October 23, 2017

The Promise

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Michael W. Smith performed a date of his Christmas tour last December 2012 at my church, and it was my honor and privilege to be included in the choir that accompanied him and the orchestra.  It was in preparation for that concert that I first heard the song, “The Promise.”  The song is intensely beautiful and grand, with a lush orchestral score and choral arrangement.  Combined with the lyrics, it is a song of worship and promise that brings me to tearful and grateful praise – every time I hear it. (In fact, I made myself listen to it so often last year that I quit listening to the words – I was afraid I would start crying during the concert!) To me, it’s message is the essence of Christmas.

It often makes me sad around Christmas time, when I hear people wishing that the “spirit of Christmas” would last the entire year. It makes me sad, because it IS entirely possible – the “spirit of Christmas” is entirely within our grasp.  Granted, Christmastime is often stressful (perhaps even because you have to endure someone else’s stress or impatience), but what do you think of when you think of the “spirit of Christmas?”  Love?  Peace on earth?  A sense of joy?  Of hope?  Of child-like wonder and belief?  People giving, being generous, and watching out for others?  Or perhaps folks gladly volunteering time, money, and/or other resources to help the poor and those less fortunate?  What about a desire for beauty and an appreciation for what we have?  When you think about it – don’t all of those things describe Christ?  When the world wishes for the “spirit of Christmas,” ironically, they don’t realize that they are wishing, literally, for the spirit of Christ to reign.  Hallelujah!   One day, it will, and HE WILL!!

Don’t we, then, sisters, have the “spirit of Christmas” within us every day?  Doesn’t it live within us and want to shape how we live our lives?  Don’t we have the power to make others around us feel like it is Christmas every day?  Perhaps the way to win others to Jesus is to fill our lives with the Spirit of Christ daily.

My favorite verse from “The Promise” says: “……we will see Emmanuel, GOD is with us, GOD is for us, GOD IS IN US, we will see….”  The fulfillment of the promise of the God Child that will redeem us, restore us, heal us and free us lives in us every day!  When we allow that to really sink in, won’t it be easier to have that feeling of Christmas every day?  We can all have it. The world can have it.  Oh, dear God, that is my prayer this Christmas!

Merry Christmas, sisters! May the spirit of the Living God fill you this Christmas, and every day thereafter!  I hope you enjoy the song – I hope the praise in Heaven feels like this!

The Promise  ~  Michael W. Smith

Fear not, oh, Israel for there is peace still to come;a word to break the silence, a Promise set to bloom; the Promise to redeem us, one to free us; break this silence in the violence in our lives

Emmanuel is sure to find us soon; the mighty rule to Jesse’s star of truth; and bring us unto glory, tell His story; heal the broken and restore thee to His name

The star will guide us to the humble place; where Christ the King reveals His earthly face; and we will see Emmanuel; God is with us, God is for us, God is in us, we will see

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

We’re singing Hallelujah! We’re singing Hallelujah! Emmanuel, our God is with us

Emmanuel, our God is with us

Go Tell It On the Mountain

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Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.
Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens there shone a holy light.

The shepherds feared and trembled when lo, above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Saviour’s birth!

Down in a lonely manger the humble Christ was born,
and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.

lyrics: John Work, Jr., music: Af­ri­can-Amer­i­can spir­it­u­al, performed by: Sara Evans

 ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

Go tell!  How do you voice your ‘halleluJAH!’ during this season?  Such an opportunity…such open doors to speak out our praise of our great God and His provision of love for all mankind!

