Christmas Devotional

Day 8: Expectations

Christmas can be full of unrealistic expectations of ourselves and those around us.  We expect things to go a certain way. We expect to receive and give. We expect our family functions will go smoothly, without chaos. Let’s face it, we have an expectation each year at Christmas of what is to come. When we set our expectations on our own wants, desires and wishes, we are bound to be disappointed. This Christmas, do not let false expectations ruin your Christmas spirit or joy. Read these words paraphrased from Luke 2: 1-7 about a major expectation that played out a lot differently than people originally anticipated: The birth of the Messiah.

Beloved Child, 

I always keep My promises, even when it seems unlikely by worldly standards. I showed this when I gave the declaration that My Son, The Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem, and I made it so. The Roman emperor, Augustus, mandated a Roman registration to collect taxes. The timing was all according to My premediated plan to ensure the prophecy about Jesus’ birth would be fulfilled. In all times, I work my will according to My good plan, even when it doesn’t seem obvious. Each citizen had to return to their town of origin to register.  This meant Joseph, a descendant of David, had to go to David’s hometown of Bethlehem, leaving behind his own hometown of Nazareth in Galilee. At this time, Mary was close to giving birth. I ensured their safety and provision as they made this long journey. I strengthened them to be able to complete My will, as I do for all my beloved children.  They embraced the journey in faith, trusting Me to provide all that they needed. My plan is always for the greater good, even when your expectations aren’t My own. While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for My Son to be born. Intentionally, Jesus Christ came into the world in a dark and dirty environment, symbolizing the world he entered – full of darkness and sin. But, he would shine brightly like the star I placed in the sky. He was placed, wrapped in strips of cloth, in the most humble of places – a manger, a feeding trough for animals. People expected The Messiah to be from a palace, like most Kings. But my plan was far greater. A humble start for the Prince of Peace defying expectations but showing that My plan was at work. A manger to symbolize the spiritual food that My Son would provide, and by approaching him anytime, one will never hunger. Jesus Christ is the bread of life, feeding your very souls, just as I intended it to be. Don’t allow your expectations to limit what you think I am capable of. Always trust in Me, especially when I defy your expectations.

Love Always,
God the Father

Luke 2:1-7, paraphrased. 

Application Questions:

  • Is there a time that you can reflect on and see where you thought God wasn’t at work, but he defied your expectations?
  • Where is God currently calling you to a deeper level of obedience or trust where He wants to defy your expectations?
  • What does Jesus’ humble beginning demonstrate or mean to you?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  • John 6:35
  • John 6:47-51
  • Jeremiah 15:16
  • Philippians 1:20
  • Luke 7:35-40

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Christmas Devotional

Day 7: Joy

The reason Christmas is such a popular holiday is the connotation that goes along with it – Joy! Celebrating, dining, gifting. Watching children with enthusiasm and excitement. The beauty of the first snowfall. The annual barrage of traditions including special books, movies and music. The colourful Christmas lights shining in the dark, dreary sky. The birth of an infant who would live and die to save us all. There is so much to be joyous about. These paraphrased words from John 15:9-11 remind us we have every reason to be filled with joy.

Beloved Child,

My Son Jesus gave you the perfect example of love. He was able to do this because he was demonstrating My deep love.  If you meditate on the level of love that I have for you, you will truly always long to be close to me.  Consider this, I hold the power to create. I designed this universe, placed every star in the sky, carved the mountains, and filled the oceans.  Then I realized the world was void without your presence. I designed you. It was Me who gave you the unique gifts and abilities that you have, and I did so for a reason. I knew this world needed you. I made you perfectly and wonderfully because I love you.  It is My desire to see you grow closer to me. You do this by walking in obedience to My will for your life, trusting that I know what is truly best for you. I sent My Son and his wisdom to this world so that you will know more of Me. This should make you truly burst with joy! Your joy should explode because you are My Beloved Child. You are set free by the blood of My Son. You are redeemed! These truths will never expire or ring void, no matter what circumstances you are facing, what you have done or even how you feel today. Resting in that assurance should cause you joy undeterred by your ever-changing circumstances. My Child, go and show the world this extraordinary joy!

Love Always, 

God the Father

John 15:9-11 paraphrased.

