Tag Archives: Christmas

A Season of Joy: Jesus Christ is Born

Keep Christ at the center of your family’s Christmas celebration by reflecting on the birth of Jesus.

With Christmas quickly approaching, stress levels are at an all time high and to do lists are longer than ever. Keep your family focused on the reason for the season by reflecting on the birth of our Lord and Savior.

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-20 NLT

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 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.

The great news from an angel of the Lord filled the shepherds living nearby with absolute joy. The most amazing event in history had happened — the Messiah had been born! With Jesus’ birth came hope for the entire world, hope we continue to believe in today. We encourage you to look toward Christ’s second coming with a joyful spirit and a hopeful heart.

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Top 5 Christmas Books for Christians 2016

Take a break from the holiday hustle and snuggle up with these Christian Christmas books.

With December 25th quickly approaching, the stress of the season is setting in. Between the presents and the parties, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rush and forget about the true meaning of Christmas. Take a break from the holiday hustle with Christian Christmas books that will keep your heart focused on Christ.

Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado
Max Lucado loves Christmas. He loves it because somewhere someone will ask the Christmas questions: What’s the big deal about the baby in the manger? Who was he? What does his birth have to do with me? And the answers he’s found give us all hope. God knows what it’s like to be a human. When we talk to him about deadlines or long lines or tough times, he understands. He’s been there. He’s been here. Because of Bethlehem, we have a friend in heaven. Let’s turn on the lamp, curl up in a comfortable spot, and look into the odd, wonderful story of Bethlehem.

A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury
From New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a life-changing story of love and hope featuring the Baxter family. Whether you’re meeting the Baxter family for the first time or finding them all over again, A Baxter Family Christmas will leave fingerprints on your heart forever. Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child.

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller
In his new book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, pastor and New York Times bestselling author, Tim Keller, guides readers through an illuminating journey into the surprising background of the Nativity story, a story that is a celebration of the advent of Jesus Christ, who came to save mankind and restore our humanity to how it was meant to be. This profoundly moving and intellectually provocative book unpacks the message of hope, redemption, and salvation hidden in the biblical account of Jesus’ birth so that readers may experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a meaningful and deeper way.

The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans
At thirty-two Kimberly Rossi, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Burlington, VT. Deep inside Kimberly knows she’s at a junction in her life and it’s time to either fulfill her dream or let it go.

The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall
When Rose Kurtz first arrived in tiny Forest Hill four years ago, Joel Dienner had just lost his wife to childbirth. They agreed to marry because his children, especially newborn Grace, needed a mother to care for them. But Rose has grown to love Joel deeply. Can she find the courage to tell him her true feelings? You’ll fall in love with this Amish Christmas romance.

Place your online order by December 16 to get these books in time for Christmas or visit your local Family Christian store.

What books are on your Christmas reading list? Share your 2016 must-reads and all-time favorites with us in the comments below.

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Christmas Gift Guide: 10 Christian Gifts Under $10

Give meaningful Christmas gifts that won’t break the bank this holiday season.

You’re making a list and checking it twice. You need presents for the kids, one for your spouse, something thoughtful for that sweet friend of yours, oh, and don’t forget a Secret Santa gift for your office Christmas party. Before you know it, you’re buying twice the gifts you planned on. And while your Christmas list may have doubled, we know your budget probably hasn’t. Give meaningful Christmas gifts that won’t break the bank this holiday season with our Christmas Gift Guide.

Barnabas Bear
This popular teddy bear is soft, shimmery and ready for snuggles. Take him home to give as a gift or donate him to a child in need through your local Family Christian store. All of our stores donate their bears to a local ministry partner in their community.

The Psalms in Color: Inspirational Adult Coloring Book
The Book of Psalms is featured in this beautifully crafted Adult Coloring Book. The pages include a variety of delightful patterns, designs, motifs and ink drawings that incorporate Scripture from Psalms. Rejoice in the songs of praise while you create your unique work-of-art.

