I have a confession to make….. I LOVE Christmas! So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited that it’s exactly one week until Christmas!
Who else loves Christmas?
There’s this picture that I found that always makes me laugh, because I feel like it just perfectly illustrates how I feel about Christmas…..
Can you guess which one is me?
Yep, you could say that Christmas is my favorite day of the year. However, I also love birthdays – but not just my birthday, birthdays in general. So, the way I see it is, not only is Christmas, “Christmas,” it’s also Jesus’s birthday – and Jesus is not only the Son of God, but the BEST person to ever walk the face of the Earth! So, that right there, makes Christmas the BEST DAY EVER!
What’s your favorite thing about Christmas?
I love Christmas hats and Christmas movies – I even have a collection of both! But I just LOVE everything about Christmas! I’m just like, “Snow, lights – presents!” I’m one of those weird people who actually loves giving people presents more than receiving them, though. Is there anyone else like that? The one thing that I do always love to get from people, though, is Christmas ornaments.
You see, when I was younger, my Mom would get me a new one every year and that was the one present that I always got to open on Christmas Eve. And then, ever since the first Christmas that I had with my husband, Danny, my Mom has gotten us an ornament and put our names on it – and it’s always my favorite present every year. So, yeah, those are definitely some of my favorite ornaments. My absolute favorite ornament, though, is actually this really beautiful (albeit completely random) one that has always reminded me of “The Light of Eärendil” from my favorite movie. Yes, I’m that obsessed with “The Lord of the Rings” — AND I love the part where Galadriel gives that to Frodo and says: “I give you the the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” It’s so comforting — especially since it reminds me of John 1:5:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Who else has a favorite ornament?
When we think of ornaments, something beautiful usually comes to mind. Shiny, bright, glistening, sparkly, and pretty are just a few words we use to describe them. The dictionary actually describes an ornament as “anything serving to adorn; decoration; embellishment.”
In 1 Peter 3:4 (KJV), it says:
“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible,
even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
So, that right there is talking about a very special ornament – our heart. So, if our heart is an ornament, doesn’t that then mean that we’re also an ornament?
The Bible even tells us in Luke 6:45:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his
heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
So, everything we say and do comes from our heart. Therefore, we are a direct reflection of our hearts – and there are so many more verses in the Bible that confirm this.
So, the question then becomes…..
What kind of ornament are we?
So, back to our verse in 1 Peter (3:4) – and I actually really like how it’s worded in the NIV Bible:
“Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty
of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
That verse starts with the word “Instead,” which in other words means….. baaack it up. We have to check the preceding verses to see what it means. So, when we look at the verses before 1 Peter 3:4 – and even after it – they talk about how what you say and do matter, because there are unsaved people all around you, who need to be pointed to God. So, what comes out of your heart – and how you live your life – is important, because your life is on display.
Now, these verses actually talk about husbands and wives, but really, it relates to everyone, because it’s talking about how your life is on display – and it’s on display for everyone that you come across. People, in general, are watching how we live our lives, so we want to make sure that if we claim to be representing God, that we’re doing it in a way that is going to bring glory to Him.
The verses before and after our ornament verse also talk about how we adorn (or decorate) ourselves and how it is not to be that of doing things to our outside, such as “braiding the hair” or “wearing gold,” but that our heart is where we should be adorning ourselves.
1 Peter 3:3-5 says:
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty
of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their trust
in God used to make themselves beautiful.”
Now, Peter isn’t saying, “Don’t fix your hair and don’t wear gold.” He is simply stressing that the external stuff isn’t important, but what is in your heart is, because other lives depend on how we act from our hearts.
So, how we adorn or decorate ourselves on the outside wasn’t the issue here. It was how we adorn our hearts. Don’t think about the external, because our family, friends, and people we meet are looking at our lives and our lives are a reflection of our hearts. In other words, just like a Christmas ornament, hanging on a tree, our lives are dangling out there for others to see.
Therefore, we need to be “An Ornament For Christ.” So, the way I see it is, in this analogy, the Christmas tree represents the world, we’re the ornaments, and Jesus is the star on top of the tree. So, we were put on the world to decorate it, making it a more beautiful place, by showing people Jesus’s love, and in doing so, pointing them to him. Because, when the ornaments on a tree are beautiful, they direct attention to the tree, which ultimately directs attention to what’s on top of the tree – the star, which is Jesus.
