12 Days of Christmas

E-VOTIONS


THE TWELFTH DAY

Merry Christmas!

 

As I think about Christmas Day, I think about the tradition of gathering with family, the decorations, the lights, the baked treats and of course, the presents to unwrap.  It’s a time of joy and a time to celebrate!

 

When Michelle and I first got married, one of the new traditions I was exposed to was sitting around the living room and listening to her Granddaddy read the Christmas Story from Luke 2. (As an interesting aside, he usually read it from the Newspaper.  That’s right!  In Macon, Georgia, they printed Luke 2 in the December 25th edition every year!)  After his passing, we always made sure we continued the tradition of reading Luke 2 on Christmas morning.

 

In 2012, we added to the tradition in our family.  We had just relocated from North Carolina to Central Florida.  Our church family at the time, Life Church, recorded a CD that year with some terrific Christmas Carols!  Part of that CD includes a track of Pastor Karl Strader reading the Christmas story from Luke 2.  Nobody reads the Christmas Story like Pastor Strader!  Now, rather than reading Luke 2, we listen to Pastor Strader share the story of Mary & Joseph, the Shepherds and the Angels, and the birth of Jesus, our Savior! 

 

That’s what Christmas is all about!  God came near to us!  He stepped out of the glorious splendor of Heaven and took on humanity and came as a baby, born in a dirty stable and laid in a manger!  Christmas is all about God loving us so much that He gave us a way through His Son, Jesus to know Him and have a relationship with Him!

 

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

This Christmas of 2020 has brought challenges to our families and our world like never before!  Many are trying to mask the pain of this year with all the celebrations the season has to offer.  The true gift that can bring comfort to our loss and healing to our pain is found in Jesus!   He is the HOPE that we need and the PEACE we are searching for in our lives!

 

In the middle of today’s celebration, whether it’s from a CD, a newspaper, or an old-fashioned Bible, let’s remember to take time to focus on Jesus!  He is the LIGHT of the world and the reason for our Celebration! 

The ELEVENTH DAY

Louis Armstrong wrote a song called “What a Wonderful World”  One of the verses reads like this:

I hear babies cry…I watch them grow…

They’ll learn much more…than I’ll ever know…

And I think to myself…what a wonderful world…

 

Newborn babies…I absolutely love newborn babies!  There is something about being around one that just makes you feel that everything in the world is perfect.  I love the way newborn babies look, all tiny and scrunched up.  I adore they way they smell…well, except for the diaper duty...you know what I mean.  I also love the sounds newborn babies make when they are stretching, a soft coo, or even their first cries.  Anytime I see a newborn baby, it instantly takes me to the first time I saw my little boy and how overwhelmed I was to be called his Momma. I just couldn’t believe that I was going to be able to watch him grow up.

 

During this Christmas season, I ponder and reflect on the story about the birth of our Savior, Jesus.  I also realize that He came to this Earth as a baby…yes, a newborn baby.  He was tiny and had that newly born smell.  He cooed and also cried as he entered into this great big, wonderful world. 

 

As He was about eight days old, Jesus and His earthly parents went to the temple to be presented to the Lord, as well as to carry out some of the customs that were expected of them.  When they arrived at the temple, they met Simeon, who was waiting for the Messiah to come.  In Luke 2, verses 28 – 32, we find Simeon taking the baby Jesus in his arms in what I see as almost a Lion King Mufasa moment, and he praised God saying, “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations…” It was a worship service just for Jesus!  Simeon had seen this newborn baby and now, his life was complete because he knew what Jesus had come to do. 

 

There was also another person who was drawn to this newborn baby…a prophetess, named Anna, who was eighty-four years old.  Now that she was a widow, she never left the temple, but worshipped, fasted, and prayed night and day.  When she saw Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus she came up to them and we read in Luke 2, verse 38, that Anna “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” She also recognized that this newborn baby was here to bring LIFE and HOPE to this world where He had been born. 

 

I imagine that Joseph and Mary were quite amazed to hear all that Simeon and Anna had said about this newborn baby, Jesus.  In their hearts, they probably were also quite concerned to know that they were the ones tasked to be sure this newborn baby grew up in the way He should in this world.  Luke 2, verse 40 reads, “And the child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him.”     Yes, of course, He did!  He grew up in this wonderful world so that we could have HOPE for a better day as we each make the choice to accept Jesus into our lives to be our Savior and Forever Friend!

