The Christmas Baby

Merry Christmas! 

As you spend time today focusing with family and friends on Jesus, the reason for the season, the Christmas baby that was born so long ago and the hope that he brings, reflect with a thoughtful post by Don Wilton.

Surely no birth has ever garnered more publicity than the birth of our Christmas baby. How well acquainted we are with all the hoopla that surrounds the announcement, the nine month wait and the birth of that little person – so wonderfully made by the specific design of our Lord and our God.

Every baby, without exception, fashioned by the foreknowledge of God and designed to look like God, love like God and live with God forever.

At least this is how God intended every baby to be. But sin interrupted His mighty plan. And so it is that from birth not one single baby is ever born with an ability to look like God or love like God or even live with God.

Here comes the Christmas baby.

This baby, according to God’s gracious love for man, is the only means by which all sinners can be reconciled to a holy and righteous God. (Click to Tweet!)

It was because he was born that all people can look like God and love like God and live with God forever. So, this Christmas baby is well worth seeking after. A visit to his birth manger is not optional if, in fact, any person has any prospect of looking like God and loving like God and living with God forever.

What a story unfolded . . .

First, there was the announcement of the birth.

Mary’s world must have been rocked, to say the least. God chose one very precious young lady to carry the Christ baby. Extreme surprise must have been followed by extreme shock. “Horrors” she might have thought – especially considering the potential scandal.

But God was involved all the way – just as he is involved in the birth of every child. Only he is the giver and taker of life. So Mary’s horror was quickly soothed into a contented silence that always comes when God speaks.

Second, there was the birth itself.

How very unkind of the Inn Keeper to turn his back on a very pregnant young lady. My, how times have changed. Today he would be sued! We would all have it in for him -with no pun intended!

But what if we really understood he said “sorry young lady, no room here,” because he could not help but say this? To what extent was God involved in His master plan for the redemption of all mankind? Unless, of course, we want to imagine some sorry little Inn Keeper had enough power to interfere in God’s sovereign plan.

Anyway, he said “no room” because God fully intended for the Savior of the world to “suffer in all points just as we do” – yet without sin. This suffering was the very suffering Jesus would carry with Him all the way to the cross. There our suffering and sin would be put to death with Him and then buried in a grave to rise no more. This Christmas Baby would identify with us in every way.

Third, there is a  very important thought about the birth of the Christmas baby. 

Everyone in the world was impacted by it.

At the time when this all happened, there were a bunch of people who found themselves immediately caught up in this beautiful little baby’s birth. A close examination of them takes us exactly where God intends for us to be taken.

Think about the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the King (Herod) and his court, as well as the by standers who we will never be able to properly identify.

These people represented a cross section of society. They were commoners, small business owners, shop keepers, academics, camel riders, court servants and rude monarchs! Just like Jesus! Right there at the manger it all came together.

One humble young lady giving birth to one precious little baby boy in a smelly stable while covered in a mixture of hay and cow poop!

This is Jesus. The Son of the Living God!

He was the same one who would go to a cruel Roman cross and take upon himself the sin of the world. He was the same one who would conquer sin and death and the grave. And he was the same one who would ascend to be seated at the right hand of the Father and now making intercession for you and for me.

Who exactly? It was the “you and me” who first heard the news about His birth. It was the same “you and me” who sent him to the cross. And it was the same “you and me” who, because of His glorious resurrection, will be raised up to walk with Him in newness of life. 

The same “you and me” who will come back with Him when He returns to this earth – not to be surrounded by the difficult and the damning, but to be clothed in the robes of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

This is the Christmas baby.


Don Wilton is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is the founder and president of The Encouraging Word, a broadcast ministry, and is passionate about hosting teaching tours to the Holy Land each year including Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Rome.

The Incarnation and Christian Spirituality

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Take time to reflect today with a modified excerpt from Barry D Jones’ Dwell: Life with God for the World, published by IVP, an ebook written to encourage readers to discover their mission and how it fits with their relationship with God.

