ImageEvery day during the month of December, and in alphabetical order, I list a word on my Facebook page and short devotional thought to go with it.  As we work our way through this most hectic of months, this has helped me stay focused daily on what’s really important about Christmas from a spiritual perspective. Join me as we encourage each other along the way!  Listed are the words so far from 2011!!

APPEAR is this year’s first Advent word! We see the word “appear” many times in scripture, and it especially occurs several times in the Christmas story. An angel appeared to Mary, to Joseph, to Elizabeth, to Zechariah. The angels appeared to the shepherds. The star appeared to the wise men, guiding them to the Christ Child. Christ appeared on the earth, in human form as a baby. God makes Himself evident to us, He gives us signs along the way — He’s not keeping Himself a secret. These people paid attention to His appearance in their lives and they didn’t miss the opportunity to be part of the eternal story. Look for how God APPEARS to you this Christmas and don’t miss your part in the story!!

BEGINNING. “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” When we think about what Jesus did — really think about it — it should send us to our knees in humble gratitude. Jesus has been since the beginning of time. He was already on the throne. He made the decision to leave it and come down to earth, to be human, to experience all the trivialities of being human, because we needed Him. Why? So that we could have a new heart, a new life, and a new beginning. Let this Christmas remind us all of new beginnings!

CAROL: “A song of joy or devotion”. I love to think about the words to Christmas carols … as a girl, my favorite was Away in a Manger. As I have grown older, I have new favorites, as the words have taken on new meaning for me as I have grown spiritually. The thing that ties them all together is they are written about the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding his coming, taken from the Bible. It’s amazing to me that these songs are still around after so many years, and we are still singing them. I challenge you this Christmas to listen more closely to the words, treasure them in your heart, and sing them as your own song of devotion!

DARKNESS is today’s Advent word. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!”. Jesus came to illuminate and if we live by the light of Christ, we will always run to the warmth of His light and away from that which represents the cold darkness. We will radiate His light and the darkness will not consume or inhabit us. “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.” Light and life to all He brings!!

EVIL is today’s word. I know — kind of a downer during such a happy time of year. Reading about the wise men and this jumped out at me: “When Herod found out that the wise men from the east had tricked him, he was very angry. He gave orders for his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years old and younger.” This thought sobered me. While we are out shopping for things we don’t need, decorating our homes to the hilt, and busy, busy, busy! there are women and children who suffer at the hands of evil people, stolen and being sold for sex and arms. Evil exists and we should pay attention — even at Christmas:))

FULLNESS: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son …” Other versions say “at the right time”. In a culture that feeds on instant everything, it becomes increasingly challenging to practice the virtue of waiting. We want to fix or control our environments instead of waiting for God’s perfect plan. The same God who orchestrated His Son’s birth is the same God who is orchestrating the details of our lives according to His perfect plan, in the fullness of His time, to fulfill His purpose:))

GIVING.  In life, there are basically 2 kinds of people: Givers & Takers. Oh you can give money, even time, or resources, and still be a taker. Takers are focused on themselves, and motivated by what will benefit them. Givers are motivated by what will benefit others. It’s easy to notice people with a true giving spirit because this quality is reflected in everything that defines their lives. Giving should be a natural overflow of a life that springs forth from the Giver of all good things:)

HEALER is one of my favorite names of Jesus. “The world that Jesus came to was a deeply disturbed world. People faced the complexities of life with difficulty. They broke under the strain; they sought ways to escape the problems that perplexed them.” ~~ Billy Graham, “This Christmas Night”. Jesus came to heal anything in our lives that needs healing so that we could be whole. “The Sovereign Lord has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted … “. Is. 61. Let Jesus be your Healer this Christmas and always:))

INTENTIONAL & IMPORTANT: 2 Advent words today! Let’s face it — Christmas is a time where we all struggle with being swallowed up in so much activity, we can sacrifice the most important things and moments for the non-essential ones. As moms and family managers, we are the ones who must choose before the season even starts what will demand our energy, time, and attention. Our children will not so much remember the trappings of Christmas, as much as the moments that are special, so we must decide what we treasure to be important as a family and be intentional about guarding our family treasure:))

JOHN the Baptist, is today’s Advent word. “John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God. He will go ahead of the Lord … and because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord.” ~~ Luke 1:16-17. As we get ready for Christmas, the coming of Christ, is we truly celebrate His birth, let us live like John — pointing people toward Jesus:))

KNEES.  We hear this word in one of our all-time favorite Christmas hymns, O Holy Night: “Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel chorus, oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born.” Step back in time, and imagine really hearing the angel chorus … wouldn’t we all, like the shepherds, be a bit more amazed and in awe than we typically are 2,000 years later? Let the awe of Christ’s coming to earth wash over us anew and bring us to our knees in divine amazement every day this Christmas season!

