Tag: Christmas

How Much Room Does God Require?

 
‘Tis the season to share a well read verse. 

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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.” (Luke 2:1-7 ESV)

Luke’s account of the first Christmas includes the phrase, “because there was no place for them in the inn”. 

Have you ever stopped to consider how much room they needed? Try it.

How much room does God require? 

Let’s do some comparisons. 

The average size of a presidential entourage is somewhere around 200 people. Of course, this can vary based upon security and transportation needs. That requires a lot of hotel rooms, and a ton of food!

Yet the King of the Ages, the Creator of the universe, needed only the feeding trough of a country barn.

England’s Queen Elizabeth and Russia’s President Putin both travel with huge retinues.  

United States Senators and Congressmen all travel with more aides and security personnel than an NBA team. 

But the Word made flesh arrived barely noticed. 

Kim Jong-un, the Supreme leader of North Korea, has more than 200 soldiers protecting him. Try housing them for a little beach vacation.

But all Mary and Joseph needed was a place for Mary to lay Jesus after He was born. 

So the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, was born in a barn.

No room for Him in the inn. Only in the barn. 

So how much room does God require? 

How much room do you have? How much are you willing to give up? 

He has no problem filling the largest of venues, yet enters only where room has been made or set aside. 

He could fill the universe with His presence, but won’t push His way into a heart that’s not open. 

But give Him an inch…

He fills the hungry with good things, but those who have no room for Him leave empty. 

Maybe you don’t have room for Him in your heart. Not yet. But if you’d give Him a place in your mind, even with an occasional thought, you just may find yourself rearranging your heart to accommodate His presence. 

He’ll get just as close as you let Him. 

How about a little taste, a little trial? 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8 NLT)

A Merry Walmart Christmas 

 
Christmas Day is historically a day with many ups and downs. Gifts and guilt. Food and foolish behavior. Disappointments and disgusting manners. Family members and frozen receptions.

That’s why I’m suggesting something which may help you make it through the day. 

You see, people have Christmas blues, or grays if you prefer, mainly because of unmet expectations. So…

Ta-da! Here’s an idea for something different this year. A little variation of the normal Christmas routine.

Why not have yourself a merry Walmart Christmas? 

Go to your local Walmart and spend your Christmas shopping money on yourself! So what if your loved ones don’t get anything! Who cares what people may think of you!

As long as you get what you want!

Sure, it’s better to give than receive. But what about wanting something so much, only to be heartbroken after December 25th?

You can still celebrate Christmas with the family. After all, they don’t need all those presents. Christmas isn’t about presents; right? They shouldn’t be so materialistic.

As long as YOU get what you’ve been wanting. 

Celebrate with your loved ones while enjoying a wonderful holiday meal. You know, ham, turkey, sweet potatoes, pies, and lots of whipped cream. 

Don’t like all that stuff? Or maybe your family doesn’t fix the food you enjoy? Easy-peasy!

A merry Walmart Christmas will fix everything. 

Take the money you planned to spend on others and buy yourself a roasted chicken or something. Stop by the deli and pick out some delicious sides; like mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and coleslaw. 

Before you check out, swing by the bakery for your very own pumpkin pie (don’t forget the Cool Whip).

I’m telling you, you’ll never go back to the old way of doing Christmas again. 

Not when you’re guaranteed satisfaction with both the gifts and the meals. 

Hey, there’s always time to sing the carols, see the lights, and smooch under the mistletoe. And so what if those things are disappointing? 

Big deal!

But when it comes to the BEST part of Christmas, one can’t afford to be unhappy. After all, it’s another year, 365 long days, until the next Christmas! 

No, you’ve got to be ahead of the game. You need to plan yourself a merry Walmart Christmas now!

So what if others think you’re stingy and only care about yourself. 

They just don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas. 

God Invaded The Earth

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God invaded the earth in the form of a baby boy.

A most unlikely, and highly unbelievable event took place some 2000 years ago.

A virgin gave birth to God incarnate.

People have a hard time believing it today. Oh, sure, lots of folks believe in Christmas. They believe in the Eastern Star, the Manger Scene (complete with animals, Magi, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus), gifts, carols, and a paid holiday. Yes, many believe in Christmas.

But imagine what it was like that first Christmas.

There were no ribbons and bows, no special television programming, and no ham dinners. (Definitely not!)

And how did they make it through the season without watching the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life”?

That first Christmas came and went without a lot of fanfare. Yes, the Angels rejoiced (with all of Heaven joining in), the shepherds were amazed, and Mary didn’t know what to say.

But the people who knew of the prophecies knew nothing of God’s timing; nor did they recognize His ways. They assumed their way was His way. But their expectations didn’t match God’s manifestation.

So they missed the visitation of God.

Yes, a few had an inkling of what God was up to. Anna, the Prophetess. Simeon, the righteous and devout man who was “eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel” (Luke 2:25).

God performed the greatest miracle of all time, and it slipped by without much appreciation, with hardly any notice.

God came to earth, invaded the earth, and was basically ignored.

Or misunderstood.

Or both.

“He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” (John 1:11 NLT)

This Christmas, what are you looking for? Who is your focus? It doesn’t matter how well you know the story, the scriptures, or feel the spirit of giving.

Where is your heart? Where is your faith?

Love, in the form of a baby, was given to mankind all those years ago. Celebrating the birth of God incarnate, Emmanuel, God with us, is a wonderful thing to do. But if that’s all you do, you’ve missed the whole story of Christmas. Jesus didn’t come because we needed something or someone to celebrate. He didn’t come so we could all sing Christmas carols, drink hot chocolate, and spend time kissing our loved one under the mistletoe.

He came because mankind was (and is) hopelessly, eternally, separated from God Almighty.

Everyone. No exception. Including you and I.

