Unto Us

Oh what a day, for CHRIST was born today!

“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 9:6 ESV

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His Name IMMANUEL” (which means, GOD with us).” – Matthew 1:21‭, ‬23 ESV

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His Name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” – Luke 1:31‭-‬32a ESV

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of Great JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, Who is CHRIST the LORD. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising GOD and saying, “Glory to GOD in the Highest, and on earth Peace among those with whom He is pleased!” – Luke 2:10‭-‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

“Now after JESUS was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His Star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” – Matthew 2:1‭-‬2 ESV

Worship and celebrate the LORD, JESUS CHRIST, KING of Kings, IMMANUEL, PRINCE OF PEACE, SON of the MOST HIGH!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What Is REAL LOVE?

This is LOVE; the acceptance of the Will of the FATHER of ALL, even at the very real risk of ostracism or even being stoned to death by becoming pregnant before marriage: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His Name JESUS. He will be Great and will be called the SON of the MOST HIGH. And the LORD GOD will give to Him the throne of his father David, and He will Reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the LORD; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:31‭-‬33‭, ‬38 ESV

This is LOVE; the Absolute belief that her cousin, Mary, was pregnant with the Son of GOD, the MESSIAH: “….. and [Elizabeth] exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and Blessed is the fruit of your womb! And Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” – Luke 1:42‭, ‬45 ESV

This is LOVE; shown by the man the Almighty GOD chose to serve as father to GOD’s ONLY SON while on earth: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called His Name JESUS.” – Matthew 1:24‭-‬25 ESV

This is LOVE; as demonstrated by the proclamation and worship of the Baby JESUS at His birth: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising GOD and saying, “GLORY to GOD in the Highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” – Luke 2:13‭-‬14 ESV

This is LOVE; the prophecy of Zechariah, husband of Elizabeth and father of John the Baptizer, who proclaimed JESUS to the world: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the LORD to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender Mercy of our GOD, whereby the Sunrise shall visit us from on High to give Light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:76‭-‬79 ESV

This is LOVE: the Adoration and acceptance of the Magi that this baby boy, this child, was, indeed, the SAVIOUR and MESSIAH of the world – “And going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11 ESV

This is LOVE; the Love of our LORD and Triune GOD in the person of JESUS CHRIST for us, His friends: “This is My Commandment, that you love one another as I have Loved you. Greater Love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my FATHER I have made known to you.” – John 15:12‭-‬15 ESV (also read John 10:11 and 1 John 3:16)

This is LOVE; that JESUS CHRIST, Almighty GOD, would leave His place in Heaven – a place where He is worshipped and adored by the entire heavenly host, something far outside of anything we can humanly imagine – He left all of that in order to come to us, a baby, 100% man and 100% GOD. He came to live on earth with us, as a human, to encounter temptations and trials and tribulations beyond anything any other man has ever, or will ever, endure, including gruesome torture and an inhumane death.

WHY??

Because: this is what LOVE really looks like. This is LOVE; the LOVE of our LORD, CREATOR, and MOST HIGH: “For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His ONLY SON, that whoever believes in HIM should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 ESV Would you, as a parent, allow your child to be sacrificed? I would willingly step in and become the sacrifice, but I would kill before allowing it to be my child that becomes the sacrificed.

And finally, This is LOVE, as shown by our FATHER: Whoever confesses that JESUS is the SON of GOD, GOD abides in him, and he in GOD. So we have come to know and to believe the Love that GOD has for us. GOD IS LOVE, and whoever abides in Love abides in GOD, and GOD abides in him. If anyone says, “I love GOD,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love GOD whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves GOD must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:15‭-‬16‭, ‬20‭-‬21 ESV

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!

A Spicy Christmas

I opened my box of spices this morning! (Remember, I’m still unpacking and organizing from my move 😁 ) It was an insulated box, and the moment I lifted the top, the wonderful aroma of all the spices drifted out and enveloped me in warmth and memories. Cinnamon and nutmeg reminded me of my Grandma and my Mom making our ‘Christmas pudding’ and loads of cookies. We always had Apple Pudding, a cake-like dessert redolent with apples and cinnamon, and lots of assorted cookies…. add in vanilla and nutmeg and allspice; turmeric and chili powder, and the room becomes a tumult of spicy smells.

All of this reminded me of our SAVIOUR and the gifts that were brought to welcome Him to our world. Frankincense, an aromatic resin used as an ingredient of the incense burned in the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, as a symbol of the Divine Name. Myrrh, another aromatic resin was brought to JESUS. It was also used in the Temple, both as a part of a consecrated incense and as an ingredient in the Holy anointing oil. I believe they were brought the CHRIST child to Glorify Him as the Divine LORD, and in preparation of His Body for His death.

