All posts in Investing in Christmas

It’s Not Just a Hallmark Event

I love Christmas as much as the next middle-aged, menopausal, woman. But perhaps I don’t love it for the same reasons as most.

Christmas isn’t just about Hallmark, or gifts, or Black Friday, or Cyber Monday.

You know what I am going to say next…

It’s about Jesus.

But I am not even sure, when I mention His name, we are thinking about the same person. Yes, Jesus was born in a manger and it makes a terrific story, and a great nativity scene with cute little lambs, staffed shepherds, and mysterious wise men.

Here is what I celebrate. Jesus came as a baby yes, but He came to die.

That is the real story.

Humor me a bit with a long Scripture passage from the New Living Translation:

Christ Is Supreme

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

All those inspired words are great, but I would like you to pay special attention to the last verse. God reconciled and made peace with us by means of Christs’ death on the cross. That is great news.

Why?

I’d like to give you an example from a sermon I heard from J D Greer. He asked the listener to imagine themselves with binoculars on a hill observing a terrorist camp. You knew their plan was to devastate thousands of innocent people. You watched them practice use of their guns, and even may have seen a form of torture, but when they all sat down to have lunch. One of the terrorists noticed his buddy didn’t have anything to eat. This generous terrorist cut his sandwich in half and shared it with his buddy.

In any other circumstance his act of sacrifice would be considered good.

But not in this situation. The over-arching-evil somehow negates the good.

The human race is that generous terrorist. The Bible states we are born in sin. Enemies of God. And He is just and right to condemn us because compared to Him, our meager good is like filthy rags.

And then God Himself comes as a baby to die on a cross.

That is the Christmas I celebrate.

I hope you do, too.

Over the next few weeks, on Fridays, I’d like to talk with you more about Jesus as a Prophet, Priest, and King. I hope you will join me in celebrating Christmas that is much more than trees or ornaments or presents.

Let us celebrate the real reason for the season.

Let There Be Light-Christmas Meditation, Day 5

My favorite part of the day is when the sun sets on the on the pasture in front of my house. Light slides up sturdy trees and slowly slips into the winter night. When I called Florida my home, I waited each morning as light shown from behind me through the window projecting gentle leaves on my wall.

It seems as if the seasons of my life are all filtered through some sort of light. The first Christmas with Sarah when Tom and I sat by the soft firelight gawking at our three month old in her Santa PJ’s. Sunny days on the beach talking with friends while our children splashed in the waves. Stage lights shining down as my children performed in a play. Street lights sifting through our van windows as our family headed home from Busch Gardens, exhausted and content. Light flickering through the door on our wood stove that danced on Mom’s wrinkled face one last time.

Breathtaking.

I can’t imagine a world without light.

A light stood above a lowly stable over 2000 years ago. That star pointed to the Light of Lights. Can you imagine Mary and Joseph peering at The God of the Universe, resting in star-sifted light, lying in a stable.

Let me take you through a few New Testament passages that have to do with light;

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’  When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:1-8

The disciples never really understood the light when it happened, but they never forgot that day. After Christs’ death and resurrection, the light of the Holy Spirit helped them comprehend what they had experienced.

Take a look at this verse in John 8:12;

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

So far I haven’t put up any lights in my house, but I have The Light in my heart.

Jesus came to give us life and light.

Beautiful.

The song for today speaks of what Mary might have thought at the birth of her Son. Take time to enjoy it.

 

 

The Shepherd, Christmas Meditations Day 3

“Let’s sing it again, Daddy,” I’d chant to my larger-than-life father.

“Okay, Sissy,” as he slid his arm around me and we’d throw back our heads and continue.

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?

But the Shepherd made answer: This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die;
Sick and helpless and ready to die.

Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track

They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.

Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn;
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.

And all through the mountains, thunder riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven,
Rejoice! I have found My sheep!
And the angels echoed around the throne,
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!

That’s a big song for a five-year-old girl. When we would finish, often I noticed a tear or two in my father’s eye.

You see, he wandered. So did I.

Since we are approaching Christmas, I’d like for us to look at an Old Testament passage found in Ezekiel 34:11-12

“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheepand look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”

 

God is speaking to Israel–look it up if you are interested. The chapter is fascinating.
Let’s look at something Jesus said in the New Testament, John 10:11;

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

If I Gibbs, I would look at the patterns.

-God is the shepherd of Israel and promises them He will bring them back into His care after they are scattered.

-Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd and is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.

And He did.

He found a drunken sailor who knelt at the Salvation Army drum. That drunken sailor became my father. The Good Shepherd sought out a rebellious teen, cleansed her life and her thoughts and made her a new creature.

Me.

The baby born in Bethlehem was born to die.

Because He is the Good Shepherd.

Here is a link to the song, friend. Sing it with me, won’t you? It’s an old hymn and a good one.

