22 December, 2013

Came to Meet Us


Distractions abound.  I have no time to write this blog.  I have no time to focus on the bigger picture. Christmas is just days away and I have so much to do, more money to spend, more groceries to buy, more food to cook, more packages to wrap, more highways to travel, more...more...more.  But wait, what happened to "oh, holy night" and "silent night" and "away in a manger"?  The beloved songs speak of quiet and peace and of worship.  I'm getting ready to sing those songs but those songs don't speak of how I'm living my life right now.  Yes, it's Christmas-days-extraordinaire count down.  

The irony of all this 'doing' is that we're counting down to a very quiet, private moment that God Himself chose to come into this physical world and find me and you.  He came just to meet us.  He completely went out of His way to come and find us.  He took a trip just to live in our world with us.  And here I sit, Miss Hustle-Bustle.

I like the way the Wise Men came to meet Jesus.  I don't picture much hustle-bustle in their story.  I do picture a deliberate, stay the course route, across difficult terrain, and lasting many weeks.  Traveling back in that day had to be uncomfortable and so very tiring but yet, they kept coming.  Slowly and methodically with one step in front of the last.  They were on a mission to find this King.  The King and One who would save us all, One that had been promised and foretold and now born.  The Wise Men realized they were seeking a spiritual King who had come into the physical world.  They decided to make the long journey to see Him, worship Him and gift Him.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him... 
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Wise Men: they saw, they believed, they came and they kept looking and seeing. Until they found the King.  First and foremost, they bowed down and worshipped Him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts.  I want to be a 'wise man' this Christmas.  The journey will be difficult as the distractions mount.  The hustle-bustle will not stop but I want to see and keep seeing and following until I get to the King.  I want my Christmas to be a day, a moment, a sincere bowing down and JOYFUL worship to the King.  All the treasures I have are from Him and I so want to offer them back to Him this Christmas.  This great, unbelievable gift of God has come to me and you.  He left heaven to come meet us, to come hold our hands, heal our wounded hearts and offer us a fulfilled and loving life.  It cost Him but He came...He came to be born into our world.  Hallelujah! Open my eyes that I may SEE.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believeEphesians 1:18-19

15 December, 2013

Not As Expected


We hear over and over, "Make your Christmas list!  When my kids were little they each had a Christmas list.  Actually, by the time Christmas Day arrived their lists had changed many, many times.  It was hard to keep up!  My natural tendency is to go against a Christmas list - not in a Scrooge sort of way but in a surprise sort of way.  If I just give gifts from a list the surprise of Christmas morning is really not possible.  And I like to give surprise gifts that are right on the mark!  It's the unexpected gifts I give and receive that I love the most.

The story of Christmas is much the same.  Jesus was expected in one way and came to earth in another.  It was an unexpected arrival, an unexpected gift, in an unexpected way of delivery.  I suppose a christmas list back in the days before Jesus' arrival were something like this:
A strong, powerful King
A commander who will defeat the enemies surrounding our country
A ruler who will restore and keep order
A leader who will demand people follow his rules for peace and harmony

But unexpectedly, Jesus arrived as an innocent baby boy.  How could we ever have expected such a turn of events?  And now that the Christ child has arrived in our world how could we have ever imaged a more perfect gift?  The expectations of our proverbial Christmas morning gift opening' have been surpassed....or have they?
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2 excerpts
The shepherds were surprised at this unexpected visit.  They were simply at work, doing their normal 9 to 5 shift.  I would think they were caught up in the drudgery of another work-day.  Perhaps they were worried about bills to pay, children, the future.  Their expectation of a Saviour was a distant hope perhaps.  And suddenly the unexpected night became a new life, a new journey as they went immediately to see this new baby.  And then they hurried off to tell others, to share the unexpected turn of events.  For you see, as we have truth revealed to us we then are propelled to share it, shout it, reveal the restoration we've received.  Our unexpected pains are transformed to His unexpected, over-surpassing love and healing and hope.

Is the Jesus you worship today revealing Himself differently than you expect?  Whatever your life involves right now, today....are you expecting a different Jesus?  Are you disappointed that the Saviour has not arrived in your world and completely FIXED everything that is troubling you?  Were you expecting Him to look differently and act differently and help you differently?  Yes.  I'll answer for you.  Life has not been what I exactly expected.  My original Christmas list did not include: deaths, drug addiction, divorce, harsh words, nursing homes, chronic pain, losing friends, emotional abuse, etc. etc. etc.

But the arrival of Jesus does fully complete our expectation for love, for forgiveness and for hope.  For He has come into this world and into my life not as I expected but as I needed.  He has come to me and to you perfectly.  He has come offering us life.  He has come as a Redeemer, Healer, Restorer, King, Warrior, Peacemaker, Servant, Love of my life, Creator, my Purpose, Friend, Lover, Final Victor....over my world, over my pain, over my joy, over my blessings and over my very short-sighted expectations.

Lord Jesus, I simply love you.  I don't understand so much of how you're working in my world today.  But I trust and hope in Your presence.  Replace my human expectations with Your heavenly promises.  I pray today that I'll SEE people in my world living unexpecting lives so that I can give them the love they deeply desire but are not expecting.

