Excerpt from my Christmas reading:

“… the heart of the Christmas story: sacrificial love…love and sacrifice are synonyms, the deeper the cost of giving, the deeper the experience of love and joy. Sacrifice, of course, is what the true Christmas story is all about. It is not so much about giving as it is about sacrificing. (All sacrifice is giving, but not all giving is sacrifice.) … Sacrifice means to give to another person something we could have kept for ourselves. It means to choose, to deny, to love, to give, and to find the deepest pleasure in another’s joy. …

There is no shortage of opportunities to sacrifice. All we have to do is look for the need. That’s what God did when He sent His Son into the world at the first Christmas. The need was twofold: for the human race to see what had been lost in the Garden of Eden–perfect humanity; and to restore what was lost–fellowship with God through the forgiveness of sins. Once the need is identified, the gift becomes obvious. The challenge is to be willing to provide a gift as big as the need. Sometimes the need is bigger than what we can comfortably give in terms of time or treasure. And that’s where sacrifice comes in. Giving becomes sacrificial when we take something we might normally have channeled toward ourselves and dedicate it to increasing the joy of another.” (David Jeremiah, The 12 Ways of Christmas)

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I will be starting my de-Christmasing process today. All the Christmas decorations will once again be packed away until next year. As I’m doing this it is a good time to remind myself, and others who may be doing the same thing, that though the external manifestations of Christmas will be going away, the Spirit of Christmas doesn’t have to. CHRISTMAS CAN LAST 365 DAYS A YEAR

Christmas doesn’t have to occur only once a year. The spirit of Christmas can permeate every day of the year. During the Christmas shopping season I hear “this is the season of giving” said numerous times. Each time I hear it the thought that runs through my mind is “why does giving have to be limited to a season? Why can’t giving be a lifestyle?”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Giving does not have to involve money.

We can’t out give God. He loves us with a perfect love and gives to us out of that love. We can’t out give God because we can’t love with perfect love. Our love is tainted by an imperfect human nature. Nevertheless, we can allow God’s love to flow through us when we choose to love/give regardless of how we feel.
Real love is a verb. It is a choice. It is selfless. It is choosing to do something for someone else regardless of the cost to self. It is not a feeling. It is an action. It is this love that brings light to a dark world.
God sent His Son to bring light to a dark world. Five days before his death Jesus said the following words to a crowd in Jerusalem: “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark” (John 12:44-46). The gospel of John tells us “God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming in to the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:1-13).
Those of us who follow Jesus and have experienced that spiritual rebirth carry His light inside us. That light comes with marching orders. We are to let His light shine in us and through us so we can bring His light in to a dark world. When we do that Christmas can last 365 days a year.

Go Light Your World, Chris Rice – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsM5lt9tCFo