Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Greatest Gift

On Tuesday night, we had a family tradition of getting together with a few friends for dinner and of course, opening presents. The last few years our kids have had the fun of going to a “Secret Santa Shop” at their school where they can buy small, inexpensive items for anybody that they want to put on their list. This year, however, there was no Secret Santa Shop, so Susan took them to the Dollar General and allowed them to buy their gifts there. They had so much fun picking out things for their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.
On Tuesday night, they were excited to give some of their gifts away. When Chuck and Karen Waldrop (who are like my kid’s third set of grandparents) walked in the door, John Mark immediately screamed, “Hey Chuck, I got you a HAMMER! Hey Chuck, I got you a HAMMER!” It was priceless. It didn’t matter that we still had folks to arrive and we were going to eat dinner before we did the presents, every time John Mark saw Chuck, he told him that he had bought him a hammer! I guess he told him fifteen times, so it was no big surprise when Chuck later opened up his hammer from John Mark! It was hard for John Mark to keep such a GREAT GIFT to himself! He had to tell!
I imagine it is the same way with God. From the moment we are born, I imagine that God is screaming with excitement, “HEY, I’VE GOT YOU A SAVIOR! HEY, I’VE GOT YOU A SAVIOR!” The problem is, He wants to shout that great news through you and me. He wants us to tell the Good News that Jesus Christ was born, that He died, and that He rose again and He wants to be Savior and Lord of their lives. How is that we keep such a GREAT GIFT to ourselves?
John Mark shouted about a simple hammer. How are you doing at telling people about the GREATEST GIFT ever given? His name is JESUS and He is what today is all about. The Christmas carol says it well, “Go tell it on the mountain, over the fields, and everywhere.”
Susan and I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that your day is filled with the holiness and joy that only Christ can bring. We love you all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Mother's Thought at Christmas

Had Mary known, just she alone, when in her arms a baby lay
The pain and sorrow of His tomorrow, sin in its ultimate display,
Would she have hidden Him and safely bidden Him
and quickly run for His life?
Or could she have faced with no attempt to replace
His inevitable appointment with strife?

What if she had known, through a vision been shown,
the fate of His downy soft head
Which her cheek brushed gently as He cooed so contently,
absent all feeling of dread
Of a day far too soon, the sun peaked at noon
when men filled with hatred and scorn
Would puncture His skin and abruptly press in
a crown protruding with thorns?

Had Mary known all along the fate of the palm
she uncurled carefully with her thumb
The hideous sound that a hammer would pound
when to a nail His palm would succumb
Would her grasp have grown tight as she clutched with her might
each tiny, searching finger
That would stretch out in pain, no relief to be gained
as the minutes 'til death only lingered?

What if Mary had perceived the message received
in the swaddling clothes wrapped 'round Him
That they only foretold a body grown cold
and the grave clothes that eventually bound Him?
And the clothes He'd wear from His body they'd tear,
each garment from the other
As they cast their lots no mercy is sought
An eyewitness you'll be, Dear Mother.

As my mind still wanders over that one who pondered
each moment in that stable
If she had know what Scrpture has shown,
would she have changed it if she were able?
I realize know as my knees drop to bow
something of the God of Glory.
Had He told her these things, what Christ's future would bring,
He would have told her the rest of the story -

"Yes, Dear one, who holds my Son,
lifting Him from a hard, wooden manger,
He'll be a man of sorrows, all grief to borrow,
from birth He'll be in danger.
On a tree replete with sin's defeat
He'll soon die in your very own stead.
No earthly throne, He'll die alone, and thorns will crown His head."

"Grieve only a while o'er the loss of My Child,
God incarnate in this baby boy.
The grave will soon see the captives set free
and your heartache will turn to joy!"
The angels restate, "How long will You wait
to give Him all You've longed for?"
My patient reply, First He must die...His grave is the Open Door!"

"As life came from the womb, there's life from the tomb.
My plan is being perfected.
There's a place I prepare after sin I repair,
for My children, My heart's own elected...
Where all bow at His feet, death in defeat,
and call Him the Lord of all lords!
Blessed choruses ring, 'He's the King of all kings!
His Word a double-edged sword!"

"For now, My child, but for a while, cuddle Him all you can.
Gather hay from the loft, sing a lullaby soft, 'Sleep, Baby, Blessed
So much work must we do when time becomes due.
Rest for now, My Darling, don't cry.
Stars, shine bright! Dance on His face tonight!
Look up, your redemption is nigh!"

