FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

tl-12-1-adventToday is the fourth Sunday of ADVENT.

I so want to know PEACE more than anything…  peace on earth, peace in families, peace in the workplace, peace in traffic, peace on social media.  I just want PEACE.  When did people forget how to agree to disagree without sparking a debate in the process with as much tact as a bull moose?  I’m just asking…

Is there hope for peace in our lifetime?  There is definitely HOPE for PEACE…  and the source of both HOPE and PEACE is Christ.  Apart from Him we are not able to live in peace and we won’t have hope.

Lucinda reminds us that the PEACE that God gave us will never run out.  Aren’t we thankful?

the-name-of-peaceFor so long we’ve seen photographs of stables and have just thought of the visual – I don’t know about you, but I never thought about the stench in the manger.  When I read this I thought, “I need to design this one, not with Advent candles, but with a photo of a Nativity scene.”  I wanted us to have the photo to look at as we think about just how lowly it was for the King of Kings to be born – there.peace-prayer

He came to bring us peace – it’s a peace that passes all human understanding.  If you try to explain it to a non-believer because they won’t get it.  They won’t grasp the concept of going through turmoil in life with God’s peace on the inside.  It will seem so strange and weird to them.  But to those of us who know the Lord – we know that peace, don’t we?  We know how God has brought us through rough patches in the past and we are confident that He won’t let us down now – or in the future!  I pray that as we go and tell others the good news of Christ, they will understand with spiritual eyes as we do.  🙂

 

 

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GABRIEL’S MESSAGE

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Six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee.  The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary.  When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said, “You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.”  She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant.  The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.  You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus.  He will be a great man
    and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him
    the throne of his ancestor David.  Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever, and his kingdom will never end.”  Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.”  The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God.  “Elizabeth, your relative, is six months pregnant with a son in her old age. People said she couldn’t have a child.  But nothing is impossible for God.”  Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.”  Then the angel left her.  – Luke 1:26-38

There are only three angels mentioned by name in the entire Bible – Lucifer, Michael and Gabriel.  Our focus today is on the angel Gabriel.  It’s widely debated whether Gabriel is an archangel or an angel.  He does stand in the presence of God (Luke 1:19), but in this blog we will refer to him as an angel.

The angel Gabriel first appears in Daniel 8:16 when he is told to explain a vision to the prophet.  He told Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, that he stands in the presence of God.  The name Gabriel means “man of God” or “strength of God”. 

We know he looks like a man, yet he scares those he appears to – and always tells them not to fear.  Apparently not every angel is as easy on the eyes as Roma Downey.  Jus’ sayin’…

He announced “Messiah the Prince” to Daniel and told Zacharias that John the Baptist will be born to prepare the way for the Lord.  Of course, most famously, he let Mary know her son will be called “the Son of the Most High.”

Lucinda reminds us of Gabriel’s message:

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Here’s Gabriel’s Message by Sting.  I was not familiar and want to thank my friend John for introducing me to it.  🙂

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’  – Isaiah 52:7

I’m going to step out on a theological limb here (say a prayer for me, I usually play things pretty safe)…  I’m going to say that this Christmas carol is less about the birth of Christ, and more about what you and I are called to do in our day.  Yes, I know the lyrics talk about the birth of Christ in every verse, but – the refrain clearly is talking to us in the here and now – it says GO & TELL.

Refrain:
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

Go Tell It On the Mountain was compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr. and dates back to at least 1865.  He was the first African-American to collect African-American gospel songs, which was no easy task because most of it was never written, but passed by word of mouth from plantation to plantation.  If he had not continued this quest to preserve the songs, we might not have this great song today.

This African-American spiritual song has been sung and recorded by both gospel and secular artists.  Since the original lyrics celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, it is considered a Christmas carol.

So, what’s the message for us today?  As Lucinda reminds us, it is to TELL THEM.  Tell them about the real meaning of Christmas!

tell-themGO AND TELL…  tell of the light you see…  as bright as that star that shone over the manger in Bethlehem.  Tell of the peace Christ will give and the love He will give as they give Him first place in their life.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

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“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  – Luke 2:14

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is based on the 1863 poem Christmas Bells by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It talks of despair upon hearing Christmas bells – declaring that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Even though it begins on a negative thought, it ends declaring that the bells carry renewed hope for peace among men.

We all know that Christmas can be a depressing time for many people – actually more than will admit it.  But the Christian has the greatest hope – our Hope is in Christ and His promise of everlasting life!

