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It’s Always Time to Share Your Testimony

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been thus far a year rife with disaster; however, it has also been a year of great opportunity.   I know that some of you may be shaking your head thinking where has there been opportunity in all of this?  Let me explain further.

            Because of the disaster or “pandemic” for example, more people have been stepping up and helping their fellow man.  Despite the division some are determined to sow, I see a lot of community unity whenever we stopped where we were and what we were doing and made time to reach out to others in need instead.  People used whatever ingenuity they possessed, to make life easier for those who seemed to be worse off than them. 

            It also matters how we view this situation.  Is it a learning experience or is it a time to throw in the towel and run for the hills?  How do you respond to disaster?  As a Christian we need to realize the purpose of trials.  As Jesus mentioned several times there will be trials and tests for Christians.  Times to be disciplined, times to be refined, to learn and to continuously work on the status of our hearts.  They are meant to be taken seriously and looked at with hope and not despair.  Let us look at a few verses to see what wisdom they offer us.

            Romans 5:3 states that it works patience; 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches us that though temptation is all around us, with Jesus we can bear the temptation and overcome it; John 16:33 shows us hope when it states that Jesus has overcome the world; Romans 8:18 tells us that though we suffer for a little while, nothing compares to the future glory we will behold; and 2 Corinthians 12:9  shows that God’s grace is sufficient for it is through our weakness that His strength shines through.

             “Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;”

            “ No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

            “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

            “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

            “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

So yes, indeed trials will come as we saw with Jesus and as we experience ourselves when we stand up for Christ and decide to follow Him and share the gospel.  We see in Matthew 28:16-20, that we are commissioned (Great Commission) to share the Word.  As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are called to be Ambassadors for Christ.  More than that is the importance of sharing our testimony as 1 Peter 3:15; Psalms 107:2; Mark 5:19; 2 Timothy 1:8; Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 10:32 and 1 John 5:11 will attest to this.

            “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

            “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

            “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

            “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe”

            “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

            “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

            “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

            “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

            “ And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

So what do we take away from all of this and how do we accomplish this?  God has commanded us and out of obedience we serve Him and do his will.  We do not let the cares of this world sway us from doing what He has called us to do.  Our Lord does not want to see anyone perish as is stated in 2 Peter 3:9.

            “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Therefore, the reasoning is this:  we are commissioned to share the gospel per our Lord’s instructions.  As aforementioned and restated again, Isaiah 55:11 informs us that the word does not come back void.  It is a seed planted, slowly cultivated, and prayerfully comes to fruition and blooms.  We, as Ambassadors, must follow this command and one way to introduce the gospel is our personal experience with Christ.  Your testimony cannot be refuted.  You are a witness to what happened to you and what brought you to Christ.  We open the door with our testimony, start a discussion and then share the gospel.  We must do this for the gift of grace is open to everyone.  God does not force us to believe, he rather gives us the opportunity to hear the word and then decide on our own if we believe it or not.

This world is turning colder by the minute and hatred is running rampant.  I, myself, do not want to see anyone perish and I use the tools God gave me to share this message.  I also pray unceasingly for the souls of many.  I know it is His hands that will open the eyes and ears of many, but I need to plant the seed and then pray for it to take root.

We also need to use our time wisely.  The age of grace could end at any time and we need to make sure we answered the call for which reason we are here.  I know many are afraid of sharing this, but would you rather they perish, or would you seek to tell everyone about this gift?  You must decide and then step up.  Lives are at stake and it could very well be a loved one.

Do not let the current tide stop you from doing this, but accept the challenge, put on your armor, and then go out into the world on a mission for the kingdom of God.

When we meet our Lord, one day we may also meet others who came to Christ because of our boldness and determination to share the truth.  And that my friends would be such a blessing to witness.  Do not waste a day but persevere for the honor of witnessing to others for the furtherance of the kingdom.  Take care and God bless.

Remembrance

Today, as I sit down and prepare to write in my blog, my mind is overflowing with many thoughts.  Our world changed for the worse on 9/11 nineteen years ago, but on 9/12 our world experienced a new ray of hope and unity shone in the background.  Oh, that we can look back and see the damage done, but also note some bright spots that shone through the disaster.

            This is our history, but as it normally does, lessons are found during our most tragic times.  9/11 is not an exception, but rather a great example of how we can pull together for the common good of all involved.

            The night before was normal to the human eye.  No one foresaw what possibly laid ahead for us the next day.  Yet there it was a low hanging cloud over our heads and ready to rain down upon us.  People followed their usual routine and went about their day as they normally did.

            That day nineteen Islamic extremists hijacked four planes and set their plans into motion.  Two of the planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York at approximately 8:45 am and the second plane hit the other tower approximately eighteen minutes later.  It was not long after the planes hit their target that both towers collapsed.  The third plane hit the Pentagon at approximately 9:45 am, and the last plane crashed in Pennsylvania after it was hijacked and then overthrown by the passengers happening around 10:15am.  Roughly three thousand people were killed because of these attacks and many others were seriously injured.  This was the deadliest attack on U.S. soil.

