September 21, 2017

Christmas Worship

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…And while they were there, the time came for her delivery,
and she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn;
And she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger,
because there was no room or place for them in the inn.
And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky]
in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them,
and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them,
and they were terribly frightened.
But the angel said to them, do not be afraid; for behold,
I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.
For to you is born this day in the town of David
a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!
And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]:
you will find a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Then suddenly there appeared with the angel
an army of the troops of heaven (a heavenly knighthood), praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest [heaven],
and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased .
When the angels went away from them into heaven,
the shepherds said one to another, let us go over to Bethlehem
and see this thing (saying) that has come to pass,
which the Lord has made known to us.
So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph,
and the Baby lying in a manger.
And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them
concerning this Child, and all who heard it were astounded
and marveled at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings),
weighing and pondering them in her heart.
and the shepherds returned,
Glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told them.
Luke 2:6-20

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Here on the GCH Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs blog there is nothing we love to do more than praise and worship our God!  (We know you each agree…and are most probably nodding your heads and voicing your ‘Amen!’)  And singing through seasonal songs of both traditional carols and contemporary Christian music is such a lovely, simple way to voice your praises.  Below is a wonderful collection of carols and choruses.

As you listen along, whether you are sitting quietly or wrapping those last few presents or gathered with your loved ones for a Christmas sing-a-long, may the words that you sing be a sweet, sweet sound to the ears of Almighty God.

From Clella, Cynda, Kim, Tina, and myself…
we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!  
God bless you and keep you!

(Christmas Version) Hallelujah

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this—the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged Cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

Cloverton
Original tune: Leonard Cohen
This version lyrics: Lance Stafford, Layne Stafford, Kirby LeMoine and Josh Svorinic
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HalleluJAH!  This phrase, which most often has been translated “Praise the Lord,” is found only a few times throughout all of the Bible.  We read it in the Book of Revelations, chapter 19, verses 1, 3, 4, 6.  As well as in the Psalms (#111, 112, 113, 117, 135, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150).  Many of us are familiar with Leonard Cohen’s classic original Hallelujah’.  But the words in that version, while though very stirring, pale in comparison, in my opinion, to the lyrics sung here by the Cloverton boys.   Cloverton’s rendition sings out the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel-God with us.   Truly, I would call it a modern-day Christmas carol.

It reminds me of another very popular musical piece—Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from The Messiah, his most well-known orchestral composition.  Now they differ greatly in style, of course…but are very similar in their lyrical content.   Point being, both of these songs were written to sing about the birth of Jesus and praises to  Almighty God, as well as give us, fellow singers and praisers, inspired songs to sing our praises.

In the account in the Gospel of Luke of the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, the angel and the ‘heavenly host’ similarly offered praise to God.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 1:13 and 14

And upon returning from seeing the Baby and acknowledging the fulfillment of the angel’s words, the shepherds also worshipped and praised God.

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph.
And there was the Baby, lying in the manger.
After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened
and what the angel had said to them about this Child.
All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,
but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
The shepherds went back to their flocks,
glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
It was just as the angel had told them.
verses 15-20

The birth of the Savior certainly was an occasion for much ‘Hallelujah-ing,’ wouldn’t you say?!  And there WAS much praise and glorifying of God!

May I encourage you to take time throughout the busyness and celebrations of this season to voice your praises and gratitude to Almighty God!  May each of us be found glorifying and praising God for His goodness and love to mankind.   It doesn’t matter whether it is in quiet meditation regarding how GOOD God is…or singing out our praise and worship through this gorgeous song…or praising God as we sing along with the carols and hymns of the season.

Just let ‘HalleluJAH‘be on your lips!

How Many Kings

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Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected, a Child in a manger
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in His mother’s shawl – just a child –
Is this who we’ve waited for

How many kings stepped down from their thrones
How many lords have abandoned their homes
How many greats have become the least for me
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for His honor, and frankincense for His pleasure
And myrrh for the Cross He will suffer
Do you believe is this who we’ve waited for

Only One did that for me
All, all for me…
All for you…

DownHere
Written by Marc Martel and Jason Germain 
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How many do you know of?  How many would have such a depth of love?  How many would sacrifice?  How many would choose to be sacrificed?  How many would give their most precious?  How many would leave the most perfect place…for such a broken place?  How many would do all this for sinful humanity?  Only ONE God…only ONE Lord.

only ONE Lord…only ONE Great…only ONE God…
only ONE Father…only ONE Son
only ONE King

