Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Debt Paid

Mercy took on a whole new meaning that Christmas.

It was one of those “unable to deliver” slips the post office leaves when you’re not home. I really didn’t think too much about it. I didn’t even go pick up whatever it was until a few days later.

Seeing the return address I realized it was from the law firm that had sent out notices about a class action lawsuit that had been filed for managers at the retail chain that my husband, Alan, worked for. I smiled. It was three days before Christmas, and the extra $1.99 that it probably represented was amusing.

legal envelope

Curious, I opened the envelope when I got back to the car. The numbers didn’t make sense at first. There were a few more zeroes than I’d anticipated.

I looked again. Still those extra zeroes. No dummy, I knew a scam when I saw one. Checking online once I got home, the realization hit that the class action suit was well documented. But still…

So I called the phone number listed on the verification. I reached a live person, who assured me that the check was legitimate!

Unbelievable! Who gets a check like that three days before Christmas?

Two days later I sat in our church’s Christmas Eve service, reflecting on the whole thing. So very grateful, and overwhelmed with what God had done.

Having seven kids is an expensive proposition, especially when it came to college. We had acquired some debt as a result, and this unexpected windfall would wipe it out. My conversation with God went something like this:

“We don’t deserve this. We didn’t make the best choices, and it’s our own fault we are in debt. Why would You do this? Why would you pay this debt for me?”

In one of those rare moments, I clearly heard the voice of my Savior speak into my heart: “Isn’t that what I did at the cross? I paid your debt of sin, the one that you could never pay, so that you don’t have to.”

And I wept. So incredibly grateful, not for the money, but for the love of my Jesus, who paid the debt I never could. Not because He had to, but because He chose to. Because He loves me.

Christmas mercy fully exhibited on the cross.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.                                                                                      2 Corinthians 5:21

Further reflection:

  1. There are all kinds of debt. When you think of the debt you owe Jesus, what comes to mind?
  2. Find a place to quiet your heart, and picture taking that debt and laying it at the feet of the cross. Redo this as often as it is necessary for you to recognize that He wiped out that debt.

Father, Your mercy is more than I deserve and far more than I could ever earn. The kind of love You exhibited by taking the full weight of the debt of my sin is beyond my understanding. I can only weep in gratitude.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ryder’s Take on Christmas

Christmas was already in full swing.

My daughter-in-law, Annie, had taken her two little guys, Isaac and Ryder, to a well-known chain store. Visiting the Christmas aisle was always a highlight. It was decorated to the hilt with all the usual Christmas trappings: trees and lights and ornaments and lots of gaily wrapped but empty presents. They strolled casually up and down the aisles, oohing and aahing over the displays.

Christmas decorations 2

Almost two-years-old, Ryder suddenly stopped, looking around intently. Obviously he was looking for something in particular. Not finding what he was searching for, he turned to his mom, shrugging with a puzzled look.

His question to her? “Where baby Jesus?”

Ryder nailed it. In all the twinkling lights or beautiful decorations, the most important part of Christmas was nowhere to be seen.

“Where baby Jesus?”

We call Him “the reason for the season”. And as followers of Jesus, we know it is true. But so often we let the busyness of buying and wrapping presents, the parties, and the annual Christmas letter be what consumes us. It begins to feel like that is what Christmas is all about.

“Where baby Jesus?”

Have I lost sight of Him in all the fun and family times? Have I forgotten Him in all the doing and details of celebrating? Have I pushed Him aside in all the busyness and baking?

So in thinking about this I decided I need to give Jesus a gift; time. Time to just sit with Him, pondering the miracle of God in human form. Time to thank Him for the kind of incomprehensible love that drove Him to leave heaven and take on the form of a baby. Time to praise Him that the wonder and joy of knowing Him, the God of all creation, is His free gift of grace to me.

In doing that, I find Him all over again. And He makes it Christmas. Because ultimately, Christmas without Jesus is like one of those presents Isaac and Ryder saw under the trees that day; beautiful on the outside, but still empty on the inside.

“Where baby Jesus?” Ryder, He is in the hearts of all who love Him.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.                                                                                                                 John 1:14

  1. Stop for a moment. Ponder what life would be like if Jesus had not come.
  2. Write out your prayer, thanking Jesus for who He is and what He accomplished on your behalf.

Father, I look around and enjoy all the fun trappings of Christmas; the lights, the goodies, and time to spend with family. But none of it has meaning apart from You. You gave up heaven, so that I might join You there someday. You sacrificed Yourself, so God could forgive me for all the wrong I do. And nothing, nothing! can compare with the joy of belonging to You. Please be foremost in my heart this Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Promise

It’s December—let the merriment begin!

At my house Christmas is more of an entire season rather than a single day. It begins on December 1st, and to kick if off we have a tradition; all my kids—and now my grandkids—get a present.

christmas_present

It’s never an expensive gift. When the kids were young it might be Christmas socks or Christmas earrings; it really didn’t matter. The point was to mark the start of the season, and point ahead to what was coming—the day of Christmas itself!

December 1st is only a foretaste of Christmas, but as a result the whole month is filled with anticipation of the fulfillment of its promise.

It’s a great idea, but it was God’s idea first. You see, believers have been given the promise of heaven. As long as we are living that promise isn’t fulfilled, so He has given us a deposit guaranteeing that it really is coming; His Spirit.

When we first received Jesus as Savior, it marked the beginning of not only a new season, but a whole new eternity! Those of us who have chosen to follow Him know that heaven is coming, and we eagerly anticipate what it will be like. God’s glory will shine so brightly that there will be no need of the sun or moon (Revelation 21:23-24). “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). Just imagine—all things will finally be made right! Sometimes my soul longs for it now.

God has given us the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing that He will fulfill that promise.

It is His Spirit that speaks truth into my heart when the faint stirrings of doubt creep in. It’s His Spirit that affirms His love for me when I feel unlovable. And it is His Spirit that reminds me that heaven really is coming!

God’s Spirit is way better than any December 1st present!

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.        Ephesians 3:13-14

Further reflection:

  1. Does your family have any unique Christmas traditions?
  2. How do they point to the fulfillment of God’s promises?

Father, thank You not only for the promise of heaven, but that You gave us Your Spirit to guarantee its fulfillment. My heart leaps in anticipation of what it will be like to live with You forever!