22 Days Until Christmas!
Song: “Who Would Imagine a King,” by Whitney Houston (from “The Preacher’s Wife”)
Christmas Album:“Adore,” by Chris Tomlin
Christmas DVD: “The Shop Around the Corner”
Netflix Movie: “The Nightmare Before Christmas
Amazon Prime Movie: Lawrence Welk Christmas Shows
Feeln Movie: “Mr. St. Nick”
• AAC Championship Game, Temple at Navy, noon
• C-USA Championship Game, Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky, noon
• SEC Championship Game, Alabama vs. Florida, 4 p.m.
• “Every Christmas Has a Story,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “A Gift Wrapped Christmas,” 6 p.m., Lifetime
• “Arthur Christmas,” 6:45 p.m., FreeForm
• “Merry Kissmas,” 7 p.m., ION
• “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 8 p.m., NBC
• MWC Championship Game, San Diego State at Wyoming, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
• ACC Championship Game, Clemson vs. Virginia Tech at Orlando, 8 p.m., ABC
• Big Ten Championship Game, Penn State vs. Wisconsin at Indianapolis, 8 p.m., FOX
• “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., AMC
• “You’ve Got Mail,” 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., WE
• “A Dream of Christmas,” 8 p.m, Hallmark
• “A Firehouse Christmas,” 9 p.m., ION
• “Elf,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” 9 p.m., USA
• “The Mistletoe Promise,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
• “Home By Christmas,” 10:02 p.m., Lifetime
• “Christmas in Vermont,” 11 p.m., ION
Recipe: Cocoa Thumbprints
Quick Thought for Christmas
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ”
Most of us think about gifts in terms of things that come in boxes covered with shiny wrapping paper and finished with a bow. But sometimes, the best gifts aren’t things you can buy in a store. They’re things that you can’t value with a dollar amount, and they’re given sacrificially from the heart.
Often, those gifts will be the perfect thing given at the perfect time. No other gift will do at that moment, because that gift is the one thing that “saves the day.” Here’s a story that should give you an idea of exactly what I’m talking about.
Imagine a bridge that crossed a wide river. This was an old style of bridge, not like the ones near my home in Jacksonville, Fla. Those bridges were built high so that ships could pass underneath them without being raised. No, this bridge turned from the center sideways so that boats could pass on either side of it. The only time that ever changed was when a train was coming. Then, the switchman would pull his switch, and the bridge would turn into place. If he didn’t do his job, the train would hurtle off the tracks and into the river.
One day, as he waited for the last train of the day to come, the switchman saw its lights in the distance, and he did his job. But as he pulled the switch, he saw that, though the bridge turned as it was supposed to, it didn’t lock into position. That was just as bad as if the bridge hadn’t turned, because the unlocked bridge would jump under the weight of the train, and the train would jump the tracks into the river anyway. Every life on the train depended on what he did next.
Without a second thought, the switchman jumped into action and ran across the bridge to the other side of the river. There, he found the manual switch that he could pull and hold as the train crossed. The catch was that he had to stay in place the entire time, putting all of his weight onto the lever to hold the switch in place.
Just then, the man heard the sound of his son’s voice. The boy had decided to look for his father. Because he didn’t find him where he usually was on the other side of the bridge, he was now crossing the bridge, calling out as he walked. “Daddy, where are you?” he cried. The switchman was horrified. He so desperately wanted to run and pick up his son and carry him to safety. But if he did, the life of every person on the train would be lost. The roar of the train was so close that the boy couldn’t hear his father calling to him to run to safety. So all the poor switchman could do was hold on to the lever tightly, crying as the train rushed over the bridge, crushing his son instantly as it passed.
The passengers on that train might never have known about the gift they were given that day by the switchman. He had sacrificed his son’s life so that all of them could live. And his gift – holding that lever in spite of what he was losing – was the only remedy for the tragic fate that awaited them if he hadn’t done that.
Each of us has a situation that faces us. Our sinful imperfections keep us separated from a perfect God. But with ultimate love, He gave us the only gift that could bridge that gap – the life of His Son as a substitute. As a loving Father, He undoubtedly felt unbelievable pain when Jesus’ life was claimed on the cross. But in the long run, the sacrifice is worth it when even one person accepts that sacrifice in their heart and proclaims Jesus as their Lord.
Please don’t wander through this Christmas season aimlessly, focusing merely on shiny packages and pretty bows. Make sure you focus on the biggest gift of all – God’s love, expressed through the sacrifice of His Son. The festivities of the season will be even more rich and meaningful when you’re best friends with the One whose birthday we’re preparing to celebrate!
Reflection copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.
Allegory adapted from “To Sacrifice a Son” by Dennis Hensley
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.