Mary, the faithful sinner and CHRISTmas…

 Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

 Luke 1:26-32 “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”

Mary, the faithful sinner and CHRISTmas

In the drama of the first Christmas there is a perfect example of walking by faith. God begins in Luke 1:26 – “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary, The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus.'” A name above all names! In no other name is salvation found.

God’s request to Mary was that she walk by faith and trust Him. He asked her to take His hand and allow Him to lead her into something amazing. Mary did not insist that she see some piece of evidence before she accept God’s plan. We must understand that in the Jewish culture of those days a woman was stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock. Now think about the faith it took to obey.

God was leading her into a situation where she was suddenly and miraculously pregnant. And who’s going to believe that God is doing this? How about the arguments that may have gone through her head? She has a lot to lose if she walks by faith and goes where God wants to take her. She may lose her reputation as the “nice girl of Nazareth.” She may lose the man she loves when he hears she is expecting and he knows he’s not the father. The wedding she has dreamed about from an early age may never happen. And since, in the Jewish culture of that day, they stoned women for sexual sin, obedience could even cost Mary her life.

But Mary was a woman of faith. Listen to her response, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Those words show her heart. If Mary’s identity is, “I’m Joseph’s girl,” there’s no way she’s going

to do what God wants. If her image as the “nice girl of Nazareth” is her identity, she won’t do this. But Mary bases her identity on one thing and one thing alone. With open hands, open arms,

face looking up, she declares, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.” And because of that surrendered spirit and surrendered future, Mary carries God’s only Son in her body.

God’s most special assignments are for those who will let go of their fears and begin the walk of faith. When you know that God is asking you do something, and then the choice is; do I serve Jesus or my fears and desires? It may be to share His love with someone who has never heard (Mat 28:19, 20). It may be to develop and use your God given spiritual gift(s) for His glory. It may be to give up something very precious to you for the benefit of another (Agape Love).

It may be to turn the other cheek. It may be to be the salt that lovingly calls sin for what it is even in the face of much opposition. It may be to set aside the occupation the world and family and self gave you and take up the one Jesus has for you.

This Christmas season, take your Father’s hand and with child-like faith, tell Him, “Lord, take me wherever You want me to go.”

Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…”

If you are serious about walking by faith then take the time to check out Eph 2:8,9, Rom 12:1,2, Luke 9:23 and Phil 4:13

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The CHRISTmas Pageant…

John 3:16a “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”

The CHRISTmas Pageant

My husband and I had been happily married (most of the time) for five years but hadn’t been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart and raise it with His word as my guide.

God answered my prayers with a yes and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son.

The following year, He blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.  My husband thought we’d been blessed right into poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old. I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, “If you pray for rain make sure you carry an umbrella.”

I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and I didn’t want to disappoint Him. I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks. I tried to be understanding…when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs.

When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess. In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn’t keep my promise to be a perfect mother – didn’t even come close…I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to “wash up” Jesus, too. Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his “last wife.”

My proudest moment came during the children’s Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine. My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, “We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.” But he was nervous and said, “The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes.” My four-year-old “Mary” said, “That’s not ‘wrinkled clothes,’ silly. That’s dirty, rotten clothes.”

A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing.

I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying, “Mama-mama.”

Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.

My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced, “We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.” The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation.

“I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one,” laughed the pastor, wiping tears from his eyes.

“For the rest of my life, I’ll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur.”

“My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing,” I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.

Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master.

Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.

Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.

Had no army, yet kings feared Him.

He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.

He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.

He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.

Feel honored to serve such a Leader who loves us.

GOD BLESS AND HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS

John 3:16-18 ” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

A Friend called Jesus…

Hebrews 4:13-16 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

A Friend called Jesus!

The song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” resonates with so many of us because we all need a friend who can empathize with us in every circumstance. Jesus walked among the people whom He died to save in order to relate to individuals and to make those individuals realize that they could approach Him. Joseph Scriven learned he could share his heart with a Savior who knew on a personal level exactly what Scriven was facing. In 1857, Scriven wrote “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Many Christians know by heart the famous first verse, but few are aware of the powerful words in the second verse: “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful-who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Scriven knew the legitimacy of Christ’s friendship. He knew Christ had suffered, so it was easy for Scriven’s friendship with Christ to deepen when, the night before his scheduled wedding, Scriven’s fiancée drowned.

Scriven in his grief left Ireland for Canada. There, his great hymn itself was born out of anguish. The hymn was a part of a letter that he sent to his ill mother back in Ireland. He simply was reminding her how to get in touch with an old Friend.

Have you made Jesus your Friend?

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

CHRISTmas Love…

John 3:16a “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

CHRISTmas Love

Each December I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations: extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet I still found myself exhausted, unable to fully appreciate the precious family moments, and, of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s Winter Pageant. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher who assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early and found a seat in the cafeteria. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment, songs about reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and good cheer. So when my son’s class rose to sing “Christmas Love” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, who were adorned in fuzzy mittens and red sweaters, with bright stocking caps on their heads. Those in the front row, center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas” a child would hold up the letter “C.” Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly we noticed her, a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down. She was unaware that reversed, her letter “M” appeared as a “W.”