The most important moment in the birth of a child is the moment when the little one lets out her first cry.

It is the vital sign of life. In fact, it used to be the common practice for doctors to help this moment along by holding the newborn by her feet and slapping her backside. While the practice offends some contemporary sensibilities, it served a crucial function.

At birth, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid. The first cry helps expel the fluid and allows the baby to take her first breath. The lungs expand. Oxygen rushes in. Respiration begins. Her life in the world commences with the rhythm of breathing in and breathing out.

We rarely pay much attention to the rhythm of our breathing unless something interrupts it. But this rhythm pulses through every moment of our lives from the first cry of life until our dying breath. The average adult takes between twelve and eighteen breaths every minute, which means the rhythm of inhaling and exhaling occurs more than twenty thousand times every day.

The rhythm of our breath is the rhythm of life.

There is a rhythm of life that pulses through the biblical vision of what it means to be human.

A kind of breathing in and breathing out—an inhale and an exhale.

The breathing in is our participation in the divine life.

The breathing out, our participation in the divine mission.

The breathing in is intimately connected to our experience of God’s personal presence. It is life lived with God.

The breathing out involves our participation in God’s just reign. It is life lived for the sake of the world.

The breathing in we often call “spirituality.”

And the breathing out we call “mission.”

At the heart and center of the staggering story of grace told on the pages of the Bible is the claim that the God of the universe experienced that first rush of oxygen into his lungs when a peasant baby let out his first cry in a stable in Bethlehem two millennia ago.

The single greatest difference between Christianity and every other theistic religion is succinctly captured in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

In the incarnation, Jesus embodied the breathing in and breathing out that constitutes the biblical vision of what is means to be human.

In Jesus, the personal presence of God took on our humanity and “made his dwelling among us” in order to make a way for us to participate in the divine life. Throughout his life he modeled what it looks like to live in intimate connection with the Father and dependence on the Spirit.

Through faith in his work on our behalf, we participate in the divine life and are filled with the indwelling Spirit, God’s empowering presence. In his incarnate life, Jesus gave us the normative vision of spirituality, of life with God. (Click to Tweet!)

So too Jesus came, sent by the Father, to bring the just reign of God into the broken world subject to the reign of sin, death and the devil.

The Christian story knows nothing of a detached deity who watches disapprovingly as the world he made spins madly on. As the Christian story goes, God does not stand at a distance merely watching the suffering of his creatures and the brokenness of his world.

Instead he enters into that brokenness and takes on their suffering. He becomes a victim of human cruelty and injustice. In doing so he secures a hope beyond the brokenness of this world as we know it.

In the incarnation of Jesus, God made his dwelling among us as the ultimate means of accomplishing his mission to rescue and renew his good but broken creation. Throughout his ministry Jesus called people to turn away from their other allegiances and to believe the good news that in him the reign of God had come near.

After his resurrection Jesus commissioned his disciples, saying, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). Jesus’ incarnate life gives us the normative vision of what it looks like to live into the mission of God, of life for the world.


Interested in reading more? Get Barry D Jones’ Dwell: Life with God for the World today.

The Real Christmas: Remembering Jesus

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Spend time reflecting with an excerpt from Mornings with Jesus 2016: Daily Encouragement for Your Soul, published by Zondervan.  

Discover today’s devotional, written specifically for the Advent season by author Susanna Foth Aughtmon.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 (NIV)

Sometimes Christmas does not feel like the season of joy and light that it should.

Sometimes Christmas feels like a giant snowball of expectations and activities that roars in the Friday after Thanksgiving and doesn’t roll out until the new year has been rung in.

If we aren’t careful, it can squash us flat.

I have ordered Christmas cards, purchased Christmas presents for my family, organized the advent calendar, decorated the house, bought the tree, decorated the tree, marched in a Christmas parade, and gotten Christmas packages together for our kiddos we sponsor in Africa. And I am exhausted. If you need me, I will be in bed until January.

