There are so many wonderful ideas to help set our families’ hearts on Jesus in the Christmas season.
I love simple ideas, so here are two of them:
1. A friend wrote the numbers 1 to 25 on a candle she gave to me, signifying the days until Christmas (see pic. of Bates below with the numbered candle). At dinner, light the candle and then blow it out before it gets to the next day’s number. The person who has reflected Jesus in some way that day gets to blow it out. My daughter was the first one to blow it out tonight because she didn’t get her way with something, but still had a selfless, stellar attitude.
2. Each day, read a chapter in the book of Luke with your kids. Since there are 24 chapters, you’ll have read Jesus’ entire story by Christmas. Some of the chapters are long, so if your child is younger, you could just read a simplified version of the Christmas story of Jesus. Then you could act it out with figures in the manger scene if you have one, or just act it out yourselves. It makes the story come alive to our kids.
No pressure to do any of these ideas. Do whatever brings you and your family joy and helps you focus on Jesus during the Christmas season.
“We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) You might have heard that verse many times. I understood it in a new way after reading “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom.
She was a Christian evangelist who hid Jews during the holocaust and was imprisoned because of it. When Corrie and her sister, Betsie, entered one of the filthy prisons infested with fleas, both starving, they cried out to the Lord.
As they lay side-by-side on a bunk with several other women, 1 Thessalonians 5 came to Betsie: “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
She turned to Corrie and shared these words. Corrie in turn asked what on earth they could give thanks for. Betsie said that they were actually able to be together in prison and that their Bible miraculously had not been confiscated.
Then, Betsie prayed, “And thank you, Lord, for the fleas.” Corrie told her sister that she could never give thanks for fleas, but Betsie told her that it is God’s will to give thanks in all circumstances.
So, while lying on their flea- and lice-infested straw beds, they gave thanks for the fleas.
After some time, they noticed that the soldiers rarely came into the barracks where they slept. Betsie and Corrie did not know why, but it allowed them to share the light of Jesus to other women for hours during such a dark time.
One day, Betsie asked a supervisor to come to the barracks because she needed help. Betsie told Corrie, “‘[The supervisor] wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?’
Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas!’ That’s what she said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’”
Corrie wrote, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”
Hours of ministering, changing lives, and offering hope in a dark time, all came because of the presence of fleas. If the fleas had not been there, none of that would have happened.
What is the hard thing in your life that God can use for good?
This daily shift of giving thanks always can be hard and it takes discipline. But when we change our outlook, it moves our eyes and hearts upon things eternal and puts God’s purposes over ours.
“Side by side, in the sanctuary of God’s fleas, Betsie and I ministered the Word of God to all in the room. We sat by death beds that became doorways of heaven. We watched women who had lost everything grow rich in hope.”
Whatever is happening in your life, be encouraged by these words that relate to us even now:
“In everything God works for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18