Girlfriends in God - Dec. 2, 2008

December 2, 2008 
Don’t Miss Christmas! 
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
John 3:16 (NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”

Friend to Friend 
The Christmas rush is on!  I know many of you are still looking for the perfect gift, wrapping presents, baking your famous sugar cookies, packing the car for a long trip and wrestling with overly excited children.  Ho!  Ho!  Ho!

Right now - right where you are – stop.  Take a deep breath and travel back with me to a time when there was no celebration.  I simply cannot imagine a world without Jesus and yet I often live my life as if He does not even exist.  A trial comes and I try to handle it on my own.  Loneliness floods my heart and instead of reaching out to Him, I withdraw into the darkness.  Financial stress gives birth to worry, filling my mind with doubt and the proverbial question, “What if …? Instead of turning to God, my source, I settle for a human answer when what I really need is a supernatural solution from our extraordinary God!

When I do cry out to God, He lovingly fills each black corner with Light.  His love flows over the pain like a soothing balm and once again, I experience the manger. Once again, He steps into the smelly, unlikely and very ordinary existence that is mine to change everything – yes, everything!  The presence of Jesus Christ changes everything!  He could have come to us in many ways but He chose to interrupt the very ordinary with the most extraordinary!  He could have chosen to be born in a palace.  After all, He was a King. Yet His life on earth began in a manger - a dirty, smelly barn.  The simplicity of His birth is one of His most precious gifts to me and one of my most profound life lessons.  I often wish that I had been there that holy night when Jesus was born but then He reminds me that I have my own manger, my own holy moment when God became a reality to me, and I worship Him!

Every year I am reminded of the very heart of Christmas - Emanuel, God with us.  God wants to be involved in the simple, ordinary happenings of daily life:  where we go - what we do - the smile we give the harried stranger - the patience we wear in the crowd of impatient shoppers - the love that prompts the secret gift - the heart that constantly celebrates His birth through every sparkling light, every beautifully wrapped gift, each special meal, every card, phone call and visit. 

Join me in this quest - to celebrate Him and His birth in everything I do.   Have a birthday party for Jesus!  Adopt a family in need!  Reach out to the lonely! Look for Him in the crowd!  Emanuel, God with us!  Wow!    

Let’s Pray 
Father, today I celebrate the reality of Your presence in my life.  I celebrate Your birth, Your life, Your death and Your resurrection.  And as I celebrate, Lord, help me to be “God with skin on” to those in need around me.  Open my eyes and let me see them as You see them!  I love You!  Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Now It’s Your Turn 
Put your faith in action by making a step-by-step plan to keep Jesus at the heart of your Christmas season.  Give a gift to someone you don’t know.  Invite a needy family into your home for a special “Friends” dinner.  Go through your closet and give the clothes you don’t wear to those who have no clothes.  Then choose one of your favorite outfits and give to your “sandpaper person”.  Yes! During the holiday rush, difficult people can drive us right up the holiday walls and out of our merry mind!  Need help?  Check out Mary’s book, Sandpaper People.  It may be the best Christmas gift you have ever given yourself! 

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Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Tuesday, 02 December 2008.