Vol. 11 No. 12 December 2009
Trash and garbage bags everywhere! I know because I carried a dozen bags out from our collection. You see, there were grandchildren in the house on the 25th. It was a joyous occasion, but I am happy that it is now ‘Christmas past.’ No, it was not a white Christmas, but it was a wet one. I mentioned to my wife that the rain that God sent was truly one of the best presents we could have received on a dry and parched land. Other gifts were great because they were from friends and family who love me. The giver is more important than the gift. It is good to be remembered and appreciated. Life would indeed be difficult if it were not for those we love so much. Pity the poor person who is alone and without anyone caring. The Psalmist certainly felt alone when he wrote, “Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).
As we are now in the last days of this year, it is good that we dispose of some our ‘garbage,’ if such we have in our hearts and lives. The apostle Paul stated it in this fashion: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…” (Colossians 3:5-10). In other words, we all need to take an inventory of our lives and make sure that we discontinue those habits and sins that hinder our running “the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
In the case of the gift and the giver, both are most important in spiritual matters. We are informed in John 3:16 that Jehovah God gave the greatest gift ever–His Son to die for our sins on the cross of Calvary. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:6-8, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Just ponder for a while what is said here. We were not friends of God when He gave the greatest gift, His Son; rather, it was when by our own sins we were alienated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Not only that, the Gift (Jesus Christ) also gave Himself for our salvation (John 15:13). The motive was pure love of the Father and the Son.
Because we have been the recipients of salvation, “the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8), we should give ourselves in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are teeming millions of lost souls who need to hear the good news of our Savior Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3), which “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). There are lonely souls who need our attention and affection. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…” (James 1:27). The inspired writer in Hebrews 12:12 gave this exhortation, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees…” Being alone does not always infer loneliness. The children of God have this precious promise, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Therefore, we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
As I look to my left and across the street, I see the lights in my neighbor’s front yard. He has really worked hard this year to put up the ‘Christmas lights’ and decorations. It is the same as you drive through our small community and our entire city. It is indeed a festive time of the year. In fact, I really like this season of the year. Why? Because it is when most families can be together. The young father across the street is especially happy this year because his wife gave birth recently to baby boy. Now the older son will have someone to play with – in time. I have so many fond memories when our four children were all at home during this season of the year. There were occasions when the older boys and I would go to some friend’s farm and cut a ‘Christmas tree.’ Virginia and I would really enjoy seeing the children opening presents on Christmas morning. Virginia would have a delicious meal prepared, which would be consumed by our very hungry group. Those were precious years when the children were young and were at home. How fortunate you are if you have sweet memories of family gatherings.
Now, we look forward to the children returning home with their families. It is something else when our tribe assembles in one place. It seems that we ‘wear the house’ because the space is so restricted. What a wonderful sight to see grandchildren opening presents on Christmas morning. What a mess to clean up! How much food is required for so many hungry mouths waiting to consume grandmother’s delicious meats, vegetables, salads, pies and cakes? Well, it doesn’t matter. Her love reveals itself in the joy she experiences when she cooks for those who are so close to her heart. After all, what are grandmothers for? We want our grandchildren to have pleasant memories of Papa and Ma’s home during the holidays.
The Christmas – New Year holidays provide a break from the everyday and sometime mundane affairs. People tend to be kinder and friendlier. Friends get together and enjoy festive occasions. Parents attend seasonal musical programs at school. Old friends are remembered as well as new friends with Christmas cards. Certainly, everyone needs a new tie and/or underwear to wear. Ah, life is good. So enjoy this festive time of the year with your friends and loved ones. Yes, remember those family members who have gone before, but don’t permit those memories to rob you of the blessedness and happiness of the present.
A New Year’s wish for you: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).