This time of year, many catch what can be referred to as a “Christmas cold.”  The shorter days and lack of sunshine can sometimes trigger this type of cold.  Symptoms vary but include being down in the dumps, sadness, and lethargy.  During this illness they may ache for days gone by and for loved ones who they’d like to be near to help them through.  No one is immune.  It can strike any given year out of nowhere.  There are things caregivers can do in order to help ease pain and shorten how long the cold lasts, such as:  Love, acknowledge, nurture, understand and pray, remembering that this cold is quite contagious.  Protect yourself and help others by sharing your faith, joy, light, hope, peace, merriment, wonder, and most of all – LOVE.  ‘Tis the season to believe!  – Vicki La Fleur Lazrine

What is your reaction when you hear Christmas bells?  Do you feel the peace of God, or do you begin to feel the chill of a Christmas cold?

Where do we go when it’s cold outside and we feel a Christmas cold coming on?

15420982_1857268731184255_355262171039274170_n-2We run to Jesus – just as fast as we can.  God’s love can warm up YOU.  And…  in closing, let me share the last verse of this great carol:

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.”

Please take care of your physical health by taking care of your emotional health – and let God cradle you in HIS loving arms this Christmas!  He will take care of you.  He made you – He knows just what you need and when you need it – just trust Him for answers.  🙂

WE THREE KINGS

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  – Matthew 2:1-12

… guide us to THE PERFECT LIGHT.

Christ came to our earth for ALL – not just for the wise, but for the foolish – not just for the strong, but for the weak – not just for the rich, but for the poor.  God loves us all so very much.

christ-for-all-then-and-now

It doesn’t matter what your status is in this life, Christ wants you to make Him your personal Savior.  God sent Jesus to earth to bridge the gap between Himself and man.  Will you accept this great gift today?

jesusWhat a wonderful gift – the perfect gift – the best gift you’ll ever be given.  🙂

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

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Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  – Luke 2:13-14

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Gloria in excelsis Deo is Latin for Glory to God in the highest.  It’s a Christian hymn known also as the Greater Doxology (distinguishing it from the Minor Doxology or Gloria Patri) and the Angelic Hymn.  The name is sometimes abbreviated to Gloria in Excelsis or just Gloria.

I believe the same angels that made announcements and were kept very busy that night in Bethlehem watch over all of us today.  Those who know me in “real life” know that I am an angel collector – they also know that I’ll say without hesitation that I collect angels because I feel I need all the help I can get in life!  I know God sends angels to watch over me and protect me each and every day.  When was the last time you prayed to God and thanked Him for sending angels to watch over you?  Well, there’s no time like the present.

angel-prayerRegardless of the circumstances you find yourself in this Christmas, know that God sends His angels to be with you – to protect you and surround you.  Often we pray a hedge of angels around people or in the midst of situations.  Angels are God’s secret agents according to Billy Graham.  We’d do well to remember this particular quote from the book:

“Angels have a much more important place in the Bible than the devil and his demons.”  – Billy Graham

Let’s make room for God, His angels and Christmas with its true meaning.  Don’t give the devil a foothold or he will wiggle his way in and dampen anything you allow him to…  it’s really a choice we make, isn’t it?  Let’s choose to sing with the angels, GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!  May God – and His angels – bless you with a very Merry Christmas.  🙂

 

 

 

 

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

O Little Town of Bethlehem was written by Phillips Brooks.  He also wrote two books – one called The Joy of Preaching and another called The Consolations of God. 

Brooks actually took a trip to Bethlehem and walked around trying to imagine what that night must have been like.  He didn’t write the carol in Bethlehem; in fact, he waited three years and was back in the United States when he began writing the song.  He must have really given the details a lot of thought.

He records in his diary,

“Before dark we rode out of town to the field where the shepherds saw the star. It is a fenced piece of ground with a cave in it, in which, strangely enough, they put the shepherds. Somewhere in those fields we rode through, the shepherds must have been, as we passed, still keeping watch over their flocks. I was standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, and the whole church was ringing hour after hour with the splendid hymns of praise to God; how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I know well, telling each other of the Savior’s birth.”

And so the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem was written.

The best news is that Christ was born for everyone!  He came to earth for all – !

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I love this poem from Lucinda’s devotional book Coffee with Jesus.  I’m so glad that Jesus loves everyone regardless of any label you may want to mention.  He doesn’t see the labels, He just sees each soul individually.  🙂