Thanksgiving and Christmas. Birthdays and anniversaries. National and religious holidays. These special days circle around each year to do more than remind us we were born or that we got married or it’s time to go shopping.
These celebrations prompt us to think about a person and about marriage and about patriotism and about the Lord. It’s the why, not just the what.
These special days urge us to stop and consider life’s essentials—those important things we might otherwise neglect. Or worse, forget.
The spiritual life has its cues as well.
In fact, God built memory triggers into His plan for you.
I’ve decided that during the holiday season we should change the mall’s name to “maul.”
I’ve never seen such mayhem—kids running, parents screaming, angry people in long lines—all to the music of “Joy to the World” in the background. Good grief!
(Photo by Stephane Bidouze, via Vivozoom)
If you decide to head to the “maul” the night after Christmas, you’ll see more of the same chaos—a rush of returns in exchange for . . . even more . . . stuff.
So in honor of these days after Christmas, I’ve decided to try my hand at rewriting Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas classic.
Here she goes. (Ahem.)
It’s a good thing we have holidays.
Without these forced pauses in our hurried schedules, we would plow through life with only a headstone to stop us.
(Photo: painting by Matthias Stom. Public domain, via Wikipedia Commons.)
Christmas certainly offers us a time to take a break from work. It’s also a time for family to reconnect. But most importantly, the holiday reminds us of essential truths in our spiritual lives.
Here are 7 Christian Christmas readings from Scripture with suggested themes for personal reflection or group discussion.
You can also download these Christian Christmas Readings if you prefer to print them.
For many people, the holidays draw up painful memories.
Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.
During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).
David felt very alone.
His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.
Except for sporadic fistfights among the priests in the Church of the Nativity, we usually picture Bethlehem as a place of serenity.
After all, history reveals the city as the hometown of King David. It was the adopted home of godly Ruth. And of course, it was the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
Christmas cards and carols venerate Bethlehem as an idyllic, quiet place with “silent stars” above it and “deep and dreamless sleep” within its walls. A pleasant picture, for sure.
But it wasn’t always so.
Growing up, I often felt ripped-off at Christmas.
Because my birthday is December 15, I often heard: “Wayne, this is your birthday-Christmas gift.”
I thought, Hey, gee, thanks.
I wanted to tell the person whose birthday was in August, “Yeah, and here’s your birthday-Christmas gift too.” (Those of you with December birthdays understand.)
As a kid, I also hated getting clothes for Christmas (particularly underwear). Some people just don’t know how to give age-appropriate gifts to kids.
When I read the Christmas story, it seems the three Wise Men didn’t have much experience shopping for children either.
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It must have seemed really strange. Honestly, it still does.
Two thousand years of waiting for the Messiah, and He is born in a barn and laid in a feed trough.
If it had been up to us, we would have given God’s Son a room in the finest five-star hotel in Bethlehem. But Jesus got only a one-star motel—and God had to provide the star!
When the shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to find the baby of whom the angels spoke, the wonder of God’s power must have seemed a strange contradiction to the conditions they found.
- No halos hovered over Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
- Instead, they saw a poor couple surrounded by animals and the smell of manure.
Actually, the crudity of Jesus’ birth story offers really good news.
Because it had you in mind.
Herod the Great is often remembered for the story that never appears on Christmas cards.
Hearing from the Magi that the “king of the Jews” was born in Bethlehem, the paranoid Herod sent and slew all the male boys under two years old in the town—a cryptic fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15.
Of course, Jesus’ family got word of the impending threat and escaped by night to sojourn in Egypt until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:13-18).
Whenever I visit the area of the Herodium, I can’t help but think of the historical irony that Herod tried to kill Jesus—but failed. Instead, Herod himself died and was buried in the Herodium overlooking the very city the Messiah was born (Micah 5:2).
This offers a lesson of great encouragement in God’s sovereignty.
The first Christmas looked like a coincidence.
From a human perspective, politics set the agenda: Caesar took a census.
Period. End of story.
But from the divine viewpoint? God orchestrated ordinary events for extraordinary purposes.
The same is true today. He uses the power of coincidence in your life as well.
Most of us give Christmas gifts that are quickly forgotten.
After the iPhone gets cracked, or the DVD gets watched, or the sweater gets snagged, they all end up at the landfill.
This year, why not give a gift that will last a lifetime?
Bible Lands study tools make great gifts because they take your personal Bible study to the next level. What’s more, they don’t wear out.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for gifts you’ll enjoy giving.