Application Questions:

  • How can you express joy today?
  • What about God brings you joy?
  • How can you be joyous even when things aren’t going the way you want them to go?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  • Psalm 30:4-5
  • 1 Peter 1:6-9
  • Romans 14:17-19
  • Philippians 4:4
  • Galatians 5:22-23

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Christmas Devotional

Day 6: Rest

This time of year seems to be chaotic, bustling and overwhelming for many.  With the added expectation of hosting, volunteering time for extra events and parties galore, it can be hard to find peace and quiet. This is contrary to the image we hold in our minds of the first Christmas in many ways.  Many nativity scenes show peace: new parents, shepherds, angels and wise men just adoring a teeny tiny baby in a manger. As the song goes,

Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace

This paints a very different visual than the chaos that Christmas can be for us. Jesus came to give us peace, he promised us rest.  Reflect on these paraphrased words from Matthew 11:28-30.

Beloved Child, 

My Son Jesus Christ knew My will, and he wanted to open your eyes to fully understand too.  The deeply rooted bond between My Son and I meant that he was knowledgeable enough to reveal Me and My truths to the world. He did this when he asked all who are tired and weary, all who are carrying heavy burdens – physically, mentally and emotionally, to come to him for true rest. Lay your burdens at the foot of My Son’s cross. Come to Me with all your dreary concerns. Do not be afraid to bother me with your troubles, because I will never see you as a bother! It brings Me great joy to comfort you. Allow Me to do that. Jesus used the example of the yoke, which is a heavy wooden harness that oxen wear over their shoulders so they can pull things like a plow, completing heavy work in unison.  When they are yoked to one an other, the burden is less to bear.  Your burdens, sin, addictions, persecution, oppression, ailments, weariness, exhaustion and any other strains placed upon your shoulders no longer have the power to hold you down because of the cross. My gentle, humble and loving Son offers you his yoke, allowing you to get through the hard work together. There is no burden that you have that is too big for Me to bear. The partnership you have with My Son, taking his yoke, allows you to have peace, love, healing and comfort as you work together to get through this life. You were not made to do all the work on your own. My Son gladly offers you his help. Accept his yoke and you will naturally stay close to Me as a result. Receive rest from knowing your burdens are now mine. 

Love Always, 
God the Father 

Matthew 11:26-30 paraphrased 

Application Questions:

  • What burden do you need to lay at the foot of the cross today?
  • How can you be sure that you won’t pick that burden back up after you’ve already handed it over to God?
  • How do you find rest in the presence of the Lord?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  • Genesis 2:2-3
  • Psalm 4:8
  • Psalm 23
  • John 16:33
  • Philippians 4:4-7

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Christmas Devotional

Day 5: Hospitality

Hospitality is such an overlooked ministry. During the Christmas season it’s such a practical way for Christians to show the love of Christ. Being friendly, generous and receptive to all people, whether you are hosting, or attending, is a command for us: love your neighbor.  The trouble is we can be so worried about things being perfect, that we forget to worry about people. Pay attention to those around you this holiday season Really try to slow down and love the world as Jesus did. Hear these words paraphrased from Hebrews 13:1-3 for some encouragement on how to do this well, and why it’s so important.

Beloved Child,

As it is written in My Word, love each other. View each other as brothers and sisters that belong to a much larger family – Mine.  Invest in Our family, showing love to one another. But, don’t neglect the world while you do. There are strangers around you that could use the love you have to offer.  Abraham, and Gideon entertained angels without even realizing it! Don’t let the world’s message that you aren’t enough stop you from doing the same.  Jesus didn’t tell you things need to be perfect for you to love others, he just told you to love others. Period. Don’t fret over the details, people are more thankful to be in your company than they are worried about the size of your home, or if it belongs on the cover of a Home & Style magazine. You don’t need anything to be hospitable to others aside from the love that I have already equipped you with.  Spend time with the imprisoned, the mistreated, the broken, the hurt, the lost, and those in pain.  Treat them as though you are one of them, love them, give them mercy, include them, empathize with them. Just love them! In this season of all times, the world is receptive and watching for the love you are to show, don’t let anything stop you from making other people feel comfortable and loved.

