Christmas Day: The Gift of Tomorrow

How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver! – Proverbs 16:16

Christmas has come! Did you get everything you wanted? A season of material majesty is often followed by the holiday blues. The realization that “things” did not fill those empty holes in our lives is a painful reality. We sometimes buy into the commercial illusion of Christmas bliss and turn a blind eye to those that are sad, lonely, and hurting at this time of year. Christmas came not only as a time to share the joy of the season, but perhaps more importantly, to share in the suffering of others – encouraging them with the message of hope that transcends the season and reaches into eternity.

It is the life of the Christ Child, not just the birth, which can fill us to overflowing long past December 25th. Keep Christmas alive in your heart by celebrating the Savior every day.

Today’s Gift

Make a plan for how you will continue to feed your “Christmas spirit” tomorrow, next week and next month. Write down one thing you will do each month of the coming year to experience Christmas in your heart and impact your world. Write or type your plan into your calendar, perhaps on the first day of the month, so that you will not forget.  This is not a “resolution”, it is an action plan.

Advent is over. Emmanuel is here!

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 24: Worthy

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and   follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” – Matthew 16:24-26

At Christmas time, we celebrate the birth of the Savior as a tiny baby, on a silent night in a humble stable, beneath a beautiful star. Glorious angels, gentle shepherds and men of great wealth complete the nativity scene. At this time, it is difficult to remember that this sweet moment was the beginning of a difficult, heart-wrenching journey of unimaginable suffering undertaken by our God to save our souls.

Things of value start as simple elements that are tempered through tough times, obstacles and challenges. Submitting to the pressure, working through the journey, will buff our souls into the shining jewel that is worthy of our King.

Today’s Gift

Read the story of Christ’s birth found in Luke 2:1-21 in any version of the Bible that you prefer. If you can, share the story out loud with any friends and family. If you are alone, read out loud anyway. Light a candle or sit by the fireplace. Play Christmas carols softly in the background (maybe you’ll want to sing along). Make this a true moment of worship where you connect with God the Father, God the Spirit, and God in Jesus Christ the Son.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 23: Make a Difference

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17

Everyone makes a difference. Our lives are intertwined and interdependent upon each other. For those who have learned how the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ still touches people today and can change the trajectory of a life rocketing toward destruction, it is our responsibility to be the person that God will use to continue to change our world.

We have all the tools we need to succeed – the love to share, the heart to care, and the greatest story ever told. Make a difference in someone’s life this Christmas and it will have an even greater effect on you.

Today’s Gift

Read Luke chapter 1 in any version of the Bible you prefer. Notice all the people that made a difference in the coming of the Christ Child. Think about how you make a difference in the lives of all the people in your world today and how you can change your world tomorrow.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 22: A Wonderful Life

The people who walk in darkness will see a bright light. The light will shine on those who live in the land of death’s shadow. – Isaiah 9:2

The holiday movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is the story of man who is given the amazing chance to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. We see how drastically, for the worse, one man’s life changed not just his hometown of Bedford Falls, his family and friends, but exponentially, hundreds and thousands of unknowingly- connected lives as well.

What if, instead of a small town George Bailey, that man had been Jesus Christ? Think. What if God had not been born into our world as a child, showed us how to live, and became the redeeming sacrifice for us – where would we be now? Where would you be now? What would our world look like considering such a vastly changed 2000 year history? Because the Christ came, it is truly a wonderful life.

Today’s Gift

How would the world be different without you? Take a step back and look at how you have impacted your family, community or church. Perhaps someone can help you be objective. God has made each of us to be important, to play an integral part in His plan. Imagine and write down the things that would likely be different if you had not been born. Appreciate yourself and all that you have done or influenced to make this world a better place.

If you have not seen it recently, make time to watch the 1946 classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Its story and performances stand the test of time.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 21: Guiding Star

I have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.  I am the bright morning star.” – Revelation 22:16

Mankind has always looked to the stars for guidance. Whether we journeyed across land or sea, the stars, set firmly in their places, kept us from going off course. The “morning star” is the brightest celestial object in the sky just before sunrise. It is the traveler’s last chance to set a bearing before all the stars fade into day.

Jesus is the last, best hope for mankind before the final day when we meet the God of All the Universe. We welcome the season of His birth as a reminder that He guides our journey to everlasting life.

Today’s Gift

Read John 1:1-16 in any version of the Bible you prefer. This account of the beginning of the Messiah’s coming to earth has no shepherds or angels or the weary teenage mother with her Baby in a manger. John shows us that Christmas began with love. Love that would light the way out of darkness. Meditate on these familiar verses and try to find a deeper understanding of what the birth of Emmanuel really means to us and our world.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 20: Look to the Christ Child

…they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures… – Matthew 2:11 (NIV)

Whenever we give, we should first bow down to the Christ Child and remember how much we have received. Giving should always be an act of gratitude not obligation, an element of worship not a compensatory transaction. The modest beginnings of God’s only Son reminds us that is it not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice it represents, which makes it valuable.

