Advent Day 11: Promises…

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I decided to reblog this from Unexpected Hope today. Well said!

The way we stand

Matthew 1:1-17

Four hundred years of silence from God and the New Testament opens up proclaiming that the promises made to Abraham and David are fulfilled in Jesus. Abraham had received the promise that his offspring would bless the Earth and through his descendants there is a continuation of that promise. David was promised that he would have an ruler from his line that would forever reign. These promises and all of God’s promises find their fulfillment in Jesus.

This genealogy shows who Christ is, but it also displays who God is and how he works. We see here that God used the most unexpected people to fulfill his promises, he used liars like Abraham and Isaac and foreigners, seemingly outside of God’s promises, like Ruth. God worked through David who murdered, Solomon who forsook God, Rehoboam who broke God’s kingdom, Hezekiah the prideful, Manasseh who fought against God, and Josiah who disobeyed…

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Advent: Day 10 FEAR NOT

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A few years back, we had a Christmas play at our church. Angel Gabriel, a nine-year old boy, was supposed to step into the sanctuary before a kneeling Mary and say: Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.

But he got hit with stage fright and forgot his lines.

His four year old sister, who was supposed to be a silent angel, stepped beside him. Reminding him of his lines, she waved her angel wings and shouted, “Fee not. Fee not. Fee not. Fee not.”

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Laughter filled the silent church. What an exuberant fearless little cherub!

The words “Fear not” or “Do Not Be Afraid” are mentioned many times in the Bible. 

At the Annunciation: And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JesusHe shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33 (KJV)

And these comforting words from Isaiah 41:10:

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. 

Though the world is becoming a fearful place now with all of the violence and turmoil, we shouldn’t be afraid. We should keep our eyes on Jesus. He is Emmanuel – God With Us. He can calm our fears. He will strengthen us. He will help us. He will uphold us.

Like that little four year old angel, fearlessly stepping out to help her brother deliver his lines, we too should not be afraid to step out like a child into the arms of loving God.

Below is a great song with lyrics…Fear Not!

Advent Day 9: ANGELS

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My husband is a pastor. On Saturdays we serve at a mission church in a retirement/nursing home. On Halloween, the place was decorated with goblins, ghosts, skeletons, and all sorts of creepy demonic-looking decorations. There were coffins and skeletons, bowls of eyeballs, and spiders and webs hanging everywhere. I thought the holiday decor was odd and overdone in a place where people are living out their last days.

Now, in this season of Advent, this retirement/nursing home is decorated for Christmas with lots of greens and Santa Clauses. Not a nativity scene to be seen. The only “religious” Christmas symbolism I could find was the angel on top of the gigantic Christmas tree.

Angels…

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Photo by Holly Michael

Why is it that many accept the idea of angels, but don’t believe in God or accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah?

The angels did. They were present at the birth of Christ.

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Photo by Holly Michael

Angels are mentioned quite a bit in the Bible as messengers of God and beings created by God who worship God. God sent Angel Gabriel to Mary to ask her consent to be the mother of The Savior. Angels are always before the throne of God singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

According to the Bible, angels are God’s messengers, God’s Warriors, God’s witnesses, God worshippers, and appointed by God to be guardians of men.

Below are some angel facts from Mary Fairchild on Christianity.about.com

Bible Facts About Angels

Angels are mentioned 273 times in the Bible. Although we won’t look at every instance, this study will offer a comprehensive look at what the Bible says about angels.

Angels were created by God:

Genesis 2:1
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. (NKJV) 

Colossians 1:16
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (NIV)

Angels were created to live for eternity:

Luke 20:36
…nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (NKJV)

Revelation 4:8
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (NIV)

Angels were present when God created the world:

Job 38:1-7
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: “…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? …while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (NIV)

Angels do not marry:

Matthew 22:30
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. (NIV)

Angels are wise and intelligent:

2 Samuel 14:17
Your maidservant said, ‘The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.’ (NKJV)

Daniel 9:21-22
…while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” (NIV)

Angels have knowledge of, and interest in, the affairs of men:

Daniel 10:14
“Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (NIV)

Luke 15:10
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (NKJV) 

Angels are faster than men:

Daniel 9:21
… while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. (NIV)

Revelation 14:6
And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (NLT)

Angels are God’s Mighty Warriors

According to whyangels.com: “…angels aren’t just nice, kindly beings, they are also the mighty and powerful warriors of God. In fact there’s a dramatic description of a war in the spiritual realm between the Archangel Michael and God’s angels and The Devil/Satan/Lucifer and his rebellious angelic followers.”

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Photo by Holly Michael, Archangel Michael statue in the Michael Home

Though the fallen angel Lucifer was cast down to the earth, we do have hope. Jesus came into the world as an infant to be “Emmanuel- God With Us” and He will also come again: His second coming. And that is why we must prepare our hearts to receive Him, especially now during this season of Advent.

Hope you enjoyed the angel facts. The fact is that you can’t believe in angels and not believe in the God who created them. And if you believe in God, then you must accept the Son of God, Jesus, whom He sent as our Savior.  And the more we draw closer to Jesus, the more we are enlightened, blessed, and made whole.

Here’s an amazing song…Angels From The Realms of Glory…love this rendition.

 

Second Sunday in Advent

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Readings from today’s lighting of the advent candle service:

Celebrant: Behold .. the Lord shall appear …
R. in the clouds of Heaven, with power and great glory, Alleluia.

