The Two Most Important Colors of Christmas

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Two years ago we bought a new Christmas tree. Our new house needed a slim-line tree since our living area is smaller. We found the perfect one for the space we have. Since it was a new tree, I decided to get new ornaments. The colors I went with were white and red. For my decorating taste, there is something elegant about the white and red balls among the white lights. I am an early riser which means I get to sit in my comfy chair, turn on the gas logs, and enjoy the beauty of this lighted Christmas tree.

I decorated with white and red because it is what I like. It comes from a preference. I didn’t choose those colors because of anything spiritual. However, God can use all kinds of things to get our gaze closer upon Him. If there’s anytime our gaze needs to be more on Him, and less on ourselves, it’s Christmas. The colors white and red can’t help but draw me more into an emotional, joy-filled place of praise because of what these colors represent spiritually. These two colors symbolize what Christmas is all about. They remind me of who Jesus is and what He did for me and all peoples of the world.

The color white expresses the purity, perfection, and holiness of God. Jesus is the exact representation of His Father. The prophet John tells us in John 1 that Jesus is full of grace, truth, and light. This grace, truth, and light was born so we could experience life as we’ve never known it before.

But, red had to happen in order for us to have life as God intends. Red in the Bible symbolizes blood. Before Jesus’ birth, a perfect lamb without blemish had to be sacrificed in order to approach God. Now, that is no longer necessary because Jesus – the perfect Lamb of God – was born. He shed blood that led to death. It’s why He was born. Jesus was born to die. The good News is – that wasn’t the end of the story – Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death so that man can really live here on earth and eternally in heaven.

Trusting Jesus as a Christ-follower doesn’t mean we don’t have problems, but it means He is with us guiding us, directing us, strengthening us, loving us, embracing us, providing for us, transforming us, preparing us to one day see Him face to face.

Let us not miss seeing Jesus during this special time of the year when we celebrate the most amazing and spectacular birth that ever took place. He shows up in all kinds of fascinating ways. May we take time today to ponder what He’s doing in our lives that draw our gaze more directly upon Him, the perfect lover of our souls.

How do you celebrate the birth of the Lamb of God? What will you give Him this Christmas?

 

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

(From In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti)

Living Out What We Believe

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This week on Inside Edition I heard the moving story of how Tim Tebow used many of his spiritual gifts to encourage and comfort a family in distress. He was on a Delta flight headed to Atlanta from Phoenix when a passenger suffered a heart attack. Many came to the man’s aid performing chest compressions and then a defibrillator to restart the man’s heart. Tim Tebow was in first class and heard the commotion. He got up and found his way to this family. He hugged them, embraced them, encouraged them, and prayed with them. After the flight landed, he went with them to help with their luggage and then went to the hospital. He was there when the family heard the news that their loved one didn’t make it.

Tim Tebow used gifts that all believers in Christ have available at all times. He used prayer, encouragement, comfort, service, and loving touches to a family in need. Because of his notability this story will be read and heard and told multiple times. It is a story that lifts our spirits.

In a similar way, God used a precious friend of mine and others in a beauty salon here in my city just last week to help save the life of an elderly woman. It’s a story that won’t be on the news or in the newspaper (as far as I know) but it’s still just as great. It’s a story of how my friend allowed God to use her spirit-filled life to help someone in need. As she was getting her hair done, another lady in the salon began choking on a peanut. Some ladies were gathered around her trying to help. Then my friend started praying aloud. She then looked at a lady sitting next to her and asked if someone had called the ambulance. Before getting an answer, that lady threw off her cape and went over to the woman and began doing the Heimlich. She was a nurse and even had on her nursing scrubs. God orchestrated many things that morning to bring about good that saved a woman. There is power in caring. Power in love. Power in reaching out. Power in doing something. Power in prayer.

This week I also heard of a 6 year old boy who was in a Bob Evans Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida where some police officers were eating. He overheard the manager shaking hands with one of the officers and thanking him for his service. Joshua Garza, the 6 year old, then approached the officers and asked if they all could pray together for their safety. They gathered together and Joshua prayed for them.

I can’t help but think of these verses that I memorized many years ago when I think of these three amazing people. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16. These scriptures don’t say “you can be” the light of the world. They say “You are the light of the world.”

I guarantee these three people didn’t take moments to sit around and ponder “Do I need to strike up a match and light up my light?” No, they knew they were light because God’s Spirit lives in them. It’s evident they consistently spend time understanding how the light of the world, Jesus, wants to show forth His glory in them. It’s evident they spend time praying in their personal alone time with God. It’s evident they understand that some of the fruits of the Spirit are love, kindness, and goodness. It’s evident that they know we’re all to pray and intercede for all mankind. It’s evident they know we’re to be bold in living out our faith. It’s evident that they were being gentle and loving in their thoughts and actions toward the men and women God put in their path that day.

