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December 2016

31 Dec -What is True?

the-truth

In a world where we are often told truth is relative and fluid, we are faced with the question, “what is true?”

This is especially relevant if we are in the midst of change, transition or things just don’t seem to be going well in our lives. Life is full of moments when we can feel like everything we thought we knew, the people we thought we had relationships with, or the path we envisaged we were on, suddenly shifts and changes.

When we face these times in our life, it’s so important to know in our hearts what is true. What hasn’t changed, who is in our corner with us, who and what will not change?

God promises that He does not change. He does not change who He is, or His plan for mankind at a whim. He is unchanging, and steady, and someone in whom we can depend. Our love and commitment can change, but His love and faithful for us does not!

As we grow to know God more, we will discover some truths about Him. Those truths are what will hold us steady in the midst of change, comfort us in hardship, and strengthen us so we can keep walking. The truth about God is that:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

“The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail”. (Lamentations 3:22)

 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” .(Isaiah 40:8)

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life“. (John 3:16)

As you approach the New Year, and all that that may signify, be encouraged that God does not change. When you are seeking for what is true, and something, and someone you can depend on, look to Him, and look to His Word. God and His word are one, and therefore His word is true. If you want to know what to do, say and how to act in your life; in your work, study and relationships, then the ultimate guide is God and His Word. It’s our road map, compass, and light, and will see us through every decision, and comfort and strengthen us in every adversity and challenge.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NLT)

If we base our decisions and life on it; don’t act without consulting it, think of what it says, before we answer or say anything, and search in it for the answers and way to move forward, then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. It’s in that freedom that we are enabled and empowered to live our best life.

Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. (John 8:31-32)

Base your life and future in what is truth and you will live free, for God is faithful to every word He has spoken.

Prayer: Lord, in a world where the truth is so often manipulated or changed to suit people’s purposes, thank you that you are always the same. Thank you that your word is unchanging, and that in it I can find the truth I need to live freely. Help me to know and apply that truth to my life every day. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

30 Dec – Be someone worth listening to!

reckless-words

Reckless words are something that many of us have suffered from, or inflicted upon others. Sarcasm, complaining and negative words can affect us far more than we might expect, and sadly we can become so used to saying or hearing reckless words that we become desensitized to them.

The bible talks about the power of our words, and teaches us that, “the words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”. (Proverbs 12:18)

When we use our words carelessly they can be just like a razor sharp sword, which we use to thrust indiscriminately into or around other people, causing havoc wherever we go. In contrast is the person whose words are like a healing balm; encouraging, lifting up, and bringing wisdom and grace into every situation.

Deep down I think most of us want to be a person whose words are of value, and are worth listening to. We all, to some degree want to be heard, and I don’t think any of us want to be remembered as someone who was a “brute” or an “old shrew” with the words we spoke, or were known for.

What we put into our life is what will come out. For out of the mouth the heart speaks.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”. (Luke 6:45)

If we want our speech to be gracious and full of praise, encouragement and inspiration, then God teaches us in His word to fill our lives with those things. Instead of focusing on how often we “mess up” with the words we speak; how often we gossip, criticise, and are hurtful, or fearful in our words, God simply says come to Him and ask for forgiveness for our negative speech. He then encourages us to fill our hearts and minds with good things. When we focus, and fill our minds and hearts with what is positive and loving it will flush out the negative.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”. (Philippians 4:8)

Today, do a word inventory and check your speech. Surround yourself with people who are wise with their words, listen to faith filled, positive words, and choose to only read those words which are of benefit to you.

Ask forgiveness if you need to, and make a decision to be a person who speaks wisdom and healing wherever you go.

Prayer: Lord please forgive me for my words when they have been negative, and I have hurt both others and myself by speaking them. Help me to surround myself with words of wisdom and grace, so that my words are worth listening to. Would you please “set a guard over my mouth, LORD; and keep watch over the door of my lips”. (Psalm 141:3) In Jesus Name Amen.

 

 

29 Dec -Shifting down a gear

savour-life

My husband has spent the last month doing some work in a busy shopping centre at Christmas time. Whilst working he recognised some people he had known in the past. I asked him it he’d said hello, and He replied, “No, they looked in too much of a hurry to stop and talk”.

