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Table of Contents:
Christmas Devotionals

  • Be Devoted to the Lord
  • Read the Story
  • Study the Story
  • Dramatize the Story
  • Apply the Story of God's Love
  • Sing about the Story
  • Simplify: Less Is More


Christmas Greetings!

The Value of Traditions
     Traditions associated with any area of your life can
strengthen your family ties and relationships.  They can also
remind your children of your values and faith throughout their
life.  In turn, these traditions can be passed down to your
children's children and future generations.
     Christmas is a time when many observe family traditions.
As you begin new traditions or alter or continue established
traditions, keep them Christ-centered.  What a heritage it is
to pass on our devotion to the Lord as the focal point of this
season.

Christmas Devotionals
     In this issue we present suggestions for focusing on the
reason for the season.  Do not let busyness crowd out the most
important element of our celebration -- the wonder of God's love
for us and His provision for our salvation through the birth,
death, and resurrection of His Son.

     May the Lord Jesus Christ have the preeminence in our lives
and activities in this season and always.

Cordially,
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Sisters and Co-Editors
The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

Be Devoted to the Lord
     We show our devotion to the Lord God by spending time with
Him, listening to His Word and talking to Him in prayer.
     This should be a Christian family's first priority each day
-- not as a duty, but as the privilege it is.

Set Aside a Regular Time
     Family devotions can be held at any time during the day when
everyone is present and when there will be the least distractions.

Form the Habit
     Firmly establishing a habit of meeting together will greatly
facilitate this time together with the Lord.  See "17 Ways To
Form Good Habits" at
http://www.teachinghome.com/newsletters/vol_2-no_90.cfm

Read the Story

     One of the most meaningful family traditions you can pass on
to your children is reading of the story of Christ's birth together.

Read and Discuss the Bible Story

 *  Read and discuss Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 1:5-2:38.

 *  Read the Nativity story with lights dimmed to help children
     imagine the happenings and concentrate on the story.
 *  Emphasize the truth of Jesus' miraculous birth and that His
purpose in being born was to die for us (see "Story of God's
Love" below).

Compare Accounts

 *  Notice the different details in each account.

 *  Make a photocopy of these two accounts, then cut and paste
them together to make one integrated account, or copy the
passages (see link) and do the same in your word processing
program. http://www.crosswalk.com

 *  Read the Christmas story in John 1:1-18.  How does this
account differ in viewpoint, etc.?

Study the Story
     Further study brings many rich truths to bear on the simple
story of Christ's birth.

The Incarnation

     Explain to your children that because of the incarnation,
Jesus is both fully God and fully man. John 1:1-3, 14:6-11;
Colossians 2:6-9.

Names of Christ

     Explain and discuss the names given to the promised Messiah
in Isaiah 9:6 and the character quality each reveals.

Prophecy Fulfilled

     Find and study the prophecies in the Old Testament
predicting the coming of the Messiah and their fulfillment in the
New Testament.  Many are listed online at
http://www.messiahrevealed.org and
http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/messiah.htm.

Why Jesus Came

     Look up some of the following Scriptures, and discuss the
reasons that Jesus came.  (Read and check off in any order.)

__ To fulfill prophecy. Matthew 5:17; Romans 15:8
__ To fulfill and abolish the law. Ephesians 2:13-15;
     Matthew 5:17-18
__ To seek and save the lost as a shepherd. Luke 19:10;
     Matthew 18:11; John 10:1-30; Isaiah 53.6; I Peter 5:2-4;
     2:25; Matthew 9:36; Hebrews 13:20
__ To serve. Mark 10:45
__ To give His life as a ransom to redeem and free those
     enslaved to sin. Matthew 20:28;  Romans 6
__ To give more abundant life. John 10:10
__ To reveal the Father and to demonstrate the great love of God
     for all men. Romans 5:8; II Timothy 2:4; Matthew 11:27; John 14:9
__ To do the will of God. Hebrews 10:9
__ To preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and bear witness to
     the truth. Luke 4:18-19, 43;  John 18:37
__ To bring judgment, fire, reproof of sin, and the sword of
     separation from ungodliness. Matthew 3:11-12,  10:34-36;
     Luke 12:14, 44; John 3:17, 8:15, 9:39, 16:8
__ To save sinners by bearing our sins and paying our penalty.
     Romans 6:23; Isaiah 53:5; I Timothy 1:15;
     I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28
__ To be a faithful high priest and the mediator between God and
     man. I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:17
__ To put away sin. Hebrews 9:26; I John 3:5; John 1:29;
     Leviticus 16:20-22; Isaiah 53:6; II Corinthians 5:21
__ To destroy the works of the devil. I John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14;
     John 12:31, 14:30
__ To provide a pattern of holy living. I Peter 2:21;
     Matthew 11:29
__ To bring justice to the oppressed. Luke 4:18
__ To remove enmity and establish fellowship and friendship with
     man. I John 1; Romans 8:7; John 15;3-15
__ To sow and harvest the world's field. Matthew 7:37-8; 13:3-43
__ To heal. Luke 9:11; Isaiah 53:5; I Peter 2:24
__ To unite Jew and Gentile believers. Ephesians 2:11-19
__ To remove the veil and open the Holy Place to us.
     Hebrews 6:19-20; 9; 10:19-22
__ To nourish the spiritual growth and make fruitful all who
     abide in Him--the vine. John 15
__ To woo His bride and pay the price for her betrothal.
     John 3:28-9; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelations 19:6-9,
     21:1-9, 22:17
__ To demonstrate patience, humility, and obedience.
     Philippians 2:5-8; I Peter 2:21-23; Hebrews 5:8; John 6:38
__ To give rest to the weary. Matthew 11:28-30
__ To bring light to a darkened world. John 1, 8:12
__ To give eternal life to those dead in sin. Ephesians 2:1-6
__ To give living bread and water to the hungry and thirsty.
     John 6:27-58; Matthew 5:6; John 4:10-14
__ To give re-birth and adoption as God's children to all who
     receive Him in faith. Galatians 4:1-7; John 1:12
__ To conquer death through His death and resurrection.
     I Corinthians 15:20-22; Revelations 21:4; II Timothy 1:10;
     Hebrews 2:14-15