Angel Gabriel was the first to go tell! when he was sent to the young Mary:
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.”
But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
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.
Luke 1:26-31

An angel along with a host of angels were also sent to go tell! the good news to the shepherds:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
Luke 2:8-13

When the shepherds were returning from Bethlehem where they had seen the proof of the angels’ good news, they also had the compulsion to go tell!
When they had seen Him <the Babe>, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Verses 17-20

Just as the Lord was leaving  and returning to Heaven, the disciples were commanded to go tell!:
Jesus came up…to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

And we, too, have a message to go tell!
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?
And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
Romans 10:13-15 NLT

Oh, halleluJAH!  We HAVE heard, we DO know, and we DO believe!  So let’s go tell! 

so whether you GO TELL on a mountain, or on a city street, or at the beach…in your workplace, or at your child’s school…in the grocery store, or on that long checkout line at the ‘big box’ store…at the supper table, or as you talk with your kiddos and grandbabies—just GO TELL! 

* * * * *

Lord, we love You oh-so-very much!  And we are oh-so-very thankful for Your perfect Gift of Love to us!  May our oh-so-very full hearts and lips just spill over with praises!  (And, Father, if we should feel hesitant or anxious to do so…please encourage us through Your Holy Spirit.  Remind us that we are Your ambassadors!  And we have an awesome message to tell!  Thank You!)  Praying and praising and asking these things in Jesus’ precious Name.  Amen.

Twelve Days of Meaning

 

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I am going to admit that I never really thought much about the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” until I was sitting in church one morning. I never really considered that each of the twelve things could have certain meaning—a bigger, broader, spiritual meaning.  Consider the following meanings as you listen to this song.

Since we all know that the stanzas repeat themselves and grow as each day is added, I will only refer to the last stanza:

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Twelve Drummers Drumming
Eleven Pipers Piping
Ten Lords a-Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a-Milking
Seven Swans a-Swimming
Six Geese a-Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The twelve days of this song refer to the twelve days that start on Christmas Day.  If you notice, the song repeatedly says “…my true love sent to me.”  The true love is that of the love that we receive from God. His first gift to us is the partridge in the pear tree, or His only begotten Son, Jesus. He loved us more than we could ever know and sent His Son to save us.

So as to not leave the entire stanza out, days 2-7 mean many things:

Day 2:   Two Turtle Doves: The Old and the New Testament
Day 3:   Three French Hens: Faith, Hope, Charity
Day 4:   Four Calling Birds: The Four Gospels
Day 5:   Five Golden Rings: The Five Books of Moses
Day 6:   Six Geese a-Laying: Six Days of Creation
Day 7:   Seven Swans a-Swimming: 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Now day 8, Eight Maids a-Milking, can really hit home. Day 8 represents the 8 Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

These are the blessings of God on those who believe in Him and show Him to the world. The poor in spirit will receive the kingdom of Heaven. The mourning will be comforted. The meek will inherit the earth. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. Those who show mercy will be shown mercy by God. The pure in heart will see God. The peacemakers will be seen as the sons of God. The persecuted (which I like believe include those who are persecuted in the name of Jesus in this day and time) will also see the kingdom of Heaven. The blessed people of the earth will receive the kingdom of Heaven.  For me, these blessings are the ones that we will all receive when Jesus returns. It won’t be sectioned out because there are those out there who show a lot of these traits -mercy, love, peacemaking, mourn, etc.- plus we know that God does not play favorites. I believe that we will all see the kingdom of Heaven because as Christians, we are persecuted because of righteousness-because we claim Jesus as our Savior.  Of course, I could be wrong but I do believe this to be true. This is just an interpretation. I guess I will have to wait until Christ returns to see if my beliefs are right or wrong in some perspective.

As for Days 9 through 12:
Day 9:   Nine Ladies Dancing: Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Day 10: Ten Lords a-Leaping: Ten Commandments
Day 11:  Eleven Pipers Piping: Eleven Faithful Disciples
Day 12:  Twelve Drummers Drumming: Twelve Articles of the Apostles Creed

Dear Heavenly Father: Thank You for this joyous season. Thank You for the blessings that are listed in the Beatitudes. We here on earth cannot wait to receive those that are destined for us when we reach the kingdom of Heaven. Please be with us all as we go through this season and remember our Savior. In Jesus name, Amen.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Francesca Battistelli