It makes me wonder how often we all “hurry in life”, trying to squeeze too much into too little time, and in the process diminishing what time we do have because we are too stressed to enjoy it. As a result stress is leading to unprecedented health problems. “Stop the world I want to get off” is a feeling many have.

Most of us are consumed with speed. The very thought of slowing down brings negative connotations. When we think of slowing down we think of falling behind, or being someone who didn’t make it. We work quickly, play quickly, and spend time with our loved ones quickly – all while multi-tasking. We drive in the fast lane and eat fast food. We text instead of talking, esteem quantity instead of quality, and swallow life whole, instead of taking the time to savour it.

But how great a toll does living in the fast lane take? The need to push it, strive, go harder and faster seems to be encoded into us from the moment we are born. Doesn’t all this speed take a toll? Our relationships suffer, our creativity suffers, and our health; mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically can suffer.

The antidote to all this speed is to slow down in the way we live our lives. Taking things slower means being more purposeful. It won’t cause us to fall behind, but rather enables us to catch up – with friends, and family, with our health, with God, and with what’s really important.

There are some things we may want to do quickly, but perhaps we just can’t live there.

My husband is a hugger. When I am looking hurried and harried he grabs hold of me and gives me a hug. My hugs tend to be short and sweet, however he says that he must hug me for at least 20 seconds for me to get the benefit of the hug. At 20 seconds he says he can “feel” me slow down, relax and hug him back.

Slowing down does just that. It gathers our friends and family in a big “long hug”, so we can laugh, cry, hug, cheer, and simply be there for one another. We have time to listen to one another, and we have time to spend time and listen to God, who never intended for us to live in a constant state of motion, stress and striving.

He constantly says in His word to be still, to come to him when we are weary and heavy laden, and to have times of reflection and quiet. However none of these things we can do in a hurry, and when we are conforming to the ways of the world around us.

As the New Year approaches consider the value in “shifting down a gear” and going slower. Consider the importance of going through your life gentler, and connecting more deeply with God, and with who, and what is really important.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. (Romans 12:2)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.‘ (Matthew 11:28)

 

28 Dec – Slow down and smell the roses

stop-and-smell-the-roses

This morning our youngest son Isaac and I went on our normal early morning visit to the stables for his ride on Leah, the pony he rides. We begin our day early to avoid the heat of the day. It’s a beautiful time of the morning, and most people aren’t even up and about yet. Everything in fact is very quiet, and it’s like we are in another “horsey” world, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday traffic, noise, and life in general.

Today another mum and her teenage daughter were also at the stables, and Isaac was able to help them wash their horse which is something he hasn’t done before. We sat in the morning sun chatting for nearly an hour, as Isaac had a great time. The conversation turned to the fact the many people just don’t give time to doing the extra things that add to the experience of caring for a horse. Everyone is so busy going from one place to the next, that there is simply no time to fully enjoy the little additional joys and special moments that can occur as a result of communing with nature, and taking life slower and at a gentler pace.

Many, if not all of us are guilty of being too busy to be able to take the extra time to go slower. We rush from one activity to the next, squeezing as much as possible into every second, and then we wonder why we feel tired, have lost focus, and don’t hear from God, or communicate well with others.

Ironically most of what we are busy doing so much of, we won’t even remember in twenty years time. Why, because it’s actually not significant to our lives, and is often just filling the space in our day. It’s a bit like spending time with someone, and feeling like you need to make sure there is no silence between you, because the silence makes us feel uncomfortable.

When our kids were little toddlers we would take them for a walk to the park. The “walk” would take a long time because they would inspect and sometimes chat to every flower, ant, and person they saw on their walk. We could have rushed it, picking them up and just getting to our destination, but as most of us know, it’s the journey as well as the destination that is important. It’s in the journey that we learn, discover and find out who we are, and about the world around us.

Perhaps we all need to be more like a little child and practice the old saying, “stop and smell the roses“, which is not simply about flowers, but rather about how to live our life with a deeper appreciation of the world around us. It reminds us to slow down and notice the little things that make life worthwhile. Despite a busy life, it is important to know how to be present in the moment; otherwise those moments will pass us by, and we will quite simply “miss them!”

