Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The greatest of these is love

". . . We can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection is a poor mirror; but someday we are gong to see Him in His completeness, face to face, now all that I know is hazy and blurred but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.

There are three things that remain - faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love."  

  I Corinthians 13: 12-13.

Yesterday I sat down at my kitchen table where my advent wreath sits before baking cookies and making candy to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. I lit each candle, one stood for joy, another peace, another hope and the last one, love.  

 I opened my Bible to read the devotion for the day.  As I glanced at the candles, I noticed they were all brightly burning except the one that stood for love.  It was having a hard time producing a flame.  I thought, perhaps I should blow it out and start again, but I decided to leave it as it was for awhile.

I read my devotion which was all about love.  It said, as different as we all are, God loves us all the same.  The writer emphasized that God's love is eternal - unconditional, even loving us when we commit sin and willing to forgive.  His love is limitless and far beyond what we human  beings can comprehend or understand. 

The devotion noted loving others as God loves us and that those around us should see Christ in us because of how we love and who we are. 

As I read, I glanced at the love candle - it was still struggling to stay lit.  This does not represent God's love I thought to myself.  But I still let it be.

I began to pray - thanking God for His Word, asking for forgiveness, praying for others and praising God for his wonderful love.

When I opened my eyes from my prayer time, I looked at the love candle once more.  A smile radiated from my lips.  There it stood, the pink Christ Child candle.  Glowing brightly - bringing even more light into my surroundings than before.  It was like God was saying, "Yes, my love is strong.  You can count on my love.  It is a love that will glow inside you when hard days come or when you are feeling joyful.  My love will love you in spite of your sinfulness.  My love is so great that I sent my only begotten Son so that you could have eternal life.

A simple reflection from a simple candle on a wooden advent wreath.  But it touched my heart a lot and was a great way to begin my Christmas baking in my quaint farm kitchen.

Thank you Lord for this blessing I said, as I completed my special time with Him.:-) 

 And then I pondered, do people see God's love in me as Christ's child? It was another way to prepare my heart for the celebration of His divine birth.

May you experience God's wonderful, awesome LOVE this Christmas and throughout the New Year and may others see Christ in you:-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spiritual preparation for Christmas

This Good News tells us that God makes us ready for heaven - makes us right in God's sight - when we put our faith and trust in Christ to save us. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith." - Romans 1:17

Advent was introduced to our family by a dear Baptist pastor at a quaint church in Western Nebraska. According to Webster it is derived from the Latin word adventus which means "a coming". The use of the advent wreath can be traced to the German Christians of the 1500s and is still used in many churches and homes across our nation.

When my three precious kids were growing up, we would have an advent service each week around our dining room table -the advent wreath we used is in this photo. The first purple candle was lit four Sundays before the celebration of Christ's birth, then a second the next week, a third was added and finally the beautiful rose candle shone bright on Christmas morn. It stood for the coming of Christ Jesus and our promise of salvation through Him.

Each week we did something different to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas during this family time together. We read devotions about hope, joy, peace, love and faith. We prayed together. Once we each drew pictures related to His coming and shared them with each other, another time we made Jesus a birthday cake complete with green and red jello. And we always included the reading of Scriptures and sometimes sung a song:-) Dad and the guys weren't too keen about the music but they participated. These special times kept our eyes on Jesus with all the activity and commercialism about us.

Now my kids are adults and on their own. I pray they remember the advent wreath and how it helped us bring Christ into clear focus among the presents, lights, programs, and yummy food. I hope they use one in their own homes.

Today, I still prepare myself spiritually for Christmas. I open my Bible, I read a devotion (my booklet from my church is helpful), I light a candle and I pray. It is a gentle reminder of what Christmas is all about and I need that, how about you?

If you have not prepared your heart yet and would like to start - begin with an Advent Wreath. You can make your own or buy one at your local Christian book store. They may also have a selection of advent books or devotions to use along with your Bible, of course.
Blessings to you as you keep Christ in "Christmas"!