Daily Archives: December 17, 2013

traditions: twinkling lights

I love twinkling, white Christmas lights.

I love driving around and looking at the holiday lights around the city.

I’m not all gung-ho about gaudy Christmas displays. I drove through Phalen Park in St. Paul this past weekend with a several other ladies and, although I enjoyed my time with them, I would much rather walk around the Lake of Isles and take in the houses blanketed in white lights, especially those with the bare minimum: a few lights on two trees out front, a strand or two on the eaves of the roof and a giant tree gracing one window, facing the street.

Just a little light shines across the distance and dispels the gloomy darkness.

I wish they could shine all year long. Wait…

In fact, I have one item, with lights inside, that I keep out year round – my lantern.

Last year, I filled it with white Christmas lights, pine cones and Christmas ornaments. When January rolled around, I took the ornaments out and added more pine cones. I haven’t changed it since.

There is something to be said about their warm, ambient glow and it amazed me how one strand of small light bulbs can light up the darkest days of winter.

In November, we end our Daylight Savings time and once December arrives, the darkness looms. It’s no longer a secret. It makes its appearance at 5:00 PM and says until 7:30 AM the next morning (not to mention, the longest, darkest day of the year is coming up…on Saturday). The darkness confuses me.

In my mind, I know it’s only 6:00 PM, but my body and heavy eyes are telling me it’s after 8:00 and I should be getting ready for bed. It’s almost like I hibernate in the winter.

I get up early.

Go to work – walk – work – workout – home and make dinner…

…then I’m ready for bed and it’s only 5:00 PM!

But light

blessed light

(especially the kind that shines from those Christmas lights)

gives me a small dose of energy…just enough to get me to 8:30.

And when they’re on, there really isn’t any need for any other light to be on.

Maybe that’s why I love them so much.

Their glow is enough to read by and it’s enough to warm you from the inside out, and just a little light shines across the distance and dispels the gloomy darkness. winter

And that is where I find the connection to Jesus.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is not darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1.5-7

Even though all of the Christmas lights, whether few or many, are very beautiful, they all pale in comparison to Jesus, the one true Light.

Jesus came to earth to be the light of the world – a light that would pierce the darkness.

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.” John 8.12

We never again have to face that darkness if we choose to follow him.

In Genesis, God intended for light to separate the darkness. That action may have been short-lived due to the fall of mankind, but was made complete in Jesus. Even today, he continues to complete this in you and in me.

His is the light that will shine at the end: The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamp is its lamp. Revelation 21.23

His is a light bright enough, not just warm you from the inside out, but change you and illuminate the world around you so others can find their way home to him.

I pray that you’ll remember that Jesus is your true light. He will never burn out and He will never fade. His light is strong and pierces the darkness for all to see. You have the choice to simply come home.

© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

December 17: the greatest salvation imaginable

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…” Jeremiah 31.31

God is just and holy and separated from sinners like us. This is our main problem at Christmas and every other season. How shall we get right with a just a holy God?

Nevertheless, God is merciful and has promised in Jeremiah 31 (five hundred years before Christ) that someday he would do something new. He would replace shadows with the Reality of the Messiah. And he would powerfully move into our lives and write his will on our hearts so that we are not constrained from outside but are willing from inside to love him and trust him and follow him.

That would be the greatest salvation imaginable – if God should offer us the greatest Reality in the universe to enjoy and then move in us to see to it that we could enjoy it with the greatest freedom and joy possible. That would be a Christmas gift worth singing about.

That is, in fact, what he promised. But there was a huge obstacle. Our sin. Our separation from God because of our unrighteousness.

How shall a holy and just God treat us sinners with so much kindness as to give us the greatest Reality in the universe (his Son) to enjoy with the greatest joy possible?

The answer is that God put our sins on his Son, and judged them there, so that he could put them out of his mind, and deal with us mercifully and remain just and holy at the same time. Hebrews 9.28 says, “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”

Christ bore our sins in his own body when he died. He took our judgment. He canceled our guilt. And that means the sins are gone. They do not remain in God’s mind as a basis for condemnation. In that sense, he “forgets” them. They are consumed in the death of Christ.

Which means that God is now free, in his justice, to lavish us with the new covenant. He gives us Christ, the greatest Reality in the universe, for our enjoyment. And he writes his own will – his own heart – on our hearts so that we can love Christ and trust Christ and follow Christ from the inside out, with freedom and joy.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org