Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Christmas Past

Nothing brings me more peace, hope, security, joy and assurance than knowing that in spite of all my failures and shortcomings I am still loved by God. In fact, I know I am so loved because of this: 

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

I shared the following in a post a few years ago. I've tweaked it a bit here and there and preach it to my own heart again and again. It is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago and it will be true until the end of time. I have interspersed photos of our home decorated for this Christmas season. 

Christmas is about Jesus, the Christ of God. He did not come wrapped in beautiful wrapping or decorated in the finest array. He was wrapped in rags; swaddling clothes. He did not lay his tiny, magnificent head on a soft bed in a king's nursery but rather in a trough that was meant to feed animals. There was no pomp initiated by the rulers of the day to welcome this prophesied Savior. There was only a young mother and her husband who knew he was not the father of this baby..... and all the heavenly host! It was they who preached to the shepherds in the fields. The shepherds rushed to see this thing the angels had declared to them. They saw the Promise of the Father! They saw, with eyes of faith, the One who would secure for them a righteousness that could never be earned-the perfection that God, the Father, requires for entrance into the gates of heaven.

Wouldn't it be so sweet if that were the whole of the story?

But, Scripture tells us more. We are told that not only can we not keep law of God perfectly but that we don't even desire to. In fact, we break the laws of God regularly and willfully and that is called sin. Scripture also tells us the wages of sin is death and that EVERYONE has sinned. Death is not merely a physical death, which is the evidence of our sin, but also a spiritual death that separates us from the Almighty-without exception. We are bankrupt and without hope.

But God (two of my favorite words), being great in mercy sent his Son, in the form of man, to live according to all the law of God-perfectly. 

And here is the hard thing to remember: that baby lying in a manger, represented so sweetly in my nativity...he came to die ... not because of sin he committed but because of mine and yours. The Father poured out his wrath for our sin on his own Son! (This stops my arrogant heart every time!)

The death of Jesus satisfied the penalty for the sin of all those who would believe in him. And we know that it was an acceptable sacrifice because God, the Father raised him from that dead. That is still not enough, though. Remember we have to be perfect to see heaven. A paid debt does not wipe away the fact that we had a debt to begin with or that I continue to break God's laws thus accumulating more debt. And here is the "ah-ha" that brought me a peace that knows no limits, remember the perfect life Jesus lived? He gave that to me. He wrapped me in his righteousness and presents me to the Father as his bride, clothed in white, without spot or wrinkle or blemish and I am accepted.

That, my friends, is Christmas. Maybe that is why I am so enamored with the idea of white and shiny Christmas decor. Maybe that is why I would like it to look perfect and peaceful.... and maybe it is such an unattainable goal for me because that perfection has already been accomplished. It did not come wrapped in gold and silver, velvet or silk....just rags and immeasurable love. 

May your Christmas be filled the peace that comes from knowing you are loved by God, the Father, because of the finished work of the Son, Jesus!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How Many Trees Are Too Many?

I started early this year. The decorating bug bit me and I was off and running. I was determined to be done with my decorating in order to enjoy the season this year. I knew it would be busy as I also have the privilege of decorating some commercial spaces for Christmas.

Being commercial spaces, those trees need to be up right after Thanksgiving. Busy, busy, busy...

Tree #1: golds and reds

Tree #2: woodland theme, neutrals and birds

I love the owls!

Tree #3: frosty 

The last two trees are both unlit. I think I will never buy a lit tree again. I hate having to try to find which light is out or why they're not working; easier to buy strands and lay them in myself. These two trees had nowhere to plug them in anyway. I love the tree itself. They were super easy to set up, great price and have a touch of frostiness. There is a mix of textures in the branches. 

I ordered the trees through Amazon- here's the link: Amazon (I do not have any deals with Amazon, strictly my own opinion on the product, unsolicited.)

Now, back to my own home. I am still not done decorating and I have just two weeks left!! Busy, busy, busy....

Merry Christmas!