Maybe you have also been squashed by the Christmas snowball. (I may have picked you up when I was rolling down the mountain of bills I was paying yesterday . . . sorry about that.)

But here is the thing. Almost none of these activities that are flattening me or you are really Christmas. They are all the trappings we have added to Christmas.

We don’t need more parties, or decorations, or gifts, or worries, or expectations to be added to Christmas.

What we really need is some grace. For ourselves and others. And we need to love people.

My husband just told me that all of us need at least eight hugs a day. He read it somewhere. It sounds about right.

And mostly, we need to remember Jesus. Jesus. The Savior. Emmanuel. Breath of Heaven. Redeemer. Bright and Morning Star. Friend. He loves us. There is nothing snowballish about Him. He came so that we could be free . . . not flattened. So breathe.

Grab some grace and spread it around. Hug somebody. And remember that the Light of the World loves you. Completely. Wholly. Without reservation. (Click to Tweet!)

And that is the real Christmas.

FAITH STEP: Repeat the names of Jesus out loud, slowly, pondering their meaning and letting the knowledge that He loves you completely penetrate your heart.


Interested in getting encouragement like this daily in 2016? Get Zondervan’s Mornings with Jesus 2016: Daily Encouragement for Your Soul today!

Joy to the World

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Take time to reflect today with a guest post by Nancy Guthrie, an influential Christian author and teacher. She teaches the Bible through numerous Bible study books, at her home church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, as well as at conferences around the country and internationally.

In the 1700s, when Isaac Watts lived, most people sang psalms from the Bible set to music in their worship services.

Watts didn’t think that the psalms that had been arranged well for singing, so he set about the task of trying to do better. The song we sing today as “Joy to the World” is Isaac Watts’ rendering of Psalm 98.  Psalm 98 is about the coming of the Lord. But when we listen carefully to the words, we recognize immediately that it is not about the first coming of Jesus.

We sing, “Let earth receive her king!

But when he came the first time, earth did not receive her king. They crucified him. (Click to Tweet!)

We sing, “he rules the world with truth and grace.

But when he came the first time, he did not come to rule the world with truth and grace but as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

We sing, “and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness.

But when he came the first time, he did not make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness. Instead, he took upon himself the punishment for our unrighteousness.

Perhaps most significantly, at least for me, and for anyone who has experienced the pain of living life in a world that is broken to the core because of the curse of sin that came over all creation when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, we sing, “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

And we realize that while Christ accomplished everything necessary to put an end to the curse when he took the curse upon himself on the cross, we still live in a world profoundly impacted by the curse. We are experiencing the new creation as we are called from spiritual death to spiritual life. But his blessings do not yet flow far as the curse is found.

But when Christ comes again, all will be different.

Every knee will bow to him; there will be no more resistance to him. It won’t be just people who will celebrate his coming; the earth itself will celebrate.

The curse will finally be gone so that all of creation will be set free from decay to worship Christ. People from every tribe and nation will gladly crown him as King.

This is why there is so much joy in “Joy to the World”! It is not about the joy of Christ coming the first time, but anticipates the joy when Christ comes the second time—when the Kingdom he established at his first coming will be the reality we will live in forever.

When we understand what we’re saying when we sing this song, we realize that this song celebrates the essence of our Christian hope as believers. Our hope is not simply looking back to treasure Christ’s birth or seeing what Christ accomplished on the cross. (Click to Tweet!)

It is not only in our experience here and now of Christ changing us as we put our faith in him. Our greatest joy is centered on our future hope of the day when Christ will return in glory to this earth. On that day, all who are dead in Christ will be resurrected.

This is what we read in Revelation 21:1-5 about that day that “Joy to the World” celebrates:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

That day, described in Psalm 98 and sung about in “Joy to the World,” will be a great day! Because God fulfilled his promises to send Jesus the first time, we can sing, “Joy to the World” confidently and expectantly, sure that he will come again.”


