Taking Christmas Into the New Year

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a blessed Christmas. Mine was busy and beautiful, exhausting and exhilarating, full of family, friends, food, and Jesus.

Two days after Christmas I spent many hours removing the ornaments and lights from my Christmas tree. Then there was the Great Pine Needle Sweep-Up of 2018. I do love a live Christmas tree, but along with the its beauty comes a bit of work. Honestly, I think I swept up enough pine needles to make another small tree. My husband dragged the tree out into our woods where it will become a hiding place for small critters. Although my mantel still has winter decor on it, most of the traces of Christmas are gone from my home.

 

Taking Christmas into the New Year

On the same day that I took my tree down, I came across a poem by Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981) that has taken up residence in my heart. I’m not usually a poem kinda girl, but this one velcro-ed itself to my heart and so today I share it with you.

For many people (at times, myself included), Christmas is over when the decorations are stored away. After reading this poem, I’m convinced that we do Christmas, and all it means, a huge disservice when we mentally tuck it away until next December. In truth, Christmas was only the beginning…..

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

For Jesus, Christmas was only the beginning. In His short 33 years He found the lost, healed the broken, fed the hungry, released the prisoner, and so much more. His earthly mission began on Christmas, and He left the Holy Spirit here to enable those of us who follow Him to carry on His mission. In doing so, we point others to Christmas….to Jesus.

As we journey into a new year I am seeking to take the work of Christmas along with me rather than boxing Christmas up until next December. I want the ears of my heart to listen intentionally to the words of others with the goal of making certain that person is really heard. My desire is to point other people to Jesus and His wonderful, life-changing Word. I want to do life face-to-face with people rather than through a screen and a keyboard, and I want to speak life into their souls. If God allows, I will take the work of Christmas into 2019 through loving, mentoring, speaking, coaching, writing, and serving my family, friends, and clients. I will write and speak and coach and wife (is that even a word in that sense?) and mother and mentor out of the overflow of Jesus living in my heart.

So, today my question for you is how are you taking the work of Christmas into the New Year? 

Hearing from you is a sweet blessing to me. Leave a comment below and share your answer with me and other readers. If you are reading this via email, please click HERE to be taken to my website where you can leave a comment.

Happy New Year, friend!

SDG/FCA!!

One way you can take Christmas into 2019 is to sponsor a child living in poverty. Compassion International is the way that I have chosen to do this. Click my affiliate link below to find out more. If you are reading this via email, please click HERE to be taken to my website where you can see the banner.

 

Merry Christmas!

Dear Reader,

Merry Christmas! I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to you for being here. Your presence is a gift to me, as is every comment you leave or email you send in response to something the Lord has given me to write. Whether you are a long-time reader or this is your first time to join me, the fact that you are using your time to visit LeahAdams.org blesses my heart. Thank you.

Today we celebrate the birth our Lord, Jesus Christ! My prayer is that you know Him as your Lord and your Savior. He is my very best friend, my confidante, my guide, my strength, and the place where my heart is at home. If you do not know Jesus as Lord this Christmas, may I share with you a few reasons why I would recommend Him to you? Go HERE.

May this day of Christ’s birth be filled with the joy and wonder that His presence brings.

Emanuel! God with us!

 

Merry Christmas!

SDG/FCA!!

 

Advent Ponderings ~ Jesus Left Heaven

 

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

 

Jesus Left Heaven Advent Ponderings 1

 

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and I woke with Jesus on my mind this morning. This year, for some reason, my heart is particularly tender toward Christmas (which, if you know me, is huge), and as I lay in bed this morning I began to ponder something that gave me huge cause for pause.

Jesus Left Heaven

The simplicity of those words belie the magnitude of their meaning. Think about them! Ponder the events and emotions that surround them.

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, who had always existed in perfect, unbroken union with God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit, would very soon leave that perfect fellowship. When you and I are in relationships that are beautiful and sweet and harmonious the thought of leaving can cause great sadness, even if it is only for a short time. I cannot imagine the emotions of the Father as He turned to Jesus and said, “Now! Go!” Of course, I know I am projecting human emotions onto God, yet I have to believe that there was a void in heaven when Jesus stepped out and came to earth. Did the angels weep? Was there silence in heaven because everyone missed the presence of Jesus?