The love

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

The sacrifice

[Here is] the High Priest [perfectly adapted] to our needs, as was fitting—holy, blameless, unstained by sin, separated from sinners, and exalted higher than the heavens.
He has no day by day necessity, as [do each of these other] high priests, to offer sacrifice first of all for his own [personal] sins and then for those of the people, because He [met all the requirements] once for all when He brought Himself [as a sacrifice] which He offered up.
For the Law sets up men in their weakness [frail, sinful, dying human beings] as high priests, but the word of [God’s] oath, which [was spoken later] after the institution of the Law, [chooses and appoints as priest One Whose appointment is complete and permanent], a Son Who has been made perfect forever.
Now the main point of what we have to say is this: We have such a High Priest, One Who is seated at the right hand of the majestic [God] in heaven,

Hebrews 7:26-8:1

The humility

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

The greatness

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you
must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you
must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:26-28

The  majesty…

He who descended is Himself also
He who ascended far above all the heavens,
so that He might fill all things.
Ephesians 4:10

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though He was rich,
yet for your sake He became poor,
so that you by His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

And the ONLY response…

By this the love of God was manifested in us,
that God has sent His only begotten Son
into the world so that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:9-11

By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and obey His commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.
And His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:2 and 3

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love;
just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
John 15:10

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The True Meaning of Christmas…by Linus

adventwk4seekHimoholynight

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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A Charlie Brown Christmas
Just Like New Kids Productions

Oh, Holy Night

adventwk4seekHimoholynight

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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Breath Of Heaven

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I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven

Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness
For You are holy
Breath of heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be…Help me

Sara Groves
written by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant

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This song—a depiction of Mary’s heart as she prepares to give birth to God’s Son—is such a simple prayer, too… Can’t you just imagine Mary singing it under her own breath?  No one really could ever fully understand Mary’s heart as she gives birth to her Son, Who is her Savior, her Redeemer, Emmanuel.  Perhaps in a small way (especially those who have also labored and delivered a baby) we can empathize a bit with her feelings.  But I do believe we can (we DO!) at times also sing/plead this same prayer.  How about you…been there?  Me, too.

Breath of heaven, hold me together!
Be forever near me, Breath of heaven!
Breath of heaven, 
lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness…for You are holy!

This is a prayer I know He will answer…the Scriptures assure us that it is so.

For in Him all things were created…
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:16 and 17

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Psalms 139:1-6

You know me inside and out, You hold me together
Psalm 41:12

Don’t the lyrics of this chorus just capture so much what we feel—our total dependence on the Lord for everything we need.  And because Emmanuel has come, our Help is here.

Just like Mary, we also recognize our great need for hope to cling to.  She grew up knowing and believing the promises made throughout the Old Testament of a Redeemer, a Savior.  She clung to the words spoken by the Angel Gabriel telling her of the greatness of this baby she was carrying.

For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37

We also know and believe this same Truth as well as the promises that God has made to us…not only of our Lord’s Coming but also of His second Coming!

Mary, I am sure, had moments of fear and worry and despair, but she had been given a promise and she knew that holding on to that promise was ultimately not only all she had but all she needed.  We, too, should follow Mary’s example.  For nothing shall be impossible with God!  We, too, have the hope of being blessed by God’s goodness and faithfulness and grace to cling to!

Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering,
for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His Word]…
Hebrews 10:23

Knowing of the great love that God has for mankind (for you…and for me!), we have faith and hope and trust in His ability to ‘hold us together’ and to ‘be forever near me’.  I am praying and asking God to encourage you, my friend, and remind you that He loves you.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

With Every Act Of Love

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Sitting at the stoplight
He can’t be bothered by the heart cry
Written on the cardboard in her hand
But when she looks him in the eye
His heart is broken open wide
And he feels the hand of God reach out through him
As Heaven touches earth

Oh – we bring the Kingdom come
Oh – with every act of love
Jesus help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come

There’s silence at the table
He wants to talk but he’s not able
For all the shame that’s locked him deep inside
But her words are the medicine
When she says they can begin again
And forgiveness will set him free tonight
As Heaven touches earth

God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you
I said, God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you

 Jason Gray

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Christmas is all so much about giving.  Even the stingiest folks that we know…you know, the ones with the ‘bah! humbug!’ attitude…understand the giving of the season.  Little children understand about giving; big kids, too.  So much of our conversation at this time of the year centers around the subject of giving.

Now…back to my first sentence.  What I first wrote is true. ‘Christmas IS all about giving.’  THAT is the absolute, total, complete, whole TRUTH!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16

But, wait…let’s look at those words again.  God ‘so loved the world…’ His love was the motivation.  And what He gave (His only begotten Son, Jesus), well that’s love, too.  Almighty God has set the standard for giving—LOVE.  Giving should be all about love.

  • Just like God, love should be the motivation for our giving
  • Just like God, love should be what we give

And we, as His children, have been enabled and equipped to be ABLE to love.

