Lessons from Christmas Past – 2013
As I reflect on past Christmas memories, they are not all pleasant. Some, memories are painful to recall.
This year, I had friends and family members die. I have friends who are critically ill and they need miracles to get well.
One of my memories is the Christmas that I was pregnant and miscarried. We planned to travel to PA from Maryland to share Christmas with our families. I was not prepared the day before Christmas for the emotional loss of a baby.
The Lord touched the hearts of several friends who took time out of their own holiday celebrations to prepare food for us. I learned that year Christmas was about the love and support of friends when I was in need.
Another memory was the year my brother died suddenly two weeks before Christmas, and a week later my mother was operated on for incurable pancreatic cancer. She spent Christmas in the hospital, and I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Through the love and compassion of my husband who took over the preparations, God taught me that Christmas was not about me and how I was feeling, but about joy for the birth of a Savior who came as a gift for the whole world.
Another Christmas found my husband with the diagnosis of two aggressive cancers and facing a second operation and months of chemotherapy. At the same time, the company which I worked for eleven years went bankrupt. God taught me to take one day at a time and trust Him for just that day. He gave me a “peace which passeth all understanding” that year.
My 58-year old sister Dottie was diagnosed with liver cancer during another Christmas season. It was a heart-breaking time as our whole family got together to be with her for her last Christmas. I learned about the love which sacrifices to ease burdens and share pain for someone in need.
There have been other close family members who have died just before Christmas in the past several years. They are always remembered and missed.
Also, there has been the pain of divorces and division in our family. People, who we called family, no longer sit around our table. Again, God reminded me that it was not the circumstances of my life which I am celebrating.
This holy time of the year is about love, joy, hope and peace. The Prince of Peace who is able to give us that “peace which passes all understanding.” If your heart is heavy and you are sad this Christmas, focus on the real reason for Christmas, and know that God loves you so very much.
Lord Jesus: Thank you for coming to earth. Help us to keep our eyes and heart focused on you and not on our circumstances. You know our every need. Help us to trust you during this special time as we celebrate your birth. Amen
Lessons from Christmas Past – 2013
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“…And Jesus said unto her,” ‘Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.’
John 8:11 KJV
This morning I notice a typing error in an international devotional booklet. I had that moment of—even professional writers make mistakes. I know, however, that this publication does not make a practice of this, but instead strives for perfection.
Sometimes, in our Christian lives, we use other people’s mistakes as excuses for justifying our own sins.
When my children were growing up, I tried to teach them to avoid conflict. I told them, “If you respond to the people who wrong you by being mean, you are acting just like them. How are you any different?” This advice did not always go over well with them.
God used this principle recently to teach me about forgiveness of others. When people slight us, say unkind things against us, or wrong us, we may hold onto these hurts. Perhaps, we feel justified in our hearts for not forgiving them.
When we pray our Lord’s model prayer recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, we are asking Him to forgive us as we forgive others. In verse 14-15 it says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Jesus makes this message of forgiveness very clear. It’s what He commands and expects from us as believers.
Christians also sin, but we should not make it a practice of deliberately sinning. We have the privilege of asking God’s forgiveness, and He will say—“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” Amen
© Janet R. Sady
I have made it a practice not to get involved on my blog or Facebook in political issues. This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, and God has impressed upon me several times in the past months to be His spokesperson for the innocent lives who are being taken every day across this world—innocent babies and children who have no voice. With God’s help little ones, I will be your voice today.
“You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book.” Psalm 139:15
My mother had ten children, and I was number eight. I know that I must have been an inconvenience to her. My parents lived in poverty, and “if there was one thing she didn’t need was another little hungry mouth to feed.” (Elvis Presley – In the Ghetto) No, we didn’t live in a ghetto; we lived in the country and thus were able to grow some of our own food, but we struggled. Did my mother think of aborting me?
When I was six years old, my aunt who had no children, told my mother that since she had so many children that she should allow her to adopt me. I love my mother forever for what she said: “I don’t care how many children I have, I’m not giving any of them away.” Hurrah for my Mom.
The scriptures Psalm 139:15 is an awesome thought to know that God knew all about me before I was even born. In His omnipotence, He sees the days He has planned for me, and the things He wants me to do for Him. He looks forward to the fellowship that we will have together.
Perhaps all along God planned for me to be doing what I do now—write devotions, books, speak to groups, and minister in churches. Praise God that He allowed me the privilege of showing my brother how to receive Christ before he died. Whatever He has planned for me in His book, I want to obey and to bring glory to Him.
It is a tragedy when a baby or infant is taken suddenly from us. Sometimes this is due to physical problems, but other times is done deliberately, or because the baby will be an inconvenience to the parents. What happens to the days recorded in the child’s book? What does God think about human intervention in the life of a child?
Jesus said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) Earlier in Matthew 18:1-3, His disciples asked Jesus “who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them…” I believe there will be many babies and little children with Jesus in heaven.
The taking of a life by human hands is frowned on and protested against by many who are do not believe in capital punishment for convicted criminals? They even protest destroying wild life, insects and plants. What about the life of an innocent baby whose book has already been written, but the pages for this child are deliberately torn out? The souls of these innocent victims cry out from their graves.
Father, Forgive our nation, for we have sinned and fallen far short of your glory. Restore in us a right spirit, open hearts and minds to see the truth of your word so that we might be obedient in your sight. Amen
One of my favorite hymns which we sing around the Easter season is: Because He Lives – William J. Gaither. The song refers to the risen Christ which Christians celebrate during this time of the year.