It’s interesting that we’re talking about Christmas trees, though, because they actually have pagan origins. So, they’re not godly. However, just like ornaments are placed on a Christmas tree, we were put here, on this sinful earth. “Many places in the Bible say that though we are in the world, we do not have to be of the world. As believers, we don’t belong to this world, but we are to be a light in it” (Joyce Meyer). In other words, we should be “An Ornament For Christ” on this pagan tree. Therefore, we need to look at what kind of ornament we’re really being – especially at this time of year.
So, what type of ornament are you right now, at this point in your life?
And, the way I see it, there are 5 to choose from:
~ The Glittery Ornament
~ The Lost Ornament
~ The Broken Ornament
~ The Packed Away Ornament
~ The Passionate Ornament
1) The Glittery Ornament
I don’t know about you, but I love glitter. It makes things look SO beautiful – like this ornament – but if I were holding this ornament right now, I would have glitter all over my hands. Have you ever noticed that about glitter? It doesn’t stay on – it comes off. This reminds me of people who put on a show and act like they have everything together – and even go so far as pretending that they’re someone they’re not.
So, really, that old adage is true that “All that glitters isn’t gold,” because that beautiful glitter could be hiding something ugly, like with the Pharisees in the Bible. And Jesus even said in Matthew 23:27-28:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside
but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but
on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
And then, just before that (in Matthew 23:25-26), he said:
“You clean the outside of the cup and dish,
but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish,
and then the outside also will be clean.”
On the other hand, while glitter can make things look more beautiful than they are, it could also be hiding something that’s even better than the glitter. It could be hiding something so beautiful that you’re just afraid to show, because you don’t think it’s good enough or you’ve been discouraged by someone about it in the past.
The point is, if you’re putting on glitter to make yourself look better, you’re hiding what’s underneath the glitter – what God actually gave you to bring to the table – what’s real. And the thing is, as followers of Jesus, we’re supposed to follow His example – and Jesus is the real deal – I mean, He’s as real as it gets. He was when He was here on earth and He is now. So, He wants us to be real too, otherwise we’re not going to be able to point people to Him.
There’s this song and I always love this one line of it. It says: “Pretending to be who you’re not, is a waste of what you got.” So, don’t underestimate who you are – because God made you that person for a reason. So, you may be able to do something or reach someone that another person can’t, but if you’re trying to be someone else, then God can’t use you to touch that person.
Either way, whether you’re using glitter to cover up something that’s bad or good, God sees it.
1 Samuel 16:7 tells us:
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The fact is, the Lord sees your heart. So, if you’re doing things to fool other people, it may work, but you can’t fool God. You can’t hide behind glitter with him. He knows you and he knows your heart. And even more than that, He loves you and your heart. So, he wants to help you set aside the glitter and look to him for the answers.
2) The Lost Ornament
So….. I had a picture of this ornament to show you, but I can’t seem to find it….. Get it – because it’s lost! Hehehe….. 😛
Oftentimes, feeling lost comes from discouragement and feeling like you’re all alone. It’s definitely easy to feel like we’re all alone in this world, but we’re not – and when we think we are, that’s a lie straight from the devil. You see, the devil wants you to feel isolated, because it’s when you’re alone that you’re the most vulnerable.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
~ Ephesians 6:12
Which is why we need to always be praying – because we’re in a spiritual battle – and if we don’t know our place in it…..
it’s easy to get lost.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
~ Matthew 26:41
You see, the devil knows our strengths and weaknesses, so he’s going to attack where he knows he can.
1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us this:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm
in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the
world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
And that’s exactly what the devil is like. A lion knows which antelope to attack, because it studies its prey. So, it’s not going to go after the strong leader at the front of the herd, but the weak, gimpy one that’s trailing behind.
But 1 Peter 5:10 goes on to say:
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
So, no matter how alone and preyed upon you feel, God is always right there with you. So, you don’t have to feel lost.
There’s a spot for you on the tree. There’s a purpose for you in this life. God isn’t just going to give up on you and put another ornament in your place. Therefore, if you’re feeling lost — like you’re one of those ornaments all the way at the back of the tree, who can’t see any of the other ornaments on the tree, much less the star on top of it, so you don’t even know where you’re at. And you feel like no one sees you or even knows you’re there – like they’re not even looking for you – I want you to remember that Jesus is. And He’s not just going to send out a search party to find you – He’s going to go Himself.
