So Much of … Everything but Jesus Over the Holidays

Everything but Jesus over the Holidays?Think about what tends to happen over the holiday season. So much of our time, attention, efforts, and resources go into preparing for the holidays that we barely enjoy this special time of the year. We can become so distracted that we lose focus of the One who deserves our praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and wholehearted devotion.

So much hustle and bustle over the holidays:

Already a busy people, we become even busier around the holidays. Though a time of year our thoughts should be centered around the Lord, we can become too busy to spend real time with Him.

Take this Challenge: Keep Jesus a priority.

So much emphasis on the newest and best gift-giving and decorating:

Already a material people, we become even more dazzled in finding the latest fad or most popular brand, the newest decorations or table settings. Does our quest for getting it just right crowd out sharing of the best gift — Jesus Christ?

Remember: Jesus is more than a fad. He is always relevant for Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So much stress and depression during the holiday season:

Already a stressed out and emotionally fragile people, we become even more burnt out or feeling alone at the holidays. Yet, during this time of thanksgiving and celebration we should feel more alive because of the hope we have in Jesus.

Make a Choice: Lay hold of that abundant life Jesus came to give you that’s full of peace, joy, and contentment.

So much financial, physical, and relational drain during the holidays:

Already maxed-out, we become even more in debt, tired, and wanting to get away from people. Yet, it’s a time that should bring us together, grateful for people in our lives and for all we have been given.

Run to Jesus: He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Adult Curriculum to Help Us Find Our Way Back to Jesus:

Christmas Is . . .

Christmas
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Christmas is God’s way of getting our attention.

Through history, people kept forgetting to turn to God first and foremost. In sending Jesus, God was saying — “This is how much I love you! This is how far I am willing to go for you!”

Christmas is God’s way of letting us know that there are some things that can’t be ignored.

Because God is a just and holy God, He cannot ignore sin. In sending Jesus to earth with the ultimate goal of dying in our place, for our sins, God took care of the sin problem so He doesn’t have to ignore us.

Christmas is God’s way of getting personal with us.

By sending Jesus, He was giving us opportunity to get to know Him better as “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus opened the door for us to be in a personal relationship with the Father.

Christmas is God’s way of saying “I will be with you always.”

Jesus, Immanuel – God With Us, came to live among mankind (Matt. 1:23). Though He ascended to heaven after His death and resurrection, He sent His Spirit to live within us. We do not have to be afraid. We can step out in faith with confidence.

Christmas is God’s way of letting us know that it is good to give.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (Jn. 3:16). The holidays are an especially good time to consider how to follow His example by reaching out to others

Christmas is God’s way of bringing good into our lives.

Let’s prepare our hearts so the holiday season doesn’t drag us away from that goodness as we get busy and more easily distracted.

Notice how each of the above points began “Christmas is God’s way.” Christmas is not the world’s holiday. The first Christmas began with God sending Jesus. Let’s remember!

Adult Christmas Curriculum to Help You Remember:

Reflect on Christmas Bible Verses

The well-known Bible verses used to tell the Christmas story, can become so familiar that we stop thinking about the effect they should have on us. Let me encourage you to get out your Bible and read the following Christmas verses anew and reflect on the questions provided for you.

Prophecy about Jesus’ Coming: Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 11:1; 40:1-11 Micah 5:2

  • How does it affect you to know that Jesus was God’s plan of salvation long before He ever arrived on this earth?

Account of Jesus’ Birth: Matthew 1:18-25 Luke 2:1-7

  • What will you do to make sure you have room in your heart for Jesus this holiday season?

Visit of the Shepherds:  Luke 2:8-20

  • What will you do this Christmas to go, like the shepherds, and “see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”?
  • Once Christmas day comes and goes what steps will you take when you return to everyday life so you continue “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told”?

Reflect on Verses about Christmas - Wisemen Seek HimVisit of the Wisemen:  Matthew 2:1-12

  • Just as the wiseman paid attention to the signs surrounding the first coming of Jesus to the earth, are you looking for His second coming to earth? What we celebrate on Christmas is not the end of the story!!

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Go to: Christmas Ministry Resources Page

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Must Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Celebrate ChristmasLast Christmas someone asked if it is mandatory for Christians to celebrate Christmas. I couldn’t provide references in support of Christmas or against it. Consequently, it is one of those issues for which we must develop personal convictions. And, since there are no definitive Scripture verses either way, we must apply the principles of Romans 14. We must respect and accept one another with convictions different from ours, not condemn one another, remembering that “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).