Love Always,
God the Father

Hebrews 13:1-3 paraphrased

Application Questions:

  • What aspect of hospitality overwhelms you? How can you let go of your idea of perfection?
  • Is there someone in your church whom could use your company for a meal, conversation or just some friendship?
  • What is one practical way you can make a stranger feel more comfortable this season?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  • Matthew 25:31-46
  • 1 Peter 4:8-9
  • Mark 9:38-41
  • Genesis 18:1-8
  • Judges 6:11-24

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Christmas Devotional

Day 4 – Blessed

Malls are crowded. Parking is non-existent. The latest must-have gadget is out of stock. Time to prepare is running out. Coughs are heard all around. Line ups move ever so slowly. These scenarios provide us with the perfect storm to feel anger boil over. As Christians, we are to be holy – set apart. We show this when we react calmly to situations that others would be angry over. When we offer grace where the world would not. Staying focused on your blessings will help you to be a blessing to the world around you, at Christmas and every day. These words from Matthew 5:3-12 are paraphrased from the beatitudes, which are blessings Jesus gave on the Sermon on the Mount.

Beloved Child,

I know My children who are spiritually poor, longing for me. Truly, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. The fulfillment they receive now from our time together is but a glimpse of what will come.

Truly, I cherish every tear that falls from one of My children’s eyes. Allow Me to comfort you and I encourage you to seek My comfort. It is the true antidote for mourning.

Be truly selfless. Take care of those around you. Serve others with all that you can. Exalt me by growing as my servant; in this you will bless the world setting an example like My Son did.

I promise you that I can provide all you need physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Find your satisfaction in me, and not in the promises of the world. Trust in Me alone and you will be satisfied.

I have shown you endless mercy.  This blessing is one I ask you to share with others. Offer mercy freely and without judgement.

It blesses you richly to keep your heart pure. Guard your heart by watching what you expose yourself too. If you keep your eyes on Me, our bond will be strengthened, and you will be liberated from bondage as you grow more mentally virtuous.

Always seek peace. I long for you to be reconciled when it is possible and healthy to do so. My child, you are called to increase the peace in this world.

Remember, as the world hated My Son, so too, will it hate you. Celebrate this. This shows you are a beacon of light, shining brightly in a dark place. Heaven will be different and there you will be amongst only light. Stay focused on the end goal. Celebrate when you are judged for doing right in this world because you know in the next you will be rewarded.  All the way through history, My children have been judged, condemned and persecuted by the dark forces in this world. Trust that I see this, and I remember your struggles and your perseverance with fondness.

Be blessed My child, as you are a blessing to Me.

Love Always,
God the Father

Matthew 5:3-12, paraphrased

Application Questions:

  • In what new ways can you think about your blessings today?
  • How can focusing on God’s promises allow you to let go of a burden you are carrying?
  • What can you do today to reflect the love of God into the world?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  • Jeremiah 17:7-8
  • Numbers 6:24-26
  • Psalm 1
  • Mark 10:29-31
  • Romans 12:9-16

 

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Christmas Devotional

Day 3 – Spiritual Blindness

Our behaviour as Christians is watched closely by those around us. We should reflect our Saviour both on the outside in what we do and in our hearts and minds.  Jesus constantly criticized the religious for their outward appearance, knowing their inner motivations were self-serving and not God pleasing. Do not fall tempted to become like the Pharisees. It is important now, and every day, that we remember we are modeling Jesus to this world especially in the Christmas season. Let these paraphrased words from Matthew 15:10-20 encourage you.

Beloved Child,

My son Jesus Christ declared that what comes from your mouth defiles you, and not what you put into it. He asked for those he was speaking to, to understand that it is the words that come from your mouth that violate you.

This confused his followers.  They were people who adhered to the Jewish Law which had numerous rules and codes of conduct about food choices and keeping things ceremonially clean. These laws were protecting them from things like illness that would have caused great damage, some that are now preventable with things like refrigerators. They recognized that Jesus’ words had offended the most religious leaders, the Pharisees. The Pharisees concerned themselves with policing the Law, always aware of who was eating and drinking what. 

Jesus, not fazed by their offense, warned that every plant not planted by Me would become uprooted, including the Pharisees whose spiritual blindness lead them far from Me and My truth. Jesus warned that people of said nature would lead others astray, that their blindness would cause people to stumble off the righteous path. My child, please use your behaviour to show My genuine love and not to push others away. 

