Every year at Christmas we hear people say, and we have probably said it ourselves (I know I have), “Jesus is the reason for the season “ It sounds good when we hear and say it but most often our actions say something else.
Our actions say that this is a season to get friends and family together, it's a time for co-workers to get together and act like they like each other, it's a time to see who can get or give the best gift, it's a time to have a few days off from work, it's a time for great food, it's a special time for children. We.completely forget that this is a time to recognize the most important birth in history and what that child did to redeem mankind, and to look forward to the end of the story when that baby returns in the clouds to claim ultimate victory over evil, sin, and death; we become stressed, on edge, weary and worn, and our tempers become short. What's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year can often feel more like madness - in the traffic - in the crowds - in the shopping frenzy.
Think about hitting the pause button and taking a break. A break to reflect on that statement “Jesus is the reason for the season”. Here's a short prayer you might want to pray during that pause so that you can refocus and change your perspective and realize that God is not so interested in whether we "get it all done" with a few days to spare before Christmas. He's interested in "you," in your heart, in your life.
Help us to keep our focus first on Christ this season. Please forgive us for giving too much time and attention on other things. Help us to reflect again, on what Christmas is really all about. Thank you that you came to give new life, peace, hope, and joy. Thank you that your power is made perfect in our weakness. Help us to remember that the gift of Christ, Immanuel, is our greatest treasure, not just at Christmas, but for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. For you never leave us. Thank you for your daily powerful Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that you surround us with favor as with a shield, and we are safe in your care. We choose to press in close to you today…and keep you first in our hearts and lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
By Debbie McDaniel from Christmas Dinner Prayers - Beautiful Family Blessing for the Meal & Fellowship Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff
STOP!!! Take A Holy Break
A Prayer For A Holy Pause This Christmas
By Julie Gillies
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10 NLT)
If, like me, you’d love for life to slow down, particularly as the holiday season begins to ramp up, it’s important to understand that we can choose to still our hearts. It may not be easy, but if we desire the authentic, heart transforming experience of Christ’s presence in the midst of the Christmas crazy, We Can Choose A Holy Pause.
A holy pause is the opportunity to step out of the madness, the demands, and the haste of the season, and into His presence. It’s the decision to shut ourselves away from the endless noise and commotion and quietly engage our hearts with His. It’s the chance to trade His stillness for our rushing, His peace for our panic, and His joy for our irritability.
Life doesn’t stand still, but we can.
God desires for us to honor Him by spending the expensive currency of our time, even in the busyness of the season. To engage in the difficult but oh-so rewarding discipline of quieting our minds, bowing our hearts, and pausing before Him. It’s then that we can begin to experience the beauty of His awesome, all-sufficient presence.
What if we allowed our hearts to marvel at His unfathomable journey from eternity into an unassuming, most unroyal manger? What if we pondered the miracle of His birth and the reason behind it? What if we asked Him to fill our hearts to overflowing with the reality of the priceless gift of His presence?
Lord, I Bow My Heart Before You And Honor You. Help Me To Choose Not One But Many Holy Pauses This Holiday Season. Please Nudge Me By Your Spirit And Remind Me To Step Away From The Christmas Crazy And Get Alone With You. In Jesus’s Awesome Name, Amen.
There's a fascination with genealogy and ancestry in the United States today. The interest has been there all the time and with the advances in technology enabling cheap DNA testing and the Internet allowing us to trace ancestry back many generations it's a lot easier to find out about our family history. There's a fascination with genealogy and ancestry in the United States today. The interest has been there all the time and with the advances in technology enabling cheap DNA testing and the Internet allowing us to trace ancestry back many generations it's a lot easier to find out about our family history. Even before the advances in technology, at family gatherings when talking with grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, or an older cousin, we heard whispers about that relative that nobody really wanted to talk about, that “black sheep”. All families have at least one. We may even be it. Would it surprise you if I told you that Jesus’ family had several "black sheep".
Chapter one of Matthew is Jesus’ genealogy through His Joseph his adoptive earthly father.
Matthew 1:1-16 NIV This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Chapter three of Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy through Mary.
Luke 3:23-38 NIV Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josek, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
So we have Jesus’ human genealogy from both his earthly adoptive father and His birth mother. We are able to construct His family tree from the information in these two chapters. On our reading of these chapters and some additional research of scripture we will see, as in most of our families today, there a some characters in His family that we would rather know about. However what we learn as we study His family tree that God can take the most unsavory characters and use them for His purposes, which in the case of Jesus is the redemption of mankind.
Ephesians 1:3-10 NIV Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Colossians 1:9-14 NIV For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (emphasis mine)
Grief In Jesus’ Family Tree
Talk about heartbreak, sorrow, misery, and grief — all those things are woven through the fabric of our Lord’s family tree. Can you feel their grief behind these words? The grief of Abraham leaving all he had known to go to a land where he had never been.
Genesis 12:1 NIV The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
The grief of letting go of his firstborn, Ishmael, whom he loved.
Genesis 21:8-11 NIV The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.
And what about King David? He had a son who died in infancy because of David’s own sin.
2 Samuel 12:13-15, 18 NIV Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord .” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord , the son born to you will die.” After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
His son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar
2 Samuel 13:10-12, 14 NIV Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.” “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
Another son Absalom killed his brother Amnon;
2 Samuel 13:23, 28-29 NIV Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.
If that were not enough to break a father’s heart, Absalom led a revolt against his own dad, David.
2 Samuel 15:10-12 NIV Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’ ” Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.
But all these names in Christ’s family tree don’t hold a candle to grief this Christmas season. Jesus understands the grief in His ancestors and His descendants. Perhaps your own heart is heavy. Perhaps you have been misunderstood. Jesus was. He says, “I understand.” Perhaps you are lonely. Jesus says, “I know the loneliness of Gethsemane’s garden.” He will bear your griefs and carry your sorrows… if you will let Him.
The month of December holds more grief than any other. In the midst of all the tinsel and trappings, loneliness haunts so many. More suicides are attempted in this month than any other. Jesus understands your grief. Behind the lives of all these men and women in His family tree, we see grief, but they made it… and so can you.
Lord, thank You for bearing my grief and carrying my sorrows. I am leaning on You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Editor’s Note: Some content from There Is Grief in the Family Tree of Jesus By Dr. O.S. Hawkins
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.