Christmas in July

Christmas in July
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
After spending a semester in Athens, Greece four years ago, I flew home to Oklahoma just in time for the holidays! It was an extra special Thanksgiving and Christmas because my sister, her husband, their two kids AND their dog had temporarily moved in with my parents. (Matt & Samantha were building their first home, and to save money, they stayed with our family until it was completed.)
When I got home, the Christmas decorations were already up—we used to do it big in the Woolard household. There was garland, lights, and other decor covering the fireplaces and mantles. We had green, red and gold bulbs hanging from the chandeliers, and blinking Christmas lights dangling from every window seal. Christmas was truly grand that year and the house was once again, successfully transformed into a winter wonderland.
Christmas quickly came and went, and it was back to college for me. At the end of January, I drove home for a weekend visit, surprised to find the Christmas tree and all of the decorations still hanging. I laughed and asked my parents to explain why everything was still up a month later. Turned out, the room designated for storing the Christmas decorations was turned into a bedroom for my sister’s children. (There was no other room in the house available for storage, so the decorations stayed out!)
I started visiting my family on a frequent basis, and I kid you not, I got so used to those Christmas decorations that I didn’t even notice them anymore. For the next six months, it would be Christmas at the Woolard residence. By that point, it was no longer uncomfortable or embarrassing—the decorations did not bother me.
Isn’t the SIN in our lives all too similar? If we don’t deal with our sin and put it away like we’re supposed to, then it's eventually going to make a home in our heart. Has there ever been a sinful habit in your life that you felt bad about in the beginning, but then the more you did it or thought about it, the more comfortable it became to do or say, until it didn’t even bother you anymore???
Just like I got used to seeing Christmas trees in July, the sin in our lives can also start to feel normal if we aren’t careful. Do not allow yourself to become calloused and hardened toward sin. Ultimately the hardness of the human heart can only be repaired by the grace of God. It is he who can restore us, by taking away our heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh.
"When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of vile images and detestable idol worship. And I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts instead, so they will obey my laws and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God..." (Ezekiel 11:18-21)
Is your heart hardened? “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) The original translation of "sin" means "to miss the mark." Ask God today where you're missing the mark. Ask Him to forgive you of your sinful thoughts, actions, or lifestyle, and to purify your heart by giving you a sensitivity toward sin. I'm thankful today for a God who specializes in heart transplants!! (Ez. 36:26)
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Ps. 119: 9-11)


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