Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 11

“But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” -‭‭Psalms‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The greatest gift is love. The Bible tells us so. “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬. The word “love” is found in the NASB Bible 205 times. Loving is the greatest commandment: “And He said to him, ” ‘ YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘ YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” -Matthew‬ ‭22:37-39‬ ‭NASB‬‬. And love is what God gave to us that first Christmas. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” -John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The thing is, God’s love is not like our love. His love for us is perfect, unconditional, and abiding (forever and ever). It is not dependent on our performance or behavior. That’s a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around. Maybe it is for you too. Finite minds struggle with the idea of an infinite God loving us infinitely. But, it’s the truth and if nothing else, I pray that Christmas brings us a true grasp of that infinite, unconditional, perfect love. That first Christmas was a gift of pure love!

Wishing you receptivity to His unfailing love this Christmas!
😊💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 10

“. . . resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” -Colossians‬ ‭2:2b-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Reading this verse, I thought of the Magi and the gifts that they brought baby Jesus. Did they realize the gift that this child was Himself? Did they know that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were hidden in Him? They brought gifts for the gift-bearer. I find that interestingly ironic.

I could go deeper into this subject and perhaps I will another time. The point I want to make here is that every gift we’ve ever received or given pales in comparison to the gifts we receive when Jesus Christ is our “Reason for the season”. “ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are in Him and we have access to Him! Think about that for a minute . . . . . . . did you let it sink in?

I don’t know about you, but running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to make sure everything is perfect, doesn’t seem very wise. We’re celebrating a birth that may have been perfect, but it was humble – and probably pretty dirty. We’re talking about a stable. It’s not about perfection, or fancy, or impressive. It’s about love and humility, and being thankful for an extraordinary gift bearing even more gifts. It’s gifts upon gifts with Jesus.

I’m preaching to the choir here folks! I’m as guilty as anyone of getting caught up in the hoopla. I just love it all so much! It’s so pretty! Enjoying it is great. Getting stressed out over it all – not so much. When I feel my blood pressure rising I know it’s time to take a step back and refocus. The only gift that really matters is love. The kind of love that God showed us when He sent His only son, in the form of a babe, bringing the gift of eternal life and so much more! What a generous God we serve!

Wishing you a Christmas overflowing with love!
💜❤️🧡💛💚💙 🥰

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 9

“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”” -John‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us also celebrate our rebirth into eternal life! That is, after all, why He came – to give those who would believe in Him, eternal life. He blesses us with a spiritual rebirth; a new heart, new purpose, new attitude. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” -2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬. He makes all things new.

As crunch time approaches, especially, let’s remember who we are in Christ. Let’s not revert back to the old patterns of impatience, grumbling, and complaining. It’s a challenge, believe me, I know. Christmas is less than ten days away and there’s still so much to do! Keep re-evaluating when you get stressed. Not every gift has to be wrapped perfectly and exquisitely, not every decoration has to have twinkle lights, and not every person you’ve ever met will hate you forever if they don’t get a Christmas card.

When we take our eyes off of what we are really celebrating, even if you’re not a believer and your celebration is centered around the season and family, we get stressed out. Do the kids really care if everything is not perfect? My kids don’t. They’d rather have a happy mom than all the fancy trimmings. When it comes down to it, spending peaceful, quality time with loved ones is what most people really want. There are always exceptions, but that’s for another post.

We have so much to celebrate and be thankful for! Not only the birth of our Savior – the actual reason for the season, but our own rebirth, should we choose to accept it.

Wishing you a Christmas full of life!
😊💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 8

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”” -Luke‬ ‭2:8-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When my boys were small we had a Story Keepers VHS of the Christmas story. In it was a magnificent scene of the heavenly host praising God over the birth of Jesus. It brought tears to my eyes and it was animated! I can only imagine what it would have been like to see such a thing in person!

Childlike wonder is often lost to us grownups. I guess we just outgrow being so easily impressed? We know and understand more and so are harder to impress, I guess. The thing is, there is SO much about God that we don’t know or understand. I find that with Him, my childlike wonder is still intact. I am in awe of Him and all that He has done. Much like I imagine the shepherds were on that first Christmas night, observing a sky full of angels singing praises to God. Wow!

Imagine what it would have been like to be one of those shepherds on that first Christmas night and celebrate the birth of our Savior with inexplicable joy and childlike wonder!