            Do you remember where you were when all of this happened?  I had slept in that morning and as I was getting ready for work, I turned on the television.  I could not believe my eyes.  It was unbelievable.  I watched because I wanted to find out what happened, and I could not turn away. I saw the towers fall and my heart was in my throat.  I was thinking of all the lives that tried to get out but could not.  Some even jumped to their death.  Others sacrificed their life to assist those who were incapable of getting out on their own. 

            Officers and the Port Authority were on the scene within minutes and our firefighters all responded as quickly as they could.  The objective was to do a search and rescue to save as many as possible to do a search for remains.  Everyone wanted to get involved, we had bystanders, the Mayor Rudy Giuliani, local service men (some Marines rescued people from Ground Zero) and the first responders aforementioned sifted through the rubble during the search looking for loved ones, answers or identification as to who these victims were.  Many of these first responders would lose their life by doing so.  There was debris (roughly 1.8 billion tons) everywhere.  People were displaced, scattered and unable to easily contact their loved ones to let them know they were alive.  All appeared to either be lost or falling apart, but just beyond this tragedy hope arose.  Our current view blocked our focus, but it was there, nonetheless.

            Later that night our President Bush made the announcement addressing the terrorist attacks.  He declared a war on terror and targeted the Al Qaeda terrorists (specifically the leader Osama Bin Laden).  We had a plan to recover, to capture and to move forward.

            Out of tragedy our best always tends to shine through.  People helped one another.  Police and firefighters from all over the country volunteered to come and search for loved ones.  Blood banks were started, and blood was donated.  We stood by each other, lifting one another up and offering to help any way we could.  Pictures were posted of those missing or lost in hopes that all could be identified.  The Department of Homeland Security was created to prevent future incidents from occurring.  Tributes were made in honor of all those lost.  We knew the towers were ground zero and a memorial was made there to represent those who died that day.  We hold remembrance ceremonies to honor the lost, to process the grief, to cherish those that are still with us, and to show a united front of what our country means to us.  We cannot understand the immeasurable pain and grief of such a great loss of life, and we must not forget the sacrifice many made nor how we rallied together as a country to get through this.  This is embedded in our memories forever.  Prayerfully, this lesson not only impacted us, but will not be repeated.

            Yes, evil was determined to conquer that day, but it was God who gave us the strength to bear the load and to step up and help one another out.  We did not let our greatest tragedy or fear tear us down, but we allowed it to bring us closer together.  These are just a few of the bright spots to focus on during our darkest hour.

In summary, America has always been a very blessed nation.  It has stood strong over time and I pray that it continues to do so no matter the threat.  It is the land of opportunity for all that are here and all that are seeking a better life.  Yes, like all nations we have our flaws, but the good outweighs the bad.

            During a time of crisis, we chose to stick together and to fight whomever or whatever the foe was that was attacking us.  We chose to fight for our country and the people within our country. We must continue to do this whether our foe is domestic or foreign.  These men and women who gave their life for this country shall not have died in vain.  We need to remember who we are, what we stand for and what we stand against.  We must stand united and not let anything or anyone tear us down or break us apart.  Division at any time is never the answer.  Neither side can withstand division.  One will succeed and one will fail. 

            We need to hear one another out, reason and to seek a solution; then act on that solution.  Remember who we are, why the framers of the constitution fought so hard to preserve our unity, our freedoms, our rights, and what the flag represents for our country and our beliefs.  Learn from our history, then raise our flag high and focus on the pledge we all learned as little kids.  Remember what it meant then and what it represents now.  I will end on that note and restate our pledge of allegiance.

             “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

            Instead of focusing on do you remember, meditate instead on why we must never forget.  We did get through this rough patch and we can again if we learned the lesson we were taught. No amount of gratitude can be enough to thank those for their selfless act.  We are forever indebted. Are you willing to take a stand for your country?  God bless our land, our people, and our country!

The Cost for Sacrifice and the Reason We Must Do So

Have you ever encountered a situation in which you felt the stakes were too high?  Did you think it was better to step aside instead of facing it head on?  What if instead you did face it and what if it cost you everything to do so?  Would you be willing to step up?

One can never truly say until that very example comes upon them and even then, legs do wobble and refuse to stand.  However, there are those few that do not hesitate and risk it all for the right cause.  This is what we are asked to do as Christians.

Today’s blog is looking at persecution in the world and on our doorstep.  First, what exactly does persecution mean?  Under the umbrella of hostility, we have many definitions of what qualifies as persecution.  It is the hostile environment or ill-treatment of others based on race, politics or religious beliefs.  It can be veiled as oppression, victimization, abuse, discrimination and mistreatment (Merriam-Webster).  The focus today however, is persecution against the Christian.

I wanted to understand the depth of this better, so I searched for the most current watch list of where Christians are being persecuted today.  The top ten countries are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea (bordered by Sudan), Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.  What most of these countries have in common is that they are under Islamic extremism.

Here are some alarming statistics to keep in mind.  According to Christianity Today (in the article “Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus” by Sarah Eekhoff-Zylstra 2018), 215 million Christians experience persecution in which Christianity is outlawed or forbidden; thus, punishable by the government.  Out of the ten countries Pakistan has the most violent history with church attacks, abductions and forced marriages. Per Open Doors who provide the Watch List, this Islamic extremism is the driving force of persecution in 35 out of the 50 countries on the list.  Women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into marriage under threat of death due to their Christian faith.

