Festival of Lights

by Fran Caffey Sandin

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.                                                            Matthew 5: 16 NASB

Decorating our Christmas tree is like taking a walk down memory lane, as ornaments are one of my favorite souvenirs to purchase when traveling. Lightweight and easy to pack, they usually include an object that reminds me of our visit. This year I was noticing in particular a small replica of a menorah that I bought in Old Jerusalem.

Jewish families also enjoy a winter holiday: the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah (which means dedication). It may surprise you to learn that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah (John 10:22-23). Here’s the reason why.

During the time period between the Old and New Testaments (167-164 BC), a conquering king named Antiochus (who was Syrian-Greek) invaded the Jewish nation. He forbid the worship of the God of Israel, directing the Jews to worship him instead. To insure his law was obeyed, he defiled the only place where sacrifices could be made: the temple in Jerusalem. He did this by sacrificing a pig upon the holy altar.

The nation was outraged. God raised up a small band of heroes who became known as the Maccabees. They fiercely drove Antiochus and his troops out of the land. Hanukkah (or Festival of Lights) commemorates that victory, specifically when the Jews recaptured the temple and rededicated it to God’s service. During that event, a giant menorah, a candelabra with four candles on each side and one in the middle, was lit.

It was the first time in many years, as the Greeks had extinguished the menorah. Now there was no more than one day’s supply of oil to keep the candelabra burning. It would take eight days for the priests to consecrate more oil. Nevertheless, the Jews lit the lamp stand, and it continued to burn for eight full days! Obviously, this was a miracle that deserved to be remembered.

Thus the Festival of Lights was established. In modern Jewish homes, the miniature menorah candles are lit, one more each day, to represent the eight days that the miracle took place. The center candle is the shamash, a Hebrew word meaning servant, and this is used to light the other candles.

From Scripture, Christians know that Jesus is the Light of the World, God’s shamash.

The Jerusalem temple has been destroyed, but when we confess our sins and believe that Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross, and that He was resurrected from the dead, we become the temple of God, and the shamash (Jesus) shines in our hearts. Through God’s Holy Spirit, we have a never-ending supply of oil to keep our lamps brightly burning.

All of us have sinned, and we have no way to change our lives apart from the power of God. When Jesus came, He gave us eternal life and light. All we have to do is acknowledge our sins and inadequacy to make it right and believe in Him, accepting His gift of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Then we become a reflection of His light to others of His great love and peace. Hallelujah! What a shamash! What a Savior!

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that anyone who is living in darkness today would experience the true meaning of Christmas by allowing the light of Jesus into their hearts. Without Jesus there is no peace, no joy, no hope. When His light shines within, we are forever changed. May His grace abound in this Christmas season. May our lights shine for His glory. In His name, Amen.

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Festival of Lights – insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlin
About the author
Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What is the most effective way of demonstrating servanthood that you have witnessed?

Mary, Model for Modern Women

by Fran Caffey Sandin

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1: 38

Early one morning with Christmas only a week away, I sat in a comfortable chair near the lace-curtained window. As I rocked our baby boy, listened to his soft newborn sounds, and stroked his velvety cheek, my thoughts drifted to that first Christmas night. Although my comfortable surroundings were far removed from the stable where she gave birth, I felt a common bond with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The love and tenderness we shared toward our sons might span the gulf of time, but Mary’s example remains as a guide for me and other modern moms.

Even as a teenager, Mary’s spirit was tender toward God. She was listening, expectantly, willing to obey when the angel Gabriel explained that she would give birth to the Son of God. Probably stunned and frightened, Mary wondered how it could be, but she did not run away and hide. I considered my active life to ask, Am I tuned in to God? Am I listening to Him before taking the next step? If he calls me out of my comfort zone or to accept a new challenge, I feel unprepared for, will I trust Him and obey?

A willing servant, Mary faced an unplanned pregnancy. Instead of refusing to place herself in an awkward social situation, she viewed herself as part of God’s sovereign plan for humanity and humbled her life before Him. Our culture emphasizes a woman’s need for self-fulfillment, even at the expense of others. And yet, our privilege as wives and mothers is to nurture and train our children to have a godly character. What is more important than protecting a helpless child and meeting his needs? It may not always be fun and convenient, but cultivating a servant’s heart will provide one of life’s greatest joys.

Isn’t it interesting that Mary did not wait for Joseph’s approval before saying “Yes” to God?

