365 Days of Praise

8 Ways to Keep the Spectacular in Christmas

12/19/2018

Does all the commercialism surrounding Christmas bother you? Do you want to keep your heart and your family’s heart focused on the true meaning of Christmas? It’s possible. How? Focus your conversation, music, decorations, and stories on the spectacular of Christmas rather than the fake. Why? You’ll be reminded of the amazement of what our Heavenly Father did in sending Jesus to save us. You’ll spark the imagination and wonder of Christmas. You’ll build traditions of the true meaning of Christmas that you and your family will carry forever.

Does focusing on the true spiritual meaning of Christ mass mean that we ditz the culture around us? Not at all. Rather, it means we live with joy and lights of the spectacular.   

Choose to Focus on the Spectacular in the Following 8 Ways

Today’s children are bombarded with Santa Claus, reindeer, and elf on a shelf. While they may be fun for the imagination, there are true, more spectacular imaginations on which they can think and get excited.

Elf On a Shelf

Fake:  Santa sends Elf on a shelf from the North Pole to watch our children to see if they’re being naughty or nice. That’s rather ominous and scary. “Big brother” watching to catch our children being bad. 

Spectacular:  Our Heavenly Father sends angels from heaven to watch over our children and guard them. How lovely and true for our children and us to think on. 

Tip:  Place angels on the shelf. 

Reindeer

Fake:  Santa’s reindeer fly once a year on Christmas Eve. Movies typically depict a traumatic concern if they’re going to make it. 

Spectacular:  God’s angels fly between heaven and earth continually with everlasting power and majestic glory fighting evil and victoriously guiding our way. 

Tip:  Watch Christian movies on the birth of Christ and glorious, musical angelic announcement to the shepherds. 

Gifts

Fake:  Santa brings gifts once a year. There’s stress if he’ll get the right, longed for gift. 

Spectacular:  God gives us the gift of Jesus’s birth, life, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit, eternal life, and heaven. He gives us the daily gifts of life, the beauty of the sky, the sun, water, food, life, and one another. He’s gloriously faithful and generous to give us all these gifts. 

Tip:  Open your eyes and others to God’s gifts all around us. It’s proven that people who keep a gratitude journal are more optimistic about life. They’re mindful of God’s daily gifts. Prayers of My Heart  journal has a Month at a Glance section where you and your family can record something for which you’re thankful each day. By daily being mindful of God’s gifts, you and your family will live a more optimistic life. An attitude of gratitude rather than stressing over what you don’t have is one of the greatest gifts God gives us. 

Candy Canes

Fake:  They mark the way to Santa’s workshop

Spectacular:  Staffs symbolize the shepherds to whom the angels announced Jesus’s birth.

Tip:  Hang candy canes on the Christmas tree. Read Luke 2:8-16.

Christmas Music

Fake: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

Spectacular:  “Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come”

Tip: Listen to Christian Christmas music and play songs that are filled with the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Stories

Fake:  “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Spectacular:  “Jesus Birth in Bethlehem”

Tip:  Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-14 at bedtime and help the family memorize it. My mother helped me memorize it as a child and it lives in my heart. Give your family this gift by memorizing a few verses at a time and adding more verses each year. Read or recite it Christmas morning.

Star

Fake:  Guides Santa 

Spectacular:  Guides the wise men

Tip:  Read Matthew 2:1-2. Decorate the Christmas tree with stars.

Christmas Plays

Fake:  Santa’s workshop, elves, and reindeer costumes

Spectacular: The nativity, shepherds, and angel costumes

Tip:  If you have children or grandchildren, make simple costumes out of pillow cases and scarves. Cotton ball sheep costumes and a baby doll Jesus in a blanket covered box are easy props. This is fun for children, and by acting out the Christmas story, they seal the true meaning of Christmas in their heart.

This year, give your family a spectacular Christmas. Does it mean you ignore or refuse all the secular? No. But it does mean you have the choice and the power to choose how you decorate your house and which books, movies, and songs you make the emphasis. I pray you and your family have a spectacular Christmas. 

This post first appeared in MomLife Today.

