Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Wednesday, December 13, 2017

11 Days Until Christmas!

Song: “Little Drummer Boy,” by the Harry Simeone Chorale
Christmas Album: “Noel,” by Josh Groban
Christmas DVD: “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”
Netflix Movie: “Dear Santa”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July”
Feeln Movie: “Coming Home for Christmas”
On TV:
• “Switched for Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Santa Clause,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “This Christmas,” 8 p.m., AMC
• “My Christmas Dream,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Dear Santa,” 8 p.m., Lifetime Movies
• “The Santa Clause 3,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “A Christmas Carol (1999),” 9 p.m., TNT
• “Christmas at Holly Lodge,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Becoming Santa,” 10 p.m., Lifetime Movies
• “A Christmas Carol (1984),” 10:30 p.m., AMC
• “Office Christmas Party,” 10:30 p.m., Showtime
Recipe: Southern Snowballs

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Isaiah 7:10-17
Matthew 1:18-25

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14

Reflect

Picture this situation.

Sweet little Mary McNamara came home one day with a big dilemma. She had some huge news – HUGE NEWS – to tell her parents. It would shake their world and change the course of her life, and she was sure they wouldn’t understand. No one would.

The only thing to do was take a deep breath and tell them. They’d find out eventually, and it would better if it came from her.

“Mom, Dad. I have something to tell you. A little more than a month ago, an angel came to me and told me I was going to have a baby, and that it would be God’s child. And I’ve never been with a guy. I mean, I’m dating Joe Carpenter, but we’ve never even been alone together. But that day, after the angel left, something felt different. And now I’ve missed my period, and I took a pregnancy test. And I’m definitely pregnant.”

Of course, her parents must have been so excited…

How would you have responded? How do you think they responded?

In Mary’s time, this could have meant death for her, especially if Joseph wasn’t so understanding. Fortunately, God spoke to Joseph’s heart, and he married her in spite of something so unexplainable – at least when looking at it as people naturally would.

Of course, this pregnancy was predicted more than 700 years earlier when Isaiah wrote that a virgin would conceive and have a son. It had to happen in order for God’s plan to be complete. But when it did happen, no one understood. They likely wrote it off as a naive young girl who simply got herself into trouble.

God does things in His own way and in His own timing. This Christmas season, look for the little miracles that God might do in and around you. Make sure you don’t discount His works and write them off as coincidence. And keep your heart focused on His constant presence as the day of Christmas draws ever nearer.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Tuesday, December 12, 2017

13 Days Until Christmas!

Song: “White Christmas,” by Bing CrosbyWhite Christmas Bing
Christmas Album:
“When My Heart Finds Christmas,” by Harry Connick Jr.
Christmas DVD: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Netflix Movie: “Christmas in the City”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Frasier: Perspectives on Christmas”
Feeln Movie: “A Dog Named Christmas”
On TV:
• “Snow Bride,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Polar Express,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “Scrooged,” 8 p.m. and 10 p.m, AMC
• “A Gift to Remember,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Holiday,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• “The Santa Clause,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas,” 9 p.m., NBC
• “A Wish for Christmas,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
Recipe: Free Range Fruitcake

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Isaiah 9:1-7

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Reflect

The Jews were indeed looking for a warrior king, and that definitely meant it had to be a man. A grown man, ready to step in and lead a nation into battle against its oppressors.

Amazingly, God had told them exactly where to look for their Messiah. In Isaiah 9:6, they were told that the Messiah would be a child, and in Micah 5:2, they were informed that their Savior would come from Bethlehem.

And just like we’ve read earlier, they were also told that the Messiah wouldn’t be about war, but peace. “Wonderful Counselor.” “Mighty God.” “Everlasting Father.” “Prince of Peace.” Those aren’t words of war. They’re words of comfort and peace.

