May 26, 2017

Joy To The World

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Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love

Pentatonix
Written by Isaac Watts ~ Music composed by Handel

*   ♥   ~   ✝   ~   ★   *

He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Luke 19:40 ESV

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
Psalms 96:11-13 NJKV

Joy

Defined by Merriam-Webster as:
1a) the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b) the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2- a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3- a source or cause of delight

Based on these definitions, joy is something to be achieved, and is fleeting or short-lived.  But is that how the Bible defines joy?

Let’s start with where our joy come from. Psalm 16:11 NASB says

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

Jesus is our joy!  His birth makes it possible to have constant permanent joy in our lives though the Holy Spirit.  Look at these Scriptures:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him
Romans 15:13 HCSB

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is…joy
Galatians 5:22 AMP

…the joy supplied by the Holy Spirit;
1 Thessalonians 1:6 AMP

And the disciples were continually filled with joy
Acts 13:52 NASB

When we believed in Jesus…when our ‘hearts prepared room’ for Him…the Holy Spirit entered our hearts and joy is one of the many fruits He provided.

 Joy is within us – continual joy.

Jesus’ birth is the beginning of constant, permanent joy in our lives. Our joy is not tied to our emotions or our circumstances. Our joy is tied directly to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our relationship with Him.  Joy lives within us.

God brought joy to the world in the form of an infant named Jesus. That joy is still with us today. As Luke 19:40 says, even if we remain silent, the stones will cry out.  Psalm 96:11 reminds us that even heaven and earth sing.

Shouldn’t we, too, then ‘repeat the sounding joy’
as we celebrate ‘the wonders of His love’?

Amen

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You have given us a new name
The sons and daughters of Your righteousness

And You have taken all of our shame
And given us the gift of holiness

Lord we’re crying out for faith
To believe the words You say

You say we are loved
You say we belong to You
Your Grace is enough
Nothing more that we can do
You say we’ve been bought
By Your blood, by Your blood
And all that we can say
Is Amen
Amen

You have given us a new hope
An anchor for the soul that shall not fail

Jesus we believe Your truth shines
Yes in the darkest night You shall prevail

Lord we’re crying out for faith
To believe the words You say

Amen, Your word is true
Amen, we trust in You

Steven Curtis Chapman
written along with Rend Collective
*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy.
I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
John 10:10

Jesus…the one Name that takes away all fear and shame.  He is the Hope that we hold on to and the Anchor that keeps us grounded.

The enemy comes at us in so many ways, especially this time of year when our focus gets a little off. We should be thinking of how awesome it is that Jesus came as a small baby to save us from sin. Instead we get so frustrated and overwhelmed because we have so much to buy and it always feels like it is never enough.

What if we had kept Christmas about Him—would we be a bit happier, more joyful?  What if we gave instead of received?  What if we praised Him for His provision instead of petitioning for more? What if we just rested in Him this season and soaked in the love that He has for us.  And reminded ourselves that HE is always for us. {Can I get an Amen?}

So today, I pray that hope prevails in your life…and that Jesus fills you with peace and love…and that you spread it to all that will listen.  And, if you do not have a relationship with Him…and IF you want to know this Jesus, He is here for you!  Just pray this prayer today…

Jesus, come into my heart.  I know that I am a sinner and I need forgiveness.  I believe You died for me.  I want to live with You as Lord of my Life!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

* ♥ ~ ✝ ~ ★ *
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

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

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

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

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.

Your Presence

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All of my life I search for You Lord, You call me to Your side
With all of my heart I’m desperate for more, Your Presence is my light
The cry of my heart is to be where You are

I love Your presence, I love Your presence
Father, where You are is where I want to be
Hidden in Your courts is ev’rything I need

You are my strength You are my shield, surround me with Your song
All that my soul will know is Your peace, hide me in Your love
The cry of my heart is to be where You are

I love Your presence I love Your presence,
I can hear You call, I run into Your arms, Jesus
You are all my heart is longing for

Father,  You are my heart’s desire,
Overwhelmed I will worship You
I will dance to the dance of heaven
All my heart be enthralled by You

Little Drummer Boy

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Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

 

Mandisa
written by Katherine Kennicott Davis

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
each of us is to exercise them accordingly…
Romans 12:6 NASB

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31b ESV

As each has received a gift, use it…
as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
1 Peter 4:10 ESV

