THE GIFT OF SELF

Read John 10:7-10

The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind.   -John 1:4 (TEV)

She lived alone in a mobile home in an area of Miami that many people considered dangerous. She was about to celebrate her 99th Christmas.

A well-dressed man carrying a poinsettia arrived at her door on the afternoon before Christmas. With great caution she demanded to know who was there. She was surprised to discover that it was her doctor, for she was used to seeing him in a white coat. With a smile that brushed away most of her wrinkles, she invited him in for a chat and cup of coffee.

When I visited her the next day, she told me about the event of this special visitor with so beautiful a gift. With mellow, joyous restraint, she said, “Pastor, he didn’t send the gift, he brought it himself!”

How well she expressed the Incarnation-God coming into our hearts and lives. And God’s gift was very God! As John expressed it in his Gospel, this life brought light to everyone.

PRAYER: Eternal Love, thank you for coming in person with life’s greatest gift. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

God is willing to come to every heart in person.

-Lee R. VanSickle (Florida)

 

 

“Here’s a Christmas request I can’t give,” Santa said to Mrs. Claus.

“Why not?” asked Mrs. Claus.

“Here, read the letter.”

Dear Santa,

Will you please bring me some crocodile shoes for Christmas?

Thanks,

Pete

“But you have lots of crocodile shoes,” said Mrs. Claus. “Why can’t you give him a pair?”

“Because he didn’t tell me what size his crocodile wears.”



THE COMING CHRIST

Read Matthew 1:21-25; John 3:16-17

The coming Christ is our Savior. In a dream, Joseph was told to give Mary’s baby the name Jesus. ThIS. was a common name in biblical times. Meaning “Yahweh is salvation, it gave each Jewish family who chose it the hope. that their child would be the long-awaited messiah. By instructing Joseph to use the name, God was reaffirming Jesus mission as Savior of the world.

The Jewish people expected a Savior who would deliver them from their earthly struggles. Today, many Christians want the same type of deliverance. We want material blessings and a general elimination of all our problems. But Jesus didn’t come into the world to give us an easy life. He came to give us from our real problem-alienation from God. Jesus Christ came to deliver the best gift anyone can offer, eternal life with God.                     I

Make a mental list of what people fear most today – nuclear war famine economic disaster. Add a list of the worst things that could happen to you personally. Then read Revelation 21 and 22. Stack the list you made against the description of our eternal life in heaven. This is the life Jesus came to save us for Jesus wants to help us with our daily problems, and he offers us power to conquer the sin in our lives. However, Christ’s role is not limited to this world: Daily burdens cannot overwhelm us. Remember, we are being preserved by Christ for an eternity with God.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the priceless gift of salvation and the joy of an eternity with you. Amen.

-Jeanette Strong

 

 

 

Q: Did you hear that one of Santa’s reindeer now works for Proctor and Gambel?

A: Its true . . . Comet cleans sinks!

 

What did the reindeer say before launching into his comedy routine?

This will sleigh you.

 

Christmas: The time when everyone gets Santamental.



EMMANUEL

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he shall be called “Emmanuel”, a name which means “God is with us.” -Matthew 1:23 (NEB)

On Christmas Eve, I sat weeping in a hospital waiting room. Our daughter’s baby was coming too soon, and there was danger for her and for the child.

After a few moments, a woman moved across the room to sit by my side. She asked why I was crying, and, with relief, I poured out my worries and fears to her. Soon, we were talking together like old friends. My fears were forgotten for a while.

In time the woman was called away; her grandchild had been born. As she left the room, she turned to me and said, “Remember, God is with us.” On Christmas morning, our granddaughter was born safely.

As the family rejoiced, I thought of the kind woman and the help she had given me. The memory of her sweet face comes to me often. She not only knew the meaning of the word EmmanueJ; she knew how to share it.

PRAYER: Creator, we thank you for the witnesses you send to us when we need them the most. May we in turn share our faith and strength with someone who needs to be reminded of your love and care. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Our knowledge of the constant presence of God allows us to face any situation with courage.

-BilIye Reed (Tennessee)

 

 

There were two blondes who went deep into the frozen woods searching for a Christmas tree.