Woven Infinity Scarf
This infinity scarf will become your go-to fashion accessory this holiday season. You can dress up any outfit with this stylish scarf. Theses scarves are available in metallic burgundy, metallic silver, metallic copper and metallic black.

Cherry Blossom Bath & Body Box
This bath & body set comes with a cherry blossom scented lotion and shower gel. This set makes a wonderful gift for the women in your life. It is wrapped and ready for gift giving.

Be Fearless Matte Mug
Enjoy a steaming cup of coffee or hot cocoa in this matte ceramic mug. It says ‘Be Fearless’ in big black print. This 14oz mug would make a great gift for a friend or family member this Christmas!

Cross Necklace with Crystals
This simple cross pendant features a cross with crystals on the horizontal of the cross. A wonderful gift, this cross necklace makes a great gift for any woman of faith.

Cupcakes and Jesus Lip Balm Pods
Our exclusive Cupcakes and Jesus Lip Balm Set contains is the perfect accessory for any girl that wants to show and share her faith! The 3-pod set containers are red, pink, and white with sprinkles. Each pod twists open to reveal the lip balm inside.

Small But Mighty Wall Art
Our exclusive Small But Mighty wall art features bright colors, with comic book call outs that say “Use Your Powers For Good” and “Small But Mighty”. Available in assorted colors and patterns.

Active Faith Sport Bands
Show off your faith in a subtle way with this Active Faith “In Jesus’ Name I Play” silicone sport band. They are available in many colors and have the Active Faith logo and message engraved on the band.

Facing the Giants DVD
Facing the Giants is an action-packed, family-friendly drama from the award-winning producers of Flywheel about a high school football coach who draws up a new game plan for his team and himself.

We hope these gift ideas allow you to bless your loved ones this Christmas while staying on a budget. Place your order by December 16 to make sure you get your gifts in time for Christmas.

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Top 10 Christian Christmas Albums of 2016

Focus on the reason for the season with Christmas music that celebrates Jesus.

It’s beginning to look – and sound – a lot like Christmas! Whether you like classic carols, heartwarming hymns or old-fashioned favorites, our collection of Christmas albums will quickly become your holiday soundtrack. Celebrate the reason for the season with Christmas music that exalts the birth of our Savior.

Behold by Lauren Daigle
Behold plays like a jazzy audio time capsule of saxophones, trombones, upright bass, drums and hollow body guitars. This album showcases Lauren Daigle’s versatile vocals in a more mature and subdued context.

Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant
This album showcases Amy Grant’s classic vocals with intimate arrangements, interspersed with personal stories and holiday memories. Tennessee Christmas features an updated recording of “Tennessee Christmas” and six new songs as well as traditional favorites.

It’s Christmas! by MercyMe
Soaring emotive ballads, up-tempo music and some original compositions make this album a must-have for the holidays. It’s Christmas! is our $5 deal of the season.

Unto Us by Matthew West
Returning with his second full length Christmas album, Matthew West is back to celebrate the season with five brand new songs and some of his biggest hits. Unto Us features radio singles “A Christmas to Believe In,” “The Heart of Christmas” and “One Last Christmas.”

Christmastime by Jody McBrayer
Christmastime features Irving Berlin’s “Count your Blessings Instead of Sheep” and the John Rutter classic “Candlelight Carol.” A jazz-quartet provides the accompaniment to these familiar tunes.

12 Christmas Favorites by Bill & Gloria Gaither
Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with Bill & Gloria Gaither and their Homecoming Friends who bring to life signature performances of 12 classic Christmas favorites including “Joy To The World,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” “Mary, Did You Know?” and more.

He Is Christmas by Triumphant Quartet
One of Southern Gospel’s most decorated quartets releases their first Christmas recording. He Is Christmas offers a variety of classics like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and new favorites like “Thank God for Kids” as well as some original tracks.

Top 25 Christmas Carols by Maranatha!
Maranatha’s #1 series brings you Top 25 Christmas Carols – melodies to inspire the warmth of this special time. Each track is produced in full instrumentation, many with accompanying vocals. Priced right for gift giving, Top 25 Christmas Carols is the perfect present for family and friends.