Today’s Gift

Make a donation to your church or local nonprofit that serves the needy. When determining how much to give, consider how much you have been blessed. Many charity based organizations are looking for funds to fulfill their annual budgets, particularly at this time of the year. Your gift can make a tremendous impact on those they serve.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 19: The Party

Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem. They were taking turns watching their flock during the night.  An angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them. – Luke 2:8-9

Preparations had been made for a thousand years. The party was planned, the stage was set and the angel choir was rehearsed and in tune. Finally, the announcement went out!  The star rose in the East signaling the curtain to rise for those that had miles to travel to the long-awaited event. For those nearby, it was a personal invitation to the unsuspecting guests. Not to the king, the priests or the rich, but to those that no others would welcome to the most important birthday party ever; the poor, the humble, the fearful and the homeless.

We too are invited to light the candles and welcome the unloved and unlovely to celebrate the birth of the Baby that would save the world. Happy birthday, Jesus, our Christ!

Today’s Gift

Celebrate Jesus’ birthday. That might mean throwing a real birthday party with invitations, cake, candles, and party games. You can ask guests to bring gifts for a local charity of your choice (or theirs).

It could mean just celebrating Him in your heart, lighting a candle, wearing a “happy birthday, Jesus” button, doing something that honors Him in a special way. Just as you would commemorate the birthday of a friend or family member, let Jesus know He is important in your life.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 18: Something New

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

Prepare for something new! We go through Advent expectantly. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, only a few knew that a miracle had occurred and that it was just the beginning of something the world had never seen before. While the plan had been in place since the earth started turning, the course of time had to flow as scheduled, in order to prepare us for that precise moment when the new direction could be revealed.

God continues to make a way for us today, out of the wilderness of confusion, the dry paths of hopelessness, and into a flood of purpose and contentment. His greatest creation was a baby, whose life and sacrifice would make it possible for us to start again fresh, out of rubble and ruin. Prepare your heart this Christmas for something new – it has been prepared for you!

Today’s Gift

Start a new tradition this year. It may be a small thing like a family outing to a tree farm, going caroling at a nursing home, or having children create an ornament for the Christmas tree. On the other hand, it may be something big. Perhaps the children have grown up and moved away or a loved one is missing. If the old customs are broken, you can approach this season as an opportunity.

If you are not going to be surrounded by family this Christmas, you can give your time to allow others to be with theirs, or you can serve a holiday meal at a community center, or bring some Christmas cheer to families that are spending the holiday in the hospital with sick children or to the nurses that must work to care for them. Giving of yourself as a new tradition can heal the sting of loss of traditions now gone.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 17: At Just the Right Time

They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. – Matthew 2:11-12

Mary and Joseph led a humble existence, and as a young family, may have had times of impoverishment. Yet in those times, God provided – sometimes extravagantly. This scripture reminds us that the Magi, kings that came to worship the Christ Child, did not arrive on the night of His birth, but just at the right time, when their gifts were needed most.

We all experience seasons of famine and of abundance. If God is indeed with us, then we are expected to bless others when we are given much. Have faith that God will provide!

Today’s Gift

 Take a leap of faith today. Give sacrificially, whatever that means to you. Whether you bless your church, a nonprofit charity cause, or a single person in need – give more than you think you can afford and a blessing will come back to you.

Here is an example from my own life. I was in my last year of college, and as usual, had very little money in my purse. I needed a $10 book for class (I guess that dates me), but I literally only had $5. As I sat in church and was presented with a need from the pulpit, I felt the call to put that precious $5 bill into the collection plate. I did, determining that I would just have to try to borrow the book from a classmate when they were done with it.

The very next day, I opened my mailbox and found a letter from a local bank. This was the one to which I had made a single deposit at the beginning of my freshman year, to hold my second semester tuition until it came due. I had forgotten all about it, thinking I had closed the account years ago. Inside the envelope was a check for $12. The letter explained that the account was now closed and they were sending me the interest that had accumulated on the few dollars that had been left after paying my tuition. This was more than enough for me to buy the needed book, including tax. God rewards obedience.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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Advent Day 16: Revelation

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. – John 1:1&14

John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, gives a miraculous revelation of the life and purpose of Jesus Christ in his gospel. The Messiah came just as the words of the prophets had foretold. He came to be our light – revealing God Himself in person – though most could not understand and many still do not accept. As Jesus revealed the Father to us, we are His reflection in our world today. May our lives reveal the true miracle of Christmas.

Today’s Gift

 Read Isaiah 9:1-7 in any version of the Bible that you prefer. This was written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the prophecy that He fulfilled. Consider each verse individually, what it meant to the people in Isaiah’s time, when Jesus was born, and in your life today.

Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©

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