Sunday Praise and Worship: A Christmas Alleluia

I am taking a short break from blogging and will be back the second week of January. I hope you all enjoy a wonderfully blessed and JOYFUL Christmas and a happy new year!

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Merry Christmas!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior!
He alone is the Reason for our ultimate JOY!

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields,
keeping watch over their flock by night.

And behold,an angel of the Lord stood before them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid, for behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy
which will be to all people.

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths,
lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

—Luke 2:8-14

The song “A Christmas Alleluia” is by Chris Tomlin featuring Lauren Daigle and Leslie Jordan. Close your eyes as you listen to this wonderful song of praise and worship to our Savior.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
to God who alone is wise,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 

—1 Timothy 1:17 (NKJV)

After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
“Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!

For true and righteous are His judgments,
because He has judged the great harlot
who corrupted the earth with her fornication;
and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.”

Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!”

—Revelation 19:1-3 (NKJV)

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Let the Heavens Rejoice!

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Let the Heavens Rejoice!

By Patricia Knight

It was near the first century A.D., in Bethlehem of Judea, when Jesus, the Son of God, was born on earth. An angel previously had assured His mother, Mary, that Jesus would be the long-awaited Messiah promised to the Israelite nation. Shepherds visited the infant; an angelic choir sang glorious refrains; Magi traveled from distant foreign countries to visit the newborn King.

The Jews were a conquered nation, ruled by Herod the Great of the Roman Empire. Herod was ruthless, a schemer who clawed his way to the top of the political scene, maintaining discipline with secret police. He couldn’t tolerate competition. Even an infant King was a political thread to him. Herod’s family members were victims of his violent tendencies. He killed two of his ten wives, two sons, and his in-laws, among others.

Magi from the east stopped at the palace in Jerusalem to inquire regarding the whereabouts of the newborn King of the Jews, whose supernatural star they had been following for months. King Herod instructed his chief priests and teachers of law to research the Old Testament. The Magi were then directed to Bethlehem with a secret command from King Herod to report back to him details about the newborn King.

While visiting Jesus, the Magi were warned by angels to return home via an alternative route, avoiding their planned stop at King Herod’s palace. When the Magi didn’t return to Jerusalem, Herod suspected he’d been tricked. He immediately gave an order that all boys age two and younger be slaughtered throughout Bethlehem and its vicinities, according to when the Magi indicated the first star appeared.

Imagine the horror and helplessness the families endured when their toddler sons were selectively slain for no reason other than the king decreed it. The soldiers stormed every house searching for victims, their orders non-negotiable. What an agonizing massacre, a mass killing simply to validate one man’s pride.

Were Herod’s oppressive, totalitarian tactics so unlike the style of anarchy we are witnessing in our modern world? In geographic pockets around the world, terrorism has become the rule of the land. Cities and entire countries have collapsed. Christians, particularly, are beheaded or tortured for their faith in God. Women and children are brutalized or annihilated. At the very least, families are separated or displaced.

We gasp in horror when atrocities are committed within our own borders. As in King Herod’s day, the heinous acts are rationalized to promote personal power and greed. There is little interest in discussing or compromising issues of mutual importance. Have our governments made progress in peace-keeping methods since ancient times?

The Israelites had grown weary of waiting for the promised Messiah over the previous centuries. As Roman tyranny grew more suffocating, the Jews were anticipating a political savior to release them from servitude to Rome.

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But, the angels announced a Savior who would accomplish so much more—deliver His people from sin and death, a miracle that compelled the angels to sing at Jesus’ birth: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

We cannot ignore the nefarious worldwide brutality prevalent today. Neither can we allow a foreboding shadow of fear to invade our Christmas joy. However, we are capable of minimizing the negative effect on lives as we pray for peace and hope in an exploding world.

The cacophony of threatening chatter is heard from around the world, bombarding our minds with pessimistic messages. Discouragement develops easily if we allow our minds to get mired in the news of abominable current events. The good news is that God is the author and embodiment of all hope. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Hope is confident expectation, a reliance on God’s blessings and provisions, not equated with unfounded optimism. We enjoy blessed assurance of our future destiny based on God’s love and power. As humans, we are incapable of conjuring up hope with personal efforts. Hope is a gift from God. “May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Hope resides in God, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, and demonstrated in the death of Jesus on the cross, further reinforced by His resurrection from the dead.

Unlike world forces of evil, God is creative, powerful, and authoritative. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, able to calm our fearful spirits with His peaceful, trustworthy assurances. He encourages us to come to Him for soothing peace of mind and a joy-filled heart. Let us worship Him with enthusiasm and gratitude, as the shepherds and Magi did following Jesus’ birth over two thousand years ago.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy” (Psalm 96:11-12). 

God created the earth and everything in it with an unfolding plan for the future that will lead to Jesus’ second coming to rule all nations in peace. God is in control. Let us praise our Lord for His magnificent plans that encourage hope. Vow to claim sovereign triumph in the midst of human chaos, as you give glory and gratitude to Jesus on His birthday this year.

An Impossibility

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An Impossibility

by Joni Eareckson Tada


“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

—John 1:14 (NKJV)

We talk a lot about the Incarnation as Christmas draws near. Incarnation is a Latin word that means “taking flesh.” God “took flesh” and became the human Jesus. We say that so glibly. But the idea is so impossible.

God became flesh? It’s like accepting that a battleship can fit into a bathtub. A skyscraper can fit into a dollhouse. A field of wheat can fit into a cereal box. More than that, it’s like making blue paint out of blue sky. We can’t fathom such things. In the same way, we can’t imagine the God of the universe becoming a baby.