Wishing you a wonder-filled Christmas season!
😃💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 7

For those who noticed that I haven’t posted in a few days, my apologies. I went off the grid for a few days for some focused family time. I am back now and continuing this focus on Christ series. I’m sensing a theme here. 😉

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” -John‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus gives us many gifts; eternal riches, His abiding Presence, spiritual gifts with which to glorify Him and edify the church, just to name a few. The most amazing gift, at least to me, is the right to be called children of God! That just floors me! Almighty God, Creator of the universe and everything in it, adopted me into His family when I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior!

My heritage changed that day! I became a daughter of The King! Heaven became my home and Yahweh became my Abba Father! What a tremendous privilege and humbling honor! “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” -Galatians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭NLT

If you are a child of God, I pray that your focus this Christmas season would be on this amazing gift of adoption into God’s family! May you celebrate all the gifts that came with the greatest gift of all – Jesus, our Savior – with gratitude and overflowing joy!

Wishing you a thankful heart this Christmas!
💗😊‬‬‬

Journey of Discovery

Yesterday, while sitting in the DPS office waiting for my number to be called, a very interesting man came and sat next to my son and me. This man was a scientist originally from India, but living and working in the U.S. for many years. Very well educated and retired with commendations from both a governor and a senator. He was very sweet and a joy to converse with.

We struck up a conversation that hit on several different topics including religion. You can always tell a well-educated and open-minded person by the fact that they can discuss religion without getting angry and turning the whole conversation into an argument. Such was the case with this man and part of what made him such a joy to talk to. He didn’t attack us when he found out we were Christians. He said something though, that got me thinking.

He made a comment to which I replied, “The Bible tells us that.” He then made an observation that the different religions are simply defending their books. Which book is truth? How do we know? Good questions. He also pointed out that when belief is thrust upon a person, the joy of discovering for themselves is taken from them. I wholeheartedly agree with that. That is why my faith/belief is not solely based on what I read in The Book or what some pastor told me. I believe what I read in the Bible because of my faith.

I have only been a Christian for 24 of my almost 59-years on this planet. I’ve done the searching and have had the joy of discovery for myself. Jesus has revealed Himself to me in very real ways and I have my own proof of His Presence in my life. I am not a blind follower defending a mere book. I am in a relationship with THE Living God to whom I speak and with whom I interact on a daily basis because He chooses to do so. He chooses to do so with WHOMEVER He chooses. It has nothing to do with arrogance, I’m not the only person who loves Him and has this relationship.

There are millions of us from all races and backgrounds who have our own proof and our own assurance of things unseen. Of course, there’s plenty I don’t understand and that’s why He is God and I am not. I have been on the unbelieving side of this, obviously if I’ve not been a Christian my entire life, and I can compare many things from both sides. For me, there’s no comparison. My life is so much richer and more meaningful with Jesus in it than it ever was without Him. In spite of any questions or doubts that arise along my journey, the bottom line is that I cannot deny the things that Christ has done in, through, and for me and others I’ve been close to. The evidence is irrefutable for me and Jesus is my friend forever.

I share these things – any time I share these things – in the hope that everyone will find their own proof and know the incredible friend that Jesus is. That’s my motivation. At the same time, I also want everyone to experience their own joy of discovery. So, I share not with the goal of shoving anything down your throat, but in the hope of inspiring you to seek your own proof of Jesus’ love for you. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” -Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

😊💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 6

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair . . .” -Isaiah‬ ‭61:3a‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This life is far from perfect. Bad things happen to everyone. We all get sad, angry, disappointed, overwhelmed, and scared – just to name a few. We humans are prone to many emotions, positive and negative. Some of us are deeply affected by our circumstances and some of us do our best to affect the circumstances. Either way, we are emotional creatures to the point that we even have feelings about our feelings!

I don’t know about you, but I am one who feels things deeply. Some would call me a mercy person, empathetic, or a new term I just learned – an HSP (highly sensitive person). It’s both a blessing and a curse. So, what’s the point here? The point is that we have a cure for the more overwhelming negative emotions. We don’t have to wallow in them (unless of course we just want to), and they don’t have to overwhelm and control us. Jesus is our balm – a soothing, healing balm.

He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, and peace for despair! He came, not only to save us from the penalty of sin, but to help us walk through this life. He gives us peace, comfort, wisdom, all that we need to live a good and godly life. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” -2 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NLT

Remember that as a follower of Jesus Christ; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all yours through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. Use these God-given gifts to spread His love and light this holiday season.

