Daily Archives: December 15, 2013

Advent Week 3: love has come

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours
Jesus
I am forever Yours

Love

What more in life would we want to seek?

I know that’s the point for me. If it came to love or respect, I’d choose love each time.

If it came down to love or money, I’d choose to love each time.

If it came down to love or success…well, you get my point.

In preparation for the holidays, many of us spend time preparing our hearts.108853396_640

When I think of Christmas, it doesn’t boil down to presents under the tree or the best sale I can get on that gift for my uncle. It’s about love.

It’s about choosing to allow Jesus to work at unwrapping your heart to accept the love of God.

Could this be why Christmas, more so than any other holiday or time of year, glimmers with a glimpse of heaven? Is it because this is the time of year we’re fulfilling our purpose, preparing for Christ and his coming again?

My tree has been up for weeks.

My gifts have all been bought and are wrapped, sitting in piles under that same tree.

Cards are starting to decorate my kitchen cabinets; the more I receive, the more I put up.

Why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ? And why does that readying only happen once a year when it should be a lifelong thing?

Is getting ready for Christmas as simple and difficult as simply sitting still before the cradle of Christ and letting his love wash over you?

Love came down 2000 years ago.

He came to his own people, and his own people did not recognize him. John 1.11

Love came down – we didn’t recognize him.

Love came down – and we didn’t want what he offered.

Love has come — will you receive his love for what it is? A gift? A self-less act of mercy and grace….a beautiful gift?

I pray that you’ll find that love and joy this season as you seek Jesus this holiday season and beyond.

God shows how much he loved us be sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 1 John 4.9

traditions: Christmas bells

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people…Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14

Bells have always reminded me of joy. 2aa7fd1d87d841b0b84a639a4a6f055d

Each Christmas, I hang a set on my front door, a wreath full of them on another door, some on my tree and a sole bell in my purse (that one stays there all year round). Not to mention the memories flashing through my mind each time I hear the bells toll for the Salvation Army.

Plus, I love the sound…the sound of Christmas coming and the anticipation it brings.

Historically and biblically, God had originally instructed the Israelites to put bells on the robe of the High Priest’s ephod before he entered into the Holy of Holies (Exodus 28.31-35; 39.36). Matthew Henry, an English bible commentator, interpreted those same bells as an allegory that “typify the sound of the gospel of Christ in the world, giving notice of His entrance within the veil for us.”

Bells have become an integral part of our Christmas traditions. They hang everywhere – from street corners to store entrances, wreathes and not to mention, the Salvation Army bell ringers that start ringing the day after Thanksgiving each year.

Throughout history, bells have been used to celebrate special occasion. Their bright and cheerful sound was a reminder that something important was happening.

In many village throughout the world, people would ring the church bell on special occasions.

Bells announced the coming or arrival of an event.

They toll for good times

887823cb6b70f9918b440c7572a09686They were rung during Christmas to announce the arrival of the season and to proclaim the birth of Christ.

There are even several songs that have been written in honor of bells: “Jingle Bells,” “Silver Bells,” “Carol of the Bells” (my personal favorite – to play anyway), and more.

What do the Christmas bells remind you of?

December 15: life and death at Christmas

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10.10

As I was about to begin this devotional, I received word that Marion Newstrum had just died. She and her husband Elmer have been part of Bethlehem longer than most of members have been alive. Marion was 87. They had been married 64 years.

When I spoke to Elmer and told him I wanted him to be strong in the Lord and not give up on life, he said, “He had been a true friend.” I pray that all Christians will be able to say at the end of life, “Christ has been a true friend.”

Each Advent I mark the anniversary of my mother’s death. She was cut off in her 56th year in a bus accident in Israel. It was December 16, 1974. Those events are incredibly real to me even today. If I allow myself, I can easily come to tears – for example, thinking that my sons never knew her. We buried her the day after Christmas. What a precious Christmas it was!

Many of you will feel you loss this Christmas more pointedly than before. Don’t block it out. Let it come. Feel it. What is love for, if not to intensify our affection – both in life and death? But, O, do not be bitter. It is tragically self-deconstructive to be better.

Jesus came at Christmas that we might have eternal life. “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10.10). Elmer and Marion had discussed where they would spend their final years. Elmer said, “Marion and I agreed that our final home would be with the Lord.”

Do you feel restless for home? I have family coming home for the holidays. It feels good. I think the bottom line reason for why it feels good is that they and I are destined in the depths of out being for an ultimate Homecoming. All other homecomings are foretastes. And foretastes are good.

Unless they become substitutes. O, don’t let all the sweet things of this season become substitutes of the final, great, all-satisfying Sweetness. Let every loss and every delight send your hearts a-homing after heaven.

Christmas. What is it but this: I came that they might have life. Marion Newstrum, Ruth Piper, and you and I – that we might have Life, now and forever.

Make you Now the richer and deeper this Christmas by drinking at the fountain of Forever. It is so near.

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