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Archive for December, 2011


Rejoice! Rejoice in the Most High,
While Israel spreads abroad
Like stars that glitter in the sky,
And ever worship God,
And ever worship God,
And ever, and ever worship God

Joy to the world! The Lord is come

King David wrote, “Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!  Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!…So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!  Shout for joy all you whose hearts are pure!”   (Psalm 32: 1-2, 11).

2011 is coming to a close.  The past ended last night.  His mercies are new every morning, allowing us to start with a clean slate each day, not just at the start of a new year.  (Lamentations 3:23)

For thousands of years God sought a relationship with the people He created.  Throughout the Old Testament we learn that His people would come once a year to the Temple and seek forgiveness and restoration from the priest through the presenting of sacrifices.  God saw that plan wasn’t successfully restoring the intimate relationship He wanted with those He loved, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ.

As we close out this year 2011, may our hearts and minds reflect on the significance of that sacrifice and precious gift.  Jesus Christ didn’t come to earth to reach us as God, but came in human form, born in the most humble of circumstances—a baby lying in a manger would not have been in a sterile, safe, or even in a sweet smelling, warm location.  Coming in that humble manner, strips away any class distinction, any argument for segregating ourselves because of wealth, power or position.  Jesus Christ loves us so much He was willing to come, live as an ordinary man, work, and cope with all of those daily circumstances we face so that He could take away any excuses we might fabricate for rejecting His love.

A God that cares enough to do all of that warrants our worship today.  May your heart and mind be filled with the power of that truth so you can “Rejoice in the Most High” and reflect to the world the Lord is come.

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He rules the world with truth and grace,

And gives to nations proof
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Youth of today use the expression—“you rock!” when they express approval, appreciation or gratitude towards another.  Well, for more than 2000 years Jesus has rocked!  Repeatedly He has given the world proof of His love.

As we bring 2011 to a close, we have an opportunity to reflect on some of the evidence of His love this year.  Perhaps it is a simple as the fact that your family had a home with heat, water, and basic necessities to sustain you.  Or, perhaps you were blessed to see the wonder of His love in the healing of a loved one, the birth of a child, the restoration of employment.

Deuteronomy 28:47 urges us to “serve the Lord Your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received.”  This verse goes on to warn us that when we fail to do so, there are consequences because God wants us to recognize the blessings and joy He offers each of us.

Author, teacher and leader, John Maxwell has shared that the week between Christmas and New Years is a time for reflecting on those activities and events from the prior year that were filled with productive blessings, as well as reviewing the calendar to see if there are those matters he doesn’t want to repeat in the coming year.  Perhaps the place to begin with such reflection is by reminding ourselves of the Wonders of His Love, The Glories of His Righteousness…for surely when we pause and reflect, it is evident that Jesus Christ rules the world with truth and grace.

Lord Jesus, please rule in my life today.  Fill me with the wonder of Your Love.  Help me to reflect Your glory and righteousness so others too will realize You Rock!  Amen. 

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Joy to the world with truth and grace

And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

No more will sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He’ll come and make the blessings flow
Far as the curse was found,
Far as the curse was found,
Far as, far as the curse was found.

He’s come and make the blessings flow…WOW!  Jesus Christ wants to come today into the routine of my life and take away the sorrow, sin, and those thorns that infest my life!  He’ll come and make the blessings flow!  Does this seem beyond human understanding?  That is overwhelming today for my brain.  How about for you?

John 15:11 assures us that Jesus came so that our joy would be complete.  Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that the Lord God wants to give us more than we can ask or imagine.  Joy.  Abundance beyond my imagination.  The “wonders of His Love” is more than the words of a favorite Christmas carol.  May the power of that love fill you today with confident assurance that He will fill you daily with blessings far greater than those sins and sorrows that abound in our world.

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Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns

Let Saints their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, Repeat, the sounding joy

[Jesus] replied, “If They keep quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers.” (Luke 19:40)

Perhaps you have been experiencing a season of testing…a time when your faith has been challenged by life events or situations that just don’t make sense.  These past months, there have been numerous times when I was challenged to remind myself and a friend that we don’t have a testimony without first going through a test.  The season of testing—whether brief or long—is never easy and it certainly never feels like a time to “repeat the sounding joy” of God’s love for us.

