Make Ready with a nativity

A Savior. Born for you. And will bear for you. And does bear for you. Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

“Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!” isn’t a Christmas song, right? But is it? The greatest blessing, our Savior, comes to us this day. Let us sing and praise our God, who in His great mercy, made ready for us. He sent forth His own Son for our salvation. Gloria in excelsis Deo! Glory to Him who makes ready His plans for our redemption.

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Make Ready with an image of a silent night

A warm fire on a cold night has always been relaxing to me. In Christ, God calls us to rest in Him. #Advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

We’ve made it to Christmas Eve. If it isn’t done yet, it likely isn’t getting done. Perhaps that’s how Mary and Joseph felt. They made it to Bethlehem, they made it past the gossipers, they made it through this season’s journey to the birth of a healthy child. Even if tomorrow will be full of activity for you, rest in this time, breathe in this space. Be still in the knowledge that God has done this great thing for you. We made ready.

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Make Ready with a cross

At the crux of it all, even at Christmas. #Advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Christmas is fun, and special, and a holy celebration. But more than the presents and singing and yummy food, or the babies and lambs and shepherds, angels and wisemen, it’s about the difficult road ahead for that little Baby. It’s about His life lived for you and for me. It’s about the suffering endured for you and for me, the cross that lifted our Savior, the grave that hid Him, and the stone that couldn’t keep Him. It’s about His work in our lives. He alone makes us ready for salvation.

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Make Ready with a gift

Gift-giving is a reminder of God’s gift of grace. #Advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Whether gift-giving is a source of anxiety or joy, we can rejoice together in the gift of God’s grace. It’s often said that Jesus is the first and best Christmas gift. But He’s also the Giver! He gave boundless grace in coming to our fallen world, in preaching and teaching on our soil, in suffering and dying on a rugged cross, in rising from the tomb and granting Life to each of us. We praise Him for these gifts and so much more. What gifts are you sharing and revisiting this Christmas? Let these joys remind you of our great and mighty Giver always.

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Make Ready with something snowy or white

No snow here in Houston, but here’s a lovely white ornament. #advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Snow covers. Fresh snow, falling softly from the sky, transforms the environment like nothing else. As the dead grass slowly disappears beneath a blanket of white and barren tree branches begin to sparkle in the moonlight, the world is transformed. While the snow’s transformation is temporary and could dissolve with morning’s light, the forgiveness the Lord speaks of in Isaiah is of stronger mettle than snow. It is for eternity.

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Make Ready with a sign of wealth

A “sign of wealth” given our family by a couple of great friends. #Advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Imagine an event so compelling, so captivating that you would leave your home for years, travel incredible distances, to simply greet its coming. The Magi traveled to acknowledge something not completely understood to them, but that which they knew was worth the journey. But these men who worked among princes, made ready. They did not did not stop with acknowledging Jesus, they fell down and worshipped, they opened their treasures to the Most High God. What worship, what treasures, can we offer our God who has given so much for us?

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Make Ready with a recipe or a table

(a recipe of the season or a table to gather around)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

Something special happens when we share a meal together. Time spent preparing, stirring, chopping, simmering and roasting, plates set out, drinks poured. Everything is special when preparing for time spent together. And God is there with us. In conversations shared, in tears spilled together, in food passed, in laughter bouncing off the walls. We were made for community, loving one another and sharing Him in life together.

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Make Ready with a favorite Christmas ornament

Treasures on a tree. #advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20

You can learn a great deal about a person by looking at the ornaments on their Christmas tree: antique ones, handed down from generation to generation; handmade ones, from a beloved grandparent or child; purchased ones, specific to a memory, hobby, or occupation. Many of each of our ornaments also hold a deeper significance: they make us ready. They are small witnesses to every viewer of an eternal truth…God showed His love for us in this- Christ Jesus come to our world.

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Make Ready with wrapping paper

Wrapping paper, disguises, and surprises. #advent2016 #graftedheart #ilovemyshepherd

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2

Wrapping paper is all about hiding the gift and keeping the surprise. How many different colors and patterns of wrapping paper are available to us today? They are beautiful and a blessing! It’s ironic, though, that the Gift given so many years ago, wrapped and lying in a manger, was hidden in not shine and glamour, but humility, in the lack of anything that would proclaim to the world His splendor or His majesty. But we know the secret- How majestic is His name in all the earth!

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Make Ready with an animal

All creation, praise His name, for He has done wondrous things. #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart

…every wild and tame animal, all reptiles and birds, come praise the Lord! Psalm 148:10

The only animals actually mentioned in the Christmas accounts are sheep with the shepherds and the turtledoves sacrificed for purification after Jesus’ birth. Animals were such an integral part of life then, though, that we can easily imagine a cow in whose manger Jesus was lain, a couple of goats, perhaps a donkey, and birds nestled in for the night. These are a part of God’s creation, and they watch and wait for full restoration in the New Creation alongside us. They proclaim God’s handiwork when we do not. Even they make us ready for His glory. Let all creatures praise Him!

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