If You Want Joy

12/18/2018

LISTEN

God is interested in us. He wants us to bear fruit. As a matter of fact, He designed us to bear fruit. In John 15:1-2  Jesus explains our relationship to Him in this way, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the VINEDRESSER. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” Why does God prune the dead, fruitless branches from us and watch to see if we’re bearing fruit? A fruitful life brings Him glory and us joy. I didn’t understand that until I planted a garden several years ago. Then, I understood the joy of seeing a branch bear a flower and then fruit. God, is our VINEDRESSER. He watches us every day and He prunes away that which is unproductive so we can bear more fruit, more glorious fruit. Do you feel the pressure of His pruning shears on you? If so, that is good. It is proof of His love and His presence in your life.  Rather than wrestle from His touch, breathe in the nearness of His presence and yield to His hand.

Lord, You are the VINEDRESSER. We praise You that You care about us and want us to be productive Christians. Prune us so we bear much fruit for You.

Find more encouragement HERE.  Do your Christmas shopping here: www.debbietaylorwilliams.com/shoppe.

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Imagine What if Will be Like to be Sin Free

12/17/2018

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Sin. It’s here. Our sin or another person’s sin seems to be a part of daily life. Perhaps one of the most glaring sins is selfishness. We want what we want. We want it when we want it. Things or people that stand in our way frustrate us. But what if sin didn’t exist? What if we were free of sin and its consequences?

The good news is – that day awaits us.

Because of Christ, the Savior of the world and VICTOR over death, we will one day be sin free as 1 Corinthians 15:57 reminds us, “…thanks be to God, who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We will one day experience the magnitude of what our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ achieved through the virgin birth and cross. In the meantime, let us remember to give thanks to God for daily victory over sin through the Spirit’s empowerment and eternal victory over sin through Christ. 

Today, let’s raise our voices in praise of Christ, who has won the VICTORY over sin.  

LORD, We praise You for being VICTORIOUS over sin and death. We worship You. 

www.debbietaylorwilliams.com

If You’re Faltering

12/16/2018

I’ve had the blessing of holding our newborn children and grandchildren. Holding them was no problem. They weren’t heavy. As a matter of fact, it was a delight to hold them. I could intently gaze on their faces. I could pray for them. The more I held them, the deeper my love grew. Wouldn’t it have been silly if our little ones had argued, “Don’t hold me. I’m too heavy.” Or, what if they had said, “I don’t want to bother you. You don’t need to hold me.” In light of that, consider our Heavenly Father’s words in Isaiah 41:10, “I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will UPHOLD you with My righteous right hand.” In the Bible, God’s right hand symbolizes His strength. His right hand is the strong hand of righteousness. We can relax in His hands. As He upholds us, we become increasingly aware of His deep love for us. In case you feel like you are faltering, be assured – your UPHOLDER has you.

LORD, Thank You for UPHOLDING us with Your righteous right hand. Thank You for the depth of Your love for us. Thank You that we don’t have to be afraid.  

“For I am the Lord your God, who UPHOLDS your right hand,
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”

*Copyright Debbie Taylor Williams, Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion. This is the book that began my collection of God’s 365 names, titles, and attributes. It features chapters that give an in-depth description of 26 of His A-Z names, and includes lined space for you to record your prayers, repentance, and praise. Also included are discussion questions for group or personal study. I pray it blesses and deepens your prayer life.  If you’re trying to think what to get someone for Christmas, I hope you’ll consider this as a gift. BUY NOW.

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Why We Don’t Worship Earthly Gods

12/14/2018

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Do you ever wonder, “Why bother to praise God?” If so, Isaiah 40 explains why.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (vs 21-22)

To whom then will you liken Me, that I would be his equal?’ says the Holy One.  vs 25

God makes it clear that no one is equal to Him. He calls us to lift up our eyes and see the heavens He created. What does this mean for us? It means we are not alone. It means that nothing is too difficult for God. It means our Heavenly Father deserves our worship.

Lord, You are UNEQUALED. There is no one more deserving of praise, honor, and worship than You. 

