The Colors of Christmas

As you see the beautiful lights, colors and decorations this Christmas, think about the things of Christ and all He has given to us by His coming into the World. 

When you see the color, GREEN think of the eternal life God has given you in Christ.  The Advent Wreath is formed into a circle made of green boughs to symbolize the circle of eternal life that we have in Christ.  Just as the circle has no beginning and no end, so our life in Christ has no end.   The Christ-candle is placed in the center reminding us that Christ is to be the center of our lives as Christians.  When He is at the center of our lives, life is full and eternal.

RED is probably the second most common color of Christmas.  Some wreaths are made of holly that has green leaves and red berries.  The bright red berries stand out so beautifully against the dark green. When you see RED, think of the blood of Christ that gives us the eternal life we possess through our faith in Christ which is represented by GREEN.

Three of the candles on the Advent Wreath are usually PURPLE reminding us that the Baby born in that manger is the King of heaven and earth. This was prophesied in Psalms 2 where David wrote, For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen kingon the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”  – NLT.  The word for “Chosen King” in Hebrew is“Messiah” and in Greek “Christ”.  When the early Christians declared that “Jesus is Lord” in Roman times it was a declaration that Jesus Christ was the Ruler and King over all Creation.  Roman Caesars tried to claim this title for themselves, but they all died.  But Jesus, the King of all kings reigns forever. The increase of His Kingdom and His Peace will continue forever!  (See Isaiah 9:7)

Sometimes the Advent candles are BLUE instead of purple. Blue is a color that brings calm to our souls.  It symbolizes things like loyalty, wisdom, trust and strength.*  God’s plan to save us through the birth of tiny Infant laid in a manger and allow Him to die upon a cross, then rise again on the third day is foolishness to most people.  Yet the wisdom and strength of God is wiser than the wisest counsels of men.  Through that tiny Baby, Jesus grew and proved Himself to be the Messiah that was promised in the Scriptures.  By His sacrificial death and resurrection, He made eternal life available to everyone.  Jesus brings peace and calm to our souls.

The third candle we light on the Advent wreath is PINK and is called the “angel candle”.   Pink as a mixture of red and white is a color that reminds us caring and compassionate love. Some say unconditional love and understanding.*   We oftenuse it for little girls perhaps because they grow up to primary care-givers showing unconditional love for their children and their families.  For us it can represent the unconditional love and care that God has for all people as expressed in John 3:16-17 and announced by the angels to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.

WHITE, we see it in the snow of winter covering the ground like a blanket.  White represents purity.  In the Advent Wreath, the Christ candle is always white and always in the center. The white emphasizes the holiness and purity of Christ, the spotless Lamb of God without sin or blemish. Jesus imparts His purity to us through our faith in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Christ brings purity everyone who puts their faith in Him.  As 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” ­­–NLT.  Or as God said in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – NLT

GOLD is often used for ornaments, on Christmas cards, etc. As a precious metal it speaks of the tremendous worth of Christ.  Jesus the glorified Christ appeared in Revelation 14:14 wearing a crown of gold. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold, as were the walls of Solomon’s Temple.  We are told the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, will be made of gold as pure as glass, with streets of gold (Revelation 21:18-21).  Gold speaks to us of the tremendous wealth that God himself has reserved for us in heaven.  God is the giver of all good and perfect gifts and He desires to give us all of this. The goodness and value of His gift are beyond human measure. 

The colors ofthe Christmas season can remind us so much of the things God has freely given to us because of our faith in Christ. But we should not keep this joy to ourselves we must share this wonderful gift of salvation in Christ with all who are willing to listen.  As Zachariah said about his son, John the Baptist’s mission, so our mission as Christians is to “tell people how to find salvation through the forgiveness of their sins”.  Luke 1:77 NLT.

If you have not experienced the wonderful gift of Jesus, I invite you to do so this Christmas season.  Simply talk to Jesus (no you can’t see Him, but He is listening and watching) by faith.  Tell Him you are sorry for your sins and askHim to help you turn away from them.  (He will.)  Then follow him, trusting Him to lead you every step of the way.  Find a good Bible preaching church or group of Christians to help you grow in your faith.  Read the Bible, as it is the Word of God and it has the power to transform your life.

 *See, by Jacob Oleson.

The King is Coming!

