Tag Archives: love

Lessons from Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 3: Count Your Blessings

The best part of the holiday favorite, White Christmas, is when Bing Crosby, in his baritone voice, sings Count Your Blessings to Rosemary Clooney.  The advice is ageless: “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

Everyone’s story in 2016 contains victories and defeats. Even if yours was countyourblessingsmostly packed with victories, most are hard-fought and include moments of difficult work, questioning if the end would ever come and times of despair when it all seemed too difficult. The defeats come with their own set of worries.

Christmas is usually thought of as the season of comfort and joy, yet the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. Perhaps life has changed dramatically for you. A cherished relative or friend might be missing from the celebrations. Maybe you fear being alone. Or the time brings back painful memories from the past year – things you wish could be undone, but can’t.

Remember at the first Christmas, Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Mary’s fiancé, Joseph, thought she had been unfaithful and wanted to break off the engagement. Probably to calm things down, Mary’s family sent her to live with her cousin, Elizabeth, for a while. And just as Mary was getting ready to give birth, the couple had to travel on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem – a distance of about 90 miles. Mary gave birth in a stinky, cold stable with only Joseph to help. Yet the Light of the World made his grand entrance as a little baby. The glory of that night could not be held in. Angels sang, shepherds and wise men came to visit because hope, true Hope for the world, was born.

Life will always be less than ideal, so it is wise to count your blessings. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, rejoice in what you have. Rather than arguing with your family, praise them for the gift they are. Rather that wishing for better circumstances, embrace God’s plan for your life. And rather than walking through suffering alone, depend on the hope Jesus gives as He walks through the valley with you.  Christ’s birth brought healing and promise to the entire world – no matter what the ache or longing, the sorrow or suffering.  That is the best blessing anyone can receive.

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 2: O Little Town of Bethlehem

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n;  So God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His Heav’n.

Let’s face it, stables are not palaces. They reek, they are unkept and are filled with manure. Yet, a stable is the place where Jesus first appeared. He mangercould have been born in a royal place and laid in a golden crib. His birth could have occurred in a home, less regal, but warm and tidy and filled with love. But when Jesus came to earth he chose a stable.

When God feels far away from you, does it help you to know our God appeared in the stench of a stable? If he avoided the red carpets and the royal palaces of the day to be born in a cold, dingy barn, is there any place on earth where his love won’t appear?

God meets us not so much in the lovely, the times when life is going well, but he meets us where we are most needy. Being laid in a manger trough as baby, he knew what is was like to be needy. He depended on his parents for his life.

The Christ, who gave us mercy, was at the mercy of the innkeeper, who sadly told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them. Yet he curled up in the rough hewn wood of that manger in order to reach out to all of us.

But that isn’t the greatest miracle of Christmas. No, it is in the changed hearts of those who believe in him. The Messiah makes these detours towards the blessings of heaven in our hearts possible. God’s infinite love is always available to us if we only make a bed for him in our hearts.

The miracle of Christmas is repeated over and over again each time a person moves closer to him. He became human so we could never say, “He doesn’t understand me.” He may not approve of what we do, but he recognizes our human failings, because he wrestled with humanity, also.

Heaven bowed down to earth that day so our hearts could be warmed by the miracle of his love.

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 1: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel; shall come to thee, O Israel.

It’s a funny word, Emmanuel. It’s rarely used – almost solely at Christmas. It means God with us. You are not alone because God can never leave you alone. You are always in His love, His presence, His care.

emmauelFor most of us, the Christmas season is the busiest time of the year. There are presents to buy, a home to decorate, cards to send, presents to purchase. This list is endless. Yet, Christmas is the time God invites us to open a present we could never purchase ourselves. He asks us to come to the manger to find Him.

The heart of Christmas isn’t the brightly decorated tree with the presents underneath it. No, it is the amazing gift of God who offered His Son to the world even when we didn’t deserve it. God saw our brokenness and sin. He didn’t turn away from it; instead He gave Himself to us.

Emmanuel, God with us. The word should resonate in our hearts no matter what the season. People will fail you, institutions will close their doors, plans will go awry. But God will never leave you. You will never be forsaken, rejected, abandoned, forgotten and alone. He gives Himself to you for all time. And He never stops whispering into your life: with you. With you. With you.

Through His coming on earth God made a wild, bold proclamation: I love you. Nothing you can do or failed to do can change the strength of My love for you. You are the child I created and whose name is etched in the palms of My hand. You are the one who I think about, the one I can’t stop singing love for. You are My child and I will suffer for you. I will carry you through all your pain until it is no more.

Christmas isn’t about the busyness of the season. It is about a love deeper than we know. God with us. That’s where the wildest joy is found!