It is not just Muslim countries but according to Open Doors, the next forefront of future persecution is within Radical Hinduism and Indian nationalism, which will increase the levels of instability that Christians face.

It is a way of life for many countries and it is coming our way soon enough.  Once again according to Christianity Today (in the article “Does the United States Belong on the Persecution List?” by Sarah Eekhoff-Zylstra 2017) domestically, we face an increase of media attacks and more of a legal challenge regarding our religious rights.  However, keep in mind that snowballs may start small, but they do tend to get larger the faster they roll down the hill.  An avalanche is coming to our country.  Right now, it comes to us in the form of lawsuits (such as the baker charged for not making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple), constant media attacks, and the implementation of new regulations such as referendums for teaching LGBTQ history in our public schools or complying to proposed/suggested bathroom alternatives for transgenders.  It can and will get worse as political parties have hidden agendas thinly disguised to implement programs or laws with the said assumption of being politically correct or maintaining set standards by being innovative and progressive, so we can compete with other countries and keep our status quo as a superpower.

We have already taken God out of the schools and our future is threatened when someone can plot to take God out of the church by having pastors/clergy submit their sermons for review.  Regarding our religious freedom, it is being pushed toward private expression per Jeff King, the President of International Christian Concern (in the article “Does the United States Belong on the Persecution List?” by Sarah Eekhoff-Zylstra 2017).  In short, we are falling apart, and I ask, what are we to do, how are we to stand, and is there a remedy for all of this?

Yes, is the answer I would like to address today.  We have been forewarned by Jesus in John 15:18 and 1 John 3:13, that we as Christians, will suffer persecution because of hate.

“If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”

The apostles have warned us of this as well.  In 1 Peter 4:12-14 we learn this from Peter, but we also are given the answer as how to deal with this hatred.  We also see this warning in 2 Timothy 3:12.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you, on their part he is evil spoken of, but on ye part he is glorified.”

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

How are we to combat hate?  We love instead as Matthew 5:44 and Romans 8:35 teach us.  Not only love but give all the glory to God as 1 Peter 4:16 instructs us to do.  Paul even tells us to rejoice during our fiery trials in 2 Corinthians 12:10 and again Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:17 it is more important to do God’s will then to fight evil with evil.  This gives us hope and strength to continue down the path of righteousness.

“But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

            “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

            “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then am I strong.”

            “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil doing.”

Persecution is bound to stir up division, but instead of fighting, we need to seek ways to be unified; thus, cohesive.

We are commanded in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that there be no division between Christians, we are instructed in Colossians 3:13-14 to be forgiving of one another, we have the glue named Jesus Christ within us to strengthen us per John 17:23 and Ephesians 4:13, and only then can we recognize the blessing of unity in Psalm 133:1.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

            “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

            “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

            “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

            “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

It is however, more than just unity.  We need to also show compassion to all regardless of the injustice done to us.  We are called to be compassionate in Ephesians 4:32, instructed how to be the salt of the earth in Colossians 3:12-13, taught that we must bear one another in Galatians 6:2, be peacemakers to our enemies in Romans 12:20, and as God has been merciful to us, to show mercy to others in Lamentations 3:22-23.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in doing so thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.”

            “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”

We cannot and should not stop there.  We need to now gather all our courage and stand up for those in need of defense.  This is the hardest part, but it is also the most necessary.  In the Bible we are reminded multiple times of why we are to look after those less fortunate than us.

The Old Testament lends us wisdom in Psalm 82:3, Isaiah 1:17 and Proverbs 31:8-9 to show our purpose, our gifts are identified in order to be used effectively in Galatians 5:22-25, the honor and blessing of following this request is invoked in Psalm 1:1, the importance of working together and standing up is pointed out in Romans 12:16 and Ephesians 4:16, and ultimately that there are consequences when we fail to follow this wisdom in Ecclesiastes 4:10.  Again, in 1 Peter 3:8,  the necessity of compassion being shown to all is stressed.

“Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.”

“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

            “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.  Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

            “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

            “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

            “Be of the same mind one toward another.  Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceits.”

            “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

            “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

Our excuse not to act or stand up for others, may or may not surprise you.  Few like to get involved and more likely are prone to being apathetic.

As I just mentioned there are consequences when we decide not to do anything and let someone else either take the reins or the victim suffer on his or her own.

God wants us to act and as Proverbs 17:5 points out, He will punish us for refusing to do so.

“Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker, and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.”

We are forewarned about our desires to live for ourselves only in Ephesians 4:19, to hear only what we want to hear in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, reminded in James 4:17 our failure to do what we know is right is a sin, our apathy for others can lead to our prayers not being heard in Proverbs 21:13, and in 1 John 3:17-18, our insistence to not address or meet the needs of others by either deed or action, thus, begs the question if God even dwells within us.

“Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

            “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

            “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

“Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”

            “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth.”

