December  Dawning   

Text: John 13:35                                                                                     

 

Ready, set, did you go?  Shopping that is. Before December had ever dawned many were out before dawn Friday waiting for stores to open to shop for Christmas bargains. The early bird is supposed to get the worm they say, but I don’t think many birds were out at 3 AM looking for worms.  The birds could have learned a lot about humans if they were watching early Friday I suppose.  However, if any of those sleepy, cold humans saw the birds still sleeping in their warm nests they probably could have learned a little something from them as well.  As December dawns this week may we each take the time to remember what it is this season is supposed to be about. Yes, it is fun to get out and shop instead of sleep, but this giving season isn’t just about giving to others; it is about giving to Christ.  So many times we read, “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas this year.”  We vow to do just that, but perhaps we should wake up and think about what that really means.  We vow not to put an “X” instead of Christ in the word Christmas, but keeping Christ is Christmas means much more.  Do you think if the birds were really watching they saw all the humans being loving and kind to each other?  Or do you think they saw a lot of humans who they wouldn’t want to visit their nice warm nests?  Jesus said, “By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”  Let’s give Jesus something to smile about on His birthday this year.  As December dawns let’s strive to truly keep Him in our minds, hearts, and actions every day. Others are watching to see if we are who we say we are.

 

Revisiting THE STORY    

Text: Luke 2                                                                                    

 

December is here! Now is the time many will revisit The Christmas Story. No, I didn’t say A Christmas Story. This is a movie that plays continually on Christmas Day about a little boy named Ralphie and a new Red Rider BB gun, which he thought was the best gift ever.  But I did say THE Christmas Story which is found continually in Luke Chapter 2. It is the story of Mary and her new baby boy named Jesus (the best gift ever.)  I have not always watched A Christmas Story, but I have always read Luke 2 in December; and that does include Decembers when I wasn’t living for God as I should have been. Some good things – “God things” planted in our hearts remain forever no matter where we are in life.  Have you ever watched a movie for the second time and noticed something you didn’t notice when you first saw it? If watching Ralphie is a tradition at your house, as you watch this year you will probably notice a character you didn’t notice before. So it is with God’s Word.  We all remember Joseph and Mary, and the angels who told the shepherds about the birth, but do you remember Anna and Simeon who met Baby Jesus a little later? Revisit the story of the birth of Christ in Luke Chapter 2 and be amazed all over again.  Make reading this story aloud with your family a tradition that will be passed down to the next generation.  God’s Word never returns void. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Thank God for His mercy, love, and grace. Thank God for THE STORY. 

 

 

Shine                                                                                                                      

 Text: Luke 2

Things seem to be a little shinier around Christmas don’t they? Each year I pull out Christmas decorations that have been in my family for years.  Ornaments from my childhood initially look kind of old and worn out  as I pick them up one by one and examine their paint, or maybe I should say lack of paint.  This year I noticed a merry go round ornament had lost one of the horses.  I hesitated, rewrapped it, and placed it back in the box not wanting to damage it further. Then I thought what good is a Christmas ornament wrapped and hidden in a box?  As I placed the maroon and gold merry go round on the tree it spun around on the branch and shined like new as it fulfilled the purpose it was created for.  In Luke 2 we read of Anna.  We find Anna had been a widow for forty four years. She is described as being “of great age.”  She lived at the temple serving God fasting and praying day and night.  I don’t suppose she looked to shiny and new but God used her and she fulfilled the purpose she was created for.  When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple Simeon blessed Him and declared that He was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles. The Bible tells us that Anna came in that instant and gave thanks to God. She then spoke of seeing Jesus to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.  I can imagine she was smiling and even shining as she spoke of the Savior she had seen – the One who was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles.  It doesn’t matter how old you are; get out of the box and fulfill the purpose you were created for. Give thanks for The Light and shine for Christ this Christmas.

 

Silver and Golden Bells     

Text: Zechariah 14:20                                                                            

A favorite Christmas song of many is Silver Bells.  “Kids are bunching, snow is crunching, and above all the bustle of the shoppers on the city sidewalks you’ll hear – Silver Bells ring – a – ling – a – ling.”  The song was written by Ray Evans in 1950 and recorded by Bing Crosby in October of that year.  Times have changed a bit in the last sixty-one years.  Christmas shoppers now have left city sidewalks for malls where snow is not crunching. The ringing you’ll hear most is not from silver bells, but from cell phones of kids and adults as well, not bunching, but texting.  Ring – a – ling.  I thought of the song last week as I watched a group of children perform Carol of the Bells.  The bells used were not silver, but gold.   No matter the color of bells they produce an unforgettable festive sound.  In the Bible bells are mentioned only three times. Two times in Exodus gold, not silver, bells are attached to the hem of garments at a time of celebration. In Zechariah bells are found not on hems, but on horses.  The bells are inscribed with the words, “Holy is the Lord.” The fourteenth chapter is describing a time of feasting that is to come one day. It seems that even common things such as cookware in the kitchen and bells around horses’ necks will shout forth the holiness of the Lord. Ring- a – ling. Holy is the Lord! This time of year is a time of feasting and celebration.  This Christmas Season as we hear all the sounds around us in this busy world, may we listen closely for the holiness of our Savior to ring forth in everyday things.  May others see the holiness of the Lord Himself ringing forth from each of us.  

 

 

What’d you get?

Text: John 10:28                                                                                               

By now under most trees there are no gifts in pretty packages to be found. Only remnants of bows and paper lie beneath blue twinkling lights.  Families have loaded in their cars to go to church this Christmas morning which so beautifully fell on Sunday.  Children complain of leaving the toys and games for an hour or so.  Mom wonders how the house will ever be restored to its’ former glory, while Dad hopes no one notices he didn’t wear the cologne.  By the way, what’d you get?  Yes, even with Christmas being on Sunday this year; we still seem to forget that Jesus is the Reason and the Greatest Gift.  He is the Gift that keeps on giving forever.  His forever is even longer than the time it takes for the scent of the cologne to leave that you finally have to wear.  His forever last longer than that Christmas bow you find underneath the sofa when you clean for Easter.  It last longer than any toy or complaint of having to leave a gift behind.  Another neat thing about Jesus who Himself is a Gift who was given to us by the Father – He continually gives us gifts.  What’d did you get from Jesus this year? His Word is full of promises of all the things He has ready to give.   Jesus told us that He will give us rest – much needed rest.  He offers the keys to the Kingdom. Christ will give us the power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. Wow! Did you open that one yet?   Jesus has made available to us a well of water which springs into everlasting life. He gives peace, not as the world gives, but true peace.   And in John 10 we find the best gift of all; He promises to give us the unending gift of eternal life that no man can take from us. Accept the Gift today and receive all the gifts He offers