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Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child
and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1:18-23

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, o
ur tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
Psalms 137:1-4

O Come, O Come Emmanuel” has long been a favorite song of mine.  More of a somber tone than most carols sung this time of year, it expresses sadness and longing, while at the same time being hopeful. In this song you feel the disquiet and loneliness of Israel in captivity and the readiness to be rescued – “Come, Emmanuel, ransom the captives!  Free your people from tyranny! Save us from death! Cheer us up and give us hope!” The tone of the song – melancholy and reflective – invites me to identify with Israel: ‘Have I not, too, been a captive to sin? Haven’t I also felt lonely and separated from God? Am I not also subject to discouragement? Does death not also want to claim me? Don’t I also, desperately, need to be rescued from darkness?’

Ah, but the song is not finished!  REJOICE – we are told – REJOICE! “Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”  And He did.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you:
He is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

God IS with us! Through the birth of that Child the plan of God to save and redeem us was put into motion. Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we indeed have cause for rejoicing – we have been freed from captivity!  Death has no claim over us!  We have a hope for life everlasting!  So while the tone of the song is contemplative, the message is clear: “REJOICE!!” your salvation is here!

Merry Christmas!  May you feel the exhilarating joy of freedom in our Lord Jesus!

O come, O come, Emmanuel  and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel  shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
from depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel  shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Welcome To Our World

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Hearing this song brings many vivid images to my mind: those of Mary and Joseph holding their new child, the odors of animals that have lived in the stable, the gentle lowing of the livestock. Then all of that is forgotten when this precious, heavenly Babe is held in their arms. I can imagine both of them with tears in their eyes as the infant stretches and yawns.

Then I recall the story of how the angel appeared to Mary, then to Joseph. There were some troubling times before they were together. Heavenly intervention was in order for Mary and the Babe to thrive and survive.  Joseph bended and heeded the advice he was given.

But after he had considered this,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus,
because He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20-21

I wonder if Joseph thought, “Me, raise Jesus, our Messiah? Are you sure? I’m a carpenter!”  God prevailed. I am sure there was a peace that fell on Joseph like a warm winter coat. That was all the confidence he needed to proceed and trust what was to happen.

Welcome to Our World   ~  sung by Michael W. Smith, written by Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that You don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

Dear Lord,

Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be born of man and to live on the earth. Thank You for thinking of a way for Jesus to be a part of everyone’s story. Thank You for the redemption of the Cross and bringing hope to all of us and peace as we seek to know You more intimately. Help us to focus on You and Your Son, not on ourselves and what we think makes others happy. If we line up with Your will, then all things will work out as You have ordained them.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Presence for Christmas

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I love the word “presence” when thinking of my God.  This word brings a constant in my life.    It is a word I can count on always no matter what is going on in my day.

Being filled with and surrounded by the Presence of God is the most wonderful gift we could ever receive.

In the busy Christmas noise all the lights, the bells, the toys, I have found You are the only source of comfort and joy.

 Lord, I want Your Presence for Christmas.  I want Your Presence for Christmas.  I long to feel Your spirit speaking peace to my heart.  Of all the gifts I may receive, there’s only one I really need.  And it’s Your Presence, Your Presence for Christmas.

 When the holiday is through, and the year is fresh and new, what will linger are the moments spent, my Lord, just worshipping You.

 Lord, I want Your Presence for Christmas.  I want Your Presence for Christmas.  I long to feel Your spirit speaking peace to my heart.  Of all the gifts I may receive, there’s only one I really need.  And it’s Your Presence, Your Presence for Christmas.

Presence for Christmas ~ sung by the Sisters

**********

Are you looking for something more permanent that doesn’t only come once a year and only lasts a little while?

Then ask for  “Presence” not “presents.”

Dear God,

I pray that each one of us will desire Your Presence more every day in our life and that You will help us to see “Presence” is constant and “presents” are temporary.   In Your name I pray.  Amen!

