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Darryn Zewalk / Blog

"Joy" by Julie Ackerman Link (Christmas Inspirational #4)

"Joy" by Julie Ackerman Link (Christmas Inspiration #4)

After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, joy was lost. God expelled them from their garden home to prevent something worse from happening. If they had eaten from the tree of life after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would have lived forever in their misery.

Life outside the garden was not easy. Adam and Eve had to work hard for their food. The reality of death was everywhere, and animals preyed on one another. Even worse, the couple’s firstborn son murdered his younger brother. What could be worse? Sin had pierced their lives, and the couple could not stop joy from draining out.

But God had a plan to restore joy. Joy was lost in the Garden when death came, but joy returned through birth—the birth of God’s own Son. “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). Jesus grew up to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and raise the dead. But this was just a taste of things to come. God entered our world, experienced our sorrow, and conquered death, giving us hope that He will keep His promise to end pain, and eliminate sorrow and death (John 11:25-26; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rev. 21:4). No wonder Christmas is the season of joy!

Have you felt the joy of the shepherds, Who were first to behold the sight Of that holy Child of Mary, On that wonderful Christmas night? —Brill The joy of Christmas is Jesus.

Glad To Get Home! (Christmas Inspirational #5)

Glad To Get Home! (Christmas Inspirational #5)

In wintertime, a condition known as a “whiteout” sometimes occurs along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The air becomes so filled with powdery snow that you can’t see more than a few feet ahead. You feel totally helpless, especially if you’re driving, and that’s what we were doing on a bitterly cold December day.

Our family had been invited to my sister’s house for Christmas dinner. As we headed west toward Lake Michigan, the weather became treacherous, but we made it to our destination. Later, however, as we were driving home after dark, the situation grew even worse. The expressway was covered with ice, traffic slowed to a crawl, and several cars were in the ditch. Then all at once we were enveloped by a brief whiteout. Believe me, it was frightening. After a slow, tedious journey, we finally reached Grand Rapids and pulled into our driveway. I think every member of the family said, “I’m sure glad to get home!”

I wonder if we’ll have a similar feeling when we enter heaven. The dangerous “whiteouts” of our earthly journey will be over. The temptations, stresses, and failures will all be in the past. Best of all, we’ll be safe with our Savior.

Yes, we’ll be so glad to get home!

When we all get to heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, We'll sing and shout the victory. —Hewitt

Heaven for the Christian is best spelled H-O-M-E.

Hiding In Plain Sight by Mart De Haan (Christmas Inspirational #6)

Hiding In Plain Sight by Mart De Haan (Christmas Inspirational #6)

A Baltimore congregation found the answer to their financial troubles on the wall of their church. And it had been “hiding” there for more than 25 years! Someone finally recognized a piece of art hanging in the chapel—it was a valuable woodblock print by Albrecht Dürer, dated 1493. The work shows the angel telling Mary she would give birth to God’s Son.

Some members just could not believe they had been unaware of the value of the old masterpiece, saying in effect, “If it were real, why would it be here?”

What about us? Are we overlooking the value of the event depicted on that woodblock print?

Jesus isn’t hiding. The truth that God came to earth in human form is plainly announced in His Word. It is reflected in our art and in our hymnbooks. But the significance of Christ’s birth is still neglected. We get so wrapped up in activities and programs that we miss the immeasurable worth of knowing who that Baby was.

What’s missing is our worship. Think about the meaning of His birth. Jesus is God! He came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and give us eternal life (John 3:14-18).

This Christmas, join with the wisemen and shepherds and give praise to Jesus—God who became Man.

He left His Father's throne above, So free, so infinite His grace! Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam's helpless race. —Wesley

Christ's birth brought the infinite God to finite man.

Death Destroyed! by David C. McCasland (Christmas Inspiration #7)

Death Destroyed! by David C. McCasland (Christmas Inspiration #7)

Medical researchers are working tirelessly to find a cure for cancer, a clue to the mystery of Alzheimer’s, and ways to conquer a host of other debilitating diseases. But what if you awoke to headlines saying DEATH DESTROYED! Would you believe it? Could you believe it?

