Written December 29, 2014
The Story of Christ’s birth as found in Luke 2:1-20 is something we have heard many times. Whether it is through the sermon’s preached during advent, the Christmas Cantata narration, or our daily devotions during Christmas we will likely hear the Christmas story many times over during the holiday season. With this in mind I decided to write some mini devotionals if you will on the Christmas story. My goal is to give some truths to ponder this Holiday season about the birth of Christ and how God worked so long ago and how He still works in our lives today. I’ve limited myself to a small space for each devotional so they are not intimidating in size but hopefully they will still enrich our walk with Christ.
God is always working around us
“In those days a decree went our from Caesar Augustus”
It is interesting to notice how many non-Jewish persons are used in the Christmas story. Caesar Augustus made the decree that ultimately brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. The Magi who were used to bring presents that funded Mary, Joseph, and Jesus’ flight to Egypt. These as well as quite a few more were all being used by God to bring about His plan to bring Christ into this world.
Here’s some food for thought, when you look out at the world this holiday season do you look for the hand of God to be working on just the Christians that you know or on everyone? I think many times we as Christians get a type of tunnel vision that makes us only look for God within the borders of our own little Christian world, when in reality God is working everywhere to work His will and bring glory to Himself throughout all this world.
This year let us open our eyes to see how God is working in the lives of others, Christian and non Christian alike, because it very easily could be that God is working through a non believer to take you to a place which God wants you. It might even be that God is working in the life of that lost soul in order to bring them to a saving relationship with Christ.
What we must do is always have our eyes open and aware that God is at work constantly in the lives of all those that are around us. In having our eyes open we will be ever ready to fulfill our God given tasks as they are laid before us.
Dear Jesus let my eyes be opened this year at Christmas that I might see you at work around me. Forgive me for only looking for Your hands on those that know you. Help me to see how you are working Your will and Your ways in the lives of all I meet and help me to be sensitive in how You wish to use me this holiday season. Amen
Your surroundings are not an accident
“to the city of David”
Having to go to Bethlehem during a time of a census was not an ideal situation to have a baby come into this world by any stretch of the imagination. Mary and Joseph were away from their hometown, they were away from the people they knew and trusted, and they were in a packed town with no available rooms.
Mary and Joseph were in a stressful place, with a stressful circumstance, and if we were in their place we would want a change of our surroundings ASAP. You know that describes Christmas pretty accurately, at least a good portion of the time. We have parties and gatherings, gifts to purchase at crowded malls, people to see, and deadlines to meet, and many times all we want is to change our surroundings. In fact the old commercial where “Calgon Take Me Away!” is shouted comes to mind.
Here’s the thing. Wherever this holiday might take you, you have a purpose there. God has you there for a reason, whether it is to be a shoulder to lean on for a family member who is going through a hard time or a friend that you should bless with a homemade pecan pie. God has you in the places that you will be this Christmas to fulfill His will just like Mary and Joseph. They were in over crowded Bethlehem to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2 and bring Christ into this world. You are going to be different places to be Christ to others that you meet, are around, and are in need. Let us remember our surroundings are not by accident or chance, but rather by divine appointment.
Dear Lord help me to remember that my surroundings are the places you have placed me by Divine appointment. That I am there with a purpose and that purpose is to bring you glory. Help me be Christ to those that are around me, that their lives might be blessed by Your loving and powerful hand. Amen
Luxury is not God’s Priority
“and laid Him in a manger”
There is a huge contrast between the dwelling place of God in the Old Testament Tabernacle and the manger of Bethlehem. In the Tabernacle the tent was filled with Gold and ornately decorated items. The holy of holies was only allowed one visitor a year. In Bethlehem there was no gold or ornate decorations. Visitors were free to come and go. It was a huge turnaround from the majesty of the tabernacle.
I think there is an interesting observation here though. If you think about it whether we are talking about the tabernacle or the manger, God was doing the exact same thing. He was revealing Himself to us.
In one setting His Majesty, Holiness, and power were evident in the ornate manner that He Himself told His people to create. In Bethlehem God was revealing Himself as the Savior of the World, the Lamb of God, the One that all mankind desperately needed a relationship with. In both luxury was not the priority but communication of Who He was.
That same priority is something we can take to heart this year too. With all the elaborate things we can do this year and all the money we can spend and pour into our gifts and garland and lights the most important thing is not the luxury that we show but the communication of Who God is. For what value do Christmas lights have if the Light of the World does not shine?
We all have a chance decorate this year, what we must not miss is our opportunity to declare this year the one in a manger, a trough for feeding, is the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Savior of the world.
