December 24

Today's Bible Reading
     II Chronicles 29
     Revelation 15
     Zachariah 11
     John 14
            ''And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Hi1n, for He dwellswith you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:16-18)
            As we celebrate Christmas, we focus on the birth of the Savior. Many times we forget that when we receive theSavior as Lord of our life, we are actually opening our heart to the presence and prominence of the Holy Spirit. It is, indeed,the Holy Spirit who lives in us, who comforts and strengthens us as we face the needs of our life. So the blessing of Christmasis not only the Second Person of the Godhead, but the Third Person, the Holy Spirit who resides in every believer.
            I heard of a young couple whose business had failed and they had little money to spend at Christmas. They weregoing to have to move out of their house after the New Year, but they did not want their holiday season to be spoiled becauseof it. They decided to throw a party. When the guests arrived, they saw a cedar tree decorated with one string of lights andsmall, rolled-up pieces of paper tied to the limbs with ribbon. The couple said, ''Welcome to our Blessing Tree. In spite ofhard times, God has blessed us in so many ways, that we decided to dedicate our tree to Him. Each piece of paper describes ablessing He has given us this year. This couple has faced more trials since then, but they have chosen to stay focused on theLord.
            Jesus is always present with them to give blessings because He is in the person of the Holy Spirit. He was with theDisciples only part of the time, and then could be separated from them. We are never separated from Him because He isresiding within us in the person of the Holy Spirit.  He is constantly bringing blessings to us.
           This young couple discovered that the year of the Blessing Tree was one of the most beautiful Christmases they couldever have. Mary testified, ''My spirit is rejoiced in God my Savior...He who is mighty has done great things for me." (Luke1:47-49) Whatever your difficulties, they need not spoil Christmas, for nothing can spoil Christ!
           Like this couple, stay focused on Jesus, enjoy the benefits of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and seek ways to shareHis blessings with others, perhaps through your own Blessing Tree.
            As you pray for missions, don't forget that the United States represents one of the great mission fields of the world.Pray especially for the need for Biblical holiness in a time when Christians display little difference in values and lifestyle to non-Christians. It seems that materialism and superficiality are more characteristic than dedication and passion for Jesus anddoing His will.  Pray that Christians may repent of carnality, be revived, and help to change, rather than mimic the culture.
''Tomorrow even may bring the final reckoning."