The New Testament proclaims that for the believer in Christ, deathhas been destroyed—reduced to inactivity—rendered incapable of doing what it once did. “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:54).

This good news is for everyone who will receive it—just as the angel told the shepherds when Jesus was born, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

The birth of Jesus was the beginning of the end for death. “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-57).

That is why we celebrate Christmas!

Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. —Wesley The birth of Christ brought God to man; the cross of Christ brings man to God.

"Celebrate Winter" by Joe Stowell (Christmas Inspirational #8)

"Celebrate Winter" by Joe Stowell (Christmas Inspirational #8)

I love living where there are four seasons. But even though I love settling down with a good book by a crackling fire when it’s snowing, I must admit that my love for the seasons grows a little dim when the long gray days of winter drone on into February.

Yet regardless of the weather, there is always something special about winter: Christmas! Thankfully, long after the decorations are down, the reality of Christmas still lifts my spirits no matter what’s happening.

If it weren’t for the reality of Christ’s birth, not only would winter be dark and dreary, but our hearts would be bleak and have nothing to hope for. No hope for the freedom from guilt and judgment. No hope of His reassuring and strengthening presence through dark and difficult times. No hope for a future secured in heaven.

In the winter of a troubled life, the psalmist asked, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” The remedy was clear: “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Ps. 42:5).

In C. S. Lewis’ tales of Narnia, Mr. Tumnus complains that in Narnia it is “always winter and never Christmas.” But for those of us who know the God who made the seasons, it is always Christmas in our hearts!

When our lives are heavy laden, Cold and bleak as winter long, Stir the embers in our hearts, Lord; Make Your flame burn bright and strong. —Kieda Let the reality of Christmas chase away the blahs of winter.

Praying And Waiting by Herbert Vander Lugt (Christmas Inspirational #9)

Praying And Waiting by Herbert Vander Lugt (Christmas Inspirational #9) A Christian couple was deeply distressed because their married son and his family had quit going to church and were giving God no place in their lives. As their friend, I advised them to continue showing love, to pray, and to avoid starting arguments. But at the family’s annual Christmas gathering, the father gave his son a lecture in the presence of the other siblings. The son and his family left in anger and broke off all contact with his parents. It’s hard to rely on prayer alone when you want something to happen right now. But that is what Nehemiah did. He was distraught by the news that the Israelites in Jerusalem were in grave danger (Nehemiah 1:3-4). He was a man with great leadership ability and in a favorable position to receive help from the king he served, so he was eager to help his people. But he knew that he could be executed for coming into the presence of a Persian king without being invited. Therefore, though he had asked God to give him the opportunity immediately, he trusted God enough to wait. Four months later, the king opened the door for him to make his request (2:1,4).

It’s not always easy to be patient, but God can be trusted. Wait patiently for Him.

Praying, resting, waiting, trusting— These are words that tell a story; As we wait for God to lead us, He responds, "Just seek My glory." —Hess

Delay is not denial—pray on!

"Where's The Baby Jesus?" by David C. Egner (Christmas Inspirational #10)

"Where's The Baby Jesus?" by David C. Egner (Christmas Inspirational #10) It seems to happen earlier each year. Stores put up Christmas decorations. Newspaper ads announce “the perfect Christmas gift.” Toy commercials punctuate television shows. Christmas music fills the air. Before you know it, there are banquets to attend, parties you can’t miss, gifts to wrap, family gatherings to plan, baking to be done, and a host of other activities that manage to crowd out the real meaning of Christmas.

Delores Van Belkum told me a story about her young grandson that drives home the point. His mother and father had used a simple manger scene to tell Justin about Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. They wanted him to know that the Child born in Bethlehem was someone very special. As the holiday approached, Justin went on a shopping trip with his mother and grandmother. One salesperson showed him a sparkling display of Santas, toys, and decorations. He was fascinated. But he spoke words that far surpassed his years when he looked up and said, “But where’s the baby Jesus?”