After hours of subzero temperatures a few close calls with hungry wolves, one blonde turned to the other and said,

“I’m chopping down the next tree I see. I don’t care whether it’s decorated or not!”

 

  1. What did Adam say on the day before Christmas?
  2. It’s Christmas, Eve.


WREATHED IN FLESH AND WARM

It is unlike most other kinds of waiting. Certainly it is not like waiting for other anticipated events, even momentous ones: a long-awaited letter from a friend, a wedding day, a coveted job opportunity, the end of a painful illness. There is a quality, a texture to the waiting we do during pregnancy that is one only with the waiting we do for God.

That pregnancy and the entry of divine life into the world are inextricably related is, of course, at the heart of the Christian message. God became human in the person of Jesus through the person of Mary, through this woman’s willingness to open herself, soul and body, to the divine seed that soon would flower for the redemption of the world. It was Mary’s assent to the angel’s startling announcement that

ushered in a new age. It was in her pregnant womb that heaven and earth were so lovingly intermingled, through the waiting experienced in her flesh and blood that God was made to walk with humankind.

The majestic and cosmic implications of this unique pregnancy may fill us with an awe that separates us from intimate identification with what went on there. Yet there is a more personal dimension to that one creative event which does speak directly to each of us. Like the simple young woman in Nazareth, we may be surprised, at any time, by the intuition that we too are chosen. We are hailed to receive into ourselves the seed that God wishes to plant there. We say yes and the life of God begins its course of gestation in us. We become the ground out of which the incarnate God flowers in the world.

Mary’s one unrepeatable pregnancy speaks to us of the life of the spirit growing within. This much we know. This much has been commented upon by Christian exegetes for centuries. But it is also true that each of our own pregnancies can speak to us of the direction of the divine wind moving in our world. For, if we are to take this incarnate God we worship seriously, we must come to learn that the wisdom of the marrow of our bones is being sucked out, as though we must die before God can be born through us. But the mystery we live is that our suffering is also a new birth. There is really one greater and more generous life of which we are one part. Our being born into it, our allowing it to come through us, is

part of the creative and redemptive process of our God.

Pregnancy is at the core of the Christian message. We are pregnant. We are the place of waiting, the place of the question, of the advent. We are the womb through whose pulsing life God is born.

-Wendy M. Wright

 

Sometimes Santa will fall down a chimney. Then he’s Santa Klutz.

Just before Christmas, two brothers were spending the night at their Grandma’s house. At bed time, they knelt down to say their prayers.

As they closed their eyes, one boy said in a loud voice, “Dear Lord, please ask Santa Claus to bring me a Wii, a telescope and a new bike.”

His older brother said, “Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf.”

“I know,” said his brother, “but Grandma is.”



WAITING (2)

All my life I have waited: waited for the project to be completed, waited for supper to be ready, waited for the doctor to see me. I have waited at the traffic light, waited for the right relationship, waited to grow up.

I have waited alone or waited with friends. I have waited anxiously. I have waited expectantly. Some waits have brought . joy. Other waits have brought bad news. Some waits have been “worth waiting for.”

Now it is Advent, and I am waiting again. This time I am waiting in the darkness of my soul-ravaged by sorrow, anger, and fear. But I do not despair in the waiting, for I remember the way light looks and feels. The memories of silent nights with starlit skies are with me, and I have been bathed in the warmth of love’s light. And so I hope-for Messiah to come.

Voices sing, “Prepare him room.” I know now waiting cannot be passive. There is something to do, but where? I have no inn or stable, but in my heart, I can make room. Move over doubt. Move over despair. Make room for Truth, for Life, for Love. Make room for the Prince of Peace.

-Kathy Clark-Dickens

 

Q: What do you do if Santa gets stuck in your chimney?

A: Pour Santa flush on him.

 

The judge asked the defendant what he was charged with.

“Doing my Christmas shopping early,” was the reply.

“That not illegal!. How early were you shopping?”

“Before the store was open.”

 

How do you know Santa has to be a man?

No woman is going to wear the same outfit year after year.



THE HOLY SURPRISE

The Holy Surprise

Read Luke 2:8-14.

How many Christmas pageants, manger scenes, musical compositions, or paintings, or poems, or stories have tried to pass on to us something of the astonishment, the wonder, the fear, the hope, that are described in this story of the shepherds on the hillside?

