Receive 5

John 13:34-35

We have three Christmas trees in the main section of our house. One is in the entryway, one is in the living room and one is in the dining room. All are near windows so that they may be seen from outside.

Why do we do this? Why do we decorate our homes with lights and trees and evergreen swags? We do it so that we can share the wonderful season of Christmas with others.

The trees are beautiful and it is very pleasant to sit in the evening and look at all the decorations and the soft lights. But our celebration of Christmas is not something only for ourselves. The excitement and love of the holiday is meant to be shared with everyone.

Today’s passage is from a later chapter in John, but I believe it is as much a part of the story of Christmas as any other. What does Jesus command? What will that show?

Christmas can be a wonderful time of gathering as family or with friends, surrounding ourselves with all the joys and pleasures of the holiday. It can be a very personal experience, a time of family love and warmth.

But the gift of Christmas, although meant to be a personal and intimate gift, is also a gift which needs to be shared. We receive the love of God at Christmas. We are reminded of how deep and powerful God’s compassion for us truly is.

Now we must spread that gift to others. We must show the love and compassion of God to the entire world, sharing Christ with everyone.

Let the love and joy of Christmas be yours, but let it also be shown to the world, shining as bright and pure as the candles and lights of the season.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you shine God’s light of love this year?

This is our final devotion for 2009. We will resume on January 4, 2010. Our family would like to wish all of you a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year. May the love and peace of God be with you always. – Roger and Peggy

Receive 4

John 1:14

At our previous church they told the story on several occasions about a man who was home one evening when birds began flying into the reflection of the sky on his plate glass window. Bird after bird flew into the glass and smacked against the hard surface. The man tried to shoo the birds away, to warn them, but they kept flying into the window.

Desperate to help the birds and tired from waving his arms, the man finally thought that if he could become a bird he would warn the others about the window. And it was in thinking this that he saw the meaning of the birth of Jesus.

Jesus was a gift from God to all of humanity, a gift of God in flesh. Jesus became one of us. He became a person so that we might be able to understand who God really is. Christ became a person so that he might have an intimate and personal relationship with each of us.

It was through the birth, life and death of Jesus that we get to know who God is. We can see His mercy and His love through the teaching and action of Jesus. Through the example of Jesus we are shown the glory of God, the Father. Through God, the Son, we can know better our heavenly Father.

That is the purpose and point of Christmas – God giving Himself to us so that we might know God better and more closely. The point of Jesus is that we see more clearly who our God is.

Knowing this should bring us joy. Knowing that God loves us so much that He wanted to live among us should fill our hearts with a warm elation, not just over the holidays, but every day of our lives.

Receive the gift of Christ. Let the joy of God’s precious gift, the example of His glory, grace and truth fill your heart this Christmas.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can Christmas become more personal to you this year?

Receive 3

John 1:12-13

There are many people in our society today who are members of various clubs – Elks, Eagles, Moose, VFW, and so on. When I was younger I joined a gun club and was able to go to the range and shoot at targets whenever I wanted. To be a member of these clubs there are certain requirements, but mostly you must pay the required fee to join.

As John continues talking about Jesus he addresses our relationship to him. What must we do to be children of God? What kind of child is that?

While being a Christian and believing in God and in Jesus Christ are by no means a form of club, true believers do become part of a special group. If, as John points out, we receive him and believe in his name we are children of God. There are no dues or special tasks involved. We simply must receive – accept the birth, life and death of Jesus – and believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

And what type of person is a child of God? A child of God is not someone born to certain parents or part of a certain heritage. Children of God are those who accept Christ and his birth and death. Then we are born of God, no matter what type of person we were or who we descended from.

The description of a child of God also fits Jesus. He was born, not of natural descent. His birth was not due to the decision or will of a human. Jesus was born of God. It took no money or anything else of man to create Christ. He came from God and was freely given.

This free gift is the most precious of all gifts. This gift that no man had any part in was the greatest gift to all humanity. And what are we to do?

We are to receive the gift. We are to accept the gift. We are to welcome this wonderful present from God and believe in Jesus so that we are made children of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you express your joy at receiving the gift of Jesus?

Receive 2

John 1:4-5

It is one of those fascinating facts of physics that no matter how dark a room may be, even a large room like the Sanctuary of a church, the light of a single candle can be seen from anywhere in the room. No matter how dark it gets the candle still offers light. In fact, the darker it is the brighter the candle will seem.

John has a few things to say about Jesus at the beginning of his book. What was the life that is in Jesus? What is the relationship with light and dark?

The most familiar translation of this passage uses the word “overcome” rather than “understood.” But both terms apply.

Jesus brought light into a dark world. He brought the light of wisdom and grace and mercy and love. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of hope for a people who had never known salvation before. Jesus was that small flame of love in the darkness of the world.

And that light shines brightly no matter how dark the world or our lives may seem. In fact, the darker things get in our life with troubles and stress and worry, the brighter the help of Christ may feel to us.

There is nothing the darkness – the evil and troubles of the world – can do to block out the light that Christ brings. Whether it is the light of love shining in the darkness of hate, or the light of wisdom shining in the darkness of ignorance, there is nothing the darkness can do to stop the light.

And the darkness of hate cannot overcome the light. And the darkness of ignorance and selfishness cannot understand the light that Jesus brings.

We are invited to be part of this great and wonderful light of love and comfort that Jesus brings. We are invited to help shine the light of God in the darkness of the world.

Let the light of Christ into your life this holiday and receive God’s love with great joy.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you shine the light of hope and mercy and love this holiday season?

Receive 1

Matthew 18:3

I don’t need anything for Christmas. I am a man in my fifties with a wife, children, two cars and a nice house. Whatever I really need I usually go out and buy over the course of the year. Yet, on Christmas morning it is always fun to be able to open a gift. There is something exciting and joyful about receiving some object, some present that was meant just for you.

Some people might claim that it is immature of a person to get excited about getting gifts, but I believe God wants us to have child-like joy in the celebration of our holidays. What lesson does Jesus teach in today’s reading?

What exactly does Jesus mean by becoming like little children? Most interpretations are that he meant we need to regain that childhood innocence we once had. We need to look at life with a trusting heart, open and honest and uncontaminated by the evils of the world.

But I think he also means we need to celebrate life the way children celebrate. Is there anyone more joyous on Christmas morning than a child, jumping and screaming with excitement?

Do we celebrate Christmas with that much enthusiasm? Probably not. We might sit in a comfortable chair with a hot chocolate or coffee and watch the festivities of the day unfold while we look on, a slight smile on our face. We seldom hop up and down with sheer joy.

But perhaps we should. Perhaps we need to truly comprehend what Christmas is all about. We must realize what an amazing gift has been given to each of us, and perhaps that truth should make us dance with child-like glee, even if we are in our fifties or sixties or seventies.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you celebrate God’s gift of Christmas?