Scripture for Today:Revelation 22:14b “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
Our sweet artificial Christmas tree has been all over the world and is the worst for wear. Not only has our tree traveled everywhere in its now beat-up box but it is thirty-two years old! Each Christmas I think will be its last with its frayed and missing branches. But each year I end up squeezing one more year out of it! There are so many memories attached to this tree that I cannot bear to part with it. But someday it will be too ratty and will be thrown away.
Its ironic that there is so much attention given to the Christmas tree. The description of Heaven in Revelation talks about an eternal tree that stands in the streets of the New Jerusalem. This is a tree of life that spans a river of life flowing from the throne of God. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations (verse 2). The only ones who can enjoy this tree are those whose robes are washed. This is what the Lord does for the believer, clothing us with a robe of HIS righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
My Christmas tree is soon put away for hopefully another year. And for those putting up a live tree, it will eventually droop, dry up and lose its needles. But the eternal tree of life represents a beauty and joy that will last forever! The joy and peace I experience over holidays will one day be the every-day-normal! The curse will be lifted and because I belong to Him, I will enjoy Eden restored!
Thank you Lord, that the birth of Your Son gives me life now and eternally!
Scripture for Today: Isaiah 45:3 “I will give you hidden treasure, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
The carol, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” was originally titled, “The Christmas Song.” It was written by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé on a hot summer day in 1945. Wells drew from his childhood memory of vendors on the streets of Boston selling roasted chestnuts and serving them in paper cones.
In France we also enjoyed roasted chestnuts on the street, their warmth feeling so good on cold hands! But the chestnut is also candied, boiled, steamed and grilled. For Christmas and New Year’s the “marron glacé” is traditional fare, a chestnut that has been glazed in sugar syrup. When they are still green and fresh, the chestnut is difficult to handle with its spiny bur. But getting at that delicious treasure is worth all the effort! There can be up to seven chestnuts in one bur.
Today’s verse talks about treasures that are hidden. The riches that the Lord reveals are not so obvious. Like the chestnut, they are sometimes stored in places difficult to see. The outside of that hidden treasure makes it easy to miss. Getting at that treasure inside may involved going through some tough prickly times.
It is through the hard times that I see God’s love and gentleness with me. It is when life is difficult that He reveals the treasure of who He is. His comfort and His grace are the unexpected surprise behind that negative experience. Through a trial He becomes MY Lord, calling me by name. Faith becomes very personal as He reveals to me the treasure of His power and presence.
Help me, Lord, to discover true riches and treasure this Christmas!
(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016!)
Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”
I remember pouring over those glossy catalogues that came in the mail to create my wish list as a child. The more time I had to compose it, the longer it became! Some things I did not even know I wanted until seeing the advertisement. Of course my own children did the same thing and now I am seeing the list-making continue with my grandchildren. As an adult, the items on my list tend to be of an intangible nature. At the top of my list is LOVE.
I was bemused listening to George Harrison’s song, “Give Me Love.” His list does not stop with “love.” He goes on to list: peace on earth, light, life, freedom, hope, help to cope and the ability to reach heart and soul. Even though this was intended as a love song, I could not help but think of Christ. Today’s verse says that the gift of Jesus that God gives us is indescribable. But this list, though not exhaustive, does a pretty good job of naming all that Jesus Christ is and what He offers us! He is love, love that came down at Christmas to make reconciliation with God possible.
The gift of Jesus not only overwhelms me with love but gives my heart peace. He has changed my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28). The life He gives is not an easy one but it is full of significance. He has freed me from the power of sin and death and gives me the sure hope of eternity with Him. His help and presence help me cope with the troubles each day brings. Because of Jesus I can touch and reach God with my heart and soul!
Thank you Lord, for the gift of Jesus.
Scripture for Today: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
There is a store in our area whose name is pictured here; Art of Inner Peace. They sell Eastern spiritual items, gifts and jewelry, as well as Buddha figurines, incense and crystals. They advertise themselves as a zen place to find harmony, peace and balance. I am assuming that the owners think their name appropriate in the belief that selling these particular items will contribute to inner peace. It was a new thought to me that peace could be considered an “art.”
In contrast, todays’s verse tells us that peace is a gift. Its Giver is Jesus Christ. Because of the peace Jesus offers we can now have peace with God and are no longer His enemy (Rom. 5:10). From this peace flows peace with others and the inner peace of mind we so desperately want. True peace of mind is having a heart untroubled and unafraid in the midst of whatever life brings. The peace He gives is a calm assurance that He is in control and that it is a good control.
Life does not need to slow down to experience His peace. There can be noise, confusion, and even frenzied activity. His inner peace is not tied to the physical nor does it depend on outside circumstances. His peace goes deeper. It is the peace of belonging to Him heart and soul. He will never leave me or abandon me. He is there to sustain me and bring me through whatever I am facing. His peace reassures me of His loving care, today and tomorrow!
Thank you Lord, for Your gift of peace.
Scripture for Today: John 13:3-4a “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so…”
The term, “shoe dog,” brings to mind what is pictured here. There is something about that soft leather and trailing shoelace that invites dogs to be naughty and chew. But in fact, “shoe dog,” refers to a shoe salesman. In hearing about the history of the Nordstrom department stores, I learned that each of the three sons had to be a shoe dog as part of their training before their father allowed them to rise in the ranks. The idea was to teach them humility and service.
In today’s verse, Jesus is preparing to get down on His knees and wash His disciples’ feet. This was a service normally done by servants. It was considered a demeaning task but a necessary one that was expected from the host. Christ knew He would soon be leaving His disciples and did this out of His love for them. This service did not threaten His identity and He was unconcerned about how it may make Him look. He knew who He was, where He came from and where He was going.
Service is often not glamorous. It can be dirty and stinky and even misunderstood. But motivated by love for Him and love for others, I can disregard how it may make me look to others. My service to others can be done without thought as to how I am viewed. I know where I came from and where I am going as well! And serving others is the best way I know to love Him!
Help me Lord, to get my mind off myself and serve those around me today!