May 29, 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

*    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

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!

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 
   *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *
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

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

A King Like This

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A King like this, majesty
Laying in a manger
A King like this
Unto us is born a Savior
The Light, the Light has come
A King like this, the highest
Name and the song of heaven
A King like this born of
Flesh into our suffering
The Light, the Light has come

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

A King like this, a saving
Love that would not forsake us
Betrayed by a kiss and led
To the cross for our forgiveness
The Light, the Light has come

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes
lift up our eyes
lift up your eyes

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

A King like this, a throne of grace
That will stand forever
The angels sing glory, glory, hallelujah
The Light, the Light has come
The Light, the Light has come

Chris Tomlin

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

How many heirs to a throne, a king-to-be, have you heard of who were born in some lowly, stinky, dingy place? Personally, I can only think of one–Jesus.
By prophecy and lineage, Jesus was born a king.

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jeremiah 23:5-6

“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David.
And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
Luke 1:26-33

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah,
a descendant of David and of Abraham…
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David,
fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile,
and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.
Matthew 1:1, 16-17

But why a stable? When a gem is found in the dirt and mud of a mine, it really stands out as something different than the ordinary rocks surrounding it. When a beautiful, delicate flower is found in the weeds, it makes one stop and take notice. When a precious, beautiful baby is born in a less than appealing place (such as a stable), everyone stares in amazement.  I believe God wanted the contrast so the people would notice, and He still wants that today.

Jesus was the little baby born in that dingy stable, so that the shepherds would stop and take notice.

Jesus was the little child who had a major star shining over His head so that the wise men could find Him and worship Him.

Jesus is The Light of the world so we will stop and take notice in our otherwise dark world.

Jesus is our Savior Who died an agonizing death on the cross so that we would bow before Him to receive our salvation.

Jesus is The King sitting on Heaven’s Throne that we might lift up our eyes in worship to Him, our Lord and Savior, for all eternity.

A King like this, a saving
Love that would not forsake us

A King like this, a throne of grace
That will stand forever

The Light has come!

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there.
Its rider was named Faithful and True,
for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war.
On His robe at His thigh was written this title:
King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Revelation 19:11-16

There is no better day than today to stop and take notice of The King whose throne was once a manger in a dingy stable, but Who now sits on The Throne of Grace in Heaven.  Join with me as ‘I bow my heart before no other name, I bow my heart before no other King,’ only Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Lift up your eyes, The Light has come! Let us sing with the angels,

Glory, glory, Hallelujah, The Light, The Light has come!

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

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.)

Born Is The King

phssChristmasgraphic2014
Born unto us this day the Savior
Gifted from Heaven to a manger
Hope of the world tonight for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmastime

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmastime
It’s Christmastime

It’s Christmastime

Phillips, Craig and Dean
Writers: Scott Ligertwood and Matt Crocker

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”
Luke 2:10 NLT

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Matthew 2:10 NASB

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 NJK

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:14 NKJV

I think I may have found a new favorite Christmas song.  Heard this song for the first time and I could not wait to hear it again.  To me, this song reflects exactly what Matthew 2:10 NASB is talking about: “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

We have so much to rejoice about yet we get so caught up in the worldly ideas of Christmas; we forget to stop and celebrate the great
Gift we have been given. There is a line in an Alabama Christmas song that says:

The gift is just what’s in your heart and not what’s in your hand

I need to remind myself of that quite frequently.  Christmas joy should come from what is in our hearts.  Our voices should be lifted in praise for what this one birth means to the entire world.  As Romans 15:10 states:

Again it says,
“Rejoice and celebrate, O Gentiles, along with His people.”
And again,“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him!”

This song is that happy celebration of the glorious Christmas event. There is such joy in this song!  You can’t help but sing along in a loud, unrestrained voice. “Born is the King” is a great reminder to celebrate the birth of Jesus with unrestrained joy.

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about?