And so it begins

Here in the U.S. we celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday (11/24/2011). We will gather together to eat (more than we probably should) with family and friends. We will watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then the NFL in the afternoon. We will call relatives and friends who live across the nation and we will take time to count our blessings, offering thanks to God for His abundant grace.

The Holiday Season is beginning. The retail world is moving into overdrive, everyone’s anticipation for Christmas is growing and we as followers of Christ have great opportunity to share the message that truly brings Joy to the World.

As we begin this Holiday season many people are feeling pressure over “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” There is significant stress for many families financially. There is emotional stress over the logistics of holiday celebrations, work parties and even family events. It is the season of joy; where we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, but for many there are mixed emotions around this season. Please remember that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are days on the calendar that find their significance in our cultural tradition, not in a biblical mandate. The pressure we feel is manmade and many times self-imposed. Don’t let a time that is supposed to be filled with joy, love and thankfulness turn into a season of pressure, stress and aggravation. Be the thermostat of your holidays and provide the atmosphere of joy not a thermometer reacting to external circumstances.

I encourage you to reflect upon what you have walked through over these last twelve months. What victories have you won? What losses have you suffered? How has your relationship with God grown? What is happening in your family, your education, your career, your church or your ministry? What is at the center of your life? Celebrate the goodness of God during this season.

There will be people in your life that are filled with anxiety and stress but you do not have to be one of them. Cast your cares upon Jesus because He is the one who care for you (1 Peter 5:7). Let your light truly shine to those around you. People open their hearts to the gospel at Christmas, let us be sure that our words and actions declare the love of Christ. There is no greater present to give than the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The true spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit – allow Him to fill your heart with love and produce His fruit through your life.  Let the world see what happens in and through a person who has received God’s great gift to humanity, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

My prayer for you and your family is that you will come to know Christ this Christmas season in greater ways than you have ever before. I pray that your family relationships will be strengthened and restored if necessary. I pray that the goodness of God will overflow in your lives. I pray that you will have the opportunity to bless someone who can never repay you and I pray that you will have the opportunity to share the gospel with someone who does not know Christ.

To my brothers and sisters here in the U.S., I pray that your Thanksgiving is filled with the love and joy of the Lord; that you, your family and your friends enjoy a day that is truly blessed.

May the grace and favor of our Lord rest upon each of your lives. Have a wonderful day!


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