December 19, 2017
The Heart of Christmas
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16, NIV).
Friend to Friend
It is the Christmas season – my favorite time of the year! 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!
Stop right where you are! Take a deep breath and travel back with me to a time when there was no hope and no celebration. I can’t imagine a world without Jesus and yet, many times I live my life as if He doesn’t 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.
He then interrupts my life and 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 – 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 housed in what amounted to little more than a dirty, smelly barn. The simplicity of His birth is one of His most precious gifts to me. It is also one of my most profound life lessons.
I often wish I had been there that holy night when Jesus was born, but then He reminds me 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 and what we do, the smile we give the harried stranger and the patience we wear in the crowd of impatient shoppers, the love that prompts the secret gift and 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 we do. Have a birthday party for Jesus. Bake Him a huge cake and invite neighbors to join in the celebration. Adopt a family in need. Reach out to the lonely. Look for Him in the crowd. Emanuel, God with us! Wow!
I pray that your life is filled with God’s peace this Christmas. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy. Guard your heart and mind and keep your focus on the birth of Jesus as you begin to prepare for the Christmas holidays. No matter what your circumstances may be, you can celebrate the Christmas holidays because God is with you!
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!
In Jesus’ name,
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.
More from the Girlfriends
Do you dread the Christmas holidays? After a particular miserable holiday season, Mary Southerland went on a diligent search to find the secret of a joy-filled Christmas. In this message, The Secret of a Merry Christmas, you will learn how to prevent and control stress during the holidays and how to give God the gifts He wants to receive from you. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook - or through email.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Tuesday, 19 December 2017.