 

Do you know THIS newborn baby? If not, please let me know, because I’d love to introduce Him to you! Now, when you meet Jesus, everything in your life may not become instantly perfect, but with Him as your Savior and Forever Friend, you can live with HOPE in this Wonderful World! 

 

THE TENTH DAY

Being a Florida native, I always wanted it to snow around Christmas time. Who doesn’t dream about waking up to snow on Christmas morning? As a little boy, whenever the temperatures dipped into the 30’s, I would go outside and look up at the stars. I would try my hardest to see a snowflake. I’m still waiting on that. However, years later, I had the chance to get as much snow as I wanted to when I traveled with my in-laws to Utah for a skiing trip. There were Whitecap Mountains everywhere I looked. I had a long list of first too. I made a snowman. I zipped down a hill on a snow sled. I rode on a gondola to the top of a mountain. We traveled almost 2,000 miles to go snow skiing. That trip was worth the 2,000 miles. What’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled to experience a “first?”  


I’m not sure if the wise men realized this ahead of time, but they were going to experience a “first” on their trip going west. It is uncertain, but speculated that the wise men traveled hundreds of miles, possibly thousands, to find the Messiah. Matthew 2:9 NLT, “And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” The wise men were the first worshippers of Jesus. They traveled hundreds of miles out of faith. They presented their treasure to this king. They showed their humility and affection. I love when I read the line, “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy.” They were so excited for what’s next. Their journey wasn’t over yet.


How far would you go to worship Jesus? Proverbs 24:16 NLT, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” Are you willing to get up again to experience that “first” for Jesus? The Christmas season can be daunting. We can have feelings of anxiety due to the long list of things to do. We may be discouraged because our story isn’t making sense to us right now. We might believe that the hustle to experience the “first” won’t bring us any joy. We can look to the wise men during those moments though. Stay on the path and seek Jesus. Be prepared to give your best. Come ready to worship. The wise men knew the trip was worth it. A worship song I think of for this moment is ‘Ready or Not’ by Hillsong United. Here are the ending lyrics for us to repeat during this season:


Come now

For all we’ve seen

We ain’t seen nothing yet

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Come now

Bring Him praise

For what He’s gonna do next

Are you ready?

Are you ready or not?

Come

 

That’s my prayer for us this season: Bring Him praise for what He’s going to do next.


It might just be a “first.” Merry Christmas. 

The Ninth day

It is almost hard to believe that there was a time before cell phones, GPS, and Google Maps. My childhood was such a time. Growing up my dad used to keep a bright red map in the glove box of our cars. Any time we were traveling into the city and my dad didn’t know where we were going .  . . out came the map and he would chart our course.


As an adult I realize how much I appreciate the intentionality of having that road map in the car and my dad’s willingness to use it. Once his destination was determined, he knew where to look to find the path that he should travel. 


This intentionality reminds me so much of the Maggi and the Star of Bethlehem in Matthew 2. Theirs is a piece of the Christmas story that makes its way into movies and nativity senses but often has its significance overlooked. These “Maggi” or “wise men” were ancient cartographers in a sense. They would study astrology, dream interpretation, and sacred writings in the pursuit of wisdom. Basically they would study and connect the physical world with the spiritual. In verse 2 of chapter 2, it says that the wise men had left the east in search of the foretold King of the Jews because they “saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” The Maggi were intentionally looking for the star in the sky and when they saw it they had the courage to follow the path before them. 


Living on this side of the resurrection, we don’t need to look to the stars to find our Messiah. We just need to look towards the cross. Our destination is clear: to be salt and light to the world around us. And honestly, our map is pretty clear as well. We have Scripture, prayer, fasting, our local church, and fellow believers to help orient us towards our destination. 


This Christmas Season will you join me in orienting ourselves to the One True Star and have the courage to follow the path God has laid before us?


the eighth day

During the season of Christmas we often hear or read the verse Luke 2:7 NIV “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” When I read that verse, my mind goes to the birth of my own sons. Though I will admit, my situation was much different. I had the privilege to deliver in a hospital, not a stable. I had a comfy bed in a clean room, not the hard ground surrounded by livestock.


