It keeps reverberating in my head, Pastor Bruce’s question in his first Advent sermon this year, “How do you keep materialism out of Christmas?”

We went Black Friday shopping as an extended family outing. It did not bode well for my first-grader. She kept wanting everything and we kept saying, “Well, Christmas isn’t far away. We’ll add it to your list. You can’t have that (or that, or that or that) today.” Toward the end of the outing, she was moping alongside her shopping grandma when she said, “I just see all this stuff and I want it all. I know I shouldn’t feel that way.” Christmas in America creates a mentality of materialism.

Along with materialism, how do we not get caught up in the chaotic preparations for celebrating? As Christ-followers, how do we remember to dwell with Jesus, the “Christ” in Christmas?

Visiting with a friend after church last Sunday, she shared her experience of being miserably sick with the flu last Christmas. She expressed that all the things she had to do went undone and Christmas still happened. And she still experienced joy.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’  Isaiah 30:15
In this verse, we see how we might save Christmas from materialism and chaos. By sitting, with coffee cup and Bible in hand, resting in Jesus. In stopping daily to confess my mess-ups to Jesus. Driving in silence; talking and listening to God instead of the radio. In making a to-do-list but verbally telling God that I trust He will allow me to accomplish exactly what He desires for this day. By prioritizing Jesus, not things, stuff, events or my infamous “to do list.” (Someone please tell me I’m not alone with my lists…) By choosing to stop your family once a day and read an Advent devotional (or any Scripture). Through our example, those in our sphere of influence (family, friends and neighbors) will see the Christ in Christmas, not the materialism or busyness.

Are you prioritizing Christ in Christmas? How will you choose to return and rest this December?


And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
There are two "ands" in Hebrews 11:6. The first begins the sentence as a term conclusion. It refers to what the writer of Hebrews was speaking in verse 5: Enoch. A man we meet in Genesis, who walked with God or pleased God. Moses makes note of Enoch's pleasing walk with God two times, so we shouldn't make light of it.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God (Septuagint: pleased God) after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God (Septuagint: pleased God) and he was not for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24
So Enoch pleased God or walked with God in God's ways, and remember that without confidence in God's ability to draw us up out of sin, it is impossible to delight Him. Enoch had confidence in God's ability to save him from sin that leads to death.

The second and: "And God rewards those who seek Him." To seek Him is an active verb that means to seek out, search for, investigate, scrutinize, beg, crave, to demand back or require. It seems like there's another layer to delighting God. When we go beyond accepting His offer to draw us up and wipe us clean, and choose to actively investigate Him; look for Him and His ways; crave Him; beg, need and require God's presence.

Driving in the truck, blinker had shorted out and was not working. This has been an on-going quirk for which I've found a "bandaid solution": don't move the steering wheel column. I was instantly upset; the engineer had moved the steering wheel position. Simultaneously, I knew I wanted to respond to this frustration in God's way (not in my anger). So I took a deep breath, God, help me to not be angry at him for moving the steering wheel, and just like that, the steering wheel locked into the correct position for the blinker to work consistently. I was shocked that God immediately answered my prayer. It wasn't until later that I realized that I didn't pray that God would fix my problem, I prayed that God would give me the power to act in His way of patience and forbearance.  "He rewards those who seek Him."

Don't get me wrong, every day I confess areas where I fail miserably at seeking Him and have walked far down my own path navigating life; anger, bitterness, self-righteousness, hardness, selfishness, doubt in His plan... But choosing His way for my life is rewarding, both immediately and eternally. Accepting His gift of righteousness through His generous offer (Isaiah 1:18) and then consistently choosing His way is what brings God most delight and gives us a secure eternal future in heaven and abundant, full, satisfying life now.

If you've accepted His offer, spend some time contemplating what path you're walking on: yours or His? It's never to late to turn around and get on His highway of righteousness.


As we sat around the Thanksgiving feast, the golden heads pointed out that the table (passed down from their great grandma) was leaning. Acknowledging the antique, my mother-in-law said, "Yeah, I should have taken up my mom on her offer to buy me a new dining room set." She had confidence in her mother's ability and desire to purchase a new dining set, but she didn't accept. God's offer, though much more significant, is free to us, desired by Him and all we need to do is say yes.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Believing in God's plan to rescue us from death through Jesus' death on the cross is the only way to please God. The greek for please is euarestéo, which means to gratify completely. If we break this greek word apart, we get eu (to be well off, prosper) and airó (to raise, elevate, draw up). Looking deeply into airó, we get the picture of God drawing us up out of death and sin and making us completely clean, separated from all sin. And this is what makes him well off, tickles His fancy or delights Him: to draw us up out of our filth! Do you catch the irony here? We don't do anything; we simply believe He is the one true God that has a plan to save us. It delights God to pick me up and polish me until I shine, and He does all the work. Can you imagine if the only way my mother-in-law could delight her mother was if she said, "Yes, get me that new dining set,"?
"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." Isaiah 1:18
Completely non-sensical! God says, "Here, give me all you have, are and will ever do wrong and I'll give you perfection." My only part is to have faith, trust, confidence assurance in His ability to do this. He offers and all I need to do is say yes. In our economy of you get what you pay for, this seems too good to be true.

If you've never accepted God's offer to lift you up and take your filth, spend time in conversation with Him. He wants to be generous with you. I beg you to take Him up on it. There's no other way to enter His presence and gratify Him completely.