There they were tending their sheep, some of them probably dozing off, or thinking of what they would do when they got back home, or of how their children were, or their wives, or girl friends, or their parents. Nothing special going on.

And then, “Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid” (KN).

Who wouldn’t be afraid? If you have been present when an eclipse of the sun makes important changes in the quality of light, you know how disorienting that can be–even when you knew it was going to happen!

But here, we are told, the fear didn’t last. The message was one of incredible joy, or reassurance. What was the angel telling them? Of the birth of a baby? That they could understand, though this wasn’t the usual mode of announcement. But a baby who was Christ the Lord? They were even told how to identify that baby!

And then, as though to add even greater authenticity to the message of the angel, came this multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and foretelling an era of peace-which, according to the Jewish counterpart of the word for peace, shalom, means full and complete life.

Had you been on the hillside, what would you have thought?

 

PRAYER: Glory to you, 0 God, in the highest. And on earth may there be peace. Amen.

-Martha Whitmore Hickman

 

Top Ten Things To Say About A Christmas Gift You Don’t Like

  1. Hey! There’s a gift!
  2. Well, well, well …
  3. Boy, if I had not recently shot up 4 sizes that would’ve fit.
  4. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.
  5. Gosh. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.
  6. If the dog buries it, I’ll be furious!
  7. I love it — but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.
  8. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.
  9. To think — I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

And the Number One Thing to say about a Christmas gift you don’t like:

  1. “I really don’t deserve this.”


WAITING

Read Hosea 12:2-6

Hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God. -Hosea 12:6 (RSV)

Advent, like Lent, reminds us that there is value in waiting. Advent is our time to wait seriously for God to lead us from our self-imposed prisons such as our failures at love, our misunderstandings with others, our rigid belief-systems. Because such are our sins, we wait in bondage. Because we still want our way even if it is destructive, we pay a high price. We continue to follow after false gods of gadgetry or accumulations of possessions, power, and prestige. Meanwhile, the truly needy are truly neglected and the destitute truly ignored. No matter how we try to gloss it over, God will never accept our rationalizations.

And so this Advent we wait. We wait for a Savior. We wait for someone who can help us cut through all our false values and false pride. We wait for someone who not only knows our weaknesses but who, through the strength of a loving God, can help us overcome them. We wait for the one who forgives

our failures and inspires us to try again.

Christ is coming. And his coming makes our waiting creatively and powerfully worthwhile.

PRAYER: We wait, 0 Lord, for the coming of your Word to us. May we not fail to hear and to see. Amen.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

When we wait for God, we never wait in vain.

-Stan Smith (North Carolina)

 

 

  1. What do you get if you cross Santa with a detective ?
  2. Santa Clues!

 

Q: Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve?

A: Because it ” soots ” him!

 

  1. What happened when Guy ate the Christmas decorations?
  2. He went down with tinsel-itis.


TO HAVE A VISION

Read Isaiah 2: 1-5

Where there is no vision, the people perish. -Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

A grapevine wreath hangs on our door year round. It keeps before us Isaiah’s vision-a vision born at Christmas and made real by the Resurrection. During Advent, blue ribbon and white doves symbolizing Isaiah’s peace with justice adorn the wreath. At Christmas, the white ribbon and a candle symbolize the Light born into the world. On Epiphany, January 6, red ribbon and stars mark the beginning of our journey to carry the Christmas vision, t? follow a star .. At Lent we remove everything but a purple ribbon, for Lent IS a somber time to look inside ourselves. But at Easter, symbols of new life and opportunity to carry forth the vision-white ribbon greens and butterflies-adorn our wreath.

At Pentecost, red ribbon and a descending white dove remind us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry the vision into an often hostile world. During Ordinary Time, green wraps the wreath, and we look for symbols to remind us that it is often in “ordinary times” that we have the opportunity all year to live out God’s vision of peace and justice and love.

PRAYER: God, help us this Advent to see the vision you have given us. Amen.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

The Christmas vision means hope for tomorrow.   

-Janet McNish Bugg (Tennessee)

 

 

One Christmas, Joe and Peter built a skating rink in the middle of a field. A shepherd leading his flock decided to take a shortcut across the rink. The sheep, however, were afraid of the ice and wouldn’t cross it. Desperate, the shepherd began tugging them to the other side.