One of my favorite things after bringing my babies home was placing them in their cradle. I have this beautiful wooden, rocking cradle they slept in each night next to my bed. I had the perfect sheets and blankets picked out just for them. I had every detail the exact way I wanted it.


Mary did not have that opportunity. For her, the only suitable option was to place him in a manger. What do you imagine when you hear the word manger? I always picture this cute wooden box filled with fluffy hay, just the perfect size for a baby. But in reality, it probably looked much different. The dictionary says a manger is a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to eat from. It was often filled with hay. The livestock can come and eat whenever they chose. YUCK! That was my first reaction to reading this. Could you imagine? What could possibly be the reason that baby Jesus was laid in this box? He was not laid in a trough on accident. I believe there is huge symbolism to why Jesus was placed in a manger. While the animals come here to eat physical food, we come to Jesus for spiritual food. He is the one who fills us up. John 6:35 NIV says, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never to hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.””  Even the wiseman recognized the significance of what that meant. Luke 2:16 NIV say, “They went in haste and found the child in the feeding trough and they feasted their eyes on him.” How amazing is that? I love these details in the Bible. They seem minor on the surface, but are clearly designed and communicated with purpose and intention. If you’re like me in this season, I need to be filled up with Jesus!


Do you need rest? Come to Jesus.

Do you need peace? Come to Jesus.

Do you struggle with fear and anxiety? Come to Jesus.


He is the one who can give us what we need. He was placed in a manager as a symbol that he is the bread of life. Much like the animals who come and eat from the trough when they need to, we can come to Jesus at any time and never go hungry. My prayer for you is this: rather than filling up on all the physical things right now, you feast your eyes on Jesus. It’s so easy to get caught up thinking that shopping (guilty) and acquiring all the things will make us happy. That is an artificial feeling of happiness, and that is temporary. Let Jesus be the one who fills you up, so you will never go hungry.


Merry Christmas!

THe SEVENTH DAY

Have you ever watched a movie based on a favorite book and been disappointed with how an actor portrays one of the characters? One of my favorite books as a teenager was “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I was a little nervous the first time I watched the film version because I was afraid that it would be nothing like the book. I was so relieved and happy afterwards, because in my opinion, it had been done perfectly. I was the most impressed with Gregory Peck’s performance of Atticus Finch. He was the perfect choice for that role.


I know you’re probably wondering what Atticus Finch has to do with the Christmas story. I think that choosing the details around the birth of Jesus, God was particularly careful. He had to make sure that every role was filled with exactly the right person. We talk a lot about how Mary was highly favored and specially chosen (and she was), but we very rarely talk about Joseph. In the gospel of Matthew, the author starts the story of Jesus’ birth by focusing on Joseph. He tells us that Joseph had learned that Mary was pregnant and because of this he was considering quietly divorcing her. This already tells us a lot about the character of Joseph, because he could have had her publicly stoned for adultery. When an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary for his wife because the baby is the Son of God, Joseph immediately takes God at His word. He doesn’t question the message from the angel, take time to think it over, or dismiss it as outrageous (because let’s face it, a virgin birth is pretty hard to believe). As soon as Joseph wakes up, he obeys the angel and takes Mary to be his wife. He was, most certainly, the perfect man for the role of the father of the Messiah.


Just like Joseph, God has a role that He has chosen you to play. God designed it specifically for you, and no one else can do it the way that you can. I know that sometimes it can be scary when God asks us to do something for Him. Usually, at least from my personal experience, I feel inadequate or that God asked the wrong person. I tend to argue, rationalize, or dismiss His tugging on my heart. If this is something you struggle with too, my prayer for you this Christmas season, is that you would have the heart of Joseph. That you would take God at His word and be able to immediately obey when He asks you to do something. You never know when a small step of obedience could lead to something huge, just as Joseph’s obedience helped bring about the birth of the Savior of the world. And I know that God is watching from heaven with a feeling of pride and satisfaction, knowing that He chose exactly the right person for your role. 