We all deserve to have a voice.  We also deserve to know someone is out there who cares for us and is willing to take a risk for us.  We have been called to this by God.  We need to search for avenues to find answers to these injustices.  Most importantly, pray for the persecuted and pray for their adversaries.  Pray for comfort for the persecuted and pray for mercy from those who wish to do harm to them.  We have an open line to call on God anytime and we must do so.

Samaritan’s Purse is one of the many ministries that have outreach programs to other countries of which this problem is extremely high.  They focus on sharing the word and growing the church, by assisting the refugees terrorized by ISIS, by training people to be missionaries and help the church stand.  We too can get involved as volunteers by being advocates who raise awareness of this issue, we also can write letters of encouragement to those being persecuted in the church, we can donate financial resources, food and ministry materials; thus, making a dent in this huge problem.  When we seek to find a solution, opportunities will arise. Other ministries to research and contact are Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, Prison Alert, Barnabas Aid, I Commit to Pray and are good places to start.

Are you up for the challenge?  Do you see a light shining down and encouraging you to step up and take a risk?  I pray so.  We need to look out for one another and love the way Jesus taught us to.  There will never be a better example for us to follow than Him!  Isn’t it worth it?  I believe it is.  God bless.

The Joy of Christmas

            Usually every Christmas, much to my dismay, I get the “blahs”.  Sadly, I confess this, and I know this should not happen for a Christian.  This is such a vital joyous occasion, so the “blahs” should not be a part of it.  Allow me to expound a bit.  I do feel the joy, but I am so tired of the commercialism attributed to this holiday.  I am no Debbie Downer, but I just want people to see beyond the glitz and glitter of the holiday decorations and past the frivolous bids to draw us in just to increase yearly sales.  This is a gift-giving time of year, but the gift we have been given is what I want to focus on today.

As a kid I always loved singing Christmas carols and “spreading the joy of the message” as opposed to the non-joy of hearing my voice.  It was a celebration and an honor to sing these songs praising God.  They are revealing to the world the message of the birth of Jesus and continue to do so to this day.  Talk about the Word not coming back void or fruitless!

Do you have a favorite song?  Do you make time to praise and honor God and our Lord Jesus by singing these songs?  Are they just mere words or can you feel the weight of each syllable?  We should praise Him at every opportunity we are given.

In Luke 2:8-20 we are told about the story of the birth of Christ.  This chapter and verses are usually read every year faithfully by churches everywhere.

            “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  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.”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Imagine our Savior, the King of Kings, coming to and arriving with a humble beginning, yet all of creation (mountains, seas, animals, shepherds, townspeople) acknowledges this auspicious beginning in which everything comes together as prophesied.  The perfect birth, the perfect arrival (no need to go over the top or “show off”).  Every detail was humble and full of praise to our Lord.  Now let’s look at the testimony of these wonderfully written songs of praise.  What do you hear when you listen to the lyrics of these songs?  Ask yourselves and examine your heart.

Do you feel the “unspeakable joy” of Joy to the World?  Can you imagine a weary world finding hope in O Holy Night?  Do you see how O Little Town of Bethlehem proclaims the birth?  This is the setting for the story.  Do you feel the awe of the arrival as the Little Drummer Boy felt when he brought gifts for the baby?  Do you hear the angels streaming from afar praising the birth in Silent Night?  Can’t you just see the humble beginning portrayed in Away in the Manager or hear the angels greeting the shepherds and announcing the birth in the First Noel?  Do you see the promise of reconciliation when you hear Hark the Herald Angels Sing?  What about all of creation acknowledging the King in Angels We Have Heard on High?  Did you notice the shepherds keeping guard and the angels greeting Jesus with sweet anthems in What Child is This?  The theme of peace runs through the songs as well.  In God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and one of my favorites, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day to mention a few.  Can you feel the sadness of the singer when he sings about the hate in this world and the failure to recognize the hope that was just ushered in?  God speaks in this song and the singer acknowledges not only His presence, but that “God is Alive and Doth Not Sleep.”  Powerful and to the point!  Can you feel the slight trepidation Mary must have felt when she first found out she was pregnant, but then joy entered, and can you imagine knowing you were carrying the Savior of our world as you listen to Breath of Heaven and Mary Did You Know?  The wonderment of it all:  seeing the miracles He would perform, the message He would feed us and sustain us with, and the sacrifice He would make to redeem and reconcile us with God.  She would give birth to a King and then years down the road watch Him die for our sins.  Can you describe the awe of the birth as well as Do You Hear What I Hear?  Can you hear the King calling us in O Come All Ye Faithful asking us to give our life to Christ?

Christmas is for this very reason, not to give gifts or go to parties and visit Santa.  I am not telling people to avoid gift-giving, but to rethink the gifts to give, celebrate for this purpose and with fellowship, take care of your brothers and sisters in need.  Spread love and joy by telling the world the truth.  A message we are commissioned to share with everyone.  Possibly impact someone by sharing your journey – your testimony.  Show the adoration due the King of Kings and praise Him before, during, and after the storms that come into our lives.    This is such a fruitful opportunity to glorify His name. 

This is the joy that fills my heart and the joy that I ask you to look for in your life.  I have a Savior, a Defender, an Intercessor who watches over me.  I have peace because of the joy and hope for a future.  Play a song, go caroling and share the joy, but never forget the greatest love that was born from this.  When you set priorities in your life to honor and worship God, the blahs may make an occasional appearance, but they never last.  Focus on what lasts – what is eternal.  Take care, God bless, and I wish each one of you a very Merry Christmas!