Christmas Is Here by Danny Gokey
A fast-rising country singer and songwriter, Danny Gokey shifts gears with Christmas Is Here, by performing some traditional classics for most of the songs on this holiday album. Each song on the album reverberates with the emotional honesty and life-affirming messages that have become hallmarks of his music.

A Pentatonix Christmas by Pentatonix
Grammy Award winning and multi-platinum selling recording artist Pentatonix releases their much-anticipated Christmas album. A Pentatonix Christmas features a combination of classic holiday tracks, modern favorites and some brand new originals.

These albums will get you in the Christmas spirit and inspire the whole family to spread holiday cheer.

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Top Christmas Toys for Christians 2016

Christmas Gift Guide: 8 Christian Gift Ideas for Her

Excite and inspire the women in your life this Christmas with Christian gifts designed just for her.

If you’ve got a bookworm, a trendsetter and a craft lover on your list – we’ve got the Christmas gift guide for you! Whether you’re shopping for your daughter or a dear friend, these Christian gifts for women are sure to excite and inspire her.

Adult Coloring Books
These adult coloring books are available in a variety of patterns and designs. Featuring Bible-based themes as well as geometric designs and wildlife, you’re sure to find a coloring book that will help that special woman in your life unwind.

A Journaling Bible
Journaling Bibles make a great gift and a lasting keepsake for anyone who values God’s Word. The space in the margins provides the perfect way for her to journal her spiritual life. Her creativity and inspiration will flourish as she experiences God’s Word in a personal way.

Jesus Calling
Jesus Calling is a 365-day devotional authored by Sarah Young that is designed to teach readers how to enjoy peace in His presence. The Jesus Calling: Women’s Edition features a pink keepsake leather cover, perfect for giving as a gift.

A Cross Necklace
A cross necklace is the perfect way to display your faith and a practical way to share it with others. With options for women and children in popular styles like gold, sterling silver, pewter and stainless steel, you’re sure to find one that fits her style.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
Have you ever felt sidelined, sidestepped, or set aside? Lysa TerKeurst knows firsthand the sting of rejection and the power of Christ’s love to overcome it! With biblical depth, honest vulnerability, and her trademark wit, she helps you embrace God-honoring ways to process your hurt, defeat core fears, pray to restore your confidence and more.

Home Décor
Encourage her to display her faith in her home with Christian home décor. Choose from over 300 of our most popular home décor items, including candles, decorative crosses, figurines, plaques, kitchen items, picture frames, pillows and more.

The Willow Tree Collection by Demdaco
Share the joy of life’s milestones with the popular Willow Tree Collection figurines, angels, nativity sets, and ornaments. These sweet pieces by Susan Lordi make perfect gifts to buy for the special angels in your life. Each cast resin piece is hand painted and made from an original, hand-carved sculpture by Susan Lordi.

Calendars and Planners
These calendars and planners feature inspirational artwork and incorporate encouraging themes with Christian messages and scripture. With over 90 to choose from, you’re sure to find a calendar theme that will inspire her.

We hope these gifts encourage the women in your life and bring them closer to Christ.

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Shop Christian Christmas gifts that entertain and encourage the men in your life.

You’re crafty, creative and committed to finding the perfect present – but tracking down gifts for the guys on your list can be tough. If Christmas shopping has become more stressful than successful, this Christmas gift guide is for you! Whether you’re shopping for your husband, father or friend, these Christian gifts for men will both entertain and encourage them.

A Devotional Bible for Men
The NIV Devotional Bible for Men inspires them to dig deeper into their soul and do more with what God gave them. The devotions are spiritually challenging and cover topics including leadership, relationships, financial stability, spiritual growth, substance addiction, culture, character and more.

Active Faith Athletic Apparel
Active Faith is a premium sportswear brand featuring shirts, hoodies, hats, sport bands and more. Former NBA player, Lanny Smith, created Active Faith to encourage Christians to spread the Good News whether they’re on the court, out for a run or running errands around town. Professional athletes seen wearing Active Faith include Stephen Curry, Demaryius Thomas, James Harden, Josh Hamilton, Clayton Kershaw and more.

