December 28, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Part IV The Wise Men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”…After coming to the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 1:1-2 & 11(NASB)

Three Wise Women. . . would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stables, made a casserole, brought practical gifts. . . and there would be Peace on Earth!

The saying above is embroidered on a hand towel that resides, during this season, in my guest bathroom. Obviously it is meant to provoke a giggle or two out of the reader. But it is interesting that I would put it out considering my Christmas decision regarding the Nativity.

This year, I left the Wise Men out of the manager. Why? Because they were never there to begin with! Not that I have a problem with the wise men at all. I just got a bit literal this year. However, despite the fact these divinely inspired travelers didn’t arrive until “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem,” they still play a large part in our Christmas celebration and in God’s plan for the family of the Child Jesus. There is much to be learned from the sparse references allocated to them in Scripture. Notice with me the following items.

The first thing is that they were wise. Not only were they wise, they acted upon that wisdom. Boy, if there ever a New Years Resolution to be made, here it is! God grant me wisdom from you and obedience to act upon it. I doubt anything else needs to be said.

Second, their objective was to worship. Again, they were obedient to their objective. This begs the question – it is ever our objective to worship? I certainly hope so, but face it, we are not perfect. On Sunday, is your goal to worship replaced by just trying to make it to church on time? Making sure the preacher is done by noon so you can get out to eat before the other churches let loose? Rats, I forgot to bring mints! Hmmm. Just asking.

I find when I replace the attitude of “what is the preacher going to say today and am I gonna like it?” with “I am here to worship” worship actually happens. I must admit that sometimes worship just spontaneously combusts! But more often, I need to make a point to put myself in that position by pushing aside all distractions and petty thoughts so worship has room to occur. Then when it does – nothing else matters! It’s just God and me, everything is perfect. The wise men were bound and determined to worship – no long journey without GPS hindered their desire.

Third, they presented Christ with their treasures. It’s interesting to note that the presenting of gifts occurred only after worship had taken place. Their worship was true, genuine and immediate. The gifts were not presented first as a bribe. Not sure why I just thought to write that, oh well.

Now, back to their treasures. It was their treasures that were offered to the toddler King. They gave of themselves. They brought their best. I don’t believe one brought the gifts and the other just signed the card. The Word says it was their very own possessions they brought and they offered. Where does that leave us? What do I have? What do you have? Let me remind all of us with Romans 12:1 – bring Him yourself.

Even though the wise men were not present at the actual birth of Christ our Lord, the part they play in our Advent is no less amazing. They bring much to the table for spiritual consideration. I had to smile as several weeks ago Brother William preached from this passage in Matthew and he spoke at great length on godly wisdom in our lives. Knowing then what I felt ready to write for this particular week after Christmas, well, it made me feel I was on the right track. Lord, help me to stay there!

I’ve heard said, “Wise men still seek Him.” Wise women too! Let our objective in 2011 be to gain in His wisdom, lavish Him in worship, present to Him our treasures and live in obedience to Christ alone.

May the peace, grace and wisdom of our Lord be with you in this New Year,

December 20, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Part III The Birth

“Behold the virgin shall be child and shall bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel’ which translated means, “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23(NASB)

In a few days, we will celebrate the culmination for the season’s reason: the birthday of Jesus. Is December 25 the actual date of His fleshy entrance into the world. No. Does it matter? Also no. It matters only that we recognize on one particular day in the history of our world a young virgin named Mary who conceived by the Holy Spirit went into labor. Together with her God-appointed earthly husband, they held their breaths as the Savior was birthed upon the earth.

There was no baby shower and no family coming for miles to hold the new child. Whom could they share this moment with? It seemed like there was no one, except only a few shepherds from the field. Even then, did they fully grasp that their little boy was a gift to be shared with the world, then and for all time to come?

For all the things we enjoy about Christmas, if it hadn’t been for that obscure birth on an unknown date, we would have no reason to celebrate and December 25 would have as much eternal significance as Ground Hog Day.

Whatever calendar date it was all those years ago, there indeed was a real day, when a real child was born unknown and innocently into the world. Because of His birthday, my life has meaning. It has purpose. So does yours.

