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Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Day 13: Romance At Christmas

Day 13: Romance At Christmas

Meditation (3-5 Minutes)
Begin by being still before God.  Read Mark 12:30-31 and meditate on the words.

Mark 12:30-31 NIV
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  There is no commandment greater than these.

1)    Be still and know he is God. 

2)    Let your mind love God.
a)    Surrender your doubts and questions.
b)    Seek his knowledge for your purpose this Christmas.

3)    Let your heart love God.
a)    Feel your emotions.
b)    Give God any past hurt. 
c)    Feel his healing power.
d)    Think about the romances in your life.
e)    Let the joy of the Lord enter your heart.
f)    Seek understanding for the meaning of Christmas.

4)    Let your soul love God.
a)    Worship him in his mightiness.
b)    Surrender other gods before him.
c)    Ponder the wonder of spending an eternity worshipping him.
d)    Seek his wisdom for your actions this Christmas.

5)    Let your strength love God.
a)    Surrender your exhaustion.
b)    Ponder the wonder of your body being his temple.
c)    Seek a way to use your spiritual gifts for Christ this Christmas.

6)    Love your neighbors.
a)    Surrender fears about fulfilling his commission to tell the world about Christ.
b)    Surrender selfishness and self-seeking.
c)    Let yourself disappear, as Christ takes over your spirit.
d)    Seek a way to love your neighbors this Christmas.

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.

2)    Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1):
a)    Pray for an eager mind this Christmas.
b)    Pray for a healthy heart.
c)    Pray for a pure soul.
d)    Pray for a willing body.
e)    Pray for your neighbors to experience Christ at Christmas.  List any needs in Appendix 1
f)    Appendix 1: Pray and update.

3)    Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2):
a)    Thank God for loving us.
b)    Thank God for the privilege of loving him.
c)    Thank God for the Christmas romances in your life…
i)    With him.
ii)    With your spouse or significant other.
d)    List your Christmas romances in Appendix 2.

4)    Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3):
a)    Offer him the love of your mind, heart, soul, and strength.
b)    Offer him your love for his children.
c)    Surrender your romances to him.
d)    Appendix 3: Pray and update.

5)    Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out. 

6)    Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)

When we think of a romance, we automatically think of the search for the person God planned as our spouse.  Our society romanticizes dating.  Let us be realistic.  Dating is difficult at best.  Yes, there is the thrill of the chase but, unfortunately, it does not stop there.  There is insecurity as you wonder what someone thinks about you.  The fear and hurt of rejection reigns in the dating game.  How about the uncertainty of deciding how much to reveal as dating couples get to know each other?  As a female, I have to insert the pressure of what to wear.  And never underestimate the stress of intimate temptations. 

I always told my children that the purpose of dating was mate elimination.  I suggested they date someone until they are certain this individual is not God’s choice for their life.  Once the person is “off the list,” move on immediately.  I wanted them to leave more time for God’s choice for their life.  I reminded them that it is more blessed for God to call them to be single.

I also am not in favor of long engagements for Christians.  There is too much physical temptation that could have a lasting impact their life and marriage.  My other advice to my children was, “Once someone has been “on the list” for an acceptable amount of time and you are sure they are the right one, do not wait for the “perfect time.”  Marry them immediately once you are sure that the union is God’s will.  The circumstances will work themselves out.

Background Scripture

Romance is not just for dating.  Song of Solomon is a book about romance.  Solomon is demonstrating how married couples should respond to one another.  The deeper meaning of the book describes the nature of our romance with God.  Whether you are single or married, this devotion is for you.

Read Song of Solomon 1:4:  Describe a time when you have felt like that way about someone else.  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Describe a time when you have felt that way about God.  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Song Solomon 4:10.  How does God plan for us to feel about our spouse?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 

“But wait,” you cry.  “You don’t understand the people in my life.  You should hear what he or she has done.”  Read Matthew 6:14-15.  What is the secret to living with the imperfections of another?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Are you perfect in the romances in your life?  Read Numbers 5:6-7.  Who are we unfaithful to when we hurt other people?  What are we supposed to do when we hurt others?  (Write your answers in your journal.)

Read John the Baptist’s words in John 3:28-30.  Who is our bridegroom?  How do we feel when we hear his voice?  (Write your answers in your journal.) 

Many reading this are single.  Read 1 Corinthians 7:23-24.  Some readers know God has called them to remain single for their entire lives.  What is the blessing of this calling?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 

Some singles reading this long to be married.  Read Proverbs 4:11-12.  What does God promise?  Apply this scripture to your longings.  (Write your answer in your journal.)