Tim Tebow’s New Book
In this powerful book, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow shares glimpses of his journey and how he’s stayed grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism and intense media scrutiny. Shaken features practical wisdom from Scripture and insights from others who have impacted Tebow in life-changing ways.

Chris Tomlin’s Latest CD
Often called America’s Worship Leader, Chris Tomlin returns with his new album, Never Lose Sight. Featuring “Good Good Father” and his new single “Jesus,” this album is filled with songs that give voice to our praises, prayers, cries and hopes.

The Woodlawn DVD
A gifted high school football player must learn to boldly embrace his talent and his faith as he battles racial tensions on and off the field. Woodlawn is a moving and inspirational new film based on the true story of how love and unity overcame hate and division in early 1970s Birmingham, Alabama.

A Dad’s Guide to Praying for His Kids
Looking for a gift for dad? Steve Chapman offers an easy-to-remember plan for busy dads that include principles and strategies to help them intercede regularly. They’ll learn how to realize the impact of their petitions, taking steps to keep their focus on God’s will and implementing accountability with other fathers.

A Stylish Tie
This stylish necktie features a simple, but elegant, blue and white pattern that is perfect for pairing with his Sunday best or any special occasion.

A Leather Wallet
This handsome men’s wallet is made from genuine black leather and features an eagle emblem in the lower right hand corner, which symbolizes Isaiah 40:31. Inside there are two full-length bill fold pockets, an ID window slot, 6 credit card slots, 4 multi-function pockets and a small zippered compartment.

We hope these gifts encourage the men in your life and bring them closer to Christ.

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Let your pastor know you appreciate them with a Christmas gift or a simple word of encouragement.

While you’re certainly not obligated to give a Christmas gift to your pastor, it can be a nice way to show your appreciation for the sacrifices they make day in and day out to encourage you and nurture your faith. We’ve put together this gift guide to help you discover unique and useful ways to bless your pastor this Christmas.

A Cup of Coffee
When you give a bag of Crazy Faith Coffee, you’re sharing a story of someone who demonstrated miraculous faith. Not only is the coffee delicious, the stories are an inspiring reminder of the important role your pastor plays in the lives of believers.

A Monthly Box Subscription
Faithbox
is a monthly subscription service that delivers Christian products right to your pastor’s doorstep. Every box includes a monthly devotional and an impact guide so they know the charitable impact of each product that was chosen.

A Devotional
The Songs of Jesus devotional
by Tim Keller takes your pastor on a yearlong journey through the Psalms. During the first six months, they’ll find a brief devotional on each of the Psalms, with a basic overview and life application. During the last six months, Keller shows readers how to turn each Psalm into a prayer.

A Handwritten Note of Encouragement
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on an elaborate gift to show your pastor that you care. A handwritten note of encouragement can go a long way. Learn How to Write a Christian Thank You Card in 5 Simple Steps with our helpful guide.

A Donation on Their Behalf
Instead of a gift, consider sponsoring a child through World Vision on your pastor’s behalf. Sponsoring a child is a personal way to show God’s love. For $39 a month, you’ll help a child and their community experience freedom from poverty.

A Gift Card
Don’t know what to get your pastor? A gift card is the way to go. As an added bonus, you’ll receive a free $5 gift for yourself when you spend $30 in gift cards.

Our church leaders have dedicated their lives to serving God’s people. Show your appreciation this Christmas with one of these pastor gifts or a simple word of encouragement.

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Get a head start on your Christmas shopping with Christ-centered toys for kids.

Christmas is just around the corner and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season will be here before you know it. Get a head start on your Christmas shopping with these Christ-centered toys your children will be excited about on Christmas morning.