The Long Journey Back

Have you ever been on a road and you have no idea where it is leading you?  You know that you are going through something, but you have no idea what the lesson being taught is or when it will end.  You are not alone.  God is indeed with you and He is moving in your life whether you can recognize it or not.  Sometimes I see His hand moving by the way things are shaping up or falling into place so fast.  Sometimes I look back at the storm long after it has passed and see that He was moving all through it, but I could not see it at the time it was happening. 

Today I want you the reader, to concentrate on the hope and promise of His word.  This will be the blessed manna you will feed off and it will carry you during the struggle.  I want to center this blog today around one bible verse and it is found in Jeremiah 29:11. It is my favorite verse and I have clung to it so much throughout my Christian life.

            “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So much is packed into that verse!  It is chock full of hope, but before I go any further, we need to keep in mind that this verse does not mean that storms will never arise.  Jesus himself admitted that there will be trials in this life and that in terms of eternity they will be short, but on this side of heaven, and in our definition of time, they may last a long time.  However, each storm brings a lesson and serves a purpose.  Sometimes it is the storm itself that will carry you into the next phase of God’s plan for you.  Right now, you are at point A (in the midst of the storm), but in order to get to the next phase or point C, you have to get through the storm first and find whatever nugget of wisdom God is revealing to you.  Maybe you need to be refined before you can go any further.  In my case (which I will go into later) I needed to learn endurance, self-control and refine my whole trust system.  If I skipped from point A to point C, I may miss a vital skill that God needs me to learn in order to be equipped to do whatever His will is for me.  We all run the race and want to avoid the potholes or obstacles that arise, but we may need to stumble or fall for a reason, so please do not overlook this.  The race is best run by those who learn to pace themselves, are prepared for whatever comes along, and adapts.  We want to finish the race, not quit or walk away.

We also must shift our focus as well.  Instead of wanting the struggle to end or for us to be released from the struggle, we need to focus on how to get through the struggle despite the challenges that come along with it.  We have a powerful almighty Lord who can do anything.  He is the hope to cling to, not the false promises of instant solutions.

Let us look at Jeremiah for a moment because he is a great example of someone who experienced trials, but he was encouraged and strengthened through them.  Jeremiah knew that God was there throughout it all and he relied on God’s strength to carry him.  He was despised.  He spoke the prophecy God gave him, but the people refused to acknowledge him or listen to what the message was.  They were stubborn and refused to follow another’s plan.  It was their way or no way.  He was abused.  He was beaten by Pashur, the priest, for prophesying and put in the stocks.  He was sentenced to death by the officials.  He was told by God to write down His words on a scroll and King Jehoiakim burned pieces of the scroll until the whole scroll was burned.  He was left to die in a cistern that was filled with mud in the court of the guardhouse.   He was called a liar by Azariah when he prophesied that the Israelites should not go to Egypt to live there. 

This is important for us to observe and learn from.  By his enduring his suffering and continuing his ministry this became a foreshadow of what Jesus would go through.  Jesus went through many trials and he never sinned, so why would we expect not to suffer? 

Hope and obedience to God is what got Jeremiah through all of this and Jesus relied on the hope and promises of the Father to endure all that he went through.  The lesson we need to learn here is that when we exhibit the hope that was given to us by knowing Jesus, we shed any fear regarding the struggle, but rather we learn to embrace the struggle instead.  A good reality check is this:  Jesus went through many trials and he never sinned, so why would we, who sin daily, expect not to suffer? 

I found all of this out firsthand.  For the past thirty years I have struggled from one health issue to the other and I was getting worn out.  My problem was not the struggle, but rather it was how I responded to the struggle.  I was opinionated, stubborn, blind, foolish, and determined to do this on my terms.  I sought advice, but if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear then I moved on to someone else.  I had received much wise advice over the years that I now know God was sending to me through others, but I refused to follow it.  I still thought I knew better.  I lost the last few years of my 20’s, all of my 30’s, 40’s and most of my 50’s before wisdom finally sunk in.  I knew I was experiencing a heaping amount of God’s patience throughout all of this.  He graciously gave me more time to finally learn this lesson.  Time I was not owed, nor had I earned, nor was it given to me to appease me, but He with His perfect timing knew how I was going to eventually respond.

I am writing this today because I want others to stop or break this pattern if it applies to you.  We need to humble ourselves and admit we do not have the strength, the wisdom of our own accord to handle this.  His yoke is light, and He has offered to carry the burden for us.  Please accept that offer.

I look back now at all the times I ate what I wanted despite the medical conditions that required me to follow the right guidelines.  I was foolish by taking matters into my own hands.  I cried out for help and when He sent it, I rejected it and went my own way.  I was conditioned to fight.  To be honest, I was fighting doing this rehabilitation even though I knew deep down inside that it was the only answer for me.  I toyed with the idea of leaving the facility within the first few days because I stubbornly felt I either did not need the help or that I could do it on my own.  But that was a lie!  The devil wants to get us away from God.  He wants us to rebel and fail to listen to wisdom.  He could care less whether you might lose your legs or possibly lose your life.  He is only concerned that you stray from God.  He wants to defeat you any way he can, and he will play dirty to achieve just that.  Do not listen to him.

