Join me each week on our way to the manger, as I recap my daily posts highlighting the characters of Christmas!  We will peer a little deeper into the people who have an impact on the Christmas celebration. I will post a new character every day, so join me backstage for a closer look!

Lights up on Eden! First character in the countdown is Eve. Eve had the perfect life, yet was tricked into thinking it wasn’t enough. Her choice set in motion the separation of man from God. But God so loved … and He had a plan:). This Christmas, let God be your “enough”!

Eve. Adam. Man’s fall. Enter … God — who’s been there all along. The stage is set for the Author himself to write the Greatest Story ever told. Found in a book we know as the Bible. Along with the Elf/Shelf craze, Santa & reindeer, and all our favorite holiday movies, make sure God doesn’t get pushed aside — weave His story in our lives every day this Christmas:)

Abraham is today’s character. Abraham believed God. God promised He would make Abraham into a great nation, that his name would be great and he would be a blessing. Abraham also obeyed God. And God kept his covenant with Abraham, ultimately fulfilled in Christ. “God’s purpose in blessing one is to bless many.” We are called to be a blessing! This Christmas, use the blessings God gives to bless others:)

Today’s character in our Christmas countdown is a a little different. It’s a young man named LJ Brooks – a senior Christian Studies major at OBU who died a few days ago. Here is a quote from a message he shared at Refuge last spring. “When we don’t know fully who God is, we can give our lives to futile things because we don’t realize His greatness and His importance.” Avoid filling our lives with futile things this Christmas. I don’t know why LJ died, but I know why he lived … to bring God fame:)

Rahab – a woman who is an unlikely character in the Christmas countdown. A pagan woman, touched by a divine God with divine grace. She believed in the great God she had heard about and demonstrated her faith with a scarlet cord. And guess what? She is in the divine lineage of that manger baby. Scarlet cords at Christmas can remind us of Rahab’s faith:)

Ruth lost it all, left it all, found it all and left a legacy. I love the story of Ruth. Her humility and strength, her obedience and grace embody the kind of follower God is looking for. Another woman in the lineage of Christ who found God’s favor, not because of her importance, but because of her surrender. She impacted the history of mankind. This Christmas, choose humility, surrender, and legacy over pride, control, and temporal:)

David — the Shepherd King who occupied an earthly throne, points us to the King of Kings, born in the city of David. “David reminds us that everything we can offer God comes first from His own hand. He told us to delight in Him.” ~~ Beth Moore. Find time to delight in God this Christmas!

Isaiah is the prophet who foretold more than any other, the coming of Christ. “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Is. 9) I wonder if the people paid any attention to what Isaiah had to say? Do we? The lights of Christmas can remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World, and we should be reflectors of His light in a dark world!

Micah-another prophet who foretold the relevance of the little town where Christ was born: “The LORD says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel … and he will bring peace.” (Micah 5:2,5) “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”:)

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas … !! A real man, born more than 1600 years ago in what we know today as Turkey. He used the money left to him by his parents to help the poor, needy, hungry and sick. And he did it secretly, so that only God would know. He became an orthodox priest in a time when Christians were persecuted for their faith. He was a generous man because he loved Christ more than anything else and wanted to serve Him by helping others. Tell his story to your children … so they will know what’s really behind the tradition of our Santa Clause!

Gabriel, “hero of God”, is our character today. We find Gabriel appearing to Daniel, Zacharias, and Mary. Each time, he was standing the presence of God, bringing an important message and insight, and each time, that person was doing something which obviously pleased God. Angels … not frail, cherubic wimps, but strong, mighty, holy messengers!!

Zechariah — upon hearing the news from an ANGEL! that God had heard his prayer and that Elizabeth would have a son in her old age, did not believe the message. You’d think he’d remember ummmm, Abraham? Yet we do the same thing, and we have the whole bible as a reference. Zechariah had a major part in the story, and thankfully, God kept His promise … and He does the same for us. Don’t miss your part in the story–believe God!!

Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, is a woman who exhibits qualities for us to model. She was always talking about the good things God had done, she obviously hoped in His promise to her, she was abounding in joy, and spoke blessing over Mary’s life. And she didn’t miss the great moments God scripted for her life … Don’t miss God moments this Christmas!

“My soul magnifies the Lord … For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.” The words of Mary in Luke 1. We have glamorized the actual circumstances in which Mary uttered these words. She most likely felt isolated, misjudged and forsaken by people, yet her words reveal what was in her spirit: single-minded and wholehearted devotion to God, purity of motive and heart. And in her humility, she was chosen for her purity and simplicity — Ponder upon that this Christmas:)

Joseph, Jesus’ father, is a quiet character. He is in the royal lineage of David, and no doubt, was well-versed in the prophecy of the coming Messiah. Every time an angel brought instructions from God, Joseph immediately followed them. He was ready to act — and he protected, provided for, and prepared his child, the Son of God, for his ultimate position as Savior of the world:)

Caesar Augustus, the first emperor in the ancient Roman Empire, issued an order which fulfilled a biblical prophecy made 600 years before he was born — he ordered a census taken of the entire Roman world, possibly for tax purposes. Though he worshiped pagan gods, his government rule figured into God’s divine plan. Divine transcends all other powers:).

John the Baptist – a miracle baby born for a specific time and purpose. “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. John grew up and became strong in spirit.” (Luke 1:76, 78-80 NLT). We should claim our children for good things and set out to fulfill God’s call on their lives:)

We often picture a lone pregnant woman on a donkey, being led by a man, on a trip that would take about 3 days. But in reality the entire Roman world is on their way to their hometowns to register, so can you imagine the crowds, the traffic, the families, all the PEOPLE? The daily rhythm of life was interrupted and many were traveling somewhere. I imagine Mary and Joseph interacted with several others during their journey – I wonder if Mary’s joy and radiance was evident? If she told them she was carrying a baby who would change the world? Spread radiance, joy, and hope this Christmas!

So the Innkeeper … wonder what went through his mind when the sky filled with bright lights and a host of angels singing? Right in his backyard!! Did he go check it out? Did he wonder about the couple he sent to the stable? At least he offered them something … though not his best. The Son of God deserves our best this Christmas:)

Today it’s all about the Shepherds. “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2:17, 20). They TOLD people. They didn’t keep all that they saw God do to themselves. Let’s be like the shepherds – let’s talk to people about who God is and what He’s done in our lives:)

Herod, full of darkness, wanted to eradicate Jesus, the baby king, full of light. He slaughtered thousands of baby boys in hopes one of these innocent children was the Christ child. Darkness still permeates our world — what do we do with such evil? Be aware, pay attention, shine brightly, and overcome evil with good:)

The Wise Men give us a timely example of what it means to live with courage and righteousness. They listened to God, and followed the light, placed in the heavens by the hand of the Heavenly Father. By doing so, they preserved and protected the one who came to earth to give us Light, so that we too can then reflect His light into this world, pointing others to Him:)

JESUS. At Christmas, we picture him as a tiny sleeping baby. He lived a sinless life among us, died a cruel death and rose again. But He’s coming back – this time as our Warrior King! “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns … On his robe was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”(Revelation 19:11, 12, 16 NLT)

Every great love story has a central figure who is the object of another’s affection. In God’s story, he has set His affection on us — Mankind — both collectively and individually. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only son … “. He gave the greatest gift of all with the greatest love of all. He is still writing His story through us when we share His love and shine His light!