LOVE. “This is love — not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His only Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” While putting our Advent ornaments in order, I put the cross before anything. I want it to be a reminder of why Jesus came to earth in the first place — he was sent on a mission … a mission of love that transcends any notion we could ever comprehend. And in the same way, we love because He first loved us. Let love abound this Christmas!!

MYSTERY. “But you don’t have to be an angel to sing harmony, you don’t have to be a child to love the mystery. And you don’t have to be a wise man on bended knee. The heart of this Christmas is in you and me.” ~~ Amy Grant’s, The Night Before Christmas. I love these words — there is something mystical about Christmas — as a child, it was waiting and listening for Santa and then waking up to see that favorite doll under the tree!! As an adult, it’s pondering the deeper things, but enjoying the magical, mystical moments and the awe of God coming near:))

NIGHT is today’s Advent word. “That night … some shepherds near Bethlehem were guarding their sheep. All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed around them.” And we know the wise men followed a star placed in the night sky by God, to find the Christ Child. Sometimes, God’s glory shines brightest against the backdrop of our darkest night. God appears to those who are seeking Him — and we reflect His glory to a dark world who desperately needs His light. Shine in the night this Christmas!!

OBEY. Recently, I was struck by the thought that every character in the Christmas story did exactly what God told them to do. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men — all obeyed without questioning or blowing it off. And they didn’t wait until it was convenient or “made sense”. Good to be reminded this Christmas of the blessing that comes with obedience!!

PROMISE.  A favorite aspect of God’s character I’ve learned is that He is true to His promises. The biggest promise He made was to send a Messiah, a Savior. In Christ, we find the promise of hope, light, love, and life — forever. “Christ drew a rainbow of hope around the shoulders of men and women and gave them something to live for. If Christ had not come, this world would indeed be a hopeless world.” ~~ Billy Graham. Looking for someone who will keep their promises? Look no further than the manger:))

QUICK.  The bible says we should be “quick to hear”. I think Mary was quick to hear God’s word spoken to her from the angel. Because of this she didn’t miss the blessing. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” I believe Mary walked so closely with God, that she recognized and was looking for what was from Him. Her response indicates her readiness to believe and follow His promise. She didn’t hesitate. Be quick to hear and don’t miss the blessing!

REFLECTION is today’s Advent word. I love that Mary ‘pondered’ these things in her heart. “the best Christmas moments are the quiet ones, and the best reflection of Christmas takes place in the mirror of our own hearts.” ~~ David Jeremiah, The 12 Ways of Christmas. The Psalmist says, “Reflect in your heart and be still … I will reflect on all You have done and meditate on Your actions … I reflect on the work of Your hands.” Psalm 4. Take some time to be still and reflect on the ageless wonders of Christmas:))

SHINE! The wise men followed the shining star, the angels appeared in shining wonder — everything seems to sparkle and shine at Christmas! Jesus bears the ultimate shine: “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God … When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” Real shine comes from inside our hearts — hearts that are pure before our Father, bearing His image and reflecting His glory!!

TIME. A precious commodity. Time passes, it creeps, it fleets, depending on the circumstances of where we find ourselves on life’s journey. Time is divided into minutes, hours, days, months, years, but to God a day is as a thousand years. “It was not suddenly and unannounced that Jesus came into the world. He came into a world that had been prepared for him. The whole Old Testament is the story of a special preparation … Only when all was ready, only in the fullness of his time, did Jesus come.” When we live our lives through God’s hourglass, we come to understand His perfect timing in all things:))

ULTIMATE: “last; final; beyond which no other exists or is possible; maximum; the best achievable or imaginable; a final fact or principle.” If you’re searching for the ultimate gift, His name is Jesus and He came … for you. If you were the only person on the earth, He would have been born, just for you. He paid the ultimate price so we could have the ultimate life. That’s because He came with ultimate love, bringing ultimate peace. Everything about Jesus is ultimate:)) Have an ultimate Christmas!

VIBRANT is today’s Advent word. When I read the words of Mary’s song in Luke 1, a word that comes to mind is vibrant! “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of his servant … He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name!” Mary had received the favor of God and with her simple, uncomplicated faith, she praised Him for who He is. Her joy emanated from within, and poured out in a vibrant life. A vibrant faith resonates a joy that cannot be contained!

YULE! A bit of historical trivia: Yule was first a pagan winter festival to honor the gods. The first Yule feast is mentioned in 840. King Haakon I of Norway is credited with the Christianization of Norway, as well as rescheduling the date of Yule to coincide with Christian celebrations held at the time. Haakon planned that when he had solidly established himself and held power over the whole country, he would then “have the gospel preached.” The result of this was that his popularity caused many to allow themselves to be baptized. So there ya go — Merry Yuletide!!

ZERO days left! Christmas is here! ZERO things we can do to obtain the greatest gift of all, except to believe in the baby born to be King and receive the gift of real, abundant life. “Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth … glory to the newborn King!” Salvation is here! Let’s live like we believe it, bringing life and light to all:)) Merry Christmas!