This is one of my most favorite Christmas carols. I enjoy it so much that I couldn’t decide which version to include, so I have included two and even posted a third on my FaceBook page.  But as I was listening to this song, God spoke to my heart reminding me once again it is not the gift that matters but what is in our hearts when we give.  I thought instantly of the widow’s mite. Luke 21:1-4 HCSB tells her story…

He (Jesus) looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins. “I tell you the truth,” He said, “This poor widow has put in more than all of them. For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

She was giving what she had.  That’s what Jesus wants from us – to give what we have.  He doesn’t want us to give out of show, out of fear, out of pride, or with reluctance in our heart.  Our gifts don’t have to be monetary in nature.  The little drummer boy had a gift for playing the drum.  He used his gift to honor God and made Him smile.  Leo Buscaglia puts it this way:

Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

I don’t sing, or preach, or write books. I’m not a celebrity, rich and famous, or an icon. But I do have God-given gifts I can use to glorify and honor God.  And you do, too.  Romans 12:6 NASB provides an answer when we feel we have nothing worthy to give:

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
each of us is to exercise them accordingly…

1 Corinthians 10:31b reminds us that “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  God has given each of us different talents, different gifts.  We need to use them accordingly.  Give your best to Him—willingly and from the heart.  That is the gift He wants.  That is what makes God smile.

 

Pentatonix

God Has Come To Earth

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All praise to You, eternal Lord
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood
You chose a manger for Your throne
While worlds on worlds are Yours alone

Once did the skies before You bow
A virgin’s arms cradle You now
And angels who in You rejoice
Now listen for Your infant voice
They sing

Glory in the highest
For there’s no other name by which we can be saved
Glory in the highest
Heaven and Earth forever will proclaim
God has come to Earth

O, little Child, You are our guest
That weary ones in You may rest
Forlorn and lowly is Your birth
That we may rise to Heaven from Earth
Singing

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him

And there’s no other name by which we can be saved
And Heaven and Earth forever will proclaim

God has come to Earth
God has come to Earth
God has come to Earth

Aaron Shust

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant.  While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Luke 2:4-7

His first throne was a manger.  And now, He is seated at the right hand of His Father.  This baby, born to Joseph and Mary, would change the world forever!

Jesus was born to walk the earth.  He went through things—hard things—so that we could see that all would be OK.  He taught us how to love and how to serve.  He showed us that it is awesome to be friends with sinners…because there are no perfect people, except Him. He performed miracle after miracle, just to prove Who His Father is, so that all would believe and live eternally with Him.

He brought dead to life and restored sight to the blind.  He healed by just a touch.  And, oh how He loved!  Everyone He came in contact with went away better.  And then He died on a cross, broken and poured out for us. He crushed every sin we would ever commit so that we, too, could live with Him in heaven.

So let’s adore Him today as they did on that night so long ago…

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
Luke 2:13-14

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Let us pray: Dearest God, oh how we love You!  Oh, how we worship You and bow down at Your feet.  We lay down all our burdens today and we ask that You take our worries.  Thank You that You are for us and that nothing that we have done can separate us from You.  Help us to remember what this season is about; and to not get so wrapped up in the gifts that we don’t have, but to remember the only Gift that we need…You, Jesus.  Remind us, too, that the same miracles that happened back then can happen today.  You are enough!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

When Suddenly A Baby Cries

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How suddenly a baby cries and all forever change
As shepherds leave the angel song to find this holy place
Where in her young and trembling arms a virgin holds her Son
And in this Child of breath divine our Light has finally come

She ponders how the Magi kneel before Emmanuel
With gold and frankincense and myrrh Christ’s sacrifice they tell
A dream would help them flee a king whose pride would cruelly destroy
As mothers weep God’s mercy meets the hunger for His joy

What wonder still that Anna filled with praise should bless the Lord
Her aging eyes now looking on the Savior of the world
For night and day her prayers had filled the temple of our God
Her heart could tell His saving hand within this gift of love

Hear Simeon who had waited long draw near to hold the child
To speak of Him who would reveal the many thoughts we hide
That hearts would rise to know His grace but many fall away
A sword would pierce His mother’s soul upon redemption day

How suddenly a baby cried and all forever changed
Through history soul by soul have come to find His healing grace
He filled my troubled heart with peace, with hope of endless worth
My voice will join the song of praise that tells Messiah’s birth

 Kristyn Getty
Written and sung along with Keith Getty and Fionán de Barra

*    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

A baby’s first cry gets the attention of everyone around, yes?  At the very moment of birth, all in attendance pause to hear a baby’s first cry—expectant parents, other relatives and loved ones, the nurses, doctors, and other caregivers—and then sigh with joy, with relief, and with thankfulness at that wonderful sound!  When the baby Jesus was born, His cry, too, brought great joy to his parents, Joseph and Mary. Think of the setting:

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.
Luke 2:6 and 7

Joseph and Mary had traveled many, many miles to come to Bethlehem to register in the census.  Upon their arrival, there was nowhere for them to stay but in a stable…and this is where Mary birthed her firstborn, Jesus, God’s Son.  Not the best surroundings!  So I would think baby Jesus’ first cry meant oh-so-very much to them!