Scripture Reading Micah 5: 2-4

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

Celebrant. O Christ, arise, help us.
R. And deliver us for thy Name’s sake.
C. Come and save us, O Lord God of hosts.
R. Show the light of thy countenance and we shall be whole.
C. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
C. Let us pray. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the ways of thine Only-begotten; that by His coming we may be worthy to serve thee with purified minds. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
R. Amen

Advent Day 7: The Word

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O Come All Ye Faithful is a beautiful Advent/Christmas song. Below is a lovely rendition by Josh Grobin, but I’m focusing on this stanza today:

Yeah Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing

Particularly: Word of the Father, Now in Flesh Appearing. 

Think about those words…Word of the Father, Now in Flesh Appearing. Jesus is the Word of the Father who appeared as God in flesh to a broken world.

John 1:1-4 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

So profound and so amazing. Jesus is the WORD. Jesus was with GOD, and Jesus is GOD. He was in the beginning of the world with God and the Holy Spirit–the Trinity!

Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” 

The Creator spoke the universe into being. He created the entire universe–the heavens and the earth. And according to Scripture, the Son of God who is one with the Father was there in Genesis 1:1, at creation.

John 1:14 says: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So incredible and wonderful!

The Bible says that there was darkness and void before God spoke it into being. So are our hearts without knowing Jesus.

John continues from above with verse 5: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

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In our world and in all lives without Christ, there is darkness and confusion. This Christmas, I pray that many will leave the darkness and open their eyes to the truth, their hearts to Jesus. I pray that many hearts will comprehend this amazing light and life given for all of mankind. I pray that many souls will come to understand this true Christmas gift.

O Come all Ye Faithful….Sing along with the choirs of Angels…Glory to God. Glory in the Highest. O Come let us adore Him. Christ the Lord!

 

THE BEST GIFT EVER

Advent Day 6: Best Gift Ever…from Writing Prompts where I blog with other writers….

Inspired Prompt

This month’s topic is “What Christmas Means to Me.”

As a child, Christmas was all about the gifts. Oh, I knew the “true meaning” of Christmas–the celebration of the birth of Jesus–but the anticipation of gifts loomed larger and mightier than anything else. By December 1st I had already made my list.  The gifts were the reason I counted the days…hours…until Christmas morning. Gifts kept me on my best behavior for nearly an entire month.

Christmas mornings, I wasn’t thinking about Jesus as I tore down the flight of stairs, racing my siblings to the Christmas tree. My heart was thrilled with the anticipation of discovering the best gift ever…the one that I put three stars beside on my list.

IMGP2605 photo by MorgueFile

Maybe that’s how most kids are…then and now…but years go by and we mature. Those best gifts of childhood are long broken and have become faint memories.

When I…

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Advent Day 5: Knowing

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There’s a beautiful song played a lot during Advent, Mary Did You Know. 

Do we know?

Do we truly know and feel the need for a Savior?

Mary knew a lot. The Bible says…”But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

What are we pondering in our hearts this Advent?

Are we thinking about our need for a Savior?

Spiritually, we are a fallen race, prone to sin. Many don’t know that their soul is in need of a savior. Many don’t have a spiritual life. Many have closed their hearts to God. Many think in the flesh, not the spirt. Look at the violence, the sadness, the lost in this world. Some look to drugs and alcohol to numb themselves from the aching need in their souls. Some look to self-help books, mental health care. Sometimes they get answers, but never true healing as the Savior gives.

There’s an old hymn:

Soul, a Savior thou art needing! Soul, a Savior waits for thee! Hear His words of tender pleading, Hear His gracious ‘Come to Me.’ He hath died for thy transgression, If thou wilt, thou canst be free; Soul, He waits for thy confession, ‘Savior, I will go to Thee.”

Still, Many Do Not Know.

Some say , “but so-and-so is a good person.” That may be true, but sadly, they don’t know…

…that our hearts were made for God…that our souls long for our Savior. As we say often say in church, “We come from God. We belong to God. We go back to God.”

Ephesians 4:17-18: So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

When our hearts are softened, broken (often through tragedy) and we finally feel the souls calling for a Savior and invite Him into our lives, our hearts leap for joy just as John the Baptist leap for joy in the womb of Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:41

Then, when we know, we come out of the darkness and into life and we truly live! We will leap for joy!

WE WILL KNOW!

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:24-25).

Love this amazing rendition of Mary, Did You Know? by Pentatonic. Wow!

Advent Day 4: Need

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Pretty Simple. We need God. Once we recognize that truth and seek Him, we will find Him. And what joy when that happens.

True. Christmas. Joy.

Seek Him this Christmas. Love this psalm and this amazing video done acapella.

Psalm 27:4-6

4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

 

This is pretty awesome:

Advent Day 3 – Waiting. Joy.

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IMG_0663What Amazing Words of Promise! I’ve spent a lot of time in this past year with thoughts focused on waiting…wondering. When will I get that big breakthrough I’ve been praying for? When will I see the change I’m waiting for? When will God really come through for me?

We all ask these questions, but if, according to God’s Word, we are truly children of God, heirs….then our God, our “Abba, Father” will not and cannot abandon us. It is not the nature of God, The Perfect Father.

The problem lies with us not understanding His timing, or what He is going to work out through our wait and circumstances. Or what better plan He has for us. He will not let us down. He will not abandon us.

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He will come ! Jesus Christ came down from Heaven at the perfect time for humanity. Heaven’s perfect plan. God will come through for us. He is our Champion, the Lover of Our Souls, Abba Father, Emmanuel-GOD WITH US! A breakthrough will come, even if it’s not exactly what we thought it would look like.

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Let us trust, now. We must trust in His great Love and Mercy. Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of THE KING. Let us open our hearts to Jesus, the Savior of the World. Let us turn our anxious waiting to thoughts of Hope, Joy, and Peace this Advent Season. Let us seek the Giver, not the gifts! “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33