August 23, 2017

God Draws Near

adventwk4seekHimoholynight

 

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

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

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

Luke 2:8-14

*   ♥   ~   ✝   ~   ★   *

Did you ever wonder why all the shepherds in that area, and even some of the town’s people, didn’t respond to the angel’s appearance to the shepherds?  Due to some translations and traditional art works, we tend to picture the night sky filled with the brilliance of the angel’s appearance. But the original Greek words say this, “and behold, an angel of Lord stood by them, and glory of Lord shone around them….” God sent His angel to make a personal appearance to these humble shepherds.

What a shock to have someone suddenly appear at your campsite, shining with a light—“the radiance of The Lord’s glory”—like nothing you could ever imagine. (No wonder they were terrified!) The angel’s reassurance calmed their souls, and they heard the greatest news (the news all Israel had been waiting for) they would ever hear—the Messiah has come! Then a vast host of angels joined in with praise to God. Wow, what a scene, and it was just for this lowly audience of a few poor shepherds.

I think most people around the world consider God as very powerful, unreachable, and impersonal. This event with the shepherds shows us a very different God. Oh yes…He is powerful; but He uses His power to reach us, to draw near to us.  God is very personal.

In the Old Testament we see that God appeared to Abraham, Noah, Moses, and many others time and again. His message to them was very personal. If they heeded His Words and obeyed Him, they were blessed and many others were blessed as well as they shared what God instructed them to share.

How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You,
to dwell in Your courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.
Psalm 65:4

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
to all who call upon Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

Again in the New Testament we see numerous times when Jesus personally appeared to those He wanted to bless. They weren’t anyone special from the world’s point of view, but they were special to God. Here’s just three such events:

So when they [the disciples] had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat;
and they were afraid.
John 6:19

And it came to pass as they [followers] conversed and reasoned,
that Jesus himself drawing nigh, went with them;…
Luke 24:15

As he [Saul] was approaching Damascus on this mission,
a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”
Acts 9:3-5

Although it may seem implied, the Scriptures (Luke chapter 2) don’t actually say that the angels instructed the shepherds to go find Jesus. However, because God drew near to them, they were drawn to Him, and went searching until they found Him. Neither were they told to go tell others, but in their excitement of personally experiencing God Incarnate, they told “everyone” they could, and they too were “astonished.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the Baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this Child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

Luke 2:15-18

We may be small and insignificant from the world’s perspective, yet to God we are like the lowly shepherds–we are very important to Him. He is personal. He has drawn near to us by sending His Light, Jesus, to dwell in our hearts. During this Christmas, we have the wonderful opportunity to show others just what a personal God we love and serve by sharing Jesus—Emmanuel—with anyone who will listen.

So, go tell it on the mountain, (in your workplace and in the mall), go tell it everywhere that Jesus Christ is born!

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!

*   ♥   ~   ✝   ~   ★   *

Dear God, thank You for drawing near to us through Jesus, so that we can draw near to You. Thank You for dwelling in us who believe, so that others will have the opportunity to be astonished at what a personal God You really are. May we be Your “little lights” so that others will be drawn to You. In the Precious Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. It Is So!

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.)

Emmanuel, God With Us

phssChristmasgraphic2014

You’ve come to bring peace, to be Love
To be nearer to us
You’ve come to bring life, to be Light
To shine brighter in us

Oh, Emmanuel
God with us

Our Deliverer, You are Savior
In Your presence we find our strength
Over ev’rything, our Redemption
God with us
You are God with us

Oh, You’ve come to be hope to this world
For Your honor and name
And You’ve come to take sin, to bear shame
And to conquer the grave

You are here
You are holy
We are standing in Your glory

All Sons and Daughters
Singer/Songwriters: Jason Ingram, Leslie Jordan

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Joy
Love
Hope
Light
Peace
Savior
Strength
Deliverer
Redemption
EmmanuelGod with us!

In this beautiful song, these names are sung in praise of Jesus.  They are just a few of the names/titles by which Jesus is referred to throughout the Scriptures…some proclaimed by God, some through His prophets, and some given by man.  One of the most significant is Immanuel.