During this season of Christmas, peace can be a little elusive. We’re surrounded by so much seasonal noise and clamor – buy the gifts, fix the dinner, go to the party. Lost in the shuffle is the peace that comes with a close relationship with the promised Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today, try to spend just a few minutes with that child Savior, and seek his counsel, comfort and peace. Prepare your heart for a joyous celebration that is now less than two weeks away.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Monday, December 11, 2017

14 Days Until Christmas!

Disney Christmas CarolSong: “Christmastime Is Here,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas Album: “Christmas Portrait,” by the Carpenters
Christmas DVD: “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”
Netflix Movie: “The Heart of Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Small Town Santa”
Feeln Movie: “Candles on Bay Street”
On TV:
• “Elf,” 5:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Christmas in Mississippi,” 6 p.m., Lifetime
• “A Dream of Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Night at the Movies – Merry Christmas!” 6:45 p.m., TCM
• “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” 8 p.m., ABC
• “Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic,” 8 p.m., FreeForm
• “Once Upon a Holiday,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Four Christmases and a Wedding,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• Monday Night Football: New England at Miami, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
• “The Polar Express,” 9 p.m., FreeForm
• “I’m Not Ready for Christmas,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Dear Santa,” 10:14 p.m., Lifetime
Recipe: Blueberry Peach Frozen Salad

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Zechariah 9:9-13

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

Reflect

God is very good about telling us what to expect. That was the major role for Old Testament prophets – bringing messages about God’s plans and purposes for the future. And when it came to the Messiah, God painted a very clear picture about what He would look like.

But in spite of God’s prophetic messages, people have consistently managed to overlook God’s plans and instead place their own expectations on Him. Today’s scripture is a great point.

The people of Israel desperately wanted a deliverer – someone who would overthrow and destroy their oppressors. They looked for a regal king who would be a warlike Messiah who would exact revenge for the hundreds and hundreds of years that they were kept in submission to people who had nothing but contempt for them.

But who did God tell them to look for? A good and righteous king who would come riding on a donkey.

That’s an important image, because throughout the Old Testament, kings who rode on horses brought war. But kings who rode on donkeys always brought peace. And God was telling them to expect a peaceful king who was gentle and kind.

Jesus started out life in peace and humility, and when he entered Jerusalem a few decades later, he was the prophetic picture of peace and humility – riding on a donkey. (Matthew 21)

Today, spend at least a few minutes thinking about the peace that Jesus brings to your life. If you don’t have any peace, pray for just that. And pray that the peace of Christ will reside in you throughout this Christmas season so that you can have a truly joyous celebration on Christmas Day.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Sunday, December 10, 2017

15 Days Until Christmas!

Song:“Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix
Christmas Album: “These Are Special Times,” by Celine Dion
Christmas DVD: “The Muppet Christmas Carol”
Netflix Movie: “Christmas Ranch”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland”
muppet-carolFeeln Movie: “The Road to Christmas”
On TV:
• “Christmas in Evergreen,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “Christmas With the Kranks,” 6 p.m., Lifetime
• “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” 6:30 p.m., FreeForm
• “Christmas Belle,” 7 p.m., ION
• “Miracle on 34th Street (1947),” 7:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m., Sundance
• Sunday Night Football, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m., NBC
• “Sharing Christmas,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Christmas Reunion,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• “Elf,” 8:40 p.m., FreeForm
• “A Royal Christmas Ball,” 9 p.m., ION
• “A Gift to Remember,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Very Merry Toy Store,” 10:02 pm., Lifetime
• “Four Christmases,” 10:50 p.m., FreeForm
Recipe: Mulled Cider

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Galatians 4:1-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5

Reflect

Izzy simply couldn’t wait for Christmas. All year long, he bugged his Dad, begging him to speed up Christmas and get it here quickly. “How long do I have to wait?” he pleaded, over and over.

“Christmas is coming soon enough,” his Dad told him. “Just be patient.”

Patience, of course, had its limits. After all, he only wanted one thing for Christmas. Most kids had lists a mile long. Izzy just had the one thing. Certainly his folks could make an exception and get it here sooner than December 25.

He couldn’t see that his father had a plan. Izzy’s Dad had gotten the present even before his son had started asking for it, and he knew exactly when he wanted to give it to him – Christmas Eve. He would slip it simply into the house without a lot of fanfare, and place it unwrapped in the living room. And in spite of Izzy’s pleas, that’s exactly what he did.

After church on Christmas Eve, Izzy came home and pleaded once more, “Is it time?” He looked around the living room and saw wrapped presents under the tree. He ran around the living room, looking behind and under everything. But he couldn’t see that the one thing he had asked for was sitting in the middle of the room, right in front of him.

“When the fullness of time had come,” God sent His son. And when He did, the people of Israel who had been crying out for a Savior didn’t recognize that their hopes and promises had been fulfilled. They cried out for centuries, not seeing that God had a plan, and would only unveil it when the time was right to fulfill all of the promises and prophecies about the Messiah.

