Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Strengthened by Grace Devotional: Christmas Edition

At Christmas, we celebrate the greatest Person in history — the promised one, the Messiah, who was born in flesh for the salvation of humanity. It was humble shepherds, keeping watch over their flock, to whom the angels first appeared. The angel told them of great joy for all the people. A Savior had been born. While the angel was speaking to the shepherds, an angelic host sang a “Gloria” of praise to God above.

The joy and wonder of that first Christmas will be renewed once again, reminding us that God has sent his Son to us, and we are forever changed. The world is in great darkness, but the light of God has come and brought a gift of joy.

John 3:16 gives us the message of Christmas. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” While this verse is often overlooked as being a “Christmas verse,” we can easily see the loving, giving heart of the Father in that He gave His only begotten Son.

The Christmas season's spirit of giving originated then with the Father and radiated through the Son, and in turn, Jesus commands us to do the same in John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The Spirit enables this love in our hearts. Truly Christmas is a Trinitarian blessing! We are to love because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit first loved us.

This is the kind of love that rejoices in the gift of our families, our church, and our friends. This is the kind of love that will empower us to visit a nursing home and hold the hand of one who is discouraged. This is the kind of love that will cry with another who cries and rejoice with another who rejoices. This is the kind of love that will look “beyond faults” and see the needs around us. I encourage you at this wonderful time of year to appreciate our giving God once again, and to minister to the “one anothers” all around us. In this way, you will be like your Father in heaven.

One of the greatest Christmas carols is 'Joy to the World' written by Isaac Watts in 1719. Watts was the son of a church elder living in England. His father was persecuted for his Christian faith and eventually imprisoned. During this difficult time, Isaac was studying Psalm 98, especially verse 4: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in joyous song and sing praises.” He wrote this beloved Christmas carol based upon this Psalm. Joy out of sorrow – light destroying darkness."

We pray that the Light of Jesus Christ will shine brightly in your hearts this week. What a gift the world has received! Let us shout Gloria with the angelic hosts in heaven. Here is our prayer for Christmas:
Father God, thank you for the gift of Jesus! We celebrate the treasure of all that He is in our lives, our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and so much more. We recognize His Powerful Presence over all, and we worship Him as King of Kings and Lord and Lords. We thank you that you made a way for us to be set free through the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Thank you for giving us the gift of eternal life, to all that have believed in Your Name. We bring to you today, every need and concern that we have, every fear and pain of loss we’ve experienced this year. We ask for your healing and grace, for your strength and your peace to fill us afresh. We draw near to you, and thank you that you are close, our Immanuel…God with us. Thank you for coming to Earth, in Christ's Name, Amen.
Christmas Blessings to you and those you love,

Matthew, Rachel, Gabriel, Gideon, Trinity, and Abram Dowling