…because it’s not all about making Merry

And it’s not about brightly wrapped packages nestled under a beautiful tree, branches brimming with pine cones and ornaments, with twinkling lights and strings of popcorn and cranberries. 

It’s not about that last minute frantic trip to the mall, fighting crowds and snarling traffic, to search for the perfect gift for the family member who has everything. It’s not about the promise of presents for kids who behave, delivered on a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, by a rotund, jolly old man with a snow white beard and draped in a bright red suit. 

It’s not even about beloved family gathered around a long table packed with hams and turkeys and enough pies that an entire army could eat for a week.

No. 

It’s not all about making Merry.

Christmas…is about a baby born in a musty stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes. It’s about heaven’s best, God-man, coming down to mingle among sin, smelly animals  and poop. To show each of us what love really looks like.

Christmas is about hope. It’s about Jesus. It’s about a perfect love that rights all wrongs, about a love that knows no bounds, a love that gives and never ends.

Christmas…because it’s not all about making Merry.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11 NIV

It’s Never Too Late…or is it?

When it comes to time, I’m a firm believer that most people fall into two different categories:

those who are always a few minutes early

(that would be me) 

and those who are always running late 
(uh hum…hubby fits in here) 

Always late
Image courtesy of Bing.com

And he doesn’t just arrive late, he also includes some type of dramatic announcement of his presence, usually a booming, “Well, well, well.” Those of us who like to keep a low profile, well, we’ve learned to adjust or duck our heads in embarrassment, just accepting his energetic personality as one of the things we love about him.

My sweet hubby

But, really, whether you’re early or late, does it matter? Sure you might miss a few minutes of an important meeting. You could be fired from a job you loved (but if you really loved it, wouldn’t you make an effort to be on time?). Or a date might have given up waiting at the prearranged meeting spot when you finally scurry in.

But, how about the more important things? Issues with an eternal impact?
I have GREAT news for you stragglers.

When it comes to accepting the precious gift of hope that Jesus so freely offers, it’s NEVER too late.

Nope. It’s never too late. Want to know how I know?

For one, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, two criminals surrounded him, one on each side. They both knew they deserved to die for the crimes they’d committed. One of them taunted Jesus while the other asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.

How did Jesus respond?

With love and forgiveness. With grace and mercy. With a promise that “today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, NIV)

Today! Did you catch that? Doomed to suck in his last ragged breath hanging on a cross, that lost soul received the gift of eternal life, the promise that he’d enter heaven’s gate that very day!

Still not enough evidence for you?

How about the parable of the vineyard workers? Early in the morning, a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. After he set them to work, he went out four more times, hiring workers each time. At the end of the day, the generous vineyard owner paid each worker the same salary, no matter what time they arrived. He claimed that it was his money, and his right to do as he pleased. (Matthew 20:1-16, NIV)


Just like that vineyard owner, Jesus offers the same grace, the same precious gift, to the man or woman who comes to Him at the end of their life as the one who comes at an early age. 

He’s generous, loving, gracious, and his mercy covers all who ask.
Do you hear the soft whisper? See the arms stretched wide? He’s waiting for you.

It’s never too late…in life.
What are you waiting for?

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The Perfect Gift

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Eph 2:8-9, NIV 


While our children were growing up, we lived in Florida, where winters and cooler temperatures were non-existent. Every winter break we loaded up the car with snow sleds, Christmas presents, and our portable Christmas tree. Singing Christmas songs along the way, we traveled to some faraway state, a place guaranteed to find snow.

After arriving at our rental condominium, we tucked all the presents under that miniature tree and turned on the sparkling lights. Then, we snuggled in front of the fireplace and cheered for our favorite football teams or watched a movie, sipping hot chocolate loaded with whipped cream and sprinkles.

In the morning, we rushed to the window to catch that first glimpse of a newly fallen snow. Snow so clean, perfect and unspoiled, and shimmering like diamonds.

On a trip to Minnesota, we discovered the destructive nature of those beautiful white flakes. During our two-day drive through single digit temperatures, it snowed, soaking some of the items secured on top of the car. Then, they froze. Care to guess what we packed on top of the car? Right. The Christmas presents. How do you tell your children that they’ll have to accept an IOU for Christmas?

We learned something that year. One, always pack the presents inside the car, everything else on top. Second, that snow isn’t always pristine. Snow can be dirty and destructive.

Just like sin in our life. Sin stains our heart. Destroys our relationships. Harms our body and inflicts serious emotional scars. Leaves us feeling dirty, like the leftover sludge after tires have trampled through snow.

There is only one gift that won’t spoil or freeze. During this hectic holiday season, I thank God for the “perfect” gift given to me.

What is that perfect gift?

It’s a chance for a fresh start. Paint bright enough to cover grimy walls. Spring-cleaning from the ceiling to the floor. The shimmering purity of freshly fallen snow.

Salvation is a gift offered to you by a loving Father with no strings attached. This Christmas season, will you accept the gift He offers?

REFLECT & PRAY:


Are you suffering from the consequences of sin? Do you want to dust away the cobwebs and deep clean your heart? You can’t do it yourself, but Jesus Christ can and will, if you ask Him.

Oh, God, I ask for that perfect gift, salvation offered through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please wash away my sin and make me clean and pure as a freshly fallen snow. Amen.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7 NIV