Nancy offers companionship and biblical insight to the grieving through Respite Retreats that she and her husband, David, host for couples who have faced the death of child, through the GriefShare video series, and through ebooks such as Holding on to Hope and Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow. She is also the host of the “Help Me Teach the Bible podcast” at The Gospel Coalition and is the editor of a collection of writing on the incarnation called, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. 

Interested in reading more by Nancy? Get her advent devotional, Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room


A Christmas Reflection: Seeing Like a Little Child

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Take time today to reflect with a guest post by Tim Cameron, who currently serves as headmaster at Metro Christian Academy and as an elder at Believers Church.

Two years ago before Christmas, my wife and I downsized and moved back to our former home. It was a little house we had been using as a rental property.

Just a few doors down on the block was a residence poorly cared for. You can guess some of the low spots: grass never mowed, trees overgrown, tires in the front yard, and the house in a sad state of disrepair. To top it off, a few strings of Christmas lights were thrown haphazardly around trees and left turned on year-round. I confess, my comments to my wife were not the most edifying every time we drove by that house.

Over the course of a weekend when our four-year old grandson was staying with us, we repeatedly drove by this run down residence.

On one of those trips, my wife turned to our grandson and said, “What do you think about that house?” He immediately responded, “It’s beautiful.” Of course, he was only seeing the bright Christmas lights.

Similarly, we know very little about Jesus’ childhood.

The only incident chronicled in the gospels is of Jesus at twelve years of age. It’s the simple story of Jesus being left in Jerusalem during the Passover, and his parents finding him in the temple three days later among the leaders.

Luke 2:40 describes Jesus’s development from infancy to age twelve: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. And the grace of God was upon him” (MEV).

We know about Jesus’s childhood that He was similar to any growing boy in His natural maturing. He was completely human; however, He was completely God, one of the many majestic mysteries of the gospels.

I don’t think most of us fully appreciate Jesus’ humanity while here on earth. He had all the emotions, temptations, and physical feelings that we have. The point is, Jesus knows experientially what it is like to be a little child. (Click to Tweet!)

He was a baby, and a little child; He grew in stature and wisdom. He knows all the marvelous qualities of little children, firsthand.

Like my grandson, who saw only the beautiful strand of bright Christmas lights in the middle of a huge mess, Jesus looks into the messes we can make of our lives and sees the beauty and great possibilities remaining.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, MEV).

Christmas is such a majestic time of the year. It is a time of wonder for little children and a poignant time for adults to contemplate our Lord’s birth and childhood. The beauty of Christmas always reminds me of what the beauty the kingdom of heaven must be like.  

However, we need to be mindful that the kingdom of heaven isn’t some ethereal land in the good old bye and bye.

The kingdom of heaven is within us (Luke 17:21). Whether it is the kingdom heaven to come or the kingdom of heaven within us, it will only be seen and experienced through the eyes of a little child. “Jesus called a little child to Him and set him in their midst, and said, Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:2-3, MEV).

We must become like little children.

Jesus knows little children don’t judge one-another. They don’t see themselves better than other little children, unless they are taught to do so. Little children don’t gossip or criticize each other. They don’t ascribe worth to anyone based on the color of their skin or the square footage of their home.

Let’s reflect this Christmas on the wonder of Jesus’ birth!


Get Tim’s ebook, The Forty-Day Word Fast, which focuses on several biblically-sound mechanisms to help you change your words and your life. Not only will your vocabulary change, your heart also will be transformed in just 40 days!

An Advent Reflection: Old Nelson’s Nephew

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Spend time reflecting with an Advent devotional by Dr. Alicia Britt Chloe. She  takes a unique perspective on the birth of Christ, she explains her piece in this way: “Many of us cannot count how many times we have heard the story of Jesus’ birth. In this devotional, I have attempted to retell the story through the eyes of a salty shepherd. Read the story again (Luke 2:10-18) and spend a few moments considering the long-term affect that miraculous night must have had upon the shepherds and all who saw Jesus.”