 

 

 

Are You Really Celebrating Christmas?

 

Today’s post isn’t for sissies. It’s not Christmasy. In fact, in may be offensive to you.

But some words need to be said or written.

In a post I received through my email, I learned of a man who is in prison for his faith in a place–well let’s just say, it’s not an American prison with weight-lifting or college classes. The man’s face is deformed from beatings.

What’s his offense?

Owning a Bible. That’s it.

What keeps him going? According to the ones who know him, only one thought keeps him going–seeing Jesus.

You see, people in this country know that once they believe in Jesus they make a choice between life and death.

Many in this country celebrate the baby in Bethlehem, but are they worshipping the King in heaven? Are you? Maybe I’m way off base, (to use a baseball term) but I suppose that many who buy gifts, attend church, and say prayers at Christmas, don’t really believe.

Because you see, believing in the baby isn’t enough. Understanding why He came and why you need Him is a must.

The Bible states in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Falling short means missing the mark. And friends, you need Jesus.

If there were a shooting contest with a target and we all had rifles, I’d miss the whole target, much less the very center. (In fact, if I ever do that, you should vacate the premises.) You may be an expert marksman and hit it dead center, so let me give you another analogy.

Let’s say we stood on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. The Gulf of Mexico spread out before us. We both decided to swim to Texas. You  may get farther than I could, but face it, neither of us would make it. Imagine sin on your back. Sin isn’t just not doing certain things, basically it’s living your life apart from God. Not worshiping or obeying, or caring. We all sin everyday. So that sin weight is weighing us down and we CANNOT achieve a relationship with God with a trace of sin in our lives.

We’re all disqualified.

That is where the baby in Bethlehem comes in. He came from heaven to be born to live a perfect life in our place. He died, and His blood paid the penalty of our sin.

But He didn’t stay dead. God raised Jesus from the dead to show His death was enough. Enough to take our sin. He shot the perfect shot, He swam all the way. His risen life proved it.

Because He is risen, I know I will rise.

My friend, hear this passage from I Corinthians 15: 54-57, “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable and this mortal will have put on immortality then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory, O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’”

So what now? You have a choice; believe on Him to be your Savior, or reject Him and face God’s wrath–and there is judgment coming, make no mistake.

It’s that simple.

So I have a question for you; Will you celebrate Christmas and Worship the King.

Your eternal destiny depends on it. Email me if you have questions. I’d love to chat.

Here’s a verse from one of Fanny Crosby’s most famous hymns:

“O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God. The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”

Here’s the chorus:

“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give Him the Glory great things He hath done.

Give Him glory this Christmas beloved. And just like the saint in prison with the deformed face, you’ll see Jesus one day.

And it will be worth it.

 

 

So What If I’m Still in My PJ’S

It’s noon and I’m still in my nightshirt, slippers, and frumpy robe.

It’s not like I haven’t done anything. Up at 7, I read my Psalms for the day. Reading Psalm 63:6-7 made me think I needed to share with you, friend:

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

The way I see it, David encourages us by example to do four things.

First, he remembers. It’s almost Christmas, and I need to remember. Not just Christmas’ past because I cannot hardly remember a gift I’ve received. I remember people I’ve been with and places I’ve been, but it’s all getting kind of middle-aged-hazy, if you know what I mean.

At Christmas, I’ll remember Christ. Sure, I think about Him as the baby in the manger. But when I think of Jesus, what passes through my memory is how He healed the sick, and touched the untouchables, and spoke the truth. I remember His perfect life and His horrific death. All because of love.

I remember His resurrection and His words which include His promises and His judgments. These are  eternal things–not passing gifts or Hallmark circumstances. (Don’t get me wrong, a Hallmark movie is playing in the background.)

David also encourages us to meditate. He’s doing it on His bed. The difference between remembering and meditating? I guess that’s personal, but the way I see it, meditating is deeper. The dictionary describes it as contemplating or pondering. Taking it to heart. Not that Jesus lived and died for humanity, but that Jesus lived and died for me.

For you.

Next, David sings. I did too. A chorus in the same Psalm, verses 3-4. The song goes like this:

Your lovingkindness, is better than life.

Your lovingkindness, is better than life.

My lips will praise You, Thus will I bless You,

I will lift up my hands unto Your name.

The last verb David uses is cling.

I’m clinging to Him. Lately, I’ve been aware of my utter dependence on God. Not that I’m not always dependent on Him, I’ve just realized it more. Instead of fighting dependency, I’m jumping right in. No such thing as “co-dependency” with the Almighty.

So around noon, still in my PJ’s, I prayed. I admitted my complete dependency on Him. I remembered and meditated and sang and I’m clinging.

I got nowhere else to go.

Plus, I’m still in my jammies.