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.

If I Only Had a Brain

KansasThe first time Pilot and I stopped at the Kansas welcome center on Interstate 35, while I  looked around the gift shop, “Over the Rainbow” played in the background. Tee shirts with pictures of the Good Witch of the North, Ruby Slippers, Toto teapots, and emerald green coffee mugs lined the shelves. The place was filled with Wizard of Oz memorabilia.

I found Pilot and asked, “What is with all the Wizard of Oz stuff?”

Pilot looked at me, as he often does, when what I have just said makes absolutely no sense to him, whatsoever. “We’re in Kansas.”

“Sooo?” It took a minute, while Pilot stared at me, then, “Oh, yeah. Of course.”

Duh.

Now I am sure none of you reading this would have been as dense, as I was. Kansas Wizard_of_oz_movie_posterwasn’t our end destination on this trip. Colorado was. We were merely passing through the great state. I wasn’t thinking about where I was, in relationship to Dorothy’s no place like home. I was thinking more in line with wheat, buffalo, and the Santa Fe trail.

Before we left the gift shop, I purchased several books on early pioneers, a few trinkets, and a music box that plays, “Over the Rainbow”. Pilot chose a music box that plays, “If I Only Had a Brain”. I am positive he did not buy that for me!

In Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is on a quest to get home. Because, as we know, there is no place like home. We too, are on a quest to reach our eternal home. Heaven.

Yellow brick roadOn our journey we sometimes run into people who need a heart, because theirs is mean-spirited or callous. We may meet people who need courage for the difficult tasks they face. Often times, we are surrounded by people who appear to need a brain, because they seem to keep making the same bad choices over and over again. Of course, there is that wicked witch with her flying monkeys, who seems to make life miserable for those in her wake.

Maybe we are the ones who need the heart, courage, or brain. Or who, occasionally, hiss, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too.”

Instead of looking for the not-so-great Wizard behind the emerald curtain, we need to turn to our true friend, Jesus. He’s the one who can make our hearts brand new. He’s the one who will give us the courage we lack. If we let him, Jesus can straighten out our brains, and help us make the right choices. As we follow Jesus, He can also teach us how to deal with the flying monkeys.

Toto magnet

This made me giggle.

We may not have ruby slippers, but we have something far superior. We have a Savior who will lead us home.

So Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, not to offer himself for sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28

Which character from the Wizard of Oz do you most relate to?

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Why Do You Look For The Living Among the Dead?

File:Garden Tomb P1190176.JPG

Garden Tomb
East Jerusalem
Courtesy Wikimedia

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the entrance. She went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Then Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb. The two of them were running, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and saw the linen cloths, but he did not go in. Behind him came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there and the cloth which had been around Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. (They still did not understand the scripture which said that he must rise from death.)

John 20:1-9

The horrible crucifixion ended with Christ’s death on Friday. The glorious resurrection dawned on Sunday with an empty tomb, and a risen Savior.

Tomorrow, by our calendars, we remember the crucifixion. Five short days after Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the praises of men. On Sunday, we will celebrate Easter. Resurrection Day. A day of hope for mankind.

May we never forget the price it cost Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior, for the opportunity and privilege we have to be called a child of the King.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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