Christmas Lights and Jonah’s Gourd

 

 “So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” Jonah 4:6

24852525_10215477430155882_3326722355540250083_nChristmas lights—a source of great delight and fierce frustration! I’m sure you’ve all experienced the irritation of placing LIT lights on your tree or around the highest point of your house, only to descend the ladder, look up, and see a section that is not working!  So was the case at the MacAvoy household this year.  After pitching three half-lit strands of lights, I finally got the tree completely illuminated; however, the following week while serenely sipping coffee and reading my Bible beside the tree (what ambiance!), I noticed a flicker of light in my peripheral vision. When I looked over at the tree, I saw the lights go on and off once again in a section of the tree!

They stayed unlit for a few days until I had a chance to check it out. When I did, I felt like someone working for their salvation.  Surely, if I pull out each darkened bulb and replaced it, checking to make sure that all the wires were intact, God would reward my efforts.  As in Naaman’s situation, God waited until that last bulb before intervening, but when I pulled out that bulb the rest of the lights came to life! I looked at the empty socket, and then at the bulb in my hand! A miracle!

The following morning I was talking to God, praising Him and thanking Him for the blessing of the previous day, when I remembered the lights. With “exceeding gladness,” I thanked Him for lighting my tree!

Isn’t that just like Jonah? He was so glad that God took pity on him and make a vine to shield him from the hot rays of the sun. He did not thank Him for having pity on the eternal souls of men, including himself, but rather was overwhelmed with joy because of physical comfort.

The Lord’s challenge for me this Christmas season is this:

 Can I look past the pressing things, the daily trials, and the difficult circumstances, and focus on the blessings and needs of those around me?

To do so takes extra time which is already limited at this time of year, but so many of our friends and families desperately need to see Jesus in a tangible way! So, do the extraordinary for Christmas. Think out of the box.  After all, Jesus left the dazzling perfection of heaven to be entombed in Mary’s womb, to undergo the pangs of labor, and to surround His deity with the scent of barn animals and smelly shepherds. Can’t I do something extraordinary for Him for His birthday?

And, by the way… “Doest thou well to be angry [with the Christmas lights] (Jonah 4:9)?”  🙂

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12 Days to Celebrate

Every year, I ask the Lord for something insightful–something I may not have seen before about this special time of the year. This year, He gave me several blessings!

I came across these words for “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I’m not certain of their origin, but some claim that, as was so often the case, the words were cryptic and used to teach biblical truths during a time of persecution. If true, how special and meaningfully crafted were these words!

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A partridge is a small bird, quite defenseless; however, like many small birds, they will fight to the death against much larger foul to protect their young.  I’m so glad that I have no foe bigger or more powerful than our God! The pear tree brings forth fruit.  Think of all the “fruit” our Lord has produced because of His great sacrifice on the tree!

Two turtle doves, perfectly matched, work together not only to build their nest but to care for their young. How beautifully the Old Testament and New Testament complement each other, giving us security and nourishment!

Hens produce one of the most valued ingredients in baking: eggs! While most bread recipes, a staple food, do not take eggs, cookie or dessert recipes are limited without these oval gems! Faith, hope, and love are some of the main ingredients in our lives, and because of them, we are able to have a sweet walk with the Lord and others.

The “calling” birds were originally the Colly bird, which is a black, nondescript songbird. And is there any better symbol of what the Gospels do? They tell the story of our dear Savior, and, in the process, the Gospel goes forth calling out the Good News that Jesus saves. Often, the most effective messenger for our Lord is the quiet, still, small voice which goes forth without much pomp or glamour!

The Pentateuch: five books which contain our history from the Creation account to the completion of Israel’s wilderness wandering. They are foundational, and like five golden rings, they link together to tell us about our rich heritage as well as our promised future!

Geese a-laying–once again we see the beginning of life. What better image for creation?

Swimming swans–From Isaiah 11;1,2 “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;”and piety (derived from the following verses), the gifts of a Spirit-filled life are portrayed by the power and graceful swan. And is there a more beautiful image than a swan gracefully swimming through water? As born-again believers, we go forward, showing forth a beautiful testimony when we “put on” these gifts from the Holy Spirit which become available to us at our spiritual birth.

Maids a-milking conjure up images of hardworking women.  The idea of a fruitful life–one which is truly blessed when we practice each of the beatitudes–is portrayed as working maidens. Ladies, if we parallel the Trinity with the home, the only Person left to represent Mother is the Holy Spirit. Just like that daily milking that would begin the day of a milkmaid, we must drink from the Word every day if we wish to grow these nine fruits!

Leaping lords! Walking lords? Running lords? No, leaping! This image shouts of joy, and truly the commandments of God bring joy to our lives. I often quote Proverbs 13:15b, “… the way of transgressors is hard.” But these lords are leaping because of the first half of the verse: “Good understanding giveth favor.” Although life can be hard, living “by the Book” not only gives us strength for the day by puts a hop in our step!

Ladies dancing–Another picture of grace. When ladies dance together, as in a ballet or 18th-century minuet, the effect is beautiful. As one, they move, not drawing attention to the individual but to the collective motion. Think of nine ladies–love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, all working together to bring praise and glory to God. And where is this dance being performed? In your heart, dear friend!

Drummer–the percussion section of any band or orchestra gives a pulse to the music. Pulse means life. What is our life–our true, spiritual life? Is it not our beliefs? Here they are summed up for us in the Apostles’ Creed:

  1. I believe in God the Father almighty;
  2. and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
  3. Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
  4. Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
  5. on the third day rose again from the dead,
  6. ascended into heaven,
    sits at the right hand of the Father,
  7. whence he will come to judge the living and the dead;
  8. and in the Holy Spirit,
  9. the holy Church, the communion of saints
  10. the remission of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the flesh,
  12. and life everlasting.

Who is the One who gives us all these gifts? Our True Love! So… Whether a tool to teach children their catechisms or a reminder of the blessings of our great Christian heritage, I hope when you hear this tune, it will be a blessing! Merry, meaningful Christmas!