God’s presence is also all around us; and if we slow down, and find a quiet space to draw near to Him, we will recognise His closeness far more often. He wants to share the mysteries of the universe with us; to share His heart, and plans with us, and to give us answers to our questions, and the issues we face everyday. But it is in quietness that we find strength, it’s in slowing the pace that we find balance and a healthier, happier, richer and less stressful life.

Today, I encourage you  to slow down, draw near to God in the quiet, and appreciate everything that’s around you, as you “stop and smell the roses”.

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

(Isaiah 30:15)

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Prayer: Lord please help me to slow down, and to draw near to you, instead of always filling my life with activity and noise. In Jesus Name Amen.

27 Dec -What are you doing, and where are you going?

where-are-you-going

I read a story today about a man picking strawberries in a strawberry patch. This man would pick a strawberry here… and then he’d look up and see another strawberry a couple of rows away and off he’d run to pick that berry. Then he would look up and see another berry a few plants away and off he’d go, again and again and again all across the patch. In the time it took him to fill one bucket, others around him had filled ten.

That’s because this man’s eyes were always wandering across the strawberry patch looking for the easiest berries to find, instead of staying focused on what was before him. The bible says that a fool is like that, but “the perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard; fools look for it everywhere but right here“ (Proverbs 17: 24 –The Message).

Those who are less wise are always looking for the “easiest berry” in the patch, the quick fix, and they’re always seeking an easy way to get ahead in life. They are constantly comparing themselves, their families, their jobs, and their potential to something or someone else. And they are never satisfied, often ending up doing far less with their lives than they could have.

God doesn’t want our lives to be full of toil, or to be marred with disappointment and unrealised dreams. He is right here, with us, desiring to speak and lead us into far more than we could ever find, or dream up by ourselves. (Ephesians 3:20). So often however we can be found rushing all over the earth searching for meaning, fulfilment, and instant gratification, when God is closer to us than the very air we breathe. It’s just that we can simply ignore Him!

But “God intended that they (we) would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.”  (Acts 17:27-28)

He wants to impart vision and dreams, and for us to be focused in life, knowing where and what we are called to do each day. He wants to fill the empty void within each one of us, and reveal our best life. Sadly though we can all be like the man in the strawberry patch, running frantically here and there; searching for meaning, success and happiness, but never fully achieving or reaching our goals and potential. It is far too easy to wear ourselves out through our incessant “doing doing, doing”, when Jesus wants to lead us in the way of bliss, and a joy filled, meaningful life. (John 10:10)

As the New Year approaches, take time to look forward into the year to come. What has God placed in your heart to focus on? Are you responding to His call and listening to His voice? What progress in your walk of faith and growth as a person, do you want to make? What does God want to reveal, and build into your world; both internally and externally” How will you make better use of your time? What would you like to study and learn? How will you share Jesus’ love to your friends, neighbours and those in your world?

Last minute New Year resolutions are often forgotten within a week. But when we come to God and ask Him for fresh vision, and for Him to unearth the dreams and desires He has placed in our hearts, we are far more effective in getting where we need and hope to go. We tend to meditate upon the things God has shared and spoken to us longer, and it helps to share these things with others, so that they can pray and encourage us along the way.

This new year choose wisely what is most important in life, and then hone your focus in that direction. Ask God for His wisdom, and trust and allow Him to lead you in the right direction. In God we find everything we need; His love, joy, peace, hope and even courage when we face adversity. So let’s focus on the year ahead with wisdom, and not be like that man in the strawberry patch, wearing ourselves out for little reward.

So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority”. (Colossians 2:10)

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps”. (Proverbs 16:9)

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believing, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”(James 1:6-8 The Message)

Prayer: Lord thank you for this New Year ahead. Help me to be focused on what is really important and not be blown by every thought or fancy that pops into my head, or by those around me. Keep my eyes firmly ahead, to where you are leading, that I may follow. In Jesus name Amen.

26 Dec -Get ready!

ready-for-new-year

Today I had a little clean out of my bedroom drawers and shelves, as I was prompted by the approaching of a new year, and new things ahead. I went through old paperwork, my notebooks where I jot down ideas, thoughts, and tasks, and I generally sorted. I have a sense of expectation and the need to prepare for what God wants to do next. Much like the preparation many woman who are pregnant go through when they are about to go into labour. As the due date draws closer, often expectant mother’s go on a cleaning and sorting spree, and can be found cleaning windows, and sorting through cupboards, in preparation for the new life which is about to arrive.

