Begin by being still before God. Read Luke 2:14 and meditate on the words.
Luke 2:14 (NIV) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
1) Be still and know he is God. a) Give Glory to God in the highest.
b) Sing the Christmas Carol “Angels We Have Heard On High.”
c) Think about peace on earth. What does it means to you personally?
d) Glory in the fact that God’s favor rests on 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) Ask God for peace: i) As you worship him today and tomorrow. ii) As you assess your Christmas celebrations. iii) To accept the things you cannot change. b) Ask God for the courage to change the things you can. i) Do your Christmas celebrations or traditions need to change? ii) Does your attitude need to change? c) Ask God for wisdom: i) To recognize his hand in Christmas. ii) To know what to change and what to accept about Christmas celebrations. d) To recognize the Christmas gifts he is sending you.
3) Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2): a) Turn to Appendix 2. Thank God: i) For Christmas Spirit. ii) For sending his son. iii) For the personalized Christmas Gift he is going to send you. iv) That he is going to make your future Christmas celebrations even more meaningful.
4) Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3): a) Wish the Christ Child a Merry Christmas. b) Ask him if there is anything else he wants from you this Christmas. c) Turn to Appendix 3 one more time. i) Is there anything you need to do? ii) Offer these gifts to him in worship.
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)
As we listen to Christmas carols about Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year, we sigh at our inadequacy. We see pictures of the Rockwell Christmas and watch television shows like The Waltons. We wonder if this kind of Christmas is possible.
All things are possible through Christ. Do you want an abundant Christmas, filled with the Spirit of Christmas? Knowing what to do is simple. Unfortunately, doing it is hard. The simple part is looking at the scripture and learning what to do. The difficult part is obeying the scripture. It takes confession and humility. It may mean changing long time traditions. It probably means changing attitudes. In some cases, it can even mean changing where we spend Christmas. Christ never promised us that following him would be easy. Below is a list of “Ten Biblical Christmas Tips” that can enhance our Christmas celebrations.
Tip One Love: God and Others
Read Mark 12:29-31. What is the most important commandment at Christmas and always? (Write your answer in your journal.)
What is the second most important commandment? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Love God with your entire heart, soul, mind and strength. Let him heal and cleanse your heart so it is ready for Christmas. He speaks to our souls and tells us how to worship him at Christmas. We train our minds by letting him speak through the scriptures. We depend on his strength to do the tasks necessary for a meaningful Christmas celebration.
We are to love others. That means selfishness is out of the question at Christmas. It really is better to give than to receive. Yes, take care of yourself. Just take care of others, equally. Note that this scripture does not say to love others more than we love ourselves. How are we supposed to love others? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Two: Remember Christ
Read Matthew 2:2. Seek Christ out. Pay homage to him. Make him the center of all celebrations. This Christmas, as you go through each of your Christmas celebrations, ask the same question as the Wise Men. What was that question? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Deuteronomy 4:9. The season is busy and it is easy to forget the reason for season. Do not let the knowledge of Jesus slip from your heart. Parents and grandparents, you will probably be with your family. We have a sacred assignment at Christmas. What are we supposed to do with the knowledge of Christ? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Three: Worship God
Read Exodus 34:14. Worship in church. Attend special Christmas musical presentations and worship. Bow down and worship as you give Christmas gifts. Worship Christ in the privacy of your home. How does God feel when we forget to worship him? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Four: Do Not Steal
Read Mark 10:19. When we put Christmas on credit, we are stealing from our future. The gifts we give are for the Christ Child. Our recipients only receive them on behalf of him. When we make them anything else, we also steal.