He is God's Son, the Only One through Whom men can be restored.
Dry your tears, incline your ears. Your pain is not ignored.

Hail His Majesty, the Prince of Peace, the Bright and Morning Star,
Bow each knee, and tongues proceed, Praise Him wherever you are!

Beth Moore
Things Pondered

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Circle

I have been spending a good deal of time reading lately since battling bronchitis and came across this story from a missionary named Brenda serving in Asia. I honestly must tell you that nothing I have read lately is more convicting and such a timely straight on message for this week.

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people'" Luke 2:10

"When my husband and I responded to God's call to come to Southeast Asia, packing was a challenge. There simply wasn't room for the holiday decorations I had accumulated during the years. All that remained for our new home was a Nativity set that I had bought in a neighboring country.

With great care, I placed the ceramic pieces on my table. An angel was in the back; Mary, Joseph and the baby were in front; wise men were on the right; and the shepherds and cattle were placed on the left. The standard American setup.

The next day while I was at language school, my house helper looked at the Nativity. When I came back later that day, my carefully arranged pieces were now in a circle, all mixed up, with the baby in the middle. Thinking she had dusted and didn't know how to arrange them correctly, I moved them back in the proper order. The following day the Nativity scene was once again in a circle. This went on four more days until I finally asked her why she kept moving the pieces-after all, everyone knows shepherds and wise men have definite stations in life and her arrangement just wouldn't happen.

She pointed to the scene and said, "Jesus should be the center of everything." Pointing to her heart, she continued, "Just like in here." Pointing to the wise men, then to a shepherd and then to herself, she continued to teach me, saying, "He loves us all the same."

-Brenda, Pacific Rim

Is Jesus the center of everything for you? Especially this week, as we celebrate His birth, we tend to lose focus on what matters. With gifts to buy and wrap, food to bake, places to be, family to see, we forget that Jesus is the center of everything. He is the reason for the season. Period. Spend some time first praying that Jesus would today be the center of your life in everything you do. Then pray that you would look for opportunities to share Jesus with anyone who crosses your path.

God bless you!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jesus is My King

Is it possible to fully describe Jesus Christ, our King? As many words as we have in the English language, there are still not enough to adequately describe the character and goodness of Jesus Christ, our loving Lord and Savior.

However, one of the best attempts ever made to describe our King came from Anne Graham Lotz in her book Just Give Me Jesus. Prior to her writing she was given a cassette tape labeled "My King Is...". It was a wonderful rendition of what King Jesus is to a preacher named S.M. Lockridge. She used the descriptions and added to them to include them in her book. The "poem" has thrilled my soul time and time again, and I pray that you will take time today and meditate on how King Jesus has touched your life. Do you know King Jesus?

He is enduringly strong.
He is entirely sincere.
He is eternally steadfast.
He is immortally gracious.
He is imperially powerful.
He is impartially merciful.
He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed
the horizons of the globe.

He is God's Son
He is the sinner's Savior.
He is the captive's Ransom.
He is the Breath of Life.
He is the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of Himself.

He is august and He is unique.
He is unparalleled and He is unprecedented.
He is undisputed and He is undefiled.
He is unsurpassed and He is unshakable.

He is the lofty idea in philosophy.
He is the highest personality in psychology.
He is the supreme sunject in literature.
He is the unavoidable problem in higher criticism.
He is the fundamental doctrine of theology.
He is the Cornerstone, the Capstone, and the stumbling
Stone of all religion.
He is the miracle of the ages.

No means of measure can define His limitless love...
No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline
of His shoreless supply...
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing...

He forgives and He forgets.
He creates and He cleanses.
He restores and He rebuilds.
He heals and He helps.
He reconciles and He redeems.
He comforts and He carries.
He lifts and He loves.

He is the God of the second chance,
the fat chance,
the slim chance,
the no chance...

He discharges the debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent.
He beautifies the meek.

He is the key to knowledge.
He is the wellspring of wisdom.
He is the foundation of faith.
He is the doorway of deliverance.
He is the pathway to peace.
He is the roadway of righteousness.
He is the gateway to glory.
He is the highway to happiness.

He supplies strength to the weary.
He increases power to the faint.
He offers escape to the tempted.

He sympathizes with the hurting.
He saves the hopeless.
He shields the helpless.
He sustains the homeless.

