A Baby Is Born

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Today we celebrate the birth of Christ!

If you followed Advent by lighting the candles for hope, peace, joy and love, today’s candle would be the Christ Candle. What a beautiful image to represent Christ as the light of the world, the one who pierces the darkness! Jesus is the savior of the world, and he is our hope, our peace, our joy and our truest love.

I pray you have a blessed Christmas and your hearts are warmed as you remember the humble birth of our Savior and Lord, and the great love he brings to us.

Merry Christmas!

For a special Christmas greeting from our family Guinea pig, Cookie, click here.

Love for the Lost

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

We are quickly approaching the end of Advent with Christmas Eve 2017 today. Over the last three weeks we have looked at hope, peace and joy, and today we focus on love.

What comes to mind when you hear the word love? Do you think of attributes of love including patience, kindness and selflessness (1 Corinthians 13)? Or maybe definitions come to mind like love is an action and not a feeling? Or perhaps you think of examples of how you display love to others through service, verbal praise or gifts?

As I’ve considered what I think love means, I’ve looked at how God loves us and what Jesus taught us about love:

God’s love is for the lost, which includes all of us at some point in our lives. If you have not accepted God’s love yet, today is a perfect day to do it. It will be your best Christmas gift ever! If you have already accepted God’s love, it is also a great time to share that love with others!

How can you show love to others in your life?

Philippians 2:1-4

As you prepare for Christmas day, let love be your greatest gift to others.

 

Currently my favorite television commercial is one for Microsoft that encourages us to be kind and make our world a better place. As you watch this commercial, look for all the ways that love is shown among a diverse group. It is really delightful!

Create a Better World

Joy of Jesus

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

Matthew 2:10 (ESV)

Joy. It’s a word that really should make you smile when you say it. I’ve always thought that joy was a happy word, a bright word, a word that warms our hearts.

When we read the Christmas story, it exudes joy. In the Greek, joy (chara) means cheerfulness, gladness and calm delight. Consider the people in the Christmas story who felt joy:

  • Mary praised God on the news that she would give birth to Jesus (Luke 1:46-47).
  • Elizabeth exclaimed that the baby she was carrying, John the Baptist, “leaped for joy” when Mary came to see her (Luke 1:44).
  • The angels greeted the shepherds with, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10, NIV).
  • After seeing the baby, the shepherds rejoiced as they glorified and praised God (Luke 2:20).
  • When the Magi saw the star that would lead them to Jesus, they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10, ESV).

When we consider the lives of the people in the Christmas story, their circumstances weren’t ideal. I’m sure Mary was afraid before she was married and then overwhelmed with the responsibility of being the mother of the Savior after Jesus was born. Elizabeth was going to have a child late in life, and her husband was not able to speak until the baby was born. Mary and Joseph struggled to find a place to stay before Jesus was born, and Mary ended up giving birth to Jesus in a barn. The shepherds were frightened at the sight of angels. The Magi traveled to find Jesus and had to lie to Herod, a powerful king. None of these circumstances were happy or pleasant, yet each one led people to Jesus and the result was joy.

Do you rely on circumstances in your life to dictate your joy?

Reread the Christmas story (Luke 1-2, Matthew 2) this week and embrace the joy that runs throughout this story.

Jesus is our joy. Going back to the Greek word for joy, chara, we find the root of this word means “awareness of God’s grace.” Jesus is God’s grace poured out for us! He is the “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He is our hope. He is our peace. Jesus is our Savior, and He is our joy!

 

Instead of a song clip this week, I would like to share a video clip with you.

Enjoy Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas.

I pray you find joy this week!

 

 

Perfect Peace

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

My family loves to watch episodes of The Waltons, a TV show from the ’70s about a family’s life during the Depression. In the last episode we watched, John Boy noted how all the quiet of his family’s home was disrupted when a gregarious orphan boy returns to live with them. John Boy’s peace was lost because he was focusing on his circumstances instead of remembering what was most important – that all people are valuable and need love.

As I was thinking about this story, it reminded me that we can have peace no matter what our circumstances when we keep our focus on Jesus. Isaiah exhorts us to keep our minds steadfast, or in other words, to lean on God. When we do this, we are guaranteed perfect peace.

Psalm 119:165 tells us if we love God’s law, we can have great peace. And Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us to pray about all things and to pray with thanksgiving so that we can find peace.

As we get closer to Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, I pray that you have peace.

This week, ponder:

Do I have peace, the kind of peace that only God can provide?

Galatians 5:22, Psalm 29:11

How can I encourage others toward peace?

Share John 14:27 and John 16:33 with someone.

 

Enjoy a peaceful moment to meditate on the peace of Christ’s birth

in the carol “Silent Night.”

 

Our Highest Hope

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:21 (NLT)

This morning, our daughter just turned the blocks on the Christmas Countdown on our mantle to the number 23. She loves to turn the two blocks to the correct number every day because each time she turns them means that we are officially one day closer to Christmas!

The holiday season can be overwhelming for many of us for several reasons: expectations for a perfect Christmas, the multitude of activities and events to attend, the sheer number of tasks that need to be accomplished, and even the loneliness and sadness that come from missing loved ones who have passed away or live too far away to visit.

So, let’s take a moment to just be still and focus on the hope of Christmas.

Our modern view of hope focuses on a wishfulness that only knows uncertainty. In contrast, the Biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.” This sort of hope means waiting for something with certainty, knowing it will happen because God has promised it.

Throughout the entire Bible, God gives his people hope for a Savior, Jesus Christ. The first reference to our Savior is found in Genesis 3:15. God later makes covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Israelites, promising to protect them, increase their numbers, fight for them and provide them with a Savior (Genesis 9:11, 22:15-18, Exodus 6:6-8, Isaiah 9:6-7).

Our Savior, Jesus, is our highest hope in this life, and as Christians, we celebrate his birth on Christmas Day. God came down to earth in the person of Jesus so we could see him and have hope for a restored relationship with our Creator. Jesus is “God with us,” Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

Paul reminds us to “rejoice in hope” (Romans 12:12), so let us always find joy in the riches we have because of Jesus. He has given us forgiveness, grace, comfort, peace, endurance to press on during times of difficulty and, most importantly, eternal life. Jesus is our wonderful hope!

As we enter this season of Advent, consider the following questions about hope:

  • Have you put your trust in Jesus as your highest hope?

John 3:16, Romans 10:9, 13

  • What are you hoping for today?

Romans 8:23-25

  • How can you share the hope of Jesus with someone this week?

Matthew 5:16, 28:19

As we count down the days to Christmas, remember we are getting closer to the birth of our Savior, our highest hope!

 

Christmas music is one of my favorite things about the holiday season, and I hope you enjoy this song by Kari Jobe that reminds us that Jesus is our hope.

“When Hope Came Down”