God you showed so clearly Who your Son was at Christmas, help me to do the same. Let me clearly show through my life, my attitude, and the way I decorate my life that Christmas is a time when You came down and gave the greatest gift of all. Amen
Be on the lookout
“there were shepherd out in the field”
Is there anything more boring at Christmas than waiting in a long line to buy a Christmas present? There are probably a few things but not too many. We all know the frustration of waiting in line and the anger we feel when the person in front of us has an item that doesn’t ring up correctly or doesn’t have a price tag. It is frustrating, boring, and zaps our energy faster that running a marathon in summer. This however is part of the job when buying Christmas presents and getting things ready for the holiday celebration. Though in this God is still able to work and do great things.
Take the shepherds for instance, the Scriptures say they were abiding in the fields and they were watching out over their sheep. Basically they were doing their jobs, which I suspect at times was quite boring. Yet it was here that the shepherds had their world turned upside down with the appearance of a multitude of the heavenly host. All while doing what was quite boring .
God is like that though. When we are doing the most boring tasks, God can swoop in and turn everything upside down. The line that you are waiting in at ToysRus, or that bike you are putting together and getting frustrated, these are the times God can use to reveal Himself to us. Here’s the question, are you watching and are you ready? Many times our boredom, frustration, and anxiety push God out of the picture of our minds and we miss the great blessings that are around us.
When you are in line next time, or you find yourself doing what you have always done each Christmas, be on the lookout God might be whispering a blessing to you.
Lord I know this year is filled with so many things that can feel monotonous. Help me not be blind to you but be ready to see the blessing you have for me in these times. Amen
God Presence is Good
Look throughout the story of Christmas and all around it and you will find this little phrase. Fear Not. Angels say it over and over again to many different people, so often I wonder if angels ever get tired of saying fear not.
Now to be true the angels needed to say this because to meet an angel was an overwhelming thing and also for those that know your Old Testament pretty well, the appearance of an angel was not always a thing to rejoice over, just ask the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
What the angels were saying when they proclaimed “fear not” was “my presence is not bad.” They were trying to reassure the people they were speaking to that judgment and destruction was not looming. Rather these angels we proclaiming that something great was going to enter into their lives.
What a good thing for us to remember this year. How often do we fear the hand of God moving in our lives or having God put His hands on us to use us and we are scared that something terrible is going to happen in our life. The presence of God is a good thing. He entered into this world and we received the Son of God. He came and we were blessed in ways we are still trying to understand.
This Christmas let us embrace the hand of God in our lives and do so with great joy because we know what God brings is good.
Lord I confess so often when you move in my life I react with fear when I should react with excitement. Help me to have firmly planted in my mind that You in my life is not only a good thing but a great thing and You are what I need every moment of every day. Amen
The Gift is Telling
Have you ever opened a pack of batteries before? I remember doing this a couple of times growing up. The first couple of times my brain jumped to the question “why in the world would someone get me a pack of batteries?” The answer came quickly afterwards as I got the real present which would be something that needed the batteries that I had just opened.
I got something that I needed before I even knew I needed it. That’s the story of Christmas. Before you or I were born, before we knew about sin and death, before we knew we needed forgiveness, God sent the Savior of the world. Just like my relatives knew that I would need those batteries God also knew what we would need most in life and sent Jesus.
We all would try and take our own path in life turning from God and we would find ourselves in great need of a Savior. God’s gift tells us what we need most in this life and it shows the great love and care God has for us in sending the One thing that would be the greatest need.
The danger we have this year is looking at all the many different things that we think will complete us or make our life easier and forget the One who gave us life and is all we will ever need. Let us remember that no gift will ever top our Savior and no gift will ever do more than Jesus.
O Lord, let my heart be fixed on You and remember what my true need is in this life. Help me to avoid the traps of this world and think that I need something more than You. Thank you for Jesus and thank you for the One gift I could not buy but needed that I might live and live with You eternally. Amen
The Priority of Praise
“Glory to God in the Highest”
I love how the Scriptures describe the entering in of the angels when they are talking to the shepherds. It says suddenly, as if the angels could wait no longer to proclaim to these shepherds that Christ was born. It is as if they were the first children too excited to go to sleep on Christmas Eve and at the crack of dawn ran into the living room to see their presents, they were excited.
What gets you excited this time of the year? Is it the tree, the presents, the food, the parties? How about the chance to praise God for the sending of His Son to be our Savior? Yes, I know, I feel the guilt bubbling up inside of me too. We get so wrapped up in the things like presents and food that the praise sometimes takes a back seat.
To make a change in our routine may I suggest we prioritize praise? That worship be included in the vast array of holiday appointments that we keep? Why not have a time to read the Christmas story in the quiet of your home and have a time of prayer. Perhaps you could gather together with friends and carol, singing praises to God. Whatever it is make praise something you and your family do to celebrate Christmas.
Let us strive to be like the angels were that night with the shepherds, anxious for the chance to tell others that Christ was born and give glory to God for the Savior.
Lord I confess that so often I have more excitement over the presents that I am about to receive than the chance to praise You for the gift of Christ Jesus. Lord refocus my heart and let me treasure You and have great joy and excitement in giving You the praise that You alone are worthy of. Amen