Christmas – Day Four
by Deb Weakly
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
― Jim Elliot
1. It’s time to meet with Jesus! The One who gave all He had so you can live a life everlasting with Him! Grab your Bible, journal, a candle and something hot and delicious to drink. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and teach you how to pass your faith on to your children this Christmas.
Passing Down the Stories
In light of the many events around the world in which faithful lovers of Jesus Christ are martyred, my heart cries out for help and understanding. I wish I knew their names and their stories: the martyrs of past and present, whose biographies of life and death though exceedingly numerous, still have great power with which to teach us to live victoriously. I know one day in Heaven we will celebrate each of these precious Saints, and behold the whole narrative of their beautiful faith in Jesus Christ.
“Peace on Earth, and good will towards men,” these are some of the gentle aspects of Jesus, but as we remember the Christ Child, may we also recollect that we are not honoring any ordinary babe; Jesus came to bring peace to earth, yes, but the Scriptures clearly state that He also came to bring a sword to our world, and even to His own mother’s soul:
“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:34-35.
Jesus Himself told His disciples of the oncoming persecution and how simply believing in Him will force them to give their own lives as a sacrifice for their faith:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34.
This prophecy of Jesus came true, and millions of courageous Christians have given their lives for their faith down through the ages since the death of Jesus. It is impossible to know each of their stories, but thankfully, I do know some. We tried to pass some of these stories down to our children, and one of my favorites is St. Lucia.
Since she is remembered at Christmastime, on December 13, I would love to share her story with you:
St. Lucia lived in Italy in the fourth century and resolved to live her life devoted to Christ and not marry. Nevertheless, her mother arranged for her marriage to a Roman soldier but Lucia refused. Her heart was so committed to Jesus that she sold her dowry in response to hearing about the Christians starving while hiding in the catacombs to flee persecution. She took the money from her dowry and brought food down to the Christians in their hiding places. Since it was dark, she made a crown of torches lighting her way.
When her fiancée learned of her betrayal, he turned her over to the Roman authorities. She was tried and found guilty. The customary sentence for a woman without a dowry was life in a brothel. They couldn’t move her, however, so they brought materials for a fire and stacked them around her. When the fire would not light, a soldier ended her brave life with a spear.
I can only imagine her excitement waking up to Jesus holding her face in His hands saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
St. Lucia lived a beautiful depiction of Christian dedication and sacrifice worth honoring. That is why we remember to pass down her brave story in celebration of her life.
Take every opportunity to teach your children about Christ and the ones who have gone before who have lived and died by faith. Make your family traditions meaningful and fun, with Christ at the center as much as possible.
May we all pass on their courageous stories to the next generation.
3. Questions to Ponder: Answer the following questions in your journal.
- Who is your favorite faithful Christian or martyr and why?
- How you best emulate their life in your world?
4. Faith-Filled Idea:
As parents, we should use every opportunity to teach our children about the faithful saints who went before us and gave their lives for Christ.
For many years, our family has passed down the faithful story of St. Lucia. On the morning of December 13, I wake up my family wearing a crown of candles and carrying a tray of tea and gingerbread cookies called Pepparkakor. Imagine the excitement for a young child munching on a cookie while in bed, and hear the stories of St.Lucia and her often forgotten peers.
Below is a wonderful recipe by the wonderful Phyllis Stanley for delicious Pepparkakor cookies!
St. Lucia day is now a National holiday in Sweden. It is wonderful to watch each year’s celebration on the internet. I am thankful they remember her brave life.
Christmas – Day Five
by Mari Jo Mast
“A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do – is to enter into it.” D.L Moody
1. Good morning friend! Jesus is the Prince of Peace and he longs for you to enter into His eternal rest today. Pray for his Spirit to bring you fresh revelation as you pour over his Word.
2. Open your Bible and read Luke 2:8-20. Write verse 14 in your journal along with the meaning of peace/shalom (below in the devotional).
The Shalom Peace of Jesus
Peace. Do you long for spiritual rest today?
When the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, they were praising God and saying PEACE had come to earth. What could they possibly have known that caused them to rejoice so greatly? History tells us there was much political unrest and fear in the Jewish world at the time. So why rejoice, and what did it signify?
The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom. Its deepest definition is:”the spiritual harmony brought by an individual’s restoration with God”.
The peace Jesus came to bring wasn’t what the world (including the shepherds) was looking for at the time. Physical safety and political harmony was a longing and priority, but not necessarily an immediate result of His birth. This was why they were disappointed and didn’t recognize Jesus. Yet the purpose of his birth was far greater.
The true reason why Jesus came was to bring salvation and peace between us and God! The sacrifice of His life on the cross became a bridge between our ugly sin and a Holy God. His resurrection made the Holy Spirit available, bringing us eternal PEACE!
Hallelujah! What a Savior! Saying “yes” to Jesus brings us REST. Rest from our own works, rest from our sin, rest from anxiety, anger and depression, rest from obligations, rest in our relationship with Him and with others, and even rest from spiritual striving!
This is the true meaning of peace. Jesus paid it ALL.
How we desperately need Him today. As it was 2,000 years ago, so it is now. There is much political unrest and confusion all around, yet we can access personal tranquility, right dab smack in the middle of all the chaos!
Is your heart frenzied with all the holiday fuss? Are you wearied from scheduled time frames that bring frustration, futility and loneliness? Does our current world situation bring you fear and unrest?
Take a deep breath, there is hope! God has already provided.
Rejoice! You can be the embodiment of peace as you access Jesus by letting him reign in you, through His Spirit. This is the very reason why He came.
