Go Tell It On the Mountain

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” –
CSLewis

“For we live by believing and not by seeing.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

Did you grow up singing carols and goimg to Christmas performances? If you did, you are probably familiar with the words of the song “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” but have you ever really thought about it? According to Wikipedia, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is an African-American spiritual song, compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr., dating back to at least 1865, that has been sung and recorded by many gospel and secular performers. It is considered a Christmas carol because its original lyrics celebrate the Nativity of Jesus. I’ve sung hundreds of times, and I’m not sure I’ve eve paid attention to the last verse:

He made me a watchman
Upon the city wall,
And if I am a Christian,
I am the least of all.

Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

If I believe this, then God has made me to be a watchman, a crucial role in His Kingdom. The prophet Ezekiel wrote tha God said to him: “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from Me, warn people immediately…..” We are charged to be watchful, and to tell people about God and His Son, Jesus. We are to warn the people away from the temptation posed by the enemy, and the death that awaits when we fall for his charms. We are responsible to share the Good News, from the walls and the watchtowers and the mountaintops. Read Ezekiel’s words closely!

“If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed Me. “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.” – Ezekiel 3:17‭-‬21 NLT

This job is not one that Christians should take lightly. We are celebrating the most momentous gift in the history of mankind. Now is the season for us to take the Good News, and Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born!

15 Days and Counting

Today is the 10th of December, and it is 15 days until the madness ends and adults around the world can take a deep breath and relax. The shopping chaos will end, and the credit card bills and debt collectors will start rolling in. When did the day we choose to celebrate the birth if our LORD, Jesus Christ, become such a retail mob scene? There are people who make it their mission to have the best and the brightest every year, and others who are determined to get the best deals, no matter how early they have to start or how far they need to go. Price, for still others, is no object, as long as they have the biggest, most glittery, most expensive. When did the celebration of the God of the Heaven’s birth on earth become the season to outshine with lights and to outspend; the season to be the gaudiest and the most glittery?

As children, television abounded with things we wanted to be like our tv heroes: a Lassie dog, real or stuffed, holsters and guns and cowboy outfits like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Gene Autrey…. a Lamb Chop puppet, an Easy Bake oven, a doll the cries and wets. There were Cabbage Patch Dolls and Power Rangers, there are Dragon Ball Z and Legos and Fisher Price, and on and on, ad nauseam. Apparently, people spend, on average, $1400 each buying things for Christmas. $1400.00. You may not be surprised by this figure, and you could be one who spends much more. Like most people, I love being on the receiving end of gifts, and even more, l love to be the giver. Of the many things I have gotten over the years, the ones I keep and remember best are not the biggest and brightest, but the things that people have made for me. There is a shoebox among my Christmas decorations that is stuffed full of those things. My bedroom walls are covered with framed cards that my artist cousin made and sent to me. The time spent in the thought and creation, and the bits of themselves that go into the handmade gifts – those things, to me, show the love that Christmas should be about.

The best gift we can ever give to anyone at Christmas is to share the Hope and the Joy and the Peace that only comes from Jesus. Your gift may be serving dinner once a week at a homeless shelter, delivering food and meals to someone who is home bound, or spending an hour at a retirement center and singing carols. These are just a few suggestions. There are tremendous opportunities out there, and we have 15 days till the Big Day.

“And the ONE sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then He said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And He also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the Springs of the Water of LIFE. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their GOD, and they will be My children.” – Revelation 21:5‭-‬7 NLT

Pain, Momentary or Permanent

There are many types and causes of pain. It can be physical, emotional, and spiritual. Medical treatments often cause momentary, or temporary pain to us physically, but when the treatment, surgery, adjustment, whatever, is done, we feel much better. Childbirth can be (and usually is) incredibly painful, but the love that floods the mother when she holds her baby for the first time makes all the pain and discomfort disappear. Many millions of people have physical conditions that cause them to be in constant pain. The emotion pain of cutting a toxic person from our lives can hurt so deeply that we can’t imagine living through it. Watching a loved one suffer, or losing a loved one through death, causes us tremendous pain. It doesn’t matter who you are, how “rich” you are, how much power you hold, or where you live, pain will be your companion at some point in your life.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” – Romans 8:18 NLT

