Merry Christmas

May your delight
this Christmas
be in the One
who came
to give us hope
beyond the grave.

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

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on loving God’s Word

May God’s Word
be for us
as endearing
as a handwritten letter
from a dear friend.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, 
and on his law he meditates day and night. 
Psalm 1:2 ESV

“Our Bible reading should not be a marathon,
but a slow, deliberate soaking in of its message.”
A. W. Tozer

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The Jesus Story for Christmas

From Birth to Resurrection

This story can be told for the twelve days leading up to Christmas, or all at once. You will open one gift each day. Ideas for items to put in the gift boxes are at the end of the story.

May God bless your desire to share with your children the real meaning of Christmas.

The 1st day of Christmas
A long time ago, God came to earth. God actually became a baby! An angel told His mother, Mary, to name Him Jesus. We celebrate His birthday every Christmas.

The angel said:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31, also Matthew 1:23).

(open box #1)

Do you think Mary gave Jesus a rattle?

The 2nd day of Christmas
Jesus grew up just like every other little boy grows up. But He didn’t act like any other little boy. Jesus never lied. He never cheated. He never said an unkind word, or did an unkind thing. And Jesus never, not even once, disobeyed His parents. Jesus never sinned! He never did anything wrong.

The Bible says,
“The child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40).

(open box #2)

Do you think Jesus played with blocks? Maybe He did. He might have played with bouncy balls, too.

Have you ever said an unkind word, or disobeyed your parents? The Bible says everyone has sinned. Jesus is the only one who never sinned. (see Romans 3:23)

The 3rd day of Christmas
God told the people of Israel He would give them a King, their very own Messiah. The Messiah would love them and forgive them and show them how to live. The people waited and waited for their King. It seemed He would never come. But they kept waiting and hoping and looking for their King. Then, one day, a man named Andrew met Jesus.

After Andrew met Jesus, he hurried to Simon, his brother, and said,
“We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).

(open box #3)

Do you think Jesus wore a crown? No, He didn’t. The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as God’s servant. But when He comes to earth again, He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then everyone will bow down to Him. (See Philippians 2:9-11)

The 4th day of Christmas
Jesus performed miracles to prove that He and God are one. He healed many people who were sick. He told a storm to stop, and it did! He walked on water. He turned one little boy’s lunch into enough food to feed over 5,000 hungry people. And He brought a dead person back to life. Only God could do those things!

Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

(open box #4)

A long time ago, men wrote God’s word on parchment paper, and rolled it into scrolls. Now the Bible is a book. We learn about God, and get to know Him, when we read the Bible. It’s filled with true stories about Jesus! Do you like to hear true stories? (see John 20:30-31)

The 5th day of Christmas
Jesus loved people more than anyone ever could. Some people loved and followed Jesus. Other people hated Him. They didn’t want to obey Him, or bow down to Him as King. They wanted to kill Him.

The Bible says,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

(open box #5)

Did you know that God loves you? He wants you to love Him, too. When we love God, we want to obey Him. (see 1 John 4:19)

The 6th day of Christmas
On the night before Jesus died, He ate supper with His friends. He told them about His plan to go back to heaven, and prepare a place for them. He said one day they would live with Him in heaven.

Jesus said,
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

(open box #6)

What do you think heaven will be like? The Bible says God will live with His people, and there will be no crying or sickness or pain. The streets will be made of gold! Everything will be made new. (see Revelation 21:3-4)

The 7th day of Christmas
After Jesus ate supper with His friends, He prayed for them. Jesus knew He would be killed. And He knew His friends would be very sad. So He asked His Father to take care of them.

Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and said,
“Father….they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:1, 11, 15).

(open box #7)

Prayer is talking to God the same way you talk to your mom or dad, or grandma or grandpa. God likes it when we talk to Him. (see Philippians 4:6-7)
What are some things we can pray about?

The 8th day of Christmas
When Jesus finished praying, a mob of angry men came and took Him away. They put Him on trial, and declared Him guilty, even though He had never done anything wrong. They decided to kill Him by hanging Him on a cross—but that didn’t surprise Jesus at all. He came to die for sinners, and He knew He would die on a cross.

One day, Jesus said, “…the Son of Man [must] be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14).

(open box #8)

Jesus died on a cross, to take the punishment for sin. Do you know what sin is?