In some religious cultures, they keep the bodies of their leaders sealed in glass or they set up statues of the person so that they might look upon them to worship and pay homage to their dead leaders.
In Christianity, however, we believe our Savior lives. He is no longer on the cross or in the grave. The resurrection from the dead of Jesus is one of the most important aspects of our beliefs. We do not worship a dead Lord, but one who is alive and sits at the right hand of God. “Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34
At the age of thirteen, I heard the message of the Gospel from the Bible, and I understood for the first time that God loved me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for my sins. I made a personal commitment to accept and serve Him. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. I am so grateful for this gift.
Am I perfect? NO! God’s still working on me, and He will be until I leave this world to join Him. My part is to listen to His Spirit speak to me through His word, strive to be like Him, and to share the message of His Gospel with others. He continues to teach me daily.
Some of you may doubt this and ask how can I be sure this is true? I know it by faith, and by how His Spirit has manifested Himself in Me. I have felt the warmth and peace of His presence during some very dire circumstances. When my forty-seven year old brother died, then my mother in less than a year, and the following year my father, there were no human words to bring me comfort. But the ones where Jesus promised: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever.” He comforted me and gave me hope in the midst of my loss.
My fifty-four year old husband was also diagnosed with two aggressive cancers, and I was devastated with worry. I heard God’s Spirit speak to me just as clear as if He were standing beside me: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” A peace and warmth came over me and in an instant the fear and worry left me.
I’ve seen the power in other people’s lives who could not help themselves. When they called on Christ, their lives were transformed from ones of hopelessness and sin to active and productive witnesses for the Lord. God loves us, and He will not turn us away. It is us who turn from Him when we do not trust Him.
Oh yes, I do serve a risen Savior, and “Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow.” It matters not what tomorrow brings, I know He will be with me to give me the strength that I need.
My prayer is that Jesus will be very real in your heart and life, and may you feel His presence this Easter as never before.
Can there be Christmas without lights?
It was two weeks before Christmas and as usual, I was running behind. Work had been a hassle with a new accounting program being installed and I stayed late most every night. I didn’t have my cookies baked, or presents wrapped and the house was bare of any Christmas decorations.
Then, the snow began. It snowed day and night for three days. It piled up to over thirty inches. The snow weighed heavily on the electric lines, and down they came in numerous places—so many places, as a matter of fact, that the power company couldn’t keep up. And, of course, out went our lights, and those of thousands of customers.
I found some flashlights, candles, oil lamps and our camping lanterns. Since I had no way of knowing how long the power would be out, I decided I would have to decorate the tree. I hung the ornaments and strung the useless lights on the branches. Somehow, it just wasn’t the same without the lights. I didn’t have the magical moment of plugging in the lights to say, “Wow!”
I must admit, I was feeling a bit out of sorts, and sorry for myself as I shopped for food I could heat on our Coleman camping stove. Oh, yes, I did go out and buy a little two-burner propane stove. I couldn’t get along without water for my tea. It was in that store that I came across a group of Amish women shopping and chatting happily for the opportunity to be in town. It occurred to me that they lived like this all the time. The lack of electric lights didn’t seem to effect their joy. Just what was my joy of the Christmas season based on anyway?
After a week of “chestnuts roasting by an open fire,” well not really, but we did burn logs in the fireplace for heat, tried to read by oil lamps, and we listened to a battery-operated radio, the electricity finally was repaired.
I geared up to full-speed ahead and finished my Christmas baking and gift wrapping. I had my “Wow” moment of finally turning on the Christmas tree lights. I thought about how many lights we burn at Christmas—on the tree, stars, manger scenes, candles, advent wreaths on the outside of our homes on our lawns and bushes, all representing the Light of the world.
As I reflected on the importance of light in our lives, my thoughts turned not to the importance of electric lights, but the Light who came into the world over 2000 years-ago. The Light sent from God to be the Savior of the world.
Without this light, we have no reason to celebrate Christmas. Jesus truly is the “Reason for the Season.” May your heart be filled with the Light of Christ this Christmas.
Are You Weary in Well Doing?
This morning I spent some time reading God’s word and praying. I noticed in two separate devotional booklets, (which are unrelated), that they gave the same scripture reference of Isaiah 40:31 for the day.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
I figured there was something that God wanted me to learn from this. I thought about how exhausted we become at times, not only physically, but mentally. As we try to live the Christian life and be a witness, we are bombarded by those who ridicule us for taking a Biblical stand on the issues of the day. They do not care what the Bible says, they have their own opinions.
When we attempt to show the love of Christ, it is often misconstrued and maligned as if we are evil. They accuse us of having selfish motives, and our words and actions are twisted to discredit our testimony.
Should we just give up, and allow the world to dominate our lives? What can we do? We must wait upon the Lord and follow His leading. We know He has promised to be with us and “never leave or forsake us.”
We need to continue to do God’s work as Christ’s followers. We need to stand for what is right. The word instructs us in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast, therefore in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free…” The translation in Greek for this is: “ to stand and keep on standing.” There are many other scriptures as well which tell us to “stand fast.” It is not a onetime thing. It is a way of life for the follower of Christ. If we do not, there will be no witness to the world of the grace of God.
As we continue to be faithful witnesses, God will give us the strength to “run and not be weary” as we keep on standing for Him.
Prayer: Father have mercy on us and our Nation. Help us to persevere with your help. Amen