This past Sunday was Christ the King Sunday which is followed by the Advent Season leading up to Christmas.  Jesus Christ is not merely some great teacher in ancient history; He is God in the flesh, the King of all Creation.  Jesus made it clear that the first time He came it was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world.  (See John 3:16-21).  This great salvation is obtained by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus made it clear that He would be crucified for the sins of the world but that on the third day after that He would rise from the dead.  He explained this many times to His disciples.

Jesus also made it clear that He was coming a second time to do away with evil and save the people waiting for Him.  In Matthew 24 He made it clear that the problems of the earth would get worse and worse and that the wickedness and evil in our world would greatly increase before His return.  He told us that people would be busy with their usual activities and His return would catch many unprepared.  Those who have refused to follow Christ and accept His gifts of forgiveness of sins and eternal life will suffer great wrath, while those who are following Christ in faith and obedience will experience great joy!

An encouragement and a warning is sent to the shepherds of God’s people in Matthew 24:45-51.  Those pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders, who are faithfully doing what Christ has called them to do will receive great rewards from Christ. But he warns those shepherds who are evil or who do what is evil, abusing God’s people, Christ will assign them a place of terrible punishment.  That day will come as a surprise to all, the only way to be ready is to be believing and doing all that Christ taught us to do and believe.

Christmas is a great time of joy because we welcome the Savior of the World in anticipation of His second coming.  He is God’s Savior for us and God’s chosen King to reign over us. He is coming.  How can you make sure you are ready for His return?  Jesussaid, “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” – Mark 1:15 NLT.  To receive the great salvation God is offering in Christ, we must turn away from, quit doing the things we know are wrong and anything the Bible says is wrong. Then we put our trust fully in Jesus Christ alone and His death and resurrection to forgive us our sins and to give us everlasting life in the heaven He is preparing for those who love Him.  Simply turn away from doing what is wrong, turn to Jesus asking Him to forgive you and make you a new person.  He has done it for millions of others, He will do it for you. God has blessed all of us by offer the gift of Jesus Christ to us, the Ultimate Christmas Present – that we should have forgiveness of sins and eternal life in His name.  King Jesus is coming again to deliver the fullness of God’s gift to us.

Things I Thank God For

  1. Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh who dwelt and dwells among us. Who brought us a Great Salvation.
    2. My loving and faithful wife Lois who has been with me a little over 41 years.
    3. My two wonderful children and their children as well. “Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
    Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
    How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!” – Psalms 127:3-5a.
    4. The Church, local and universal, the expression of God’s Kingdom and family here on earth.
    5. For the promise of a new heaven and new earth that Jesus Christ will bring at his Second Coming.

What things are you thankful for? Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Guarding Against Pride

In my lastpost I talked about the importance for Christians to guard our faith against the spiritual attacks that will come against us. Let’s consider pride as it is often self-generated.  I believe it was C. S. Lewis who said pride was the most dangerous of all sins.  As Christians we are to live under the authority of God’s Word.  However, pride in ourselves can set us up as judges as if we are standing over God’s Word. This pride can cross the whole spectrum of Christian theological beliefs. 

Among some professing Christians there is a tendency to deny entire sections of the Bible.  Some will throw out the entire Old Testament and the writings of Paul the Apostle. Some reject the idea of a Six-Day Creation, the Great Flood of Noah’s day, or the story of Jonah.  Yet Jesus clearly believed these teachings from the Old Testament and many others.  In fact he said, it was easier for heaven andearth to pass away than for one iota of the Law and the Prophets to pass away.  He came not to do away with the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17-19).   In our pride we should not be sitting injudgment as to which parts of the Bible we will believe and which we will not believe.

Among some professing Christians there is a tendency to add to the Scripture.  This is an equally big problem.  Often these people will add a host of regulations that they expect other Christians to adhere to.  Sometimes they will interpret certain portions of Scripture to say they are not valid for today, or they will forbid things the Scriptures clearly allow. Again, in pride they are acting as judges over the Scriptures in that they are saying the Scripture is not complete and they must add to it or change it somehow.

From the Articles of Religion of the denomination I serve, it says the Scriptures contain everything necessary for our salvation, nothing extra is to be required (Article V).  They also state that the Old Testament is not contrary to the New and that its moral laws are still binding upon all Christians (Article VI). These rules have been in place in Methodist Churches since 1808.  Other denominations may have similar statements.  Their purpose is to prevent us from becoming so proud in our own thinking that we sit in judgment over the Scripture.  Rather we should seek to understand it and apply it to our lives; we are not to reject any of it, nor are we to add to it, nor are we to reverse its meaning.

Pride seeks to justify ourselves in our own eyes, but one day we will give an account to God for our lives.  See Romans 14:12. So let us seek sincerely to live under the authority of God’s Word, enjoying its promises and obeying its commands.  God’s Word will never fail us.

The OCP: Delusions of Adequacy

This blog reveals some deep insights to the issues currently facing the United Methodist Church and the implications of some of the actions being considered.

People Need Jesus

by Chris Ritter

Legislation is now in the hands of the delegates for the most highly-discussed UM General Conference in living memory.  The One Church Plan (OCP) will arrive in St. Louis with the blessing of a majority of our bishops. They have stated what goes without saying:  It is “not perfect.”  A better question might be “Is it adequate?”  Is it an actual, serious, sober, and unifying solution that moves our denomination past its current morass to refocus us on mission and ministry?

Some bishops are now beginning to openly admit that the OCP does not live up to its marketing language and promises of unity.  The plan says that it protects the consciences of those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  In spite of these pat-on-the-head assurances, we have slim evidence that anyone holding to Jesus’ definition of marriage (Matt. 19…

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Standing Guard

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, they were free from the power of Egypt, but they still had battles to fight in the wilderness of the Sinai.  When they entered the Promised Land, they still had battles to fight.  The most important battles were spiritual in nature – fighting against: false gods, idols, corruption, immorality, and division.  God told the people in Leviticus 18, “I am the Lord your God. So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God.” -Lev. 18:2c-4 NLT.

The people of Egypt and the people of Canaan had been led astray by false gods into beliefs and practices that would lead them to destruction and death, both physically and spiritually.

Christians are engaged in the same spiritual warfare.  We face the same problems today as the newly freed people of Israel did.  Popular culture is being led astray by false gods and teachings that are destructive to our bodies and souls.  We see so much immorality and chaos in our world today because people are living apart from God.  They engage in a wide variety of behavior that is sinful in God’s sight, thinking they are free, only to find themselves held captive by those same sins.  The devil promises freedom but delivers enslavement to evil and self-destructive behavior.

How can we protect ourselves from being enslaved by sin?  How can we help others to find freedom from the power of sin?  As Christians we may not be able to stop the moral decay and destruction of our society, but we can try.  In doing so we will save ourselves and others.  The Church, which is made up of all true believers in Christ, is to point people to Christ – calling them to repent of their sins and turn in faith to Christ to forgive their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness.

We have the Word of God and we have the Spirit of God.  We must stay strong in our commitment to Christ and be alert to the weapons of the enemy, for we know his attacks will come.  Often the enemy attacks in ways we least expect, like a submarine torpedoing a ship in the dark of night.  He seeks to make this life miserable and to bring us to eternal damnation and separation from God.  We need to guard our faith carefully.

The Transforming Power of Jesus

In Philippians 4:2-9 we are called to rejoice in the Lord.  The Apostle Paul was being held as a prisoner in Rome at the time he wrote this.  There is a lot of bad things in our world today.  It was the same in Paul’s day.  Immorality was rampant in the Roman empire, Nero was the emperor and was a very evil man.  In the midst of this Paul calls us to rejoice in the Lord.

No matter how bad our world gets, we know it will not last, for Christ has conquered all the forces of evil through the power of the cross.  He died so that people might be forgiven on their sins.  But there is more!  When we put our faith in Jesus he transforms our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.  Once transformed we desire to do the things that please our Lord.  We desire to do what is right and good in God’s sight, we have a love placed in our hearts for God and others, and that love is especially strong between believers.  It is a love that takes action: seeking to meet the real needs we all have.  The New Testament refers to this transformation as the new birth.  It is something God does in us when we place our trust fully in Jesus Christ.

But we have an additional reason for our joy.  We are looking forward to the restoration of God’s world on the day of Christ’s return.  In that day the veil of death will be torn away and the dead in Christ will rise never to perish or suffer again.  We know this will happen because Jesus promised this and proved he can do by his own resurrection from the dead.

If you’d like more information on how you can experience this same life changing power in Christ, I invite you to listen to and believe the words of Jesus.  He said in Mark 1:15, “The right time has come, and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!” (Good News Translation) You are also free to contact me through various avenues included in the venues that this post occurs.