The Christmas Candle (The Hope, His Love, Our Joy, Our Peace)

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Words of LIFE Weekly  Devotional

The Christmas Candle

by Max Lucado

Max Lucado is the author of The Christmas Candle. The film version of his story is in theaters now. It is set in the late 1800’s in the small English village of Gladbury where something miraculous happens every 25 years through the local candlemaker when an angel appears to touch a single candle.

The Advent Wreath is used in the Church of England’s Christmas services, where on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, each one is marked by lighting a candle in the wreath celebrating Jesus’ gift to us. On Christmas Eve the fifth candle in the center is lit signifying His final arrival in Bethlehem.

Candle 1: The Hope
“The first candle of Advent is the candle of hope. But hope in what? An answered prayer? A miracle? A Christmas Candle? We light this candle to remind us that our hope does not come from earthly things, but from above. From the God who came to us one starry night in Bethlehem and promises to come again one day.”

Do you still have a hope that God will come through and shock you with His magnificence this Christmas? Maybe it’s a failed relationship…a lost job…a fearful diagnosis…a grief unspoken. Is there an area in your life that you’ve stopped believing and hoping that His hand may yet heal?

To be sure, all of these can be important needs, and should be on your prayer list, but 100 years from today they will not be important. What’s truly important is the lost souls around you who do not share in your ultimate hope this season. They are in darkness, completely unaware that there is a Savior Who was foretold in the Old Testament Who loves them. Look at the hope that Isaiah foretold of His coming:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them (Isaiah 9:2).”

What gets us through all those trials and difficulties each year? It is, of course, our hope in Him, of a better world to come. One without sin and death. One where He protects us and provides all we need. That is our hope…a restored relationship with our Creator forever.

Candle 2: His Love

“We light the second candle of Advent in the love of God. During Advent, God pierces the darkness of the world with divine light and love. Because He loved us, He sent his son to light the way. Though we wait for Christmas day, we must not wait to love one another as Christ did. Does your neighbor need a miracle this Christmas? Why not be that miracle?”

Let’s face it. Most of your friends and neighbors who don’t know Christ will never darken the church door or open a Bible. They are content in their blindness. And why shouldn’t they be? They know nothing else. What more can we expect from someone who is spiritually dead? They are unaware of His advent in Bethlehem. This should move your heart to compassion for them. Sincere, sacrificial love, like He demonstrated.

You’ve heard it said that the only Bible some folks will ever read is you. That’s true. Francis of Assisi said, “I preach the gospel all the time. Sometimes I use words.” In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul said, “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”

You are the un-entered Church to them now, the only “part” of the gospel they may ever read, His body among them today, a masterful way to multiply His effectiveness a million-fold to a dead world. What you say and do is as much of Jesus as your friends and neighbors will ever know. And Christmas is the one time of the year that it’s okay to talk to them about Jesus…if they will listen. But what if they do not?

Remember Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him….” You can create an opportunity to shine your light by some simple thoughtfulness. You can make an impression on them through some small kindness. It just takes a little selflessness and some thought.

So ask yourself…what does my lost brother, my religious aunt, my crabby neighbor, my know-it-all co-worker need done for them this Christmas? Why not be that miracle?

Candle 3: Our Joy

“Rejoice! For today we light the third candle of advent. The candle of joy. When Christ was born God used angels to proclaim "good tidings of great joy” to all mankind. Now we are the messengers of this good news. For with every good deed, every act of kindness, Christ is born again and again in our lives. Now, let us all go forth as joyful messengers, doing the work of God.”

This is the season when your joy about the Savior should be seen the most. You should radiate that light of His salvation to one and all. When you’re gone, folks should say of you, “Wasn’t he the happiest person?” “She always had that glow about her.”

Honestly, we can all do better if we really think about what our salvation means, how fortunate we are to have been rescued, what amazing grace to be chosen, freed from guilt and damnation!

“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God (Psalm 40).”

Of all the times of the year to be thrilled about your destiny, Christmas is it! It all began in Bethlehem. You’ve been chosen, forgiven, and appointed as His ambassador to spread the good news! Can’t you grin about that? Can’t you get excited about being His delight?

Oh, I pray that you would think long and hard about your countenance when out amongst this lost and dying world this Christmas. Your face is the window to your soul and people are watching!

Candle 4: Our Peace

“Christ came to bring peace to this world and eternal life in the world to come. The fourth candle of Advent, our last before Christmas Eve, represents the peace of God, which passes all understanding. In the coming days of Christmas, let us be instruments of this peace. Shining light where there is darkness. Hope where there is despair. Sowing joy where there is sadness. And faith where there is doubt.”

Our world is a busy, noisy, overwhelming cacophony of interruptions and distractions. We are bombarded with images, information, and news. We are rarely silent or in a silent situation. No wonder the simple world of a sleepy hamlet like Gladbury is so appealing to us. Despite the drama, it is a peaceful time.

We all need peace and quiet, to rest in His peace, and by the end of the film, we see that even the Reverend Richmond himself needs this peace. But the peace that this candle represents is more than that relaxed and slippered “feeling of ahhhh” after a long day. It is that sort of contentment to be sure, but it is much more than that; it is the peace that comes when two parties who are at enmity with one another are reconciled.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1).

This is the Christmas peace that is portrayed so vividly in The Christmas Candle when the believers begin to affect those around them. Their focus shifts from themselves and their Christmas Candle requests to helping each other, and as a result the skeptics are converted. His peace at last!

Candle 5: Christ

“On Christmas Eve we light the final candle of Advent – The Christ Candle, for only in Christ do we find the hope, love, joy, and peace we have come to know this season.”

And now we come to the last candle, the Christmas Eve candle in the center of the wreath. Before us now is a glowing ring of five brilliant candles, lighting the way for all to Bethlehem’s Christmas gift…the promised Messiah.

Listen to the His words in John 8, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Who needs this light in your life this Christmas? A neighbor? A relative shut in? Prayerfully look around your life. Take stock of your relationships. There are hurting people, stumbling in darkness, completely dead to the “Light of life” that Jesus speaks of here.

Everyone around you–the mailman, the clerk, the waitress, the widowed neighbor, the distant relative, or the woman at the copy machine…all need to know He’s arrived. Be the miracle to them.

I pray you’ll take this seriously, and celebrate His birth differently this year, by reaching out with some practical ways to love and serve the people who are reading your life this year. Make a difference in someone’s eternity this Advent. That’s what The Christmas Candle is all about.

Copyright ©2013 by Max Lucado. Used by permission. For more information about The Christmas Candle, visit the website.

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