normal, everyday woman who became part of the Christmas story. And just as God had a hand in the life of Elizabeth, He has a hand in our lives as well.

“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.”

~ Luke 1:57-58

maryandbaby


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The Women of Christmas

Last month I did a study of the women of Christmas: Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. What I learned is that these women were much like you and me. They weren’t high and lofty, but ordinary women that God used for extraordinary things.The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

This month, I want to share that study with you. But first, I have to tell you that it all started with a book. Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of the book, “The Women of Christmas“. It inspired my study and I highly recommend it.

However, it didn’t just focus on Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, but the whole Christmas story. It focused on Zechariah, Joseph, and the events that surrounded the birth of our Savior. I wanted my study to focus on the women. So I wrote my own.

I hope you’ll allow me to introduce you to the women of Christmas. Over the past month they have become dear friends, and I think you’ll find you have much in common with them as well. What better place for a friendship to start?

You can come back on Monday to meet Elizabeth, and I also encourage you to pick up a copy of Liz’ book by clicking the image above.

maryandbaby


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