I Need A Silent Night

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I’ve made the same mistake before 
Too many malls, too many stores 
December traffic, Christmas rush 
It breaks me till I push and shove 
Children are crying while mothers are trying 
To photograph Santa and sleigh 
The shopping and buying and standing forever in line 
What can I say? 
I need a silent night, a holy night 
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise 
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here 
To end this crazy day with a silent night 
December comes then disappears 
Faster and faster every year 
Did my own mother keep this pace 
Or was the world a different place? 
Where people stayed home wishing for snow 
Watching three channels on their TV 
Look at us now rushing around 
Trying to buy Christmas peace 
I need a silent night, a holy night 
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise 
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here 
To end this crazy day with a silent night 
What was it like back there in Bethlehem 
With peace on earth, good will toward men? 
Every shepherd’s out in the field 
Keeping watch over their clock by night 
And the glory of the Lord shone around them 
And they were so afraid 
And the angels said fear not for behold 
I bring you good news of a great joy that shall be for all people 
For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord 
And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace 
I need a silent night, a holy night 
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise 
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here 
To end this crazy day with a silent night 
To end this crazy day with a silent night

I Need A Silent Night  ~  Amy Grant


In the busy-ness of this Christmas season maybe you can relate to this song…I know I can!  I long for the days when life was simple.  Today in our fast moving, high-paced world it is easy to get caught up in frenzy in the chaos and the noise. To enter in to the peaceful place we must purpose ourselves to be still before the Lord.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

When I think of a ‘midnight clear’ I think of peace, and resting in His presence.  My prayer for you and for me is that we would take the time away from the busy-ness to hear the still, small voice of the Lord as we sit quietly in His presence free from  the chaos and the noise.  May we choose to end our days with a Silent Night resting in Him!  <3

The Lord gives his people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.

Psalm 29 :11

Away in a Manger

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If you were to ask me what my favorite Christmas carol/song would be, my first instinct would be to say “Away in a Manger”, by Mahalia Jackson.  (THAT version – it MUST be Mahalia!)  When I was in middle school my family moved to Nashville from Ohio, where we had literally lived around the corner from my grandparents.  Each year at Christmas break we would travel back to Ohio to spend two weeks with my grandparents and extended family.  I loved those times, we had too many people in too small of a house, but it was always a time of laughter, movies, cards, a TON of food and music – LOTS of music. One particular compilation album my grandparents owned included “Away in a Manger” by Mahalia Jackson.  I had never heard anyone sing like her!  What I didn’t realize then was that she had been an incredible gospel singer – and when she sang about Jesus, sisters, you were having worship! She sang “Away in a Manger” like she was singing in the presence of God.  Even at a young age, that song affected me at such a spiritual and emotional level that it still brings me to tears and worship – every time I hear it.

Fast forward to me as a college student, and the compilation album has been lost.  This track of Mahalia’s is nowhere to be found. No record, no tape (this shows you how old I am…), no CD of hers had it available, and I couldn’t find it on iTunes. I searched for this song for YEARS, sisters, no exaggeration.  Then one year, my closest friend at the time gave me a Christmas gift. “It’s not much,” she said, “but it was all I could get for you.”  I opened it to find….. a CD with the Christmas music of Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole – with “Away in a Manger” included.  SHE FOUND IT!! It was the one thing that mattered the most to me and she presented it to me in her true humble fashion. The best gift I had ever been given.  Well, by a person….

The best gift I have ever been given is the gift of Jesus.  And He, in turn, gives the best gifts!  James 1:17 says; “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ as our Lord (Acts 2:38).  Romans 12:6-8 tells us that we are all given gifts in order to strengthen the body of Christ.   We are also given grace (thank You, Lord!): “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Perhaps you are like me. You have searched for years for the thing that would make you happy, but have never found it.  It is Jesus. Just like that song ushered (and still ushers) me into the Presence of God.  That Savior, born away in a manger, brings us boldly into the Presence of a God that loves you and wants to shower you with gifts – gifts that no one (but He!) could ever give you. Won’t you receive His gifts today?