Today take a long hard look at yourself, what your situation is and what the obstacles are.  Stare them in the face and then ask for help.  Cry out to God and pray for His assistance and accept what He sends you.  Drop your pride and leave it at the door and then follow the plan He sends to or gives you.  These are opportunities to build yourself up and to strengthen your relationship with Him.  Opportunities are open doors to walk through; thus, they serve as a great conduit to accomplish His will. Take each day as it comes and remember that in order to learn the lesson properly it may take a few times to grasp it or it may come sooner, but regardless of that, stick with it no matter how long it takes.  I am just beginning, and I know that this road will still get bumpy.  I need to focus on the here and now, continue despite the obstacles and rejoice in all the achievements, milestones or blessings that come out of it.  I began with a small step and now a few days in I have already lost weight and improved my mobility.  I cannot wait to see how this all plays out and where I am going next.  I no longer doubt or fear it, but instead I want to see what is around the corner.  So, hold on to the hope and run with it.  As I have been encouraged, I want to encourage others.  I will be on the sidelines rooting for you during your struggle and I will pray for you throughout the struggle.  It is in His hands – trust that and just walk in the faith.  His promises are true, and He is faithful. God is indeed good all the time! Best wishes and God bless.

The Struggle is Real

Have you ever been in a situation in which you feel that you are just treading water and still finding it hard to survive?  Everything seems to be a struggle – a force to be reckoned with and yet, no matter what you do, it is unavoidable, and you must deal with it at some point.  Everyone goes through this.  Some seem to hide their emotions well and appear as if all is fine, but most are hit hard and cannot thinly veil their response to it.

How are we, as Christians, supposed to act when it happens to us?  Many times, throughout the bible we are told to endure and persevere.  For example, in Romans 12:12 we are told to:

            “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We see examples of this throughout the bible; such as when Job endured a huge loss, yet never turned against God, Jeremiah faced threats and prison, but still persevered and preached God’s word, and Paul faced many trials once he came to Christ.  Paul zealously killed Christians, was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, and faced many trials once he gave his life over to Jesus.  He faced imprisonment, was flogged, pelted with stones and shipwrecked.  He embodies perseverance.  Another example is the persistent widow who goes before the judge to right a wrong done to her.  She kept on persisting until she wore the judge down.  The greatest example of this is Jesus.  He persevered and did the will of God despite the many persecutions he suffered.  He endured the cross so that we may be reconciled with God and become heirs to His kingdom.

Knowing what to do holds no weight unless you are willing to apply it.  When your trial draws near and the storm feels like it will never end, that is when you need to hold on to God’s promises and remember what He taught us.  He is our refuge in times of adversity, as pointed out in Psalm 46:1 and Proverbs 18:10.  His strength brings you much joy as Nehemiah 8:12 states.  In Isaiah 31:13 we are comforted by His promise to be there and help us in our time of need.

            “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.”

            “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe.”

            “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

            “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

We are not alone during the struggle as confirmed in James 1:2-4 and Joshua 1:9. We can walk with assurance and without fear as we learn in Psalm 23:4.

            “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

            “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

            “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Storms can ravage us and last a long time, but when we are connected and have a strong personal relationship with God, then we can overcome whatever the storm brings.  We are His as 1 John 4:4 tells us.  The solution is evident when we read 1 Peter 5:7 and joy, as well as, contentment, can be found in Proverbs 12:25 if we are faithful. 

            “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

            “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

            “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Lastly, when we have assurance in His promises, and stay connected, we can face the struggle head on.  Only then can peace come, but we must stay on the path and walk with God.  However, we are to walk with hope as John 16:33 shows us.

            “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

We all struggle, but if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, we can endure the struggle and continue to do His will for us.  As a Christian this is important advice, but also there is much wisdom behind this as well.  It is instruction that can be applied to our own struggle and to someone else who is struggling.  We all have an opportunity and an obligation to be there for one another.  It all boils down to a matter of choice.  Do you want to be swallowed up by the struggle or find a way to get through and come out stronger on the other side?

Currently I am facing a huge struggle and I made mistakes during this time, many of which I have learned greatly from, and I have made some wiser choices.  I cannot do this on my own and with my own understanding.  I need His strength to hold me up.  I need His hand to hold mine and help me walk without fear.  I do not know the outcome of all of this.  I do know that without Him, I would fail and fall again and again.  Trust that He has you in His hand and that He loves you very much.  Do not look for the “why me” scenarios because we all will have our time of struggle.  Rather look for the lesson or the golden nugget He is revealing.  Maybe you need to make a change and be refined.  Maybe this struggle will become the very tool needed to equip you to do His will.  Please stay connected with Him, continue to pray, and surrender it to Him fully.  He is in control and will never lead you astray.  My heart though heavy because of this struggle is lightened by His word and His promises. I ask any of you who do not know our Lord to seek Him.  He will be found and will draw near to you if you draw near to Him.  We all need a Savior.  Today is a good day to start by seeking Him.  Take care and God bless.

