As the New Year begins, many people are looking ahead with a measure of trepidation to what lies ahead for them and their families and friends, as well as for the world in general. It’s comforting to know that whatever the future holds and whatever problems or hardships you may face, Jesus wants to help you through them. If you have received Him as your Savior, you can count on His extra special care.
One by one the prisoners filed into the small meeting hall. Each one wore the same gray outfit and had the same closely trimmed haircut, but their faces showed that each was an individual with his own story of what had brought him to this place.
“I am arranging for the most hardened and dangerous criminals to watch your program,” the warden had told us. “Many of them will never see freedom again. They are the ones who most need to hear what you have to say.”
This Christmas season the world aches and groans because of the losses and tragedies of the year. Many lives have been broken, and many dreams have been shattered. People the world over need to see the light of love that came down on that very first Christmas to brighten their lives, about which the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”1
As Christmas rolled around again this year, I began to wonder why God sent Jesus to earth as a little baby in Bethlehem. We have told and retold the story, and I have practically memorized Luke 2. There’s Mary riding on the donkey, Joseph frantically looking for an inn, the shepherds seeing angels in the field, and wise men from the East following a star.
Love—this is My special gift for you. Love that knows no boundaries. Love that does not judge you by the color of your skin, the way you look, or how you speak. Love that gives. Love that shares. Love that cares. Love that is vibrant, warm, and kind. Love that is unconditional and forever.
I recently had some time to relax in quiet solitude, and I decided to spend it sitting in front of our small manger scene. I lit some candles and one small lamp and listened to instrumental Christmas music playing in the background.
Dressing my three preschool sons alike seemed sensible at the time. It made clothes shopping easier, for one, and because they were brothers with similar builds and complexions, they looked good in the same clothes. At home it gave a sense of order, however superficial, to a household with three little boys in perpetual motion, and in public it showcased what I was sure was the most adorable set of kids ever.
When you are troubled, when you are perplexed or confused, come to Me. Lay your head on My shoulder. Find your comfort in My eternal promises. Listen to the words that I will speak to your heart and mind. Find your strength and peace in Me.
If I were to ask you to describe Jesus’ ministry to people, what would you say? It’s an important question, because He’s called us to be His representatives in this world, and we need to consider how we can best reflect His love as we follow in His footsteps.
Loving others can be extremely difficult at times. A common phrase to refer to those people that we consistently find ourselves challenged to love is “extra grace required” people. But even people we generally like can sometimes be difficult to love. The main reason we run into difficulties in loving others is sin, both ours and that of those we try to love. … Battling both our own selfishness and sin tendencies and dealing with the selfishness and sin tendencies of others can make love a chore.