The name Emmanuel or Immanuel  of the Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל ” God [is] with us” consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (EL, meaning ‘God’) and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning ‘with us’). **  And this very special name, as Matthew tells us, means “God with us.” Jesus Christ is Immanuel, “God with us.” This name was first given by the prophet Isaiah more than 700 years before Jesus’ birth.

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

God’s people trusted and waited for the fulfillment of this promise for a long time.  Mary and Joseph, having been raised by parents who believed this promise and taught them about the coming Messiah, also had it in their own hearts.  Can you only imagine what stirred in Joseph’s heart as the angel told him,

…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 fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew 1:20-23

{read the whole passage here}

When God sent His Son to ‘dwell among us’ it was just as if God was with us.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God; and all things were made through Him
and apart from Him nothing was made which was made…
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,
glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth
John 1:1-3, 14

This verse speaks of ‘God with us’  so clearly to me!  What an incredible plan Almighty God had from the beginning to rescue and redeem us—to save us by sending His Son to live among us.

Jesus always gave honor and glory to His Father…never placing it upon Himself (even when others tried to).  I am sure His example constantly showed His disciples that He always did His Father’s will…and that they should do so also.

Even towards the end He faithfully and lovingly prepared and comforted their hearts. During the Last Supper, when He was alone with just those closest to Him, Jesus told them many times and in many ways that He no longer would be with them BUT they would not be alone…He would send the Paraclete—the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  And reminded them again and again how He had been Emmanuel—God with {them}.

Jesus said to him, “I am The Way, and The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”  Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My Name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it.”

John 14:6-14

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

What a loving Lord and Savior!  He came to be Immanuel ~ God with us.  In this one name, everything mankind has ever needed—and still needs!—was brought to earth.   God’s promise of salvation was fulfilled in His Gift of Jesus.  How blessed we are that it was His plan for Jesus to become Immanuel—God with us. May we be thankful for that provision as we wait for the fullness of Immanuel when Jesus returns to gather the Church and we live for eternity in His Presence…truly God <will be> with us!

The songwriter of the carol, Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, Charles Wesley, wrote his understanding of the awesome glory of Jesus being Emmanuel with the words below; may we echo the same!

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.

** click here for more info from the Strong’s Concordance of the Bible

Emmanuel, God with Us

luke1.78-79adventlight…Because of the tender mercy of our God,
His Light from on high has visited us,
to shine on those who sit in darkness and in death’s shadow,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78 and 79

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

A sign shall be given a virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing undiminished deity
The glory of the nations a light for all to see
That hope for all who will embrace His warm reality

Immanuel, our God is with us
And if God is with us who could stand against us
Our God is with us, Immanuel

For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold your light has come

So what will be Your answer? Will You hear the call?
Of Him who did not spare His Son but gave Him for us all
On earth there is no power there is no depth or height
That could ever separate us from the love of God in Christ

God With Us

phssChristmasgraphic2014

You’ve come to bring peace, to be Love
To be nearer to us
You’ve come to bring life, to be Light
To shine brighter in us

Oh, Emmanuel
God with us

Our Deliverer, You are Savior
In Your presence we find our strength
Over ev’rything, our Redemption
God with us
You are God with us

Oh, You’ve come to be hope to this world
For Your honor and name
And You’ve come to take sin, to bear shame
And to conquer the grave

You are here
You are holy
We are standing in Your glory

Singer/Songwriters: Jason Ingram, Leslie Jordan  ~ All Sons and Daughters

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Joy
Love
Hope
Light
Peace
Savior
Strength
Deliverer
Redemption
EmmanuelGod with us!

In this beautiful song, these names are sung in praise of Jesus.  They are just a few of the names/titles by which Jesus is referred to throughout the Scriptures…some proclaimed by God, some through His prophets and some given by man.  One of the most significant is Immanuel.

