Prepare!

Last week I was in December Shock.  I couldn't believe my calendar was saying December and the reality of Christmas hit me in the face.  I wish I could be one of those people who:

  • shops all year round,
  • knows what decorations would look perfect in my home
  • makes homemade gifts with ease.

Reality again, though?  I am one of those people who:

  • shops in December.   Oh, I have shopped earlier.  I've also forgotten why I've gotten certain gifts, to whom they belonged and where I've even stored them.
  • did not receive the 'interior decorating gene'
  • just can't.

But, it's a wonderful time of the year and I embrace all the beauty and even craziness of our schedule.  I can't get too serious about some of the things that can tempt us to stress because that is just contrary to the meaning of Christmas.

As our family lights the second candle of the Advent wreath this week, we continue to think on this Christmas meaning.  This week's candle can stand for several things; one of which is Preparation.

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:  "The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  'Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Luke 3: 4-6

Not being as prepared for Christmas as some others may cause a bit more stress in my life, but it isn't anything that will hopefully ruin this beautiful time of the year.  Most of these "must-do's" are really a lot of fun, right?  Oh, please don't make me go to another joy-filled party or eat another delicious Christmas cookie or purchase a really fun gift!  Everything will turn out all right if I end up buying a pie instead of making it, not creating all my gifts and finishing up the shopping list on December 24.  Sometimes being prepared, or not, just isn't a life or death issue.

And, yet, other times it is.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about ten virgins, five wise and five foolish.  They each knew the bridegroom was coming, but only half of them were wise enough to prepare ahead and have oil in their lamps.  When the foolish virgins heard that the bridegroom had finally arrived, they had to leave for more oil; they weren't prepared for Him.  Jesus' last word on this was:

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Matthew 25: 13

The Day of Salvation is at hand, according to Hebrews, and we must have preparations made.  This means that if Jesus has been showing you sin that needs to be dealt with, do it now.  Don't let another day pass on that.  If you have heard the gospel of Christ and think you can follow Him 'another day', why are you waiting?  If you've really heard the good news, you won't want to miss a single moment with Him.  And, if you have let your first love grow cold, pray now for God to re-ignite that flame.  Jesus has come to give us life and to give it to us abundantly.  Let's embrace that and make plans now for all eternity with Him.

Love, Wendy

 

 

 

Hopeful

Have you ever read the classic, "Pilgrim's Progress"?  This book, which is second only to the Bible in the number of copies sold, has influenced many many people since its creation in 1675.  Certainly its life and relevance stems from its heavy dependence upon the Word of God.  An allegory, we can see ourselves and others vividly as we read the pages of this John Bunyan book.  Whether you are looking for a gift for a child or an adult, perhaps you will want to consider this book on your Christmas lists this year. The main character, Christian, flees his homeland, aptly named The City of Destruction, for the Celestial City.  Along the way, Christian meets many people who impact his journey for good and for bad.  As Christian faces people such as Mr. Legality, Worldly Wise-Man and all the folks at Vanity Fair, he sees material possessions, lust-filled temptations and human intellect exalted.  He is not alone, however.  Evangelist, Faithful and Hopeful are men he encounters who offer him direction, help and encouragement.

Having just finished the section of the book where Christian and Hopeful are trapped in the dungeon of Despair (a giant whose wife, Distrust, eggs him on to horrible torments of the captives), I was especially aware of how thankful I have been for encouraging friends in my life who give me hope and remind me Who my hope is in.

So, when we lit the first candle of our Advent wreath this week, and turned our focus upon HOPE, the timing couldn't have been better!  What hope we have because of Christ coming to earth, fully God and fully man, to live obediently to the point of death on a cross.  What hope we have because of King Jesus coming back again, claiming victory over all and making all things new.  With Mary, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, we rejoice at the birth of Jesus; we know this supernatural event that we remember and celebrate this December 25 is all about hope, the hope we have now and for all eternity, because Jesus is our Salvation and Redeemer!  And we look forward with hope to this glorious event:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that with it He should strike the nations.  And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.  He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Revelations 19: 11-16

In this allegory of life, what name would be written on you?  There are days that my name would be called Vanity or Fearful or Lazy.  But, ultimately, because God has chosen me as His own, I can be known as Hopeful, Redeemed, Valued and Made-New.  Is this true of you as well?  Do you know the hope that comes only from Jesus alone?  What better time than now to seek this hope!

Love, Wendy