           

Out with the Old and In with the New

The holidays are over.  The tree is taken down and the decorations are packed away.  The resolutions made on the last day of the previous year are quite possibly already broken.  Yes, the new year has arrived and is off to a new start.  The world seeks to start anew, and many are eager to participate.  But can we really start anew?  Is it possible to change or be changed?  I believe it is and I will show how life changes for the new Christian.

We are born into sin and live in a very sinful world.  We are ruled by our own desires, the desires of the world, and of course Satan has his say in all this sinful nature.  What can we do and how can we possibly have a chance to change?  We can turn to the Lord.

Our opportunity arises when we hear the message of the gospel from other Christians (through random conversation or when we share our testimony as how we came to know Christ), but a good starting point is to read our Bible.  Every year approximately 100 million copies are either sold or given to someone.  It is translated in over 2400 languages which has the potential to reach approximately 95% of our world population.  Staggering if you think about it.  The power of the Word of God travels far and reaches many.  We serve an awesome God!

As Christians, we are told in the Great Commission to share the gospel with everyone.  These are endless opportunities to introduce the world to Christ.  Along with sharing the Bible, we must keep in mind that it centers around Jesus and a great start to understanding Jesus is to begin with the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  The gospel is shared by word of mouth and by people living by the teachings of Jesus (such as the disciples/apostles).  It is an important resource when one studies Christianity.  It is in these four gospels that the Christian obtains the most knowledge about Jesus, as well as, understands who Jesus is and what his purpose was.  The books of Matthew, Luke and Mark are called the Synoptic Gospels due to their similarity and that they all contain a lot of the same information.  Mark was written first, and Luke and Matthew share information that is not contained in Mark.

Matthew was directed to the Hebrews as a message of encouragement, while Mark was written to encourage Christians in Roman; thus, written for the Romans, and Luke addresses the Greeks using a historical stance.  John was written for the whole world and offers evidence of signs which prove Jesus is the Son of God. 

Symbolically speaking Matthew is the symbol of the winged man because it deals with the genealogy of Christ.  Whereas the winged lion is the symbol of Mark’s gospel because it deals with the resurrection of Christ.  By the way, the lion represents strength and courage to the early Christians.  Luke is considered symbolic of the winged ox and deals with the sacrifice of Christ (in the Old Testament oxen were one example of sacrificial animals used). John is the symbol of the eagle (considered the highest inspiration) and John himself wrote his gospel, 3 epistles and the book of Revelation.  These symbols were first mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Now that I have briefly discussed the importance of sharing the good news (the Gospel), and that it is a wonderful opportunity to use this to tell others, we need to understand why finding Jesus is necessary.  I mentioned above that the world is sinful and is in dire need of a Savior.  God sent his only son to us to serve the will of the Father by teaching us (reminding those who already know about Jesus as well) who Jesus is, why he came, and the sacrifice he would make all so that we can be reconciled to God.

Sinners are at enmity with God.  In fact, he cannot even look at us because of our sin.  However, because God loves us so much, he wanted to offer us a chance to be reconciled with him.  Enter Jesus.  Jesus bore the weight of our sin, was crucified, dead and buried to pay the ransom for our sin.  However, the good news is that He rose from the dead and became the victor over death.

We, once accepting and receiving Jesus into our lives, are now a new creation that lives for Christ and not the world.  We are instructed in Romans 12:2 that we once were dead in sin, but now we are alive in Christ; thus, transformed.

“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Once we have received Jesus, after we have repented of our past nature, we learn in Colossians 2:5 that we will receive the Helper, which is the Holy Spirit.  This was also prophesied in Ezekiel 36:26 when stated that we will receive a new heart when we receive the Holy Spirit, who will indwell and help us become refined and transformed as 2 Corinthians 5:17 states.  Colossians 3:10 reminds us to put on our new self to maintain our new relationship with Christ.

            “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”

            “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”

            “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

Paul has stated that Ephesians 4:22-24 reveals to us the importance of making this change.  It is the way to follow Christ, walk with Him in righteousness and true holiness. 

            “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Earthly resolutions are easy to make and easy to break, but the bond of man and God is not easy to break.  When we acknowledge His existence and seek Him, we will find Him.  When we find Him, we have a new life in which we can serve Him for His glory and reach others to join us by helping them see who Jesus is and will always be.  This is not a resolution, but rather a solution to why we are here on this earth.  We can serve a mighty God and we can reach out to others.  We must develop a relationship with Jesus and continue to seek Him for all our needs.

I was lost for many years and I suffered greatly for it.  I searched and found Jesus.  I asked Him into my life and I have never had any regrets doing so.  The Bible is my instruction book on how to live a life for Jesus and to reach out to others.  It has grounded me, constantly teaches me, and it has shown me who I once was and who I was meant to be.  It has given me a purpose.  I write this blog to speak of Christ and pray that someone who reads it may question themselves and begin to search for Jesus.  You will find Him if you truly seek Him. 

