Category Archives: Christmas

[Reblog] Joy to the World: the Far Reaches of Christ’s Redemptive Work

This Christmas, Let’s Rejoice in the Far Reaches of Christ’s Redemptive Work

Joy the World by Isaac Watts

If you had asked me my favorite Christmas song when I was a kid, it would have been “Silent Night,” even though I didn’t understand the meaning. Now my favorite is “Joy to the World,” because as my wife Nanci pointed out to me years ago, it’s the Christmas song that looks forward to Christ’s return and the New Earth.

Read this in its entirety here: Joy to the World: the Far Reaches of Christ’s Redemptive Work – Blog – Eternal Perspective Ministries.

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AnnaSmile…..

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A Merry and Blessed Christmas to You!

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AnnaSmile…..

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Mary’s Treasure

It has been far too long since I’ve posted a devotional by my friend Pat. She wrote this gorgeous piece as their family’s Christmas newsletter and has graciously allowed me to share it with you.

Luke2-19

“Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mary was an ordinary person who accomplished the extraordinary.  As a young teenager, a mere twelve to fourteen years of age, Mary possessed a quiet faith, one that conveyed submission, humility, and inner strength of character.  The angel assured her, “Do not be afraid.  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.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 2: 32).

Mary was initially overwhelmed and perplexed by the announcement, but she asked only one question of the angel, Gabriel: “How will this be since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 2:34).  Once Gabriel responded that the Holy Spirit would overcome her to create her pregnancy, Mary replied, I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  Her next response was to compose and sing a song of praise and glory to God, rejoicing in His mercy lavished upon her.  Mary’s song ends with conviction that God will be true to all of His promises.  She felt honored that she had been chosen to participate in a miracle that would fulfill God’s promise made centuries ago to bring the prophesied Savior to the world.

Mary didn’t attempt to live in the future, avoiding futile “what if” questions.  She relied upon her Lord to meet all of her needs on a daily basis. Whenever she was reminded of a new aspect of Jesus’ future predicted by a prophet or an angel, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  God recognized Mary’s superlative heart value. He chose her as the mother of Jesus by examining her heart and found it overflowing with goodness.  To hold the Son of God in her arms, to cuddle Him, to nurture and instruct Him, must have been a tremendous privilege and responsibility, not so different from the devotion and love all mothers feel toward their children.  However, a sense of wonder must have constantly permeated Mary’s emotions.

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As Jesus matured, He gradually developed an awareness of His unique relationship to God.  He was also perfectly obedient to His earthly parents.  Mary and Joseph must have yearned for their firstborn to experience every aspect of life, but Jesus was unable to fall in love, have a family, or experience any permanent status on earth.  Jesus the Christ, was God in the flesh.  He was focused on the work with eternal consequences He must perform during his brief time on earth.

Jesus’ parents had no forewarning that their adult son would walk on water, cure the blind, or heal the lame.  But they believed unreservedly in His mission.  At a wedding where the wine supply was exhausted much too early in the celebrations, Mary asked Jesus to help in some way to prevent embarrassment to the bridegroom. 

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Then she instructed the servants, Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).  Though Jesus had never performed a miracle up to that point, Mary trusted His abilities and judgment explicitly.  She was likely as surprised as the servants that Jesus converted gallons of plain water into elegant wine.

Jesus was born on earth not to constantly perform fantastic miracles, as needed as they were, but to bring redemption of sin to the multitudes.  Soon the prediction the prophet Simeon uttered when Jesus was an infant, was proving true; that Mary as well as Jesus would suffer deep anguish in the future. When Jesus claimed to be the son of God, storm clouds of opposition and rejection gathered over His life.  Mary must have felt personally attacked when she viewed mob hatred escalating toward her son.  Jesus was the subject of intolerance and shame, scorn and disbelief.  Mary paid a tremendous price to bring the Savior into the world; she paid an exorbitant price to stand beneath the cross, witnessing the torment of Jesus’ during his heinous crucifixion.  Mary’s heart must have completely shattered, spilling forth all the treasures she’d pondered over the past thirty-three years of her son’s life.

As He hung from the cross, Jesus assigned His beloved disciple, John, to care for His mother for the rest of her life.  Then Mary retreated into seclusion with Jesus’ committed followers, where they hid from the Roman authorities, praying for protection and guidance.  Three days later, news arrived that Jesus had risen from the dead.  How Mary rejoiced!  Her son, the Son of God, was alive!  Thanksgiving filled the air.

Are we willing to cling to our beliefs as Mary did, even when the rising tide of public opposition threatens to chip away at our spiritual commitment like granite eroding from the constant battering of surging tides?  Just as the plans for the incarnation of our Savior were flawlessly choreographed in heaven, God loves us so much that His purposes for each of our lives are also perfect.  As we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas season, let us follow Mary’s example, learning to treasure all the Words of God and ponder them in our hearts.

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Thank you, Pat, for allowing me to share these precious insights with my readers!

AnnaSmile…..

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Jesus…

God-Rock-Savior--TREE--BibleStudyTools.com

There are only two words I can add to this:

AMEN!

HALLELJUAH!

..AnnaSmile

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Waiting for our Savior

This is a slightly changed Christmas post from a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.—Micah 7:7

What a wonderful example the prophet Micah is to us! As one of the minor prophets, the first few chapters of his short Old Testament book are basically messages of God’s judgment on Samaria and Jerusalem. But toward the end of this book, we see clear evidence of Micah’s faith and confidence that God would send a Savior.

