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Christmas Devotion

Are You Blending In or Standing Out?

By Cathy Irvin
Staff Writer

CBN.comLast as I was Christmas shopping, I watched the expressions of the people in the crowd. Sometimes the shoppers looked tense and in a hurry. I wondered why there was no joy in their faces as they were looking for gifts.

Then I realized Christmas had become so commercialized that it was no longer fun. It was a bargain alley and that they had a "wait-on-me-because-I-have-more-to-buy-and-other-stores-to-go-to" attitude. I was determined to shop at one store and get 1 or 2 presents. I did exactly that. I did not want my peace and joy being taken away by attempting to buy a ton of gifts in one trip.

What should be the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian shoppers during the holiday season? The answer is that we are not to blend in with the usual crowd. We are to stand out with a different expression - that is one of peace and joy.

I try to extend a little kindness to other shoppers. For example, I let a lady go ahead of me and she was very taken back by the kind gesture. People are not accustomed to having others treat them kindly, we have become an "It's all about me" world. People need to understand what the Bible means when it says that we should prefer one another. (Romans 12:10)

Jesus was a servant, yet He was God. Aren't we supposed to be living epistles, seen and read by all men? We are to be Christ-like so people can see Him in us. Whether it is a holiday or a sale, the next time you go to the store - try not to be in a hurry and see if you can spread some joy with your thoughtfulness!

There is far too much rushing about and yet people wonder why they have physical problems. They are having strokes and heart attacks when they appear to be in perfect health. God has called us to a life of rest and peace. When reading the life of Jesus, we see that no matter where Jesus went and what He had to do, He was not in a hurry. I think He expects us to learn from His ways and follow in His footsteps.

The holidays are almost upon us but I will be following the same path as last year. The reflection will be on Jesus, the reason I should celebrate. And I will spend my time with family and friends. This means much more to me than anything else does.

We have all read how to handle the holiday stress. Here is a tip for helping relieve the stress of the season. It is my favorite one. Have some friends and family over after Christmas and before the New Year. It is a great time of relaxing after the holidays. I tried this last year and everyone commented on how peaceful and refreshing this was for them. They were able to be together without rushing and were able to enjoy one another's company. Even after my son and his girlfriend left, my friends lingered, looking at all the Christmas decorations and talking about the Lord. We certainly felt rested in His love and peace.

Newspapers or magazines usually give tips for a stress free holiday. Here are a few that may help.

1. Buy some gifts ahead of the rush and on sale.
2. Plan ahead by making a list.
3. Give gifts no one would buy for themselves, such as a gift certificate to a restaurant or a specialty store.
3. For folks who like gourmet foods, shop in a bakery or gift shop.
4. Get a special box for the gifts you give.
5. Try to get wish lists early from friends so you can give them something they really want.
6. If your trying to get out of debt, have a dinner party sometime in December and give each guest a novelty gift such as a special ornament for their tree (purchase these when they are on sale).
7. Open a Christmas club account for next year now (save some change each week or month). It is easy to cut out a few snacks or sodas and put the loose change in a jar.

The Lord said we are to be wise stewards of our money, and He does not want us to be in bondage to debt. We are not to get caught up in materialism, for the cares of this life will choke out our peace and rest.

Pray and thank the Lord for making your holidays peaceful and refuse to let yourself get caught up in the ways of the world.

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