From http://www.gotquestions.org/gold-frankincense-myrrh.html :

Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. The gift of frankincense to the Christ child was symbolic of His willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, analogous to a burnt offering. [Myrrh] was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion (Mark 15:23). Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him.

The Magi, or the wise men of the East as they are popularly called (Matthew 2), brought gold to JESUS along with the Frankincense and Myrrh. In that time, gold was used as currency, jewelry, and for decorating. The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold, and many of the accoutrements of the Tabernacle and the Temple were made of gold (Exodus 25; 1 Kings). It was a symbol of royalty and divinity, so it was quite an appropriate gift for the CHRIST-Child, the King of the Jews. By receiving the gold, Joseph was presented with the funds He would need to take his family to Egypt, as King Herod set about his massacre of all the baby boys in his kingdom, also known as the “Slaughter of the Innocents” (Matthew 2).

As we breathe in the wonderful, spicy aromas of this season, take time to worship the Baby Boy, the Son of GOD; the One Whose birth brought all of this about, and eat a Christmas cookie for me!

No Matter WHO You Are

“A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the WORD of our GOD will stand forever.” – Isaiah 40:6‭-‬8 ESV

The richest men on earth set themselves above everyone else, but GOD says that every one shall wither and die. No amount of wealth or fame will protect those men from death or the Word of GOD and His Judgement. There won’t be any fancy, expensive lawyers at the Judgement Seat; every man will stand on level ground. Here on earth money may buy “justice,” but in the Final Judgement there is only one thing that will keep you (and me) from being swept away like so much chaff, and that is a personal relationship with JESUS CHRIST as our LORD and SAVIOUR.

“Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them, and tell Us what is to happen. Tell Us the former things, what they are, that We may consider them, that We may know their outcome; or declare to Us the things to come. Tell Us what is to come hereafter, that We may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that We may be dismayed and terrified. Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.” – Isaiah 41:21‭-‬24 ESV

They will attempt to show the Almighty GOD that they are gods to be feared, but here’s the plain, unvarnished Truth:

“….. at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the Glory of GOD the FATHER.” – Philippians 2:10‭-‬11 ESV

Just in case He wasn’t clear in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, He repeats it to the letter to the Romans:

“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of GOD; for it is written, “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to GOD.” – Romans 14:10‭-‬11 ESV

As we celebrate the birth of the SAVIOUR of the world, we should be mindful of our own mortality, and of our desperate need for a Saviour to plead our case when we stand at the foot of the Judgement Seat of GOD. Nothing we can do, nothing we can say, and no amount of material wealth will help us. It is only the Saving Grace of the JESUS; His humility and His willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for me. Think about these verses every time you see a nativity with the Baby in the manger. He came, just for you.

Image courtesy of the LDS Image Library

My Soul Yearns for YOU

“My soul yearns for You in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks You. For when Your Judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” – Isaiah 26:9 ESV

We hear a lot about Mary this time of year. As I was reading my Bible this morning, this verse was highlighted as the verse of the day, and it brought to mind the willingness of this young woman to follow the instructions of the LORD. When she was told her destiny by the angel, her response (to me) was amazing:

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:38 ESV

How many of us can truly say that our heart, our soul, yearns for GOD to the point that we completely and unquestioningly accept GOD’s Will for us? Do you think Mary really had any idea of just how big this event would be? We don’t know how old Mary was when the angel came to her, but we do know that the custom was for women to be married young. When you were 15 or 16, did GOD reveal His plan for you? He did to me – I knew what He wanted me to do, and I thought I was willing, but the enemy too easily distracted me and set me on the wrong path. Mary may have been young, but I believe this passage shows just how strong she was in her faith. Absolutely trusting in her LORD. I think that we want to be that strong, but far too often we are too weak in our own faith. We can’t know Mary’s mind, but I absolutely adore the song “Mary Did You Know.” I think it is such a beautiful comment of what was happening to this young woman.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save o
Continue reading “My Soul Yearns for YOU”

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

“When they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours.” #CSLewis – “The Screwtape Letters”

Have you read The Screwtape Letters? It should be on every Christian’s reading list. This quote, in particular, seems to be put into action this time of year. It’s a time when many people become extra generous with their time and their money, and it is very apparent in the organizations and individuals who focus on children. It’s heartwarming to see kids who are disadvantaged in different ways light up when they receive unexpected toys and gifts. I just watched a video clip of our First Lady working with Toys for Tots, handing out gifts and interacting with the children – regardless of your politics, she’s a classy lady. With the media watching and recording so many of these organizations that provide for children and families, it appears that we are putting the commandment of JESUS into effect: “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:39 ESV

Sadly, this is a temporary position.