Sin separates us from God, because God is Holy. Everything He does is good and right and true. He never lies, or does anything wrong.

We can tell God we’re sorry for the things we’ve done wrong. We can ask Him to forgive us, and He will! Do you know why? Because Jesus took the punishment for everyone who believes in Him.

The 9th day of Christmas
While Jesus hung on the cross, people mocked Him. They said, “If you are God, save yourself!” And Jesus could have saved Himself. He could have called for ten thousand angels to rescue Him. But He didn’t, because He wanted to take the punishment for the sins of everyone who would believe in Him.

The people who watched Jesus on the cross wagged their heads and said,
“If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. He saved others; but he cannot save himself. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now” (Matthew 27:40-43).

(open box #9)

Did you know that angels do whatever God tells them to do? Sometimes He sends them to protect people. (see Matthew 26:53-54, Psalm 91:11-12)

The 10th day of Christmas
After Jesus died, two of His friends took Him off the cross. They wrapped His body in strips of cloth and sweet-smelling spices. Then they laid Him in a tomb.

The Bible says,
“So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews” (John 19:40).

(open box #10)

Jesus died, and His friends were very sad, but God has power over life and death. Something exciting happened three days after Jesus died! Do you think you know the end to this true story? (see 1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

The 11th day of Christmas
Strong men rolled a huge stone in front of Jesus’ tomb, so no one could get in and no one could take Jesus out.

The Bible says they “rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away” (Matthew 27:60).

(open box #11)

A tomb was like a cave, with an opening at the front, so people could walk in and out. How big do you think the stone had to be to close the entrance of a tomb? Do you think it was bigger than you?

The 12th day of Christmas
Three days after Jesus died, three of His friends went to the tomb. They were women who wanted to put more spices on Jesus’ body. On the way to the tomb, they said to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us?” When they got to the tomb, an angel had already rolled away the stone. When they went inside, they found an empty tomb!

The angel said to the women,
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said…go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead” (Matthew 28:5-7).

After Jesus finished all the work God gave Him to do, God brought Him back to life. And He still lives, to this very day!

(open box #12)

Why do you think there’s soap in our last egg?

Thanks to Jesus, we can ask God to wash away our sins. And He will!

The Bible says:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Jesus came to His own people, but they didn’t care about Him or love Him. They didn’t want to obey Him or honor Him as King.

But to all who believe Him, who receive Him as Savior and King, He gives the right to become children of God (see John 1:11-12).

That’s why we celebrate Christmas.

 

 

Here’s what you’ll need:
Twelve very small gift boxes or bags. Most of the dollar stores have small decorated boxes (2 for $1), and small gift bags (3 for $1). I also purchased a large box to hold all of the little boxes; this will make it easier to bring to gatherings and pack away for future years. Number the boxes from 1-12.

Box 1: any small item found in the baby shower section of stores, an It’s a Boy trinket, a small piece of baby blanket, a rattle
Box 2: marbles, small bouncy balls, small blocks or toy
Box 3: crown (charm or sticker)
Box 4: rolled up Scripture tied with twine (copied from page of Bible), picture of Bible, Bible charm or sticker
Box 5: heart (plenty of options to choose from)
Box 6: chocolate gold coins
Box 7: praying hands (charm, clipart cutout, or sticker)
Box 8: cross (many options to choose from)
Box 9: angel (charm, sticker, ornament)
Box 10: strips of muslin and whole spices such as cloves or all spice berries
Box 11: stone
Box 12: soap (small soap balls found by bubble bath, or bar of soap)

If your boxes are large enough, you can add duplicate items in each box so the children can keep them as a reminder of the story.

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prayer

Perhaps one day we will see
that we accomplished more
during our time in prayer
than we did with every other effort.

The prayer of a righteous person
has great power as it is working.
James 5:16 ESV

 

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most important 5 Ws and 1 H

If not God, who will we serve?
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD,
choose this day whom you will serve.”

If not for God, what hope do we have?
Remember that you were at that time
separated from Christ…having no hope
and without God in the world.

If not to God, where can we go
for the salvation of our souls?
And there is salvation in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved.

If not now, when will we believe?
Behold, now is the favorable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

If not for God, why are we here?
I have seen everything that is done
under the sun, and behold,
all is vanity and a striving after the wind.