Fisher-Price Little People Nativity Set
Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus share the stable with their animal friends in this Little People re-telling of the Christmas Story. Place the angel atop the stable to activate the light-up star and hear the holiday favorite “Away in a Manger” play. The perfect size for little hands, the Fisher-Price Little People nativity set is the perfect introduction to the story of the birth of Christ for young children.

Prayer Dolls
Prayer Dolls are the perfect friend for your child during prayer time or play. Your little one can pray along and even hold the dolls hands together as she recites four different prayers. They are cute, cuddly and colorfully dressed with stylish hair.

VeggieTales In The House DVD
Shiver Me Timbers! Ichabeezer has lost his toy pirate ship! Guess what? Larry the Cucumber found the ship and wants to keep it for himself! Can Bob the Tomato help Larry decide to do what’s right – or will Larry’s friendship with Ichabeezer’s be lost at sea? Find out in this all-new VeggieTales In The House story about sharing and caring.

Plush Toys
Bears for Humanity plush toys are perfect for keeping your kids company on long car rides or just hanging out around the house. The bear, lion and eagle toys are made from 100% organic cotton and are hand sewn right here in the United States. Looking for something a bit bigger? Our 22’’ Barnabas Bear is sure to make a big impact on Christmas morning.

My First Green Toys Shape Sorter
Made in the USA from food-safe, 100% recycled plastic milk jugs that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Shape Sorter helps develop recognition of shapes and colors while also encouraging eye-hand coordination, problem solving, and fine and gross motor skill development. The two-part elliptical Shape Sorter and 8 colorful shapes (2 stars, 2 circles, 2 squares, 2 triangles) are the perfect size and weight for little hands.

Bibleman Putting on the Full Armor of God
Meet Bibleman and his team and find out how they use the Shield of Faith, the Sword of the Spirit, and the rest of the armor of God to defeat dangerous villains like Dr. Fear and the Master of Mean. Then create your own adventure scene using the foldout “Put Your Armor On” poster and stickers!

We hope you enjoy the excitement as your children open these Christ-centered gifts on Christmas morning and encourage you to use these gifts as an opportunity to remind your little ones that Jesus is the reason for the season.

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Merry Christmas!

Stephanie Raquel DECEMBER 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!
STEPHANIE RAQUEL

{Editor’s note: Today’s devotion recounts the Christmas story through Scripture. Jesus’ birthday is so much more than a story worth hearing; it’s a gift to be shared — tied to enriching our everyday lives here on Earth and more importantly, our days spent for all eternity. So from all of us at Proverbs 31 Ministries, we hope and pray you have a blessed and very Merry Christmas!}

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’” John 8:12 (NLT)

We begin the story of how Jesus came into the world with these reminders from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you” (Isaiah 9:2-3a, NLT).

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end” (Isaiah 9:6-7a, NLT).

Then we learn from the prophet Micah that this Prince of Peace will be born in lowly Bethlehem:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf” (Micah 5:2, NLT).

It took hundreds of years before these prophetic words were actually fulfilled. But indeed, the pieces were in place for them to become a reality some 2,000 years ago.

The first Roman emperor (who happened to be Julius Caesar’s adopted son) was named Augustus. He decided to count his citizens through a census so he could tax them. That sets the stage for our first encounter with him in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2:

“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke 2:1-7, NLT).

From the beginning, God wanted His people to share the good news of Jesus’ birth with the whole world, which we see in Luke 2:8-17:

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 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.” (NLT)

The shepherds could easily have kept quiet about the miracle. But instead, they “told everyone what had happened.” God had given us the ultimate light in the darkness, the gift of eternal life with the King of Kings, and this gift was meant to be shared.

If you know Jesus, we pray you’ll go and do likewise!

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending light in the darkness through the gift of Your Son Jesus. I know I need a Savior from all my problems, but also from living apart from You. I’m amazed by Your gift of eternal life. Help me this Christmas, and always, to never take this for granted, and to follow the shepherds’ example to go and tell everyone what happened. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 3:16, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you know Jesus? If so, thank Him for His presence in Your life. If not, click here to learn more about a life-saving relationship with the God of the universe.

