December 5 – A Material Christmas

“Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

2 Kings 4.1-7

Christmas is a time often associated with excess;

food, drink, gifts, decorations, money…

But what if that is not you? 

What if you don’t have any of that, does that mean you don’t have a real Christmas?

Does the thought of going into a season of material excess fill you with anxiety?

In 2 Kings 4 we see a lady struggling to make material ends meet, let alone have an excess with which to feast or celebrate. Things are so bad that she is on the verge of having to give up her children to pay her debts. She is struggling to provide for her family and must have felt hopeless. She had debts and no resources with which to pay them.

She was encouraged to put her faith and trust in the faithfulness of God and in His provision.

When you think about it, this is what Christmas is all about. This season is not for material excess, but for celebrating the miraculous and world-changing provision God made for us by sending Jesus.

As the lady was encouraged to trust in God’s provision materially, I would encourage you this Christmas season to put your hope and trust in the greater provision He made for us, the answer to our anxieties, stresses, trials and tribulations, the real reason for the season, Jesus.

No matter your material resources, putting hope and trust in Jesus, not the temporal and temporary trappings of Christmas, gives us the guarantee of God’s provision, His abundant love, His forever acceptance, and His life-changing grace.


This devotional was originally written for It Is Well, check them out here – https://www.facebook.com/itiswellorg/.

Christmas 2020 devotionals can be downloaded, for free, as an ebook here:

Books

December 4 – Joy To The World

Do you remember when you were a kid and Christmas Day rolled around? You tore into something lovingly wrapped and discovered that thing you had been wanting for so long…oh the joy you felt! You could not, at that moment, have felt any happier. The joy you felt was indescribable: that someone loved you enough to give you exactly what you wanted, exactly what you needed, and they willingly paid the price for you to have it.

The Christmas song, Joy to the World, describes this feeling.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come

Let earth receive her King

Let every heart prepare Him room

And Heaven and nature sing”.

The whole Old Testament in your Bible points forward to the coming of the Lord (if you don’t have a Bible read it online for free here – netbible.org).

The New Testament documents the life and legacy of the Lord Jesus, and one thing constantly associated with Him is joy.

As we made room in our lives for that gift we ripped open on Christmas Day as a child, possibly discarding old things to make way for it, this year let every heart prepare Him room, discarding old things and receiving our King

Joy to the World is filled with Scripture (Isaiah 9.6, Isaiah 11.10, John 12.15,  Revelation 17.14, Revelation 19.11-16, and Psalm 98.5-9 to name some!), why not read them today? 

Watch it here too!

Christmas 2020 devotionals can be downloaded, for free, as an ebook here:

Books

December 3 – End Of The Story?

Almost every year we hear the Christmas story told (which is a great thing), but, do we ever read on?

Luke 2 is an amazing chapter detailing God’s coming to earth in human flesh: the birth of Jesus. Each year we read of shepherds, we read of angels, we read of Jesus being named Jesus, we even flick back to Matthew 2 to see the wise men coming…then we’re done.

But, there is some fascinating stuff in the rest of Luke 2. Jesus is presented at the temple (not too dissimilar to the baby dedications we do at church), and we read a little about the childhood of our Lord.

One verse in particular stood out to me as I read over the story again recently:

“…the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon him”.

Luke 2.40

Particularly the first half, the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. How apt is that for us this time of year? We prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming then we quickly go back to our daily business…We tick over into a new year and return to what is ‘normal’ for us.

Especially given how 2020 has gone, isn’t it time to find a new ‘normal’?

Rather, how we ought to follow the example of Jesus – growing, becoming stronger, becoming filled with wisdom.

If He can lay aside, temporarily, His heavenly glory and dwell among us to show us The Way surely we can rouse ourselves to grow in our faith this coming year. 

Surely we can become stronger in our faith, stronger in service, stronger in love, stronger in our relationships this coming year, and surely we should be seeking the wisdom that God gives so freely to those who ask this coming year.

Jesus’ story didn’t end after the angels, shepherds, and wise men went back to doing what they were doing. Likewise, our Christmas story that we replay each and every year is not finished by the morning of the 26th. Rather, it should be the catalyst for growth, for change, and for pushing ahead towards the upward call of God in Jesus.

This year then, how are you going to take the attitude of Christmas beyond the 25th?


Christmas 2020 devotionals can be downloaded, for free, as an ebook here:

Books

December 2 – Saint Nicholas

Every year we see the big red plastic models of Santa Claus rolled out of the store-cupboard and stood next to tins of shortbread biscuits and jars of stuff we wouldn’t buy for the rest of the year. Sometimes, he even plays the saxophone and dances.

His big, jolly, rotund face is everywhere, isn’t it? He is in movies, books, songs, people dress up as him…Santa is a big deal!

People want him to be real so badly that it almost feels as if he is a real person for a few weeks a year. But, what lots of people don’t know is that Santa Claus, Père Noel (or whatever you want to call him), whilst not a real person is certainly based on a real and genuine person from history. Wayne Taylor writes,

“There was a man named Nicholas who lived in the Roman Province of Asia (now the country of Turkey) in the fourth century A.D.

People called him Saint Nicholas because he lived a devout, Christian life from an early age.

It is believed that the name Santa Claus came from the Dutch translation of his name, Sinter Klaas.” 

Saint Nicholas was a generous man. The most famous story about him involves Nicholas giving money to three daughters of a poor man (supposedly into their stocking hanging by their bed) so that the girls could get married.

Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith by the Roman Emperor Diocletian when serving as Bishop of Myra, but was released when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. He resumed his faithful and fervent Christian life until the end.

“Saint Nicholas was a real man and was filled with the spirit of joy and giving, because he believed not in a myth but in the divine Savior”.

So the big, fat, jolly man in the red suit may star in the movies, may have flying fantasy animals, but is a myth. Saint Nicholas, on the other hand, was a real person who gave himself freely to others because of his faith in a Divine Saviour who gave Himself freely once and for all.

What a great example for us this Christmas season. 


Christmas 2020 devotionals can be downloaded, for free, as an ebook here:

Books

December 1 – Who Put The X In Xmas?

This time of year it’s easy to feel all angry and holier-than-thou when we see something like this:

So, who put the X in Christmas, or, who put the in Xmas?

Should we, as believers, feel ok with seeing ‘Xmas’ written everywhere at this time of year?

There is a sense of dismay, even anger, when we feel that Christ has been taken out of Christmas, even if just semantically and not in a wider sense (different issue!).

But, when we pause and take a step back, when we look into why Xmas is not so heretical, we see that this idea of our Lord and Saviour being removed from the very time of year we celebrate His birth by writing ‘Xmas’ is actually founded in nothing.

In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, Christ is written like this:

Χριστός.

What do you notice at the start?

Χριστός.

We see an x, don’t we? See, as Dave Shirley writes, 

“In the Greek alphabet the letter X (chi) may be used as an abbreviation for Christ, a symbol of the anointed Messiah”.

Think, then, about growing in the knowledge of X,

experiencing the love of X,

living in the grace of X,

being covered by the blood of X,

and you will soon start to see X as Christ, and Christ as X.

When you read X, did you actually say ‘Christ’ in your mind?!

Same person, 

different language.

Same meaning, 

different letters.

Same life-giving, sin-covering, and death-defeating Jesus. 

So, X put the X in Xmas, just as He put the Christ in Christmas.


This devotional, and everything we’ll post in December, comes from an advent reading plan produced for Saar Fellowship in Bahrain.

Download it free, here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Qq6CMKLdmM0QQgZYqwYxmwB0tqoXA3mJ?usp=sharing