In our Christmas romances, we see several different romantic relationships.  We see a picture of a long time marriage in the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth.  We also see their personal romance with God.  We see Mary and Joseph’s courtship and their eventual marriage.  They loved each other but put their love for God above all else.  As far as we know, God called John the Baptist to be single.  He had a specific purpose and did not need distractions.  He also understood romance.  He is who called Jesus the bridegroom. 

Read Luke 2:36-38.  What was Anna’s romantic status?  She was a widow.  Do you think she was without romance?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 

Christmas Romance In The Touchton Family

The Christmas Season is a special time for romance in the Touchton family.  In fact, December 13th is our special romantic day.  Bob and I met at the Jacksonville Fair the last week in October of 1967.  We were in the 10th grade.  We became “enemies at first sight.” 

I was at the fair with my parents and girlfriend, Sandra.  Bob and his friend Barry had worked at the fair to earn free ride tickets.  Barry and Sandra recognized each other and were thrilled that our paths had crossed.  Their hormones sparking, they hurriedly introduced us.  “Bobby, meet Cheryle.  Cheryle, meet Bobby.” Without a backwards glance, they ran off together. 

Bobby and I stared at each other.  His first words did not bode well for our evening.  “You will not be using any of my free tickets.” 

 “I wouldn’t accept them if you offered to pay me,” I retorted.   We walked in stony silence.  I thought about leaving him.  My parents had strict rules about females walking around fair grounds alone.  I was stuck with Bobby for the evening.  Sandra was going to pay.  We spent the next two hours riding together.  It was a dangerous and acrobatic act to ride a Ferris Wheel without touching. 

10:00 P.M was the meeting time with my parents.  Thankfully, Barry and Sandra showed up on time.  Daddy was carrying a gold fish.  “I won it by swallowing a live gold fish,” he told everyone. 

Bobby was not amused.  “No you didn’t.  No one would let you do that,” he communicated in typical fifteen-year-old fashion.  My father just looked at him and stuck to his story.

Driving home, Daddy remarked, “That young man was rude.”  I completely agreed.  To this day, we do not know how Daddy won the gold fish.  He is sticking to his story. 

Bobby and I went to the same high school.  To our disgust, we realized that we had Band and English together.  That meant we had to see each other every day.  It did not go well.  Soon, the entire band knew of our animosity.  We spent the year “sniping.”

Early the next December, Sandra had her sixteenth birthday party.  Having just broken up with someone, I went alone.  Being a typical geek, Bobby had no date.  We were the only two “singles” at this event.  We took some teasing about “being together” and it hit home.  Our animosity continued throughout the night.  Things came to a head when Bobby said, “Did you plan this just to get a date with me?” 

When I have had enough, most people remember my reaction.  This night was no exception.  I roughly grabbed his arm and drug him into the hall.  I could hardly breathe.  Furiously, the speech lasted for the next several minutes.  “You have been rude to me for an entire year.  I have done nothing to deserve this treatment.  No one else treats me that way and you are going to stop right now.  You suggested that I set this evening up.  Think about it.  Do you really think I would go out of my way to set up a date with you?  If you have ever had a girlfriend, I don’t know about it.  I have had boyfriends since I was twelve.”  I proceeded to give him a list of everyone I had “gone steady” with over the years.  I finished my grand speech with, “You only wish that you could be so blessed as to have a date with me.”  OK, I admit to laying it on thick but I was angry.  The truth of my dating experience was that “going steady” meant hanging out at school and occasionally boys visiting my chaperoned home.  I had only been formally dating since I had turned sixteen the August before.  I was however, comfortable with the opposite sex and meant what I said about my lack of interest in dating him. 

Bobby was stunned.  We stood there staring silently at each other.  He then looked directly in my eyes said, “You’re right.  I have been a jerk.  I’m sorry.” 

It was my turn to be stunned.  Everything changed between us at that moment.  I saw strength of character.  I saw the ability to take responsibility for actions.  I began falling in love with him standing in that hall.  “Apology accepted.  I could probably have acted a little better myself.  Can we be friends?”  People were staring as we walked out of that hall. 

Later in the evening, I found out Bobby and Barry did not believe in Christ.  I grew concerned.  Bobby and Barry were, and still are, electronic geniuses.  They even had their own radio show.  “How about coming to our church tomorrow night?  We are doing a Christmas musical and have no one to record it for us.”  Technically, this statement was true.  There was no one to record it.  The problem was that our Minister of Music did not intend to record the program. 

