18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: When His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant [through the power] of the Holy Spirit.
19 And her [promised] husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss (divorce) her quietly and secretly.
20 But as he was thinking this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary [as] your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of (from, out of) the Holy Spirit.
21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from [a]failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].
22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet,
23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us.
I love December. I have always loved the cold, the lights, the smell of Christmas trees, the time of family being together. I graduated from college 31 years ago in December. I got married at Christmas thirty years ago, and I had my first child at Christmas 26 years ago. You can imagine how much I love it!
When I was a young girl, our Christmases were extravagant. I don’t know how my grandmother did everything she did. One year we counted 21 side dishes, a turkey, a ham, and over 14 pies and cakes. That isn’t counting the Christmas candy she would make. We ate on Christmas china with Christmas cloth napkins. My grandmother cooked it and she practically cleaned it by herself! She was amazing! It took my mother and me one Christmas to figure out paper plates were the best idea!
The gifts under the tree at my grandmother’s house almost took up the entire living room. We had our family Christmas with our grandparents, so it looked massive. That didn’t count what “Santa Claus” would bring later, either!
Our Christmases have evolved over the years. The 21 salads are gone, but we all get our favorite dish! Our magnitude of desserts has been downsized as well. We still have massive gifts, even though my grandparents are with Jesus now. We now have my husband and 2 children and my brother’s wife and 4 children, along with my parents.
On Christmas it is now gumbo instead of a traditional Christmas dinner…we have that on the 23rd of December now. We still have a fireworks show Hollywood would envy on Christmas Eve. This was my grandfather’s and mother’s tradition. It is so beautiful, people stop on the side of the highway to watch the sparkling display.
What has not changed at all is the fact of why we have Christmas, and that is first and foremost important thing in my mind always. I hate it Christmas has become commercialized and an opportunity for certain greedy ones to get even richer. I want Jesus to be remembered first and foremost not only in mind but in heart.
This year I asked my husband for something different. I have wanted to do this for years and this year I did it! I told my husband I wanted nothing for Christmas. I wanted it to be about Jesus, my family being together, and our appreciation of how blessed we are. He did sneak a gift card in on me, but I got what I wanted pretty much…just knowing and understanding the meaning of Christmas was more than anyone could give me! I savored it.
Jesus and I had our time in prayer and just meditating on what it meant for Him to come to give His life for us! What Mary must have gone through, and Joseph as well and what incredible people they had to be for God to choose them to be the parents who would raise His only son. What His birth would come to and what that end of His life would mean in my life and in the lives of my loved ones and to the world! That is when the warmth of Christmas glowed in my heart and brought peace to my mind! Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
Good night and God bless you, precious reader!
1 I[b] will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad. 3 Proclaim Yahweh’s greatness with me; let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to Him are[c] radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles. 7 The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh, for those who fear Him lack nothing. 10 Young lions[d] lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.
11 Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Who is the man who delights in life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. 14 Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help. 16 The face of the Lord is set against those who do what is evil, to erase[e] all memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous[f] cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.
19 Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all. 20 He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. 22 The Lord redeems the life of His servants, and all who take refuge in Him will not be punished.
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My life makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces shall never blush for shame or be confused.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
8 O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.
9 O fear the Lord, you His saints [revere and worship Him]! For there is no want to those who truly revere and worship Him with godly fear.
10 The young lions lack food and suffer hunger, but they who seek (inquire of and require) the Lord [by right of their need and on the authority of His Word], none of them shall lack any beneficial thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you to revere and worshipfully fear the Lord.
12 What man is he who desires life and longs for many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.
18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.
19 Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall cause the death of the wicked; and they who hate the just and righteous shall be held guilty and shall be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the lives of His servants, and none of those who take refuge and trust in Him shall be condemned or held guilty. Psalm 34 Amplified Bible
Have you ever sat and just thought about things? Things like what a good friend you are but when you need one there doesn’t seem to be a soul! How you do so much for everyone, yet when you have a need where is everybody, or for that matter ANYBODY?? How everyone seems to have close friends but you? How you have leaped to help people in need and nobody leaps to help you? Well, you were invited to a party and went…the event was called “A Surprise Pity Party Just for You”, the devil was the host, and you had a grand ole time! Now I am not being mean and insensitive, dear reader! There are people dealing with real issues out there. I am talking about when we create our own trouble with wrong thinking!! I have been to plenty of these myself!! But, to let you know what is happening at these parties, let’s get to the root of it all!
Have you ever heard an idle mind is the devil’s workshop? How true this is. He is the one that brings the movie ( you seeing yourself abandoned and alone), the refreshments are salty water called tears, and the guest of honor is you because you are having it all by yourself and it is all about you! You have conversations with yourself that usually go something like this “I never leave the house (there is that idle mind with nothing to do), nobody ever calls, nobody ever asks me to lunch (usually we are asked but turn the lunch date down because we are so depressed by our self-pity we just don’t want to be around anyone right now!), We have helped so many and nobody lifts a finger to help us”. That is what self pity does. It causes you to think negatively about others. Maybe those people we are thinking of are going through hard times themselves and what started out with God bringing them to our hearts for prayer, turned into what shortcomings they seem to have and prayer never goes up for them as God intended. Maybe the reason we aren’t hearing from others is because when they call all we say is, “I just want a day at home!” because we are so depressed by all the self pity we have rehearsed! We are our own worst enemy most of the time! But if every word we think is supposedly true we are still wrong because we are never alone when we have Jesus!
At a pity party nobody ever wins! Not you or the ones that are “missing the mark with you”! We need to stop and think, when was the last time we asked that person we are criticizing in our minds how they were doing? When they told us did we really listen or did we redirect the conversation back to all of our “troubles”? That is selfishness within itself. When did we call and say, “Let’s do lunch today? Oh, you can’t today? What is a good day for you?” and give this person benefit of the doubt and some wiggle room to have a life themselves instead of taking it as rejection and they don’t want time with you? Could it be this person had no idea you had a need, because you have stayed home and refused real contact with anyone?
Every time I think of self-pity I think of the man at the pool of Bethesda. He had been there for years! We have talked about this one before, but it is fitting to look again! Let’s read the account…
2 Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways).
3 In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—[a]waiting for the bubbling up of the water.
4 For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
5 There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]
7 The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.
8 Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!” John 5:1-8
Did you notice Jesus didn’t say, “Well, God bless your sweet darling heart! I’ll help you! How horrible!” I used to read this and think, to me, Jesus almost seemed a little aggravated with the man! Why? Because He knew if he stroked that self-pity the man would be a captive to it the rest of his life and no condition of his life would ever change. He knew the man was hurting himself, and He wasn’t going to enable it!
If you are going to rehearse anything, rehearse your blessings! Thank God you could be a help to people! That you had your health and were able to work, when others could not! Rehearse the friendships God has brought you through the years and have a “friends party”. Take them out just to show how much you appreciate all the times in the past they were there for you before life got so chaotic for them! Rehearse the goodness and blessings God has poured out on you and praise God for sticking with you with mercy and grace! There is a song titled, “Count Your Blessings”! The first verse says….”Count your blessings name them one by one, Count your blessings seeing all God has done!” You won’t be in that pity party long when you do that! Magnify the Lord and exalt HIS name and watch your day turn on a dime, as we say in Texas! You will be blessed and I have a feeling someone else in your life will be, too!
Have a good day all day, dear reader! See you soon!!