If for God, how shall we live?
The end of the matter; all has been heard.
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Joshua 24:15, Ephesians 2:12, Acts 4:12,
2 Corinthians 6:2, Ecclesiastes 1:14, 12:13,
Micah 6:8 ESV (Scripture in italics.)

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remember and rejoice

When we fail, Christ prevails.
We are freely forgiven,
and God remembers our sin
no more. However,
try as we might to forget,
our sins are ever before us.
In times of regret, it’s good
to know God lives with those
who remember and rejoice
because Christ died.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in a high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” 
Isaiah 57:15 ESV

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one brief life

The span of a person’s life is as minutes gone by to God,
a few hours at most.
What is seventy or eighty years compared to eternity?
Even so, we matter to Him, every little detail matters.

David said: “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” 
Psalm 39:5 ESV

Jesus said: “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Luke 12:7 ESV

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it’s good parenting

Just as a good parent keeps an eye on his children,
to provide for and protect, so God keeps an eye
on His children, for the same reasons.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, 
on those who hope in his steadfast love, 
that he may deliver their soul from death 
and keep them alive in famine. 
Psalm 33:18-19 ESV

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one of my favorite quotes

“Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all–out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the spirit will live forever.”
D. L. Moody
From: The Life of D.L. Moody by His Son

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the best thing

If you could ask God for one thing…

One thing have I asked of the LORD, 
that will I seek after: 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD 
all the days of my life, 
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD 
and to inquire in his temple. 
Psalm 27:4 ESV

what would it be?

Also: Luke 10:38-42

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Great American Eclipse: Is it a warning?

Here’s why I don’t think the eclipse is a warning from God:

1. God ordained that men would be warned by His Word (see Psalm 19:7-11).
2. God ordained that men would be warned by the lives and testimony of His people (see Genesis 6:9, 7:1).
3. God ordained that the Holy Spirit would convince men of sin and righteousness and coming judgement (see John 16:8).
4. If a person isn’t affected by God’s Word or His people, a supernatural event won’t alarm him either (see Luke 16:19-31).
5. Warnings are unmistakable.
6. Warnings are unpredictable.
7. Warnings are specific.

So, go ahead, get the glasses and gather your friends. Consider God’s greatness and look! “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 ESV).

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I stand amazed

Lord God,
You are too much for my mind to comprehend;
You are beyond my understanding.
Thoughts of You, at times, overwhelm me,
and I wonder–How can this be?
I pray that You would not allow me
to become doubtful, but, always and only,
amazed by You.
Thank You for Your Word.
In Christ I stand,
Amen.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. 
But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not,
I am the first and the last, and the living one.
I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.”
Revelation 1:17-18a ESV

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what to wear

Shout for joy,
give thanks,
and sing!
Praise the Lord–
it suits you.

Praise befits the upright. 
Psalm 33:1b ESV

Also: Psalm 33:1-5

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real beauty

May God grant us grace
to see hidden beauty
as most desirable.

…but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart 
with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which in God’s sight is very precious. 
1 Peter 3:4 ESV

Also: Proverbs 16:31, 31:30

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avoid vs. trust

Plunging headfirst into a situation we’d rather avoid
is an act of faith; it’s trusting God to work, in spite of our fears.
By faith, we depend on God’s ability, rather than our own.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9b ESV

Also: Hebrews 4:14-16

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something good

There is a longing
in the heart
of every man
for something
good. Something
that will give
meaning to his
mundane
ordinary
existence.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; 
let them ever sing for joy, 
and spread your protection over them, 
that those who love your name 
may exult in you. 
Psalm 5:11 ESV

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let there be courage

Wait for the LORD; be strong, 
and let your heart take courage; 
wait for the LORD! 
Psalm 27:14 ESV

It’s good to remember,
there is never a situation
where God is not in control.
God gave us the Psalms
to get us through those times–
those troubling times–
when it seems we have fallen
out of His hand.

Also: John 10:22-30

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joy joy

Let there be joy.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, 
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 
Psalm 90:14 NIV

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Christian Living Quick Tip #16

Act deliberately.

For this very reason, make every effort 
to supplement your faith with virtue.
2 Peter 1:5a ESV

for further study: 2 Peter 1:3-11

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Christian Living Quick Tip #15

Forgive forgetfully.

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, 
and I will remember their sins no more.” 
Hebrews 8:12 ESV

Also: Matthew 18:21-35

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