But…both Joseph and Mary were fully aware of just Who this tiny baby was!  Both had been told of the significance of this baby’s life by angels. (Read the records here: Luke 1:26-38;   and  Matthew 1:18-25 .)  Don’t you think they each had contemplated for the entire duration of Mary’s pregnancy the magnitude and awesome, eternal implications of just Who their Son would be!  Think for a moment…place yourself in their sandals: when the baby was birthed and took His first breath and released a cry, can you only imagine the praises that must have welled up out of their hearts?  Can you imagine the look they must have exchanged as they realized that the promises that the angel had made to each of them came forth into fruition?  That initial cry of baby Jesus truly changed the world!  Perhaps Mary remembered the words she spoke when she was visiting her cousin Elizabeth:

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
…because the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.”
Luke 1: 46-47 and 49-50

And so we, too, do also exclaim and praise!  Even now, don’t we love to sing these beautiful carols and anthems and songs that tell of Jesus’ coming and His birth.  We are reminded of all that first little cry meant as it sounded out that the Savior was born!  He had come…just as promised throughout the ages!  As the words of this beautiful song say,

How suddenly a baby cried and all forever changed
Through history soul by soul have come to find His healing grace
He filled my troubled heart with peace, with hope of endless worth
My voice will join the song of praise that tells Messiah’s birth”

*    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

May our voices rise up in praise and thankfulness to our heavenly Father!  Because of His great love for us (you and me!), He sent His Son to redeem and save us; to rescue us and make available to us a relationship with Him for all eternity.

Never—don’t EVER—doubt His love!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38 and 39

Christmas Hope

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Her wish this Christmas
Was that Christmas would just pass her by
Nothing could reach her
Or answer her questions why
She feels so alone
And she wonders if all hope is gone

Hope is a candle
A light in the window
Showing the way for
A heart to come home
Hope is a Savior
Who was born in the manger
Sent down from Heaven
To rescue our hearts
Our Christmas hope

She never imagined
That for her there was hope to find
But isn’t it amazing
How God brings a heart back to life
She’s smiling now she’s finding out
What Christmas hope is all about

Hope is a present
A gift freely given
To all who receive
And open their hearts
Hope is a promise
For a better tomorrow
In a world filled with sorrow
We always have hope

NewSong
Songwriters: Eddie Carswell and Matthew West

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Hope is a Savior
Who was born in the manger
sent down from Heaven
to rescue our hearts

Yes!  This is part of our Christmas hope!  This is our daily hope!  This is the foundation of our eternal hope!  And accompanying our hope—trust and faith that He is coming back again!

This song was written as part of the soundtrack for the movie ‘Christmas Hope’ a faith-based movie about the lives of hurt, sad people and how they intertwine through times of tragedy and hope and restoration. (If you haven’t already seen this movie, it is a wonderful one to add to your holiday playlist!)

Just like the fictional folk who are part of the story of ‘Christmas Hope’ we, too, desperately need hope…sometimes it seems…at every turn of our lives.  And (just like Patty, Mark, Nathan, and little Emily), we HAVE been given the greatest Hope there could possibly be—a Savior, a Redeemer—Jesus Christ the Messiah!

God’s people waited hundreds of years for the fulfillment of the promise of a child to be born of the line of David in Bethlehem.  They believed and trusted and waited with HOPE for the promise to be fulfilled.

Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign:
Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin
shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].
Isaiah 7:14

(See also Micah 5:2; Jeremiah 23:5 and 6; Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7…among many other verses which contain these promises.)

God also made promises to a young Hebrew girl.  She had been taught by her parents about the promised Redeemer and had this hope within her heart.  God sent His messenger Gabriel to give her another promise.  This surely must have increased her hope!

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”

(excerpts from Luke 1:28-35)

Promises made in olden times have already come to pass—Jesus, the Son of God, was born and ultimately gave His life fulfilling many more promises.  And hope has been realized!  We cling to promises made that are still unfulfilled…promises that fuel our hope because we know the One Who has promised IS faithful!!!  May these be a vital part of our Christmas Hope!