They agreed to come.  Frantically, I called our Minister of Music and confessed.  “They are not Christians.  This was the only way I could think of to get them into church,” I babbled.  He laughed and cooperated with the scheme.  When they arrived, he welcomed them.  He even thanked them for their willingness to help.  God bless this man. 

After church, Bobby and Barry joined our youth group at my house.  There Bobby and I discovered that we both enjoyed playing the piano and singing.  I invited them to the hayride that was the next weekend.  On December the 13, 1968, Bobby asked me to “go steady.” He gave me his ID bracelet.  Our romance became “the news item” for our school.  Not long after, Bobby accepted Christ.  That Christmas, he began the two great romances of his life. 

In 1970, December 13th became special again.  In my living room, Bobby got down on one knee and proposed.  He had already asked Daddy for my hand in marriage.  By this time, my family loved him as much as I did.  Daddy and I both said yes.

Bob and I are not the only Touchtons with a romantic Christmas story.  Our son Chris and his wife Whitney have their own Christmas romance story.  They also became engaged on December 13th.  Ruby and Ress Touchton were my husband’s grandparents.  They were actually married on Christmas Eve.  Their romance lasted on earth over 60 years and I believe it continues today in heaven. 

A Christmas Proposal

Jack and Millie are part of our church family.  They are very much in love and have been married for fifty-two years.  Jack says, “My breath still catches when I see Millie walk in the room.”  One can certainly see why.  Millie is beautiful.  Jack and Millie are both teachers.  Millie teaches private piano lessons and Jack teaches physics at a university.  Their romance has included serving the Lord together for their entire marriage.  Jack and Millie teach a very large Sunday School Class in our church.  They also sing in the choir together. 

My favorite story about Jack involves a disruption in the worship service.  One Sunday, an inebriated man entered late to the service.  He was filthy.  His odor followed him up the aisle, as he talked loudly to everyone.  He sat in the front and continued talking.  The deacon telling the story said, “I wondered what to do.  A couple of us got together to whisper alternatives.  While we were discussing it, Jack got out of his seat and sat with the man.  He put his arm around him and pulled him close.  The man laid his head on Jack’s shoulder and went to sleep.  He slept through the rest of the service.  Jack’s love was a witness to me.  I will never forget the lesson I learned as he took action while the rest of us were still talking.” 

I asked Millie about her favorite Christmas gift.  “That is an easy question,” she said as she held up her hand.  “The best gift I ever received was my engagement ring.  Jack and I started dating in high school.  He had gone off to college.  We had been separated for a semester.  I missed him so much.  On Christmas Eve, he came to my house and asked me to marry him.  I quickly said yes.  We were married a couple of years later.”  Jack and Millie still treasure each other.  They look at each other with love in their eyes.  They are tender.  Millie told me, “Everyday with Jack is like Christmas.” 

Application (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Making It Personal
a)    Who was the last person you said, “I love you” to? 
b)    Are you taking care of the romances in your life?  How can you do better? 
i)    With God.
ii)    With others.
c)    In your journal, write a love letter to God, based on Song of Solomon 1. 
d)    If you are single…
i)    Thank God for the lack of “distractions” in your life.
ii)    How can you focus on him more? (Write your answer in your journal.)
iii)    If you are seeking a partner, ask God to make your path straight.
iv)    If you are dating, ask God if this is the life partner for you. 
v)    Ask for wisdom for your future.
e)    If you are married…
i)    Thank God for your spouse.
ii)    What are his or her best qualities?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
iii)    How can you be a better partner?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
iv)    How can you focus on God more?  (Write your answer in your journal.)
v)    Ask for wisdom for your future.

2)    Praying Continuously  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a)    Say the words, “I love you” aloud at least three times today:
i)    To God.
ii)    To a friend.
iii)    To a family member.
b)    When you see people you know:
i)    Think about what you enjoy about these people. 
ii)    Thank God for them.

3)    Ending The Day
a)    How was your romance with God?
i)    Praise God for loving you.
ii)    If necessary, confess and ask forgiveness.
b)    How were the other romances in your life?
i)    Could you have been a better spouse, family member, or friend?
ii)    If necessary, confess and ask forgiveness.
iii)    If necessary, make amends the next day. 

This devotion is dedicated to the sweetest, smartest, and sexiest geek I know.  Happy December 13th Bob.  I love you.  

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