Thursday, November 13, 2014
Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1-2:7, 1Peter 2:21-24, 1John 4:7-11
One of the sure signs of Christmas is the Christmas tree. Many get excited about Christmas with song, food, and gifts under the tree. But some gifts are too big for the Christmas tree and require a miracle. One of my favorite Christmas films of all time is Miracle on 34th Street. The film stars the late Natalie Wood as Suzie. Suzie is a lovely child who unfortunately doesn't take much pleasure in being a child because her mother, Ms. Walker, is doused with the wall of bitterness over love and a marriage gone wrong. Teaching Suzie to see things from the "adult" point of view is Ms. Walker's way of protecting Suzie from ever being hurt. Meanwhile a man, Mr. Galey, who is smitten over Ms. Walker spends the movie trying to find the key to unlock Ms. Walker's heart. He figures Suzie is the key. He enlists help from Kris Kringle (Santa Claus) to do it. Suzie spends more time with Kris Kringle as well. To make a long story short, Suzie wants to believe that Kris Kringle is Santa Claus but the only way she will believe is if a big gift is under the tree. It's a gift that not even Ms. Walker knows about. Just when Suzie gives up hope, she finds out that hope is not lost. And her gift was delivered. It was just too big to fit under the tree. By this time, Mr. Galey had unlocked the door to Ms. Walker's heart by being there for her when she needed him. She needed to believe in love again and Suzie needed to be able to be free from the constraints of her mother's anguish in order to be a child.
What's the point of this story and what does it have to do with the scripture references? Santa Claus is not real but Jesus is. The miracle of His birth set us on a path. Jesus died on the tree and rose again so you and I can experience many big miracles. The greatest miracle is that of love. Truthfully, it's the real point of Miracle on 34th Street. Love and good will. People give gifts during this holiday season but the greatest gift ever is love, good will and your time. Jesus suffered so you and I can experience God's everlasting love, healing and power all under the tree also known as the cross. The greatest miracle you're in need of really isn't under the Christmas tree. The greatest gift is a miracle that can't be bought in a store because there is no price tag that would ever be enough. The greatest gift and miracle is Christ and through Him is love. The word says that love never fails. It doesn't. What are you giving this Christmas? What will you receive? Is it the miracle of love?
Sunday, November 9, 2014
17Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.
The custom of "breaking bread" or eating with someone was indeed a big deal. Once you broke bread with someone it was seen as a sign of friendship. Often, when followers of Christ pray over food in the company of others they "thank God" for "the time of fellowship." Fellowship as defined in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is 1) the condition of friendly relationship existing among persons 2) a community of interest or feeling 3) a group with similar interests. But to King Solomon's point, everyone does not share your similar interests, feelings or friendliness. Do you know why the disciples were so appalled when Jesus said the one who would betray Him dipped their bread from the same bowl? Because dining with someone and then doing evil against them was indeed seen as an ultimate betrayal. With whom are you dining with at the table? Someone eating from the same table with you may not mean you well. Just because the meal is big and looks to be done with graciousness may not be so. The NKJV Study Bible states, "Lavish hospitality is not necessarily an indication of goodwill. Behind the stimulating conversation of a good hostess may lie ulterior motives. A simple meal with love, honesty, and true fellowship is far better..."
"Let's go eat," "let's do lunch" or "let's do dinner" are common phrases used in our times now. However, have you considered with whom you are dining? Do you know whether the person with whom you dine cares about your well-being? Do you know whether with whom you dine supports you? Do you know whether with whom you dine sees you as a friend or simply an opportunity? Hospitality is to be a gift. Providing a meal is to be a way of making someone feel loved, welcomed and cared for. Ask God to show you if someone is perverting the gift of hospitality in order to plot against you or simply does not truly care about you. We are unfortunately living in a time period as the word says where men are lovers of themselves and are self-seeking. True hospitality is always done with the spirit of love. And we know the word says that God is love. And to know love is to know God.
P.S. You can purchase books for the holiday season at www.getyourjoyinthemorning.com or wherever books are sold.