The name Emmanuel (also Immanuel or Imanu’el) of the Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל ” God [is] with us” consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (EL, meaning ‘God’) and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning ‘with us’). **  And this very special name, as Matthew tells us, means “God with us.” Jesus Christ is Immanuel, “God with us.” This name was first given by the prophet Isaiah more than 700 years before Jesus’ birth.

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

God’s people trusted and waited for the fulfillment of this promise for a long time.  Mary and Joseph, having been raised by parents who believed this promise and taught them about the coming Messiah, also had it in their own hearts.  Can you only imagine what stirred in Joseph’s heart as the angel told him,

…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 fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:20-23
{read the whole passage here}

When God sent His Son to ‘dwell among us’ it was as if God was with us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God; and all things were made through Him
and apart from Him nothing was made which was made…
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,
glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth
John 1:1-3, 14

This verse speaks that ‘God with us’ to me so clearly!  What an incredible plan Almighty God had from the beginning to rescue and redeem us—to save us by sending His Son to live among us.

Jesus always gave honor and glory to His Father…never placing it upon Himself (even when others tried to).  I am sure His example constantly showed His disciples that He always did His Father’s will…and that they should do so also.

Even towards the end He faithfully and lovingly prepared and comforted their hearts. During the Last Supper, when He was alone with just those closest to Him, Jesus told them many times and in many ways that He no longer would be with them BUT they would not be alone…He would send the Paraclete—the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  And reminded them again and again how He had been Emmanuel—God with {them}.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”  Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My Name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it.”

John 14:6-14

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

What a loving Lord and Savior!  He came to be Immanuel ~ God with us.  In this one name, everything mankind has ever needed—and still needs!—was brought to earth.   God’s promise of salvation was fulfilled in His Gift of Jesus.  How blessed we are that it was His plan for Jesus to become Immanuel—God with us. May we be thankful for that provision as we wait for the fullness of Immanuel when Jesus returns to gather the Church and we live for eternity in His Presence…truly God <will be> with us!

The songwriter of the carol, Hark, The Herald Angels Sing, Charles Wesley, wrote his understanding of the awesome glory of Jesus being Emmanuel with the words below; may we echo the same!

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.

** click here for more info from the Strong’s Concordance of the Bible

Emmanuel

gchcarolsbloggraphic

This song only has 15 words (not counting the repeats) in the whole song. Hmm, it must not say much, right? Wrong! These 15 words are some of the most powerful words you will ever sing. Once those 15 words get down into your spirit, you will never be the same!

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Wonderful Counselor
Lord of life, Lord of all
He’s the Prince of Peace
Mighty God, Holy One
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

 

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew 1:23

There are many more Scriptures that promise that God is with us.

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding,
so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true—
even in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
1 John 5:20

Here’s a few others to look up: Isaiah 7:14, John 1:1,14, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Isaiah 44:24, 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Why is it important that we remember that God is with us through His Son Jesus? Look at Who Jesus is:

Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor:

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:5-7

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
Psalm 119:24

Jesus is the Lord of life:

I am the Bread of life.
John 6:48
I am the resurrection and the life.
John 11:25

Jesus is the Lord of all:

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel,
telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”
Acts 10:36

Jesus is the Prince of Peace:
For unto us a child is born…Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.”
John 14:27

Jesus is Mighty God:

The Mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken,
and called the earth from the rising of the sun until the going down thereof.
Psalm 50:1

Jesus is the Holy One:

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
Psalm 22:2-4

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:9-11

Has Emmanuel been your focus during this Christmas season? As it comes to an end and we move back into the busy-ness of life, we will leave the Christmas carols behind but let’s not leave Jesus behind. Let’s take Jesus with us! Jesus is our all-in-all. He is everything we need. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. This is what God wants for us in 2014!

* * * * *

Dear Jesus, I have just scratched the surface of what it means for us to have You—Emmanuel—living in and through our lives. As we move into 2014, I pray that we will take time to ponder and learn the depth of this Truth. We are so grateful that You are everything we need! We bow in humble adoration to our Counselor, our Lord, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the Holy One, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

The Promise

gchcarolsbloggraphic

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

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.