As humans, we think we’ve got all the answers. And even when we don’t, we have the technology to find those answers in an instant by searching the internet for whatever may be baffling or confusing to us.

But because of the huge advancements in technology over the past few years, many people today believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant in this modern world. However, the Old Testament is filled with verses which talk about a Savior or foretell His coming. Here are only a few:

  • You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. —Psalm 65:5
  • It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. —Isaiah 19:20
  • Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me. —Hosea 13:4

 Read the longing in these and many other verses. These men yearned for the Savior of the world to come soon, and exhibited great faith that it would happen. They obviously loved God without restraint and absolutely believed that God would send a Savior, someone who would rescue them from themselves and their sins and provide a way for them to live with and worship God forever.

So many people say they believe in God but when it comes to eternal issues, they are floundering in a huge sea of doubt and frustration. It is understandably difficult to believe in a being we cannot see. On top of that uncertainty, we are asked to trust that believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only way to heaven.

Wow. That. Is. Huge.

I love what J. Vernon McGee has to say about this:

You may think you have your way of salvation, but God is the only Savior, and He is the only one who can offer you a plan of salvation.

Absolutely! God’s plan for our salvation was always in the works but was truly fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus was born a human and lived an earthly life so that He could experience and relate to every single thing we humans go through.

The birth of Jesus Christ paved the way for His death on the cross, where He took our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. That death paved the way for Him to be resurrected from the dead on the third day, proving that death and sin have no more eternal hold on us. All this to show how much God loves us and longs for us to live in heaven with Him forever.

But this is where faith and trust come into the picture. We must believe that our only chance for eternal redemption comes from Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with ourselves or what we do or don’t do:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” —John 14:6

Sadly, though, too many of us seem unable to take that giant leap of faith and trust:

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:10-13

Beloved, Christmas is definitely a time of celebration. If you take away all the glitter, packages, decorations, baked goodies and music, we still have the greatest thing for which to be thankful. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the One whom God sent to free us from the bondage of sin.

So if all you have to celebrate Christmas is that certain knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then you have it all and more!

Let’s try to remember that Christmas is more about the Reason and less about the Season.

A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” —John 1:14-16

 … for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:11

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. —Acts 5:30-31

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Christmas Pink

Just feeling the need for a little Christmas pinkness, so here are a few pink Christmas images for you!

AnnaSmile

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Jesus is the Reason

JesusIsTheReasonForTheSeason

We received a Christmas card from my son and daughter-in-law that had this great poem on the reverse. Maybe you’ve read it before, but I think it bears repeating.

Why Jesus is Better Than
Santa Claus

Santa lives at the North Pole …
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh …
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year …
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies …
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited …
JESUS stands at your door and knocks,
and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa …
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap …
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn’t know your name, all he can say is
“Hi little boy or girl, what’s your name?” …
JESUS knew our name before we were born…
Not only does He know our name,
He knows our address too.
He knows our history and future and
He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly …
JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO …
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says “You better not cry” …
JESUS says “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”

Santa’s little helpers make toys …
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts,
repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but …
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree …
JESUS became our gift and died on a tree….
The cross.

Put Christ Back In Christmas…


Jesus Is Still The Reason For The Season!

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AnnaSmile…..

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Rejoice!

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Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. —Psalm 105:1-4

AnnaSmile…..

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Merry Christmas 2013 From Us

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Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. Joseph also went up from Galilee … to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.      —Luke 2:1, 4-7

As I contemplated this Christmas season and what it means to me, I found my thoughts focused on Mary and how she must have felt knowing she was carrying the Messiah Jesus—the Son of God. It must have seemed like a burden and a treasure at the same time. I mean, how can a person wrap their mind around such an amazing thing?

I have tried to put myself in Mary’s place. I would feel scared, humbled, awestruck, wondering… How would Joseph and I be able to raise the Son of God properly? Would He do the typical things that tax a parent’s patience? And if so, how could we properly discipline Him? It must surely be disrespectful to do so to the Son of God.

Still, there must have been moments of pure joy as I looked into that tiny little face and praised the God of the universe for choosing me, a small town girl. I would have wondered why God had singled me out for this honor. What could I have done (or not done) to deserve such a privilege?

And in spite of everything her mind and heart told her, Mary immediately said yes!

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The other day I heard one of my favorite Christmas songs on the radio as I drove home from a weekend of visiting with my children. The song, “Mary Did You Know,” is written by Mark Lowry. I felt the lyrics deep in my heart, so in case you have never heard this song you can hear and view it here:

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Here are the lyrics in case you have trouble viewing the video:

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
You’ve kissed the face of God

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding
Is the Great I Am

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Rick and I are so thankful for the many blessings God has given us: each other … family and friends … enough to be able to live comfortably … a roof over our heads …  sufficient food and clothing … a wonderful church family … God’s written Word within easy reach … the sure knowledge that we will live forever with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

As I shared with you last week, Rick and I celebrated our 15th anniversary this month. Daily we reflect on God’s blessings in our marriage as He knits our hearts together more every day.

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

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16

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Blessings and love during this Christmas season from Anna and Rick!

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Hope … Love … Peace

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May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
—Ada V. Hendricks

AnnaSmile…..
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