Tip Five: Do Not Judge How Others Celebrate Christmas
Read Matthew 7:5. Disapproving of how friends and family are spending Christmas will only ruin your holidays. I will make a slight amendment to this tip. If you and your Christmas celebrations are perfect, you can judge. What do we have to do before we can see the mistakes of others clearly? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Six: Do not Overeat
Read Proverbs 23:1-2. In fact, do not overdo anything this Christmas. Make a decision to feel the best you can. You probably think I have gone too far. After all, doesn’t everyone overeat on Christmas? Read the scripture carefully. Gluttonous celebrations are a serious offense. What are we supposed to do if we “are given to gluttony?” (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Seven: Watch What You Say
Read James 3:5-6. Use self-control regardless of what others say or do to you. Do not start a forest fire with the spark of your tongue. What does this scripture call our tongue? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Eight: Remember to Pray
Read Ephesians 6:18. How are we to pray? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:17. How often are we to pray? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Nine: Confess As Necessary
Read Psalms 32:5. Christmas is a lot of pressure. Exhaustion causes grumpiness. Everyone makes mistakes. Confess and apologize quickly. What is God’s attitude about confessed mistakes? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Tip Ten: Have True Godly Fellowship With One Another
Read 1 John 1:7. What is the secret of true fellowship? (Write your answer in your journal.)
Read Acts 2:42. To what are we supposed to be devoted? (Write your answer in your journal.)
True Confessions: A Walton Christmas
All definitions of the word tradition include passing something from generation to generation. Christmas celebrations do not become a tradition until the next generation repeats it. Some of our celebrations are worth repeating and turning into a tradition. Others are not. Over 20 years ago, I got honest about my Christmas celebrations. They were mostly about work and rewards. The work included buying gifts, cooking, wrapping, putting up decorations, cleaning house, and performing in Christmas musical productions. The rewards were eating and receiving gifts. Trust me when I tell you the “rewards” did not equal the “work.” I decided to set my standards higher.
When I saw pictures of a “Norman Rockwell Christmas,” I was not sure my Christmas celebrations had any similarity. Yes – I knew that Jesus was the reason for the season. I went to Sunday School and Church. We studied the Christmas Story. Unfortunately, the Christmas Story had little to do with my holiday preparations.
That particular Christmas, I had 13 Christmas musical performances of some kind. All of them included the word Jesus. I do not remember any of them involving my personal worship. I remember practicing, nerves, and frustrations with those who had not practiced. I noticed every mistake and none of the beauty.
I had put my Christmas gifts on credit. There is freedom in using a credit card with a high limit. When you have not budgeted ahead and are using credit, it is easier to buy anything you want. The theory is, “If you cannot afford it anyway, you might as well ‘go for broke.’” I certainly was “broke” after Christmas.
Food was everywhere. I failed miserably at avoiding foods that were not good for me. In fact, much of Christmas that year involved the sin of gluttony.
Opening gifts could have been the highlight of Christmas Day. Instead, I was too stuffed to enjoy it. The gifts I had gone into debt for were opened in under 10 minutes. Some of them broke before the day was over. I seriously suspected that most of the people that bought for me, had only bought what they could afford. I felt cheated.
Others were as tense as I. A family member spoke sharply and hurt my feelings. I went home and cried myself to sleep. After Christmas, I realized that there simply had to be a better way. I took a personal inventory of my Christmas and myself.
I realized that my motives for buying gifts included trying to win or keep people’s love and affection. Instead of loving my neighbor as myself, I was trying to make sure my neighbor loved me. A modern term for that is “people pleasing.” I realized that it is a form of stealing to purchase gifts that I could not afford. I was stealing from my future income. I certainly was not thinking of Christmas gifts as gift to the Christ Child.
I felt like a hypocrite. I used the word Jesus in my musical productions but had failed to worship. I failed to demonstrate the love of Jesus to those I was leading in worship. I was too exhausted to enjoy the worship services I did attend.
Thinking about the food was the worst. I thought the days of letting food be a god were behind me. Instead, I let overeating steal Christmas from me. I was too sluggish from overeating to experience the joy of the day. For me, overeating is truly like “putting a knife to my throat.”
I also realized with horror that I had not read the Christmas story to my children. They heard it in church but not in our home.
I thought about all the times I had snapped at people during the holidays. I probably deserved having my feelings hurt on Christmas day. I wondered how many “forest fires” I had started with my unruly tongue.
I fell to my knees and asked God to help me do better. God’s answer was to send a re-run of the Waltons. The Waltons was television show about a relatively happy family and Godly family. I decided to give up on a Norman Rockwell Christmas and try having a Walton Christmas.