His disciple, Peter, was simply unable to grasp the concept having been raised to adhere to the strict kosher dietary laws. His spiritual blindness left him unable to comprehend the truth that Jesus was teaching him. This issue would later become a stumbling block for him in his own ministry. Unlike Peter, you have My Word, the Bible, at your reach. Allow the scripture verses to open your eyes and change your heart. Listen and learn from those with good spiritual eyesight. 

Again, Jesus warned Peter, swallowed food leaves your body. It goes in and exits, not defiling you.  What does defile you are the dark things you harbour in your heart: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander. Please allow Me to help change you from the inside out – it is what is in your heart that concerns Me the most. I want to see you overcome these dark areas with My joy, healing and love. You must recognize that I value what is on the inside. Commit yourself to spiritual growth so that your motives and thoughts are healthy. In this you will reflect My true glory for your own self and for others to see. 

Love Always, 
God the Father 

Matthew 15:10-20, Paraphrased

Application Questions:

  • In what area of life can you be spiritually blind?
  • Like Peter, do you struggle with your preconceived notions about the way things should be?
  • What personal change is God calling you to address?

Alternate verses for your reflection: 

  • John 9:35-41
  • Psalm 146:8
  • 1 John 2:10-11
  • Ephesians 5:6-14
  • Isaiah 35:4-5

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Christmas Devotional

Day 2: Giving

Christmas is a time of cheer, celebrating and giving.  We spend much time creating, shopping for and planning the perfect gift.  We anticipate the reaction with excitement and when the day comes, we prepare, camera in hand to capture the moment! We give more time to our community for Christmas events.  We give more financial resources to charities in our community, schools collecting food and donations, churches supporting families with much need, or sending donations overseas for people we will never meet. Giving is a common theme at Christmas. Hear these paraphrased words from Matthew 2:1-12 about the first Christmas and the very first Christmas gifts, with a lesson from three wise men.

Beloved Child,

My Son blessed the earth during the reign of King Herod, an evil man who was very disturbed when he heard that a new King, and an actual heir to the throne of David had been born. During that time, I placed a special star in the sky to shine the way to where My Son lay.

 Jerusalem was in an uproar, and religious leaders met with King Herod.  The scripture verse I gave them in Micah 5:2, “And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be a shepherd for my people Israel” rang true. In this, I promised both that the Messiah would come and rule like a Sheppard, and that his birth would happen in Bethlehem, which you know is exactly what happened. Herod told the wise men searching for My Son to alert him when they found Jesus. He told them that he wanted to worship Jesus as well, but his actions said otherwise.

The three wise men who followed the star travelled thousands of miles to worship Jesus. The sacrifice of their time and effort was nothing in comparison to getting to worship Jesus. Be like the wise men.  Seek My Son. Worship him today and every day, giving to the world the love that he modelled. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. It is my sincere desire that you are overjoyed as you reflect on the birth of My Son, into a human body.  When they found My Son, they gifted him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.  The wise men came to Jesus equipped, knowing that gold is a gift fit for a King, frankincense is a gift fit for a deity, and myrrh is used to anoint a body for burial.  Even these first Christmas gifts show that Jesus was King, God and Sacrificial Lamb. Every detail of My plan was perfectly executed to show you My Son.

These men sought My Son with true worship and hearts in the right place. They knew who Jesus was, even as a helpless child, and they honoured him accordingly. They saw his value long before the world did. I warned the wise men not to return to Herod to protect My Son so that he may fulfill all that was required of him. The direction of their life changed when I placed a star in the sky, and the direction of your life may change as you know My Son deeper. Draw closer to him every day, thankful for the greatest gift you have ever received: your salvation.

Love Always,
God the Father

Matthew 2:1-12, paraphrased.

Application Questions:

  •  Is there someone in your life who you see with jealousy the way Herod Did? How can you combat this?
  • What ways do you search for Jesus in your life?
  • In what ways has Jesus changed the direction of your life?

Alternate verses for your reflection:

  •  2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Proverbs 18:16
  • Matthew 10:8
  • Matthew 19:21
  • 1 Corinthians 13:3

 

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