As the New Year approaches it’s a little like being pregnant with something, and it is an ideal time to prepare. We can sort through our internal and external worlds, as we think back over the highlights and lowlights of our journey during the last year. We can resolve to believe for good things, and less drama and negatives, as we lift our expectations for good things and new life!

The approaching of a New Year is a great opportunity to review God’s promises to us, and to delegate some time in our schedules to seek His wisdom and plans for the New Year. It’s important not to miss this “once-in-a-year” opportunity to  take some time alone with God for some extended time of reflection, listening, prayer, and planning.

Many people spend a lot of effort working on externals, such as their physical appearance or a new job, home, course of study or an interest. But to see genuine change and growth, and to enter into all that God created us to be, we must also work on our internal world’s.

What we believe in our heart determines our life. Friends, career, behavior, family, values, all stem from what we believe. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”. (Proverbs 23:7) If we want to begin the New Year well we must get our believing right. And the one thing that is paramount to building a foundation for our peace and happiness for the future is that God is good, and He is good all the time.

You may have had a terrible year, but if you can look back at the past year and understand that God is good all the time, and the devil is bad all of the time, we can perhaps make sense of some things better.

God is good, and if something was stolen, died before it’s time, or was destroyed, you can be sure the devil had his hand in it. Because Jesus came to give abundant life, and the devil came to steal it.(John 10:10) Jesus is not out to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11), but instead He is chasing after us, to bring into our lives His goodness, love and mercy (Psalm 23:6).

Today, plan in some alone time with Jesus, and sort through your internal world so you can begin this New Year fresh and ready for new life, and new beginnings. Don’t drag the negatives, or unnecessary excess weight of this year into the new. God is good, and His mercies are new every morning. He has awesome things planned for each one of us, and regardless of the year you may have had, He wants us to expect and believe for better things ahead.

Prayer: Jesus please help me to take the time to reflect, learn from and sort through all the circumstances and events of this past year. Thank you for the blessings of the highlights, and for walking with me through the low times. I’m looking forward to good things in the new Year with you. In Jesus name Amen.

 

25 Dec -What if we had a little Christmas everyday?

a-little-chrismas-everyda

Christmas is nearly over for another year, and I’ve just put our youngest two children to bed. We’ve had a great day, and everyone is tired, full of food, feeling thankful, and wishing the day didn’t have to end so soon. That’s because we love Christmas.

I love Christmas because it’s a day set apart to remember and be thankful for Jesus and all that He has done for us.

I love Christmas because it’s a day dedicated to giving and blessing others.

I love Christmas because you get to eat your favourite things, on your best dishes, with all your creative decorating ideas being laid out on the table and around your home.

I love Christmas because it draws friends and family together, and is dedicated to everyone making an extra effort to get along.

I love Christmas because it’s awesome to watch the kids so full of excitement and joyful.

I love Christmas because we get to have fairy lights, candles, and lovely things all day long.

It makes me wonder why don’t we celebrate like it’s Christmas everyday, a little more?

What if tomorrow we got up, and put just as much effort into the day being special, joy filled, and special for us, and our friends and family, as we do on Christmas day?

What if we took the time to give thanks to God for all that He has done, and read His word, and treasured its message just like we do at Christmas time. What if we took the time to read it as a family, recounting the excitement, lessons, and meaning held within its page?

What if we played games together, ate around the table together, and let each other know how important and special everyone is to us, just like we hopefully do on Christmas day. What if we made the extra effort with those in our world, every day like we do on celebration days?

As Christmas draws to an end for another year, perhaps now is a good time to consider for a moment the things you love about Christmas, (or would like to love about Christmas). Then decide to duplicate those things throughout the whole year? Why not bring a touch of Christmas joy, love and peace into every day of the year?

Here’s a few ideas to help get you started:

One of the best ways to celebrate everyday is to create a party atmosphere at home. Fill your home with flowers and music, and just have a good time. Jesus said “He came to give us a full and abundant life,” (John 10:0) which means we have heaven’s permission to make the whole of our life a party and celebration if we want to. It’s okay and good to celebrate every day.

