We are such visual people, and rightly so. It does matter how things look. Decorating is important. We break down to build better, design and decorate to adorn our environment and ourselves. I find much pleasure in the creative and artistic of this world.
Christmas is an opportunity to go overboard. A bit on the too-much-side could be quite acceptable. Golden balls, ribbons and bows, red in all its hues, forest green plus the alternatives of silver, blue and white are everywhere. Christmas is to be seen in our homes and businesses, lighting up the darkest month of the year. The music plays and the bells ring out – where is your heart in all this?
To the old Hebrews, the heart of a human being was the core of existence. Everything came from the heart. Modern medical science taught us that our brain is the ruling organ, but just the other day neurologists discovered that the heart has a “little brain” that sends messages to the brain. [It was mentioned in a lecture by Dr Caroline Leaf, a neurologist and popular speaker on the wonders of the human brain.] It is very interesting to progressively know more about the marvels of a human being.
It is one thing to study the wonders of our body science, but quite another to study the spiritual implication of our humanity. I think every person knows what a heart looks like, just by noticing the pictures in the consulting rooms of our family doctor. But what about that spiritual heart, where our deep decision-making compass is situated.
Centuries ago God said to Samuel:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. Forthe Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
We can decorate any which way we want, but we cannot change our hearts. This privilege belongs to the Holy Spirit that comes in on invitation for a complete renewal and revival in our inner being. God created all of us with intelligence and gifts. It is our choice how to apply it all to life, for good or for bad. That choice determines our inner being.
The message of Christmas is that the good has overcome evil. The worst of this life can be redeemed and overturned to be positive and constructive. God makes us lovely, a beautiful word defined as that which calls forth love.
Our inner being, under the control of the Holy Spirit, calls forth love – to God and to those around us. This is the true message of Christmas.
Love is the message; therefore, love should be our priority. God’s word has a lot to say about priorities. Love is the compass to setting priorities.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ(Philippians 1:9,10)
Discernment is driven by love – truly living a life of excellence. Love will change our inner being and give us a Word-powered life.
Take note for a moment how Paul describes the unbeliever.
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19)
This is indeed a dark description of an inner being!
We are not so. We are made new by the Holy Spirit. We look different on the inside.
…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23,24)
After Ezra had returned from Babylon, the former exiles started the renovations to the Temple in Jerusalem with great enthusiasm. They repaired the altar first. [Pebbles 37 and 38]
Initially there was hostility against the restoration from neighbouring enemies, but prayer and courage broke down the resistance. Two decades pass and still the Temple is not done. The people are building their own houses in the city. The result is drought and recession. (Haggai 1:9-11)
Haggai is called by God to summon the people back to prioritizing.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5)
The people obey and finish the Temple-work in less than a month. The drought and recession end.
This history is written for us as a lesson in priorities. Today we do not build a physical building, but we build the invisible Temple of Worship in the Kingdom of God on earth.
Where is your heart, Pebble pal? Do you feel the drought in you and around you? Test your heart and consider your priorities whether you do perhaps need a course correction to make the Temple the most important project in your life. The Holy Spirit will do this in you if you invite him to do so.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…(Ephesians 4:20-22)
The Temple in us is a much better deal than the physical Temple that the people had to maintain so many centuries ago. God planned the glory of the second Temple to far surpass the first.
This is the message of Christmas. Jesus came to give us the best, much better than ever in history. Think creatively to make Christmas a beacon of hope and Holy Spirit priorities.