Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Will You Have a Christ-less Christmas?

I’m not very trendy.  Politically correct speech, trite talk and insincere platitudes irritate me.  Common cultural controversies seldom speak my heart or compel me to take a stand.

With that stated, you might not be surprised that hearing Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays doesn’t offend me.  In fact, if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World, those greetings make sense and I’d rather you say them.  You should say what is in your heart because pretense and lies are destructive.

For the very same reason, you will hear from me, “Merry Christmas.”  Seasons come and seasons go.  If that is all I want to say, ‘hi’ or ‘hey’ should suffice.  And to me, happy holy-days are an oxymoron.  Happiness is circumstantial. Holy Days–if they are truly of a holy nature–transcend circumstances.  So, that leaves me with Merry Christmas.  Merriness is a wish for joy and life…and Christmas is Christ’s mass or the feast of Christ.  Indeed, my wish for everyone is Merry Christmas.

The heart-breaking truth, though is that this Sunday…

…many will have a Christ-less Christmas.

Some folks will know that is their reality…and others will party in a deadly deception. That is why I hold fast to my words:  Merry Christmas.  Words matter and Scripture says we will have to give account for every word that proceeds from our mouths.  I’m not responsible for your words, nor are you responsible for mine.  But we each must say–and live out what we say–with integrity.

The world still needs the good news proclaimed by the angels at the birth of Christ.  It is the privilege and responsibility of every Christian. Love came down at Christmas time the songs say.  It is that which we celebrate at Christmas.  God loved us too much to leave us in the mess we created…in the messes we create.    He came to save us.  Christmas celebrates the arrival of hope; but Easter is the culmination.  The entirety of the picture brings abundance to our Christmas celebrations.

It is the Gospel that creates an awareness of need in hearts.  The Gospel is
this:  man is lost without Jesus Christ.  There is no other explanation for why God would become man, suffer as He did and endure the Cross.  Jesus came because it was the only way for man and God to be reconciled. The same Gospel that creates awareness of need produces fulfillment.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, said in the Magnificat (Luke 1:53), God fills the hungry with good things. Too often, we fill ourselves with 12246761_10153603543295673_5486678576712313541_nthe stuff of this world and our souls fail to magnify God.  We lust but we seldom hunger…and we miss out on the Goodness of God.  That produces a Christ-less Christmas…a Christ-less life…a travesty.   The words that come from our mouths must match the lives we live.  Let folks say Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays, but you, believer live with joy in the celebration of Christ!

How do you make sure your Christmas is Christ-full?

Who wants a Partridge in a Pear Tree?

It seems to be a rather odd song, doesn’t it?  What could assorted birds, maids ‘a-milking,’ drummers and dancers have to do with Christmas?  You might be surprised.  Before we start exploring the story, though, why not download a free coloring book to go with it at the DLTK site?  Then listen to the song as you read along:

This Christmas carol was published in England in the early 1800s but is believed to be of French origin.   While there is some dispute about the symbolism intended in the carol, several believe that it was a tool for Christians to memorize and share their faith.  Examining the gifts of each day provides a foundation to understand the awesome generosity of our God…and the abundance in the Christian faith.

If you really don’t enjoy reading but want to know the story, I recorded a video to tell the story but below you will find the story and the Scripture references to deepen your study. Traditions and history confound things a bit, so you may find those who celebrate the 12 Days before Christmas.  Most, though, consider Christmas Day the First day (honoring the birth of Christ) and January 5th (Epiphany) the 12th Day (which celebrates the Gifts of the Magi).  But tradition and religion are not the essence of our faith…this song gives us some unchanging Truth to feast upon.  Let’s go!

FIRST DAY                         Jesus Christ                           Luke 1:35 & 1 John 4:9

The celebration begins with the arrival of the Messiah!  God with us, Immanuel!

SECOND DAY                   Old & New Testament         John 20:31

Jesus is the Word in living, human form.  The Scriptures, old & new, speak of Him.

THIRD DAY                       Faith, Hope & Love               1 Corinthians 13:13

Paul said, ‘…these three remain…and the greatest of these is love.’  The heart of the Word is revealed in the three french hens.

FOURTH DAY                    Gospels                                   Matt., Mark, Luke & John

The good news that God continues to seek us…and will do whatever it takes to allow us to choose to be connected with Him is a priceless gift.

FIFTH DAY                         Books of Moses/Law           Genesis – Deuteronomy

Those books of the Law are not dry in any sense.  Though Christians do not live under the Law, we live IN IT – for Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.

SIXTH DAY                         Six Days of Creation            Genesis 1

Everything was created by God…and entrusted to humanity, His crowning creation.  Made in His image with purposes grander than we conceive!

SEVENTH DAY                  Perfect Gifts

The gifts of the 7th Day exceed our ability to explore them in this lifetime.  Praise Him for the very first one:  eternal covenant!  He is the beginning and the end and everything in between!  ENJOY HIM.

