Today is the Day!

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalms 27:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

And then, Jesus was born!

“So they [the shepherds] came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.” Luke 2:16 NASB1995

The Saviour of the world has been born, and He lives today. Celebrate His birth!

I Heard the Bells

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalms 27:13‭-‬14 NASB1995

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells….. I love hearing the church bells as they peal out their songs, especially on Christmas Eve night. There’s something about the sound that stirs my soul. As they ring, it brings to mind the sounds of angels announcing that the Messiah, Jesus Christ has been born and is waiting, even now for us to believe in Him and to love Him. The ringing bells are the sounds of the angels, reminding us that we are not alone on this earth. There is no need to despair, for our LORD is here and in control. The bells remind us that though He came here as a baby the first time, He is coming again as the Lion of Judah, to conquer sin and defeat for the final time! I can’t wait!

Silent Night, Holy Night

“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord 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 today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” ”

(Luke 2:1‭-‬14 NASB1995)

Do You Hear It?

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Said the night wind to the little lamb:
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy:
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king:
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold”

Said the king to the people everywhere:
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light”

– 1962, Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker

Are you listening? JESUS is the answer; the only answer to all of the trials and tribulations and troubles we are dealing with – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Child Who left His Throne wants to give you peace. We still have to live in this sinful world, but we have a choice. Live in worry and fearful anticipation of what might happen, or be at peace in your heart.

I have troubles, and I would love to be able to see past them. I have concerns about where my country is headed (the phrase “to hell in a hand basket” comes to mind….) No matter what, I know that no matter what happens, my God is in control. If I should die tomorrow, or in the next 5 minutes, I’m not afraid, because I know where I’m going, and it’ll be FANTABULOUS.

Do you hear what I hear? The Glorious sound of the celebration of my Saviour’s birth, Who came to die and cover our sins with His blood; Who was resurrected on the third day, and returned to heaven to prepare a place for me! Can you say it for yourself?

The angels and all of Creation are joining in the song!!

A Time of Thanks

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8‭-‬9 NASB

Christmas is coming. What are you going to be grateful for? Jesus, the reason we even have something to celebrate, or how much “stuff” you get?

Let Heaven and Nature Sing

“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. GOD sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. …. And the judgment is based on this fact: GOD’s Light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the Light, for their actions were evil.” – John 3:16‭-‬17‭, ‬19 NLT

Incomprehensible. That’s the best word I can conjure up to explain how I see this.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him IMMANUEL, which means ‘GOD is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the LORD commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.” – Matthew 1.23-25.NLT

Miraculous, no matter what you think. GOD, Creator, Almighty Jehovah, Yahweh….. left everything to be born into a human family. He went from a place of unimaginable wealth and comfort, to be laid in a manager full of straw, in a stable full of animals. Know any really wealthy people? I do, and the thought of any one of them giving up one of their children to be laid in a stable and raised in poverty….. well, it’s beyond my imagination. They just wouldn’t do it, yet the GOD Who owns the entire universe, the earth, moon, sun, and ALL of the planets and stars, put His Son, His ONLY Son, in just that place. See, it’s incomprehensible. Almost unimaginable, but true.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday, JESUS!!

Mary’s Song

“Oh, how my soul praises the LORD. How my spirit rejoices in GOD my SAVIOR! For He took notice of His lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is Holy, and He has done great things for me. He shows Mercy from generation to generation to all who fear Him. His Mighty Arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be Merciful. For He made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.” – Luke 1:46‭-‬55 NLT

What a beautiful song! A young girl, unremarkable, maybe plain looking, and certainly not wealthy, is chosen by the King of the Heavens to bear His Son, Messiah, Emmanuel. I love how He works. He could have chosen an Egyptian princess, or a queen of any place on earth; instead, He chose Mary, a humble young girl in Nazareth of Judea, with a carpenter to stand as His Son’s earthly father. A small town girl, a servant girl, was honored to bear the Son of the Almighty God! Can you imagine? Coming from a small town, I can imagine that the inhabitants of Nazareth were buzzing about this young girl and her claim to be pregnant by the Lord Jehovah! She and her fiancé ignored the whispers and the gossip to follow God’s plan for them, despite the pain and turmoil it must have caused them. Oh, that I could have the Faith and obedience this young girl had!