Don’t worry, after a while you get used to the smell—even grow to like it, I say. Sort of makes you feel alive. Watch for that—oohh. There is a lesson for you lad, always look before you sit.

So, you are the new shepherd they spoke of. Welcome, I say. Yes, any nephew of Old Nelson is welcome here. How can I help you son? Anything you’d like to know?

Oh! Now that was a long time ago. But it’s as fresh in my memory as, well, as other things around here. Let’s see, thirty-three—no, thirty-four years ago it happened.

“Joy,” he said. “Great joy.” And he was right lad. He was right.

Nelson, Sparks, Red, and I were watching the sheep over in that pasture past the creek. We were just kids then, though I was the eldest. Used to tease the others that they were good for mutton. Ha!

You know, good for nothing, good for mutton?! Never mind.

Anyway, we had settled in for the night around the fire when suddenly it was as though someone turned the sun on. Bright as day it was. I was so scared, thought I was going to die!

Right in the middle of the light we saw a big old angel and he said, “Do not be afraid.” (Easy enough to say when you’re twelve feet tall and floating in sunshine!) “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

A Savior. Lad, he told us of a Savior.

Then a whole flock of angels appeared and sang together about God and peace and goodwill and such. Never seen anything like it.

When they left, Old Nelson was the first to speak. “I’m going,” he said, and we all followed him. Words just aren’t big enough to tell you what it was like to find the Savior. Nope. But I can tell you that seeing Him changed us all.


Yes, the angel said it best. Used to think Joy was like being surprised on your birthday. But it’s more like burning hope deep in your soul; it keeps you warm, like a clean fire living inside you. (Click to Tweet!)

Joy kept burning, even when I lost my best friend, your uncle, Old Nelson. You see son, Nelson still lives because that Savior we saw still lives. Crucified he was, but God didn’t leave Him there. And that’s a story for another day.

Rest now, lad. I’ll tell you like the angel told us, don’t be afraid. We watch over the sheep, but that Savior I saw watches over us. And I bet Old Nelson’s close by His side.

Luke 2.8-18 The Message Bible

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.


Dr. Alicia Britt Chole is a speaker, mentor, and author who lives with her family off of a quiet, country road in Missouri. Her book, Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours, is highly regarded by leaders around the world and her next book, 40 Days of Decrease, will be released in January, 2016.

Extravagant Grace

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. You’ll hear from a variety of authors with original posts and featured excerpts from Christmas-focused ebooks.

Spend time reflecting with an excerpt from Daily Guideposts 2016: A Spirit-Lifting Devotional, published by Zondervan. This annual devotional gives you 365 days of inspiration to help you grow in your faith—discover a devotional today that was written specifically for the Advent season by author Bill Giovannetti.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” —Luke 2:13–14 (NKJV)

Though our kids are now teenagers, they haven’t lost the magic of Christmas morning. My wife and I love it. When they come down the stairs, their eyes still bug out at the massive pile of gifts they see.

We make that pile as big as we can. We shove the coffee table beside the tree and stack gifts on it just to add height. We spread gifts out across the floor, beneath the tree, around the recliner. The pile is enormous, and we’re not commercializing Christmas!

The vast majority of those gifts are basic needs: socks, toothbrushes, notebooks, shoes. We stock up all year on whatever the kids need, wrap it up, and add it to the pile. We use extralarge boxes for the smallest gifts just to make the pile bigger.

We still read Luke’s Christmas story to recall the Savior’s birth. We still snuggle with hot chocolate and classic Christmas movies. Our teenagers still embrace our traditions.

But best of all remains that wide-eyed wonder on Christmas morning when the kids see their gifts, because their sense of wonder helps me remember God’s extravagant grace. (Click to Tweet!)

Prayer: Father, You delight in giving, and this season is the proof. Open my eyes to the wonder of Your grace.