He gives purpose to the aimless.
He gives reason to the meaningless.
He gives fulfillment to our emptiness.
He gives light in the darkness.
He gives comfort in our loneliness.
He gives fruit in our barrenness.
He gives heaven to the hopeless.
He gives life to the lifeless!

He guards the young.
He seeks the stray.
He finds the lost.
He guides the faithful.
He rights the wronged.
He avenges the abused.
He defends the weak.
He comforts the oppressed.
He welcomes the prodigal.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the dirty.
He beautifies the barren.
He restores the failure.
He mends the broken.
He blesses the poor.
He fills the empty.
He clothes the naked.
He satisfies the hungry.
He elevates the humble.
He forgives the sinner.
He raises the dead!

His office is manifold,
and His promise is sure.
His life is matchless,
and His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is enough,
and His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous, His yoke is easy,
and His burden is light.

He is indestructable. He is indescribable.
He is incomprehensible. He is inescapable.
He is invincible. He is irresistible. He is irrefutable.

I can't get Him out of my mind...
And I can't get Him out of my heart.
I can't outlive Him...
And I can't live without Him.

The Pharisees couldn't stand Him
but found they couldn't stop Him.
Satan tried to tempt Him
but found he couldn't trip Him.
Pilot examined Him on trial
but found he couldn't fault Him.
The Romans crucified Him
but found they couldn't take His life.
Death couldn't handle Him,
and the grave couldn't hold Him.

He had no predeccessor,
and He will have no successor.

He is the Lion,
and He is the Lamb.

He is God,
and He is Man.

He is the seven-way King;

He is the King of the Jews...
that's a racial King.

He is the King of Israel...
that's a national King.

He is the King of righteousness...
that's a moral King.

He is the King of the ages...
that's an eternal King.

He is the King of heaven...
that's a universal King.

He is the King of glory...
that's a celestial King.


Friday, December 19, 2008

My Redeemer Lives


"My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Ezekiel 37:27

"When all is said and done, the last word is Immanuel - God-With-Us." Isaiah 8:10 MSG

Good day to all of you! You know there are just somedays that you want to be reminded that Jesus is Immanuel - "God With Us". After some shots, cough medicine and an antibiotic in the midst of busy, busy, I needed to go back and really look at what it means that our God is Immanuel!

I love to travel...Darrin and I went to Austria last May and I just fell in love with the rolling hills leading up to the enormous, jagged snow-covered mountains known as the Alps. The vast fields covered with beautiful grape vines and lush blue-green vegetation and somehow you wonder if any of it resembles Eden. Can you imagine God walking with Adam, the first man, and Eve. Being with man was God's plan from the very start. In Knowing God by Name, Mary Kassian pointed out how in the garden of Eden, God walked with Adam and Eve, talked with them, face to face. But after they sinned, God was unable to continue interacting with them this way. Sad huh? Nevertheless, God was still committed to being with His people. God set up a system of animal sacrifice to atone for man's sin and make it possible for Him to be "with" His people.

Immanuel is a Hebrew masculine name consisting of two Hebrew words. El, meaning "God," and Immanu, meaning "with us". As a proper name it appears twice in the Old Testament (Isa. 7:14, 8:8) and once in the New Testament (Matt. 1:23), where it is specifically associated with Jesus.

"The name Immanuel gives expression to the truth God had communicated in various ways to His covenant people throughout history: God is truly "with" His people! He is "God with us"! In the Old Testament the name was given to a child born in the time of Ahaz as a sign to the king that the nation would receive relief from enemy attack. The name demonstrated that God was "with" His people in the deliverance. But, even greater and more wonderful than this, the sign predicted the birth of the incarnate God, Jesus the Messiah - "God With Us" in the flesh - the One who would die for sins and deliver us from the ultimate Enemy. Jesus Immanuel would enable people to draw near and experience God's presence in an intimate way." 1

"God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

Think about the lengths God went to be with us. The Father sent His Son to become flesh and die for our sins. He did it so that God might always be "with us" in a very intimate, close, personal way.

Take a minute today in the comment section and describe what it means to you to have God "with you".

1 Knowing God by Name, Mary Kassian 2008

Just A Reminder

Next week is Christmas!!!!!!!!!!! Merry WooHoo Christmas!!!
This is a precious, precious part of our faith! What a privilege to celebrate the Virgin Birth of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. I so hope you will take a moment each day and read the devotion as we focus on the Name above all Names, Jesus!