Dance, sing, and celebrate with others. When we share our enthusiasm or make the effort to celebrate it spreads the joy to others.

Be spontaneous and break the routine that can so easily crowd out the sense of celebration in all of us. Remind yourself just how wonderful life can be. We all have something to celebrate, it’s just that sometimes we have to let ourselves relax and “let go enough” to enjoy life and if need be change our attitude.

So keep the fairy lights up, and enjoy them all year round. Set the table for mealtimes as if you were having a celebration, because each day is in fact a gift from God to be embraced. Enjoy your food, and treat yourself every now and then, just like it’s Christmas. Bless those in your world, even buy them a gift or send a card or message just because you can. Don’t wait another twelve months to tell the special people in your life what they mean to you.

Draw close to Jesus; read His words, think about why He came, and get to know Him more deeply for yourself. It’s in knowing and being connected to Him that we find the true source of joy, and completeness. It’s in Him that we find the reason and ability to celebrate like its Christmas everyday, as His love is shed abroad in our hearts.

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for ” (Romans 5:5-6)

Prayer: Lord please help me to stay connected to you, so that your life and joy flows into my life. I want to celebrate life, like it’s Christmas everyday. Show me where I may need to change my attitude, or need healing so that I can look forward to my day, like it’s Christmas everyday. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

 

 

24 Dec – Is there any room?

innkeeper

I often think of the innkeeper who when Mary and Joseph arrived at his door chose to turn them away with a “no room here” sign. He didn’t make room for Jesus on the first Christmas, and as a result he missed the privilege of housing the Son of God at his birth. His actions didn’t stop Jesus from being born, or God’s purpose being fulfilled in history. But the innkeeper’s choice and actions did prevent him from being in the midst of one of, if not the most significant moments in history up to that point. He missed it, simply because He wasn’t aware enough of what was happening right in front of him; he wasn’t reading the signs as the wise men were, that a King was about to be born; nor had he noticed anything different about the young couple standing on his doorstep on that Christmas night.

Sadly we far too often live as the innkeeper did, unaware of the times and seasons, and what God is doing in our midst. We get caught up in the day-to-day business of life, and all the hustle and bustle around us. Unfortunately when we are satisfied with living in such a way, where as a whole we can’t even remember what all the fuss and bother is  about half the time, our lives will be filled with meaningless activity. Just like the innkeeper we perhaps don’t believe we need more “guests” in our life, and we think we have everything we need.

However God warns us not to be so self-sufficient, or always so busy chasing after other things that we forget Him. “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God”. (Psalm 10:4)

This Christmas take a moment to think upon the story of the innkeeper who turned away Mary and Joseph, and failed to make room on that first Christmas. Don’t let your story be the same, and fail to make room for Jesus in your life, and get to know Him. Don’t miss the opportunity to have the peace, purpose and indwelling power that comes through having God in your life. Because if we never do take the time or opportunity, we could well miss the very purpose for us being here in the first place. We could miss the times and the seasons, and what God is releasing on earth right now.

You might think you have a good life now, much like that innkeeper thought he was having a good night. His rooms were all full, the cash was flowing, and everything looked great. But what if you could have an ever better life; a more meaningful, purposeful, peace filled, joyful life; wouldn’t you want to know about it? Wouldn’t that innkeeper and his family have made it possible for Jesus to be born in their inn, if they had discerned what was about to happen in their neighbourhood?  (Luke 2:7)

Each one of us is born for such a time as this, to be involved and participants in the unfolding of God’s plan and purpose for the world in our lifetime. Don’t miss it, because you didn’t bother to discern the times we are in; and don’t miss the opportunity to know God, the Creator of the universe because you are so busy filling your life with other things.

Jesus said, ”Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together”. (Revelation 3:20)

Make room in your “inn” today, and invite Jesus into your life. And when you do, don’t relegate him to the back shed, or barn, but give him the run of your house, and keep making Him feel welcome with your whole heart, everyday, in every area of your life. For only then will you discover the purpose, peace and power that comes through knowing Him.

