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At our traditional family Christmas gathering with Jenny's side of the family, somebody always brings a puzzle (usually 1000 piece) to put together as part of the festivities. Later, Jenny's mom will frame it and put it on the wall in their family room where there are over 14 Christmas puzzles on the walls representing the spirit of each Christmas past. Every one has the year of that particular Christmas printed on it with the theme of that year's Christmas.

Putting together a puzzle illustrates how we build our lives in Christ. First: To do a puzzle we need to look at the box for the big picture. That's where we see what the finished product is supposed to look like, once it's all put together properly. To follow Jesus we need to look in the Book for the big picture... reading your Bible and seeing God's big plan for your life.

Second, for a puzzle, we usually dump out all the pieces and turn them all face up so you can see their shapes and colors. To follow Christ that's like starting the Christian life, turning all the pieces of my life upward to Him, repenting and committing to follow Jesus in faith and obedience. To do this we look to Christ, listen to Christ, learn from Christ and decide to live for Christ. We commit to Jesus by faith and baptism and the journey is begun.

Third... Normally, with a puzzle we start by gathering all the pieces with a flat edge on them to put together our boarders and boundaries. These are the outside edges or the boundaries of the puzzle. In following Christ, that's like the first steps of faith as a Christian. We put begin to build boundaries in our behavior, doing what is right and resisting what is wrong. We put together our Christian first principles and start putting on the armor of God.

Fourth... With a puzzle, then comes the tedious part of finding where all the inner parts fit together. Puzzle pieces are designed to fit together just right. You can't do it your way and come out with the right image. Sometimes you have to search and study to discover what goes where. In following Christ that's like God's work on building the image of Christ into your heart and mind. We must humble ourselves like Jesus, and obey without resistance to God's will, no matter what. That takes patience and faith. It also takes careful observation, understanding and then putting those together to work. Like a puzzle, you really need to study the box over and over as you work to figure out where to put those pieces and be encouraged that it will all come together if we persist. Jesus tells us: Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life!

And like our Christmas puzzles. As Christians we are not alone on the journey. At Jenny's family gathering, there are lots of helpers working together and making the work a joy. We join together and find a lot of enjoyment just doing it as a family.

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