© 2015 by Stephanie Raquel. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

When There is Mourning in Your Merry

Chrystal Evans Hurst DECEMBER 24, 2015

When There is Mourning in Your Merry
CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NASB) 

Two Christmases ago, I sat quietly contemplating the cordless phone that fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.

No one was awake yet, so it was the perfect time to pick up the phone and call my grandmother.

But that morning, my heart hurt.

You see, as the eldest granddaughter, every Christmas it was my job, my assignment, to pick up the phone and call her. Then I’d pass the phone around to everyone else so she and my grandfather could talk to everyone.

This Christmas, however, I felt twinges of physical pain because this special day, when I called, I knew she wouldn’t be picking up the phone.

Of course, I would still call my grandfather and everyone would be glad to hear his voice, wish we could be closer and express our love to him … but we would also miss hearing her voice.

Sometimes there is mourning in the midst of the merry.

That Christmas day, there would be plenty of laughter, kids squealing with joy, hugs exchanged and catching up with loved ones. There would be good food shared and memories made. That Christmas day there would be lots of things that are just the same as they are every year.

All except one.

I felt the mourning in the midst of the merry.

I wonder if when Jesus was on Earth, He missed His heavenly Father.

I wonder if He felt off-balance because He exchanged the glorious singing of the angels for the soft sounds of sheep. I wonder if He had immediate grief in His heart as the love He had for mankind was mixed with the mourning of a known difficult and short life and an awareness of a painful and hard death.

I wonder if Christmas day — the day that Christ was born — was a day of mourning, too.

I wonder if Mary wished her mother were there to help her deliver her new baby. I wonder if she was saddened at her station in life. Did she wish that she had more to give her new son than a birth in a manger?

I wonder if she mourned the absence of her friends. Did she feel alone? Lost in a big world that seemed not to see her? I wonder if Christmas day — the day Mary delivered her baby — was a day of mourning, too.

I wonder if the holiday season — the time of year where you sit right now reading this devotion — is a time of mourning for you. I wonder if you’re lamenting another Christmas season spent not quite the way you thought.

I wonder if you’re grieving because someone you love is not here this year. I wonder if you’re sad because you feel alone, or life isn’t quite where you’d like it to be. I wonder if you feel twists or twinges in your heart as the notes from “Joy to the World” don’t seem to ring true in your life. I wonder.

Sometimes, there is mourning in the midst of the merry.

And I don’t have an answer. I don’t have anything monumental to say to get rid of the heart-hurts you might have today.

But I do know that if we keep going, mourning can TURN into merry.

I know Mary saw her Son live the only perfect life in history. Any mother would love to see her children live their lives well.

I know there was glory waiting for Jesus after the agony of the cross.

And I know that while I miss my grandmother, I will see her again one day.

You will not always be in this place. You will not always feel the same intensity of hurt, pain or sadness. You will not always feel lonely.

Sometimes there is mourning. But the merry is still happening.

Walk through the mourning. Don’t deny it. Be honest about the pain or ache that you feel. But don’t miss the merry.

That morning two Christmases ago, I sat quietly contemplating the cordless phone that fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. I felt the mourning, but I discovered an opportunity to find the merry.

I pressed the button that would give me a dial tone and began making that call to my grandfather.

Dear God, thank You for knowing me intimately and loving me in the middle of my mourning moments. Thank You for the hope, joy and peace You offer. Please help me through the difficult times I face this holiday season. Lord, please help me recognize the opportunities to find the merry and to see where Your hope, joy and peace are available still. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NASB)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If you or someone close to you can relate to the feelings of mourning in the merry, you might appreciate An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell.

God sees you and is near to those who are brokenhearted. Click here to download a free printable — a gift that Chrystal Evans Hurst has made available just for you.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
If this holiday season is difficult for you, take a moment to share the story behind your mourning. There are others who would love to encourage you today.

If you have ever experienced the pain of grief or loneliness during the holiday season, what tips or encouragement can you offer to someone that desires to find the “merry” even in the midst of their mourning? Share in the comments section.

© 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org