15. BEHOLD: The Calm

Crazy days. Crazy illnesses, crazy injuries. Crazy times with students. Crazy plans to keep up with. Crazy lots to get done. Crazy excitement ahead. Everything is crazy these days. Has anyone else hit that point yet? Regardless of the careful planning ahead, Christmas always seem to come with craziness.

It must have during the first Christmas, too. Our peaceful nativity scenes don’t reflect it, but…

I can’t imagine that Mary wasn’t going a little nuts while entering labor AND searching for a place to stay or being hunkered down in a barn. A city so full that there was no room at the inn doesn’t sound peaceful or quiet. The King plotting to kill Jesus from the time he heard of His birth certainly sounds a little mad.

Praise the Lord that He is the calm!

That little baby we celebrate knew the perfect peace of God better than any of us have ever been able to fathom. His life reflected that though His circumstances rarely did.

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”

Psalm 107

In all of the storms and throngs of angry people and lists of material things piling high, the Lord is and was constant, calm, and able to hold it all together. All that He holds together is His, after all.

Even angry, flipping tables, Jesus could still calmly and ultra-wisely answer His accusers. When they seized Him to kill Him, He calmly healed a soldier’s ear and spoke calm over His disciples.

That sort of calms knows no bounds except for the will of God. His calm is the sort of calm we need every Christmas, and every day.

Behold, the one to whom we can go when we need calm.

Behold, the calm who keeps that which would overwhelm at bay.

Behold, the reason for the calm at all: God’s Will is so good that the trouble is worth the calm that always comes anyway.

This Post is being Shared on: #WomenWithIntention and #TellHiStory

14. BEHOLD: The One Worthy

You better be good, for goodness’ sake. You’ll get coal in your stocking if you aren’t nice this year. You’d better make this Christmas one to remember, or you could ruin it for everyone. Be worthy: it’s what Christmas is all about.

Except…at Christmas we remember Christ coming. The only one of whom we can say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

 –Revelation 4:11

He was born in a barn and laid first in a stable. His years of conquering this world involved peaceably healing others while proclaiming God’s truth. He was persecuted for that. The righteous king of all things, He rode into the holy city on a donkey colt’s back. He died on a cross.

Does He sound worthy? Does it sound as though He got what He deserved?

Worth before the Lord is so unlike the value system we have in this world. Not bound up in circumstance, stature, or receiving, worth in the Lord’s kingdom is all about the giving.

The one who is worthy of all praise is the giver of life. He is the giver of eternity and of all good gifts.  Through Christ, He is the giver of perfect love and security. There are no quantities to measure when determining worth with the Lord. No gain is earned, but any “gain” is given by the Lord in complete grace.

What a different sort of Christmas it is to live and act as if that which is most worthwhile is giving to the Lord the praise that He is worthy of.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3

Behold, the gift that gives and through us gives and to us gives that through us He might give.

Behold, the one who has nothing to gain and who gladly gives everything.

Behold, the only one who is truly worthy of all praise!

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing

13. BEHOLD: The Author and Editor

Oh, the stories that come with Christmas! Tales of wild festivities, hilarious memories, and sentimental moments. At Christmas we also face stories we’d rather not; disappointing and painful memories are often whispering in the background.

One story we also hear tells of Christ’s coming to earth to save us. This is the greatest story, and it’s true. Even better –the author is still at work.

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.”

Acts 3:15

Not just the author of your life story, or mine, our God is the one who created life. He is the one who overcomes it’s limits that we may live with Him forever. With just a word He gives this life, and with another, He takes it away. He came up with life, and He brought into being, and He sustains life as we know it.

With just a word, He also changes life as we don’t know it, too.

We all like to think that we plot out our paths. We try to select the themes for our Christmases, our homes, and our lives. “It’s my story” we say, and we only get to write it once. What we overlook is this fact: as the author, He gets to edit.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

The greatest story, and the whole story, are written by the Hand of God.

Praise Him that for all the plot twists we wish weren’t there and all the corrections we try to make, His edits keep the story complete and perfect.

Behold, the Author whose edits to our contributions only make it better.

Behold, the Story with no plot holes, no errors, and no constraints.

Behold, the One who assures us that the story isn’t over and it won’t be.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup 

12. BEHOLD: His Sacrifice

Little babies are one of the most precious blessings to behold in this world. We look on them with awe and wonder –their little hands and feet. Their tiny personalities. The miracle of new life in so small and fragile a package.

When Christ became a baby, new life was not born. He had long existed –longer than any man. More powerful, more perfect, than we can fathom, He gave all of that up to be one of us, and one of us at our most vulnerable –newborn.

For that to happen, there were miracles, and there were many sacrifices.

