Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Celebrating Jesus Christ after Christmas is over

Keeping the Christ of Christmas in Our Hearts
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”—Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

Decorations begin to make their descent, lights dim, schedules free, excitement wanes and things settle back into a more regular rhythm. If we’re honest, it can feel downright depressing to realize the sparkle and celebration of the Christmas season and anticipation of the new year are gone and we have 364 days till we encounter it again.

Countless posts pop up on social media surveying the acceptable time to take down decorations as if searching for someone to grant them permission to leave them up just a little longer. Radio stations have resumed their regularly scheduled programming, replacing the familiar melodies of Christmas carols, strains of "Silent Night", and pondering “Mary Did You Know?” Store shelves are lined with products for the upcoming holidays: red and pink hearts for Valentine’s Day in February, green shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day in March, and in some stores, colorful eggs and bunnies for Easter in April!

It makes me wonder…have we compartmentalized Christmas to a day or few weeks in December or a cameo appearance in July? Are we being intentional about making Jesus Christ “the reason for the season” but not letting Him be Lord in our everyday lives? As we move away from December 25 and step over the threshold of a new year, are we intimately aware that Immanuel (“God with us”) is not just the baby in the manger but He is actually with us always, every day in every year? Do we remember that the birth of Jesus is just the beginning of His rescue mission here on Earth?

God has always desired to be with us. From the first moments with humankind’s First Parents (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden, to the first Christmas when Jesus made His debut in the manger located in Bethlehem. God has always been about fellowship with His children. When Adam and Eve chose to sin over obeying God, an act that threatened to permanently separate humans from their Creator, He immediately set in motion a plan to win us back. When our sin separated us from Him, Jesus came to Earth to be here with us (John 3:16-17).

But that is not the end of the story! It’s what Jesus did after His arrival on Earth that secured our salvation and a promised home in Heaven when Jesus returns to take us there. The miracle of the virgin birth was followed by a myriad of miracles carried out by Jesus during His earthly ministry, culminating in the resurrection that fulfilled countless prophecies. All of these are worth celebrating and great reasons to focus on Jesus all year long, not just at Christmastime.

So how do we prevent losing the wonder and awe of the Christmas season after the decorative lights have dimmed, the nativity scenes have been stored away, and the trees have been taken down? We spend time in God’s Word (The Holy Bible) regularly. We speak to Him in prayer continuously. We remember that the birth of Jesus, while miraculous, is anticlimactic if He had never made it to the Cross, was laid in the tomb, or rose again on the third day. The excitement that builds during Advent doesn’t reach its peak with the birth of Jesus. On the contrary, that signals He is just getting started. It simply sets in motion the earthly journey of our Jesus to fulfill His rescue mission for us.

So this year, amidst the setting of resolutions and choosing a word of the year, let’s not forget to keep Jesus at the forefront of our minds and a priority in our daily activities. As the calendar continues its march forward let’s allow our minds to rest not solely on the baby in the manger but on the risen Christ and everything in between. Let’s remember what it took to win us back, the sacrifice He made, and the price He paid. You see, Jesus is “God with us” from the cradle to the cross, from everlasting to everlasting. He is the reason for every season. Salvation could not have happened had He not incarnated in humble circumstances and chose to stay on that Cross until His work was finished. And that’s worth celebrating every day!

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, Holy God: Thank you for being Immanuel, God with us, at Christmas and all year long. As our hearts reflect on Jesus Christ’s incarnation at Christmas, help us remember that He didn’t stay in the manger. Remind us that His life on Earth was for a specific purpose: to secure our salvation so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Help us keep Jesus the number one priority in our lives every day of the year, immersing ourselves in His Holy Presence and perfect peace. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Day After Christmas” by Matthew West. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Cyndi Staudt, founder of Walking the Walk Ministries, is a Kingdom-focused writer, speaker, and coach, passionate about helping women worldwide awaken their hearts to see their God-given purpose and thrive in their walk with Christ.

With a desire to cultivate a craving for God's Word, her writing is saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.

Through her writing, speaking, and coaching she hopes to ignite your eagerness to pursue God passionately, invite your heart to experience God’s love personally, and inspire you to live your life “souled” out to the One whose love has no limits.

Cyndi lives in Central Florida with her two kitties and is a Jesus-loving, adventure enthusiast devoted to living her life for Jesus until the day she is living with Him.

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