When I can’t find Bible verses about an issue, I then look for relevant principles and/or precedence.

Principles Related to the Celebration of Christmas:

What we can biblically support with certainty is that any celebration must not fall into the category of idolatry (Ex. 20:1-5; 1 Cor. 10:1-14; 1 Jn. 5:21) or lack of stewardship (Prov. 22:3; 1 Cor. 4:2; Eph. 5:15; 1 Tim. 6:7-9; Heb. 13:5).

Precedence Related to the Celebration of Christmas:

God instituted various feasts or holidays for Israel to celebrate important events in their history as ways of remembering what He did (i.e., Passover). Jesus’ coming to this earth is a very important event, so would it be out of line to celebrate it?

Problems Related to the Celebration of Christmas:

The problem many Christians through the ages have had with Christmas is its origins and some of the traditions that go with it.  Some say the date we celebrate is not even when Jesus was born. And, it is believed that Christmas appears to have started as a pagan festival that was later claimed by the Christian church as a time to celebrate Jesus’ first coming to earth. They suggest that the original intent seems to have been to take something pagan and turn it to the glory of God. The question we must ask is if we are indeed doing that through our celebrations at Christmas.

Colossians 4:5 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” To be sure Christmas provides added opportunities to share Jesus, a time when people tend to be more open to go to church and hear about Jesus.

Yet, we must constantly re-focus on the Savior because all the glitz and glitter of the season can distract us from the real reason we have to celebrate.  We need to work at keeping Jesus a priority during the Christmas season.

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Jesus … God With Us??

Jesus is Immanuel, God with Us
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us.” (Matt. 1:23)

Yes, GOD with us.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  (Heb. 1:3)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (Jn. 1:1-5)

God WITH us.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (Jn. 1:14)

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:6-8)

God with US.

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet TO ALL WHO RECEIVED HIM, TO THOSE WHO BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (Jn. 1:9-13)

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:20)

Prepare for the Holidays: A Time to Reach Out to Others

Happy Holidays - A Time to Reach Out

The holidays are a good time to reach out to people.  Though outreach efforts should extend throughout the entire year, the holidays do present unique opportunities.   According to Ephesians 5:15-16 we act wisely when we make “the most of every opportunity.”
Reach Out to The Unsaved:  A Good Time to Share the Good News

Prepare for people to visit your church who rarely attend church and do not have have a personal relationship with the Lord.  They could be unsaved family or friends of regular attendees.  They could be people who respond to an advertisement to a special program at your church.  Make sure the Gospel message is clearly presented.  Extend a warm welcome and invitation to return.  Develop some form of follow-up that is unobtrusive yet shows you care.

Christmas Outreach Ideas and Resources

Reach Out to Those Who Struggle:  A Good Time to Show the Love of Christ

Prepare to serve one another.  As you approach the holidays, both Thanksgiving and Christmas, remember that there are those in your midst who can’t be with family and are lonely.  1 Peter 4:9 says we should offer hospitality to one another.  Make sure these people aren’t left alone.  Others who have lost loved ones frequently find the holidays to be a depressing time.  1 Thessalonians 4:18 says we should comfort one another.  Some people may be unemployed or in financial distress and need a helping hand.  Galatians 5:13 says we should serve one another, part of which may be helping to supply their needs.  Finally, there are those who are suffering extraordinary stress at this time due to overtaxed schedules, increased demands at work, or any variety of reasons.  James 5:16 says we should pray for one another.  Let’s not get so self-absorbed over the holidays that we forget to show the love of Christ to others.  Build margins of time into your schedule so you can be available.

Helps for People Who Hurt During the Holidays (scroll down in About tab on that page)

Reach Out to Children:  A Good Time to Set Understanding

Prepare your children for understanding the real meaning behind the holidays.  Getting gifts quickly tops their list of why they like the holidays.  Help them focus their attention on Jesus who came to give, not to take.  Help them see Jesus who came to serve and not to be served.  Realize, however, that a few well-spoken words during the season will have minimal impact if they are not backed up throughout the year.

Ideas and Resources for Teaching Children about Thanksgiving

Ideas and Resources for Teaching Children about Christmas

Reach Out to Ministry Leaders, Teachers, & Other Workers:  A Good Time to Say Thank You

Prepare to show appreciation to those who labor among you.  The holidays can be especially busy for people in ministry.  This can therefore be a good time of the year to encourage them, to let teachers, leaders, and other workers know they are valued.  Remember, however, that they need affirmation and appreciation throughout the year as well.

Helps for People in Ministry During the Holidays