The Walton family went to the woods to cut down a tree. That was going too far. I decided that we could at least make a “celebration” out of buying the tree. From that day forward, Bob and the kids went together to get the Christmas tree. On the Waltons, the husband and the children brought the tree home to present to “Mother.” Mother smiled and said, “It is the best tree ever.” Every year afterwards, my family heard the words, “It is the best tree ever.”
The Waltons made a party out of decorating the tree. What a wonderful idea. We started having a party. We decorated the tree together. We played Christmas music. We opened every ornament and discussed the memories. We videotaped our party. At the end, we drank hot chocolate and watched the video. Sometimes we watched videos of past years. The “work” of decorating the Christmas tree suddenly had a purpose of family bonding.
I was being compulsive about my musical productions at Christmas. After praying, I dropped most of them. The ones I participate in, I throw my entire heart into. I pray about them. I prepare. Now I have time to watch other people’s musical productions at Christmas.
The next Christmas was when I realized that if I focus on Christ at Christmas, he gives me a customized Christmas gift. He may have all along but I did not notice. The Christmas after my “revelation,” Chris got a Bible. We read the Christmas story together from his new Bible. He accepted Christ on Christmas Eve. What a gift! Three years later, my daughter accepted Christ on Christmas Eve, reading from her first Bible. God has sent me a special gift each year. I do not have room to write them all.
I decided that I wanted my children to remember spending a day of cooking with their mother. On Christmas Eve, the children and I began experimenting. The Christmas Carols played all day. The first year, the dressing was green. What can I say? I am not a cook. It was fun to make but we have not repeated the recipe. We have spent every Christmas Eve since, cooking to carols.
We added some entertainment to our Christmas Eve. We ate, sang carols, and had a Christmas recital. We began taking a trip out to look at lights. We even started having a worship service in our home. Thanks to one of Kelley’s sweet Sunday School teachers, we have a process to use. We light a candle and turn off the lights. We read the Christmas Story by candlelight. Everyone takes a turn sharing about the year and what they are grateful for. Then, everyone prays. We top the evening off by reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas…”
I began giving gifts that I could afford. The family still loves me. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I should be praying about the gifts I was giving. Since the gifts are really to the Christ Child it dawned on me I should ask him what he wanted for Christmas. That may seem obvious but it was a great revelation to me. I discovered that if I pray about what to give, God sends ideas that both delight and match the budget.
I promised God not to let food take another Christmas from me. My God is a jealous God. Food cannot take precedence over God, even on Christmas. I have kept my promise. On Christmas, like any other day, I eat healthy food. I do not overeat. I learned the hard way to refrain from suggesting others do the same. Most people think pie and cakes are essential to Christmas.
Our Christmas’s are not perfect. New annoyances slip in. While wrapping gifts, I hear myself being bossy and trying to get people to hurry. My family has grown accustomed to our Walton Christmases. No one is impressed when I try to turn gift-wrapping into a “job” instead of a celebration and worship. Thank God, my family accepts apologies and we can start over.
They say confession is good for the soul. I have shared my personal struggles because I thought it might give someone hope. Christ did a mighty work in our home. Christmas is now a time of joy. My children are grown. They have no memory of what I was like before I learned to put Christ in the center of Christmas.
My first grandchild, Noah, will be born in February. Celebrations become traditions when they are repeated by the next generation. Maybe one day, Noah will make it a tradition to accept Christ on Christmas Eve.
Application (5-10 Minutes)
1) Making It Personal a) List your family celebrations and traditions in your journal. b) Looking at each one, are they worth repeating? (Write your answer in your journal) i) Are they pleasant? ii) Do they point others to God? iii) Do they have a Godly purpose? iv) Test them with “Ten Biblical Tips” above. c) Pray about each one. d) What changes do you need to make for next year? (Write your answer in your journal.)
2) Praying Continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17) a) As you go through the next two days, pay attention to your celebrations. b) Notice how you feel while participating. c) Praise God for the worthwhile traditions and other celebrations you experience. d) Confess any that are not Godly. e) Ask God what he wants you to change next year. f) Look for the unique Christmas gift Christ is going to send you.
3) Ending The Day a) Review your day. b) Was your Christmas Eve worthy of the Christ Child? If not, confess. c) Ask him what he wants from you on Christmas Day. d) Sing the Christmas Carol “Silent Night.”
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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