HERE is a little beauty for your day!

Wishing you a beautifully blessed Christmas!
😇💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 5

“You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’” -Acts 2:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There is so much to do around Christmas time; shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, organizing! The list can seem endless and the joy, just the opposite. We get tired, overwhelmed, and stressed. It can also be a sad time if Christmas is a little different this year in that someone we celebrated with for years is no longer here. That can sometimes make all the work seem more like a chore than happy work in preparation for a joyful celebration.

I’ve experienced all of the above and for me, the key was and is to focus on the life at the center of it all. I want to share the love of Jesus and the joy He brings with those around me. I can’t do that if I’m overwhelmed, stressed, and sad. That’s not how I want to be anyway. It’s okay to address those feelings when they come and it’s not okay for me to dwell there. If I’m overwhelmed or stressed, I step back and reevaluate whether I’m doing too much and how important it is. If I’m tired, I rest, and if I’m sad I talk to the Lord about it. I cry if I need to, snuggle my kitty, put on some happy music, and carry on.

The joy of His Presence is there for me; in the uplifting music, in my kitten’s purr, and even in my tears. I feel Him with me, comforting me and giving me His peace. Call out to Him, talk to Him, read His Word, sing a worship song, or just whisper His name – Jesus. He loves His people and He’s there for us always! So, feel the joy of His Presence as you string lights and wrap presents. 😉 Let His peace wash over you and the stress melt away.

Wishing you happy work in preparation for a joyful celebration!
🎉😁💕

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 4

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” -‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Born for you”. Christ the Lord was born for you. A Savior for you, and me, and all who would believe that He is Immanuel – God with us! Why a savior? Who needs a savior? Have you ever lied (even a white lie), cheated, stolen anything, had sex outside of marriage, lived a life of endless partying with drugs and alcohol? Have you lived an absolutely perfect, honest, completely honorable life with no mistakes whatsoever? If your answers are “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second, then you are a sinner in need of a savior.

Truth is, we are ALL sinners in need of The Savior. The Bible tells us that there is only one way to the Father, one way to eternity in His Presence and that is through believing in and following The Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” -John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. . . So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” -John‬ ‭10:1-2, 7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

He was born for us! Just like breaking the law has consequences in man’s economy, sin has a major consequence in God’s economy – death for all eternity. Jesus was born to take our punishment for us and conquer over death and the grave. In Him we are free from having to pay that consequence! If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is!

The world was promised a Savior. That Savior was born to us that first Christmas. The angels brought good news of great joy that night and gave us reason to celebrate throughout time! Remember that Immanuel has come and rejoice!

Click the link for a little rejoicing. Enjoy!

Wishing you a joyous Christmas!
📯😇

Focusing on the Christ in Christmas – Day 3

“while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” -II Corinthians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I love all the trappings of Christmas; the music, the lights, the beautiful decorations, special food – all of it! I can easily get swept up in all the adornment! But it’s the reason for it all that means the most. The decorations are temporary, but the reason is eternal.

Jesus came that first Christmas for a very special purpose – to save all who would believe in Him from the consequence of sin. To trade His life for ours so that we could have eternal life rather than eternal death. Christmas commemorates His holy birth and the beginning of His purpose. Granted, the celebration has been intertwined with some non-Christian traditions in the interest of outreach, I guess you could say. Many familiar Christmas symbols have nothing to do with Christ. Many others have come to have deep meaning for believers.

Here are a few:
The candle: “A candle burns bright so we will not stray, He’s our Savior, our Christ and He lights the way.” “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” -Isaiah‬ ‭9:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬
Star: A heavenly sign shown to all that night. “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” -Matthew‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬
Candy cane: A shepherd’s crook used to guide His lambs. “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” -John‬ ‭10:14-15‬ ‭NASB‬‬
Bells: Like a cowbell, free roaming sheep wear bells making them easier to locate should they wander off. In the same way, bells represent that Jesus found us when we were lost. He saved us from sin. “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” -Matthew‬ ‭18:12-14‬ ‭NASB‬‬
Gifts: He IS the greatest gift! “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Without their meanings, these symbols are just things – temporary trappings. So, as we enjoy the beauty of these seen symbols let’s also look at the things that are not seen and remember the eternal meaning behind it all. Let’s get swept up more in the meaning of the symbols than the symbols themselves!

May you enjoy a deeply meaningful Christmas this year! 🕯🔔🎁😊💕