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Darryn Zewalk / Blog

"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.

Something Happened Here by Haddon W. Robinson (Christmas Inspiration #14)

Something Happened Here by Haddon W. Robinson (Christmas Inspiration #14)

Christians are divided in their views of Christmas. Some want to give up on it and hand it over to the stores. Others want to salvage it and use it to say something important about the birth of Jesus to a weary secular world. I, for one, would like to take my place with the second group.

Years ago an old pioneer journeyed westward across the Great Plains of North America until he came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He gawked at the sight before him—a vast chasm 1 mile deep, 18 miles across, and stretching out of sight. He gasped, “Something must have happened here!”

At the Christmas season, anyone who stops to look and listen must ask what the hustle and bustle is all about. A thoughtful man or woman, seeing the lights, the decorations, the festivities, and the religious services might also conclude, “Something must have happened here!”

Of course, something did happen. We need to tell the world about it. God has visited our planet. His Son Jesus Christ came to reveal God and to die for our sins (John 1:1-14). It’s the best news ever! The Lord came and lived among us that we might live forever with Him.

That’s why we can rejoice at Christmas.

One day has left its mark in time For all mankind to see; It is the day when Christ was born— That day made history. —D. De Haan

To make the most of Christmas, focus on Christ.

Praiseworthy by David C. Egner (Christmas Inspiration #15)

Praiseworthy by David C. Egner

The Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Choir were presenting their annual Christmas concert. Near the conclusion, they were joined by the 4,000 members of the audience in singing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.” I got chills when we sang the words, “And heaven and nature sing.”

Despite the magnificence of that moment, it was but a faint shadow of the praise that will be raised to the Lamb in heaven. Jesus is worthy of the adoration and praise of all beings: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

In Revelation 5, we read John’s description of a widening circle of praise to the Lord. It begins with “four living creatures and the twenty-four elders” (v.8). They are joined by angels numbering “ten thousand times ten thousand” (v.11).

But that’s not all. Every creature in heaven, on earth, and in the sea will one day sing, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (v.13).

You don’t have to wait for that day to sing praise to the Lamb. He is worthy of your praise right now!

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy. —Watts

Praise is the overflow of a joyful heart.

All is Well by Cindy Hess Kasper (#16 Christmas Inspirational)

All is Well by Cindy Hess Kasper (#16 Christmas Inspirational)

Recently, my husband and I were reacquainted with a young man we had known as a child many years ago. We fondly reminisced about a Christmas program when Matthew had sung—in a perfect boy soprano—the song “All Is Well” by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Michael W. Smith. It was a wonderful memory of a song beautifully sung.

All is well, all is well; Lift up your voice and sing. Born is now Emmanuel, Born is our Lord and Savior. Sing Alleluia, sing Alleluia, all is well.

To hear the words of that song at Christmastime is comforting to many. But some people are unable to absorb the message because their lives are in turmoil. They’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, persistent unemployment, a serious illness, or depression that will not go away. Their hearts loudly cry out, “All is not well—not for me!”

But for those of us who celebrate the birth of our Savior—despite the dark night of the soul we may experience—all is well because of Christ. We are not alone in our pain. God is beside us and promises never to leave (Heb. 13:5). He promises that His grace will be sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). He promises to supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19). And He promises us the amazing gift of eternal life (John 10:27-28).

As we review God’s promises, we can agree with the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who wrote, “Before me, even as behind, God is, and all is well.”

God’s peace pillows the head when God’s promises calm the heart.

The Forgotten Tree by Richard De Haan (Christmas Inspiration #17)

In Acts 10:39, the cross of Calvary is called a tree. It’s also referred to this way in Acts 5:30, Acts 13:29, Galatians 3:13, and 1 Peter 2:24.

At this season when much attention is paid to the Christmas tree covered with tinsel, ornaments, and colored lights, the rugged cross of Calvary might well be called the forgotten tree of Christmas. Many people completely overlook the purpose for which Jesus came to earth. The true significance of His birth can be lost in the trappings, gift-giving, and party-going associated with the celebration of this holiday.

We must keep clearly in mind the real meaning of Christmas. Luke tells us that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). The Babe of Bethlehem was born to die. He came to give His life as a sacrifice for sin by hanging on a tree—not a tinsel-covered thing of beauty, but an ugly, cruel instrument of execution.

