A Son is Given

Is9-6-7--AMP

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called    
Wonderful Counselor,  

Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father, 

Prince of Peace.  

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. 
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, 
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness 
from that time on and forever. 
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. 
—Isaiah 9:6-7

 

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Mary Treasured All These Things

Please enjoy this special Christmas devotional by Pat Knight.

Thank you, Pat, for blessing us with this wonderful rendition of Mary’s viewpoint in being the one to give birth to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and watch Him as He grew up.

Luke2-19-MaryContemplating--AMP

“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 done 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.

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 to early in the celebrations, Mary asked Jesus to help in some way to prevent embarrassment to the bridegroom. 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 Simon uttered when Jesus was still 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.

Christmas-branch-banner--AMP

Please enjoy this beautiful rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix.

If for any reason you are unable to view the video, please CLICK HERE for the lyrics.

 

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Christingle [from Our Daily Bread]

Today’s post is from last year’s Christmas devotional by Our Daily Bread. I had never heard of a Christingle before and love the symbolism. Have you ever heard of this or maybe even celebrate Christmas this way?

 Christingle

By Bill Crowder 
December 25, 2013

In the Czech Republic and other places, the Christmas celebration includes “Christingles.” A Christingle is an orange, representing the world, with a candle placed in the top of it to symbolize Christ the light of the world. A red ribbon encircles the orange, symbolizing the blood of Jesus. Four toothpicks with dried fruits are placed through the ribbon into the sides of the orange, representing the fruits of the earth.

Read the rest here. 

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Not Everyone’s Merry at Christmastime [repost from Abandoned to Christ]

Life here on earth is admittedly hard. It seems like it’s never only one thing at a time that is a difficulty. That one thing turns into a host of problems, and we wonder if we’ll ever see that light at the end of our long tunnel.

Maybe there are things we remember from a not-so-great time in our past that intrude and try to replace our happiness and joy during Christmas.

Or perhaps we’re missing some precious people who have already gone home to the Lord.

Could it be that the sadness is a combination of all of the above?

Today I’d like to share with you a recent post from one of my favorite blogs—Sunny Shell’s Abandoned to Christ. This post speaks so well about all of this. Thank you, Sunny, for helping us recognize these feelings in ourselves and those around us.

 

It seems everywhere we look and every place we go, there’s Christmas music playing, people shopping, commercials filled with laughter and gaiety; sparkling decorations and hearts filled with merriment and hope. But it’s not that way for everyone. There are a silent few…or a silent many who are not merry at Christmastime.
 
Some people have lost loved ones this year through death, or by sin that always separates. Some, like orphans, have no one to lose, but have constant dreams of finding parents who offer the sacrificial and eternal love of Christ rather than the self-centered, ephemeral love this world settles for. Then there are those who are alone in adulthood: widows, divorcees, and those struck with depression. The list goes on…and so do their sorrows. 


Read the rest here

http://www.sunnyshell.org/2014/12/not-everyones-merry-at-christmastime.html

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Mary: An Angelic Announcement [Repost from Grace to You]

Please enjoy this wonderful devotional from John MacArthur’s Grace to You blog.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 

by John MacArthur

When we first meet Mary in Luke’s gospel, it is on the occasion when an archangel appeared to her suddenly and without fanfare to disclose to her God’s wonderful plan. Scripture says, simply, “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26–27).

Read the rest here.

 

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My Soul Exalts the Lord

 

Christmas-Luke1-46-55-AMP

And Mary said: My soul exalts the Lord,
my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
toward those who fear Him.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
and has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.
–Luke 1:46-55

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To Those Hurting This Christmas [Repost]

So many of us are hurting, mostly in ways not easily understood by our friends and family because we put on a good front. We don’t want to bother our loved ones with the details of how much pain we endure each day. Or we’re so busy caring for others in dire physical circumstances that we don’t have the time or inclination to think about how much we go through as we care for these dear ones. Perhaps we don’t know how we’ll pay the bills this month. When or how will we get our next paycheck—or meal?

Oh, we may have a deep and abiding faith in God because we know He loves us and cares about every single little detail of our lives…but these days we are clinging to that faith by our fingernails.

We are understandably so focused on our own pain and suffering or that of our loved ones that we’re afraid to confront our frustrations about a situation that never seems to end. How do we get through this Christmas season of joy when everything around us is in shambles?

Beloved, I’ll be writing more about this in the next days before Christmas, but today I want to share something with you that arrived in my inbox this morning. I pray you will be blessed by this as much as I am, and I will be praying for each and every hurting heart who reads this.

To Those Hurting This Christmas

by John Knight | December 9, 2012

TheWorksOfGod-John9-3-desiringgod.org

I know some of you are praying you’ll make it through Christmas—just make it through—not anticipating anything good will come from gathering with extended family and friends. It has become a cliche—right next to the article on what second-graders are excited about for Christmas is the article on the rise in depression during this last month of the year.

You know the sadness is real. While you change the diaper of a teenager, or administer complicated medications, or prevent your non-verbal ten-year-old from hurting himself again, or explain yet again the complicated life of your five-year-old without a diagnosis for her disability, your nieces and nephews and young friends are playing and running and eating, happily talking about the toys they want or travel they’re excited about or things they are doing in school. They easily do things your child will never do, no matter how many therapies or medications or prayers are offered.

Or maybe the disability in your family member means you can’t gather with other loved ones, and the heartache is almost more than you can stand.

Jesus knows.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, italics added)

More than that, he endured and is victorious!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2, italics added)

And there are some of you who can’t see it. There is still hope!

From Pastor John’s book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy,

It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. This is the way Paul thought of his own strivings. He said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him. Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Our faith rises and falls. It has degrees. But our security does not rise and fall. It has no degrees. We must persevere in faith. That’s true. But there are times when our faith is the size of a mustard seed and barely visible. In fact, the darkest experience for the child of God is when his faith sinks out of his own sight. Not out of God’s sight, but his. Yes, it is possible to be so overwhelmed with darkness that you do not know if you are a Christian — and yet still be one. (216, italics added)

Jesus understands. Jesus is victorious. Jesus is the answer. May you find him, and in finding him, find hope and peace in these hard days.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

John Knight is Director of Development at Desiring God. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children: Paul, Hannah, Daniel, and Johnny. Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments and a seizure disorder. John blogs on issues of disability, the Bible, and the church at The Works of God.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/to-those-hurting-this-christmas

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[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!

Christmas-Luke2-11…..

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.

Luke2-52-a

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. 

Jesus-turns-water-to-wine

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.

mary_baby_jesus…..

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

AnnaSmile…..

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