Monday, December 31, 2012

Time to Recycle? Or IS IT??

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  (1 Cor. 10:13).

Hey Gang:  The festivities are over!  The tree and tinsel has been taken down and the house has a kind-of-bare look about it.  Time to take the things that don't fit back and battle the return lines. Time to get back in the same routines we kind-of put on hold for a few days.  In other words, it is time to recycle and get back in the same ruts we were in before.  Right?  Well, not necessarily so!  O, you certainly can do that if you want, but you do not have to.  This is a New Year with new opportunities.  

I read a story recently about a couple that had reached that point where the dark clouds had blocked out the light and they could not see any escape to the problems in their marriage.  The husband, in preliminary conversation with the divorce lawyer, had laid out a scenario of woe that was filled with about every negative his wife had demonstrated in their years of marriage. 

At the conclusion of his description of what had to be a terrible, unsolvable marriage, the divorce lawyer leaned back and said,   ‘I will prepare the divorce papers- but before I have you sign them and proceed with the divorce, I want to challenge you to do something that I ask all  to do who come here seeking escapes from their marriage.

 I want you to put all of those complaints in a little box and put them in the back of the closet and every time you feel that she has done something right I want you to compliment her.  I also want you to go to the florist each week and get flowers and just place a note thanking her for the things she does that we men take for granted.  

Several weeks passed and no call from the husband and then one day he showed up at the lawyer’s office.  The lawyer took out the completed forms and laid them out for the husband to read and sign; the husband very calmly took the forms and folded them neatly and put them in his pocket.  He had learned a very good lesson in the weeks of ‘giving instead of complaining’. "You reap in relationships what you sow". 

A New Year, yes, but will it be a spitting image of last year?  All it takes to make it like last year is to use the same seed planting program you used last year.  If you sowed seeds by the road side, or in very shallow soil where it could not take root, or in the midst of one of the many thorn patches, you will probably not enjoy the crop.  Perhaps it is time to take heed and follow the example of the husband listed above. 

If interested, check out the rest of the story presented by Jesus in his message of the seed planter.  Jesus gives us a better course of action that is available to each and every soul that seeks a life filled with the joy of the Lord.  He said "Some seeds feel on good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty, He who has ears, let him hear".  (Matt. 13:8-9)

Soooo, good buddies,  there will be opportunities to plant good seeds into the lives of family and all of those you meet this day.  It may be a simple word to the check out person, a smile or volunteering to work in the nursery at church this Sunday.  But most important,  make sure you are planting positive seeds in the good earth in your marriage, family and home.

Blessings to you this New Year and keep in mind that God loves you and so do we

Gramps and Gma

Friday, December 28, 2012

GIfts- We Three King

Where is He that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him"… They opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:2, 11) 

Probably your Christmas celebration with young children is past.  Are the toys and gifts still in one piece?  “ I remember one take off on “T’was the Night before Christmas’ that had a line: “ …the presents are scattered and broken I fear and St Nicholas won’t come again for a year!” 

Praise God His Gifts to us are forever – if we choose to open \accept the gift of His love through His Son Jesus. We often think of God’s Gift as Jesus – but His gifts are so much more.  In her book Christmas is Always, Dale Evans Rogers wrote of the gifts and miracles of healing, redeeming, teaching, sacrifice of His life, resurrection and anticipation of His coming again.
But she really emphasized the gift of relationship, especially related to blessing the children.   Christmas is a special time for Children and all of us who are young at heart!

The Bible contains all kinds of true adventure stories:  stories of daring feats, love, obedience, excitement and mystery.  I am always amazed when I read a passage over and over and yet something new seems to leap off the page. The  passages we read during the Christmas season are like that.  In one year we may hear the same passage many times, still it is fresh and alive, mysterious and fascinating.

Mysterious in many ways – decree at the right time, travel for this family, and birth in a smelly cave for animals; and  the story of the Magi.  Who were they really?  Where did they come from?  Did they travel together all the way?  Or did they see the star separately and through some mysterious way join forces? How many were there?  Did they bring just three gifts?  How long did the journey take?  Did the star appear before the birth and they arrived soon after, or did the star appear at the birth and they arrived close to two years later?