As we remember our Savior’s birth in Bethlehem’s stable, let’s be deeply conscious that it is vitally related to Golgotha’s hill where He was crucified, and where He shed His blood for the sins of the world.

Don’t let Calvary’s cross be the forgotten tree of Christmas. It’s the most important one!

This joyous season of the year Should prompt us to recall That Jesus' death on Calvary Provides new life for all. —Sper

The mission of the cross is hidden in the message of the cradle.

Peace On Earth by David McCasland (#18 Christmas Inspirations)

Peace On Earth by David McCasland (#18 Christmas Inspirations)

Perhaps you remember the newspaper photograph in December 1991 that showed eight members of a police SWAT team looking for a sniper in a small Missouri town. Stretched across the road over their heads was a Christmas banner that read “Peace On Earth.” The headline above the photo said: Four Killed, One Wounded in Attacks.

Events that hardly faze us the rest of the year seem tragic and out of place as we approach Christmas. The message of the angels is mocked by angry shouts and endless violence.

Every Christmas I remind myself that the world into which Jesus was born was not draped with pine boughs and soft glowing lights. Families were gathering to sign the tax rolls of a tyrannical Roman government, not to sing carols and exchange gifts.

John 3:16 states, “God so loved the world”—the givers and takers, movers and shakers, snipers and SWAT teams—”that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever”—the haves and have-nots, frightened children and anxious parents—”believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The offer still stands. People everywhere can have peace on earth if they’ll look for it in Jesus.

The angels said at Jesus' birth That He was bringing peace on earth; God's inner peace we can receive If in His Son we will believe. —Sper

No God, no peace; know God, know peace.

Keeping Christmas by David Branon (Christmas Inspiration #19)

Keeping Christmas by David Branon (Christmas Inspiration #19)

One of the most respected TV journalists of our time was Harry Reasoner. In 1971 he gave a Christmas commentary that bears repeating. Here, in part, is what he said:

“Christmas is such a unique idea that most non-Christians accept it, and I think sometimes envy it. If Christmas is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the Universe in the form of a helpless baby, it’s quite a day. It’s a startling idea, and the theologians, who sometimes love logic more than they love God, find it uncomfortable. . . . It is either all falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It is the story of the great innocence of God, the baby, God in the power of man. And it is such a dramatic shot toward the heart that if it is not true, for Christians nothing is true. So even if you have not got your shopping all done and you are swamped with the commercialism and the frenzy, be at peace. . . . The story stands.”

Perhaps you have been feeling the stress and anxiety that are so much a part of the Christmas rush. If so, take a few minutes to contemplate again the miracle of Christmas: God came down to earth as a baby to become our Savior. Focus on that message today and every day. It will help to slow you down and keep the right perspective on Christmas.

We need someone to worship, We need a song to sing; Let’s keep our Christ in Christmas And honor Him as King. —Jarvis

It’s possible to keep Christmas and yet lose Christ.

Bah Humbug David C. Egner( Christmas Inspiration #20)

Bah Humbug.. David C Egner (Our Daily Bread) (#20 of my best Christmas Inspirations)

Many Christians do a lot of complaining about Christmas. “Too commercial,” they say. “It has pagan origins. We’ve got to put Christ back into Christmas.” The only thing they haven’t said is, “Bah! Humbug!”

Yes, Christmas has become very commercial. But as we purchase and wrap gifts, every present can be a silent testimony to the supreme gift, God’s “only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16).

Yes, we know that Santa is a myth and that reindeer don’t fly. It’s pure fiction. But instead of griping about these nonessentials, which only focuses on them, we need to call attention to the truth of the Baby who was born in Bethlehem.

And what about the cry to put Christ back into Christmas? Well, He never left. Listen to the words of the carols heard over and over in stores, malls, and on the streets. They proclaim more truth in one holiday than many pulpits do in 3 months. They put into the minds of young and old the wonderful truth that “the Lord is come” and that He is to be adored.

Christmas is not humbug; it’s a season of opportunity to point others to the Savior. It gives us a chance to say to friends and loved ones, “Do you know the real meaning of the season? I do, because I believe in Christ.”

Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild— God and sinners reconciled.” —Wesley

To see the real meaning of Christmas, focus on Christ.