Josh WannerDevotions

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:43

As a child, I remember how much fun it was to decorate our family Christmas tree.  We would go pick out the perfect tree from a nearby lot, and my dad would set it up and put on the lights.  My mom would put on some Christmas music and we would all help with hanging the ornaments and the tinsel.  And then we would stand back, sniffing at the scent of pine on our fingers, and watch as my dad plugged in the lights.

Often, the lights didn’t go on at first.  That’s when my dad began the process of checking all the big colorful light bulbs on the tree.  One year, he came to a bulb that was particularly stubborn.  As he worked to twist it out of its socket, the glass separated from the base, the wires inside crossed, a spark flashed, and the tree caught on fire!  Not only were our efforts in decorating the tree about to go up in smoke, but our home and even our very lives were in danger.

That’s a lot like what happens with our spiritual lives.  We try to say the right things and do the right things so we look good – but every time, the stubborn sin in our hearts explodes out and spoils everything.  Not only are we disappointed in ourselves, but we hurt those around us and endanger ourselves by destroying our relationship with God.

I’m glad my dad was with us when the Christmas tree caught on fire.  He quickly beat the flames out with his hands, turned the tree so we couldn’t see the burnt spot, and we all enjoyed a beautiful Christmas together.

In the same way, I’m grateful Jesus came to be with us on Christmas morning.  He entered our world of sin to beat out the flames of condem-nation with His own body on the cross.  He turned us around and made us beautiful.  And He rose in victory to give us new life.

When Jesus was born, we said to Him in shock, “Today, you will be with us in our messed up world?”  But because Jesus was born, He now says to you and me in joy, “Today you will be with me in paradise!”

PrayerJesus, welcome to our world.  Thank you for welcoming me into Yours.  Amen.

Contributed by Pastor Steve Moser