Be Wise This Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve.  All the presents are wrapped. The hustle and bustle is coming to an end. Finally, a chance to sit and open the Bible, and here is where it opened:

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them.  For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent.  For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Romans 16:17-20

My first thought was, “well, that’s not a very cheery Christmas message.”  And so I read it again.  It is hard, at first, to see the Christmas cheer in this verse, which very clearly contains a warning.  Watch out for those who create dissension and obstacles in opposition to God’s teaching.  Watch out for fair and flattering speech that deceives the hearts of the innocent.

Perhaps this is a perfect message for Christmas, a holiday that is supposed to celebrate our Lord and Savior’s human birth, but has become filled with wrapping paper, scuffles in the mall and “Holiday” celebrations so we do not offend anyone who is not fortunate enough to believe.  A holiday in which we spend more time talking about believing in Santa instead of believing in God.  I am as guilty as the next in terms of getting “caught up” in the “season”, in the obstacles and fair and flattering speech.  We say the words, we sing the songs, but what are we celebrating?  And at the end of the day, do we feel the joy that Jesus offers us, or just the headache of in-laws and high credit card bills?

Paul’s words to the Romans, are a good reminder today.  And his wish for them, is my wish for all of us this Christmas:

Be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil.

May you have a Merry Christmas, filled with the Joy of knowing Jesus.

Christmas Light

It is 4 days until Christmas.  Christmas trees are lit and decorated.  Houses are outlined in Christmas lights.  The shopping malls are bustling and promising to leave the lights on later than usual  (some stores are leaving the lights on for 24 hours a day until Christmas eve).  Do we know how to celebrate the Light of the World or what!?

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.  I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.  And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.  Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

John 12:44-50

More than 2000 years ago Jesus came into the world. He came as light.  Not an LED light that flashes and changes colors.  Not a spotlight that produces stars or snowflakes on an otherwise ordinary house wall.  But LIGHT, so that everyone who believes in Him might not remain in darkness.

There is a lot of darkness in the world.  Active shooters, drivers who plow through crowds, hate and fear.  And we all experience personal darkness.  Sometimes more often than we would like.   Hate, fear, depression and anxiety — darkness.  If you watch the news, it feels like the darkness in our world is increasing.  Perhaps there is a correlation between the increased darkness around us and the way that our society seems to push God out of the way.  Perhaps.

Jesus came to save the world.  To save us from our own darkness.  Whoever believes in Him, might not remain in darkness.  Is it really that easy?   I have noticed that when I read the Bible, when I spend time praying or talking to God, I feel lighter.  I feel like the shadows of the world disappear and become more manageable.  Maybe it is that easy.

This Christmas celebrate the light.  When you look at the lights on the trees or the houses, remember that the Light of the World came to the earth to take away our darkness.  Go toward the light.  Listen to His word.  Believe.

Jesus,

You are my light!  You remove darkness around me.  Thank you for coming into the world.  Thank you for loving me.  I love you!  Help me to understand your word and to follow you.