Christmas – Day Seven
by Christie Frieg
“The most excellent method I have found for going to God is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men but purely for the love of God.” –Brother Lawrence
1. Meet with your Beloved, your Betrothed. As you meditate on the following verses, bask in the love your Creator lavishes on you at every moment. Imagine him singing over you, delighting in you, longing to make you his forever.
Investing in your Marriage
I know this title may sound odd, in light of the fact that we’ve been talking about Christmas for the last few days. Of course it’s important to invest in your spouse this time of year (and every other time), but today, I’m talking about your marriage with Christ.
Even though the ceremony will be held in the future, we are betrothed to Christ, our Beloved. In Jewish culture, betrothal is almost synonymous to marriage. This is the period of wooing and courtship. Think of it this way:
There we were, all alone. Drifting, flitting from disappointment to empty disappointment, searching for meaning and purpose in all the wrong places. And yet, in every glorious sunset, every captivating landscape, every dazzling, star-filled night sky, our Beloved could be heard and seen—wooing us. In the ultimate gesture of sacrifice, he gave of his very self so that we could draw near him for all eternity, sharing in his love, joy, and beauty. And he draws us still, every day, every moment. He is closer than our skin, permeating our very being. Loving—always, forever, gloriously loving.
So often, I hear worship songs in church and on the radio about how much God loves us. “Oh, how he loves us, how he loves us so!” There is no more wonderful truth in all the world than this.
But how many worship songs do we sing about our love for him? For every stanza starring God’s love toward us, are there even half as many regarding the depth of our love for him?
I think not.
Suppose it is your anniversary. Your husband has spent weeks preparing the most wonderful day filled with fun, meaningful gestures. A visit to where you met, or got engaged, or married. A trail of rose petals to a candlelit display with the words, “I love you now, always, and forever, with everything I am!” in giant letters in a painting he created himself. You can’t believe how lucky you are, and you go to bed that night completely happy. But the next morning, when you wake up, you lean over and inform him, “Honey, I’m just not sure if I feel your love. I need to know you love me. It’s hard to believe sometimes, I just need more faith to believe it.” How would he respond?
Yet so often, we do that to our own Beloved. Instead of reciprocating or finding ways to bless him, we may never get to a point where we enter into a two-way love relationship. We forget that he has committed his whole being to us as in marriage, as it says in Hosea, “I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy” (Hosea 2:19). And he is the most beautiful, kind, faithful, fun, and exciting husband we could ever have!
This Christmas, I challenge you to love your Husband. I challenge you to enter into a two-way relationship, and let God’s demonstrations of love to you elicit an overflow of praise and love from your heart.
3. Questions to Ponder
– What tasks do I perform every day that seem too ordinary to be pleasing to God? How can I adjust my mindset so that I can direct my efforts in even the smallest, most insignificant action all to the glory of God?
– How can I cultivate a deep love towards my Jesus, my future husband? What could I incorporate into my Christmas season that would bless his heart, effectively hanging a big banner that says “I love you more than anything, with everything I am!” that would bring a smile to his face?
4. Faith-Filled Idea
How do we reciprocate Christ’s love for us? As Brother Lawrence said above, every little thing we do can be done solely for the love of God. Even though he was the “janitor” of the monastery, it is quite possible that he served and loved God more than any other monk in the establishment. “I resolved to make the love of God the end of all my actions… I resolve even to take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts.” No piece of his daily routine was too mundane to be used for the glory and love of his dear Savior. So should it be with us.
It doesn’t necessarily take extra time or grand gestures to love your Savior better. Pray to Him, devote your heart and your thoughts to Jesus throughout the day. You will begin to see His goodness in the mundane details of life and love Him more for it.
Christmas – Day Eight
by Mary Frieg
“The focus of entertaining is impressing others; the focus of true hospitality is serving others.” -Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus
1. It’s time to spend some quality time with our Lord learning about true hospitality and preparing our homes and hearts for guests.
2.Take out your Bible and read I Peter 4:8-9 and Philippians 2:3-4. Write them in your journal and circle the words that are most meaningful to you. Picture in your mind a peaceful, warm place where people want to gather as they feel the love of Christ.
Preparing Our Home For Guests
Christmas is a time when expectations are high for entertaining, but how can we keep our expressions of hospitality less like Martha Stewart and more like Jesus? By focusing on Him and not just our house. Decorating our homes, creating wonderful meals, and wrapping beautiful packages are all lovely as long as they are kept in perspective and do not create stress for our families and guests.
The angels proclaimed “Peace on earth” at the coming of our Savior. Let’s proclaim “Peace in our homes” as we celebrate His coming.
Christmas is a time we can help our family members and guests enter into the true meaning of Christmas. We can do this by honoring them and putting them ahead of ourselves as is expressed in Philippians 2:3-4.
With a little planning and managed expectations we can provide a peaceful, hospitable environment for our guests. Put on some relaxing and uplifting Christmas music before guests arrive. Greet them cheerfully at the door. Include your children in greeting. Let the kids take coats or help with the luggage. When grandparents or other family members came to visit, we let our children know they were expected to be at home with our family even though sometimes they wanted to be with their friends. We impressed that our guests were special and that we were taking care of them as a family.
When grandparents or other family members came to visit, we let our children know they were expected to be at home with our family even though sometimes they wanted to be with their friends. We impressed that our guests were special and that we were taking care of them as a family.