It rarely extends beyond the Christmas season.

Why? Because we humans are selfish and self-centered. We love ourselves over our neighbors. Life has become a race to see who can acquire the most, best, biggest, most expensive “stuff.” Even Christmas has become all about getting attention for us. Selfishness takes over the goodwill. I’m not condemning anyone, and I certainly don’t know why anyone really does what they do. It’s not for me to judge the hearts and motives of anyone. I give everyone kudos who steps out of their comfort zone, physically or financially or both. At least people who need the help are getting it, even if it is just temporarily.

Less selfishness; more selflessness. Isn’t that how we should live our lives? I confess that I may be the chief sinner when it comes to selfishness. I want to be sure I have everything I need (translate: want) before I make any “sacrifice.” Sound familiar to anyone else? The only way to answer is to go back to the reason that this day we call “Christmas” even exists. CHRIST. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus [Immanuel, which means God with us] for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:18‭, ‬21 ESV

A few years ago, there was a popular saying running through Christian fellowships: WWJD, or What would JESUS do? Maybe that’s the question we should be asking ourselves now. Would He be more concerned with where He was going to sleep that night and where His next meal was coming from, or would He be taking care of someone else’s needs? All we have to do is read the scriptures to know the answer. I can’t think of a single instant where JESUS put His needs over any one else! In fact, the reason He left heaven was because He put our need for salvation over His own LIFE. The Reason for the Season is the SAVIOUR Who put the needs of every human above His own desires. That’s a hard act to follow, but it’s the only way to go.

I have some work to do!

https://churchm.ag/sermon-illustration-love-your-neighbor-as-yourself/

‘Tis the Season!

And what a season it is for me! JESUS is the reason I love Christmas and all the trappings. It’s such a fabulous celebration of the birth of the SAVIOUR of the world, even when we have to do some serious digging through the overwhelming and rank commercialism and secularization of what should be a holy time.

Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! No internet access for a week, and I felt like I had been abandoned in the middle of the desert…. a very cold desert! A full week ago, the closing of the house I was selling and the one I bought finally happened, after being delayed and postponed for weeks. (Long story; not really relevant except to say that I was leaning heavily on my LORD to get me through it with my sanity intact – such as it is!!) The internet provider turned off access at the old house, then couldn’t get me scheduled for install at the ‘new’ house – for a solid week. Oh, the frustration of it all….. Please, GOD, in all seriousness, please I don’t ever want to move again! Then, just for the joy of it, the furnace quit the day I closed. 44° in the house with below freezing temps for the weekend, and this was on a Friday afternoon. Really? I mean, Really? I am so blessed to have family who are well-established in the area, and got a repairman out – only to discover that the furnace was toast. Caput. Finished. Again, thanking GOD for family! Four borrowed heaters kept the house a toasty 60° degrees (bwahaahaahaa!) until they could get a whole new HVAC system installed on Monday. Ah, the absolute joy and blessing of heat! Again, I am so grateful to the provision of the LORD that I could access the funds to pay for the new system.

So, finally, everything I own has been moved. Not moved in and settled, but moved. There’s still a storage pod half full in the driveway to be unloaded today (It’s being picked up tomorrow!) and my helper hasn’t shown. I’m not complaining (okay, yes I am, at least my body is – a little!) because I’m really happy it’s all here. The radio has been blasting K-LOVE and beautiful CHRIST-centered songs since the first day here – yet another blessing! I don’t know how people make it through each day without Matt Maher, We Are Messengers, Danny Gokey, Matthew West, NEEDTOBREATHE,” Big Daddy Weave, Phil Wickham ….. sweet Christmas music, too! (Addendum: the pod is unloaded, cleaned out, and ready for pickup tomorrow!)

The thing about this move I’m most thankful for? Instead of being 35 miles and 45 minutes from my sweet 92 year old mama, I’m less than 5 miles away! As a bonus, a sister and her family (all 13 of them!) are also within 5 miles. Much easier for getting together. I can attend Sunday services with my Mom, and see her much more, just in time for the celebration of our LORD’s birth! Are you excited to celebrate His birth? Not His birth date, per se, but His birth. What a fabulous gift the GOD of the Universe gave us in the baby JESUS!

“The Adoration of the Shepherds,” Gerard van Honthorst, 1622 AD