Ugly Christmas Sweaters

For many years, my mother-in-law would give me a sweater for Christmas. Those sweaters were usually purchased at what I would call “an older ladies’ shop” and definitely spoke of my mother-in-law’s tastes rather than mine. I knew that she bought them in love so, in love, I would wear them at Christmas and if I went to a family dinner at their home.

As the years went by, I began to dread that flat rectangular box under the Christmas tree as it invariably held, what was for me, an “ugly Christmas sweater”. They weren’t really “ugly”, but a fuzzy, mint green sweater embellished with pearls, lace and sequins just wasn’t “de rigueur” for a gal in her twenties and early thirties.

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Nowadays, ugly Christmas sweaters (those truly tacky Christmas themed ones) are all the rage. There are craft parties where everyone gathers together to make their own. And the traditional family Christmas photo shoot now features everyone wearing a different ugly Christmas sweater.

These sweaters feature reindeer with big red noses, fat Santas, frosty snowmen, gingerbread houses, Christmas trees, etc. Some even have lights and bells!

Snowflake sweater clipartGingerbread Man Clipart

But, I must say that I have yet to see a Christmas sweater which features anything related to the true meaning of Christmas – that of the birth of Jesus.

When Jesus was born, he had his own version of a Christmas sweater. His mother wrapped him in “swaddling clothes”, according to the tradition of that time.

Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 

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Swaddling clothes described in the Bible consisted of a cloth tied together by bandage-like strips. After an infant was born, the umbilical cord was cut and tied, and then the baby was washed, rubbed with a small amount of salt and oil, and then with its legs together, and its arms at its side, it is wound around tightly with linen or cotton bandages four to five inches wide, and five to six yards long. These strips kept the newborn child warm and also ensured that the child’s limbs would grow straight.

The oriental swaddling-clothes consist of a square of cloth and two or more bandages. The child is laid on the cloth diagonally and the corners are folded over the feet and body and under the head, the bandages then being tied so as to hold the cloth in position.

In the book “Light Through an Eastern Window”, author Bishop K.C. Pillai states that wrapping the baby’s limbs in a straight position was a sign to God that the parents would raise the child to be straightforward before the Lord. The baby is left wrapped for a short time only while the parents pray and make vows to God concerning the raising of the child.

The salt rubbed into the child could have had several functions:

  1. To cleanse and strengthen the baby’s skin
  2. To prevent the souring of the swaddling clothes
  3. To symbolize spiritual cleansing and purification
  4. To indicate that the parents would teach the child to be truthful. In Eastern cultures, salt symbolized the virtues of truth and honesty and was used to make “salt covenants” which meant that the parties concerned could not lie or break their vow.

When the angel told the shepherds to go and find the new born Christ, the angel gave them a couple of important visual clues, one of which was that the baby would be wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Luk 2:9 – 11 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.

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I think that God mentioned swaddling clothes for a reason. The entire procedure of swaddling is very symbolic. The salt washing of the infant Jesus was a symbol of his purity and that he would grow up to tell “The Truth”.

2Co 5:21 For He [God] has made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Joh 18:37 Pilate then said to Him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say it that I am a king. To this end I was born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.

Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.

The oil symbolizes that Jesus was God’s anointed son.

Act 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all those who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.

The wrapping of the baby Jesus’ arms and legs in a straight position symbolized that Jesus would walk straight (true) before God.

Mar 1:11 And there came a voice from Heaven, saying, You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

So what is the “well-dressed” person wearing for Christmas this year? My hubby and I have a tradition of wearing brand new Christmas pj’s – all day.

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Whatever your Christmas outfit may be, I hope that underneath it all, we will all be wearing swaddling clothes – pure, straight and true for God.

Blessings

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Silver and Gold

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Recently, my step-kids were up for a visit. While here, they enjoyed watching a semi-marathon of Christmas movies with their Dad. One of the movies was the 1964 Rankin/Bass production of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – a real classic! Burl Ives is the voice of the chubby, cheerful snowman who sings a song called, “Silver and Gold”. My step-daughter said that she hated that song because she thought that it was promoting materialism and the love of riches. I decided to check out the lyrics for myself to see if her comment was accurate. Here is the first part of the song:

Silver and gold, silver and gold
Ev’ryone wishes for silver and gold
How do you measure its worth?
Just by the pleasure it gives here on earth

I think I can understand where her opinion comes from. The song does say that silver and gold is only worth the pleasures that they can bring. However, I think that she is misunderstanding the context. Rather than meaning the riches are to be used for selfish pleasures, I believe our chubby, cheerful snowman friend is saying that wealth and riches aren’t really worth anything unless they are spent on blessing other people – on giving others pleasure.

