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Monday, January 3, 2011

A wonderful Christmas season

I suppose that it's become a tradition about now that we editorial writers offer some words of consideration regarding the end of the old year and the coming new one. Well, I certainly do not wish to break or run afoul of that tradition, so I'm going to pen a few thoughts along that line today for you to consider. And, in a sense I guess, we'll see one more instance where we can learn valuable spiritual lessons from our children.

Well, we here at the Covey house just had a wonderful Christmas season. The family gathered as usual. We had lots of laughs and reminisces. A great load of gifts were exchanged. The old dining room table was loaded with good food and I'm the only one that overate (as usual). I know these gatherings, in practicality, really can't be done all year 'round, but I wish they could. I wish the "Christmas atmosphere" would prevail everywhere all year 'round, but we know that won't happen either, don't we? Can't stop me from wishing though.

For our old year/new year lesson, I'd like to enlarge a bit on our recent event of gift-giving. I'd like offer you some thoughts on the giving and receiving of gifts. To sort of put this in proper perspective, what's the greatest gift ever given, thus the greatest gift ever received? My answer to that question constitutes the gist of our lesson.

The easy answer to that question is found in that most familiar verse, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...." God "loved" the crowning achievement of creation, mankind, so much that He gave man the greatest gift possible - His Son's life for man's salvation. There's a verse in Romans 5:8 that speaks directly to this thought of gift-giving and it tells us there that this gift of love was bestowed on us "while we were yet sinners..." That simply means that we hadn't been good and weren't deserving of such a gift.

But, there's another way of looking at this gift and the greatness of it. We got "Light." I'd like to pursue this concept about "light" and maybe I can connect some thoughts about the greatness of the gift of "light." Anyway, this is the gift I'd like to talk about for the rest of our time and space today. IE: The gift we should carry into and throughout this New Year.

To set the stage, so to speak, let's read some passages from the 1st chapter of John. If you read verses 4-9 you'll see that Jesus, God's "only begotten Son" was with Him from the very creation of man. That, at the appropriate time, God sent Him into the world, unto the "darkness" (man) to be "The Light" to lead man out of that "darkness." It also tells us there that the "darkness" didn't "recognize" the Light and the sad state of affairs is, that many still do not. They didn't and they don't, recognize the greatness of the gift that was given them.

But, you know what? There's an answer as to why that is so because we see in John 3:19 that "men loved darkness rather than light..." and that would be the reason they would be condemned. They loved this world and the evils within it more than they loved the gift given them that allows them to escape it. Notice what Jesus Himself said about this situation in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Now here's a little equation, maybe a segue if you will: Jesus tells us that He is "The Light." But then notice in John 12:36, we find out that those who do follow Him, who walk in the light, are "children of light." Why is that important to know here? Because of something the Apostle Paul tells us about the importance of being "children of light." Because we are so, we've been given the "light of the knowledge" of His Son. (2Cor. 4:6) Back a couple of verses (4) we find out that this "knowledge" is the "light of the glorious Gospel of Christ." I'd say that's pretty important, wouldn't you?

Actually, before we leave 2Cor. 4 and what Paul is telling us here, let's look at verse 7 in regards to our gift of light, of knowledge. Notice there how he characterizes this gift; as a "treasure." And where is this "treasure" left? In our hands. In "earthen vessels." As such, Paul tells us in Eph. 5:8 that "ye are the light of the Lord..." To use a common phrase, the "torch has been passed." Christians are the "children of light" because they "walk in the light" (1Jn 1:7). The "light" that they walk in is the "Gospel of Christ." And it's this "light" that has been left in their charge with which to "light" up the world.

In the 5th chapter of Matthew, Christ gives us more descriptors of Christians. Notice there, that along with being "the salt of the earth" (the preservers) they are "light of the world." Since we now understand exactly what that "light" is and what it means to Christians, we can more fully grasp what He says in verse 16 when he says that we should "let your light so shine before men..." He even gives us the purpose for letting our light shine: it's so the world "may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

That passage in Matt. 5:16 takes us back to something I mentioned at the outset of this lesson; that we might be able to see another spiritual lesson through our kids. When I go back over and consider all that we've talked about here today, I'm reminded of a most appropriate line of a song we're all familiar with. I don't think that I could have come up with a better close to our lesson than these words.....

                               "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine......"

Ron Covey

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