Christmas…It’s About the Cross

I’m not fond of secrets.

Christmastime makes it really difficult for me to keep secrets. When I was a child, the suspense of not knowing what was in the packages with my name on them was torturous. Because of that torture, more times than not I surreptitiously lifted the cellophane tape off one end of my brightly colored presents and peeked inside.

After years of practice, I became an expert at unwrapping the package without damaging the paper, sneaking a peek, replacing the tape, and acting surprised on Christmas morning.

When I clandestinely unwrapped my Christmas presents, if there was a toy inside, whoopee! If there was a necessary sweater, or more knee socks, well…

As an adult, I have the same problem. Only in reverse. I get so excited about what I’ve bought Pilot. I can’t wait for him to open it. To help him figure out the gift, I give him hints. Sometimes, he won’t play along.

When I think about it, I wonder if God felt the same excitement and anticipation I feel at Christmas when he prepared to send his gift of love to our broken world. All through the Bible God gives us hints as to what was to come. Sometimes we ignore his clues and won’t play along, but that doesn’t take away the gift.

God’s prophets spoke of a Messiah. Shepherd. Cornerstone. One from the house of Jesse. One from the line of David whose kingdom would never end. A savior. Immanuel. God with us. Those words hold joy and excitement.

Unlike the words in Isaiah 53:5. Words like pierced, crushed, punishment, wounds. That’s when I understand the joyful gift of a baby in the manger became the necessary gift of a sacrifice for our salvation.

And I cry.

Next to the manger scene I set up each December hangs a cross and a crown of thorns. Lest I get caught up in the presents, the baking, the decorations, and the carols, I need a reminder in front of me. Christmas is about much more than a baby, gifts, and family. Christmas is about the cross. It’s about the sacrifice, the suffering, and the Savior who died and rose again so we might live.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited about the gifts under the tree. But it’s the gift that hung on a tree, that really matters.

What do you believe?

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (GNT)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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One of my devotions will be posted on Christian Devotions December 30, 2013. Please stop by and check out the site.

Shackles of Our Own Making

People through the ages have cried out for a deliverer.

In the 400 years between the Old and New Testament books of the Bible when God was silent, the Israelites waited for their Messiah, the Promised One, to be born. While their forefathers bore the callouses of Egyptian shackles on their ankles, this new generation wore shackles of their own making through their disobedience to God.

Wikimedia Gertrude_Kasebier-Manger WikimediaThough God may have been silent, that did not mean he was absent. When the time was right, God sent his son, Jesus, into the world as the long-awaited Messiah. The one who would deliver all of us from our chains and shackles of the bondage of our sins.

As the ancients shackled themselves. We do also. We tie ourselves to things God did not intend for us to be tied to. We participate in things God does not want us involved in. We hang onto habits he has told us to let go of.

We cry out for a deliverer. We long to be gathered safe beneath the wings of the Protector.

Just as God heard the cries of his people all those years ago, he hears our cries today. Jesus is as real today as he was yesterday and as he will be tomorrow. He is our deliverer. Only he can remove our shackles.

Is there anything you are allowing to keep you in shackles? Lay it down at Jesus’ feet, and be free from the burden of the chains. Let him protect you as a mother hen protects her chicks.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!         Matthew 23:37 GNT

I wish you well.

Sandy

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