Interested in finding daily inspiration in 2016? Get Zondervan’s Daily Guideposts 2016: A Spirit-Lifting Devotional today!

O Come, Let Us Adore Him

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Focus on the true meaning of the season today with a reflective guest post by Jessica Thompson

O come, see Him loving you before He was ever even born. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

O come, see Him planning our rescue. (Genesis 3:15)

O come, see Him being born into brokenness, poverty, and bloodshed. (Matthew 1:18-25)

O come, see Him living in utter obscurity as a boy, teenager, man. (Luke 2)

O come, see Him changing the water into wine. Changing the ordinary into extraordinary, saving the best for last. (John 2:1-11)

O come, see Him confounding those that thought they had it all together. (John 10)

O come, see Him loving the damaged. See Him as Friend of Sinners. (Matthew 9:10)

O come, see Him drawing near to women. (Luke 10:38-42)

O come, see Him welcoming children. (Luke 18:15-17)

O come, see Him longing to be in relationship with the outcast, the sick and the lonely. (Click to Tweet!) (Mark 1:40-45)

O come, see Him weeping at the grave of his friend Lazarus. (John 11:1-44)

O come, see Him praying, asking for the cup to pass, and finally surrendering to the forever plan. (Matthew 26:36-46)

O come, see Him riding into the city on a donkey, receiving the praise of those that are about to turn on Him. (Luke 19:28-40)

O come, see Him being questioned, mocked, beaten. (Luke 22:63-23:25)

O come, see Him taking upon himself every single sin you and I have ever committed. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

O come, see Him experiencing the separation from the Father you and I deserve. (Matthew 27:46)

O come, see Him taking care of his mother while he breathed His last breath. (John 19:25-27)

O come, see Him crying out the three words of good news that changed everything: “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

O come, see Him defeating death, conquering hell, sealing Satan’s fate. (Click to Tweet!) (I Peter 3:18-22) 

O come, see Him calling out Mary Magdalene’s name and healing her broken heart. (John 20:11-18)

O come, see Him lovingly teaching his disciples and loving them through their fears. (Luke 24:14-49)

O come, see Him interceding for you and me at the right hand of the Father. (Romans 8:34)

O come, see Him sympathizing with us in our weaknesses, and being touched by our infirmities. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.


Jessica Thompson is co-author of Give Them GraceCounting the Days Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional and the author of Everyday Grace, Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for Families. Her heart is to see women, families, and children freed from the bondage of moralism.

Shepherds: An Advent Reflection

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. You’ll hear from a variety of authors with original posts and featured excerpts from Christmas-focused ebooks.

Spend time reflecting with an excerpt from Daily Guideposts 2016: A Spirit-Lifting Devotional, published by Zondervan. This annual devotional gives you 365 days of inspiration to help you grow in your faith—discover a devotional today that was written specifically for the Advent season by author Bill Giovannetti.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.Luke 2:8 (NKJV)

It was just a poinsettia, but to my wife it was a miracle. Margi had taken on the mammoth task of decorating the church for Christmas. Two large sanctuaries, lobbies, children’s spaces, and massive outdoor plazas fell under her designing eye.

After months of planning, shopping, and recruiting, her army of decorators went to work. Dozens of trees graced our worship centers. Thousands of lights sparkled, and countless ornaments lent their gleam. It took over two weeks, but the mission was complete. Almost.

One task remained: placing poinsettias on tables scattered throughout the coffee area. Just the right number of plants had been purchased. Unfortunately, I miscounted the tables and one was left bare.

It wasn’t a big deal in the great scheme of things, but to an exhausted worker all alone at night, it meant a lot. Margi summoned the energy for a final return to the store.

But first, on a hunch, she sneaked a peak into a box—and there, to her surprise, sat a poinsettia.

“Just a little thing,” Margi said, “but it meant everything to me.”

I thought of how God does His finest work through little things, unimportant things: like lowly shepherds, like a husband who miscounts, like a baby in a manger. (Click to Tweet!)

