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Hey its Christmas – The best Christmas Carol

Courtesy – Cory Draper

What’s your favorite Christmas song? I bet if I asked you to whistle or hum it right now, you’d hit the melody pretty well. As you know, a melody is a sequence of individual notes that are played one after another, creating a song.

Now think of your favorite performance of that same song. I’m willing to bet that you thought of a version that included beautiful harmonies, either by voice or instrument.

A harmony is when two or more different-sounding notes come together to make a stronger and more beautiful sound. Sure, all you need is a melody to make a simple song, but harmony is what makes a song whole. A melody is what gives a song its body. A harmony is what gives that body a soul.

The birth of Jesus was a harmonic introduction to a world of individual songs. The human race could never reach its full potential and constantly yearned for its meaning. We needed Jesus to change that. Because of his birth, his sacrifice, and his resurrection, we are now able to be more than just individual notes. As my favorite Christmas carol, O Holy Night, says . . .

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Jesus brought us into harmony with God the Father. He makes our songs beautiful.

But it doesn’t end there. Not only are we now able to live in harmony with our Creator, but we are called to be the harmony for the world. Paul said it best in his letter to the Romans . . .

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. – Romans 12:16

God is not calling us to be just a bunch of different melodies, competing with one another, trying to make the best song. He is calling us to live in harmony—bringing everyone together to make a unified song that glorifies him.

Christmas is a time when we all come together, but it is easy to get distracted by our own differences. This month, ask God to make apparent the harmony you have with him, and thank him for it. In turn, reflect that harmony for those whose songs are yearning to be made more beautiful.

Fear Not

Courtesy – Jessica Arnette.

Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year; everything and everyone is decked out! There are parties to attend, joyful music on the radio, food and gifts galore. Unfortunately, there is another side to the holidays.

For many of us, Christmas can be a time of deep loneliness and stress and fear. Maybe you’ve lost someone, are going through a lonely time, or are worried about how you’re going to keep the lights on, let alone put presents under the tree. The pressure to keep up with society’s version of the holidays can be overwhelming, triggering anxiety and depression.

However, these feelings are not unique to our current culture. Worry and fear have been lurking in the shadows since the very first Christmas. The characters in the Christmas story had everything to be afraid of. Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and the wise men lived in a scary world filled with uncertainty. God knew this and sent his messenger, the angel Gabriel, to deliver the news of a Savior. Each time Gabriel brought the message, he started with, “Do not be afraid.”

What can we take away from this? First, I’m certain angels are terrifying! Second, even in the most frightening of circumstances, God has a plan. Herein lies the magic of Christmas. Jesus, born in a manger, in the middle of the desert, under the rule of a tyrant, was the hope of all humankind. This is what we celebrate. No matter what is going on in our lives or in the world around us, Jesus is our hope.

Praise precedes Victory

“…Joshua said to the people: ‘Shout, for the LORD has given you the city!’…And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat” – Joshua 6:16 – 20.

One of the favorite passages in the Bible is when Joshua and the Israelites took over the city of Jericho. Jericho had a massive wall built around the city that no army could penetrate. But that didn’t stop God from giving them the victory. He simply commanded the Israelites to march around the city in silence for six days, and on the seventh day they were to give a shout of praise.

It’s interesting that they had to shout before the walls came down. It seems more natural to shout and be happy after the victory, after the walls have fallen. But no, that doesn’t take any faith. We can all sing and give God praise when we’re on the mountaintop. But God wants us to learn to give Him praise when we’re in the valley.

If you are facing difficulty today, if there seems to be massive walls standing in the way of your breakthrough, remember, praise precedes the victory. Why don’t you do like the Israelites and give a shout of praise anyway. Stand and believe that God is at work even if you don’t see it. Before long, those walls will come down, and you’ll move forward into the victory He has prepared for you.

Christ: Not the last name

Courtesy – Clay Scroggins

First name. Last name. In our society, we are accustomed to this way of writing someone’s name. As we approach Christmas, it’s important to be aware that Jesus’ parents were not Joseph and Mary Christ. Much to the chagrin of my kids (who have asked this often), Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Christ is an equally important part of his name, a name that is unique to him.

Jesus was fully man, a person with emotions, appetites, and needs, just like you and me. If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to relate to God, just know that he went to great lengths to relate to you. Jesus of Nazareth was and is God’s most empathetic offering.