It’s so odd. After all, the whole point was that God wanted to rescue us. But a baby can’t rescue anyone; babies need rescuing themselves. Maybe because God couldn’t make Himself greater to impress us, He made Himself smaller to attract us.

And the Christmas story is attractive. In all history there is nothing like it. If you stroll through cities around the world, you will see imposing monuments to outstanding men and women. But have you ever seen a statute of a famous person as an infant? You never see George Washington portrayed in a stroller. It would be silly.

But it’s not silly to honor the Lord of the universe as a baby, because this child signifies the Incarnation. That God took on flesh is amazing and incredible, like an oil well fitting into an oilcan, or a mountain squeezing into a molehill. God became flesh-Wow!

To help you think about what an amazing act the Incarnation is, make a list of all the qualities Jesus gave up or limited to become a baby. For example, He who is the Light of the World chose to dwell in a dark womb for nine months. You’ll be amazed at just what Jesus’ choice meant for Him — and for you.

Emmanuel, God with us, words seem impossibly small and unwieldy to try to express the immensity of Your love for me, and the gratitude I feel. Help me to live today in a way that would honor the sacrifices You have made for me.


Taken from More Precious Than Silver.  Copyright © 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Published in Print by  Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

Not So Familiar Christmas Scripture: Isaiah 7:14

This is a great devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah.

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N.Not So Familiar Christmas
Scripture: Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call His name Immanuel.

—Isaiah 7:14

Recommended Reading

Luke 1:34-38

The virgin birth of Christ makes possible His sinlessness. This is one of the most wondrous and marvelous aspects of Jesus of Nazareth. He’s the only person in history who lived righteously on earth – a full life of eating and drinking and socializing and working and talking and sleeping, yet totally free from the taint of sin. There was no moral failure in His dealings, and He was untainted by evil. He was pure and perfect to the depths of His being, and He maintained that purity every moment of His life.

Because our Lord was conceived in the womb of a virgin who had been overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, He was holy and pure, uncontaminated by the blood disease of sin that has infected every other man and woman on the globe. It is a mystery, but it is marvelous; and it’s vitally important. Jesus could not have died for our sins had He not Himself been sinless.

Today take a moment to praise God for providing us such a Savior and for giving us such an amazing story.

 Read-thru-the-Bible
Revelation 1:1 – 5:14

Sunday Praise and Worship: O Come O Come Emmanuel

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Christmas is just around the corner. It is easy to get caught up in the worldly things that surround Christmas. But we need to stop and remember that Christmas is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

The song “O Come O Come Emmanuel” is by Matt MaherAs you listen to this song of praise to God for sending Jesus to be the JOY and HOPE for our salvation, thank Him in your heart for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Messiah.

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born.
His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph.

But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin,

she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man
and did not want to disgrace her publicly,
so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said,
“do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.
For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

21 
And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,

and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as
the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.

25 
But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born.
And Joseph named him Jesus.

—Matthew 1:18-25

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Alive and Active

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Alive and Active

by Joni Eareckson Tada

 

“For the word of God is living and active…”  Hebrews 4:12

One minute the night skies over Bethlehem were cool and quiet; the next minute someone turned on the light switch.  Stars that were twinkling suddenly stepped aside as the veil of heaven parted for an instant.  An angel stepped through the curtain of night, threw out his (or her?) hands to let loose divine fireworks.  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'” (Luke 2:13-14 KJV).

Not long ago, I decided to paint this scene.  But I wondered, How do you paint an angel… much less one rejoicing?  I knew that the moment was packed with powerful emotion.  After all, the Word of God is living and active.  Those angels must have been jumping up and down for excitement!  That’s all the inspiration I needed.

I also needed someone to model as an angel.  I called my secretary into the art studio and asked her to stand on a chair and drape a sheet around her.  “Now,” I said when she was ready, “throw up your arms and yell, ‘Surprise!'”  She gave me a funny look and so I added, “Think of your happiest memory!”  She rubbed her chin and then an idea donned.  Throwing back her head she hollered, “Whoopee!”  I quickly sketched the joy in her face.  In no time, I had my angel on the canvas.  It was the best painting of angels I had ever rendered.

This month you will see lots of Christmas cards and store windows displaying the word “Rejoice!”  You’ll sing about joy and carols and read about it in the pages of scripture.  Smile when you say it… see it… or sing it.  After all, the announcement of the angels was the Word of God, alive,  active, and full of joy!

You, Lord Jesus, are what the joy is all about.  This alone makes my smile effervescent.  I rejoice!


Taken from More Precious Than Silver.  Copyright © 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

The Christmas Story … Part 2 (Conclusion)

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Christmas Story … Part 2
(Conclusion)

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. (Luke 2:21)

Long before the Lord ordained the ritual of circumcision for males, He arranged for the coagulating pro-enzyme called prothrombin to be at 130% of normal adult levels on the eighth day of life, and for natural analgesic enzymes in the blood to be at lifetime highs as well.

Circumcision on any other day can be a painful and bloody event, but on the eighth day of life it’s remarkably less so. Of course, this is a fact the medical profession has only learned in the last century. Back then people just knew that everything worked better when they were obedient to God’s commands.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)

It was 33 days after Jesus had been circumcised. Since Joseph and Mary could not afford a lamb for Mary’s purification, the Law permitted them to use the two birds instead. (Lev. 12:8)

Read the rest here.