There is a place in our heart that can be quieted by no one but him. Pray with me today:
“Dear Jesus, we need your peace. According to the Word, we believe you are the One who brings perfect peace because you are the Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6) I ask in your name to calm and quiet our busy souls, making our heart one with yours. Help us to keep our minds stayed on you (Isaiah 26:3). Fill us to overflowing with your Spirit, and bring eternal peace to our body, soul and spirit. We receive and rejoice in the REST which only you can bring! Thank you for coming to make peace available and help us to celebrate its true meaning by letting it reign in the middle of our busy lives. We love you and are so grateful for the gift of your life to us. Amen.”
Let the SHALOM of Christ rule in your heart!
3. Questions to ponder.
Ponder Isaiah 26:3. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts in You.” Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you to the brim and overflowing every day as you are aware of His Presence moment by moment. Tell Him you want more of Him and his Truth. Make it a goal of yours to allow His Spirit to dominate your thoughts as you go about this busy holiday season.
- Think about it. Are your thoughts dwelling on Jesus and are you trusting him? Write your pondering in your journal.
4. Faith filled idea.
As you are praying for the peace of Jesus this Christmas, make every effort to keep peace in your own home. Be a peace-loving mom by simply being nice to your family. Try to avoid things or situations which may steal your peace and make you grouchy. When you get stressed, decompress with your favorite relaxing activity such as a long bubble bath, a walk outside in the brisk air, or simply a nap. Be sure to plan downtime and relaxation in your family’s schedule too.
Christmas – Day Six
by Heather Doolittle
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1. Find a quiet place to spend time with Jesus. Silence your phone, take a deep breath and clear your mind of everything else.
Really, Only One Thing Is Needed
You know the story of Martha and Mary: the one in which Martha is doing all the work, Mary is sitting around chatting with Jesus, and then Jesus tells Martha that Mary is the one doing the good thing? Really?! If I were Martha, I might have had a good laugh before realizing he was being serious.
Imagine staying up half the night cleaning before your in-laws arrive, but your husband opts to go to bed early, leaving you with the extra work. By morning, the house is spotless, your husband is cheerful and refreshed, but you’re cranky and completely exhausted. Then imagine your in-laws show up, compare you to your fresh-faced husband, and rebuke you! After all your hard work! I would be indignant, but isn’t that what Jesus did? He told his well-intentioned friend, “Martha, Martha… you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).
Jesus knew Martha’s heart; he knew exactly what she needed. Jesus was not being unkind or ungrateful, but compassionate. He was releasing Martha from her mundane earthly burdens and giving his dear friend an invitation to rest and enjoy His peace. You are Jesus’s dearly loved friend too. He has not called you to be a workhorse, bearing all that you possibly can handle. Don’t look to the world around you and take on burdens God never intended. Instead, take the time to sit at your Savior’s feet, trusting Him to “establish the work of [your] hands” and make your best efforts fruitful (Psalm 90:17).
In just a couple weeks, your clean house will be littered with presents and bows, your delicious dinner will be replaced by mounds of dirty dishes, and your beautiful decorations will return to their boxes. However, if you spend extra time with your God and with the people He has given you to love, that investment will never be taken away.
Jesus urges us: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Taking quiet time to nourish your soul and cultivate a relationship with Jesus should be your first priority, not your last.
Are you drawing near to Jesus this season, finding rest for your soul, growing in gentleness and humility? Spend time in prayer and God’s Word to find out what His plan is for your family in this season. He wants you to create Christmas memories to be cherished for years, and He can make it happen with ease. He is God. All he needs from you is your faithfulness, not 18 hour days of chaos nor every last dollar in your checking account. He knows exactly how to bless you and your family, but you first must let go of your plans and expectations in order to submit to His.
3. Questions to ponder.
– Are you taking the time to sit at the feet of your Savior? If not, what is getting in the way?
– Pray that God will help you to overcome any obstacles that are robbing you of your peace or your time with your Jesus.
– Prayerfully plan daily quiet time with God. See where it fits into your schedule. Set an alarm if you need to, or plan a 30-minute show or activity for you children.Be intentional about silencing distractions or interruptions.
4. Faith-Filled Idea
What if you did things differently this year? Lower your standards a bit, re-prioritize your tasks, put Jesus and relationships first, and ignore everything else. Delegate. Make cooking and cleaning a family affair. Praise and reward everyone for completing the tasks together. Lay your burdens and expectations at the cross in order to make December a month of living like God’s chosen people. Live like one who is holy and dearly loved, one whose primary purpose is to love the God you serve and teach those around to do the same.
Here’s an idea. We’re about halfway to Christmas. If you’re like me, your list of to-do’s is still a mile long. Now is a great time to examine your goals and priorities to make sure you are focusing on what matters most. If you haven’t spent time with Jesus or taught your children about our Savior, now is the time to start. This is what I want you to do:
- Write a list of everything you have to do before Christmas.
- Look at each item and decide what your underlying motivation is. Perfection? Pride? Who are you really serving: your Savior, your guests, or yourself?
- Cross everything off your list that does not serve Jesus or bring His peace and joy to your home. Does the house have to be spotless?
- Can you pare down your Christmas menu or buy a pie from a store this year? Let your children and husband wrap the gifts and accept that they may not look great.
- Replace the extraneous tasks you just crossed with soul-filling quiet time or family time. You may be able or tempted to squeeze those extra crossed-off tasks into your downtime, but don’t do it! God was speaking to you, telling you how to find rest. Fill that time with something eternal.