For more Advent Meditations visit:
adventagain.blogspot.com

08 December, 2013

The Foretelling


The foretelling of Christmas has officially begun.  If you have doubt look at some headlines from around the world.
Signs Christmas is coming  Glasgow, Scotland News, Evening Times
1. The Coca-Cola advert comes on TV: It was a Coke ad which first put Santa in a red and white outfit.
2. Coffee shops start using Christmas cups: We wonder where they keep them the rest of the year?
3. You can't find a birthday card anywhere: Tough for December babies.
4. Workers spend less time working and more time on online gift sites: Watch out, the boss is behind you!
5. Christmas songs are everywhere!
6. Brussel sprouts appear in the shops: Try them shredded and stir-fried with chilli and garlic - delicious!
7. Eating chocolate for breakfast becomes normal: As any good doctor will tell you, calories don't count at Christmas.
8. Schmaltzy TV ads fill every break: I wasn't crying, I had something in my eye.
9. Adults turn into big kids at the first sight of snow: And end up skiting on their bahookies.
10. Office secretaries collect deposits for the Christmas bash: And we all start counting our pennies
And according to Google with over 1,080,000,000 hits:
  1. Christmas Is Coming - Las Vegas Guardian Express
    1 day ago - Breaking News, Information, Opinion, Entertainment and Health News... In this way, they assure attendees that Christmas is coming in a truly 
    Christmas is coming - news - marlborough-express | Stuff.co.nz2 days ago - Christmas is creeping closer and will be heralded with day-long festivities in Blenheim next Saturday. 
    Christmas is coming for the high street | Holly Baxter | Comment is ...5 days ago - Christmas is coming for the high street ... Our editors' picks for the day's top news and commentary delivered to your inbox each morning. 
    Christmas is coming to St. Albert Centre | Local News | St. Albert ...3 days ago - Chestnuts are slowly roasting around town, vast quantities of eggnog are being brewed in local homes and St. Albert Centre is preparing to ... 
    Christmas is coming: The festive house display so dazzling that ...5 hours ago - 'Christmas is coming: The festive house display so dazzling that 1000 people turn up to see them switched on' on Yahoo News UK.

    Of course, the Bible has told us this news for many, many years.  The Book of Isaiah was written between 740-680 B.C. and includes these words from Isaiah 7:14.
  1. "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
    So perhaps because we're slow learners, God repeated similar words to the maiden Mary who was to become the mother of Christmas, i.e. Jesus.
    "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
    “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”" Luke 1:31-34

    Hold that thought and segue with me a moment .....I love a party in my home.  I love to plan, prepare, and anticipate those who will come.  I love the weeks leading up to the party and encouraging people to attend, adding people to my list.  I guess it's a little bit like Santa, "making a list and checking it twice"! For I want the party to be for everyone...I want to love well.  I love the feeling of surprise when a guest arrives that I did not think would attend!  I love the hugging, laughing and picture taking.   The foretelling of the party is what makes people want to come.  Our guests do not ask me, well how do I know you're really having a party?  I mean, how do I absolutely know you are real?  They don't ask me, why did you invite me?  There are no questions or doubt about the sincerity in the invitation.  

    Interesting though that Christmas has become just that.....questioning if it's REAL.  Living as if it's all about Santa, gift-giving, food and family gatherings.

    I noticed that when the angel came and spoke to Mary and gave her this literally, unbelievable news she only had one question.  Which in my language, would be "seriously, you know I'm a virgin, right?"  There was NO question about a son, the SON of the MOST HIGH.  There was no question about the LORD GOD giving him a throne to reign for ever and ever.

    The foretelling is now up to me and you.  Yes, Christmas is coming!!  Has come! And will come again!!  Who can we invite to this grand celebration?  You've been FORETOLD - let's starting sending out invitations!!



    kathy





01 December, 2013

PreJesus

Please visit the Hayes/Elliff Christmas blogsite:  adventagain.blogspot.com
As we roll into this Christmas season, I've been pondering.....If I had not been born in the USA
would I know the name Jesus?  Would I believe in this God-Man?  If I had been born in Vietnam or Russia or China would I have learned the story of Christmas?  Or would I still be waiting to hear some Good News?
I recently heard a story of young woman who was studying at an American university and Christmas was about to be celebrated.  She had only heard of God since arriving in America three years ago and was interested but still seeking.  As she visited with her American friend one day they begin to discuss spiritual matters.  And after a matter of minutes, this young foreign student became intrigued about a book her friend was discussing.  As she took out her notepaper to write down the book title she hesitated....her writing looked like this......Je
She stopped writing and looked up at her friend and said, "I'm not sure how to spell Jesus.  I've never written this before."
Clearly, her friend filled in the blanks.  And my pondering began anew.  Many people are living in a preJesus world.  Would I believe if I my birth had been elsewhere?  And IF I do believe how is my life different?  How have I let this Jesus change me?
Why does it matter, you may be thinking.  Well, for some reason it matters to me.  For some reason, this realization leads me to my knees in thanksgiving and gratitude.  It stirs in me a desire to tell this News.  And it makes me wonder about my PreJesus days and my life since knowing Him.  Has there been a change in me?

Today, I began to think about Mary's preJesus days.  She had them, she lived days waiting for a Saviour.  But then one day...

The following month God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin, Mary, engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Congratulations, favored lady! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you! Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’  He shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he shall reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom shall never end!”  Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”
Luke 1:26-32Living Bible
Mary's answer to all this Good News was confusion, disturbance, fear and...absolute faithfulness.  "I am the Lord's servant," she answered.

In this early Christmas season, the excitement is just beginning to build.  I want these days to be marked by a faithful response of, "I am the Lord's servant."  As I think and live the month ahead, I desperately want to be as excited about Jesus' birth as I am about my family gathering, gifts and cooking delicious foods.  I want to ponder again....

...if I'm "so excited" about Christmas and the celebration of His birth how will my life reflect that excitement?  Amidst the confusion and disturbance of this season, am I the Lord's servant as we await His birth?  Am I a servant to those around me who are living preJesus lives?



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