Mary’s conception was miraculous –and required the sacrifice of her reputation at very least. For Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as a son was a sacrifice to his pride and likely very costly in a number of ways. God, meanwhile, was sacrificing His only son. We know that later, Jesus also sacrificed Himself for us.

“But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God”

Hebrews 10:12

Our modern celebration of Christmas comes with sacrifice too. We give up money to support the needy, contribute to celebrations, and get gifts for loved ones. Our time is certainly sacrificed to a number of things. For some of us, our talents are offered up, too. But to what end?

That newborn savior brought with Him a new birth into eternal life, for you and for me.

In our sacrifices, we have a model to follow after. His example is one of humility. He gave up that which was rightfully His –His place and person in heaven- to become like the least of us.

His sacrifice was made not to the altar of man and man’s demands, but to the Lord who so loved us. Can we say the same of our sacrifices this Christmas? Are they made out of love for the Lord?

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise

–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Behold, His great name, always worthy of our praise.

Behold, the ultimate sacrifice that now allows us be living sacrifices.

Behold, new life by the newborn’s sacrifice.

11. BEHOLD: The Brave

Isn’t it silly which things require bravery? Saying “no” to a friend’s Christmas invitation seems scary because they might be offended. Choosing that particular gift can be frightening because it may not be what they wanted and it will hurt to see it rejected. Telling a co-worker about the Christmas Eve service carries risks.

These things aren’t even really threatening. Yet, we act in fear. Saying yes to everything, apologizing for gifts before we give them, and avoiding the most essential topic in the world.

Thank God Jesus was brave. More than brave- thank God Jesus was fearless.

His fearlessness made Him man, born a dependent baby to sinful people. His courage led through a life of persecution. Finally, His bravery brought Him to die on a cross and be separated from God Himself. And then…to rise again. It’s because of that that we truly live!

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
1 Cor 15:14
“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

And in all that, Jesus never shook. He never wavered. There was never a compromise to take a step back when threats arose –the very kind of threats we rarely hear but always fear: abandonment, rejection, and betrayal.

Why?

Jesus had no cause for fear. He was (and is!) so aligned with God and so fully accepting of God’s perfect sovereignty in all things that He has no cause for fear. For us to live that same way is brave.

Christ was beholding the truth. So fixed on it was He that nothing could stir up doubt or fear in Him. He was so complete and fulfilled in God that there was no room for fear.

We can follow that example. We can be bold like Christ is bold by beholding Him too.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”Psalm 27:1

Behold, the one whose path is straight leaving us no cause to stray.

Behold, the one whose way is perfect, leaving us no need to be afraid of anything.

Behold, the one whose loving-kindness replaces all our fears with the bravery of Christ.

10. BEHOLD: The Adorner

Why do we decorate at Christmas time? Jesus was born in a manger, and yet many of us to celebrate his birth deck out our whole houses. It takes years to accumulate complete sets of decorations –from expensive pieces to enough simple lights to cover the trees, banisters, and yard. For some, it takes almost as long just to put the decorations up.

Despite the irony, it seems we do have a good reason for the adorning of our homes during this season: we’re symbolically welcoming the adorner.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings news of peace, who announces good things, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!’”

Isaiah 52:7

By decorating, we announce that the Lord is come. We announce that salvation is available to all, and that eternal life with Him is something to celebrate.

And doesn’t it seem like the Lord joins us in the effort? December is beautiful. The December sky is striking. Up north, here, we have this chilled air that wakes you up, opening your eyes. Driving around, we see lights and bright colors everywhere. We must not forget that the Lord made those, too.

Along with the beautiful we see, there is also the beauty He adorns the world with internally. Beauty like hope and love. The “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4.)

Scripture tells us that Christ was there in the beginning. The same Lord who became that little baby, born to save us from this ugly thing called sin, created us in the first place.

And now, He creates us anew. Rejoice in that beauty. Rejoice in the “new clothes” He adorns us with. Rejoice in the Word and Spirit, written on our hearts to turn us from cold stone to living testimonies of His –yes His, glory.

“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

–Psalm 29:2

Behold, the beauty of the good news.

Behold, the adornment of the world in light, living color, hope, and transformation.

Behold, the adorner who makes it so.

This post is being shared on: #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.

9. BEHOLD: Our Treasurer

People tend to count often in December. Fastidious budgeters often check their bank accounts multiple times a day during December. Others tally what’s left in their wallets. Some people take the time to count their blessings. I know I’ve also counted the hours in the day and the tasks left to complete.

December is a month of spending, tracking, budgeting, and collecting. Whether our time, our money, our gifts, or our to-do’s, we have much to manage.

Fortunately, the Christ we celebrate this month is the best treasurer to ever exist.