Jesus left heaven with full disclosure of the horrors awaited Him on earth. Was there dread in His holy heart? Angst? Fear? The teeniest bit of uncertainty? He could have said, ‘Nope! Not going. They are not worth leaving heaven.’ I certainly would have. We know from Scripture that as the final hours of His earthly life approached Jesus asked the Father if there was any way other than the cross. The stress on His body was so intense that He sweated blood. It makes me wonder what He felt in those last hours before He stepped out of heaven, put on human flesh, and submitted to the Father’s will for leaving.

Jesus left heaven for ME and for YOU. Whatever you feel you have been asked to give up in this lifetime, Jesus gave up far more. He laid aside His glory to put on human flesh. He stepped out of heaven knowing His mission on earth would be to die so that you and I could have restored fellowship with the Father.

Sometimes we resist stepping outside the walls of our homes or our social circles in order to bless another person, yet Jesus left heaven, not for His good, but for ours. Perhaps that does not impact you the way it has touched me this morning. I am slack-jawed at the sacrifice Jesus made in the leaving….a sacrifice that was for me.

SDG/FCA!!

As we begin this Advent journey I want to encourage you to be intentional in your preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Allow your heart to fully engage with all that Advent and Christmas mean. To help you do so, I highly recommend Kris Camealy’s Advent devotion book, Come, Lord Jesus for your pondering pleasure. Here is a link to it on Amazon.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Wishing You A Blessed Christmas!

 

Christmas card 2016

 

Dear Friend,

My heart is so full this Christmas because of the love and grace of Jesus. The Giver became the Gift, and because of that, I am rich in His love and care. I am also rich because of your presence in this community. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. I am blessed each time one of you reaches out, either through a comment or an email.

Merry Christmas from my family to you and yours. I pray you are profoundly aware of Jesus and His love for you this Christmas season and beyond.

Captured by His Grace,

Leah

christmas characters ~ shepherds

Welcome back to our visit with some of the supporting cast of the Christmas story. Thus far we have considered Caesar Augustus and the Inn Keeper who turned Joseph and Mary away. Today we visit with the shepherds who were the startled recipients of the angelic announcement that the Messiah had been born. Join me for our time with these men.

 

Christmas

 

 

If I were God (and we can all be profoundly thankful that I am not), I probably would not have chosen a bunch of smelly, rough-around-the-edges shepherds to be the first to know about the birth of my only Son, the long awaited Messiah.  Heavens no! I would have announced it to kings and presidents; rulers and royalty. Shepherds? Good heavens, no!

Today we are in the fields of Bethlehem for a visit with a group of nameless, faceless shepherds who were the first to hear of the birth of Jesus.

 

Luke 2: 8-9: Now, there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

 

Lest we think these shepherds were wimps for being frightened by the angelic visitation, it is important to note that shepherds were usually manly men. They had to be. A shepherd had to live outside, find water and food for his sheep, and protect them from wild animals, so these men were accustomed to a rugged way of life. But, when an angel of the Lord stood before them, they were greatly afraid. It is a safe bet that none of them had ever been visited by an angel. Their response to this heavenly visitor is consistent with the reaction of the majority of people who had an angel burst on the scene of their lives.

 

Luke 2: 15 – 18: So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

 

What I find so wonderful is that these shepherds were twice moved to immediate action. They did not form a committee to decide what to do, nor did they take a vote. There was none of the kind of mental gymnastics we so often find ourselves engaging in when faced with a decision about obeying God:

 

Gosh, what will we do with the animals?

 

It’s the middle of the night. I’d rather sleep.

 

It’s a long way into town.

 

That baby will still be there tomorrow, or next week. We can go then.

 

None of that. They were moved to immediate action. It seems that they knew the Messianic prophecies, and their hearts were compelled to go seek out the long-awaited Messiah.

Once they saw Jesus, they became the first missionaries. They went out and told everyone they met that the Messiah that Israel had been looking for had arrived, and could be found sleeping in a feed trough in Bethlehem. They couldn’t keep quiet about it, although there was great danger in their proclamation. Their very lives could be taken by Rome for proclaiming a king other than Caesar.

Messiah had come. The prophecies had promised, and now God had sent Him.

These rough, smelly shepherds obviously had hearts that were tender toward the Lord and His Christ. Their tender, submissive hearts bless me so much.

Ask yourself three questions as you ponder the shepherds:

Is your heart tender toward Jesus?

Have you sought Him out and worshipped Him recently?

How many people have you shared Jesus with lately?

Let’s allow these Christmas shepherds to set an example that we will follow…an example of sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus to lost and dying world.

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