But He came to man, He lived with man, He died in place of man, and He was resurrected as God’s guarantee of new life for all who believe.

Believe.

And receive.

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12-13 NLT)

Christmas is about new life. We may not understand how it happens; for how does one comprehend a miracle?

Earlier, I used the word “invaded”. Though I believe, in one sense, that’s what happened, I also know God doesn’t force Himself into anyone’s life. Even Mary had a choice; and she chose to receive from God the seed of new life.

And like Mary, we too can say to the Lord, “Let it be to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Let Christmas 2014 be your season of new life. Acknowledge your need for Him, believe He came for you, to become the substitute for your selfish, sinful ways, and receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

You’ll discover the Angels of Heaven, again, singing and rejoicing over someone’s new life.

Yours.

“…there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 ESV)

What If Santa Got Sick?

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Wow! Only one week until Gift Exchange Day. Just 7 days before one of our Happy Holidays. Approximately 168 hours left before someone we all know and love takes to the friendly skies, with a cheery ho-ho-ho and sleigh full of toys.

I wonder if he ever has a bad day?

What if the red-suited guy got sick some year? What would the world do?

A Reason To Worship

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In case you can’t find a reason to worship the Lord this Christmas season, here’s one for you.

“And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.” (Exodus 4:31 ESV)

Have you heard the news? The Good News of Christmas? God saw our plight, our emptiness, and our cruel bondage to sin. He knew there could be no freedom unless He sent Someone strong enough, and pure enough, to defeat the devil on his own turf.

So, that’s what He did.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8 ESV)

Do you believe the story of Christmas?

It’s true. God saw YOUR bondage, YOUR affliction, and He sent His Son for YOU.

THAT is the reason for Christmas, and the reason to worship.

Santa’s Visit: Guaranteed

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Ever wonder how to make sure Santa visits your home?

Well, here is a list that is guaranteed to help secure a visit from that ageless, jovial fat man dressed in red and white; who tromps around in big, black boots.

First of all, make sure you have THE ROOM decked out! Your special Christmas Room. The Christmas tree should stand almost as tall as the ceiling, leaving about nine inches for either an angel or a star. The tree should have two strings of lights for each foot of tree height, and every branch ought to be laden with at least one ornament. Don’t forget the tinsel and popcorn strings. Plus, there must be a small table close by to place a glass of milk and a plate of Mrs. Grace’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies on. (Note-see post https://jangrace.com/mrs-graces-famous-chocolate-chip-cookies for recipe.)

Next, the Christmas music must be perfect! Not too loud, but not too soft.

And there’s no Christmas music that Santa would rather hear than Burl Ives singing, “Santa Claus is coming to town.”

Andy Williams singing Christmas songs works almost as well, but definitely not Mannheim Steamroller. You may like it, and I may like it; but Christmas isn’t about what we like or dislike. It’s about Santa’s visit!

Thirdly, you really need to have a chimney and a fireplace. I’m sorry, but the sewer vent just doesn’t cut it for a couple of obvious reasons. Unlocked doors and windows aren’t safe either. And, you can’t expect Santa to carry around millions of house keys in his sleigh. So, get that chimney installed. Or, perhaps you could borrow one from a friend. But Santa MUST have access to your home. How would it be if Santa swings by your place but can’t get in? It’d ruin the whole evening!

After you’ve taken care of those things, take a quick look around your home. Do you have anything lying around that could offend Santa? You know how picky he is! And he doesn’t miss a thing, either. After all, he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good; so, look around the house one more time.

There’s one final item on the checklist; and it’s the most important of all.

Yes, Shepherds!

Shepherds

God summoned His angels one day to explain His next installment of the Plan of the Ages. “And you are going to appear to a group of shepherds, as they are watching over their flocks. You’ll find them just outside the town of Bethlehem”, He said.

“Shepherds?”, one of them incredulously asked. “We’ve watched those kind of guys for years! Haven’t noticed much use for holy things among ’em, for sure. Why, you ought to hear the way some of them talk!”

“I’ve been around when some were even smoking and drinking!”, another angel chimed in. “By the time I left, I had to get something to spray on my clothes to cover that awful smell.”

One by one, on and on, they voiced their concerns to the Almighty. “After all”, they argued, “we’ve even witnessed them cussing! You just can’t trust what may come out of their mouths! Shepherds? Really? Are You sure?”

“Yes, shepherds!”, the Master Planner responded. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll continue.”

As they quietly watched and listened, He continued with the Plan. “Shepherds, though maybe a little rough and worldly, are just the kind of people I can reach. They aren’t pretentious or preoccupied with their own importance.”

Remember David? He was quite a young man when he caught My eye and captured My heart as he worshipped. He was a shepherd, remember? But he was faithful, and humble.

These shepherds I’m sending you to will repeat exactly what you tell them. My story, My plan, will be safe with them. They have no hidden agenda. They will simply respond as reporters; they’ll report and the rest of the world will decide.”

As the angels got ready to meet with the shepherds that first Christmas morning, I’m sure there was a sense of awe among them as they reflected on the words of their Master. To think that the God of the universe would choose people like shepherds to reveal Himself, His plan, and His Provision to; remarkable.

By the way, nothing has changed in this regard. The “high and mighty” never do well with an announcement such as the shepherds received. For “the humble receive from Him, but the rich go away empty.” In other words, when people think they have it all together, they don’t feel the need for something better. Folks that are full of themselves don’t make very good witnesses and reporters. Even preachers…uh, sorry. Better stick with my story.

Shepherds…probably not a clean one in the lot. But God saw them as the perfect ones to proclaim what they saw and heard; “The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”(Luke 2:11 – 20 NLT)

Shepherds. Not saints, but, yes, good enough for God.

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