Everlasting Covenant –  Isaiah 56:4-5

Spiritual Knowledge – Jeremiah 24:7

New Heart – Ezekiel 11:19

Spiritual Rest – Matthew 11:28

Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13

Eternal Life – John 10:28

Spiritual Crowns – Revelation 2:10

      EIGHTH DAY                     Beatitudes                                     Matthew 5:3-10

The Beatitudes reveal Kingdom Life–which is pretty much opposite of what we typically experience.  We are to be in the world but not of it so that others can see a distinction.  The beatitudes create a beautiful life.

Humility – Matthew 5:3

Repentance – Matthew 5:4

Meekness – Matthew 5:5

Spiritual Hunger – Matthew 5:6

Mercy – Matthew 5:7

Pure Hearts – Matthew 5:8

Peacemaking – Matthew 5:9

Suffering for Christ – Matthew 5:10

NINTH DAY                            Fruit of the Spirit                         Galatians 5:22-23

This fruit is singular; it is HIS fruit, not ours.  The flavor of our life will be rich and sweet when He is its essence:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness & self-control.  This is not a list to achieve but a spirit to receive.

TENTH DAY                            Ten Commandments                   Exodus 20:1-17

The commandments are all about relationship…first with the Father, then with others.

ELEVENTH DAY                     Faithful Disciples                          Matthew 10:2

We know there were 12; we want to be counted among the faithful.  Judas chose his own way and it was the way of death.

TWELFTH DAY                       Apostles Creed

1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

5. The third day he rose again from the dead:

6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

10. The forgiveness of sins:

1l. The resurrection of the body:

12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

PHEW!  Who knew?  Are you astounded by the richness of that carol?

Be blessed and have a Merry Christmas.

 

Exceeding Expectations

Christmas creates more expectations than most any other time of the year.  We are tempted to cram all our hopes for mankind into our celebrations.  That sets us up for conflict and disappointment.  “Joy to the world” is what we long for…frustration and failure is often what we feel.  When Isaac Watts wrote Joy to the World, he intended it as a year-round hymn.  The hopes we have at Christmas-time don’t fit in a day, a week or even a season.  Let this be the Christmas that launches you on a Joy Journey that lasts into eternity.

Perhaps you would enjoy listening as you read?

Our hearts naturally thrill to Christmas.  We know that the truth of Christ’s coming is joy.  Knowing truth is never enough; it must be lived. At Christmas time, especially, we try very hard to LIVE IT.  We haul out the decorations, empty out our bank accounts and flood our schedules in a frenzy of anticipatory joy.

The frustration comes when our hearts respond with a hollow ring…or even anger at the emptiness and chaos. The trappings of Christmas point out the vast canyon between our hopes and what we can produce.  Earthly joys are a gift from God above.  Christmas tends to fix our eyes on the present moment–and God is here, but He is so much more!

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May our hearts be a haven for Him!

The celebration of birth is sweet to consider but it is only the beginning!    The infant Jesus, Emmanuel–God with us–was nurtured and instructed.  Scripture tells us He grew in grace and knowledge; He learned obedience by suffering, and ultimately gave His life for us.  The fullness of the story takes us to the Cross and the Resurrection.  One day Jesus will reign as King of Kings–that is our joy!  In the meantime, we must nurture our souls and learn as He did.  We are to grow in obedience and surrender to His Lordship in our lives.

Joy to the World is a great song to guide us to the journey of faith we really seek.  Isaac Watts wrote this looking toward the ruling and reigning of Christ. The hymn is actually based on Psalm 98, and I love the guidelines it offers for planning our celebrations of joy!

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First, we must remember to receive the King!  Christmas celebrations need to help us open our hearts for the life of Christ.  We need to choose activities that encourage us to welcome the presence of divinity.  That will mean declining some invites and relaxing our demands for perfection–from decorations, from people and activities.  The stuff is extra; His presence, the necessity.  Our gatherings do not create unity in our family…God alone creates that.   We must welcome Him and let Him do His work!

Then, the song reminds us ‘Our Savior Reigns!’  Despite the morning news, this world is unfolding under His watchful eye.  The things that happen in our lives are filtered by our loving Father.  Just as we received Jesus into our lives, we are to receive the stuff of life with faith in our Deliverer!

Just as Jesus grew in grace and knowledge, we must too.  ‘No more let sins and sorrows grow’ rings out in the third verse.  We live in a broken world, a world affected by the curse of disobedience.  Learning to walk out the joy of Jesus brings a balm to our world.  Introduce others to the King by letting them see Him in you this Christmas!

And finally…enjoy the journey.  The wonders of His love are so amazing we need eternity to enjoy them.  Relax with your Christmas plans…the journey continues!

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