He has been with us now for more than 2,000 years, and still too many people don’t recognize Him, even though He’s standing right in front of them. Don’t make that mistake this Christmas. Instead of running around and filling your season with busyness, you can find true fulfillment by looking in the one direction that will really fulfill you – Jesus Christ.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Saturday, December 9, 2017

16 Days Until Christmas!

Song: “Silver Bells,” by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell
Christmas Album: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas DVD: “You’ve Got Mail”
Netflix Movie: “Get Santa”
Amazon Prime Movie: “The 12 Dogs of Christmas”
Feeln Movie: “Prancer”
On TV:
• Army vs. Navy (from Philadelphia), 4 p.m., CBS
• “The Toy Story That Time Forgot,” 5:55 pm., FreeForm
• “The Santa Clause,” 6:25 p.m., FreeForm
• “Coming Home for Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “Mary Poppins,” 8 p.m., ABC
• “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 8 p.m., CBS
• “Its a Wonderful Life,” 8 p.m., USA
• Heisman Trophy Presentation, 8 p.m., ESPN
• “The Christmas Cottage,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Christmas in Mississippi,” 8 p.m., Lifetime
• “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” 8:35 p.m., FreeForm
• “Frosty the Snowman,” 9:30 p.m., CBS
• “Frosty Returns,” 9: 30 p.m., CBS
• “Marry Me at Christmas,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Christmas Trap,” 10:02 p.m., Lifetime
Recipe: Chocolate-Chestnut Tortelli (Christmas Cookies)

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

2 Thessalonians 3

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Reflect

A lot of words come to mind when we think about the Christmas season.

Love. Joy. Bells. Santa.

But maybe the best word that describes Christmas is “peace.” Think about it – at this time of year, in spite of the hustle and bustle of the season, people tend to have a little more goodwill in their hearts toward one another. They’re more gentle, more kind, more giving. Sure, you’ll encounter the stray jerk or two who will mow you over to get the last Lego set or Doc McStuffins doll. But if you watch closely, you’ll notice that people who might not otherwise notice you or talk to you will catch your eye and maybe even wish you a Merry Christmas.

The greatest example of this might be the Christmas Truce of 1914. As World War I raged in its first year, there was a desire among many that the fighting should at least stop to observe Christmas. A few weeks before Christmas, Pope Benedict XV sent a message to the warring nations, “that the guns may fall silent at least on the night the angels sang.” All of the powers ignored his plea.

But the soldiers didn’t.

Along the Western front, scores of German and British troops were locked in battle, deeply embedded in their respective trenches. But the violence of the battlefield could not stifle the German troops’ desire to celebrate Christmas to the best of their limited ability. They decorated their trenches with Christmas trees and candles, and their celebrations spilled over into the singing of traditional carols. The sound carried over a silent battlefield to the ears of British soldiers. They echoed the carols, singing the familiar tunes in English. Before long, they dared to cross “No Man’s Land” to greet each other, carrying gifts of whatever they had to spare.

For up to a week, soldiers along the Western Front didn’t fight. Instead, they made friends with men who just a few days before had been considered enemies. Eventually, high commands on both sides ordered everyone back to their trenches, and the war ensued for another four years. But, as it has throughout history, the birth of Christ changed the course of history. Where there was war, Christmas brought peace. The hearts of men might cry out for war. But the heart of God, and the nature of Christ, will call for peace in the hearts of even those who crave war.

In the next few weeks, don’t let the clamor of the holidays overwhelm you. Reach out for Christ and claim his peace in your heart. After all, He is the “Prince of Peace,” and He desires for that to reside within each of us, not only at Christmastime but throughout the year.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Friday, December 8, 2017

17 Days Until Christmas!

Joyeux NoelSong: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Hillsong
Christmas Album: “Merry Christmas,” by Johnny Mathis
Christmas DVD: “Joyeux Noel”
Netflix Movie: “An Evergreen Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Christmas Grace”
Feeln Movie: “Angels in the Snow”
On TV:
• “Switched for Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “Toy Story 2,” 6:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Christmas in Evergreen,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Christmas Carol (1951),” 8 p.m., TCM
• “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” 9 p.m., CMT
• “Toy Story 3,” 9 p.m., FreeForm
• “Finding Santa,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
Recipe: Slow Cooker Overnight Breakfast Casserole

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Psalm 72

May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations serve him!
Psalm 72:11

Reflect

We live in a world where a lot of “lip service” is paid to God, but not a lot of true homage and devotion is given to Him. If you read the Bible, it doesn’t say you show your love for the Lord by showing up in church now and then and reading your Bible when the mood strikes you. Instead, we’re supposed to show God our love for Him by living according to His principles every day.

