“Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42
This week, I’m planning Christmas dinner. I went to the grocery store yesterday. I’m going again today. And tomorrow. And Christmas Eve.
Actually, it’s a dinner that Jesus is referring to in Luke 10:42. The Greek word for “portion” here means “meal.”
He tells Martha—who is busily preparing a meal that fed the body—that Mary has chosen the good meal. Mary was eating a meal that fed the soul.
But not only that—Jesus said it was a meal that would not be taken away from her. Wow! Now that’s a really good meal!
It might take us twenty minutes to eat Christmas dinner. It will take our body 24-32 hours to digest that meal. The benefits won’t last for long.
But when we make the Lord’s teaching our meal, when we feast on His Word, the benefits from that meal will last for a very long time.
So long in fact, that Jesus said, it will not be taken away from us. Not in 24 hours, not in 24 years, not even in eternity.
Think about that. Every time we read, study, meditate or memorize God’s Word we are ingesting truth that will never be taken away from us.
That’s a meal we don’t want to skip!
Sitting says to God: I need you!
Often, we don’t feel our need for God as much around the holidays. We might get a little anxious about all we have to do, but we figure—with a little help from family members—we can handle the Christmas baking and shopping and decorating pretty well on our own. I mean, what to get our father-in-law for Christmas hardly seems important enough to bother God with.
Come to think of it, wasn’t that what our friend Martha was doing?
She lost sight of her need for the Lord’s help. She was just bent on getting the help of that sister of hers!
Yet the Lord lovingly reminded her that needed His help. She needed His grace to serve. She needed to hear His voice to not be anxious.
Martha, Martha He tenderly chided her. I am the one you need to come to for grace and help in time of need – any need, no matter how small or great!
Notice that God didn’t wait until Lazarus’ death to encourage Martha to come to Him. He didn’t tell her to sit and listen only in time of great trial or difficulty. He spoke these words to her in the midst of the general busyness of her home.
“Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction.” exhorts Charles Bridges. It’s holiday advice we’ve shared with you before, but worth repeating:
“Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without his counsel. He loves to be consulted…Consider no circumstances too clear to need his direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let Him be supreme. Who of us has not found the unspeakable ‘peace’ of bringing to God matters too minute or individual to be entrusted to the most confidential ear?”
No circumstance is too clear. No matter too minute or personal or temporal to bring to God (even your father-in-law’s present!). God is not bothered or offended by our ordinary, mundane requests. He loves to be consulted about the ordinary matters of our days, and our holidays!
Let’s bring our anxious souls to Him and receive the gift of “unspeakable peace.”
Did you wake up this morning and say to God: “I don’t need to read your Word or pray or listen to your voice today. I am competent on my own. I can do this all by myself, thank you very much.”??
Of course not! We would never dare say these frightfully arrogant words.
But if we neglect God’s Word and prayer over the holidays (and when is it more easy to do!), we are saying with our hearts and actions: “I can do it all by myself.”
Jesus has a different perspective: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” He says in John 15:5.
We can’t ice one cookie, trim one tree, sing one carol, shop one minute, sew one stitch, or wrap one gift without Him. None of these things—no matter how hard we work at them or how beautifully we pull them off—will have any “eternal value or…produce spiritual fruit” without God (ESV Study Bible).
To bear fruit, we must sit at His feet.
We must renounce our self-sufficiency.
We must repent from our arrogant independence.
We must come to the God of mercy who is eager to forgive.
And we must sit.
When we sit at Jesus’ feet, we are saying: “I need you! I can’t obey you without your help. I can’t serve you in my own strength. I can’t walk in a manner worthy of the gospel by myself. I need your grace.”
And you know what, He will give it! God didn’t correct Martha’s self-sufficiency to push her away. He wanted to draw her near to sit and listen. He wanted to speak to her, to teach her, to give her grace to bear fruit.
So let’s say—with our words, our hearts, and our actions—I need you, Lord, today!
“What about Santa?” has been a recurring question from our readers through the years: “Is it right/wrong to celebrate Santa?”and “If you choose not to celebrate Santa, how do you help your children relate to family and strangers?”