Whether the pain is temporary, fleeting, or something to live with our entire earthly lives, there is a permanent solution. It’s an eternal cure for the deepest, most debilitating pains known to anyone on earth, and it is utterly free, no strings attached. Why, then, do people reject this cure? Who do you know that will reject a gift that is offered with nothing asked for in return? Why are we so suspicious of the gift that will free us, but we grab for the horrible and painful gifts the enemy hands us, gifts that are firmly tied to the giver? I think it’s because the true gift is offered in plain packaging, no frills….. but the enemy wraps his with beautiful wrappings and ribbons and bows and bling.

I confess that for many years I preferred the gaudy gifts. I convinced myself that the beautiful wrappings made up for the ugliness and darkness inside. If I wrapped myself up in the packaging, I could present myself to the world as impervious the the darkness and ugliness. I could hide it from myself. Wrong. There is only so much you can do to hide. EVERYTHING comes to the light, eventually. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the people God put in my path to show me the TRUE Gift. Much of the physical and emotional pain I have dealt with throughout my life could have been avoided if I had paid attention to the real Gift of Love, instead of turning and going through the muck, trying to capture that elusive feeling of “happiness”. Is that where you are today? Treading through the muck, wandering in the pain and hopelessness?

My prayer today is that you will look up, open your eyes and your hands and your life, and really SEE where you are. Reach out to the One Who is able to pull you out of the ugliness! If you can’t stand up or put one foot in front of the other, don’t despair. The One Who is capable of pulling you up will carry you until you can walk, and even then, no matter what, He will ALWAYS be with you. He will never expect you to carry on by yourself, and in fact, even when we turn our backs on us, He will NEVER leave us alone. I know this, because I experience it daily. Even in the darkest parts of my life, He never walked away or forsook me, because I accepted His Gift at a young age…. I just chose to follow the path the world (i.e. the enemy) instead of going with my Savior. I thank the LORD that He didn’t desert me!

Life on earth will never be painless. I struggle financially, I have physical issues, and it is difficult for me to come out of my shell. These will be a part of my life until I die, or until my Jesus returns, and that’s just reality. The beauty of it all is that because I accepted His Gift, l don’t face it alone. His strong Hands are with me to support me and carry me as needed. Plus, I get to spend all of eternity with NO sorrow, NO pain, NO struggles! Don’t know about you, but I would rather live my life now as if Jesus were real (and He IS real and alive), than to face an unknown and dark eternity.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – Revelation 21:4 NLT

Silence….

I have maintained a silence for several days. This time of year, November and December, are difficult for me, as they are for many. Society puts so many expectations on us, plus family and peer pressure to go and do, and to buy all the latest toys and gadgets for gift giving. For so many of us, financial struggles are an ongoing theme. When I was younger, my Grandma would give me five dollar bill. Since I’ve become an adult, I’ve often wondered what she gave up in order to present us with the small amount. It’s so easy to judge, based only on the immediate circumstance, rather than to look further to determine what is reality. My love for her has grown immensely as I have realized the sacrifices she had to have made in order to spoil me and my siblings. In many cases, mine included, we have multiple nieces and nephews, across the ages from baby to married with their own children. Through the year, I get things for them as I come across something I think (hope!) they will enjoy, but it always ends up lopsided as we get nearer to Christmas. I will find I have something for one brother, but nothing for the other…… and no funds to rectify it. What to do? Give nothing to either? Give the gift to the one, and leave the other to feel slighted? Of all the days in the year, Christmas is both the most difficult and one of my favorites to celebrate. Times like this are HARD. Not just for me, but for hundreds of thousands of others. The pressure is on! As hard as it is, I am working to remind myself of what I adore about this season. We celebrate the birth day of our LORD and Saviour, JESUS CHRIST. He is where our focus should be, not on the mound of presents under a tree. Our tradition for our Oklahoma family is to come together Christmas Eve to eat and fellowship and exchange gifts. It will be chaotic with a baby and a 2 year old, an 8 year old, and a 13 and 18 year old…. and all of the corresponding adults, but I love the chaos. I missed out on it for years when I was separated from family. The music and the decorations can work to either help us focus on our Emmanuel, or on the physical, worldly side. If you are estranged from family today, if it is possible, forgive and love them. In many instances it isn’t healthy or possible to be involved with birth family, so use the energy to focus on the ONE Who Loves you more than life itself; the One Who left Heaven to came to earth to sacrifice His life for your salvation. If you are physically alone on this day, look to Jesus: “For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your GOD. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I AM here to help you.” – Isaiah 41:13 NLT

