christmas at fbj blog
by: Bonnie Snellgrove
God’s Great Love
“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.”
When we think about scripture and all the holidays in the year, we tend to think more on this verse at Easter than we do at Christmas. This is our focus verse this month with our FBJ Preschool because it helps them see an aspect of Christmas that their minds can easily grasp, LOVE.
There are scriptures and songs that we read and sing with preschoolers and children that I feel as adults we tend to just read or sing without much thought to the meaning because we have heard them so many times. When we stop and dwell on the words and meanings, they are still very applicable to our lives today just as when we were young children.
Let’s look at the first part of this verse and how it shows us the importance of love in the Christmas story.
“For God so LOVED the world…”
God loves each and every one of us, no matter our age. As a mother, I look at my children and think my heart can hardly contain all the love I feel for them. Think about how much Mary loved her baby boy. Can you imagine how God feels when He considers His children?
“That He gave His only SON…”
And because He loves us so much, He came down. He came as a baby who needed to be cared for. He came so that we might know that He is not so far above us that He cannot hear our cries for help. He came so that we may see His love on full display. So that we may know Him and experience the fullness of His grace, mercy, and love.
As we go through the holidays and the days beyond, I challenge you to take the time to pause and reflect on how immense and incredible God’s love really is. How can we show this kind of love to our family, neighbors, co-workers, and everyone around us? I pray that we will all shine His light and love brightly into a world who desperately needs a Savior.
As we go through the holidays and the days beyond, I challenge you to take the time to pause and reflect on how immense and incredible God’s love really is. How can we show this kind of love to our family, neighbors, co-workers, and everyone around us?
christmas at fbj blog
by: Zach DePriest
The Prince of Peace
The Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the cooler weather (at least on some days), getting to eat potato soup with way too much cheese in it, seeing the Christmas lights as I drive around town, and listening to my favorite Christmas album on repeat – starting after Thanksgiving of course. As much as I enjoy the Christmas season for those reasons, there are several reasons the Christmas season can be a difficult one for everyone. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the season can make Christmas seem anything but peaceful. We might finally experience a little bit of peace once all of the food is prepared, exams are finished, deadlines at work have been met, and all the decorations have been put up – but even then we have this feeling inside knowing it won’t last long and that dishes will need to be cleaned, spring semester will soon begin, holidays at work only last so long, and the attic will soon be calling for the boxes of decorations to be put back in place.
As peaceful as we picture Christmas to be, we often times miss out on taking time to reflect on the true peace of Christmas. I love how John records Jesus’ last night with the disciples on the night of his arrest. Starting in John 13 all the way until his arrest in John 18, we see Jesus have special moments with his disciples and with just Him and the Father while praying. Jesus pours his heart out to the disciples with all sorts of “final words of wisdom” He has for them. In the midst of it all and telling them what was going to happen, He tells them to find peace in Him. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to just have peace that things might be okay one day. He doesn’t tell them to find peace in the season or in each other. He tells them that in the days, months, and years ahead when their life will be challenging because of what they believe and are going to teach, when their master is no longer walking with them, when it seems like all hope is lost, to find peace in Him. That is the peace of Christmas – found only in Jesus. My prayer is that we never seek our peace in anything other than Jesus. Seeking anywhere else will leave us in a place where we never have or understand true peace. Our peace is found in Jesus – the Prince of Peace.
Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to just have peace that things might be okay one day. He doesn’t tell them to find peace in the season or in each other. He tells them when their life will be challenging because of what they believe and are going to teach, when it seems like all hope is lost, to find peace in Him.
christmas at fbj blog
by: Emily Oswalt
The Gift of Joy
Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? It’s the most wonderful time of the year and sometimes the most hectic too. Many stores and homes are decorated for Christmas with lights, trees and stockings which are always fun and festive! There are holiday parties, activities, plays, and performances to attend. From creating to cooking to giving, our days are certainly full! So, how do we focus on having a Christ-centered Christmas, remembering the true meaning of Christmas not just during this season but all year round?
If we look back to when Jesus was born, life was hectic too. It was tax season. Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. There was no place for them to stay, and Mary was about to have a baby. Amid all the chaos, Christ came. It was in a humble, hay-filled manger, that the Holy Child was laid in swaddling clothes. It was so commonplace that even the townspeople and guests did not notice what was taking place. The shepherds would have missed the event had it not been for the angel proclaiming, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The gospel of Matthew declares, “And His name will be called Emmanuel, God with us.” This is the true meaning of Christmas.
In God’s plan, the little things are the big things; the weak things are the powerful things; the commonplace things are the most extraordinary things. The easily overlooked things tend to be the most important. The birth of a Savior, little and weak, hidden in a manger in a village, tells us this is so.
Let us remember this Christmas that the parties, plays and performances will end, and the decorations will be put away, but Christ came to stay. He is God with us. This good news that causes great joy for all people is life changing.
In God’s plan . . . the easily overlooked things tend to be the most important. The birth of a Savior, little and weak, hidden in a manger in a village, tells us this is so.
christmas at fbj blog
by: Tom Washburn
Adults with Seniority
The Hope for All
Christmas is full of surprises. People you don’t expect to see, gifts you didn’t expect to get, pounds you didn’t expect to gain. Expect the unexpected at Christmas. Let’s discover one of the biggest surprises of Christmas in a very unusual place. That place is easy to skip over when you are reading God’s Word. The place I mean, is in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, in that seemingly boring genealogy of Jesus. In this seldom dusted corner of God’s Word, you and I can find the wonderful gift of HOPE.
Matthew makes sure we are well aware of Jesus’ “pedigree.” The ancient Jews didn’t need 23 and Me, because they knew their heritage. These were folks very aware of their ancestry. It is vital to them that Matthew prove that Jesus is a “pure-blooded” Jew, who could trace His ancestry to Abraham and King David. If Matthew can’t quickly show his first readers this important connection, then they are not going to be open to reading this account. Matthew does this so well that the enemies of Jesus never thought about questioning His ancestral line, to dispute Jesus’ claims.
Every family tree has a bad apple, I suppose, and Matthew makes a point to include those in Jesus’ family tree. Amongst the heroes of faith, there are folks in this list who have moral failures, and those whose pride led to the division of their nation. There are rough characters in this list among the good ones. Matthew presents the factual genealogy, warts and all! And in doing so, reminds us that Jesus had outlaws for in-laws! Christmas reminds us there is HOPE FOR SINNERS!
And goodness, Matthew dares to do the unthinkable in that day – he included WOMEN! Rahab is listed, and her profession surely would have excluded her. And get this, some of the women were not even Jewish. Do you hear Matthew reminding us that there is HOPE FOR OUTSIDERS. There are so many ways we can feel like an outsider today, but take heart – Jesus understands, and includes outsiders!
Tamar is another in the list, and her story reminds us that families sometimes fail. Those with failed families find HOPE WITH OUR LORD.
Those in this genealogy with less than stellar pasts, might make us ask “WHY?” But Jesus, Himself, answers that in Matthew 9, when He says, “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Apparently failed lives are welcome in Jesus’ family! The HOPE of Christmas is that Jesus calls us all to Himself like we are, and He changes us!
One last group worth a quick look, would be the nine names in this list who are not known to scholars. There are nine names listed that don’t appear anywhere else in the Bible. What a great reminder that there is HOPE FOR THOSE WHO FEEL FORGOTEN. It is easy to feel forgotten this time of year. If you feel like nobody knows you or remembers you, find comfort in this list of nine included folks nobody knows!
The fact that Jesus chose these outlaws, these hurting people, these foreign people and these unknown people, is a great reminder for us that He choses us! Hear today His wonderful invitation: “WHOSOEVER will, may come”. Come to Jesus and find the HOPE you have been looking for.
The HOPE of Christmas is that Jesus calls us all to Himself like we are, and He changes us!
christmas at fbj blog
by: Bruce Warf
Discipleship / Family Ministry
The Light of Christmas
Do you have a Christmas tradition in your family or ever had one? Maybe it is the annual Christmas tree hunt, making a gingerbread house, going to the local Christmas parade, or the Christmas Eve dinner together as a family. Family traditions solicit memories of the past, joy in the present, and expectations for the future.
One of our families’ favorite traditions and one that I grew up with, is going to look at Christmas lights. Christmas itself is about celebrating THE light! Scripture shows us that Jesus is the light that was sent into the darkness to be reveal His glory, majesty, and give each of us an opportunity to have a relationship with Him so that we could have eternal life. Scripture also shows that you and I have an opportunity to share that light. Briefly read Luke 2:8-9, Matthew 2:2, John 8:12, and Matthew 5:14-16.
The thing about light is that it gives us direction. When there is light, darkness is absent. We see things more clearly and know exactly where we are going. Light is comforting. Like a warm blanket on a cold winter night, it brings warmth and arguably even a feeling of “home.” Light also dispels fear. Specifically, drawing closer to THE light we know our Creator walks with us.
This Christmas season focus on the one light that came as a baby boy in Jesus. Reflect on Him and His light. Give the dark uncertainties of your life to Him and replace them with joy knowing that our Heavenly Father loves you. For the next few weeks our family ministry staff hopes that you will find direction, hope, comfort, and peace in the One who was sent as light to the world. A familiar song that we all here this time of year captures perfectly the birth of Jesus meant for the world then and for us today. Ever more, our “weary world” today can find joy in Christ. May we all be filled will a “thrill of hope” this Christmas as we focus on Him.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
Drive around this Christmas season looking at the lights while listening to a few of the following songs together focusing on the true meaning of the season:
This Christmas season focus on the one light that came as a baby boy in Jesus. Reflect on Him and His light. Give the dark uncertainties of your life to Him and replace them with joy knowing that our Heavenly Father loves you.