However, while walking through these challenges it has become apparent that they could be so much more severe but for God’s loving grace.  More importantly, with each testing there comes those who need some comfort and confident assurance that they too can survive and be sustained through their own challenges.  There has been a growing awareness that there are those who need to hear how Jesus Christ has sustained those He loves through the trials and challenges they faced in 2011 and that He is available to offer His sustaining love to meet their every need.

If we don’t tell them, who will?  “Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect.  They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his reiches to all who ask for them.  For ‘Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in Him?  And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him?  And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!”  Romans 10:11-15

Repeat the Sounding Joy today that Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior has come to offer us eternal life and to fill each day with His Grace and Mercy.  We can not only survive but thrive when we keep looking to His eyes of Love.

 

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Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room

The Christmas dinner is over.  The presents have been unwrapped.  Some family members remain as guests while others this morning are off to work and back to their daily routine of life.  Did Christmas holidays come to fast for you this year?  Were you as prepared as you wanted to be?  Were you able to relax and enjoy all of the wonder and power in the truth that there is Joy today because Jesus Christ came to earth to claim us as His own and die that we might share in God’s love for eternity?  Now that it is Monday after, do you feel let down? Empty?  As though it is over and all you have to return to is monotony of routine?  Is there a sense of being let down?

This week, we will reflect on the power of the Joy of Jesus that is available to all of us.  Each year I re-read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 1-3) and Gospel of Luke (Luke 1-3).    As I was reflecting on the power of the gift of salvation we have been offered in the birth of Jesus Christ, I was struck by Matthew 2:9-10, [referring to the wise men that had interrupted their travels to see Jesus because of a visit with Herod] “After this interview the wise men went their way.  Once again, the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem.  It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” 

These men had studied the Old Testament.  They had anticipated the fulfillment of the prophecies of the coming of the Messiah.  Despite daily duties and more than 400 years since the prophecies, they continued to watch constantly for His coming, which led me to challenge my own daily actions—Do I anticipate daily the Joy of serving and loving the Lord Jesus?  Am I watching today for where He will show up?  Or, now that Christmas Day is over, do I just set the Joy of the day on the shelf until next year?

Help me Lord Jesus to be open today to see Your hand at work in the lives of others.  Prepare my heart to receive Your love in the daily activities I must handle.  Open my heart to Your Joy so that I live with anticipation even in the dailyness of life.  Amen

 

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Joy To The World

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And Saints and angels sing
And Saints and angels sing
And Saints and Saints and angels sing

Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns
Let Saints their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, Repeat, the sounding joy

Joy to the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

No more will sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He’ll come and make the blessings flow
Far as the curse was found,
Far as the curse was found,
Far as, far as the curse was found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And gives to nations proof
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Rejoice! Rejoice in the Most High,
While Israel spreads abroad
Like stars that glitter in the sky,
And ever worship God,
And ever worship God,
And ever, and ever worship God.

 

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The Christmas carol, Silent Night, is one of the most beloved of all carols.  It was written in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr and set to music for a guitar to be played at the Christmas Eve service two years later by Franz Gruber.  It is sung as a reflective thoughtful melody despite the fact that originally Gruber set it to almost a dance-step tune.  Becoming contemplative with the song seems so natural to those who have listened to such great artists as Bing Crosby, Mahalia Jackson or others who have recorded it.  However, there are times when we should not remain silent and as we approach this final few hours before we gather with our families and friends for the celebration of Christ’s birth, there may be some we will meet who have never met Jesus as Savior and Lord.

St. Paul was challenged by the Lord to speak up and not remain silent, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.”  in Acts 18:9.  Our world is filled with hurting people who have never met Jesus.  Whether running errands, cooking, wrapping presents, or handling job responsibilities, perhaps there is one today that needs you to speak up about what Jesus has done in your life…

Father, in this season of gifts, we thank You for the greatest gift anyone could receive, the gift of salvation and a relationship with You.  We trust that You sent Your son Jesus to earth that night so long ago, and He lived a perfect life only to die on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin.  We trust only in You, we accept Your free gift of salvation, and we adore You.  

 

 

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