…for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts
through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5

So, in the midst of the sewing, and the wrapping, and the baking, and the shopping, and all the other activities, here’s a challenge I would like to set before each of us: let’s purpose to give LOVE!  I can only begin to imagine the myriad of opportunities that we will have to give love if we look to do so!  Start small, perhaps…give love by smiling at those you meet.  Whether wandering through the aisles or in line at the grocery store…look into the eyes of those you pass and smile.  (Oh!  And pray for them!)   Or go a little bigger…there are so very many needs in this world!  Go to a battered women’s shelter and sit and talk.  Visit an assisted living community and sing Christmas carols.  If we ask God to lead us and give us opportunity to show His love…I KNOW He will!

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how God showed His love among us:
He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:7-11

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Oh dear Father, You have shown such a perfect standard for giving.  And we thank You for that!  And You have enabled us to show Your love by pouring Your love into our hearts.  Help us, Father, especially during this Christmas season, to reach out with that love.  Help us to go beyond our comfort level, and be love to those who need love.  May You be pleased by our obedience and our actions.  And may the love we show draw others to You.  Thank You for Your love, gracious Father!  We love You so!  In Jesus’ precious name, we pray.  Amen.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Cookies…such a lovely tradition of giving during the Christmas holidays.  There are cookies to make for exchanges. There are cookies to make to fill tins and baskets that are given to friends and loved ones.  There are cookies to make for the cookie monsters in your own home!

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Chocolate Chip cookies seem to be a big-time favorite; how about at your house?  My recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies starts off with making a basic mix. This is a great recipe to double (even triple!) so that you can make a batch AND have the basic mix ready to quickly throw together another batch!  Or perhaps you could take the second batch and put into a large Mason jar and gift someone with it! And we (the grandkids and I) have been known to leave out the chocolate chips (oh!no!) and substitute another mix-in such as mini M&M’s or some chopped nuts.   Here are a couple of recipes I found on the web for various types of mix-ins; some of these are so interesting!   Have fun!

relish.com – Chocolate Chip Cookies 7 ways
FoodNetwork.com – 10 mix-ins to update your Chocolate Chip cookies
huffingtonpost.com – 12 ways to make your Chocolate Chip cookies even better

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie MIX
(makes approximately 4 cups; enough for 4 dozen cookies)

ingredients:
2+1/4 cups good quality all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup coconut sugar (or table sugar)
12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

directions:
place all ingredients (EXCEPT for the chocolate chips) into a large bowl and whisk together well.  if using immediately, pour in the chocolate chips. if not, pour the mix into a storage jar and add the chocolate chips right on top; seal well.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

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ingredients:
1 batch of above GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
8 tablespoons butter (unsalted), room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1+1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (NOT imitation, please!)

directions:

  • preheat oven to 325.  line two (2) large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside
  • using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the room temperature butter and eggs ‘til thoroughly incorporated; stir in the vanilla
  • pour 4 cups (or one batch) of the Cookie Mix into a very large bowl. by hand, stir in the liquid ingredients to thoroughly blend
    add the chocolate chips (or mix-in of your choice); stir ‘til evenly distributed
  • drop balls of dough (approximately 1+1/4″) onto the prepared baking sheets.  place the baking sheets (one at a time) into the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up
  • after the chill time, put cookies (one sheet at a time) into the oven
  • bake for 12-14 minutes (depending on the size of your dough balls) or ‘til the bottoms are beginning to brown
  • remove from the oven. (I carefully lift the parchment from the cookie sheet directly onto a cooling rack—works beautifully!)
    when cookies are thoroughly cooled, store in an airtight tin or jar.  whether you and your loved ones eat ’em or share ’em…enjoy!

*To make these cookies dairy-free, simply substitute 1 stick of butter-flavor shortening for the 8 tablespoons of butter; and purchase chocolate chips with no milk or milk products.  I use the Ghiradelli or the Enjoy Life brands.

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Merry Christmas from Mr. hayden and I!

God loves you ♥  (Don’t ever forget that!)

♥  coleen

In The Beginning…

adventwk3seekHimlighthascome

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
all things were made through him,
and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

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(Hallelujah) Light Has Come

adventwk3seekHimlighthascome

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
all things were made through him,
and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

 BarlowGirl
Alyssa, Lauren, and Rebecca Barlow

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Hmmm my Baby
Heaven sent You to me
All the worlds been praying
Who will Save
But who am I
That here tonight
I hold the One
Who’ll Bring us life

Hallelujah
We’ve been found
A Child is born
To save us now
Hallelujah
Light has come
A Savior who will set us free
The Promise for those who believe

Do you hear the angels
Sing for You, my Baby
Men and kings have come to
Bow to You
But here in my arms

So close to me
The Son of God
Now all can see

Hallelujah
We’ve been found
A Child is born to save us now
Jesus Hallelujah light has come
A Savior set us free
So praise to God on high
He has heard our cry