Many Christmas stories have been written to fill in these questions.  I'm glad it's not important for us to know.   The important thing is for us to center our thoughts on what we DO know….  God provided a way for everyone - from the lowly shepherds who were Jews, to the kingly Magi who were Gentiles. Christ the Anointed One is for everyone one!

We know for fact that these ‘Wisemen’ from the East, astrologers, magi, or kings,(the song not Scripture says three!) or whoever they were, saw something special in the heavens and were willing to take a risk because they felt it was from God.  Maybe Daniel has shared the prophecy from Numbers “…A Star will come out of Jacob; a septer will rise out of Israel”. (24:17)  Verse 3 of Silent Night concludes:
                Silent night, holy night
                Wondrous star, lend thy light
                With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King; Christ the Savior is born!

The journey cost them time and finances.  They came prepared with gifts for the new king to worship Him.  How many others missed out because they were not will to take a risk and see what God would do?  We know the religious leaders of Jerusalem did not check it out.  How about you?  God is pro–active and wanting to do something special in your life.  It might be risky, it might even cost you something - time, ridicule, change.   Are you willing to make him King of your life?
The Song, ‘We Three Kings’ has wonderful words and tells the importance of each of their gifts.  The last stanza is also important as we continue to anticipate His return:
                Glorious now behold Him arise
                King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia sounds through the earth and Skies.

Our volunteering at the Voice of the Martyrs has taught us much about those who suffer \ die for speaking the Name of Jesus, and those who support and encourage them.  Most of those who are suffering do not pray to be removed from the situation, but rather that their testimony be so strong that their persecutors will seek to follow Jesus.  In the Bible schools supported by VOM one of the classes is ‘Prison Ministry 101’; not how to get out of going to prison, but rather how to teach and share while you are in prison. (the question is not if, but  ‘when you are arrested’)

SOOO, young friends, in this my last message to you remember Christmas is Always – it is a state of our heart Share the good News of the Gospel all year long.  The Magi came to worship the King!  We belong to the King of kings and the victorious Lord of Glory who want His JOY complete in us (John 15).  He says to the whole world, all races, color and creeds:  “Live\abide in me and my words abide/ remain in you… remain in my love… I have told you this that my JOY might be in you and that your JOY may be complete. Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15: 7-13.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Go Tell It On the Mountain

“Jesus gave His charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Then instruct them in the practice of all that I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18 The Message.

Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

This simple American Negro Spiritual was passed down by oral tradition and first published in 1907. Many, who were in physical slavery, struggling in every way, looked to Father God above for strength, help and hope.  Thus, these spirituals have such deep meaning.  In these often intolerable conditions Scriptures were quoted and Bible Stories repeated.  Someone told the Good News to John Wesley Work, Jr. and he told the word with this song.

Today our culture is becoming very dark and many are in spiritual slavery.  We have learned that light chases darkness away and Jesus is the LIGHT and LIFE.  We need to shout the Good News of his birth and redemption from the mountain tops. His mission was to set the captives free. (Luke 4:18-20). We celebrate God’s gift of a baby – sweet and innocent.  People reach out to a baby – just check out the supermarket and the grandmothers ‘oohing and aahing’. 

But, as we learned after 9/11, people may reach out to God for comfort and peace, for a while, but the name of JESUS – not so. So powerful is His name that even the demons tremble and obey! Many in our culture use it in distain and we are accountable for all that we say. So, speak the Good News! Say with the angels “Good tidings of great joy!!! Unto you a Savior is born.” (Luke 2:10)    Jesus, Name above all names: Savior. Redeemer. Coming King.  One day – maybe soon – “EVERY knee shall bow in heaven and earth and under the earth, and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father.”  Phil 2:10-11

Part of my selecting and giving gifts over the years, many of which I made, was the thrill of watching loved ones open them – sometimes after strange puzzles or treasure Hunts Gramps sent our kids to find. But hearts are often saddened and hurt when gifts are not acknowledged or enjoyed.  Jesus the God-man is God’s gift to us; so take off the wrapping, invite him in, be blessed by his love, and walk in his light. Jesus the man is our pattern for living.  Writer Henry Gariepy said, “Jesus became God’s self-disclosure.  In Jesus God entered humanity, eternity and invaded time.”

SOOO, my friends, Go tell it on the mountains!  To your family, at school, at work and at play – Jesus Christ was born, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, was resurrected and today is sitting at the right hand of the Father – or maybe standing, readying the troops, and calling for our David to groom and prepare the white stallion for His return as King of kings.  Go tell it on the mountains.

