Purposeful Faith

Category - Christmas

Exalt Christ Amidst Christmas Busy

Use Christmas Busyness to Exalt Christ

Note: Bloggers – today is Part I of the Cheerleading Link up (We tweet encouragement using #RaRaLinkup).  Tomorrow is the actual linkup day.

Christmas is that time of year when I mark off the calendar as “busy”.  It’s that time of year where I continuously pull out my checkbook to “gift” and to “card”.  Christmas is that time of year, where parties can just leave me tired. Where people can leave me drained. Where giving can feel not so gracious.

Why?  Because I feel worn.  I feel tired.  It’s year-end and I have given and given and given myself.

It sometimes gets me feeling guilty too – like I am missing the point.  And, it makes me wonder – where’s Jesus amidst Christmas busy?  Where’s Jesus in this hustle and bustle?  Does he look down on this kind of behavior?

See the True Gift

Yet, while pondering these questions, the Lord placed the most wonderful gift in my lap – a gift of truth. And, as I held this adorned box, staring at it’s meaning, I started to understand the beauty of Christmas busy. It’s not all about the wrapping paper, about the bows, about the act of wrapping, but it is about the heart – a receptive heart.

And, as I open God’s gift to me. The heart of the matter comes to light; I see the love of Christ. Authentic. Deep. Heartfelt love.

I admire the gift of Jesus – a gift I am called to share with others.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

I realize, if I can’t find joy in the gift giving, I have entirely missed the gift-giver and the heart of the gift.

Because we have joy when our joy is derived from Christ.  Suddenly, through the amazing gift of Christ, all we can do is give, sacrifice and love. Suddenly, all the Christmas busy isn’t seen as acts of drudgery, but as acts of service, of adoration, of worship.

What True Giving Is

Christ endlessly gave – not out of obligation, but out of love.  There is no greater gift than to give.  We are blessed when we give. We find meaning to life when we give from a cheerful heart.

Let’s let our busyness come from pure motivations not busy obligation.  Because in many ways, busyness is the essence of Christmas. Busyness that relies on Christ. Busyness that feels overwhelmed but trusts God. Busyness that is fueled by the Spirit. Busyness that shines Christ. Busyness that extends grace. This is where the joy of Christmas is found.

Just as Christ served, preached and loved endlessly, we can give, host, serve and love endlessly too – through his power and strength at work within us.

Helpless we come in this world, and through the amazing gift of Christ – he helps us.  He empowers us, he equips us and he calls us to his work.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– (Eph. 2:8)

Truly, the greatest gift we ever received is the one that lies in a humble manger. The one who calls us to purify our hearts. The one who can never stop handing out grace. The one who reached others tirelessly with truth.

Behold Christ

Behold the gift of Christ, his grace and his enduring love. Let go of striving and grab hold of the ultimate gift – who lays in a manger in a town called Bethlehem.

He lays ready to be embraced and adored.

In a little town of Bethlehem, lays a baby who was never afraid to sacrifice.
In a little town of Bethlehem, lays a baby who extends grace beyond compare.
In a little town of Bethlehem, lays a baby whose power is perfected in weakness.

In that little town of Bethlehem, lays the heart of Christmas giving.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

As believers, we have a perfect gift.  This perfect gift frees us through the covering of grace. And, through this gift, we can joyfully give it all and exalt Christ.

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Christmas Traditions that Focus on Christ

Christmas Traditions that Focus on Christ
Honestly, I haven’t been one for too much Christmas tradition. It’s not that I don’t care about Christmas, because clearly it is one of the most important holidays, but I tend to get super busy at this time.  

It can be hard to add one more thing to do, when I can hardly keep up with what I already have to do. Do you get me?
 
I am so busy being busy that I can’t slow down to make things matter for my family.

So, when I was so thoughtfully invited by Jodie to participate in this series, I said yes, but thought, “Oh boy, what do I do?”
 
Sometimes, the Lord drops things on our lap, to make us realize that we can’t get up unless we address the issue.  I think this is exactly what he did here.

 

…Keep reading about my Christmas traditions that focus on Christ (and see some pics) at Faithfully-Following

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The Gift of God-With-Us

Post by: Angela Parlin

For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now. So last night, I put myself to bed early. But first, I read a chapter of Luke, where an angel tells Mary she’ll give birth to Immanuel (God With Us). And then I fell asleep thinking about something he told her:

The Lord is with you.

We need that reminder, don’t we? Because sometimes, we know it in our heads, but we live as if we’ve completely forgotten.

Today, I’m still fighting anxiety, so I looked up some places where the Bible repeats this truth, The Lord is with you.

I read about Jacob, who dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, where the Lord stood and clearly said to him, I am with you. He woke up and realized, The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. (Genesis 28)

I can relate. Can you? I have not felt the Lord with me this week. I’ve fixed my eyes on my concerns and to-do lists, more than I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus. But the Lord is in this place, in this week, even when I don’t feel that way.

I read about Moses, when he considered himself unqualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God said, I will be with you (Exodus 3), and then showed Himself to Moses in so many visible and miraculous ways.

I found numerous reminders of God’s nearness in the Psalms. The Lord is near to His children; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (34) God is an ever-present help in trouble. (46) The Lord is near to all who call on Him. (145)

I read parts of Isaiah, where the prophet shares these words from the Lord—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41)

I read about when Jesus arrived in this world, as God-With-Us in the flesh. And then before He left again, He told His followers–Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28)

I could keep going, keep on finding this truth repeated.

The Word of God offers us this beautiful gift—The Lord is with you. It’s a truth we need to remember, and a truth we need to act on.

Whatever your struggle this Christmas, whatever your anxiety, whatever your pain, whatever difficulties you face, please remember this, friend–the Lord is with you. So take your concerns to Him!

God’s Word promises:

  • He will give you rest.
  • He will fill you with peace.
  • He will help you.
  • He will strengthen you.
  • He will give you what you need.
  • He will uphold you.

May we remember, the Lord is with us. Let’s unwrap the gift of God-With-Us this Christmas.

~Angela Parlin

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Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos. 

Prepare Your Heart for the Birth of Jesus

Prepare your heart for the birth of baby Jesus

Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room.  There was no space.  Every inch of the inn was occupied.

“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)

As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered.  We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.”  Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”

This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”

Making room for Jesus means we:

Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.

Prepare your heart. Make room for the King.  He is coming.

Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given.  Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.

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