Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflections for Christmas 2010

The True Gift of Christmas
(From my book, 101 Reflections)

When my children were small we had a Christmas tradition in our home. On Christmas morning our two boys came and got in bed with us. After several minutes of joking about Santa not being able to find our house, we went to the tree to see what gifts they could find. We respectfully referred to this special time as family union.

One Christmas following our family union time, we jumped up and raced into the living room, where the tree was located. Our eldest son was receiving a television for his room. Because of the cost of the television, he was getting practically no other gifts. The television was his Christmas.

The television was sitting on the coffee table across from the tree. He immediately wanted to turn it on. The cord was not long enough to reach the outlet. In my bull in a china shop manner, I picked up the table and the TV together and attempted to move it closer to an outlet. The freshly polished table was slick, causing the television to slip to the floor. The front hit first, breaking all of the dials and making the television useless.

You can imagine the impact on a ten-year old boy, when his entire Christmas was rendered useless. He ran to his room in tears and crawled to the foot of his bed. I joined him and we soaked his sheets with our tears. His heart was broken and so was mine. Finally, I was able to assure him the television could be fixed. I sought his forgiveness for being so careless. He was far more forgiving of me than I was of myself.

That year Christmas came on Sunday. After everyone had calmed down, we dressed for church. As we rode to church, I reflected upon the morning. I thought of the fragile nature of the things we get all excited about. We sometimes allow the commercial aspects of Christmas to detract us from the part of Christmas that is forever. I thought of the true gift of Christmas, the gift of God’s Son. I was grateful the true gift of Christmas could not be broken or taken away once it had been received. While these thoughts did not relieve my hurt for my son’s broken TV, they did give me a better perspective on the situation.

Do not allow worldly distractions spoil your Christmas. Guard against being overcome by all the festivities of the season to the point of neglecting the One it is all about. Strive to really keep Christ at the center of your focus. If you do, God will be honored and you will be blessed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reflections for December 13, 2010

The Gift Of Joy

There is a growing trend toward giving gift cards for Christmas presents, because it eliminates long hours of shopping and allows the recipient to purchase a gift he/she really wants. On more than one occasion, I have placed the card in my wallet and forgot about it. When I would finally find it, I would discover the expiration date had past, causing me to miss a wonderful opportunity of a free gift.

Long ago, Jesus came and gave us the ultimate Christmas present. He gave us the gift of Himself and promised those who would follow Him a life filled with joy. For believers, this gift is all ready theirs. They need only to open it and to appropriate it in their lives. For those who do not believe, it is available by simply opening your heart and receiving it by faith.

It is important that we do not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is determined by circumstances. It comes and goes as circumstances change. The joy that Christ gives is internal. It is not built upon circumstances, but it is built upon a humble acceptance of Christ’s love and a willing obedience to His word. It is only when we abide in Him daily that we can experience His joy.

A believer who is filled with the joy of Christ is like popcorn. Ordinary corn placed in a skillet and heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit simply dries up and gets hard. Popcorn reacts totally different. When it is heated to 400 degrees, it expands and breaks open, allowing the pure white pulp to burst forth into a delicious edible treat that is many times the size of the kernel. The parallel to life is clear. When the heat of life’s trials comes, many people shrivel up and become embittered. For those who humble themselves and walk with Christ, adversity becomes a catalyst for them to enlarge and burst forth with blessings for those around them.

Christian joyt is the internal excitement that allowed Paul and Silas to pray and sing praise unto their God from their prison cell. It is the joy that prompted the German Christian martyr, Herman Lange, to write these words to his parents just prior to his execution by the Nazis in W.W.II, “I am, first, in a joyous mood, and second, filled with great anticipation. In Christ I have put my faith, and precisely today I have faith in Him more firmly than ever. Look where you will, everywhere you will find jubilation over the grace that makes us children of God. What can befall a child of God? Of what should I be afraid? On the contrary, I rejoice.”

If you are a believer reading this article, and you do not have the joy of Christ at this time, don’t let Christmas pass you by without renewing this wonderful gift that Christ gives to all who are willing to follow Him. Renew your commitment to Him and begin the New Year believing that He will help you overcome whatever your obstacles may be.

If you are a seeker, don’t let this Christmas season pass you by without at least considering the possibility of receiving this wonderful gift that Christ wishes to give to you.