Christmas is More                               (Author unknown)
Christmas is more than a day at the end of the year
More than a day of joy and good cheer
Christmas is really God’s pattern for living
To be followed each day by unselfish giving
Then Peace on Earth will come to stay
When we live Christmas every day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Silent Night

"But when the time arrived that was set by the Father, God sent His son , born of  a woman, born under the conditions of the Law so that He might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law."  (Gal 4:4 The Message)

“What time is it?  Time is a wasting!  You cannot get this Time back.  My time is valuable. Time is running out!”         You have heard all of these – maybe even some today!

Soo… TIME – What is it??  Webster has much to say; one definition is ’the entire period of existence of the known universe’; the writer of Ecclesiastes, in Chapter 3, says there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity. We often say ‘in God’s time.”  Is that different? Did you know that there is no Time in eternity?

Christmas is that white –hot moment when Eternity melted into TIME.   (author unknown)

             Silent Night, Holy Night! Son of God ,loves pure light,
             Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,
             Jesus Lord at They birth!  Jesus Lord at Thy birth.
Yes, God had a plan even before creating mankind with free will.  Because He sees the beginning and the end as one picture, He knew sin would enter the world and that mankind would choose to go their own way and need a Savior to restore fellowship with Him, a Holy God.  Jesus, Holy Son of God, chose to take upon Himself the sins of the world and be the righteous covering to allow men to come into the presence of God in prayer and for eternity.

Ecclesiastes is not the only Scripture referring to time. There are many and, as one who sews and knits, I enjoy following the threads throughout the Scripture.  Check you concordance, but here are a few relating to Christ among us:
A time for His birth: “But when the time arrived that was set by the Father, God sent His    son , born of  a woman, born under the conditions of the Law so that he might redeem us.” (Gal 4:4 The Message)

A time to preach: “Jesus went into Galilee preaching: ‘Time’s up! God’s Kingdom is here.  Change your life and  believe the Message.”  (Mark 1:15  The Message)

A time for His death: “Who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” I Timothy 2:6  NASB)

A time to spread the gospel: “This is the life God promised long ago – and he doesn’t break promises! And then  when the time was ripe, he went public with his truth.  (Titus 1:3  The Message)

As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, we are celebrating the fullness of time - before Jesus came the first time as Savior.  There are also time clues about his return as KING of kings.  We enjoy teaching about His return – but will only cite a couple Scriptures here. Not all references use the word time, but we know Daniel’s 70 weeks (Chapter 9)is time oriented and states a specific time after the anti Christ’s  Covenant of Peace with Israel.

I am writing this on December 21 and the world is still here.  But, the Disciples also had questions about the end of time (Luke 21/ Matt 24-25)and, among other responses in this chapter Jesus said many would come in his name and we are not to be deceived.  In verse 8 Jesus says, “the time is near.”  In verse 27 Jesus said, “ …then look up! Your redemption draws near”. One last quote from Revelation 10:6 KJV
And swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that are therein, and the earth, and the things that are therein, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.”

Time has a beginning and an end but our triune God has none and his love is for eternity.  “For God so loved the world that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.

Soo young friends, (since we are part of the older than dirt club) have a blessed Christ –filled Christmas and New Year. Celebrate his love, be not deceived, have your lamps trimmed and look up – He is coming again… SOOOOON

Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house,
The Bibles were lain of the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there.                       Author unknown

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Eleven Days before Chirstmas-bonus

twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

Friday, December 21, 2012


The plan for Advent Week Three was to focus on ‘Lights of Christmas’.  I had some things to share about various kinds of lights and related music.  However, The Lord seemed to have turned my thinking only to God’s Eternal LIGHT -Jesus, Light of the World. Today I’d like to focus on our responsibility, as Children of God, to reflect His LIGHT into the world in which we live, work and play. It seems this is getting harder ever day and many are ridiculed, persecuted and martyred for sharing the Love of God with others.

Scriptures: “If we walk in the LIGHT, as He is in the LIGHT, we have fellowship with one another…”  (I John 1:7). “Ye are the Light of the world….let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

Jesus Creator, LIGHT of the world, loved us so much that He spent nine months in the darkness of his mother’s womb, to become one of us, that He might vanquish the darkness of sin and its penalty of death, forever.