And said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?
This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:11

…so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin,
to those who eagerly await Him.
Hebrews 9:28

Awaiting and looking for the [fulfillment, realization of our] blessed hope,
even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior
Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One)…
Titus 2:13

Shining

phssChristmasgraphic2014
The dawn of peace Christmas Eve
the final night the world would sleep 
Fearful of the dark
but there was a shining star leading
Wise men to a humble place
where they would find the Gift of Grace 
Laying before their eyes
hope had come to life

The Light of the world was shining
The Light of the world was shining 
He came just like He promised
His love would not be silent

Hearts would quake on Christmas Day
as they looked upon the Savior’s face 
God became a man
they could reach and touch His hands 
The hands that made the blind to see
that carried the weight of suffering 
That washed away our sins
so we could be born again

The world knows Christ is born
oh, the King of love has come
And our hearts will be His throne
it is known, Christ is born
Light of the world, leading us home
Shepherd of Hearts, come for His own

 Sanctus Real
Matt Hammitt, Chris Rohman, Mark Graalman, Jake Rye, Seth Huff

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

On November 3, 2015, the Taurid meteor shower and the Northern Lights were possibly going to be visible in our skies.  So at 10:00 at night (when I’m usually already in bed), Steve and I (and Muffin) drove out into the countryside in hopes of seeing them.  We immediately saw some falling stars which is always fun.  But I had never seen the Northern Lights so I was really hoping to see them, and felt somewhat disappointed as time crept by without a sighting.  Then suddenly the brightest falling star came coursing through the sky with a blazing tail…and it seemed that it came down right in front of us.  It was spectacular!  I did see a couple of moments of the Northern Lights but they were without color and brief.  All was amazing and we were praising God!

As we drove home, and even into the next day, neither of us could get our minds off of the meteor that had seemed to put on a show just for us.  Yes, it died out which was disappointing but expected.  But it caused me to think of The Light of the world, which will never die out.

His name is Jesus the Messiah, Emmanuel.

Leaving Nazareth, He (Jesus) went and lived in Capernaum,
which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali
—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:13-16 (Isaiah 9:1-2)

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.”
John 8:12

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:4 and 9

As the song says, “The world knows Christ is born.” People around the world celebrate Christmas because a special little baby was born. It’s a beautiful story that is retold over and over during this season. (Take time this season to read Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2).  The sad thing is that many people only see Jesus as that baby; they don’t see Him as The Light of the world.  They don’t see that He came as Emmanuel—God with us.

When the bright lights of the Christmas decorations are taken down, the world will seem dark again.  As Isaiah said, there are “…those living in the land of the shadow of death.”  For many this glimpse of Jesus will fade as well, and they will go on searching in the dark.  People everywhere are looking for peace, grace, hope, and life, just as the wise men were looking.  The good news is “a light has dawned!” During this season we have the opportunity to share Jesus, the True Light, with those around us who are looking for more than a month of celebration.

God loved the world (all of us) so much that He sent Jesus to light our way to Him (John 3:16-17).  And Jesus willingly came in obedience to His Father, knowing it was the only way to bring redemption to us, His creation.  Jesus said that He is that Light, and just as sunlight brings natural life to us, His Light brings spiritual life to us.

During this Christmas season, take the time to bask in Jesus, The True Light. He is God’s love and life extended to you.  Take advantage of this time of year when so many are celebrating, to share the Good News that there is one light that will not be turned off or fade away. His Name is Jesus.  He is not just a baby—He is the Savior of the world.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

If you personally are just learning about this truth, I pray that you will realize and accept that “the King of love has come,” and He, Jesus, wants to shine into your life and make your heart His throne.

God became a man…that washed away our sins so we could be born again.

The True Light of the world is shining and will never fade away.  Let Him shine into your life, and then share His Light with all around you.

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming just as You promised.  As the song says Your love would not, could not, and will not be silent.  We are overwhelmed with the realization that You, our Great God and Creator, want to shine into our lives and lead us home to be with You eternally.  We pray for those who have not yet made their heart Your Throne.  May this be the time that they accept You, not just as the Christmas baby but as their Savior.  Please help us to be faithful to share You, The True Light, when we have the opportunity.  Shine, Jesus, shine in and through our lives!  In the precious Name of Jesus, Light of the world, we pray, Amen.

(For confirmation that this was God’s promised plan,
click  here  to read 44 of the Old Testament prophecies
about the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled.)