The lack of reverence for God is no more apparent than in the halls of government. And if you look back at the history of kings and queens, you’ll find that even they – though they were supposedly chosen by “divine right” (meaning that God hand-picked them for the job) – most of them lived like they were God. A good example is King Henry VIII, who reformed the Church of England during the great Reformation of the 1500s. He supposedly was devout in his faith, and yet he still used the Church to justify divorces and executions so that he could find a wife to produce a male heir to the throne. Henry didn’t bend to God’s will as much as he used his authority to bend God’s Church to his will.

Today’s Psalm says that ultimately, all kings and queens – even the entire world – will kneel before God and serve Him. Paul, in Philippians, said pretty much the same thing: “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)

Santa kneeling to JesusIn the long run, every person who has ever lived will have to admit that God is King, and that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. During this Christmas season, one of my favorite images is one of Santa Claus kneeling at a manger scene outside of a home. It bridges the gap between the over-emphasis on Santa Claus and the missing emphasis on the birth of Jesus. It also fits perfectly with Psalm 72 and Philippians 2 – that everyone, even Santa Claus, will ultimately submit to the Lord.

If you haven’t already, start today to place Jesus at the center of your Christmas season. In the altar of your heart, make sure that you don’t find reindeer, snowmen or a fat man in a red suit, but instead a child born to be the Savior of us all.

Reflection  copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ultimate Christmas Countdown – Thursday, December 7, 2017

18 Days Until Christmas!

(Note: This is also Pearl Harbor Day. Some programming in honor of that day is also included.)

SCC-JoySong: “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Steven Curtis Chapman
Christmas Album:
“Vince Gill: A Christmas Collection” by Vince Gill
Christmas DVD: “The Bishop’s Wife”
Netflix Movie: “Pete’s Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Christmas in Wonderland”
Feeln Movie: “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas”
On TV:

• “Christmas at Holly Lodge,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “Christmas in the City,” 6 p.m., Lifetime
• “Elf,” 6:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “College Football Awards” (from Atlanta, 7 p.m., ESPN
• “With Love, Christmas,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Christmas Story 2,” 8 p.m., 10 p.m., CMT
• “Toy Story,” 9 p.m., FreeForm
• “The Christmas Train,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “My Christmas Prince,” 10:01 p.m., Liftime
Recipe: The Best Bread Pudding

Quick Thought for Christmas 

Read

Acts 5:27-32

God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 5:31

Reflect

The right hand has always meant something special, not only in scripture but throughout history. In the Middle East, even apart from Israel, we know that the right side of the throne signified strength and power. In Genesis, when Jacob placed his right hand on Manasseh, and his left on Ephraim, he followed that by saying that Manasseh would be greater and more powerful than his brother. In medieval times, knights would show their right hand to prove that they weren’t armed and that they could be trusted. Today, that has been passed down into our handshakes, and in modern military salutes.

After Jesus died and rose from the dead, we read in Acts that God “exalted” him – basically, raising him to the position of greatest authority – and proved it by placing Jesus at his right hand. Being at the right hand of God allowed Jesus then, and allows him to this day, to give both repentance and forgiveness of sins. This means that Jesus was the means to salvation because repentance – turning from your sins – is necessary before those sins can be truly forgiven.

The amazing thing is that Jesus started out at the right hand of God. He had His place at God’s side from the beginning of time. But when the time came, He gave up that place in order to walk as a man, die the death of a man and be buried in a man’s tomb. Living a sinless life and dying a horrible death, He earned that seat at God’s right hand back, simply by being perfect – something none of us could do. And being there with that sinless track record, He now has even more power and authority to grant us entry into God’s presence.

If you haven’t already done it, the best Christmas gift you can gift yourself is to accept Jesus’ sacrifice into your heart so that you can one day walk the path that Jesus paved for us. Please don’t let another Christmas go by without fully understanding all of the things He sacrificed for us, and without owning them personally.

Reflection copyright © 2017 by Doug DeBolt.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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