The  Old Testament Scriptures foretold of the Light to come and, the Light of Glory and special Star  announced his birth to mankind.  His disciples, chosen to share his Kingdom of God principles, listened to his teaching and witnessed his miracles and interacted with him as friend.  Can you imagine the WOW factor when Peter, James and John saw  HIS LIGHT at the Mount of Transfiguration?  Radiant pure LIGHT!

For several years we attended a large Church that did a presentation near Resurrection Sunday.  I will never forget the first presentation in the new Sanctuary, which was designed to include these presentations.  The brilliance of the light used as Jesus came forth from the tomb – blinding! I often wonder what kind of JESUS LIGHT others see in me. Wherever light goes, darkness has to flee!  JESUS LIGHT in me also chases darkness - if I let it shine!  God inhabits the praises of His people. (Ps 33:2)

As Believers we are drawn to the LIGHT.  But we are also challenged by Jesus to reflect His LIGHT to others.  We are the only JESUS LIGHT  many people see. Does the LIGHT of His word light your path?  control your tongue and your actions?  Do others see pure LIGHT in your life?  Or is it somewhat dimmed – by not reading or walking in his Word?  Not talking to Him in prayer?  Not being obedient to what He asks us to do?  Sharing with poor and needy?
(Matthew 25:40)

We continue to try to put out God’s light in our world today: We have an overkill of world’s lights and bangles, morning prayer and Bible reading has been taken out of schools,  ‘In God We Trust’ removed from coins, Jesus is not allowed in formal military prayers -  just to name a few issues.  And, of course, now at Christmas, we notice the hassle about Nativity Scenes  - or anything related at this time of year.  Blue is the political correct color for Christmas – I prefer red, green, and gold! 

Sooo, dear ones, Let the lights of Christmas remind you to let the LIGHT of JESUS be reflected in your face, in your words, and actions.  Jesus said we are ‘The Light of the world’.  We are not to hide our light under a basket – but set it on a hill top for all to see. Even though we live in a fallen world, the LIGHT of God is not extinguished.  Be LIGHT –BEARERS,  reflectors  of His character and as our Pastor reminded us "Share the good tidings of great joy!" (Luke 2:10)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LIGHT - Jesus IS the LIGHT of the World

“People walking in darkness have seen a GREAT LIGHT: and on those living in the land of the shadow of death a LIGHT has dawned.” (emphasis mine.  Isaiah 9:2 NIV)  Read John 1: 1-18
Previously, I mentioned a couple books I often reread during Advent.  This morning, reading another one Christmas Treasury by Dr Adrian Rogers, the Lord touched my heart to share some key points of his section on LIGHT , adding my thoughts to his, and let you ponder this LIGHT of LIFE, JESUS. 

GREAT LIGHT – In Isaiah’s time, as in ours and down through the centuries, there has been much darkness. God’s enemy, Satan has developed a culture of darkness and death; but spiritual darkness is also very prevalent.  The Hebrew people were often in darkness when they rejected God’s Law and presence.

At the time of Jesus’ birth there had been no prophetic Word from God for nearly 400 years.  Jesus’ birth was announced with a light in the sky for us to see and light from the heavenly angels for all to hear.  He is the LIGHT of the world for all to follow and not walk in darkness.

PURITY of LIGHT – Dr Rogers’ research indicated nothing is so pure as light.  It cannot be corrupted or defiled no matter what it passes through or what falls on it.  If you shine a light on a dirty window, the light is not touched by the dirt; light only exposes dirt.

Jesus , the pure, incorruptible light from heaven, God-man, who knew no sin, came to expose it – John 1:8. He touched sinners, but sin never touched him – until the cross.  He was the only one who could look at others and say, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”  (John 8:45)

CONSTANT LIGHT – We enjoy the lights of Christmas.  Do they make you think of Jesus the Light of the World? He was in the beginning with God /Creator (John 1:1-2) and God declares that He changes Not. (Malachi 3:6)

Einstein recognized  that the speed of light is THE constant of the natural world. He indicated that all else is relative.  Our LIGHT, Jesus, was in the beginning and will be the LIGHT of Eternity. (Revelation 22:5)

VITALITY of LIGHT“In him was life and that life was the LIGHT of men.” (John 1:4)
So often we see life and light connected.  Try growing something without light! Even we humans get depressed, if natural light is not available for length time.  Dr Rogers used the illustration of ‘Photosynthesis’, which we all learned elementary science.  The Psalmist tells us God’s words are Light. (119:130)

No matter how dark our circumstances might seem, the Light of Jesus can shine in our heart, mind and soul.  The LIGHT from heaven – baby Jesus - brought us eternal light.

VICTORY LIGHT“Let your Light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify the Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) 

Dr Rogers wrote about another truth of Light: not only does it shine in darkness – “the darkness does not comprehend  /extinguish it .” (John  1:5). History – His Story is really about God and evil,  ie. light and darkness.  The enemy has tried to extinguish it from the beginning of TIME.  Check out the stories of Adam, Cain, Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, just to name a few.  God has always had a remnant who seek him.

Yes, today the enemy continues in your life and mine to try to disrupt, discourage and extinguish our light – but “Greater is He in me than he who is in the world.”  (I John 4:4).

GLORY of the LIGHT  - Jesus our Savior and LORD. Remember He was in the beginning with God and said, “Be Light” (Gen 1:3). God led the Children of Israel through the Wilderness with cloud by day and LIGHT by night.  That same LIGHT, the Shekinah Glory of God, filled the Tabernacle (dwelling place) and later the Temple.  The Apostle John wrote, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (1:14 NASB)

Science tells us ‘light’ is made up of a spectrum of seven colors. (Check out a prism)  Jesus/ Creator is the one who made everything colorful and glorious. He is the Glory of God.  We can choose to reject the LIGHT, but like the stars, even when we don’t see them, they are in place. Jesus is a heartbeat away.

Sooo , dear family and friends,  Jesus will dispel your darkness and mine with the Glory of His presence…IF WE ASK HIM to do so!!!   Have a glorious Christ/LIGHT –filled Christmas and let his LIGHT shine in the New Year.  
                Silent Night, Holy Night, Son of God, Love’s PURE LIGHT,
                Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,
                Jesus Lord, at Thy birth…..

Monday, December 17, 2012

LIGHT - Star of the East

In this week three of Advent we will focus on LIGHT -Jesus is the Light of the world and will be the only light we need in Heaven.  (John 1, 8:12; Revelation 22:5) I have not been very faithful telling you which translation I quote. I forget to do it.  Mainly I use NASB, NIV interchangeable. Occasionally the Complete Jewish Bible or The Message, but I usually remember to note those.

I thought, as I started to write this, about the many special Christmas books I have – a shelf or 2.-I should have included a title of one, as well as a Christmas Carol each day.  There are two special, inexpensive ones that you might want to get for yourself or as a gift: The Wonder of Christmas by Daniel Partner & The Glory of Christmas by  Max Lucado,Charles Swindoll  Anne Grahm Lotz, and Henry and Richard Blackaby     
1 Light Star of the East, Oh Bethlehem Star

“In  the beginning GOD…..v3  said ‘Be Light’…..v 14 ‘be lights in the dome of the sky …to give light to the earth.’” (Genesis 1:1-20 Complete Jewish Bible)

In the beginning of creation God separated light and darkness.   He has continued doing that in the hearts and lives of people.   Picture yourself walking down a road on a dark night.  The sounds you hear can be frightening.  You can't see the path for sure, only shapes and outlines.  Contrast that with walking when the heavens are filled with the twinkling lights of the stars and moon.  You might stumble because you are looking up and watching.

Think of lights in our world today. Wow, so many  different types, sizes and shapes.    And Christmas lights  - so overwhelming, especially for special needs kids.  Yes, growing up we had lights in the city, but my grandmother did not – only smoky kerosene lamp. Remember Lincoln read by candle or fireplace light.

From the earliest drawings and then writings, we learn mankind has been interested in the stars.  Maybe because they seemed to be in predictable order.  (Wonder where that evolved from?)  So, men studied the stars, mapped them, used them as light, navigation, and guidance.  Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences.

Stars are fascinating to most of us.  I have seen them on the ceilings of a nursery and other bedrooms; you have sung  ‘Twinkle Twinkle little Star’ I am sure, and many of us have walked under the stars hand in hand with the one we love, or as our family favorite –sitting around the campfire pointing out the various constellations.  What an Awesome God to hang the stars in just the right place! We used to sing this one….
 IT Took a Miracle!  Written by J W Peterson. I have included just the chorus.
It took a miracle to put the stars in place; It took a miracle to hang the world in space.
But when he saved my soul, Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace.

Over 2000 years ago    God hung a very special moving star in place – to get the attention of anyone studying the stars.  Only the Magi from the East seemed to recognize it as a sign from heaven that a new king was born.   Not only did they recognize it, they chose to see where it was going – probably  they had an idea from the teachings of Daniel.  And we know the ‘rest of the story’…..

SCRIPTURE:  "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness  did not comprehend it...the true Light, which coming into the world, enlightens every man." John 1:4-9  (Read Matthew 2:2).
God gave us Jesus, a Light that does not go out… and we never have to walk alone.  Sometimes we let our unconfessed sins or the darkness of unforgiveness, self pity, and selfishness come between us and His Light.  But just as the stars are in the sky, whether or not we see them, so Jesus is there.  We just have to get above the clouds of gloom and despair. He is waiting to roll the clouds away, but He is a gentleman and will not interfere.  He openly uses what we make available to Him. 

Even as a Christian we can be defeated and miserable if we choose not to read His Word or seek His will in prayer.  Christians have every right and opportunity to live victorious lives in the Light, but we don't have to - the choice is ours. The Magi saw the star and chose to take a risk and follow it to see the new King. Are you willing to trust Jesus who cares for you?  Will you choose to walk in the light of God's righteousness and glory?"

I Jesus have sent my angels to testify to you these things for the churches. I AM the root and the descendant of David, the bright and morning star.” Rev 22:16 NASB

PRAYER:  Father, I thank you for Jesus, the Light of the world.  Help me to daily walk in your Light, seek your will in the Word and be obedient to your leading.  Amen

PS This is the old carol that introduces this day’s thoughts; it still carries much meaning.

Star of the East, oh Bethlehem star, Guiding us on to heaven afar
Sorrow and grief and lull'd by the light, Thou hope of each mortal, in death's lonely night

Fearless and tranquil, we look up to Thee, Knowing thou be m'st through eternity
Help us to follow where Thou still dost guide Pilgrims of earth so wise

Star of the East, thou hope of the soul While round us here the dark billows roll
Lead us from sin to glory afar Thou star of the East, thou sweet Bethlehem's star

Star of the East, oh Bethlehem's star, What tho' the storms of life gather loud
Faithful and pure thy rays beam to save And bright o'er the grave

Smile of a Saviour are mirror'd in Thee, Glimpses of Heav'n in thy light we see
Guide us still onward to that blessed shore After earth toil is o'er

Star of the East, thou hope of the soul, Oh star that leads to God above
Whose rays are peace and joy and love, Watch o'er us still till life hath ceased
Beam on, bright star, sweet Bethlehem star

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Bonus from Gramps

Hey Gang:  Do you know the United States Government recognizes the reality of Santa Claus?  The Miracle on 34th Street  movie proved that. The United States Postal Service emptied their storage bins of all the letters that had accumulated from little people around the country addressed to  Santa Claus and dumped them in the judges lap during the trial of the State vs Kris Kringle /Santa Claus.  The Judged declared that since the U.S. Postal Service recognized Kris as the real flying dude in red, he would not go against their ruling.

But I have a far different reason, much more personal, for believing the Government believes in Santa.  While stationed in Korea I caught the midnight shift at the Air Traffic Control Center on Christmas Eve.  You may not know that our center was responsible for controlling all vehicles in the sky in our control zone.  Needless to say there was not much traffic that night, a general or two making touch and goes to fill his hours in order to earn flight pay, but all the others were in Japan enjoying a leisure weekend away from the rice patties.

As I recall I was writing a letter to my future bride and, on my fifty-third cup of coffee and probably in a pity party wishing I was any place but in Taegu, Korea on Christmas Eve… when out of the speakers came such a clatter, "Hey Taegu Center, this is Saint Nick reporting in over the coast line penetrating your airspace with my tiny eight reindeer-driven sleigh.”

 I don't think I have to convince you that I was more than a wee bit surprise, yes even shocked.  Surely this was some kind of hoax.  I mean reindeer, sled, jolly old man.  Come on this has to be some kind of joke.  He reported in at Seoul, Kimpo, Taegu and all the little spots on the map that one could hardly find and then with a jolly voice he came through the speaker system one last time, "Hey, Taegu Center, Merry  Christmas to all and to all a good night".  

And, then I woke up!  Well my young friends and buckaroos, and chicks, I pray you will gather as a family and read the story of our Lord coming into the world. It is REAL.  But do not stop there. Plant a seed of anticipation in your young ones by reading the story of His coming again.

O, yes, keep in mind the Greatest Gift was given thousands of year ago when Jesus choose to allow man to crucify him.  From that moment on He moved to the door of your heart and awaits us to open the door.  Give Jesus a gift this Christmas by giving your life to Him in a new and deeper walk.

Friday, December 14, 2012

LOVE CAME DOWN by Christina Rosetti 1890

SCRIPTURE:  "Greater love hath no man than this,  that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13    (Read John 3:16; I John 2:10; 4:15.)

As believers we first associate ‘Love’ with God’s indescribable love for us;  but, from my perspective,  putting ‘love and bells’ together, we gals, at least, think of Wedding Bells of young love, Silver Bells for those middle aged, and Golden Bells for those of us – ‘more mature’ and whatever bells are next.  We see them on cards, wrapping paper and hear them in music.  Most of you are not old enough to remember ‘The Bells of St Marys’, a song and movie from the Bing Crosby era.

            The Bells of St Mary’s, Ah, hear they are calling
The young loves, the true loves who come from the sea .
And so my beloved when red leaves are falling, love bells shall ring out, for you and me

So, what is LOVE?  Media ads say we love ‘toothpaste’, ‘cars’, ‘programs’, etc.  A dear friend used to say, “Love is a feeling that you feel when you feel you‘ve got a feeling you’ve felt before!” Many live by that description.   When asked in a college class to define ‘love’ one of our daughters responded, “My Dad says love is a decision.”  I think most of us can agree with that.  Probably most of you know that some languages have more than one word for love.  The Greek writers of the New Testament used three:  eros, a sensual feeling; phileo, a friendship or brotherly love, and agape, lay down your life for another.

God’s love is indescribable! He created us for fellowship with Him, (beings who could CHOOSE to love Him or not.)  Even before He created the earth we learn He had a plan for our redemption;  ”Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (Eph 1:4 NLT).  God knew that there would be a Spiritual battle between God and evil which would also involve us.

Jesus left his glorious place to become ‘God in skin’ like us, to show us the kingdom of his Father, and to experience all that humans do –including, rejection, desertion and  cruel death.  SO that we might know the Power of His resurrection and the Hope of eternal life with Him. 

Christmas gives meaning to that which is born inside us...a message of love and joy to the world.  Christmas is a time of renewal and affirmation of love, together with all that is miraculous and magical in life.  It is the love of God  through His gift, Jesus - that enables us to be loving.  He gave His Only Begotten Son to you, to me, and to each individual who has ever lived or ever will live - freely and unconditionally.

Christmas is that white-hot moment when LOVE/Eternity melted into Time.

**Now that is LOVE!  What does Christian love look like?  Deeds of kindness?  Seeing and responding to needs before they are made known? Remember WWJD? What would Jesus Do?  Go and do likewise. The words of Scripture, as well as hymns and carols give us instruction:
            They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love       by Peter Scholtes
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord 
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored 
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand 
And together we'll spread the news that God is in our land 
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love 

Christian love is acting like Little Christs.  “Love each other as I have Loved you.”  John 15:12

Soooo,  Where does the LOVE of God/Jesus register on your love meter?  You probably know His name, maybe even about Him.  Do you know Him as Savior and Lord?  Do you share His love with others?

Many are hurting today and wonder where God is.  He has not moved!!  Our culture continues to shut Him out of everyplace.  Advent / Christmas is a time when love is often shown more freely.  Pray that this Christmas time all people will recognize God’s love and presence and say with Simeon in the Temple, ‘Mine eyes have see the Salvation of the Lord” and accept his love and salvation.

Good Christian Men, Rejoice           (translated by John M. Neale 1853)
Good Christian Men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ is born today.
Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with hear and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Jesus Christ was born for this!
He hath ope’d the heavenly door, and man is blessed evermore,
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and  voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave; Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one be and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save!