“Does he not see my ways and count my every step?” Job 31:4

                        “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:7

If He knows the number of the hairs on our heads and every step we take, He is certainly doing a better job of keeping track of our mess and our gifts than we could ever hope to. More than just tracking, though, Christ, on our behalf:

  • Has paid our debt
  • Has provided what we need
  • Has invested our lives in eternal things
  • Has given us everything we need, counted and tallied, to glorify Him
  • Has sacrificed to ensure that all our loved ones are covered too
  • Has secured for us a future with Him that is priceless –and that can’t be bought or sold

The Christmas lists of budget sheets, wants and needs, and plans to complete look a little different when we recognize the work that our treasurer is doing.

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Behold, the one who counts most (pun intended!)

Behold, the treasurer who exchanges for treasure in heaven.

Behold, the treasure Himself.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday

8. BEHOLD: The Healer

Along with the Christmas season comes the cold season. And the flu season. And the season for strep throat, pneumonia, exhaustion, etc. Those are just the physical illnesses that plague the holidays.

With Christmas, for many, comes disappointment. The heartache of loneliness and loss seems exacerbated by the twinkling lights and appearance that all is somehow well and right with the beautifully adorned (or masked) world around us.

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

-Luke 5:31

Let this be salve for your soul: the healer has come. The great physician was born in Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago, and He is still at work today.

His healing comes as He did: vulnerably. Through faith. Mingled with the unexpected. Humbly. And with such compassion…

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:13-14

Who better to trust with our pain, heartache, and illnesses than the very one who made us? We know that His care and provision are perfect. His way is better than ours, and His plan more complete than we can imagine –even when it doesn’t look that way.

Few thought, looking at the baby in a manger, the reviled wanderer, or the man on the cross, that it was through that relentless compassion and formidable humility that the healing of all mankind would come.

But it did.

More than just treating our ailments and our weariness, Christ’s healing relieves us of the burden of sin. He re-forms the disease of the human heart.

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

Jeremiah 17:14

Behold, the one who became a baby to give us the cure!

Behold, the one who heals us of the most deadly disease.

Behold, the healer whose method is the most gentle, compassionate, and perfect.

This Post is being Shared on: #WomenWithIntention and #TellHiStory

7. BEHOLD: The Bearer

I have 60 people on my Christmas card list this year. There are more than 10 people to buy for. That’s just Christmas stuff. The Lord blessed me with a new job a few months ago. The more people I get to know there, the longer my prayer list grows. That’s on top of the huge to-do list that multiplies at Christmas time.

Sometimes, it seems the load the lord gives me (and you!) is too much to bear.

Picture a little donkey, with a pregnant woman on his back. And her possessions. And her husband’s. What a load he bore. Imagine a teenage girl, pure and righteous, pregnant out of wedlock, carrying God’s child. That’s a hefty load.

Here’s the truth: the more people we know, the more we have to bear. The little baby boy born in to the woman riding the donkey had the whole world in His hands…a load we cannot fathom.

Jesus knows EVERYONE. And, because He loves, He bears it ALL.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”

-Isaiah 53:4

Christ came with the weight of our every burden upon Him. He carried that to the cross and down to the grave. Today, He continues to bear our loads, saying that we can cast all our cares upon Him.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient,

bearing with one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:2

The burdens and loads we do bear, given by the Lord, are light because He’s holding us.

Take on one more Christmas card to make that new friend’s day. Stop to pray with the loved one now. Cross something off of your to-do list to take time to praise the one who has taken the time to walk with you through it all.

Behold, the bearer of the world.

Behold, the bearer of the best news we all need to hear.

Behold, the bearer who is bearing you today!

6. BEHOLD: Our Home

After holiday festivities, you just want to get home. People traveling far and wide for Christmas celebrations know the nostalgia of wanting to get to their own place –or even just the familiar, beloved place they are headed.

When Jesus was born, it wasn’t in His own place. But He still had a place to be. And the welcome was grand!

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Romans 15:7

Regardless of our physical location and setting, we have a place to be too. We all have a home. Over and over in Scripture we read about God as our place of refuge. God is our dwelling place. He makes a safe pasture for us.

Because of Christ, we even have access into the most Holy Place. More than that, we are welcomed there:

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,”

Hebrews 10:19

The Lord ensures that we all have a home. It may not be in this world, and it may not be a place in a physical sense at all. But just as “home” is found where loved ones are and the heart is full, so home is the place of being near the Lord. He loves to have us there.

As we bustle about and rush to get places –even our own places- may we behold the home we have in the Lord!

Behold, the one who always welcomes us with open arms.

Behold, the safest, most loving, perfect home we can have and hope for.

Behold, our place with the Lord that we eagerly run to regardless of where we are.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup