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Ready to Shine!

Read: Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 5:14-16

I know it is a bit early, but if I may, I'd like to share a couple of Christmas thoughts.

First, this week had some very pleasant autumn days. It was so nice that my husband took advantage of the above average temperature and hung the Christmas lights on the deck. It is not even Thanksgiving, but I said nothing because of a time years ago that was when I suggested he wait until December to do this task. Needless to say, he ended up having to hang the lights on an unpleasantly cold day. Lesson learned. I am no longer giving advice concerning the best time to "Dec the Halls." Now the lights are up and ready to shine when we decide the time is right.

Second, I read an article this morning concerning what Christmas will be like in Bethlehem this year. There will be no festive public displays. The article said that people are angry and sad and that it is not a time for festivities, however prayers and services will be permitted. Surely, there is sorrow wherever we look this year, but praise God! This is only one chapter in the story of the little town of Bethlehem and all over this world, and I was reminded that there are still lights in Bethlehem. According to the article 10 percent of Bethlehem's residents are Christians, and we know what Jesus said about His children. We and those in Bethlehem are lights. Displays of God's grace that cannot be taken down. Displays of God's love who are ready to shine where He has placed us, Matthew 5:14-16. Yes, it is true that glittering lights with their beautiful colors are a fun and festive part of many Christmas celebrations, but when we don't hide our lights under a basket we point to the One True Light, John 8:12. What an honor to have the privilege of doing so.

Let's look briefly at a time when Jesus left His light where He Himself had been asked to leave. What a story we have in Mark 5:1-20. Jesus had no more stepped out of the boat when He was met by a man who was possessed by demons. Talk about a broken life. This unnamed man lived in torment. He spent his time crying out and cutting himself with stones, and he ran right to Jesus asking what the Master had to do with him. He had previously been chained, but he broke the shackles each time. Can we imagine the joy he felt when Jesus set him free! Mark 5:15-20 tells us about the dramatic change.

When we meet him again after the deliverance, he is clothed and sitting peacefully at Jesus' feet. No wonder, though the people whose pigs had perished by drowning wanted Jesus to leave, the man made whole longed to go with the Savior. What a beautiful answer Jesus gave him. The Lord said no; instead, Jesus wanted him to go to his friends and tell them what God had done for him. To borrow words from the earlier thoughts. Jesus wanted him to shine his light. Jesus wanted him to tell his story and give glory and honor to the Lord right at home!

How this man's light surely shone in the darkness. If you will, his life was a beautiful display that highlighted God's love. More wondrous and brilliant than thousands of twinkling lights. It is the same in our lives. The miracle of new birth, John 3:3, highlights God's grace which is lovelier than even the most beautiful Christmas display! The people could send Jesus away, but they couldn't keep His love from shining through this man's changed life. No, we don't know what God did through him, but he was told by Jesus to showcase God's love.

The last verse of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" is a prayer that Jesus' light will break through the darkness that seems so thick:

"O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Decend to us, we pray.

Cast out our sin, and enter in,

Be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels,

The great glad tidings tell.

Oh come to us, abide with us,

Our Lord Emmanuel!"

May Jesus display His light in Bethlehem and also here at home. May we be like the delivered demoniac. Ready to tell others, all that God has done for us.

Lord, Help us to be ready and eager to shine. Thank You for the honor of showing and telling others what You are like.

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