Prayer: No matter my life’s station, Lord, may I faithfully abide in the grace of Christ’s love.


Interested in finding daily inspiration in 2016? Get Zondervan’s Daily Guideposts 2016: A Spirit-Lifting Devotional today!


A Savior was Born and the People Rejoiced!

This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. 

Take time to reflect today with a guest post by author Dee Travis, written with the purpose to encourage and help celebrate life with loved ones.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  People everywhere are filled with Christmas happiness and cheer. All the Christmas lights and festivities of the season make our hearts merry! And oh the joy on Christmas morning when children find the presents they dreamed about under the tree!

It was also a time of rejoicing and happiness and exceeding great joy for the people in Bethlehem when a Savior was born that first Christmas many years ago. Find the stories in Luke 1:26-2:38 and Matthew 2:9-11.

An angel appeared to a virgin girl named Mary and told her she would give birth to the Son of God, the longed for and promised Messiah.

Mary rejoiced in knowing God had blessed her and she humbled herself before God with joyful praise! 

Because of a census during that time Mary and Joseph had to travel many miles to the city of Bethlehem and they were weary and tired and needed a place to sleep. Because there was no room for them in the inn that night Mary gave birth in a cattle stall. Mary knew Jesus was more than just a baby and she rejoiced!

In the same area near Bethlehem there were shepherds out in the fields with their herds of sheep. They were probably resting peacefully under the stars when an angel appeared in front of them and God’s glory was so bright around them that they were terrified! The angel urged them not to be afraid because he had good news of great joy!  

Then a great multitude of heavenly hosts appeared with the angel and together they praised God saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men!”  The angels knew this baby boy was God’s Son and they rejoiced!

Suddenly the angels were gone and the shepherds knew they needed to go to Bethlehem and see this baby the angel had told them about. They found Mary and Joseph and their baby who was sleeping in a manger and told them about how the angels had appeared to them. The shepherds had seen the baby Messiah God had promised and they rejoiced!

After a time Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him before the Lord and to offer a sacrifice. There was a man there named Simeon who was a devout and righteous man who loved God and was waiting on the promised Messiah. He had even been told by God that he wouldn’t die until he had seen Christ. When Simeon came into the temple he was filled with God’s spirit. When he saw Mary and Joseph with the baby he took Him in his arms and blessed Him and then asked the Lord to let him now depart in peace. He had seen the salvation and glory of Israel and he rejoiced!

There was also a widow in the temple whose name was Anna. She was a prophetess and served the Lord in the temple faithfully days and night with fastings and prayers. When she heard Simeon she began giving thanks to God telling everyone that the redemption of Israel they had been waiting for was here! Anna, a faithful servant of God, rejoiced!

And then there were the wise men from the East.  They followed a star which went before them and it brought them to were the Child (Jesus) was and they rejoiced with exceeding great joy! When they saw the Child with Mary His mother they fell on the knees and worshiped Him.  The wise men knew this Child was the King of Kings and they rejoiced!

Sometimes I try to put myself into each scene.

  • Mary was a young girl ready to have her first baby in a smelly barn.
  • The shepherds were resting on a hillside watching sleeping sheep.
  • The angels were joyfully singing praises.
  • Simeon and Anna were waiting patiently see the Messiah.
  • The wise men followed a moving star.

They were each so devoted to God that they saw God revealing His plan and got to be a part of it.

There were others that night who missed the whole thing. I don’t want to miss seeing what God wants me to see.

This Christmas with all the festivities lets’ be looking for the Savior and rejoicing like these devout followers of God did many years ago. (Click to Tweet!)

They knew God, they all saw Jesus and they rejoiced!


Read Dee Travis’ newest release, Celebrate Life: Living to Serve God and Encourage Other as We Celebrate Life Together, an ebook that explores the good things in life and the different ways to celebrate them with your spouse, children, church family, and friends.

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