These stories impact me. I want to be the light of Jesus Christ in word and deed to all I encounter. I don’t want to be so caught up in my world that I do not make myself available everyday to be light that God can use to bring others closer to Him. And, if it’s a day I’m just in my house and see no one, I know I can still make a difference in others’ lives because I am interceding for them in prayer. It’s one of the greatest things I could ever do for anyone. And, if and when there’s an opportunity to pray with someone I’ve never met before, I will do it. If they need prayer, I will be ready. All for Him.

We all hear about the Tim Tebows and thank God for them and their witness, but God uses ordinary, unknown believers daily for His glory. Believers in Christ have incredible power within our lives. God wants to unleash that power through us everyday! What do you think? Has God used you in his way? Please share your story.

Getting Filled Up from Something Empty

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This is a week I want my “insides” to smile as I reflect on the event we will celebrate on Sunday. It’s not a day to celebrate the Easter Bunny coming to town, but it’s a day to celebrate and remember that the perfect man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth to live. He chose to die the most gruesome and cruel death imaginable. His broken body was put in a tomb to decay, but He was gloriously raised from the dead so all who put their faith in Him could really live.

What does the empty tomb mean to me?

  • Even though my life was once empty, it is now filled up with abundant goodness that came when I put my trust and faith in Jesus Christ. John 10:10 says Jesus came so we could have an abundant life.
  • Even though I get knocked down a lot, I get back up because Jesus is fighting for me. He helps me dust myself off and get moving again in the right direction.
  • Even though my earthly body is wasting away and life as I know it now will one day come to a halt, I will be made new and escorted into heaven where I will live forever with the One who loves me so.
  • Even though I mess up miserably, I am perfectly loved, restored, and forgiven by Jesus.
  • Even though I will never live a perfect life, I know I am further along in life than I was a year ago and even a month ago.

I do not have to “do” anything to ensure all of these blessings will continue. These blessings are mine because of Jesus’ blood that drained from His perfect body. The cross that brought death and the resurrection that brought life show the greatness of the love of God for all mankind. Let us truly live out this full and spiritually rich life that is ours because of perfect love that shows Himself to us in every breath we take. He is alive!

Wisdom from NCIS-Thanksgiving Edition

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Last night, thanks to our DVR, we were able to get caught up on one of our favorite programs, NCIS. This is one TV program in which I can honestly say I love all of the characters. Each character is incredibly distinct and on occasion we get new insights into what really makes them tick. It’s not just that I love the unique personalities of each, I love the way they demonstrate their care for one another, even in their mess ups.

Holiday episodes are filled with emotion and life lessons – lessons that are worth taking note of. This year’s Thanksgiving Episode was no exception.

This episode is packed with hurts and pain. A young lieutenant will die with leukemia unless a donor is found. Ellie is devastated when she finds out the reason her marriage is falling apart. She leaves her work in D. C. and goes home to Oklahoma. In essence, she tries running away from her problems. Gibbs continues trying to keep everything under control as he continues to recover emotionally from a near death experience from a gunshot. Tim accidentally reveals a silly little secret about Abby to Tony – Abby finds out. Tony has plans to spend Thanksgiving alone working.

Ellie, while running from her problems in Oklahoma, finds that the case of the young lieutenant follows her. What impacts me is that even in her pain, she’s the one that works hardest to find a donor for the dying lieutenant. The potential donor is in military prison serving a life sentence. She makes three emotional visits to this person. He finally says yes

Her boss, Gibbs, quite concerned for her, goes to Oklahoma to check on her. His advice is great. He tells her to stop trying to handle this alone and that she needs someone to share her feelings with. She comes back with: “You don’t talk to anyone about yours.” Gibbs replies,” I do now. I found a friend, my Doc, to talk to.”

Back in D. C. Abby forgives Tim and both celebrate Thanksgiving by serving in a community soup kitchen. FBI special agent, Tobias, who has a great dislike for Tony, suddenly invites Tony to share Thanksgiving dinner at his home. The dislike seems to be mutual. But, in that moment, the look on Tony’s face is priceless. He’s smiling from ear to ear.

What are the life lessons in all of this?

  • Share your burdens with a trusted someone.
  • Forgive ALL things, big and little.
  • Keep pursuing positive solutions to obstacles.
  • Keep serving others in need even when you’re hurting.
  • Be open to opportunities of spending time with someone you make not like very much. Blessings will be found.

As I watched this episode I couldn’t help but think of what our Faith Community, called the Church, is to look like. The characters in this fictitious program form a team who care deeply for one another. It is shown in how they treat one another. It’s true that they don’t always do it perfectly, but by their actions we know how much they care. God wants us to be a people who can help sustain family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers as they go through difficulties. We’re do it with Christ-like grace that is full of comfort, peace and encouragement.