Saturday, November 26, 2011

Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas

Keeping Christ in Christmas when you have accepted Christ as your Savior is more about your daily living than what you say; ie. “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.

Revealing the character, love and spirit of Christ that dwells within us is what we should focus on each and every day, not just at Christmas time. During the holiday season, we can get caught up with the rest of the world in “buying”. I know I do. I am from one of those extremely blessed families that had a Mom who went ABOVE AND BEYOND at Christmas time. My mom was a single mom, working multiple jobs to provide for us. We went without a lot of things throughout the year, she more than made up for that at Christmas time.

When I started having children, I carried on this tradition. I tend to go a little overboard with the gift giving. Until this year that is. This year marks a new year for us—as we have very little money and refuse to put bills aside or rack up debt buying gifts we truly cannot afford. I’ve been forced to come up with ideas that center on the love of Christ—not the amount of presents you have. It’s been a struggle within, but it’s opened me up to just how selfish we are during this time of year!

I think for so many of us we think if we overload our children with gifts it shows them how special they are, how much we love them. {This may just be me}

The truth is, we are special, but we are most special to the God who created us. In our fleshly state, we are not so great. We sin, with our every breath. We take our lives for granted. And our children, they are no exception. When we shower them with gifts, what lesson are we teaching?

I want my children to know that God blesses, abundantly, but it is not necessarily always with monetary gifts. He blesses us with love, with life, with shelter and with food. I wish I could buy them everything under the sun, but I cannot. I don’t want them to have a distorted view on what we can afford.

Now, please don’t get me wrong—I am in no way saying that if you have decided to shower your sweet little ones with gifts that you are a bad parent or somehow don’t love Christ. The Holy Spirit that lives within you will guide you to what is best for your family. I am however going to give you some ideas on keeping Christ as the core of this season—keeping Him truly in Christmas.

{Not just saying that Christ was born, but truly giving your family a foundation for the season}

1.      Give God one very special gift from you to Him:
        This should be a personal gift that no one else knows about—a sacrifice from you to Him. King David in 2 Samuel 24 said that he would not offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. A sacrifice is something we are giving up, something that is hard and allows His strength to endure within us.
        Perhaps your gift is to commit more time personally with Him daily.
        Perhaps it is to have a stronger prayer life.
        Forgive someone you have been harboring ill feelings towards.  
        Attend a Bible Study you have been struggling to make time for.
        Whatever the case may be, commit yourself to following through with your gift.
2.   Set aside special time to read the Christmas story:
        Luke 1:5-56 through 2:1-20
        Memorize Christmas Scripture
        {I will have a devotional on the Christmas story that you can read to your children as well as Christmas Scripture posted throughout the month}
3.  Set up a Nativity scene:
        If you do not have a Nativity Scene, perhaps you could make one. I will post a link to related crafts shortly. But this is an excellent reminder each day for you and your children that this is not about Santa Clause and the abundant gifts he will magically bring, it is about the birth of the Messiah.
4. Plan a good will project:
        Visit a nursing home
        Visit a shelter
        Have you children give toys away that they do not play anymore to needy children in your area
        Adopt a child or an entire family
5.  Go Christmas caroling:
        My church does this every year and it is such a wonderful time and fills not only the people you are ministering to, but your soul as well!
        Visit a local children’s hospital or nursing home
        Memorize classic Christmas songs and sing your little hearts out J
6. Give a surprise gift of service to family members:
        “more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35
        Demonstrate Christ-like love and service by cleaning out a closet for your grandmother, running an errand for your brother or sister, give your spouse a neck massage.
        Make your gift personal and watch as the blessings multiply.
7.  Set aside a time for a family devotion on Christmas Eve &/or Christmas morning:
        Before the hub bub of gift destruction occurs, take a few minutes as a family to gather in prayer and thank God for His many blessings in your life.
        I will post some Christmas poems and prayers along with devotional options through the month.
8. Attend a Christmas church service as a family:
        Take your children to a service on Christmas Eve.
        Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, if you are not planning on going to a service that morning, think a little about going. It wouldn’t be hard to open gifts and then head out as a family to worship with Savior that was born on that special day!
        If you are alone on Christmas, invite a friend or neighbor to attend with you.
9. Send out Christmas cards that have a spiritual message:
        This is an easy way to express to family and friends what your faith is during this Christmas season.
        If you already have the cards printed up and ready for shipping, include a small scripture on the envelope or print out little tags to go along with.
10. And this is my very favorite idea: write a letter to a missionary:
        If you are blessed to have a missionary family in your church, write them a letter thanking them for what they do for the kingdom. If you do not know anyone personally, send it to a local church and have them send it to one they may be affiliated with. There is nothing like this priceless gift for many of those families that are sacrificing so much for the kingdom of God. 


stephanie said...

this is such a great blog! first time here and i love your encouraging posts!

Kelly said...

this list is perfect and i agree. we have to keep christ in CHRISTmas!