I’ve always said I’d like to run a bed and breakfast but I don’t do breakfast. So I had some cereal, nut bread or a breakfast casserole prepared ahead of time to make breakfast easier. Meals can be special but choose one dish to invest in and make the rest of the meal simple. Don’t try to make every course or side dish fancy.
The most important gift to our guests is to be with them just as Jesus was. We can honor our loved ones by being fully present, listening to their stories, affirming and encouraging them. If good conversation is happening around the table after dinner, linger there. Resist the urge to jump up from the table and start doing the dishes. If you postpone the conversation until everything is cleaned up the opportunity to commune with one another may have passed.
Resist the urge to jump up from the table and start doing the dishes. If you postpone the conversation until everything is cleaned up the opportunity to commune with one another may have passed.
Take your cues from your guests. Include the children in the conversation and hosting. They are learning precious lessons in hospitality. Pray for the people who visit your home. Touch each chair, room, and bed where they will be and pray your guests will sense the Holy Spirit and feel the peace of God while in your home. Love not only covers a multitude of sins but also dust, burnt
Love not only covers a multitude of sins but also dust, burnt casseroles, and mismatched dishes.
3. Questions to Ponder
– Pray for the Lord to give you the power to focus on people this Christmas season.
– How can you share the tasks with your children of showing hospitality while you pass on these important life skills?
– Pray for the qualities of a quiet and gentle spirit which is precious in the sight of God. I Peter 3:4
4. Faith-Filled Idea
Think of your kitchen as a holy place. Put on your apron as if you were putting on holiness. Ritually wash your hands and bless your hands. Pray for your work. Ask the Lord for peace and calm as you prepare.
Prepare your guest rooms with comfort – a bottle of water and some hotel toiletries in case they forgot anything. Also provide an extra blanket or throw. Guest rooms were cheered with a few Christmas decorations and some Christmas books- especially spiritual ones or devotionals. A small flashlight was helpful for nighttime trips to the bathroom especially for our older guests. Pray for the time your guests will spend in the room.
Meals can be special but shoes one dish to invest in and make the rest of the meal simple. Don’t try to make every course or side dish fancy.
Let the children make place cards for each dinner guest. Write out short verses about Jesus on the back of each card for guests to read aloud.
Christmas – Day Nine
by Tara Davis
“God rewards those who seek Him. Not those who seek doctrine of religion or systems or creeds. Many settle for these lesser passions, but the reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself. And what is the reward? What awaits those who seek Jesus? Nothing short of the heart of Jesus.” Max Lucado
1. How is your heart today? Ask God that He would reveal Himself to you through the study of His Word.
2. Grab your Bibles, find a comfortable spot in front of your Christmas tree, and let’s look at what it means to seek the Lord in Matthew 2:1-12. Go ahead and write verse 11 in your journal.
Wise Women Seek Jesus
Sweet mamas, you have worked so hard these past weeks making Christmas special for your family. The rush of this season can be exhausting! When I am busy, my eyes tend to focus anywhere but on Jesus. However, during this eventful season, God is calling us to seek His grace, to worship Him, and to find ourselves at peace in His arms.
How do we actively seek that baby, Word became flesh, the embodiment of all Truth, born two thousand years ago? How can we possibly scrape together enough energy for worship after we have spent it all on this long journey toward Christmas Day?
The wise men mentioned in Matthew, were some of the most unlikely people to seek the baby Jesus. They were Gentiles from a country far away who came to worship the long prophesied “King of the Jews”. Moreover, they had to travel up to two years to find Jesus, guided simply by a star and their knowledge of ancient Scripture.
What a long, challenging journey! However, they persisted in their resolution to see the Savior of the World. Each time they saw the star appear to guide them, they were recipients of God’s grace. Do you feel as if you are on a long journey this Christmas? One leading you further from the Lord, as opposed to closer to His heart? God is shining His light of grace on you as well beloved sister! He tells us in 2 Peter 1:19 “There is a Day-Star that arises in the hearts of those that enquire after Christ”. Jesus is just waiting to shine His glorious, healing light into every corner of your life!
He will be your strength as you seek His Son this season. He promises in Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Trust Him with your heart and your desire for Him. He has many great things to show you! In love, He whispers “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” (Jeremiah 33:3)
When the wise men finally found Jesus, the purpose of their seeking was fulfilled as they “fell down and worshiped Him.” When we find our Savior this Christmas and beyond, in all of the busyness and mess of life, how can we humble ourselves in worship?
In Romans 12:1, Paul encourages, “I urge you therefore…to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.” We can worship Jesus by presenting ourselves: our strengths, weaknesses, desires, talents and failings to Him to use as He wishes. Giving Him the very things that we hold closest to our heart is the ultimate act of adoration.
As this Christmas season ends and a new year begins, would you join me in seeking Jesus and in asking Him to reveal Himself to you in a way only He is able? Let us commit to worshiping Him by giving ourselves as an offering and resting in His goodness and love for each of us. He wants you to seek Him, sweet friend! Jesus wants to make His presence and the gift of His grace known to you in the days to come.
3. Questions to Ponder
– Has it been hard for you to keep your focus on Christ this Christmas season?
– How can you commit to seeking Him as Christmas comes to a close and a new year opens wide before you?
4. Faith-Filled Idea
In worship, the wise men presented Jesus with very precious gifts. What can you give to your Savior today? On a small piece of paper, have each of your family members write down a gift they will give to the Lord this Christmas. Give from your heart as opposed to places of excess in your life. What do you need to turn over to the Lord? With what do you need to trust Him? Keep these papers in a small decorative box or in a stocking, and bring them out next Christmas to read over with new commitment.