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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A CHRISTmas Moment….

Luke 12:15 “And he said unto them, Take heed, and
beware of covetousness: for a man’s life does not consist
in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

A CHRISTmas Moment!

Getting mauled at the mall, getting paralyzed in traffic,
overheating your credit card. Christmas can sure make
you tired of shopping. Especially if you can’t find what
you’re looking for.  It’s a feeling that’s not unique to
Christmas – many of us are tired of shopping for what will
fill the hole in our heart.

We look for it one relationship after another, one
conquest after another, one experience after another.
There’s this persistent whisper in our heart – “Something’s
missing.” Actually, the something is Someone. That first
Christmas, the wise men’s long search ended when, as
the Bible says, “They bowed down and worshiped Jesus.”
(Matthew 2:11) That’s where your search will end, too.

The Bible says we were “created by Christ and for Christ”
(Colossians 1:16) – which means the hole in your heart is there
until you have Christ. No amount of buying and receiving will fill it.

It took Jesus’ awful persecution and death on the cross to
pay for the sin that’s separated us from God. But now His
love, His peace, His meaning for your life is within your
reach – if you’ll just, “Call upon the Lord for forgiveness.”

You’ve shopped long enough. Come on home.

Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and you shall be saved, and your house.”

Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

John 3:16 “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.”

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.”

CHRISTmas Geese…

CHRISTmas Geese…..

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!”

The CHRISTmas Geese

There was once a man who didn’t believe in the incarnation or
the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God. He
and his family lived in a farm community.
His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children
in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and
mocked her religious observance of Christmas.

One snowy Christmas Eve she was taking the kids to the Christmas
Eve service at church. She pleaded with him to come, but he firmly
refused. He ridiculed the idea of the incarnation of Christ and dismissed
it as nonsense. ” Why would God lower himself and become a human
like us?! It’s such a ridiculous story!” he said. So she and the children
left for church while he stayed home.

After they left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned
into a blizzard. As he looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding
snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then
he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And
another thump. He looked outside but couldn’t see. So he ventured
outside to see.

In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a
flock of geese! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer
area down south, but got caught in the snow storm.

The snow had become too blinding and violent for the geese
to fly or see their way. They were lost and stranded on his farm,
with no food or shelter.

They just fluttered their wings and flew around in circles
around the field blindly and aimlessly. He had compassion for
them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself,” The barn
would be a great place for them to stay! It’s warm and safe; surely
they could spend the night and wait out the storm.”

So he walked over to the barn and opened the barn doors for
them. He waited, watching them hoping they would notice the
open barn and go inside. But they just fluttered around aimlessly
and didn’t notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them.
He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just
moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and
came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread
trail leading to the barn. They still didn’t catch on.

Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo
them, run after them, and chase them toward the barn. They
only got scared and scattered into every direction except
toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the
barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter.

Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, “Why don’t they
follow me? Can’t they see this is the only place where they
can survive the storm! How can I possibly get them into the
one place to save them?” He thought for a moment and
realized that they just won’t follow a human. He said to
himself,” How can I possibly save them? The only way
would be for me to become like those geese.
If only I could become like one of them! Then I could
save them! They would follow me and I would lead them
to safety.

He stood silently for a moment as the words that he
just said reverberated back to himself in his mind:” If only
I could become like one of them–then I could save them. “
He thought about his words, and remembered what he
said to his wife:” Why would God want to be like us?
That’s so ridiculous! ” Something clicked in his mind as
he put these two together. It was like a revelation, and he
began to understand the incarnation.

We were like the geese– blind, gone astray, perishing.
God became like us so He could show us the way and make
a way available to save us. That is the meaning of Christmas,
he realized in his heart.

As the winds and blinding snow abated, his heart
became quiet and pondered this thought. He understood
what Christmas was all about. He knew why Christ
had come. Suddenly years of doubt and disbelief were
shattered, as he humbly and tearfully bowed down in the
snow, and embraced the true meaning of Christmas.

“The Geese “
– Author Unknown-

Luke 18:17 “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Luke 2:11b” …For there is born to you this day in the city
of David, A SAVIOR, WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD!”

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.”

Jesus at your Birthday Party…

Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Jesus at your Birthday Party….

Amid all the amusement and theme parks clustered in Orlando, Florida, there’s one that is pretty distinctive. It’s a Holy Land theme park that attempts to bring some of the scenes and the stories of the Bible to life. Our daughter and son-in-law were there not long ago with our two grandsons. And the kids, who are pretty up on their Bible stories, really enjoyed walking through those stories and meeting some of the characters (actually, people portraying some of those characters). The one that impressed our then two-year-old grandson the most was Jesus. A man portraying Jesus stood in the middle of the small crowd and He spoke some of the very stories that Jesus told in the Bible. But then came the moment our little guy will not soon forget. Jesus came over and picked Him up, just like Jesus did with the children when He was here. The next day Mom and our little guy were talking about his upcoming third birthday party, and suddenly out of the blue, he said, “I want Jesus at my birthday party.”

That’s a great idea: Jesus at your birthday party. Talk about a guest of honor! Actually, when it comes to the most important birthday of all, there’s no physical or spiritual birthday without Jesus. And if there’s no spiritual birthday, there’s no life. Eternal life, that is. The most important birthday of all is the day you get born into God’s family. You say, “Isn’t everyone God’s child?” Not unless they’ve been born spiritually into the family of the Heavenly Father. They’re His creation, but they’re only His child by birth.

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Obviously, Birth One was the day you were born into your parents’ family. No birthday, no life. Jesus is talking here about Birth Two – the day you actually begin to belong to God. No spiritual birthday, no eternal life. Without being “born again” Jesus said you cannot enter God’s heaven. Because heaven is only for family – God’s family. Anyone can be in God’s family, no matter what their religion or their background, but not everyone is, because they’ve never been born again. In fact according to Mat 7:13, 14 most will never enter God’s family.

Mat 7:13,14 “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in that way: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”

So how does one have that spiritual birthday?

Recognize you are a sinner and what the consequences to sin are and your need for a Savior.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

It’s all about what you do with Jesus. Why? Because the only way to be in God’s family is to take care of what keeps you from being one of His kids, and that’s called sin. He’s an all-holy, totally perfect God. You and I have turned our back on Him by sinning. Even with a lot of religion in our lives to give us a sense of being okay we are destined to eternal death. You see, only those who are ‘born again’ have eternal life. Being religious is called false security. We’ve used the mouth He gave us to hurt people, to lie and to swear. We’ve used the hands and eyes and ears He gave us to touch and explore what we never should have touched. We’ve hurt most the people we love most, we’ve lusted, we’ve boasted and we’ve been selfish. All that sin has to be paid for, but Jesus died as our substitute paying for it.

Jesus is the only One who can forgive your sin, because He’s the only One who died for it and then rose again to prove He can. He’s the only One who can get you into heaven. Sin requires a pure sacrifice to wash it away and Jesus is the only One who could be that sacrifice.

But you need a birthday – a definite beginning with Him. If you don’t have that, you have no chance of being God’s child. There is only One who can be that Mediator between God the Father and sinners.

I Tim 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Have you missed your spiritual birthday? Which only comes the day you “believe in” Jesus; which means welcoming Him into your life with total trust in Him for forgiveness of your sins? If you’ve done that, you know you have been ‘born again’. If you don’t know, you probably haven’t. But you can this very day. Just ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and believe on Him.

Today’s date could become the most important day of your life if you make it your Jesus-day – your birthday. The day you receive the most awesome, most expensive birthday present of all – eternal life paid for with the life of God’s Son.

I John 5:11-13 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”