The question today is, are you obedient to the LORD, even when it causes others to look at you askew and mock you? I confess I struggle mightily with this. We cannot mildly look around us and assume that we don’t need to obey, because He will NOT be mild in His Judgement or punishments. Are you mildly seeking Him, or are you pursuing the LORD with all of energy you can muster?

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” – 2 Timothy 4:3 NLT

“But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” – Revelation 3:16 NLT

Like Mary, we need to embrace God’s Truth….

The Blessings of Christmas – Day 3

“Oh, how Great are GOD’s Riches and Wisdom and Knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give Him advice? And who has given Him so much that He needs to pay it back? For everything comes from Him and exists by His Power and is intended for His Glory. All Glory to Him FOREVER! Amen.” – Romans 11:33‭-‬36 NLT

Celebrate His Power, His Mercy, and His Grace this Christmas season! Give Praise to the Father for His Gift, His sacrifice, and His Glory! Without all of these, there wouldn’t be a holiday season, Or anything to celebrate. What can we give Him; what can we give JESUS during this season to celebrate His birth day? We may be the shepherd, who had nothing to offer the new baby except their homage. We could be like the wise men, the Magi, who brought the little King of Heaven the most precious, most expensive gifts. Maybe you are like the angels and the heavenly host, singing in perfect voices, “GLORY to GOD in highest heaven, and Peace on earth to those with whom GOD is pleased.” (Luke 2:14 NLT) – or the little drummer boy, who had nothing to give except his music.

Whatever we offer the baby boy Jesus, let it be the most important gift of the season. The thing He wants most from us – the ONLY thing He wants from us – is not the most expensive thing we can find. Remember, Heaven is His home, and He already is in the midst of the most beauty and wealth that you can imagine. MORE than you can imagine! Riches don’t impressive Him. All He wants is to know that you love Him above all else; that you accept His sacrifice and let Him into your heart. Then we can worship Him with Thanksgiving and Hope. Gratitude.

The Blessings of Christmas – Day 2

THE ENEMY DECEIVES US – by Billy Graham

Many jokes are made about the devil, but the devil is no joke. If a short time ago I {Billy Graham} had talked about Satan to university students, they would have made light of him, but no longer. Students today want to know about the devil, about witchcraft, about the occult. Many people do not know they are turning to Satan. They are being deluded because, according to Jesus Christ, Satan is the father of lies and the greatest liar of all times. He is called a deceiver. In order to accomplish his purpose, the devil blinds people to their need of Christ. Two forces are at work in our world—the forces of Christ and the forces of the devil—and you are asked to choose. I have chosen to serve You, my Lord Jesus. Give me Your strength to battle the deceptions of Satan. (From the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. For more information, please visit: http://www.billygraham.org )

I know you are asking how in the world this story from Billy Graham relates to the Blessings of Christmas. The enemy deceives us! How many people do you know, including Christians, who get so wrapped up (pun intended!) in the buying of presents and the rounds of holiday parties, that the reason we are even celebrating gets pushed aside? Oh, yes, it’s Jesus’ birthday….. the deceiver, the father of all lies, makes it so easy to forget. We should be focused on the Who, the What, and the Why of the season.

“O Sovereign LORD! YOU made the heavens and earth by Your strong Hand and powerful Arm. Nothing is too hard for You! You show unfailing love to thousands, but You also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the GREAT and POWERFUL GOD, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and You give them what they deserve.” – Jeremiah 32:17‭-‬19 NLT

That last sentence scares me ….. He gives us what we deserve – yikes! I know there are a lot of people, the vast majority, in fact, that hold to the belief that they “deserve” to be happy, they “deserve” that fancy new house/car/toy, they want the bliss of getting. Get the picture? We don’t deserve anything other than punishment and death, and that brings us straight back to the Blessings of Christmas! The focus of our celebration needs to be on the Who, Jesus Christ; the What, His miraculous birth; and finally the Why – He came as a babe to live as a human, and to die, the ultimate sacrifice to save us from the deceiver and what we deserve.

Today, I pray the Blessings of Christmas, Christ’s birthday, on you and your families. Amen.