When You Need Insight

12/13/2018

Do you have a problem? Are you in a quandary about what to do about something in your life? If you are in need of insight about a course of action or a relationship, look to Christ. Why? Proverbs 3:19 tells us that He is a God of intelligence, skill, and insight; well-proved by His creation of the earth and heavens. “The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.” The Hebrew word for UNDERSTANDING, means “intelligence, skill, and insight.” In other words, when we look at the earth and heavens, we’re seeing evidence of God’s intelligence, skill, and insight. Trust God to provide you with the wisdom, intelligence, skill, and insight you need for daily life, decisions, and relationships. 

Jesus, we praise You that You are a God of UNDERSTANDING to whom we can look for skill and insight. 

“The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.” Proverbs 3:19

http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=H8394&t=NASB

Here’s Something for Which to be Grateful

12/07/2018

LISTEN

Recently, someone said to me, “The only good I have is because I’m a Christian.” What did the person mean? They were acknowledging that Christ is the “goodness” in them. Christ is more than “good,” however, as we understand goodness. He is what Hebrews 7:26 defines as undefiled. Whereas, our human nature is defiled, Christ is the opposite. He is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted about the heavens.”  Christ is a fitting high priest who is able to save us not because of who we are, but because of who He is. Our stubborn sinfulness doesn’t throw Him. Our willful rebellion doesn’t cripple His saving power. We have a holy, innocent, UNDEFILED Savior to whom we can look with gratitude.

“For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, UNDEFILED, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;”  Hebrews 7:26.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving us and saving us! We love you.

If You’re in Need of Love and Grace

12/06/2018

LISTEN

Are you the kind of person who easily feels guilty?  Do you want to live for Christ, but often feel like a failure or like you’ve let God down? Do others remind you of your sin or hold your wrongs over your head? If so, Micah 7:18  is a comforting verse on which to meditate. “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity… He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in UNCHANGING LOVE.” Think about these words and personalize them. God forgives me. God pardons my sin. God doesn’t stay angry with me. God delights in UNCHANGING LOVE for me.  Yes, we should go to God and others when we sin and ask forgiveness. Yes, we should practice walking in God’s ways. But, until heaven we won’t be perfect. God doesn’t forgive us so we walk in guilt. God forgives us so we walk in grace. What a joyful verse on which to meditate.

Lord, thank You for Your forgiveness and UNCHANGING LOVE! What a blessing You are. 

Listen to the Right Person

12/05/2018

LISTEN

Today, trust is at an all time low. Why? People don’t always speak truthfully. Lying appears to have become socially acceptable. But, it’s not acceptable to God. He is the truth and speaks the truth.  Revelation 21:5 NIV records, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are TRUSTWORTHY and true.’”  Jesus wants us to know that if He says something, we can count on it. He and His words are trustworthy and true and He is making everything new. Those are words of hope and encouragement that we need to hear. If there were ever a time that we should listen to Jesus and take hold of the hope of a new day, it’s now. If you’ve been hurt by an untrustworthy person, don’t let that keep you from trusting God. He has an eternal track record of being TRUSTWORTHY

Lord, thank You for being TRUSTWORTHY! 

We Need Help Winning the Battle

12/04/2018

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS for the SD P.R.A.Y. with PASSION CONF!  Your prayers were needed and appreciated. Too long of a story for here, but hopefully, I can share with you soon. HE was TRIUMPHANT in the BATTLE! 

LISTEN

Do you ever feel like things are getting harder, not easier; that truth is ignored, and too often evil seems to win? If so, Christ can relate. He was pronounced “not guilty,” then crucified. How irrational was that? But Colossians 2:15 tells us Jesus  TRIUMPHED over the irrational. He disarmed the rulers and authorities. He made a public display of them. And Christ is still triumphant even though we may not see it at certain times. Jesus will right what is wrong.  Truth will prevail.  That’s good news on a national and world level.  It’s also good news for us personally.  Christ, who triumphed over the grave, is able to triumph over despair in our heart and temptation in our lives.  Christ is the triumphant Lord. What do you need His help with today? He’s a prayer away.

Lord, You are TRIUMPHANT over death, rulers, and authorities. You are triumphant over despair and temptation. We ask for Your help to stand against evil and to live holy lives.

“When He (Jesus) had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having TRIUMPHED over them through Him.” Colossians 2:15