‘Look at that, ‘remarked Peter to Joe, ‘That guy is trying to pull the wool over our ice!’

 

Maria went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.

‘ What denomination?’ asked the clerk.

‘Oh! Good heavens! Have we come to this?’ said Maria, ‘Well give me 50 Methodist and 50 Baptist ones please.



KNOW YOUR ENEMY – YOUR ENEMY KNOWS YOU

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.  – 2 Corinthians 11: 3 NIV

Temptation begins in your mind. Satan gave Eve the idea of eating the forbidden fruit. Eve wasn’t just standing there trying to figure out how to disobey God. You must understand that the initial thought to do evil, is not from you, The new nature you have from God would not come up with that. The devil studies you the way a coach studies the game film of his opponents. Satan knows your weak spots. He knows which temptation has the best chance of success against you. How often have you ended up saying “I promised God and myself that I’d never do that again,” yet you did it. That’s because Satan knows what works on you.

But before you feel defenseless and get discouraged, God gives us this assurance: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man [we’re all cut from the same bolt of cloth]; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Co 10: 13 NAS). God builds a back door into every temptation with a lighted “exit” sign over it. The key word in this Scripture is “with.” The way of escape comes with the temptation. So while you will never be exempt from temptation, you can be victorious over it. And the Good News is, when Satan discovers that his strategies against you are not working, he goes looking elsewhere.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007

 

A lawyer, who had a wife and 12 children, needed to move because his rental agreement was terminated by the owner who wanted to reoccupy the home. 

 But he was having a lot of difficulty finding a new house.

 When he said, he had 12 children, no one would rent a home to him because they

felt that the children would destroy the place.

 He couldn’t say he had no children, because he couldn’t lie. We all know lawyers cannot and do not lie.

 So, he sent his wife for a walk to the cemetery with 11 of their kids.

 He took the remaining one with him to see rental homes with the real estate agent.

 He loved one of the homes and the price was right — the agent asked:

 “How many children do you have?

  He answered: “Twelve.”

 The agent asked, “Where are the others?”

 The lawyer, with his best courtroom sad look answered, “They’re in the cemetery with their mother.”

 MORAL: It’s not necessary to lie, one only has to choose the right words…

and don’t forget, most politicians are unfortunately lawyers.



TRULY AMAZING, AMAZING GRACE

 

By grace you have been saved.  – Ephesians 2:5 NAS

Have you any idea of the mess you were in, or moving toward, when God reached down and saved you?

Perhaps an illustration may help you get the picture. If you took your children to a petting zoo and a little lamb came running towards you, you probably wouldn’t be afraid at all because lambs are harmless. You might even reach out your hand and let the lamb lick it. But let’s say you’re at the zoo and the alarm goes out that a lion has escaped from its cage. If you’re standing there and that lion comes running towards you, you’ll be terrified and start to run because you know what lions can do. But just suppose that the runaway lion comers you in one part of the zoo and comes up to you-but instead of attacking you it gently licks your hand the way the lamb did. If that happened whose gentleness would you appreciate more, the lamb’s or the lion’s? You’d appreciate the lion’s gentleness more because you

know that he could just as easily have destroyed you without violating his nature as a lion. Well, grace is God’s kindness and gentleness to us when He could have backed us into a comer as guilty sinners and destroyed us without violating His holy character. But God wanted to make us His children, so instead

of expressing His wrath against us He poured it out upon His own sinless Son on the cross. Jesus took our punishment so God could embrace us. Hence, we have a brand-new relationship with God through grace. Isn’t that: amazing!

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007

 

I was having trouble with the idea of turning 30 and was oversensitive to any signs of advancing age. When I found a prominent gray hair in my bangs, I pointed to my forehead. “Have you seen this?” I indignantly asked my husband.

“What?” he asked. “The wrinkles?”

 

At Sea World, our grandson absolutely refused to see the show featuring Shamu the killer whale, but he wouldn’t tell us why.

No amount of discussion could get him to change his mind.

Later, when we got home, we discovered the reason for his reluctance.

An aunt had told him how exciting the show would be because “They choose children from the audience to feed Shamu.”




 

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