It’s just like with “The Parable of the Lost Sheep:”
“Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them.
Does he not leave the 99 in the open country and
go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”
~ Luke 15:4
That’s what Jesus does with us — because we’re THAT special to him and he loves us THAT much.
“Lost Doesn’t Mean Alone.”
That always reminds me of Peter Pan and his lost boys – because Peter Pan goes out and finds them – and if you notice, they’re lost, but they’re all together. So, they’re not really alone, because they have each other — and Peter Pan to guide them.
In the same way, except on an even grander scale – because, come on, Peter’s Pan’s got nothing on Jesus – Jesus will bring people into our lives, and even more than that, He is always with us, finding us every time we feel lost, and guiding our way.
After all, Jesus has a heart for the lost…..
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
~ Luke 19:10
3) The Broken Ornament
Now, to be broken means to be:
~ Reduced to fragments or in pieces
~ Not functioning properly
~ Out of working order
Although that’s the definition for broken, it mostly refers to objects, because when we think “broken,” we usually do think of objects, like this ornament – but people can be broken, too. It’s a little different when a person is broken, though.
Usually, when a person is broken, you feel like:
~ There’s something wrong with you
~ You’re never good enough
~ Something terrible has happened in your life and things will never get better
~ You just feel like giving up
~ Like there’s no point
Proverbs 15:13 says:
“A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.”
Now, there we go, talking about our hearts again – and how they affect everything. And one of the biggest reasons that I think we end up feeling broken as a person is because of the world and people – we let them get into our hearts in a negative way, discouraging our hearts and breaking our spirit.
There’s this quote I love, though, and it says:
“When the world says you’re not good enough, get a second opinion.”
~ Nick Vujicic
Because the world couldn’t be more wrong.
“Humanity takes what is glorious and ruins it.
God takes what is ruined and makes it glorious.”
~ Brian Houston
So, as I mentioned, one of the biggest reasons we end up feeling broken is because of terrible things that have happened in our lives. And those bad things often cause damaging effects on people, resulting in people feeling broken. But the good news is that God can use those bad things to touch not only your life, but other people’s, as well.
“Your misery will be your ministry.”
That means that all of the bad things that have happened in your life will be a way of leading people to God.
Now, that doesn’t mean that your pain doesn’t matter or that I’m trying to minimize it in any way, because I’m definitely not. The point I’m trying to make is just that God has a way of taking terrible things and turning them upside-down, causing good things to come from them. And I’ve learned that a lot in my life. I’m not just saying it – I’ve lived it (this year, especially).
And I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that when something terrible and traumatic happens to you in your life, it doesn’t just happen in that one moment and then goes away the next – it stays with you. It causes a cut in your life and in your heart and that cut eventually turns into a scar. Now, the bad thing about that is that that scar will always be there to remind you of that terrible thing that happened, but the good thing about that scar is that it’s proof that God heals. He doesn’t just leave open wounds in our hearts and in our lives. He heals us. He pierces through the darkness like a lighthouse and leads us home – to Him.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that “the pain passes, but the beauty remains.” The fact of the matter is, terrible things are going to happen, but what we do with those terrible things is what defines us, not the terrible things themselves. There’s going to be hurt in our lives, but life is beautiful – and YOUR life is beautiful.
Your “ornament” is beautiful – even if it is broken.
And a lot of times we feel like we’re broken beyond repair, but that’s because there’s only one person who can “fix” us – and it’s not Handy Manny (like, from the cartoon) – it’s Jesus. So, if you’re not bringing your brokenness to Him to be fixed, it can be hard to believe that you’re not just like this ornament.
You might feel broken, but you are not unfixable.
“We throw away broken things, but God uses broken things.”
And in doing so, “fixes them” – and makes them whole again.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 even says:
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight
in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So, if you’re feeling like a broken ornament today, let God put you back together – piece by piece. Let God use you – not despite your brokenness, but because of it. Let your misery be your ministry – and let your scars be proof to the world that God heals.
4) The Packed Away Ornament
I feel like sometimes we just get so used to life and being a Christian that it’s like it almost becomes unremarkable to us. Like, we forget how special and important what we’re doing is. We just start going through the motions and doing things almost mechanically and without sincerity. So, we might as well be packed away in a box that’s up on a shelf – you know, that one that’s WAY in the back that you stopped even trying to reach a long time ago.
