The Light of the World

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

2014-01-01 - The Light of the World (IMG_1602)Looking out our front window at the first light of 2014.  Morrow, Ohio.

As a new year dawns and we take down the decorations and lights to pack them away in some dark and dusty corner of our house until next Christmas, we need to make sure we don’t pack Christ away into some dark and dusty corner of our life.

As Jesus tells us in today’s verse, he is “the light of the world.”  And, if we follow him, he promises that we “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  As his followers we need to resolve daily to let that light shine brightly in our lives.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

God’s blessings for a wonderful New Year!

Yours in Christ,
Todd the Hiker

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Christmas Day

Luke 2:6-20 – And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

2013-12-25 - Glory to God in the Highest! (IMG_6434)Nativity scene at the “Fantasy in Lights” Christmas display.  Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia.

May the peace of Christ, our Lord and Savior, be with you today and always.

Merry Christmas!
Todd the Hiker

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

Through the Heavens

Christmas Eve

Hebrews 4:14-16 – Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

2013-12-24 - Through the Heavens (IMG_7737)The International Space Station passes through the skies over Glacier National Park, Montana on August 13th, 2012.

Though this passage from Hebrews is not one typically associated with Christmas, I find it rather fitting on December 24th to reflect on the two natures of Christ that these verses illustrate.  First, there is his divine nature.  He is the “great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.”  And yet, despite his divinity he took on a second, human nature.  He became a man, born into the humblest of circumstances.  Because of his humanity, we have a “high priest” who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” and “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

We have in Christ a Savior who is both fully God and fully man, Creator of the universe, yet also the babe in a manger.  By his divinity he was able to be a perfect sacrifice wholly acceptable to God, and yet, because of his humanity, he was able to be a substitute qualified to die in our place.  He humbled himself to come down and dwell with us so that we could be reconciled to God through his life, death, and resurrection.

On this Christmas Eve we do well to remember Christ’s dual nature, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

Nazareth to Bethlehem

4th Sunday in Advent

Luke 2:1-5 – In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

2013-12-22 - Nazareth to Bethlehem (IMG_6816)Stopping for lunch and giving our feet some rest at a scenic spot off of Rough Trail.  Red River Gorge, Slade, Kentucky.

I have never had the opportunity to travel to Israel, but thanks to the technology of Google Maps I was quickly able to determine that the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem, via modern day roads, is about 100 miles.  Although the Bible provides no details of Joseph and Mary’s journey, their likely means of travel given their social status, was either by foot or possibly, in the best of conditions, riding on a donkey.  Either way, it was a long and difficult trip.

More than 700 years before the birth of Christ the prophet Micah foretold the place of the Messiah’s birth, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”  (Micah 5:2)  The reason Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem in the first place was because of the decree from Caesar Augustus, someone who did not even acknowledge the God of the Israelites.  If not for his decree there would have been no reason for a poor carpenter from Nazareth and his pregnant betrothed to make the difficult trip to Bethlehem.  When you stop to consider the events that took place to ensure the fulfillment of this prophesy you realize just how incredible they are, and perhaps you can begin to understand the sovereignty of God.

Now translate that understanding into the circumstances of your own life and you may begin to think differently about the things that take place on any given day.  When you put your trust in Christ you are turning your life over to the sovereign God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the one who had planned, in great detail, the birth of a Savior for his people, “whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.