I do not dabble in making false promises to myself or others for the sake of tradition.  I risk it all for Jesus and willingly serve Him for His glory.  Are you tired of making flimsy excuses to change, only to be disappointed when they all fail?  Or do you desire to make a real change?  Fill that empty hole in your heart with Jesus.  You will find peace of mind, contentment, hope and yes, joy.  He is my strength and carries me more often than I can say.  I am currently experiencing a valley that is quite the challenge.  I do not walk in fear, but with faith and hope.  I know He will be with me and He will carry me as it gets harder to walk.  His promises are true, and He will never leave you if you come to Him.  It is worth everything to find Him.  Material possessions and wealth are temporary and will not satisfy you long-term.  Seek Him today and get to know Him.  His grace is more than sufficient.  You will never regret this decision if you truly seek Him.  I pray that you do.  Take care and God Bless.

An Important Due Date – A Glorious Gift

In a little over 4 days a celebration will take place.  The reason for the celebration is clear to the Christian.  It is the birth of our Savior.  It is the greatest love story ever written, it is the story of a living hope.  It is the lifeline God tosses to us, but we need to be able to not only listen to the story, we need to understand the need as to how the story came about in the first place.

 

A purpose has to be determined.  Why did God feel the need to send us a Savior?  After sin entered into the world, wickedness prospered and soon it was everywhere.  Man was disobedient and did not honor God as he was instructed to do.  Man not only was disobedient, but he also failed to live by the law.  In short, the law became unattainable and impossible to maintain – to follow.  God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that man was wicked and that they would always fall short of fully obeying His Word.  Man lived in a sinful world, and in his own selfish desires; thus being charged as a sinner.  Due to sin man now had a penalty to pay for their sin.  The penalty of sin is death.  All of this determined the need for a savior.  God, who wanted to reconcile Himself with man, and through His love, endless mercy and compassion, decided to send His son to save us.  I know many of us cannot comprehend a love so deep that would require a sacrifice to be made in order for us to live, that a lot of us choose not to believe it happened or that it could ever exist.  You would be wrong in that assessment and would miss out on the gift bestowed to all.

 

However, I am here to share that this is an opportunity for you to hear the news and accept the gift offered.  None of us are worthy of it and none of us can earn it.  It is through His grace alone that we are presented this opportunity.  Do not let it pass you by!

 

To understand this powerful birth of our Lord, we need to understand God’s deep love for us.  In John 3:16 we learn of God’s great love for mankind and the price that our Savior would pay for us to live and have eternal life.  “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.

 

We not only know the need for a savior, but we know from prophecy in Isaiah that the Messiah was coming.  We are promised a Messiah as Isaiah 9:6 points out:  For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  It is here that we see God’s blueprint as how His Word would be fulfilled and the titles attached to Jesus.  All of these are titles befitting a king.

 

To fulfill prophecy God had to choose a vessel to use that would deliver Christ; thus bringing Him into the world.  He chose Mary as someone He highly favored, to carry our Savior.  This pointed to the sign that the Messiah was coming as stated in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23.  All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” 

 

In order to understand fully this important due date let’s take a look at the history of that time and we can see how it all pieces together.  In the book of Luke we get the background story and the blueprint of the coming Lord.    The others gospels (Matthew, Mark and John) also mention the birth of Jesus, but I want to focus on Luke’s narrative for a reason.  Luke was not only trustworthy, but he was also a historian who was careful with details about the birth and he was known to be very accurate about the facts.

 

As we read the gospels we learn that there was a decree issued by Publius Sulpicious Quirinius the Roman Governor of Syria, who within the reign of Herod, called for a census to be taken of the people.  Each person was to go to their house (one of the twelve tribes) for the census.  Joseph, who was from the House of David, took himself and Mary to Bethlehem.  This is the where the setting for this love story begins.

 

Upon arriving, as pointed out in Luke 2:7, we find out there was no room for them at the inn, but a stable was available. This now becomes the chosen setting to deliver the baby who though born a King, came into the world in the most ordinary way. “She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

 

A king, who, was born into this world without any royal fanfare, lay in a lowly manger, not a crib in a luxurious palace.  Here lay a king who came into this world without any pomp or circumstance.  There were no fancy announcements about his arrival.  Jesus arrived in an ordinary way to demonstrate that he would be the savior for all mankind, and not for just the rich or the prominent classes.  God had a purpose behind this setting.  He was making an announcement more profound than we could understand.  He sent forth angels singing and praising Jesus.  He sent three wise men, who upon seeing a Star of Wonder, followed it and found the baby who would become a future king.  Gifts were bestowed to Jesus – gifts fit for a King.  God had made it known not only who Jesus was, but what Jesus would become and represent to the world.

 

In this distance, down the road, the future would lead to a cross and the world would see a love so greatly given, so righteously and faithfully lived, and a greater prophecy fulfilled.  The child He sent would give up his life in order to save all of us.  This is a reason to celebrate and live a life with immense joy.  This gift once accepted cannot be taken away as pointed out in John 10:28.  “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  This is a promise from God to us.

 

So as you gather together to celebrate Christmas, take a moment to reflect on the true meaning, and then open this gift and accept Jesus.  Nothing will ever compare to its value.  Let Him in and watch how your life changes.  Wrap yourself with the warmth and glow of true love.  Merry Christmas to all and God bless!