Well, the Bible even tells us:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of
God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
~ Romans 12:2
I often wonder how we, as people, can get bored with this life and doing God’s work, because there’s always SO much to do. And the extraordinary thing is, God didn’t need to put us here to do it – He wanted to. He doesn’t need us, but rather, He wants us. He wants to have a relationship with us and for us to show people His love – because he loves us SO much! I mean, he sent his Son here to die on the cross for us, so that we could have freedom and live up in heaven with him someday. That’s how much He loves us! And if that doesn’t renew your mind, and transform your heart, and encourage you beyond belief every time you think about it – AND make you want to unpack yourself from that box – then I don’t know what will!
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary
troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
5) The Passionate Ornament
There was this little Christmas special that I used to watch when I was younger, called “Noel: A Christmas Ornament.” So, as I’m sure you can tell, it was about a Christmas ornament named Noel. This ornament was special, though – you see, he had “a happiness,” which originated from a tear of joy becoming a part of him as he was being made. If you were to look around at other ornaments, though, he wasn’t really special, in that he wasn’t “unusual and precious” (as one of the other ornaments in this Christmas special described herself) or even fancy and super beautiful – he was just a red ball. However, it was his “happiness” that made him special.
All of the other ornaments that he shared a box with were super grumpy and didn’t mind being packed away (in fact, they preferred it) – like “The Packed Away Ornament” that we just talked about – they forgot how special what they were doing was. However, Noel didn’t – so, he couldn’t stand being packed away for most of the year. He desperately wanted to be on the tree, hanging for all to see – not to show off, but to bring them happiness, through his “happiness.” He genuinely loved Christmas and because of that love, he wanted to be a part of it and to show people how great it was.
The crazy thing, though, is that he would always see this “thing” at the bottom of the tree, that he was told (by the Christmas tree) was a toy stable, but he could never see into it, so he never really knew what it was. However, he was told that it was the “thing” it’s all about.
Then, one year, he ended up cracking and falling off of the tree, resulting in him breaking into a million pieces. However, that wasn’t the end for Noel, for he was finally able to see what was in the “thing” (or the stable) at the bottom of the tree, which was Jesus – and he finally understood what “it” was all about. And it’s then, that not only did he have a happiness, but he became a happiness – with the help of that tear of joy that went into his making. And being pure unadulterated happiness, he was able to go anywhere and he chose to go around the world, spreading the pure joy of Christmas.
You see, Noel had passion.
(Passion – A great love for something, often expressed in action.)
So, a passionate ornament is one that takes that love and passion for Jesus and turns it into action – just like Noel did – which reminds me of one of my absolute favorite Bible verses:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to
everyone in the house. In the same way, let your
light shine before men, that they may see
your good deeds and praise your
Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14-16
Noel was surrounded by so much negativity and discouragement, but it didn’t matter, because he had a happiness in his heart, which caused passion to stir up inside of him and manifest itself through him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud
of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so
easily entangles, and let us run with perseverence the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for
the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat
down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who
endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will
not grow weary and lose heart.”
~ Hebrews 12:1-3
We should all want to be an ornament like Noel was, one with passion and joy – that only comes from seeing what’s in the stable at the bottom of the tree and acknowledging that THAT is what it’s ALL about – and THAT’S the reason we’re hanging on the Christmas tree to begin with – to be “An Ornament For Christ.”
No matter what ornament you are today, though, I want you to know that God loves YOU just the way you are – but he also loves you too much to leave you that way. And that’s what I love – we’re all a work in progress and that’s okay, because Jesus meets us where we’re at. He comes down to our level, just like he did when He came to earth. He’s not afraid to reach his hand down into our mess and help us work our way out of it with Him.
And the Bible even tells us this (in Philippians 1:6):
“Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will
carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'”
~ Jeremiah 29:11-13
The fact is, we can choose how we embellish and adorn this world for Jesus, by how we act as a reflection of what’s in our hearts. As Christians, we are some kind of ornament, whether it is good or bad, dangling for all to see. We’re all ornaments on the Christmas tree of this world – and any ornament can hang on a tree, but it’s HOW you’re hanging that’s important. We ALL have the choice about how we hang on the Christmas tree of this world every day. So….. I really encourage you, as you decorate your Christmas tree this year — or as you’re admiring yours (or someone else’s) — to really consider: How am I hanging on the Christmas tree of this world – and how do I want to be hanging on it?