 God made silver and gold:
Psa 104:24 O Jehovah, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your riches.
So it can’t be a bad thing to own some. But like everything else that God has given to us, it is how we regard riches and what we do with it them that is important.
You can be one of the wealthiest people on Earth and still be the most bankrupt in the areas of love, grace, wisdom, mercy, etc. Conversely, you could be materially poor but rich in those same areas – the areas that really matter.
Pro 13:7 There are those who act rich, yet have nothing; and those who act poor, yet have great riches.
Accumulating wealth for the express purpose of keeping it for yourself is not good for you.
Ecc 5:12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep.
Ecc 5:13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for their owners to their hurt.
Ecc 5:14 But those riches perish by evil use.
We are told that we are not supposed to be hoarding our wealth.
Mat 6:19 Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.
Rather, we have been instructed to share it or give it away.
Mat 5:42 Give to him who asks of you, and you shall not turn away from him who would borrow from you.
Mat 19:21 Jesus said to him, If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven. 
God wants us to give happily and with love in our hearts.
2Co 9:7 … God loves a cheerful giver.
We never lose by giving. In fact, giving brings great blessings.
Luk 6:38 Give, and it shall be given to you, good measure pressed down and shaken together and running over, they shall give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you measure, it shall be measured to you again.
I think that we have made a serious error with our children in regards to Christmas. We train them to focus on the “silver and gold” things they want to get rather than teaching them that Christmas is about giving. Christmas is all about God giving us His son, Jesus. In turn, Jesus gave us himself, by laying down his life for us, and in so doing, he gave us the greatest gifts of all – forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
We need to teach our children, by example, that at Christmas time, in fact, at all times, it is much better to spend our “silver and gold” on blessing others and bringing others pleasure, rather than accumulating “treasure” for ourselves.
Act 20:35 I have shown you all things, that working in this way we ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Blessings

A Letter From Jesus

I was going through some of my archived emails and I found the following message. I thought that the “letter” had quite a few important things to say so I thought that I would share it here. (I am not sure who originally wrote it so I apologize if I have stopped on someone’s copyright toes. I have made a few changes.)

Letter from Jesus about Christmas

It has come to My attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. 
I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the Prime Minister complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless?  Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a”Merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary– especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My
name.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them,
buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about
your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget, I am Jesus and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work, time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

In What Do We Hope?

1Pe 3:15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear;

If somebody were to ask you, ‘in what is your hope’, what would your answer be?

“Do we hope in hope?” This is a question Dr. Del Takett posed in one of the sessions of Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project .

If you read my last post What Is Hope? you will learn that hope means “a desire of something good with the expectation or belief that it is obtainable”. So to say that we hope in hope would mean that we are desiring something good with the expectation that it is obtainable, in the desire of something good with the expectation or belief that it is obtainable. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

So, what are we, as Christians, to have hope in? And just what are we to hope for?

Act 2:26 Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue was glad; and also My flesh shall rest in hope,

One thing I do know, if I didn’t have faith in Jesus Christ, I would have no hope and nothing to put my hope in. The Bible tells us that when people are without Christ, they are without hope.

Eph 2:12 and that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

The key to having true hope is having belief in God and in His son, Jesus Christ, who he is and what he accomplished for us.

1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father,

1Ti 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the command of God our Savior, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

1Pe 1:21 those believing in God through Him, He who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope might be in God.

So we are to put our hope in God and Jesus; but, what is it that we can hope for?

Eph 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

We hope for grace (unmerited favour from God)

1Pe 1:13 Therefore girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope for the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

We hope for righteousness (being in right standing with God).

Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness out of faith.

We hope for glory (dignity and honour).

Col 1:27 For to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

We hope for salvation.

1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet.

We hope for eternal life.

Tit 1:2 on hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the eternal times,

Tit 3:7 that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

We hope for purification.

1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
1Jn 3:3 And everyone who has this hope on him purifies himself, even as that One is pure.

Our hope is not dead. Our hope is not in dead things or dead people. Our hope is in a resurrected and living Saviour!

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Our hope in God and Jesus is not a weak and changeable thing – our hope is sure and steady.

Heb 6:18 so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us,
Heb 6:19 which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil,

I pray that you will be filled with this hope.

Rom 15:13 And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings