Christmas Countdown Day 9: Hands of Jesus

Lauren and Jackson display their unique wreaths, made of their hand prints.

Lauren and Jackson display their unique wreaths, made of their hand prints.

Our Advent Scripture passage for Day 9 is John 1:1-8.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man named John
who was sent from God.
He came as a witness
to testify about the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but he came to testify about the light.

Just as John, we are witnesses of God’s light in our lives. We are God’s hands, His feet, His arms of love, forgiveness and grace to those around us.

To remind us of our mission, we made hand wreaths, as we are the hands of God. We enjoyed putting together our one-of-a-kind creations!

Matt cuts out hand prints and Jackson works on the glue.

Matt cuts out hand prints, and Jackson works on the glue.

Lauren traces the center of her wreath with markers.

Lauren traces the center of her wreath with markers.

Today, consider how God wants to use you to shine His light into the heart of a family member, friend or neighbor, so they can see and experience the great love of Jesus this Christmas. Reach out your hands and communicate the Messiah has come!

Christmas Countdown Day 8: On Parade

Our Advent Scripture for Day 8 was Malachi 3:1-6.

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.

“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

Saturday afternoon, we headed into town to watch the Christmas Parade. Parades are magical places for kids, where candy rains from the sky, horses stride majestically in the streets, and fire trucks blast their horns when you pump your arm. We happened to be toward the beginning of the parade, and Jackson and Lauren scored bags full of candy. In fact, people around us being pummeled with candy kept adding to the kids’ plastic sacks.

Jackson and Lauren look eagerly at the next parade float, hoping to catch more candy.

Jackson and Lauren look eagerly at the next parade float, hoping to catch more candy.

When we returned home and put them down for naps before a sugar high kicked in, Matt and I assessed the candy. First, I separated any chocolate, because, well, that’s for me! 🙂 (There was only one piece of chocolate in the entire haul, so don’t think I had a feast!) Then, we pulled out all the gum and hard candies we won’t let the kids eat. Finally, the rest was sifted through to determine if it would be eaten or just sit in the bowl for several months. Probably a third of the candy ended up in the trash.

When God sent John the Baptist ahead of His Son, He gave John a very specific mission: to prepare the way for Christ. He was to sift the hearts of the people, helping them to repent and ready themselves for the Messiah. He urged them to examine their lives, bringing their sins out into the open so they would realize their need for forgiveness.

As we approach Christmas, it is time for us to examine where we stand before God and expect the arrival of Jesus. He is ready and waiting with forgiveness and sweet communion when we take that step of faith toward Him.

Just like a child, we want to to keep and eat all our candy from the parade. Instead, allow God to step in and throw out what could hinder you from becoming all He created you to be. Let Him refine and purify your life.

Then enjoy the blessings (and mini candy canes) that follow!