The audience of first- through sixth-graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, and she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.”

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience, and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos there was a purpose for our festivities.

When the last letter was held high, the message read clear:

“CHRISTWAS LOVE” (“CHRIST WAS AND IS LOVE”)

AMEN…………………

– Author Unknown

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John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Slow Down – Eternity Depends on it….

Slow Down – Eternity depends on it……

“Haste makes waste” is not a verse of scripture but it does include some biblical wisdom found in scripture.

Now that we have touched on one problem be careful not to go too far in the other direction.

II Thes 3:10, 11 “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this; If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.”

When it comes to where you will spend eternity you must make sure that speed or complacency are not involved in the decision. When you’re moving too fast you tend to make a lot of mistakes.  And when you move to slow you may never make the decision God wants you to make in the timing He wants. At least that is my experience from my many experiences. And you can end up going very fast or very slow- but in the wrong direction or no direction at all!

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”

There is a way to find the Way! This verse speaks primarily about mankind and his perceived  wisdom on what he must do for eternity but applies nicely to all decisions in life. They require God’s wisdom to be pleasing to God and not the flesh.

 John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

James 1:5-6 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”

So slow down today and…….

Hebrews 12:1-2 ” Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Your Life can have an Impact….

Mat 7:1, 2 “Judge not that you be not judged…

Your Life can have an Impact!

Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the
very first day of school in the fall and told the children a lie. Like
most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them
all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was
impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the
third row, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he
didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt
and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was unpleasant.

It got to the point during the first few months that she would
actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen,
making bold X’s and then marking the F at the top of the paper biggest
of all.

Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy
him, either. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required
to review each child’s records and put Teddy’s off until last.

When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His
first-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a
ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy
to be around.”

His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student
well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has
a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy continues to work hard but his
mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his
father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect
him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t
show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes
sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem.”

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem, but Christmas was coming
fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard.

Her children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright
paper, except for Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown
paper of a scissored grocery bag.  Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in
the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh
when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and
a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne.

She stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed behind just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson,
today you smelled just like my mom used to.”

After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching, reading, and writing, and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children.

Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called
“Teddy.” As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more
she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On days there would be an
important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of
the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and…well,
he had also become the “pet” of the teacher who had once vowed to love all
of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her
that of all the teachers he’d had in elementary school, she was his favorite.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote
that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his
favorite teacher of all time.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things
had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would
graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson
she was still his favorite teacher.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he
explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little
further. The letter explained that she was still his favorite teacher but
that now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed,
Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that
spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was to be married. He explained that
his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering…well, if
Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother
of the groom.  And guess what, she wore that bracelet, the one with several
rhinestones missing. And I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled
just like…  well, just like way Teddy remembered his mother smelling on
their last Christmas together.

THE MORAL:  You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another’s life by your actions or lack of action. Consider this fact in your venture through life. Time is of little essence, when Life continues on.

Yesterday is History
Tomorrow is a Mystery
Today is a Gift
That’s why they call it the PRESENT

Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly:
and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

A CHRISTmas Poem…..

CHRISTmas poem….

‘T’was the night before Christmas

and all through the town

Not a sign of Baby Jesus

was anywhere to be found.

 

The people were all busy

with Christmas time chores

Like decorating, and baking,

and shopping in stores.

 

No one sang “Away in a manger,

no crib for a bed”.

Instead, they sang of Santa

dressed-up in bright red.

 

Mama watched Martha Stewart,

Papa drank beer from a tap.

As hour upon hour

the presents they’d wrap

 

When what from the T.V.

did they suddenly hear?

‘Cept an ad.. which told

of a big sale at Sears.

 

So away to the mall

they all flew like a flash…

Buying things on credit…

and others with cash!

 

And, as they made their way home

From their trip to the mall,

Did they think about Jesus?

Oh, no… not at all.

 

Their lives were so busy

with their Christmas time things

No time to remember

Christ Jesus, the King.

 

There were presents to wrap

and cookies to bake.

How could they stop and remember

who died for their sake?

 

To pray to the Savior…

they had no time to stop.

Because they needed more time

to “Shop til they dropped!”

 

On Wal-mart! On K-mart!

On Target! On Penney’s!

On Hallmark! On Zales!

A quick lunch at McDonald’s

 

From the big stores downtown

to the stores at the mall

They would dash away, dash away,

and visit them all!

 

And up on the roof,

there arose such a clatter

As grandpa hung icicle lights

up on his brand new step ladder.

 

He hung lights that would flash.

He hung lights that would twirl.

Yet, he never once prayed to Jesus…

The Light of the World.

 

Christ’s eyes… how they twinkle!

Christ’s Spirit… how merry!

Christ’s love… how enormous!

All our burdens… He’ll carry!

 

So instead of being busy,

overworked, and uptight

Let’s put Christ back in

Christmas and enjoy some good nights!

 

Merry CHRISTmas, my friends!

 

Luke 2:8-11 “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in
the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And behold, the angel of the
Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were
greatly afraid. Then the angel said unto them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I
bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is
born to you this day in the city of David, A SAVIOR, WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD|||||||||||||||”