I LOVE THIS SONG!!!  I hope you enjoy it, too. When she sings: “I love thee, Lord Jesus! I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray,” it brings me to tears every time.  “I DO love You, Lord Jesus. Thank you for loving me!  Stay close.”

 

Merry Christmas!  May God bless you abundantly with His good and perfect gifts!

Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down hHs sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes; I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray; bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

Breath of Heaven

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Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) ~ Amy Grant

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

In this beautiful ballad, the point of view is Mary’s–the mother of Christ.  She, as portrayed in differing accounts, always wondered why God chose her. She had always been faithful to God, as was Noah, when she was chosen to be a virgin mother. She questions if someone wiser should have been chosen. Yet, she still offers herself to God’s plan of love, hope, joy, peace, and mercy. She knows that the Lord will never leave her as God does not leave His children to suffer alone.

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

I like to believe that Mary was silently praying when the angel appeared to her to tell her she would bear God’s Son. I would have been frightened, too, if I had been in her shoes. She was favored by God for her faithfulness to Him. That is why God chose her. From Mary’s point of view in the ballad, she knows that she must walk the path laid before her alone. This was from an earthly standpoint, but she was not alone. God never left her. God was with her. Even though her world was cold, she was warm with the light of God.

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

The ‘Breath of Heaven’ was on Mary from the moment that God chose her to bring forth the first Christmas. God poured His holiness on her as she requested. God lightened her darkness through the gift of His only Son. Mary held God as the most holy, and she asked God for His breath to be upon her—before and after Christ’s birth. She knew that God would hold her together through the difficulty she would face as being a virgin with child.

We should be as faithful to God as Mary was. God breathes on us every day of our lives—from the moment of our creation to our death. He is forever with us. Jesus is the Light that clears away the darkness and brings holiness to all that accept Him. What a great holiday gift!

* * * * *

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your gift of light, peace, hope, joy, and mercy. Without it we could not be close to You. Thank You for lighting our darkness and never leaving us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

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The first candle in the Advent wreath is the Candle of Hope.  This past Sunday my pastor referred to it, interestingly, as the Candle of Waiting.  How are “Hope” and “Waiting” related?  I think the link between the two is in one definition of the word faith—we have a need, and we turn to God to fill it.  In other words, we put our hope in His power and compassion, and we wait for His perfect timing.  David writes on this often in the Psalms:

Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

This is one of the reasons I love the hymn “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”.  It perfectly describes not a tiny baby in a manger, but instead the Savior’s mission, His whole reason for being:  to deliver us from our sins, and from captivity (of all kinds).  All we have to do is wait for Him.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus ~ Prichard/Wesley; sung by Ashley Spurling

The hymn shows our relationship to God:  we are weak, and He is strong.  We are tired and can’t go it alone, so Jesus was born to deliver us, give us rest, and console us.  We are captive to sins and fears, so God sent His son free us.

I love the Christmas carols that show the innocence and fragility of a newborn baby, and how amazing it is that God poured Himself into such a fragile vessel.  This song is not one of those!  This is a song about a Hero, a Man with a Plan.  This carol shows Jesus’s purpose in His life’s ministry, and how He fulfills the promises God has made to His people.

I like the dual message in this hymn, as well.  “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is a Christmas carol, describing the birth of the Messiah — but it also is a plea for the second Coming!  We light the Candle of Hope—the Candle of Waiting—and we have faith that the Lord will keep His promises today, just as He kept them to Israel when he sent The Savior.  We have faith in the blood of the Lamb who washes our sins away, and we wait for Him to come again!  Hallelujah!

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Please pray with me:  Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son.  Thank You for sending a Hero to save us from ourselves.  Strengthen our faith as we wait, and help us to continually seek You and praise You and be Your hand in this world.  Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, come!  In His Holy name, Amen.