Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Treasure Chest

The smell of cedar rose up from the open lid.  I drew a deep breath, inhaling the woody fragrance.  There were so many things inside!  My grandmother had taken me over to her cedar chest, to retrieve something.  She had her treasures stored in there for many years.  Things from her past, that meant something special to her heart.  The chest was a special place that she could go, to remember precious moments from days gone by. 

That memory has stayed with me for over 40 years. Although I've always wanted one, I have never purchased a cedar chest.  For some reason, the longing for one of my own has been strong for the last few months.  Steve asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year.  I told him.  He said, "Let's see what we can find."  We looked around, and God provided a beautiful secondhand one...for a VERY reasonable price.  I now have a place to store memories...and one day share them with my own granddaughters.

Now, I have to think of what to put in there!  What are my treasures?  The things that I'll put in there will not be expensive items.  There's a wooden box that holds two decks of cards.  It was my parents'.  The box reminds me of an ongoing card game that they played throughout their marriage.  The score sheet is still in the box.  They've both been gone for almost 20 years, and the box stays the same...a reminder of a strong bond that stood the test of time.  There are things that belonged to my children...a girl scout uniform, baby clothes/shoes and special school projects.

Treasures.  We all have them.  They reside in a special place in our heart.  They mean a lot to us, and we hold them close.  Jesus knew about treasures of the heart.  He thought it important enough to teach us about what's really valuable.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

The treasures that reside in our hearts.  It can be a lot of different things.  Valuables...Money...Esteem... Sometimes we can get confused as to what is really essential in life.  What we deem as necessary can lead to 'heart' disease.  It can possibly result in a type of 'heart' failure.  If we focus too closely on what we own, we can lose sight of heavenly wealth.  Jesus knew that this was a human tendency.  He knew that we can get caught up in our 'things', that aren't going to last.  We can place them in our hearts, and they can grow, like weeds, choking the life out of them.  He encourages us to store our treasures in heaven.  How can we do that?  By setting our sights on the things that He thought were important...the poor...The lonely...The forgotten.  For when we focus on 'the least of these'  we focus on Him.  These are the things that will endure for a lifetime...and beyond.

So while it's fine to store away some memories...don't forget to give your true treasures to Jesus!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

That's What Christmas Is All About


Like many people, one of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  I've watched it practically every year since it's debut in 1965.  I think I only missed it about 3 or 4 times, since I was five years old.

Every year it's the same thing.  Charlie Brown looks into his empty mailbox, receives no respect from the actors he's trying to direct and is ridiculed for his choice in a Christmas tree.  He feels alone and depressed.  All around him is the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and he doesn't enjoy it at all.  What's it all about, anyway? 

Then his close friend Linus tells him.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
   And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
   And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
   For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
   And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
   And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
   Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  Luke 2: 8-14 

Christmas wasn't about decorations, presents or Christmas cards.  It wasn't about the music, the play or the Christmas Queen.  It was about the God in the manger.  The God that loved us enough to become one of us.  The God that wanted to transform our lives and one day give us the ultimate renewal.

We are like that tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree...outwardly insignificant and worthless.  But as Linus said, "All it (we) needs is a little love."  God offers us that love.  To Him, we aren't worthless at all.  To Him, we are worth dying for.  That's why He came to us as a tiny baby, to one day die on the cross for us.  Once we accept that Love of God we are transformed, as that little tree, into something beautiful.  We don't do the changing...God does it.  He gives us an extreme makeover...from the inside out.  The beauty of the Presence of God in our heart shines forth outwardly.  We are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Reach out to accept the best Gift, this Christmas.  It doesn't cost a thing.  His name is Jesus.

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