Christ, though, is just as important. The word “Christ” comes from the Greek term “Christos,” which means “chosen one” or “anointed one.” Over and over again in the Old Testament, there were hints of a coming Messiah or a coming Christ who would not be anointed by an earthly king. Instead, this one who was to come would be anointed by the heavenly King and, therefore, would be the Christ.

As you read in 1 Chronicles 17:11–14, this prophesied Christ would come from God to “establish his kingdom” and would “establish his throne forever.”

According to Isaiah 7:14, he would be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Though he didn’t come like we thought he would, he did come. In love, wrapped in swaddling clothes, he showed up.

When he became a man, he began inviting others to follow him. And he invites us as well. In John 1:41, Andrew, one of his earliest followers, said it so well to his brother Simon:

“We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

As we wait for Christmas, remember that we are not merely waiting for the celebration of a baby who was born. We celebrate the Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise, the assurance that God’s Word is good, and the certainty that he can still be trusted. Thank God today for Jesus, the man, and Christ, the rescuer sent from God. After all, just as Andrew had, we have found the Messiah (that is, the Christ)!

Living abundant Life

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance ” – John 10:10

Too many people today have a barely-get-by mentality, “Barely able to pay my bills, got an okay job, an okay marriage.” Friend, don’t settle there. Jesus came so we could live an abundant life. That means an abundance of joy, an abundance of peace, an abundance of health, abundance in our finances. God’s dream is that you not only be blessed, but that you are so blessed that you can be blessing everywhere you go. He wants you to live an abundant life so that it overflows on to the people around you. We should have so much peace, so much joy, so much victory that when other people get around us, they begin to feel it. It affects them.

You may not be seeing it right now, but don’t get complacent and just settle where you are. Begin to declare by faith today, “Jesus came to give me abundant life.” “My needs are supplied in abundance so that I can be a blessing to others.” As you stay in faith, you’ll see your circumstances begin to turn around. You’ll see God move on your behalf, and you’ll experience the abundant life He has prepared for you.

Waiting the right way

We are excited to start this ‘new series today ‘Hey its Christmas’, till the day of Christmas. This would be a contribution from different people, starting with today’s sharing – ‘Plan B’.

Courtesy – Rhonda Hinrichs

I love dreaming and I love ideas. Wondering what could be makes my heart beat a little faster. I can sit for hours (or days!) thinking about the best way to accomplish something and what might be “if . . .” When I’m in a season of dreaming big, I often wake up in the middle of the night to put ideas on paper. I get excited for my husband to wake up so I can share my plan with him. (Sometimes I even bug him a little, hoping he will wake up early . . . my poor husband.) But, as much as I love dreaming, I get even more excited watching a vision take shape.

A few years ago, I was in charge of a large renovation project. I put together a budget, drew up the blueprints, hired a team, and began to implement the plan. I couldn’t wait! What happened in the following weeks, though, is what happens with many great plans. I discovered it was not foolproof. There were unknown issues to resolve, obstacles to work around, and costs that exceeded the carefully prepared and very tight budget. The plan had to be altered. I needed a Plan B.

Generally, I don’t like Plan Bs. Moving to an alternate plan somehow speaks failure to me. It’s admitting I didn’t have it all together from the beginning. It’s a reminder of the unforeseen nature of life. Sometimes, when I’m contemplating the whys of the universe, I wonder about God’s plan. What was his original idea? Did he have a master plan in place that didn’t work out quite right? Did he create a world where humanity could have lived happily ever after in the garden but subsequently messed it up? Was Jesus God’s second choice? Was Jesus Plan B?

This season, as my house begins to sparkle with lights and I decorate a batch of perfectly cut-out cookies, I will also celebrate the birth of my Savior. This little baby, born to a virgin in the city of Bethlehem, was God tenderly revealing his perfect master plan. The redemption of humanity was not an afterthought or a remedy for a plan gone wrong. Jesus was always God’s perfect and loving solution. This baby is the lens through which God views me. The baby was never Plan B.

He is trying to get to you


Hey its Christmas – Looking at the wrong king...