This Christmas, let’s keep foremost in our minds the reason for the celebration—the birth of God’s Son. Then, as people listen to our words and observe our activities, they won’t ask, “Where’s the baby Jesus?”

Invite Him in this Christmas, This Savior from above; The gift He seeks you need not wrap— He only wants your love. —Berg

Beware of keeping Christmas but losing Christ.

"Always Winter" by Cindy Hess Kasper (Christmas Inspirational #11)

"Always Winter" by Cindy hess Kasper (Christmas Inspirational #11)

Unlike some of my family—who can’t wait to go downhill skiing—I don’t look forward to winter. When the first snowflake falls, I immediately start calculating how many months of Michigan winter are left.

Imagine C. S. Lewis’ fictional world of Narnia, where for a hundred years it was always winter. Cold, wet snow—with no hope of springtime ever arriving to wipe away the memories of icy temperatures and piles of white stuff. But worst of all, in Narnia, Christmas never came. Always winter and never Christmas! To me, the best part of winter is the anticipation, excitement, and wonder of Christmas. Life is bleak when you have nothing to look forward to.

There are some whose souls are locked in winter. The hardness of life has frozen their hearts. Disappointed with life, they find that each day is filled with despair. “Weeping may endure for a night,” the psalmist tells us, “but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). In the darkest times of our lives, God longs to turn our “mourning into dancing” (v.11).

David wrote, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19). If you cry out to God in the midst of your “winter,” you can experience the joy of the Christ of Christmas today.

Now none but Christ can satisfy, None other name for me; There’s love and life and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee. —McGranahan

Jesus can turn your sorrow into dancing.

Celebrate The Baby by Dave Branon (Christmas Inspirational #12)

Celebrate The Baby by Dave Branon (Christmas Inspirational #12)

Why do we celebrate Jesus’ birthday so differently from other birthdays? When it’s time to honor historical figures who have a day set aside for them, we don’t think about them as babies. We don’t have pictures of cute little Abe Lincoln in his log cabin in Kentucky. No, we remember him for his contributions as an adult.

It is proper, though, that we celebrate Jesus as a child. Think about it. When He was born, shepherds came to honor Him (Luke 2:15-16). Later, wise men from the East brought Him gifts (Matthew 2:8-12). These people had no idea what Christ would eventually accomplish as an adult. But they were right in doing what they did, because Jesus’ birth was the most remarkable event in human history.

How amazing! God in human form. The Creator of the universe visiting this planet. Let’s never hesitate to celebrate this baby at Christmas. Marvel at His incarnation. Stand in awe of the tiny baby who had created His worshipers. Then step back in wonder, for the story gets even better. This baby grew into manhood, lived a perfect life, and willingly died for your sins and mine.

Celebrate the baby and trust the Savior. That’s how to make Christmas complete.

How wonderful that we on Christmas morn, Though centuries have passed since Christ was born, May worship still the Living Lord of men, Our Savior, Jesus, Babe of Bethlehem. —Hutchings

Wise men today worship not only the Child of Bethlehem, but also the Man of Calvary

A Great Light by David McCasland (Christmas Inspiration #13)

A Great Light by David McCasland

I was driving through the mountains of western Maryland on a cold December night. As I topped a ridge near Rocky Gap State Park, a brilliant sea of lights caught my attention. What in the world is that? I wondered as the exit road flashed past. It so aroused my curiosity that 5 miles down the interstate I turned around and drove back to see what it was—a local community’s celebration in lights during the Christmas season. At noon, I wouldn’t have noticed anything. But at night, the dazzling display couldn’t be ignored.

Strange, isn’t it, that we complain about the moral and spiritual darkness of our world, yet it is the perfect setting for the radiance of the Lord Jesus Christ. At Christmas, we often read these prophetic words: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

Jesus said of Himself: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), and to His disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).

In a dark world, people don’t see a great light without wondering why it’s there and what it means. We get to tell them.

O Holy One of glorious birth Who lives within our heart, May we to all men everywhere Your wondrous love impart. —Brandt

To lead others out of the darkness, let them see your light.