THE SIXTH DAY

Have you ever been given a task that you thought was just way too big for you to handle?  Maybe you were given a  job or title that you felt you were not qualified for?  That was me! After only a few months as a team member at my first job ever, my boss offered to promote me. She came up to me and simply said, “Becki, I want you to be a manager.  I think you would be great!  What do you think?”  My answer, “Um…. No, thank you.” Yep, that’s right!  I turned it down. I slowly walked away from her and continued working. My manager was extremely confused. I just  walked away, creating a missed opportunity. I thought to myself, This is my first job! I am not ready to handle being a manager! What if I fail? What if I disappoint my boss? What if I prove her wrong? 


I am reminded of the book of Luke, in the story of Mary, and how she felt when the angel, Gabriel, went up to her and told her that she was going to give birth to Jesus, the Messiah! Wow, what a promotion, right!? Her first response? “How can this be?” She had a sense of doubt. She was unsure. The difference between her response and my response? She stayed. She didn’t walk away from it, and when she stayed, God used Gabriel to reassure her. He told her God is the God of the impossible! Mary knew that, but it didn’t hurt to be reminded again. She was immediately accepting of this, and in Luke 1:38, Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant, let it happen as you have said.”  


After that moment, her life changed, forever! She goes on to give birth to the Saviour of the world and we can only imagine how she felt as she recognized the impact of  her acceptance as people from far away places came just to see her son, Jesus, that miraculous night. 


Like Mary, we have every human reason to fear and question our adequacy. As God’s children, however, we have more reasons to be comforted and trust in His appointing over our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  When we are scared or have doubt, we need to be like Mary, face that doubt, trust in God and stay put!

THE FIFTH DAY

It’s the middle of the night, the lights are off, the fan is humming in the back, your brain is releasing that sweet melatonin to make your eyes heavy, and the slow, deep, yawn becomes automatic. Then there is the phone call, the text, or the knock at the door which practically terrifies you. You jump up, your attention fully on the noise that wakes you. Those moments, even if random, create turbulence in our emotions. What do you do next? Do you answer the call with frustration? Do you capitalize every letter when you text back? Do you open your door with that grumpy cat face? 


​I’d like for us to picture a possible similar situation. In the book of Luke, we catch a one line glimpse of this scenario. Luke 2:7 ESV, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” The surrounding text in this story gives us information about being at night, and the purpose of Mary and Joseph being in Bethlehem. I want us to put ourselves in the shoes of the Innkeeper though. Business is booming! People all over are coming back to town for the census. You’ve spruced up the place. You knew it would be people’s first time back in a long time. You’ve been preparing for this moment for months, advertising all over town and sending out mailers months in advance. You did it. The Inn is at full capacity. NO VACANCY. You hang the sign up, eat dinner, and get ready for bed. Then, there’s the knock at the door. Panic and curiosity set in. You open the door to see a man, looking sweaty, nervous, and frighten. What appears to be his pregnant wife, she’s tugging his sleeve in pain. Eyes clinch, biting down hard, and her forehead dug into this arm. He asks you for a place to sleep, anywhere. This is the moment I want us to catch. We could wave this person on and apologize for not being able to help them. The person on the side of the road asking for a buck. The mother at school who is raising her kids by herself. The father who is looking for work. Instead, you get creative. “There is a stable out back. We have some hay and you can make a bed there.” You run and grab some extra sheets. You walk them out to their bedroom for the night. You clear out the animals as best as you can. Your actions, some might say were simple and insignificant. I think they’re extraordinary. 

The Bible says to, “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.” (Philippians 4:5 NLT). Our small considerate moments can cause an unprecedented and eternal ripple effect. Taking the time to recognize someone could ignite within them the hope to chase their dreams. Answering the phone in the middle of the night could save someone from making a decision they would have regretted. Plugging in cords and expanding banners could allow a pastor to preach into someone else’s life. Opening the door, listening, and helping could be worth mentioning in the savor’s story. In moments of stress, anxiety, and sudden turbulence, remember that we should still be considerate. Our actions and words can set the tone for someone’s best day. I’m praying that we’re considerate throughout this season and the next. Merry Christmas. 

THE FOURTH DAY

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I absolutely love the Old Testament. If I am given the choice between reading the Old or the New, nine times out of ten I will choose the Old. And yes, I would still make that choice even if it meant reading Leviticus. One of the reasons that I love the Old Testament so much is because of the way it ties into the New Testament. When you read and compare the Old with the New Testament, you can see that God has been telling one long love story, spanning thousands of years. The plot of His love story is regaining what was lost in the Garden of Eden. God wants to be with us. All throughout the Old Testament are story after story about God’s attempts to regain Eden. Man, because of our imperfections, kept getting in the way. That is, until one specific Man was born.


 But I am getting a little ahead of myself. Before I talk about the birth of, I am sure you have guessed it, Jesus, I want to talk a little bit more about how His birth mirrors and brings to completion a story of the Old Testament. Of all the Israelite kings, there was one who was arguably the most famous. King David was called “ a man after God’s own heart.” He was the king that all kings after him were compared to. David was given a very specific task by God. When the Israelites had entered the Promised Land about four hundred years before, they had failed to completely subdue the original inhabitants. This meant that Israel did not fully possess the land, and therefore could not fully possess God’s promise of abundant life and freedom from oppression. David spent almost the entirety of his kingship conquering the remaining enemies of Israel. While he did not get to enjoy the rest and peace that his obedience brought, his relentless pursuit of freedom allowed his son, Solomon, to usher in an era of peace and prosperity such as Israel had never known.


Now fast forward about 1,000 years. After a period of exile because of disobedience, the Israelites are once more living in the Promised Land. They, once again, have enemy oppressors in the form of Rome. It is into this period of darkness and oppression that God chooses to send His Son. Specifically, God chooses for Jesus to begin His time on earth in the city of Bethlehem, which just so happens to be the city where David was born. Why is this important? I believe, from the very beginning of Jesus’ life, God was saying that a King greater than David was here. David had been chosen to lead the Israelites into freedom physically. Jesus was going to do that spiritually. Through His life and death on the cross, Jesus made true freedom possible. Never again would man have to be separated from God because of sin. Jesus’ life and death made the closeness of the Garden of Eden possible again.


Not only is this a very good reason to stop and praise God for His goodness and love, it is also something that I find very encouraging for my own personal life. Sometimes it is hard when we do not see God working the way we expect. We wonder if He has forgotten about us or has chosen not to answer. The truth is, the same God who wove a story over thousands of years is the same God who chooses to love and listen to our prayers every day. Just because He does not move when we expect does not mean that He is not listening or in control. It could just be that the story that He is telling in your life is longer, larger and even more amazing than you imagined and He has been busy lining up the details. 

THE THIRD DAY

Have you ever had a ridiculously good night of sleep? Like you were suspicious at how much rest you were getting? One night as I was slumbering, my phone rang and so I answered. It was my manager asking if everything was okay because I was 2 hours late for work! If you’ve ever experienced that call, you know the feeling that jolts through your body. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, brushed my teeth, jumped in the car and made a beeline to work. My night of oversleeping was interrupted. 

I have to believe this is what the shepherds experienced on that starry night long ago. 

Luke 2:8-12
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.””

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The shepherds were ordinary people, just doing their job and going about their lives, until it was all interrupted by the most amazing news. The long awaited savior was finally here. They immediately dropped any plans they had and went looking for Him. 

So, this Christmas season as we are bombarded with plans, shopping, gift wrapping and maybe the lack of all those things. Let’s not forget to keep an eye out for the interruption. God wants to interrupt anything we thought we wanted with everything we will ever need. All we have to do is drop it all and go searching for Him.

The second day

Every time I turn on the TV, I see the news.  Literally, I mean the cable has their 24 news channel on REPEAT every ten minutes or so giving me the same headlines ALL day long!  Then, there are all the other NEWS channels that give their viewpoints on what is going on in the world.  While it is good to stay informed on what is going on in this big world, sometimes I might look to social media for news. You know…for the IMPORTANT NEWS…like, where friends have just had their dinner at what is NOW their favorite restaurant, which friends just got ENGAGED, which friends are at Disney and rocking their mask, as well as whose ELF just did the craziest thing for their kids—that KIND of NEWS!  Recently, I have been following another kind of NEWS that is near and dear to my heart…it is an adoption story from one of the young ladies that was in my youth group years ago.  She and her husband planned to adopt right from the beginning of their marriage, but things never worked out for them.  However, when they found out that they had been selected to be the parents to a precious newborn a few months ago, the pictures from their WONDERFUL NEWS brought me to tears. 

 

Luke 2 opens up a wonderful story where we see the delivering of NEWS—GOOD NEWS—at its finest.  Verse 10 reads this way in The Passion Translation, “…the angel reassured them, saying, Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you GOOD NEWS, the most joyous NEWS the world has every heard!  And it is for everyone everywhere!  For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you…You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!”

 

As I allow myself to ponder that time at the very first Christmas when the angels were sharing the GOOD NEWS, the most JOYOUS NEWS…it makes me stop and think how they were prepared for social media so very long ago.  They were adding this NEWS to their story…I can see it now…a picture of THIS baby that had just been born—yet, when we see the picture, we see that he was wrapped in strips of cloth and was placed in a feeding trough!  One thing for sure, they’ve got the ticker line down pat, though!  What an attention grabber—NEWBORN BABY PLACED IN FEEDING BUCKET!  Wonder how many people that might have upset? 

 

This holiday season may find you in a different place than previous Christmases.  People are in need of HOPE…in need of PEACE…in need of RESCUING…now, more than ever before.  I believe that the angels gave some advice that we need to follow…literally, not just with our social media intentions.  First, DON’T BE AFRAID.  It’s so easy to be afraid during these times…they are uncertain…they are unknown…but I do know that because of what the angels shared, I can be RESCUED from troubling situations or circumstances…JESUS was BORN!  He is HERE…He is with US!  That is what His name means!  Because Jesus is with us, we can be STRONG and BRAVE as we live and move and breathe each day. We are NEVER alone and that is a promise from God. 

 

Second, this GOOD, most JOYOUS NEWS that the angels shared is for EVERYONE to know about!  This was not just any baby being born, but this baby will be a RESCUER!  He came to rescue you and me from a life filled with sin.  This excellent NEWS brings HOPE!  What HOPE that brings…what PEACE will come over you as you grasp the idea that THIS BABY was born as a RESCUER—most importantly, HE was born for YOU!  Since we have this HOPE, we can share it FREELY with CONFIDENCE because we know the benefit it will bring to EVERYONE EVERYWHERE, especially who are hurting around us.

 

Now, what will people see as they look at your story?  What will your social media post say?  Maybe I’ll just choose to be like Gladys Herdman who portrayed an angel in The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever (by Barbara Robinson) when she yelled, “Shazam! Unto you a baby is born! Go on!  Get on over to worship Him!”

The FIRST DAY

There are a lot of things that are hallmarks of the Christmas season at the Scruggs’ home. There are the decorations, from trees to nutcrackers to garland and bows. There’s the lights and the ornaments and the stockings.  There’s the Nativity, prominently displayed.  And, of course, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without tacos … oh, and Christmas cookies too!  
 
Christmas can truly be the most wonderful time of the year!  In addition to the decorations and lights, we love the sounds of the season!  You can’t beat the traditional carols like Silent Night and Away in a Manger.  But, along with those classics, there’s a lot of fun songs we enjoy too!
 
The 12 Days of Christmas is a staple when it comes to fun songs to sing during this holiday season.  Just hearing the title makes me want to shout, “FIVE GOLDEN RINGS”!  This song recounts the many gifts, from calling birds to pipers piping, given to express the length and depth of “My True Love” at Christmas time.  This makes me pause and think about the amazing expression of love God has given to us.  It’s the reason we celebrate Christmas.
 
Isaiah 7:14 says in the NIV, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
 
Some 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesies of His birth.  He foretells of the virgin birth and that Jesus will be called Immanuel, which literally means, “God with us”!  There’s such depth in this declaration of “God with us”!  We often speak of God’s great love for us.  As we celebrate this season, we need to know that what God did was far greater than an expression of love shown by gifts of swans a-swimming, drummers drumming, or turtle doves.  God sent His one, and only Son from Heaven to earth to be WITH US  His presence in our lives is the greatest gift we could ever receive.
 
Over the next 11 days, our Lead Team at One Hope is going to unwrap the Christmas story and share with you some highlights of the amazing expression of love our God has shown to us through His wonderful gift of Jesus, His Son.
 
Share these “E-votions” with others and let the LIGHT of Christ shine through your life this Christmas!