Last week, Thabiti Anyabwile, a wonderful pastor in the Cayman Islands and a dear friend of CJ’s, published two thoughtful posts in answer to these questions.
He shares why Santa is not a part of his family’s Christmas celebration, and gently answers some of the common defenses for keeping Santa in Christmas:
Our children have grown up to have a wonderful, imagination-engaging, fun Christmas without Santa Claus. And scores of children whose parents make Santa Claus a part of their Christmas celebration have also grown up to have wonderful memories of Christmas and to serve the Lord faithfully….I’m not arguing a dogmatic causality here. I’m simply asking the question, “Why include Santa Claus at all?”
Thabiti follows up with a very helpful post on how to lead children through the difficult questions that arise when Santa is not apart of your family’s celebration.
1. Prepare your children before they’re in the situation.
2. Don’t leave your children hanging; model the response you’re hoping for.
3. Teach children to take an interest in the traditions of others.
4. Finally, we have to teach our children how to handle objections.
As Thabiti notes, “there’s precept and there’s practice.” Whatever your practice, we hope God will give you much grace to lead your children in a Christ-centered celebration this year.
Here’s a Christmas Friday Funny I got from a friend. Be sure to read the caption underneath!
We’ve got more (serious) Christmas stuff for you next week.
Kristin for the girls
“Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.
Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize that it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”
I’ve never outgrown my love for a good Christmas story. Problem is, good Christmas stories for adults are much harder to find.
But this year, we can happily recommend a new book for your personal Christmas story time. The Unfinished Gift is a new novel by author Dan Walsh—who also happens to be a Sovereign Grace Ministries pastor in Daytona Beach, FL.
Despite the author’s balmy writing weather, this book has the authentic feel of a bitterly cold winter in 1943. Patrick, the seven-year-old main character, faces sudden grief and an uncertain future with his crotchety grandfather (who, most notably to me, never keeps the house warm enough!).
Old judgments and bitterness linger long in this family, and the evil of prejudice still infects the community. But the brave charity of strangers comes to Patrick’s rescue. And the kindness, long-suffering, and forgiveness of two women who loved their family bring restoration, long after they are gone.
This book’s redemptive and godly themes stand out against the cynical and raunchy holiday fare peddled for adults. Not only can you read this book without feeling yucky or depressed, you’ll find hope that springs eternal, grace in unexpected kindness, and a harvest of righteousness for peacemakers who sow in peace.
So, treat yourself to The Unfinished Gift this Christmas season. I dare you to read it through without crying
When we were little, my mom read us Christmas stories she’d ripped out of Christian magazines, or borrowed from the library. These story times remain some of my most vivid and cherished Christmas memories.
So this year, I’m carrying on that tradition with my own kids. Instead of just telling them that “it really is better to give than receive” and “Christ is the reason for the season” I’m reading them stories that I hope will capture their imagination and affections.
Each night, by the light of the advent candle, we read a story.
One of my favorites so far doesn’t even have any pictures! It’s a story John Piper wrote for the children of his church. “A Kind of Christmas Tale” is about a man named Job and his daughter Jemimah. It was a tad above my children’s comprehension level (well, more than a tad above Tori’s!); but the story is encapsulated in two short rhymes, which, when repeated often, will remind my children and me to trust God’s plan and to obey Him always. Here’s the first one:
“When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them work for good.”
To learn the second one, you’ll have to read the story.
Well, the shopping trip is over. It was a blast! In between stores we managed to stuff in plenty of laughter and conversation, which is really what the shopping trip is all about anyways. But we’re so happy to be back with our husbands and children and grateful to our men for holding down the fort while we were gone.
See you back here, tomorrow!
Today was day two of our shopping trip. Here are a few fuzzy pics from our camera phones.
Nicole enjoying her cranberry juice at our pre-shopping breakfast
Heading to the store…
My friend sent me this cute story from her house:
“I made coupon books for the kids this year…all but the baby. At breakfast, my five-year-old son said enthusiastically: “Mom, you SHOULD have made a coupon for the baby that says—‘Good for nursing for 2 hours!’”
So if you make coupon books for your family next Thanksgiving—make sure not to leave out the baby!
We’ll be back on Monday,
for my mom and sisters