Most Glorious Heavenly Father,

At the start of every Christmas season for several years now, I always pray to discover more of the gift You’ve given us when You sent us Jesus Christ. At the first of the month, I sincerely prayed this again, trusting You would reveal more of the never-ending gift of Jesus Christ. I committed to spend more time alone in Your presence so I could truly discover more of the most remarkable gift ever given. I longed to have long moments to “ponder” and hold Your gift as Mary did. That was my Christmas plan this year.

What happened was more activity than ever before. At least it seemed that way! A neighbor with no one to care for her had a huge surgery. There was no one else at all to help her…except me…right in the midst of all kinds of family gatherings and other obligations. I know You well enough to know You would lead the way and give me all I needed to handle the extra load. At the same time there were 4 new grandchildren added into our already huge family- one by birth and three through fostering. There was much activity surrounding those joys. There was my work with lots of extra Christmas festivities; teaching a Bible class with more Christmas celebrations, teaching children at church with special lessons on Jesus’ birth, hosting special Holiday Grief sessions, appearing as “Mary” before children and parents; shopping, wrapping and cooking for 30 family members; delivering Christmas gifts for families for church…and so much more!

So much for spending extra quiet time with You during the Christmas season! In the midst of my longing for quiet time with You to discover more of Jesus, we had a Bible lesson on the Good Samaritan where the priest and Levite both passed by a wounded man instead of stopping to care for him. You brought to my attention how often Jesus tried to get away in the hills to spend alone time with You in prayer yet the people found Him with their great needs. You somehow laid on my heart that Jesus left the glory of Your holy presence to come to earth in the most humble ways out of Your love for us! Jesus came to be born in human form, live without sin, and die for us so that we would never have to be separated from Your presence- no matter how busy we are or what we’ve done. Because of Jesus, Your presence is always with me! There truly is no greater present ever given!

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“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’”   Luke 2:13-14

“For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus who continues to….

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Heavenly Father,

When I unpacked the winter clothes, I was so excited about finding the warm socks my son bought me last Christmas! My family knows I have feet that never get warm in the winter. My son researched the very best socks for warmth and got me three pair! His wife was embarrassed to get me socks, but my son knew how excited I would be. Little did he know I would be excited all over again this year when I unpacked them again! In fact, I am wearing them right now!…The first Christmas decoration I always unpack is a beautiful large nativity set my sweet friend gave me years ago though she had no money. It is like getting it all over again every time I set it up! Both gifts remind me of the love behind the gift!

Christmas is like that! It never gets old! No matter how many years I celebrate another one, it’s like unpacking the gift of Jesus in a new way every year! I can remember years in the past celebrating with loved ones who are no longer here and with little children who have grown up and have their own families now. I can reminisce about truly hard times and smile over joyful memories of Christmas. Friends and loved ones might have moved, left home or gone to their eternal home, but Jesus is still with me.

Lord, You are with me all year round, but there’s something about Christmas that helps me unpack Your amazing gift in a new way. Once again, I am amazed how You can fit all of Your glory in a tiny helpless newborn baby to come and live as one of us. He is the gift that changes everything; that makes all things new; that can bring light and hope in the darkness; that can come and save us and  bring us back to You where we belong. Jesus is the gift that has no end; that never wears out or gets broken; that never dies or leaves us. Jesus is Your eternal gift to us. No matter how often we look at Him, we will never run out of new things to discover, new truths to understand; new facets of Your love. Father, even though we have all eternity, we will never be able to use up all of Jesus. Help me take time to unpack, appreciate and dwell on Your greatest gift.  You gave Him to us and He is forever revealing Your love for us! Praise You for Your eternal gift of Jesus Christ!

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“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

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Romans 6:23

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

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Prayer Prompt-

Holy Father, thank You for Jesus Christ who…

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Heavenly Father,

I love the way You placed Jesus in a family. You chose to send Him to a sweet young girl who was only betrothed but not married yet. You knew Your Son would need a mother who could care for him, encourage and understand Him better than anyone else on earth- to the best of her understanding. You knew Mary’s willing heart and gave her that special place to carry Your Son and stand with Him from birth to the cross. You needed a special man who would step in to raise Jesus, knowing this baby was not of his own flesh and blood. Though you understood his initial hesitation, You always knew Joseph would answer Your call to be Your Son’s earthly stepdad! You knew You could trust Joseph to provide and protect Your own Son. It was all part of Your plan to place Your eternal Son in an earthly family.

I love watching how You place people in families- both biological and otherwise! I have witnessed how You placed children in my family through birth, marriage and many other amazing creative ways. Now, I get to watch You place other people in my children’s families in lots of ways. Recently, You placed three little siblings in my son and daughter-in-law’s lives to transform a childless couple into an instant family of five! These kids might have been forever separated had it not been for their willingness to gather these children into their family. They are willing to give up their own freedom to care for these children as their own. You still use Your own willing children to draw the lonely and needy into Your family!

More than that, You sent Jesus who was willing to be born in humble human form as a needy baby; to live and grow up in this dark and challenging world; to take on all our sin (though He was the only one holy and pure) so He could willingly die on the cross and rise again- all to gather us back into Your family! Many may feel lonely and isolated this Christmas due to death, grief, loss, separation or even the awful wounds of being abandoned or kicked out of a family. Father, thank You for sending Jesus to bring us home to You. No one can ever separate us from Your love! Because of Jesus Christ, we are part of Your eternal family!

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“Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds- His name is the Lord- and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”   Psalm 68:4-6a

“He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  John 1:11-13

“How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!”  1 John 3:1

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Prayer Prompt- Father, thank You for putting me in a family…