“In the time of Herod, king of Judea” . . . – Luke 1:5

King Herod the Great was the most powerful man in all of Judea. He built ostentatious palaces and a city on the Mediterranean that rivaled Rome. He could have anything money could buy or power could capture. His subjects were jealous and made jokes about how much food one of Herod’s palaces could buy. They knew Herod was selfish and insecure, but the insidious thing was, in their secret thoughts, everyone wanted to be Herod. The selfish oppressor had all the power and money, and that was what his subjects thought they wanted. While everyone was looking at Herod, a new king, the promised Messiah, was born in the most humble and inconspicuous circumstances imaginable. The surroundings of his simple birth set the stage for his life of selflessness and love. A new kingdom had come and almost no one recognized it. It was not what they expected.

Today, strong oppressors abound in this world and people suffer. Seemingly unlimited power and money have a tendency to corrupt, but humankind still desires both. We hate oppressive leaders, but we still desire what they have. I sometimes think, If I had a kingdom, I would do things differently. Actually, I am part of a kingdom—the greatest kingdom on earth led by an all-powerful King who has very specific things for me to do.

‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor’. – Isaiah 61:1–2

I am so thankful for my King, but the noise of other kings sometimes blurs my vision. Thankfulness needs to give way to action. Great blessing is a trust, a responsibility. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me. The magic of Christmas is that my King has chosen me to be an active part of proclaiming good news to the poor by my actions. So, what am I to do? Who am I to help? I find great comfort in knowing that my King has already determined that. I just need to ask, listen, and be willing to act.

How to amaze Jesus?

“For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”- Luke 7:8,9.

Whether or not the centurion understood it at the time, he was making a bold claim. The Jews in Jesus’ day knew that only one person had ultimate authority over nature: God. Creation listens to God’s words. In fact, God created the entire world just by speaking. By claiming that Jesus could control the natural world merely by speaking, the centurion associated Jesus with the all-powerful Creator God. At Jesus’ word just like at God’s creation would obey. The centurion recognized this and he trusted Jesus. In other words, the centurion had faith.

Luke tells us that when Jesus heard the centurion’s message, Jesus was amazed. Amazed at what? Great faith. The centurion was an impressive guy, but it was not his power, status, or authority that amazed Jesus. It was not his morality or the good things he had done for the local Jewish community. It was his great faith that amazed Jesus.

When the centurion’s servant got sick, the centurion did not invite Jesus in for a chat about healing. He did not ask for Jesus’ credentials, or where Jesus had gone to medical school, or how he was able to heal people, or anything of that sort. Instead, he placed his faith in Jesus and confessed that all he needed was for Jesus to speak a word and his servant would be healed. And that is exactly what happened. So much is packed into the centurion’s story. This guy had it going on. And yet, in the face of his servant’s illness, all the centurion’s power, wealth, and influence were worthless. And he was in a crisis. Centurions were hardened, self-reliant individuals, but ultimately this one realized that his abilities only reached so far. In order to save his servant, he would have to go beyond himself. And at the end of himself, the centurion found Jesus.
When Jesus looks at your life, what does he see? Great faith? Or no faith at all? Does your life amaze Jesus?

It isn’t late

“Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain…As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow… And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” – Luke 7-11 – 15

Can you imagine what God’s timing for the widow in our story must have been like? Your husband is dead. Now your son has died. Your life as you know it is over. So you’re now holding the funeral for your beloved son, and as his body is being carried out of the city for burial, you are stopped by a man you have never met. He seems friendly, and you can tell he hurts for you. “That’s nice,” you think, “but let me move on and bury my son, please.” Then he says something that cuts you to the core: “Don’t cry.”

“Don’t what? Don’t cry? Don’t you realize what is going on? Can’t you see that my son is dead? And by the way, so is my husband! Don’t cry? My life is over! And where is God when I needed him? Where was he when I was on my knees praying for him to spare my son’s life? Didn’t he hear me? Where was God when he died?” But Jesus’ “don’t cry” is not meant to offend the widow. It is meant to give her hope. Jesus is saying something like, “Don’t cry. God isn’t late. His timing is perfect.” Then Jesus walks over to the bier and says, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And the son sits up and begins to talk. Did you get that? Jesus brought a dead guy back to life!

I don’t know what is going on in your life. I don’t know what problems you have or what you desire from God at the moment. But I know this: God is never late. His timing is always perfect. Your situation may seem hopeless. You may think that there is no way out, that there is no way even God could help you now. You may be frustrated that he has not answered your prayers.

Know this: if God can answer a widow’s prayer to heal her son after the son has died, he can also give you exactly what you need at exactly the right time. It might not be right now, but it will be at the right time.

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