Meditation (3-5 Minutes) Begin by being still before God. Read Romans 8:37-39 and meditate on the words.
Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1) Be still and know he is God.
2) In all things, we can be conquerors through him who loves us. That includes anything you are struggling with this Christmas! Rejoice.
3) Death cannot separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. No matter who you are missing this Christmas season, you can still experience the love of Jesus.
4) Life cannot separate us from the love of Jesus. No matter what your circumstances are this Christmas, you can still experience the love of Jesus.
5) Things present or things to come cannot separate us from the love of Jesus. Is your life uncertain? You can still experience the love of Jesus this Christmas.
6) No powers can separate us from the love of Jesus. Has an authority caused you pain? They cannot take away the love of Jesus this Christmas.
7) Even angels cannot separate you from the love of Jesus Christ. Nothing created has power to separate you from Jesus unless you allow it. Take captive your thoughts. Claim that promise of love this Christmas. The Christmas Spirit is waiting for you.
Prayer (5-10 Minutes)
1) Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.
2) Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1): a) This Christmas, is it your time to grieve? Ask God for comfort. b) Are you missing someone? Ask God to help you create new memories for Christmas. c) Are you unsure if your deceased loved one is spending his or her eternity with God? Ask God for acceptance and peace. d) Appendix 1: Pray and update.
3) Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2): a) Praise God that we can do all things through him. b) Have people you love gone to an eternal home with God? Rejoice and be glad for them. c) In Appendix 2, write the names of loved ones in heaven.
4) Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3): a) If you are grieving, offer him your heart to heal. b) Offer him your decision to count your blessings this Christmas. c) Offer him your determination to stay out of the pit of despair. d) Offer him your willingness to accept your assigned “Seasons of Grief.” e) Appendix 3: Pray and update.
5) Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out.
6) Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)
Christmas is a time for memories. We find ourselves remembering beloved people that are no longer with us. Grief, anger, loneliness, and self-pity often accompany those memories. If we are not careful, the happiness from our past can ruin our present.
For example, I loved going to my grandparents for Christmas. They lived in Georgia. The room I slept in was freezing. It was part of the charm. I sunk into the soft mattress under mounds of soft homemade quilts and waited for Santa. I remember the smell of fresh pine and my grandmother’s biscuits. When I sing Christmas Carols, I remember standing around the piano, singing with them. At Christmas, I find myself mentally walking through each room in their home. How I loved that place and those people. The memories are bitter sweet but I would not trade them for anything.
I remember my first Christmas with my late adopted son David. He was only seven. He had never had a Christmas before. He did not understand the living room full of presents. He never lost his delight of Christmas. As I put his handmade ornaments on my tree, I ache with longing to see him again. I surrender to the sad and sweet memories. Each year, the pain lessons and the joy increases.
The remembered happiness from past Christmases threatens the happiness of our present Christmas. Christmas is a time to remember and occasionally to grieve. The memories are both wonderful and torturous.
Read John 16:22. This Christmas, if you are missing someone, it is difficult. Everyone has a turn at grief. Now may be the time for your grief. What promise do you read in this scripture? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Psalms 30:3. Let the Lord heal you. The Lord has chosen to keep you alive. Write the prayer in Psalms 30:3 in your journal. Pray it repeatedly. The Lord can bring your soul up from the grave.
Read 1 Peter 4:12. Self-pity is a trap of Satan’s. If you want to have the Christmas Spirit, you cannot give in to self-pity. What are the instructions in the scripture? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read John 11:32-36. Notice the demonstrations of grief by Mary and Jesus. Give grief its season during Christmas, if appropriate. Take the time to weep if necessary. The memories of Christmas are part of the healing process. Look at pictures and reminisce. Do not feel guilty for your grief. Jesus knew everything and yet he wept. Why do you think that was? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Joel 1:14. If the grief is overwhelming, what does the scripture tell us to do? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Psalms 116:15. As you grieve, never lose your eternal perspective. What is God’s perspective of death? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Psalms 121:12. Satan wants our grief to consume us and take away the joy of the season. Stomp your foot at him and say no! Contain your grief. After you look at pictures and cry, look up! Where does our help come from? Claim that promise and have an abundant Christmas season. (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Galatians 6:2-3. Make new memories with others this Christmas. Let them carry your burdens by allowing them to love you. What do you think it means, “In this way you will fulfill the law of Christ?” (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Colossians 3:23. Throw yourself into having a wonderful Christmas. For whom are you doing it? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Philippians 4:13. Impossible, you cry. You do not understand who and/or what I have lost. Think again. What does the scripture promise? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Colossians 3:15. This Christmas, be thankful, no matter what. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. God calls us to peace. Accept the call.
The Glad Game
By the time I met Vivian, she was a widow. She is beautiful and dresses accordingly. I love it when she wears red. She always has something positive to say. When I walk up to her at church she hugs me, tells me she loves me, and brags about my latest accomplishment. She signs everything “Love, Love, Love.”
Vivian heads up hospitality for our church. She stands at the front desk on Sunday greeting visitors and members. “Welcome,” she says with a smile. “I am so glad you came to Southside Baptist Church today.” No one could doubt her sincerity.
She was my first friend at Southside Baptist Church. At that time, she was director of the Sunday School department for my age group. When I visited that first Sunday, I explained, “We love our church but have moved to this side of town. I’m not sure what God wants us to do.”
“You belong at Southside,” she said without hesitation. She was not taking no for an answer. Vivian has the courage of her convictions and usually gets her way. She was right. We belonged at Southside.
