12 Days Until Christmas!
Song: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” by Sam Smith
Christmas Album: “Following Yonder Star,” by Skip Ewing
Christmas DVD: “The Santa Clause” (trilogy)
Netflix Movie: “Christmas with the Kranks”
Amazon Prime Movie: “Glee: A Very Glee Christmas”
• “Toy Story,” 4:30 p.m., ABC Family
• “Four Christmases,” 5 p.m., TBS
• “All I Want for Christmas,” 5 p.m., ION
• “Dear Santa,” 5 p.m., Lifetime
• “The 12 Gifts of Christmas,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “The Santa Clause 2,” 6 p.m., FX
• “Toy Story 2,” 6:45 p.m., ABC Family
• “Miracle on 34th Street,” 7 p.m., Sundance
• “The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story,” 7 p.m., TBS
• “Holiday Road Trip,” 7 p.m., ION
• “Becoming Santa,” 7 p.m., Lifetime
• “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas,” 7 p.m., MTV
• “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” 7:30 p.m., TBS
• “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 8 p.m., USA
• “Family for Christmas,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “New Year’s Eve,” 8 p.m., TBS
• New England at Houston, 8:20 p.m., NBC
• “College Football Bowl Mania Special,” 8:30 p.m., ESPN
• “Toy Story That Time Forgot,” 9 p.m., ABC Family
• “A Christmas Reunion,” 9 p.m., ION
• “Wish Upon a Lifetime,” 9 p.m., Lifetime
• “Miracle on 34th Street,” 9:15 p.m., Sundance
• “Frosty Returns,” 9:30 p.m., CBS
• “Toy Story 3,” 9:30 p.m., ABC Family
Recipe: Candy Cane Coffee Cake
Quick Thought for Christmas
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
Every year when we celebrate Christmas, eventually we’ll hear or sing a song about the town of Bethlehem. There’s even the carol that is devoted solely to the “Little Town of Bethlehem,” which lies less than five miles away from the big town of Jerusalem.
If a king was to be born, it made sense that he would come from the place where kings lived and ruled – Jerusalem, which was the home to both Herod and his great temple. But Herod was Rome’s political king. God had a spiritual king in mind, and more than 700 years before the first Christmas, He told us all where to look.
The prophet Isaiah wrote that the “shoot” would come from the “stump of Jesse.” That stump was King David, and Isaiah told us that the promised Messiah would come from David’s line. That made sense, as David was the greatest king of Israel. But at about the same time Isaiah was writing about stumps and shoots, the prophet Micah was writing about a town – Bethlehem Ephrathah – which would produce God’s promised King. That word Ephrathah is important because it separates that Bethlehem from the other Bethlehems in Judea. It would be like Micah saying, “Columbus, Ohio,” which would distinguish that from the other towns named Columbus in Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.
The amazing thing is that neither of Jesus’ parents were from Bethlehem. In fact, they had no reason to be in Bethlehem. It took an act of Congress – or the closest thing to it, a decree of Caesar – to get them to Bethlehem. The ruler of Rome at the time, Caesar Augustus, had an itch to know just how powerful he was. So he commanded that all of his subjects report to their hometowns for a census, so they could be counted for his amusement. In most societies, that meant simply going to where you were born. But not in Israel.
There, people had to travel the their ancestral homes, and since Joseph was in the ancestral line of David, he had to travel about 70 miles to the little town of Bethlehem. And just when Mary was due to be born. What an amazing coincidence!
So between Mary’s miraculous pregnancy and Caesar’s governmental decree, all of the conditions were in place for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. Two prophecies were fulfilled in that one moment. And more ground was laid to prove that the child born in Bethlehem that night was, in fact, the Messiah, the Son of God.
Today, prepare your heart for a truly miraculous celebration that’s going to take place in just 12 days. And remember that God went to great lengths to make sure this day happened and that everything went just as He had planned.
Reflection copyright © 2015 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.