Dramatize the Story
     Your younger children may comprehend and remember the story
of Christ's birth better through any of the following activities.

Make a Nativity Set

     Make a playdough, dough art, or clay nativity set.

 *  You could shape the figures like the Fisher-Price "Little
     People" toys at
     http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=900000&e=storeproduct&pid=34128.

 *  See instructions for a nativity scene on pages 38-39 of Morton Salt's
     "Dough It Yourself" Handbook (complete and free online).
     http://www.mortonsalt.com/consumer/fun_stuff/diy.htm

Make and Use Puppets

     Tell the story of Jesus' birth using felt, puppets, or
unbreakable nativity figures.

 *  Sock puppet instructions.
     http://www.legendsandlore.com/sockpuppets.html
     http://wywy.essortment.com/makingsocksp_rxqf.htm

 *  Finger puppet patterns and instructions.
     http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/printables/funmakes/nativity/index.shtml

 *  Easy and inexpensive puppet stage ideas.
     http://www.pagewise.com/puppet-stage-children-how-to.htm

 *  Easy-to-Make Bible Story Puppets.  Patterns and directions for
     making 40 inexpensive and durable felt hand puppets.
     http://www.ValerieBendt.com

Act Out the Story

     Help your children act out the story.

 *  They can play multiple parts and use stuffed animals as props.

 *  Costumes can be as simple as a scarf or bathrobe.

Apply the Story of God's Love

     The story of the life of Christ reveals a loving God who is
seeking a personal relationship with you.  Through faith in Jesus

Christ, His substitutionary death for you, and His resurrection,
you can have forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal
life.

God's Love

     Explain and discuss the following verses.

     "Herein is love, not that we loved God,
          but that he loved us,
     and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
          (1 John 4:10)

     "For God so loved the world,
          that He gave His only begotten Son,
     that whoever believes in Him should not perish,
          but have eternal life."
          (John 3:16)

     "The Lord is patient toward you,
          not wishing for any to perish
     but for all to come to repentance."
          (II Peter 3:9)

God's Gift

     Compare receiving a gift to how a person receives God's
forgiveness and eternal life by accepting it as an undeserved
gift by faith.

     "But as many as received Him,
          to them He gave the right to become children of God,
     even to those who believe in His name."
          (John 1:12)

     "For the wages of sin is death,
          but the free gift of God is eternal life
     in Christ Jesus our Lord."
          Romans 6:23

     "For by grace you have been saved through faith;
          and that not of yourselves,
     it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,
          that no one should boast." (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

Our Response

     Ask each of your children if he has accepted this gift.

 *  Ask the Lord to help you lead your child to Him in saving
faith if he has not been saved.

 *  Memorize some of the Scripture passages above or others that
speak of God's love to us.

 *  Pray and thank the Lord for His love and gift of salvation.

Sing about the Story
     Music adds so much to our celebrations.  It is also a way to
teach and remind our family of spiritual truths.

     "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,
          with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another
     with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
          singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
          (Colossians 3:16)

Sing Together

     Gather your family together to sing Christmas carols during
your family devotional time or as an activity at some other time.

Play an Instrument

     If someone in the family plays an instrument, have them play
a carol alone or with your singing.

Learn the Story Behind the Music

     Learn the history of our Christmas music.

 *  See stories on the following sites.
     http://www.cyberhymnal.org/index.htm#lk
     http://www.worshipmap.com/resources/music/hymnstories.html

Simplify: Less Is More

Finances

     The world's focus on commercialism at this season is usually
rejected in theory, yet Larry Burkett warns that "Many families
literally indenture themselves to creditors for a whole year just
to buy some useless junk at Christmas."

 *  Read and discuss with your spouse
     http://www.family.org/fofmag/marriage/a0034682.cfm

Schedule

 *  Make more time during this Christmas week to devote to the
     Lord and His Word together as a family.

 *  Maintain a normal schedule, as much as possible to reduces
     stress and make your special times more relaxing and enjoyable.

 *  Schedule several smaller family celebrations, rather than one
     large one that builds pressure to "make or break" the "success"
     of your holiday.

Gifts

 *  Consider giving gifts one or a few at a time over several
     days -- on the model of the traditional 12 days of Christmas
     beginning with December 26 and ending on January 6 (Epiphany).

 *  If you choose the method above, you will be able to take
     advantage of huge savings during the after-Christmas sales.

 *  See gift ideas in our last newsletter at
     http://www.teachinghome.com/newsletters/vol_2-no_103.cfm

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