Are the holidays leaving you in a holi-daze keeping you from experiencing a true Holy Day? If so, stop. Relax and take stock of what really matters. Why are you celebrating? Take a moment to refocus and put the day back into perspective. However, if it’s just another party day to you, call me, email me, or throw a rock at me and let’s reason together. From the Gobbs home to yours, we wish you the merriest and most blessed Christmas ever.

Jesus is the reason for my season, because I was His!

December 14, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Part II Christmas Lights

“And Jesus again spoke to them saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12 (NASB)

Do you have a favorite part of Christmas tradition? I dare say most people do. Some like the smell of pine from a freshly cut tree brought inside then decorated with shiny babbles and bows. Others enjoy the rush of shopping for just the right gift for the loved ones in their lives. Children enjoy the thoughts of a mystical Santa leaving presents on Christmas morning. Of course, there are the family get-togethers to relish and the sacred music that fills the air.

I like all of the above. However, my favorite things are the lights. I confess to an on-going love affair with lights. I have had this fascination since childhood. I fondly remember the coast-to-coast drive our family made as we moved from California to Florida. I recall passing airports at night and seeing all those beautiful blue lights on the ground. To me, they were stars that had fallen from heaven.

I like the flash of lights from a marquee sign. I love streetlights against a darkened sky. I am enamored with the stars on a clear crisp night. Have you seen Las Vegas or NYC at night? I have but that’s another story. What about Disney at night? Better yet, Disney at night during the holidays. Yes, Christmas lights are my favorites. The blinking multi-colored lights on houses and trees, well, they make my heart twinkle!

There is something magical, romantic and transporting about a plethora of lights twinkling in the dark. There is something spiritual in being reminded that because of light – the dread of darkness disappears. Actually that is more than simply spiritual, it is Biblical.

Jesus directly told us that He is the Light of the World. He is the Light that shines in the darkness and in Him; we never have to fear the darkness. We fear not the darkness that comes without light and not the darkness that comes from evil in the world.

The lights of Christmas remind me that Jesus in The Light and that Jesus is MY Light. Is He yours? There is no better day to start an on-going love affair with the Light, than today.

Jesus, You make my heart twinkle!

December 07, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Part I The Goodies

“O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8 (NASB)

Tis the season to be jolly. Tis the season for tree trimming. Tis the season for gift giving. Tis the season for lots of tasty treats. Yum-yum! Thus far, we’ve been to two Christmas parties. One was rather large and the other a bit smaller, but both overloaded with scrumptious, mouth-watering although highly caloric food.

Several of us agreed that it was easier to get through Thanksgiving than Christmas. For during Thanksgiving we generally prepare to over-indulge for one glorious day, however, Christmas treats are the norm all throughout the month. This leads to some serious taste bud temptation. So if you hear a strange woman screaming, “Get thee behind me Satan!” you will know that I’ve just passed the dessert portion of some buffet. My only refuge afterwards will be in a bottle of Maalox, Tums or any number of combined antacids.

Now I’d be fooling myself to think I could go the entire month of December without tasting a few delicious morsels along the way. However, just like the majority of trimmings Christmas brings along – I will avoid danger by exercising good judgment and moderation. I encourage you to do the same.

This could create some real battles of the will if you are diabetic or dealing with certain food allergies or interactions. Sugar is not everyone’s friend, neither are nuts or flour. Several people I know are diabetic, including my own dad. A neighbor of ours is has nut allergies and another can’t eat wheat flour due to cancer diet restrictions. Since these things are extremely prevalent during the holidays - what is a body to do! Even those of us without diet restrictions really need to watch our temple walls, to keep them strong and healthy.

Well, here is my cure that will satisfy even the most veracious appetite. It’s found in our verse from Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that the LORD is good!”

Need a sugar fix? Slice off a Psalms and feast on some praise pie! Ready for a main course? Cut up the meat of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Got a craving? Carve up some Colossians to chew on. Can you taste it? How sweet are the words of Jesus! How easily most of them go down! Okay, there are a few hard words contained in the gospel, but we all need some fiber for good measure.

The most wonderful thing about feasting on the Word of God is that it does everything to build you up, to keep you spiritual healthy and you just cannot over do it!

With this in mind, the next time someone offers you that large bowl of Figgie pudding topped with cool whip, just politely smile and take refuge in a plate of Proverbs instead!

Someone pass me the James, please!