Thanks to each of you for your encouraging words in my e-mail box.
I appreciate you taking the time to share your hearts with me.

We're so excited as our oldest son Josh is moving back to the Charlotte area today after 18 months in Baltimore MD.
The Lord has provided him with a new job and we couldn't be happier.
I can't think of a better Christmas gift.
Having both of our sons within an hour of us is terrific and we are grateful.

Merry CHRISTmas everyone,

December 20, 2007

A Little Peace of Christmas
By Zoë Elmore

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11(NIV)

When I was young, I would lie under the Christmas tree every night just before bed time watching the lights dance over the ornaments. I loved how the smell of the tree gently hung in the air of our tiny living room. My dad and I used to sing along with Bing Crosby, and my mom would let me watch as she baked baklava (our family’s version of Christmas cookies). Now I’m aware that times were simpler then and I was a just child, but these traditions always seemed to usher in a peaceful holiday season for my family.

Today I’m so weary of commercialism and the fast pace of Christmas; the entire holiday season seems to come and go before I ever have time to enjoy the “reason for the season.” Maybe it’s just my age talking, but I’m longing to experience a little “peace” of Christmas like I used to - but making that a reality in the midst of family and work obligations seems an impossible task.

As I was pondering this dilemma, I reread this verse in Luke and paid close attention to the word “today.” That’s it! The answer to my desire for a little “peace of Christmas” is in that one word. Today I will commit everything I do to my sweet Jesus. Today I’ll sing every Christmas carol at the top of my voice for His glory. Today I’ll honor Christ as I decorate our home by placing a nativity set in my Christmas tree. Today this nativity will serve as a reminder that He was born in order to die on a tree so that I could experience His peace not only at Christmas, but every day. Today I’ll bake baklava and share it with the new neighbors as a way to extend the grace Christ has given me. Today I’ll call someone who is lonely and hurting and offer my shoulder for his or her tears. Thank you Lord, for You’ve shown me the way to experience that little “peace of Christmas” my heart has been longing for. That peace begins today.

If you’re longing to experience a little peace of Christmas but are wondering if it’s possible, let me encourage you to just begin with today. Begin with a fresh commitment to fulfill all of your responsibilities and obligations for the glory of the Lord. Bake each cookie or wrap each gift as if you were presenting it to your sweet Jesus personally. Sing every song you hear on the radio, and decorate each corner of your home as if Christ Himself were your honored guest because He is the unseen honored guest of your today, tomorrow and forever. Love Him now, worship Him now, and then experience a little “peace of Christmas” of your very own.

Dear Lord, I want to pause during this busy but joyous season to give You the honor and glory You deserve. Help me to remember as I celebrate Your birth that Your greatest gift to me was your very life. In Jesus name Amen.

Related Resources:
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes

God Calling by A.J. Russell

Unwrapping His Presence, a Christmas message on CD

Zoe Elmore’s blog

Application Steps:
Ask the Lord to identify the activities He would have you be involved in this holy season and be willing to say “no” as the Lord leads.

What steps can you take to make a little “peace of Christmas” a reality for you and your family today?

Look at your schedule for today. Have you carved out any time for Christ, the honored guest?

Who are you trying to please?

Are you standing in the way of experiencing a little “peace of Christmas”?

Power Verses:
Psalm 147:14, “He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.” (NIV)

Proverbs 17:1, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” (NIV)

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Good Morning Friend,
I've attended ornament exchanges for years; but never hosted one. Hosting an excahnge is on my "51 things I've always wanted to do" list and it brought me so much joy as I prepared for old and new friends.
Having them here has made my Christmas!! It's the best gift I will receive this year.
I pray your heart will be as blessed as mine is as you gather with your friends.

What type of ornamnets have you taken in the past and why has this devotional given you reason to consider bringing something different?
Thanks so much for responding with your comments.
Merry CHRISTmas!!

My ornamnet Exchange was such a fun time last week; but I learned that I do need to begin the prep work a few days earlier than I did this year.

I felt like I was a day late & 5 steps behind until my sweet friends Van and Lisa arrived early in order to hang pictures and to light the luminaries (after many of the white bags blew over & caught fire). They finished just in time for the first guests to arrive.

Here we all are in our festive crowns from the English crackers we opened as the crowning touch to end our wonderful evening together.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you will experience the warmth and love of family, friends and our sweet Jesus!!

Ornamnet Exchange
December 10, 2007

Ornament Exchange
By Zoë Elmore

“And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Romans 1:23 (NIV)

Each year I participate in an ornament exchange with friends where we forcibly “trade” our ornaments with one another. It never fails that one ornament is very desirable and traded the most often until the game ends. I bet you’ve participated in the same type of ornament or gift exchange, and if you’re like me, it’s one of the highlights of the Christmas season.

This year as I began to print the invitations for the party, one word in particular leapt off of the page; it wasn’t the word “gift” as you might imagine, it was the word “exchange.” I don’t know how I’ve missed the significance of that word before today. To exchange means to give up one thing for another. In the ornament exchange what I give up could be for something better or something worse.

The same is true in my spiritual life; every day I can choose to exchange my worldliness for godliness, and many times I’m on the losing end as I make the wrong choice. I do exactly what this verse warns against as I value other things more than God, and exchange the imperishable for the perishable, especially at this time of year. When I’m thoughtless and uncaring, it’s like exchanging gold for iron. When I neglect my spiritual life, it’s like exchanging diamonds for dust.

Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8, “to count everything else as rubbish that we might gain Christ” is my memory verse for this month, and Romans 12:1 is encouraging me to exchange my pride, my self-focus, my selfish ambitions, and my worldliness for a life of holiness as a holy and pleasing sacrifice to God.

You might think I’m encouraging you to exchange everything you have, and you are right! Exchanging your self-centered life to pursue holiness is the only way to experience real life—eternal life. The blessings you will receive from God, both in this lifetime and in the eternal life to come, far outweigh anything this life has to offer. In fact it’s to die for!

As you prepare to exchange gifts with family and friends this Christmas season be mindful of the spiritual blessings you receive when you exchange the things of this world for something far greater.

Dear Lord, forgive my selfishness and help me to remember the blessings and benefits of exchanging my worldliness for spiritual wisdom and holiness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes

Visit Zoe’s Blog

Consider giving a gift subscription to the P31 Woman Magazine

Exchange the Gift of “Love in Action” – P31 Compassion Blog

Application Steps:
Write down the worldly things you can exchange and the spiritual riches you will receive.

Find someone to hold you accountable for your exchanges.

Are you pursuing personal holiness in this holiday season?

What areas of your life is the Lord asking you to exchange?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:7-8, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (NIV)
Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (NIV)

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

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