With a quiet spirit she waited for God to take care of Joseph, and He did. Instead of divorcing Mary, since they were already betrothed, or having her stoned to death, thinking she had committed adultery, he listened to God and chose a third option. Marry her.

Mary’s submissiveness to God proved to be a blessing as Joseph proceeded to love and protect Mary and baby Jesus. In my early years of marriage, I sometimes tried to take over the reins. I wanted the control in all of our decisions. Since then, I’ve learned to follow Mary’s example, and let God lead how we move forward. Mary waited for God to take care of the details. He did. 

Mary was told by the angel: “Fear not.” As women we often worry and fret unnecessarily. But as the angel assured Mary, nothing is impossible with God. Author David Hubbard wrote in his book, How to Face Your Fears: “We can face the future with courage. Why? Because the same God whose presence surrounded the Bethlehem manger will see us through our ‘impossibilities’ of tomorrow. When uncertainties come, let us not shrink with fear, but rather, respond as did Mary, ‘I am willing, Lord.’”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the example of Mary, a woman who believed and trusted in You through her difficult situation. Let us learn from her servant heart, quiet spirit, and submissiveness to your will. Help us listen for your Holy Spirit to guide us in making wise decisions. May we exalt you daily and give you praise. In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Mary, Model for Modern Women – Fran Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What examples from the Bible are inspiring to you?

 

 

 

 

TRANSFORMED!

by Fran Caffey Sandin

“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5: 17 NASB).

 Humpback whales cavorting in a feeding frenzy, soaring bald eagles, and a brown bear with two cubs climbing on the shoreline rocks were among the many wildlife sightings on our Alaska Dream Cruise. A small ship with 40 passengers sailing from Ketchikan to Sitka stopped for a brief tour of Thorne Bay. The small town of 473 currently featured seasonal residents plus those employed in the Forest Service and public education. Our tour guide explained its colorful history.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Thorne Bay was the largest logging camp in North America and boasted 1500 residents at its peak. During that time, the city outgrew the sanitation plant from the early days, so they built a new one. The city wanted to sell the old site. Some adventurous members of a local church decided the location was great for the right price, so they bid on the property and won.

Today, the lovely Church at Thorne Bay is a beacon of light overlaying an old sewage dump. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what Jesus does for us when His blood covers our sins? Thinking about the comparison just made me smile. Jesus covered the stench of our sin with the beautiful fragrance of his holiness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

During our trip, my husband and I met Roxy, a lovely, vivacious brunette who had majored in media and communications in college. After graduation, she moved to Hollywood to become an actress.

She did. But God had more in store for her. Her eyes sparkled as she related a life-changing encounter. On a movie set, she met a couple who asked two simple questions, “Do you believe the Bible?  Do you believe Jesus is who He said He is?” Startled at first, she began meditating about the questions. In younger years she had attended church but had never seriously considered the claims of Jesus. She enjoyed the social gatherings but never really knew Jesus in her heart.

After meeting the couple, she began reading her Bible, confessing her sins, and received Jesus as her personal Savior. She asked Him to help her start a new life. Acknowledging her anger and controlling ways, she contemplated the words of Jesus. God began to change her. She developed a desire to serve others, rather than to be served. As a result, she sold or gave away most of her belongings and moved to Alaska to work at a Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, a short time later the B&B closed.

She prayed and asked the Lord. “What do I do now?” His promptings led her to a large, beautiful house where Roxy took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Her heart pounding as she waited, a kind woman opened the door and listened when Roxy explained that she needed a place to work. Roxy did not know the lady was a founding member of the Alaska Dream Cruise line, but God did.

Roxy left with a sigh of relief and a spring in her step. The lady, a believer, offered her a job as an on-board steward—to serve meals, clean rooms, and do other chores. Roxy obeyed God’s nudges and He provided. She is excited and happy for me to write her story because she wants to share her joy.  In her own words, “I have been transformed!”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit’s power to conform us to becoming more like Jesus. Thank you that our old thoughts, ways, and habits turn completely around when we take His words seriously and apply them to our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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TRANSFORMED! – insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What are evidences in your life that God is transforming you?

Expectations

by Fran Sandin

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit…” (1 Corinthians 2: 9,10 NIV).

Margaree Harbor—the name slid off my tongue like a spoonful of ice cream on a hot summer day. We were in a time before online reservations and photos, but the name on the advertisement had me envisioning a perfect get-away on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The details described it as situated on a hill facing the harbor. I imagined beautiful lights, moonlight shimmering on the water, and yachts skimming along the sea or peacefully docked in their berths. Yes! It sounded like the perfect romantic stop along our journey.

