Three loads of laundry, then a heaping stack of ironing. Or an hour of grocery shopping followed by an afternoon standing over a stove, wiping up saucy drips and sprinkly crumbs while trying to obey the cookbook. (A simple cookbook is my only hope.) When you spend a day like this, how do you measure the value of that tiny allotment of your life?
Jesus said, “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing” (Luke 12:23). But we still have to do laundry and prepare food. What is Jesus saying? Don’t get sucked into the chores. Don’t get caught up in the daily acts of living, because these things aren’t what life is about. So I must ask myself: what is my life about? How am I spending my life?
This week we’ll hear these words spoken countless times: What’d ya get for Christmas? Sweaters and boots. Gag gifts and prepackaged food. Some of it was fab! Some of it missed the mark, big time. But for our Christian brethren around the world, many received nothing less than a large dose of persecution this Christmas.
Jesus said, Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32). Notice the “do not fear” part. No matter what the world takes from us, God is delighted to give us a kingdom. The kingdom. We’ve been given a kingdom that will last forever, beautiful and holy, bright and clean, peaceful and perfect. The Father surely knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11.)
Merry Christmas! Please enjoy this devotion I wrote for the “Good Tidings of Great Joy” advent book.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
Strange men in dirty ragged clothes, smelling like the open fields, showed up at the most private, exhausting, wondrous experience in a woman’s life because they wanted to share in the moment. The shepherds heard the words “unto you a child is born,” and they made haste to celebrate in person the arrival of the newborn King. If Mary went through what every other woman experiences after giving birth, we know she was tired, sore, overwhelmed, overjoyed, trying to capture every moment though she felt like doing nothing else but falling to sleep. In walked mangy shepherds, excitedly chattering about angels and swaddling cloths. A quick look in the manger, and sure enough, that was what she had placed upon her newborn Babe to keep Him warm. It was too much for any one person to absorb on such a cold night of new and beautiful things, but Mary clung to the moment. She kept all these little details. She pondered them – literally, she tossed them around in her head. She experienced her life in real-time.
I am getting older now. Aren’t we all? And as time passes, I look back and realize that I haven’t always chosen to experience the moments of my life. Sure, I was there every time, but not always did I pay attention to my very own life experiences. Sometimes in a moment, I glanced too much at the TV screen. Often I got pulled away from giggles and snuggles to glance at a computer screen. Occasionally I’ve been sucked away mentally into a vacuum of worry, or planning, or guilt-driven obligations; I may have been at a particular event in the flesh, but my mind wasn’t capturing the moment; instead, my worries or daydreams were capturing me and carrying me far away. But not Mary. What a wise mother. From the very moment her Firstborn entered the world, she held onto the moments and paid attention to her life.
Christmas is a special season, and December seems to bring out a desire in all of us to make memories we can cherish for a lifetime. Be purposeful to enjoy every moment of this Christmas season, and then give yourself and your loved ones a beautiful gift; make the choice to “keep all things” and “ponder them” the other 11 months of the year.
Christmas can be a bittersweet time for those who have lost loved ones. God has a great love for the widow, and what a wonderful time of year to reach out with love, time, and attention to someone who may be feeling the pain of loneliness. Invite a widow friend to dinner, go for an afternoon of shopping, or pay a visit with the grandiose plan of simply being a good listener.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
**A special thanks to Angela Falgout for writing this beautiful devotion and allowing me to share it on my blog.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
What an amazing spiritual truth spoken from Elizabeth to Mary! The Spirit revealed to me this morning that not only was Mary blessed for believing what was spoken to her from the Lord, but that we are also blessed when we believe what is spoken to us from the Lord. There are many days when I struggle with believing what was spoken to me from the Lord. Sometimes it’s not even just believing in what was spoken to me that is the problem, but agreeing with and obeying what was spoken to me. Just as Mary would endure much suffering and sacrifice in her obedience to the Lord, we also are called to endure suffering and sacrifice as part of our obedience to God’s plan in our lives. The natural result of true belief is obedience, even when our obedience may come with great cost. Our reward – BLESSED are we who believe what is spoken to us from the Lord!
May we choose today to count the blessings of our Lord as greater than the comforts of this world, knowing that the blessings of our Lord extend so far beyond just ourselves. Mary was called not only to deliver her deliverer, but the deliverer of the entire world! Her obedience would not just result in her own personal blessing, but would extend blessings to the entire world -including you and me! How many today are being blessed and delivered because of our obedience to the Lord? What an amazing truth it is that our sufferings and sacrifices are not only resulting in blessings for ourselves, but for many others as well!
Around the globe, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are celebrating the Christmas season in chains behind bars, in refugee camps, or in secret caves or dark basements. We love them though we’ve not met them, because they are our brothers and sisters. We are one with our Christian family.
Let’s pray in earnest for their Christmas to be filled with unmistakable joy, sweet peace, and contagious hope in Jesus Christ.
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.
Feeling the stress of the holiday season? If you’re thinking about tossing out all of the Christmas “holly jolly” to create a “silent night,” let me take you to Bethlehem for a closer look.
Too many crowds? Consider the crowded city of Bethlehem when all people of the lineage of David came for the census.
Too much spending? Think about the unexpected money Joseph and others had to spend on their journey and then pay in tax in Bethlehem.
Too much hustle and bustle? Imagine the busy-ness of Mary and Joseph trying to prepare for leaving town to stay in Bethlehem for an undetermined length of time, only to get to a crowded Bethlehem and scramble for food and shelter.
Selfish relatives? Mary and Joseph were surrounded by people from their Davidic family line, yet no one was willing to give up their bed for the very pregnant young Mary.
Unexpected house guests? Remember the shepherds coming to the stable to see the Christ child at a not-so-convenient time for Mary.
Our Christmas may look totally different from the first Christmas, but Mary and Joseph experienced many of the same challenges. But note that Mary navigated the busy-ness and challenges of the season with grace: But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). Maybe it’s not about the busy-ness but instead it’s about the wonder of the season that abides in our hearts.
We follow the example of the shepherds when we ring out the message of the season with a cheery “Merry Christmas!” Let us celebrate the coming of the Christ Child!
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
I want to introduce you to my wonderful friend, Kim Hinson! Kim has started a speaking ministry, and her powerful command of God’s Word coupled with her gentle spirit makes her a special messenger of God’s truths. Please enjoy this devotional thought from Kim today. As we enter into the Christmas season, we remember why Jesus came. Blessings!
Jesus suffered during His journey to the cross and upon the cross far greater than I can ever fathom. How much time have I spent reflecting upon His journey and all that it cost Him? Have I truly wept for Him and His sacrifice for me?
The Gospels mention soldiers as the ones who commanded Jesus to carry His cross, forced the thorns upon His head, drove the nails, and pierced His side. Honestly, it was I who caused Him to bare the load of His own cross. It was I who placed the crown of thorns upon His brow. It was I who hammered the nails through His hands and feet. It was I who pierced the side of Jesus.
After reading Zechariah 12:10 I asked myself this question – Have I come to that place where I look to Jesus, the One I pierced, and “mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son?” After all, He was willing to come to that place called Golgotha for me.