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Monday, November 16, 2009

It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year! ~~ Let's Remember the Real Reason

Well, the season is upon us...Thanksgiving and all things to be thankful for and the Most Glorious Holiday...Christmas. During all the hustle and bustle of preparing food, shopping, planning, cleaning, the list just goes go on and on, do any of us really stop to realize what we are doing all this for? While I am the first to admit that my priorities are not in the correct order each and every day, I also know the order they SHOULD be in. My daily devotion this day struck me where it hurts!!

Exodus 20:3-6, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (NIV)
Are there really 330 million gods and goddesses in the Hindu religion? How can that be true? I began to think surely that number was made up by some cynical Christian, but as I read through a secular source the number was confirmed.There were idols of gods and goddesses everywhere in Calcutta,India. There are idols at the entrance to the hotels, at the archways into dining rooms and in booths all along the streets. Everything had religious significance. From fashion—the dots on women's foreheads and the bangles on their arms,to transportation, where the drivers have a goddess on their dashboard for safety. Suddenly you begin to understand how there could be so many gods and goddess, everything within sight and senses has an idol attached to it.
This was hard to process for American's raised in a culture that is mostly monotheistic. You can feel a little tug of pride until you realize the idols of our own country: wealth, leisure, youthfulness, work, children, power. The idols that surround us in America may be invisible. There may not be temples built to them with a beautifully sculpted statue in the center where offerings and sacrifices are laid. But America definitely has idols.
The Christian pastors in Calcutta explain that it is difficult to share the Gospel of Jesus with Hindus. Many times a Hindu will respond receptively to the Good News of Jesus with this sort of response, "Sure, I'll accept Jesus and add Him to all my other household gods and goddesses." It's difficult for a Hindu to understand and accept Jesus as the One and Only, so the pastors preach about the uniqueness of Christ.
In Calcutta, there is beautiful ceremony of baptism for new Indian believers. The new Christians line up their idols at the edge of the baptismal pool. They turn their backs on the idols to be baptized, and then the idols are disposed of. The exquisite symbolism of this practice pierced my heart.
I ask myself, Have I turned my back on my idols? Have I trusted and believed in Jesus more than anything else in my life? Do I value Christ as uniquely sufficient, or have I just added Him to my list of comforts and priorities?

This is a great time of year to RE-prioritize our lives. Be Thankful for Jesus Christ who died for me and you, if it weren't for him we wouldn't be able to be thankful for ANYTHING; our freedom, families, friends, etc. during this Thanksgiving Season (& all year long). As for Christmas, well I hope you know (or have heard) the story of a virgin mother delivering the best gift anyone could have asked for, who later paid a price and died to save a wretched soul like me and you! Please remember the REAL reason for the Season we are entering and pass it along to someone who may need to hear it! You never know who may be in need of an AWESOME story that will change their life.

So please take a look at your calendar, the lists and plans you have during this holiday season and see where your priorities are. It is gut wrenching to see it on paper when your priorities aren't in check! Mine certainly waiver as does everyone else's but I will promise to look at things differently as I remember the REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON!

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