Vivian is a faithful friend. She sat with me while my daughter Kelley was having a serious medical procedure. “She will be fine,” she insisted. She was right. Vivian brought food when my grandmother died. In 1989, I stood in the hospital waiting room hearing that my husband’s grandmother had terminal cancer. This was our third terminal illness in under a year. I knew that I was going to be responsible for much of the care for her. I was tired and grieving two other recent deaths. I was in my last semester of getting my MBA. I worked full time and had young children. I did not think I could cope with another thing. I called Vivian crying and said, “I cannot go through something else.”
She quickly snapped, “Yes you can. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” As she said it, I felt my back straighten. Christ did give the strength to get through that difficult time. I took care of Bob’s grandmother as needed. I made straight A’s in school. Somehow, I kept my job. I managed to help my children and husband deal with their grief. Only Christ could have made all of that possible.
I asked Vivian how she felt about Christmas. “I love Christmas,” Vivian said. “I wear red for the entire month.” She is active in our Women’s Missions Union. She helps make sure our church takes care of missionaries at Christmas. She goes to every service the church offers.
You may be surprised that Vivian loves Christmas when you hear her story. She is a living example that one can really do all things through Christ. “I believe it is important for one to remain happy while here on earth. I refuse to let the circumstances of my life get me down,” she said.
Vivian loved one man for her entire life. That beloved husband died suddenly one Christmas morning. “I had to plan my husband’s funeral while the gifts he bought me were still under the tree. I do not remember much about that morning. My pastor left his children’s home to drive back to Jacksonville to be with me. He gave up his Christmas. Going back into church was hard. For years, we had sat together in the same place every Sunday. We raised our two daughters and a son in Southside Baptist Church.”
“The memories were so strong. How could you go back?” I asked.
She looked startled by the question. She said, “The church is my home. You cannot stop going to church. I could not make myself sit in our place. In the beginning, I sat in the back and left quickly afterward. I made myself go every Sunday. Eventually, I began to love church again.”
Vivian has other difficulties to grieve at Christmas. Her friends are beginning their journey to eternity. She has to face Christmas without them. Her best friend was in a nursing home and no longer knew who she was. While dealing with that, I watched her go through an entire Christmas season with her son’s health declining rapidly. She was exhausted from caring for him but she never lost her Christmas Spirit. He died soon after Christmas.
I love the movie, “Pollyanna.” In this movie, Pollyanna had just lost her parents. She had to live with an aunt that she had never met. Pollyanna’s positive attitude helped an entire town to learn to count their blessings. She introduced the town to “The Glad Passages” in the Bible. Pollyanna says there are over 800 “Glad Passages” in the Bible. There is a beautiful line in that movie where the preacher says, “If God said to be glad over 800 times, we should probably listen to Him.”
In one particularly moving scene, Pollyanna describes “The Glad Game.” She had wanted a doll for Christmas. Her parents were missionaries and very poor. Her father wrote to the missionary board about his daughter’s request. There was a mix up. She got crutches instead. She was disappointed. That was when her father invented “The Glad Game.” “The Glad Game” is a game where you find something to be glad about, no matter what happens. Pollyanna decided to be “glad” that she did not need the crutches.
Vivian plays “The Glad Game.” If you ask about Christmas, she beams. “I love Christmas. I refuse to associate Christmas with anything other than the love of Christ and my blessings. God has blessed me so much.”
“Is Christmas harder for you because you husband died on Christmas?” I asked.
Her answer: “Anyone who has lost someone precious certainly misses him or her on Christmas. I don’t believe this day is any harder for me than anyone else. I refuse to feel sorry for myself. I have too many blessings. I cannot wait to visit my daughters and grandchildren on Christmas. I love my family. I love my church.” When you ask about her son, she will quickly tell you, “I am grateful for a faithful daughter-in-law who took such good care of him while he was sick.”
Vivian ended her Christmas story with, “My husband had been so sick before his death. I had a dream about him shortly after he died. In the dream, he was healthy and happy again. He was at a carnival, eating ice cream. I knew God was telling me how much better off he was. I rejoice in his happiness.”
This Christmas, be grateful for the memories of Christmas Past. Do not let those memories steal Christmas Present. Like Vivian, play the “Glad Game.” Agree with Vivian and be happy while you are on this earth. Happiness is a decision. Abraham Lincoln said most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be. This Christmas, be happy.
Application (5-10 Minutes)
1) Making It Personal a) Play the “Glad Game.” i) In your journal, list: (1) People you remember and miss. (2) Anything this is causing you pain or grief. ii) Write a reason to be glad about each item listed. b) Are you grieving this Christmas? i) Take time to grieve. (1) Allow no more than 1 hour each day. (2) Look at pictures. (3) Watch home videos. (4) Talk about the person. (5) Cry if it helps. ii) Arise from your grief and have an abundant Christmas. (1) Let others know that you are containing your grief to a specific time. Ask them not to talk about it other times. (2) Take your thoughts captive and focus on what you have instead of what you lost. (3) Determine to make new happy memories this Christmas.
2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17) a) As you go through your day, play “The Glad Game.” i) When something upsets you, look for something to be glad about. ii) When something goes right, rejoice and be glad. b) When you remember someone you lost: i) If appropriate, rejoice that they are with God. ii) Think of one of your blessings.
3) Ending The Day a) Take a moment to remember “Christmas Past.” b) Praise God for your memories. c) Praise God for the new memories he will give you this Christmas. d) If you spent today, “In the pit of despair,” confess and ask for help.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to
www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.
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