Prayer: Jesus, I make room in my life for you today. I hear you knocking and I invite you in. Forgive me if I have heard you before and answered, but then relegated you to the back shed. Forgive me if instead of welcoming you into my “house”, and making you feel welcome everywhere and in every way, I chose to push you to the side. Today I choose to open every area of my life to you, and to welcome you into my life with my whole heart. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

23 Dec -Can you hear Him calling above the noise?

nativity

Around this time of the year I think about the Christmas story and all the nativities and Christmas events we have hosted over the years. I have a love of combining small children and animals together to perform, which without a doubt has always led to a little mayhem, plus some very funny memories.

Our first nativity was about 20 years ago when I sent my very obliging husband all over the city collecting various animals I had located to be part of the Christmas play. Eventually he had stowed in the back of a borrowed station wagon 2 baby goats, a managory of chickens, guinea pigs, and several rabbits which either noisily bleated as they poked their heads out of the car windows, or snuffled about in the front seat as he drove carefully home. My task was to collect a sheep I had found from one of the neighbouring hobby farms, and which I, being a sheep farmers daughter thought would be fine to walk down the road back to our home. Sheep though are not especially clever and think only about eating, which I discovered it liked doing a lot of as I struggled to drag it home. Once safely installed in the nativity scene it remains in my memory as the sheep who in the middle of the play decided to urinate all over “Mary’s feet”, causing everyone to burst into hilarious laughter. Poor “Mary’ was not amused.

Not to be deterred by such events, the next year we put on a Christmas service, which was  the first time we did a community event which included the FULL nativity – as in a choir, dancing children, barn animals, camels, turkeys, chickens, alpaca’s, dogs and a donkey. I remember all the organisation and busyness before the evening, with the musicians practicing their singing, the people playing the Christmas characters rehearsing their parts, and getting their costumes organised, and in amongst it all us having three children suffering the end stages of the chicken pox.

This particular year we had a live donkey, and had organised to have Mary and Joseph enter through the audience. My brother-in-law played Joseph that year, and “Mary’ dutifully rode upon her donkey. Somehow unknown to me the donkey decided it didn’t want to go where Joseph was leading it, and down the back of the audience poor Mary was being whirled round and around at an uncomfortable speed on the back of this wayward donkey, as Joseph attempted to bring him under control. This resulted in Mary half losing her costume, and being quite dishevelled in appearance as she finally made her way through the enthralled crowd.

To top it all off as Philip my husband shared his Christmas message, and proceeded to give an opportunity for people to invite Jesus into their lives, the alpaca, one of the main stable animals right in front of the audience decided it was an ideal time to get amorous with it’s mate. This “excitement” seemed to trigger the turkeys, chickens and even the donkey into a symphony of squawks, clucking, and braying, which totally overrode Philip’s evangelistic endeavours.

Not to be deterred Philip kept right on preaching above the noise and chaos happening behind him. As a result even with all the laugher and amused giggles, people’s hearts were touched by his message of God’s love and forgiveness. That night regardless of all the activity and noise, people met Jesus in the simplicity of the truth that we don’t have to be lonely, sick, broken, guilty or a sinner anymore. For Jesus, came to set us free.

Sometimes it takes someone, or something to stand up above all the chaos and point out to us the truth, and to what life is really all about. Much like Philip did on that, and many other Christmas Eve’s like it. For when our life is over, only one thing will really matter: Did we get to know Jesus the Son of God? All the Christmas presents we buy, the long hours we work, the degrees we study for, the meals we prepare, the perfect holidays we take, and the houses we build and buy won’t matter. What will matter is whether we spent time getting to know Jesus, who for each one of us made the effort and sacrifice to come on that very first Christmas day.

As Christmas draws near, prepare to enjoy all the season brings. Wrap the presents, celebrate as much as possible, and make memories with your friends and family. But don’t let Christmas go by without searching out, and looking for Jesus; listen for him, that you might hear him call you aside. Let this Christmas be the one in which you listen to him tell you of His love, forgiveness and the good things He has planned for you.

“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)

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.(1 John 4:9-11)

 Prayer: Jesus, please forgive me where I have fallen short of all that you made me to be. Forgive me for my mistakes, where I have allowed the noise of the world around me to shut you out, and have let other people or things take precedent in knowing you. This Christmas I want to hear and know you regardless of any noise. In Jesus Name Amen.

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