As we gear up for Christmas, let’s cast our minds back to where it all began. Over a year before the scene in the stable, God in His heavenly throne room summoned an angel and gave him a special assignment.
Advent is here. Christmas is just around the corner. However, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, there is an aspect of the Christmas story we tend to overlook or underemphasize. While flipping through the pages of Luke one and two and Matthew chapter one, we forget the lengthy gap that’s represented in the page that reads “The New Testament.” For us, the span between the Old Testament and New is merely a couple of pages, but for the Israelites it was 400 years.
Gratitude is a posture. A choice. We often overlook this truth and blindly believe that gratitude and thankfulness is a response to overflowing blessings. But Paul resets our perspective when he wrote to the Thessalonians:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
~I Thessalonians 5:18
That word easily tumbles out of the mouth of a toddler as he runs to greet his father with a bear hug or spills out in the delighted squeal of a little girl as her father relentlessly tickles her tummy. Whether it’s uttered in joyful abandon, frustrated anger, deep-hearted sorrow, unwavering trust, or warm affection from the lips of a child or adult, the connotation remains the same.
Yesterday, I shared an epiphany that occurred while standing before the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was a scene that opened my eyes to see each name and wrap my heart around each life that was given. However, there was an aspect of the story that I did not tell you, a part of my contemplations that I did not share.
This iconic image from World War II has come to represent the tenacity and loyalty of America and her comrades-in-arms. But it is also a representation of sacrifice.
Today, as we reflect on the victories that have made America the world power she is today, we must also remember the millions of lives sacrificed in the process. This is what Memorial Day is all about: remembering those fallen in combat.
They live quiet, selfless lives. They’re always on call and never have time off. They don’t work for money nor do they expect praise or applause for their daily, moment-by-moment efforts. Their greatest delight and joy is to see their young protégées walking with the Lord, happy, healthy both in body and mind, and noteworthy citizens of society. From the sleepless nights of the infant stage through the rocky ride of the teen years, they work tirelessly to see that goal come to fruition.
While this is not something I usually post about, I feel that it is important to help our brothers and sisters in need. And this is an important need!
So as we celebrate unconditional, Christ-like love, let's put it into action.
It’s that time of year again…hearts, flowers, roses, chocolate, and the color red. You see it everywhere—grocery aisles, department store décor, radio and TV advertising, and colorful billboards. All declaring in loud, blaring obviousness that Valentine’s Day is here once again!
Every year on this day, we spend time looking back over the previous 365(6) days and making resolutions for the coming year. So as we start the year of our Lord 2017, let’s begin by analyzing what God has done in our lives last year and asking ourselves these questions.
Sweet baby Jesus! You left your heavenly dwelling of glory to be born among the lowly and despised of the earth, in a cattle stall among people who had no room for You. From a throne of splendor to a straw filled manger, You humbled Yourself and be came like one of us in our very weakest and vulnerable state. You came as a newborn baby, fully reliant upon an imperfect, inexperienced mother and father. And while shepherds paid their respects, and wise men came to worship, the very people You came to save largely rejected and ignored You. Their hearts and their doors stated “No room in the inn.” And now, two thousand years later, many people still have signs hanging on the door frames of their homes and hearts declaring, “No room in the inn!” But may we be like the shepherds of old who left their flocks by night and came to your bedside to worship. Or may we be like the wise men from a far who traveled many miles in search of the King of Kings. And may our Christmas prayer this year be this:
As we continue our “God Came Down” series, the next characters from the Nativity story that we will look at are the Magi or wise men. How often we see these special guests depicted as three elegantly dressed men bearing rich gifts and kneeling before or hovering over an idyllic manger scene! Now while I hate to burst your bubble or perfect picture, the truth of the matter is that the wise men were nowhere near the manger scene for the birth of Jesus. In fact, we don’t even know if there were three who visited the infant Jesus! There could have been five or ten for all we know! Nevertheless, while no one knows the details on their identity, we can still learn some very valuable lessons from these semi-obscure worshipers of the Christ Child.
The Christmas season is upon us! Have you heard the bells ringing or the choirs singing? But Christmas isn’t just about the songs, bright lights, festivities, and colorful decorations, is it? No, it’s about much more! Christmas is about God doing an extraordinary thing through a simple girl form a small town called Nazareth.
Turkey Day. That’s what people are calling this day. But what is that even supposed to mean? Does it mean that today is a day to celebrate turkeys? I think not, because the entire meal is served around a golden, roasted turkey. So what’s with the “Turkey Day” expression? What happened to Thanksgiving—a time in which we reflect and remember what God has done?
I know...you're probably thinking, It's not even Thanksgiving yet! However, as you may have noticed, the retail industry is gearing up for Christmas because it is just around the corner. So as you see the Christmas decor when you're going about your errands, don't just tune it out and try to focus on Thanksgiving, but rather think of those who may not get the chance to experience and enjoy this blessed holiday. And while you're think about it, why not do something too?
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