“One night I dreamed a dream. As I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.” “

We Are Messengers

“Look! I am sending My Messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. Then the LORD you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple. The messenger of the Covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – Malachi 3:1 NLT

People have been on tenterhooks for eons, waiting for the messenger of the LORD. If we would only realize that He has already arrived! First, the LORD sent dozens of teachers and preachers and prophets, ending the succession with the man known as John the Baptist. Then John announced the Messiah, JESUS, to us:

“Look! The LAMB of GOD Who takes away the sin of the world! …. Then John testified, “I saw the HOLY SPIRIT descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon Him. I didn’t know He was the ONE, but when GOD sent me to baptize with water, He told me, ‘The ONE on Whom you see the SPIRIT descend and rest is the ONE Who will baptize with the HOLY SPIRIT.’ I saw this happen to JESUS, so I testify that He is The CHOSEN ONE of GOD.” – John 1:29‭-‬34 NLT

Last, JESUS, in His turn, brought us Salvation through His Grace and Sacrifice. Before Jesus left this earth to return to His Father in Heaven, He promised us we would not be alone, ever, again.

“Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. …. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that Joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the FATHER directly, and He will grant your request because you use My Name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using My Name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant Joy. …. Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” – John 16:11‭, ‬22‭-‬24‭, ‬31‭-‬32 NLT
“For we live by believing and not by seeing.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

When JESUS, Messiah, Counselor, King of ALL kings, left this earth, He sent the HOLY SPIRIT to dwell with us and within us, so that we can be the messengers of the Saving Grace of our LORD and our SAVIOUR. Can you get off the tenterhooks today, and let Him into your heart? I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed!

Discouraged, Sad?

Why do we walk around discouraged? Why are we sad? When we remind ourselves of God’s Truth, we should realize that we have no reason – none, zero, zilch! – to be anything but joyful. When I get down, whether because of circumstances or a poor choice and it’s consequences, my friend likes to say to me: “Who’s in control?” Who do you think is in control?

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” – Exodus 14:14 NLT

I can always answer “Not me!” because I know the Truth of Who is in control. He lets us drive until we voluntarily hand it over to Him. He’s a gentleman and won’t ever force us to choose Him.

“This is the message of Good News: There is peace with GOD through JESUS CHRIST, Who is LORD of ALL.” Acts 10:36 NLT

Life is SO much simpler when we let God “drive”!!

“Honor the LORD, you heavenly beings ; honor the LORD for His Glory and Strength. Honor the LORD for the Glory of His Name. Worship the LORD in the Splendor of His Holiness. The Voice of the LORD echoes above the sea. The GOD of Glory Thunders. The LORD Thunders over the mighty sea. The Voice of the LORD is Powerful; the Voice of the LORD is Majestic. The Voice of the LORD splits the mighty cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf; He makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox. The Voice of the LORD strikes with bolts of lightning. The Voice of the LORD makes the barren wilderness quake; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The Voice of the LORD twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare. In His Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” The LORD rules over the floodwaters. The LORD reigns as KING Forever. The LORD gives His people Strength. The LORD Blesses them with Peace.” – Psalms 29:1‭-‬11 NLT

AMEN!