However, as my husband, Jim, and I arrived to our destination, we saw no people and no houses. We thought the city must be in the other direction, so we again tried to follow the map, all the while thinking…surely this is not the place. As gravel pebbles popped beneath our car tires, we viewed the “harbor”—a dried up ravine with an abandoned, rusty, fishing boat lying on its side, a string of colored Christmas-tree lights swinging from bow to stern. No water in sight, but lots of weeds.

Then we looked up the hill to a tall, narrow, frame house with dingy, white-flaking paint, the windows askew, and a sagging front porch. Jim, and I looked at each other and struggled to smile. We double-checked the address. Yes, this was it.

When we gained the courage to knock on the front door, a man in overalls answered and cordially showed us our room upstairs with a shared bathroom down the hall. The three-story monster was a 1927 farmhouse, filled with what were the original furnishings. Thankfully, no one else came to stay and share our bathroom. We endured one night there but enjoyed our other destinations.

From that vacation on, our experience caused me to be skeptical when reading travel descriptions.

But there is a travel destination, one worthy of our trust, described in the Bible. It is the perfect location, visited by reservation only. Heaven. The Bible tells us this special place is created by God Himself. Jesus is there now, preparing a place for us to dwell (John 14:2).

The Holy Bible contains no false or misleading information. Heaven is a real place, reserved for believers who have repented of sins and trusted in Jesus as our Savior, because He paid the penalty for our sins with his own blood. If we believe in our hearts that Jesus was the Son of God, died and was resurrected, then our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Acts 16:31).

God does not want anyone to perish, but all to be saved. With the life of the Spirit in us, we have already have eternity in our hearts today.

Dear Father, thank you that your Word is true and we can depend on it. In a world that is always changing and sometimes deceitful, YOU never change—We can trust you. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. In sending your dear son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins, we are given the opportunity to make a reservation in Heaven, a place of magnificence because we will gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. No disappointments there. Thank you, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name, A-men. 

fran sandlinAbout the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. and has co-authored others. Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren.

Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

Join the conversation: What are you looking forward to when you get to heaven?

 

Photo by Éva Balogh on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Blunders to Blessings

by Fran Sandlin

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”   Romans 8: 28 NASB

Where is it? I felt along my right side for the little black purse, and it wasn’t hanging there!  My heart leaped in terror. Where could it be?  I had attended the Christian Bookseller’s Association Convention and was now returning home to Texas. Traveling alone in the Orlando International Airport, I had hurried to the Disney store to buy an item for my granddaughter only to discover I was missing my most important accessory. Yikes! I had retrieved my attaché case at security but not my purse. I wondered….Will I ever see it again? My credit card, driver’s license, a few dollars?

With a pounding pulse and a sickening emptiness, I prayed silently as I ran to catch the people-mover for a ride back to the main airport lobby. In my haste I accidentally boarded the wrong one that took me to the opposite side of where I needed to be. After another ride back to the gate area, I found the correct ride to my original security check point—all the time thinking… It will be a miracle if my purse is still there.

At security I asked the female attendant if she had found a small, black purse. Without hesitating, she reached in a drawer, pulled out my purse, examined the drivers’ license, and said, “This looks like you. Here’s your purse.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The plane now boarding, I raced back to the gate check-in counter. The flight attendant said, “All the seats are taken, but I will scan the computer one more time.” I waited. “Okay”, she exclaimed, “I found a middle one.”  As I finally buckled in, with a sigh of relief I thanked the Lord that after all my boo-boos, I actually made the flight.

The distinguished white-haired gentleman in the aisle seat introduced himself as the consultant for Word of Life Press, responsible for selecting materials for Christian publishing in Korea. Also coming back from the booksellers’ convention, he wanted to know more about my books. We had a lively conversation, and he seemed genuinely interested in our work.

A few months later, our publisher notified us that both books were being translated into Korean. What a nice surprise!

I’d never lost my purse before and haven’t since. When I recall that incident it reminds me that God is in charge of “divine appointments.” He works all things together for good for those who love Him—He can even turn our blunders into blessings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are interested in the details of our lives, and your unconditional love guides us to unexpected joys–even when we mess up.

fran sandlinAbout the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. and has co-authored others. Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren.

Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

Join the conversation: How has God directed your path lately?

Photo by STIL on Unsplash