December 14, 2017

The Christmas Invitation


Almost everywhere I shopped this past week, I enjoyed the festive Christmas music in the background. In my car I listened to the Christian stations playing the beautiful carols serving as a good reminder to bring my thoughts back to the focus of Christmas. In church I enjoyed the songs about a Savior coming to earth, God in the flesh dwelling among us, Mary and Joseph on a journey that brought them to a stable and a manger, not a comfortable room in an inn, and not a hospital with all the modern conveniences and technology.

We can enjoy all the wrappings of a traditional Christmas, presents in glittering wrap and bows, the tree all lit up and revealing years of treasured ornaments, lights outside cheering up dark winter evenings. But we don’t want to forget to take time throughout the season to remember why we are doing all of this. There is a reason for the season and it is the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord.

The birthday celebrated around the world is the birth of a Savior who came to die for our sins, whose death on a cross was a gift unto salvation, whose resurrection displayed His power over death, His power to create in us - new life - if we receive the Savior’s gift.

Because Jesus came to us that first Christmas Day, we can be born again and join His family, the family of God. Christmas beautifully reminds us of the open invitation of a Holy, Almighty God, and the sacrifice of a Savior’s love - Jesus Christ our Lord.

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

December 12, 2017

Our Mighty God


I took this photo last December at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Being surrounded by all the twinkling lights on the garden pathways was a holiday mood inducer that made the Christmas season very festive. They also had the Twelve Days of Christmas Exhibits and I took many pictures of those but they did not turn out very well-although I am including one of the exhibits below. But this festive picture of the lit trees is one I enjoy a lot. And I knew I would want to use it somehow with a Christmas post here at Devotions from the Heart.

I decided to add this verse when I read it last year during the days leading up to Christmas while studying the Old Testament scriptures foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ.

Almost every time I read this verse in Isaiah, I remember learning to sing Handel’s Messiah in the choir of the small Christian college I attended in the late 1970’s. That memory has also helped tuck the phrases of this verse into my heart and mind. These descriptive phrases tell us more about this child who was born to us on Christmas day.

Each time I read it, I like to focus on one of the phrases that describe who we are reading about in Isaiah 9:6

Today, as I quietly contemplate this verse again, and as I am reminded that God came to us a child, I recognize and acknowledge this child is Mighty God

It was God’s Mighty power that brought Him to earth through a virgin birth, and was the same power that saw Jesus work miracles healing the sick, feed thousands from a few loaves of bread and two fish, and the same Mighty power with which He calmed the seas and walked on water. 

This child is our Mighty God!

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


 
Seven Swans A-Swimming from the Twelve Days of Christmas Exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

December 10, 2017

Mom's Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge


I can still remember my mom making homemade chocolate fudge each year at Christmas. Her fudge was a family favorite as far back into my childhood as memories go. It was the old-fashioned kind with just cocoa, sugar, milk, butter, salt and vanilla. 

My most vivid memory is how much my dad loved it and couldn’t wait for it to harden enough to have the first piece. I don’t have that many good memories of my dad, but this is one of them and it has a special place in my heart.
 
For some reason my dad, a man plagued with anger issues, seemed to enjoy Christmas and was on better behavior than usual for the holidays. I don’t remember him ever ruining Christmas with one of his angry outbursts or fits of rage.

After my mom died at the age of 71 in 2001, and I was still struggling to have a relationship with my dad, I would make mom’s fudge and send him some every Christmas. He loved it and eagerly looked forward to it. It wasn’t just a food gift at Christmas—it was a bridge to demonstrate love to a father who had never had a genuine loving relationship with me. He died in 2011 and I can honestly say I miss sending him his favorite chocolate fudge.

It may seem like an insignificant gift or a small gesture, but in light of the history and relationship we had and his severe treatment of me especially through my teen years, this fudge that I made and sent to my dad in the mail for ten years was a gift of love for a father who was difficult to love.

Up until the year my dad died, I was still trying to build a relationship with him. It was baby steps but each step counted. One of those significant steps was making him mom’s old-fashioned chocolate fudge every Christmas.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

You can also read my devotion Where Can We Find God? at Thoughts About God by clicking on title.