Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Gift

cd7478-christmas-gift-christmas-card

Sitting up wide-eyed under the weight of a cotton quilt, a tussle-haired child hurriedly wipes the sleep from her eyes, drops from the bed to the cold floor and begins to navigate her way carefully and quietly down the dark hallway and into the den. Peering cautiously through the doorway, her eyes adjust to the dancing lights stationed like sentries on the small green tree in the corner. Darkness retreats with the onrushing charge of daybreak. Her searching eyes focus, like a lion about to pounce, on the prize that sits partially hidden under the evergreen boughs. A small box with a huge white bow wrapped in layers of bright red and green foil paper silently awaits her searching fingers and excited eyes. The gift she has anxiously awaited all year is finally hers to open. It’s Christmas morning!

Sitting in the darkness on the steep hillside watching their sheep, a solitary band of shepherds stare in utter amazement as the angels begin leaping across the skies like Roman candles in a holiday firework display. A fragile young wife and her frightened young husband welcome a child that refuses to wait any longer for his birth. Amid the stench of the cattle and the labor pains, the Fragrance of God makes his entrance into his creation and is gently placed in a stone feeding trough in a small, out-of-the-way town called the House of Baked Bread. No throngs or multitudes of family or well-wishers await the announcement of his birth outside this rather unusual delivery room. The Father of all good gifts has finally delivered the gift humanity has anxiously awaited throughout the centuries. It’s Christmas morning!

Kneeling beside a sick and broken addict, a young man shares a powerful story with compassion and purpose. For the first time in many years this shackled creature begins to consider what freedom is really like. Not freedom to do what he wants, but freedom to be what he was created to be. Calmly and carefully the young man shares a Scripture here and an experience there. The Holy Spirit hovers unseen, like a mother hen with her biddies, bringing forth eternal life. Through the sobs of hopelessness a confession is offered and a cry of faith is answered. A new creation is born. The gift received is new life conceived through Jesus Christ. It’s Christmas morning!

Christmas is more than a day we celebrate; Christmas is the gift we have been given. Immanuel—God with us—has given us the gift of abundant, eternal life in him. Share the gift with someone and watch God unwrap the real gift of Christmas morning.

The Parable of Redemption’s Price

images

The light was blinding as the captives were led shackled with leg and wrist irons out from the dim, gloomy cells and into the street. Freedom and redemption were the last things on their minds. Naked, dirty, and beaten, the herd of broken humanity—prisoners of war—was pushed and prodded along the narrow streets by an unrelenting squad of soldiers to the center of town and into the market where the great auction would take place.

Cursing crowds of faceless torturers greeted the prisoners at every turn. The leg irons made walking almost impossible and so they trudged slowly through the abuse hurled at them by the cruel mob. Bloodied from the constant barrage of fists that greeted them each time they raised their heads, the prisoners finally arrived at the raised area in the center of the market. A huge crowd, with vengeance on its mind, cheered as the pitiful group of captives made its way slowly up the ramp onto the black block. This was the slave block from which each one would be sold as a slave to the highest bidder.

Men, women, boys, and girls, once proud and free, faced their tormenters defeated, broken, and without hope. Some wept silently, while others simply looked out at the merciless crowd with hollow, lifeless stares. Here on the slave stage the reality of despair became their hope for the future in the great drama they seemed destined to play out.

The dealer, a large dark individual with a loud blasphemous voice, began to call out the bid prices, and the sale began with a vengeance. Bidding was fast and furious. Strength and beauty, once considered valuable assets, made little difference to the buyers. Families were divided. Mothers silently died on the inside as their children were sold to monsters. Husbands wretched in agony as they watched their precious wives purchased by perverts. There in the market, life without hope became death without end, as each of the prisoners was auctioned to the highest bidder.

All at once, the crowd parted as a solitary figure walked to the front of the auction and stood before the slave dealer. An uneasy silence fell over the venomous crowd. The great prince offered to purchase the whole lot for a single price. With glee beyond belief, the dealer pondered what price the prince would be willing to offer for such a pitiful mass of humanity as this. Prostitutes, thieves, blasphemers, liars, drunkards, and adulterers made up this lot on the block and their value was minimal, the dealer thought, but the prince was, after all, rich beyond belief. And so with an insatiable, heinous greed in his heart, the dealer named his price.

Silence fell across the crowd. Without a word, the great prince stepped up on the block, took off his regal robes, and gently touched each prisoner with his healing hands of liberation. The chains began to fall away and the prisoners began to leap off the slave block. Families were reunited, and hope began to bloom as the little group made its way out of the dark city and up toward the great mountain, which lay to the east.

Along the road, the tiny troop heard a great hellish shout of joy go up from the city. One of the newly freed prisoners stopped timidly and looked back. The awful sight he witnessed would forever change him. As he stared, he beheld a solitary figure naked, beaten, bruised, and bloodied, hanging the air, with his arms stretched out and feet pressed together, pierced with jagged pieces of iron, as the merchants of death and the grave bid for his body.

I am the one who looked back and I tell you the truth of what I saw that day. Suspended between heaven and earth, planted above the slave block was the price of my redemption…the Great Prince Himself.

He gave His life to redeem us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to what is right.” Titus 2:14