Friday, December 19, 2014

"Strange Way To Save The World" - Mark Harris

This goes along with my last blog post... a wonderful quiet song... enjoy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The eighteenth day of Christmas

I didn't get the blog finished yesterday so today is yesterday's writing.
Taking a risk as I write this:
Would it be alright if I venture into a different question
now that we have learned about the many of the 'people'
of the Christmas story.
It seems to me that we are not thinking about or focusing on
the one reasonable question. What about Jesus?
In the beginning He was with God.
That is what Genesis tells us.
They were together as the three in one.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Then the plan from God was to provide a Savior,
so he could save the people from their sins.
As it is written:
Luke 1:35 The baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:69 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
God created a way for us to be saved eternally.
God didn't have to do that, but HE DID.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God in his wisdom had to create someone we would relate to.
Someone special and full of meaning, and who could not only change history, but change and restore lives too.
So at some point in time, the decision was made, for Jesus to come to the scene as a baby, then to grow up and then to leave again, and return back to the Father, after his ministry was over.
Imagine with me for a moment.
What would that be like for Jesus, who was all God and all man, all knowing and still learning.
Jesus the Son of God entered the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit,
as a little tiny egg and grew into a 'perfect' little baby,
to be born and placed in a manger in a city called Bethlehem.
As scripture told us.
He had to come with the genealogy alongside him, as he was from the lineage of David.
God created a whole new 'Jesus' so we could see him and relate to him and then believe in him.
He was the 'same' equal part of God as in heaven, but now a physical form we could relate to.
From the spiritual realm to the earthly realm.
Do you think he was in the form of a body in heaven? I don't think so.
Psalm 139:13 You made all the delicate inner parts of my body, and knit me in my mother's womb. 
vs 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. vs 16. you saw me before I was born.
It was pre-planned as we know, but can you imagine?
What was it like to be a baby moving and kicking just as any other baby in the womb.
This 'God in flesh' baby child, miracle one, so tiny.
Or even during the birth process. He had to experience it.
I have seen video's of how hard the baby pushes and turns and struggles to get out.
The process is hard and exhausting, challenging and relentless.
He had to be born through Mary because she was chosen to be his mother.
There had to be 'physical connection' as well as a spiritual one.
Then after he was born, the baby was cared for and loved by Mary and Joseph, blessed by Simeon, praised by Anna, then shepherds from the fields praised him, and then the wise men who brought gifts of royalty fit for a king.
All this meant something. On the eternal level and perspective.
Then we saw the threat from Herod, and then the Angels appearances over and over in dreams and visions.
So much happening in such a short amount of time for all of them.
Then I was wondering as a baby, he had to go through the normal teething process.
Just as any other new born baby. I would imagine and wonder,
did Mary walk the floors with a cranky colicky baby.
Did Joseph rock and sing to him as he calmed his crying, if he was sick and feverish.
I don't imagine he could heal himself then, He was a baby.
As an infant, I would think, he had to learn to crawl and walk just like any other baby growing up.
Imagine with me, a skinned up knee, he could have placed his own hand on it to heal it or did that ability come to him later as he grew?
So many questions to ask.
Luke 2:39b They returned home to Nazareth in Galilee 40 There the child grew up healthy and strong.
He was filled with wisdom, and God's favor was on him.
2: 52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. 
Did they go through some of the attitudes parents get from young adult children.
Remember they lost him one time in the temple.
Luke 2:45 When they couldn't find him they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious leaders, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and answers. His parents didn't know what to think. "Son," his mother said to him, "Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere." 
"But why did you need to search?" he asked. "Didn't you know that I would be in my Father's house?"
But they didn't understand what he meant. * key verse*
Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. 
And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
He had a lot of time to mature and grow.
There are many questions I have about all of this.
We often move from the manger, to the ministry, and then to the cross.
But what about the middle years, when he grew and learned and trained under Joseph.
I don't mean to be disrespectful, but the word tells us he was a baby, then a child, he had to have been a teen, then a young adult, then a young man and then he turned thirty when I believe his ministry began to take shape and form.
So many stages of a young mans life. So many changes for a Savior.
Not only was Jesus the main character in this story.
But he was the story.
God loves us so much that HE wanted to give us a chance.
The only way that would work was to to allow a Savior to come.
Remember the verse when Simeon told Mary,
Luke 2:35 "As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
And a sword will pierce your very soul." 
Referring to his time on the cross.
It was all for a reason. It was all for a purpose.
The deep love from the Father to us given in the form of a baby.
As we move towards the closure of the Christmas story I hope you realize, as I have said before, nothing is by accident and nothing is without a plan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The sixteenth day of Christmas

As we move through the Christmas story and almost come to the final ending, it would be good for us to do some thinking and pondering on all that has taken place.
Remember as I have said before, nothing is by accident and nothing without a reason.
Although I still struggle with Herod and his horrible actions.
Matthew 2: 13
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
"Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother." the angel said, 
"Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death.
This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
"I called my son out of Egypt."
*Returning to the verse from yesterday in chapter 2 vs 16
"Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men's report of the stars first appearance."
The fourteenth group of people were are learning about are the soldiers.
The soldiers were ordered to go house to house and kill all the little boys, who might have been the age of the Messiah.
Who Herod wanted to remove.
Can you imagine for a moment with me what that might have felt like for them?
To be a soldier who was given an order to kill infants.
My husband made the comment, what if they were parents too?
What if these were people you knew, even friends of yours?
How did it happen and how could they continue, as they forcibly removed children from their families, and then witness the anguish of parents reaching for their babies?
The soldiers had a very difficult horrific order give to them by Herod.
They didn't have a choice.
We never talk about the soldiers and what they might have experienced during that horrible time.
In fact this is not a part of the Christmas story we like to talk about.
It is horrible, ugly, sad and deeply disturbing.
The word tells us in the book of Jeremiah 31:15
"A cry was heard in Ramah - weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead."
We cannot imagine the horror and deep intense sorrow,
it is beyond my capacity to think on or process.
Matthew 2:19
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
"Get up! the angel said, "Take the child  and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead." So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod's son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galillee. 
So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth.
This fulfilled what the prophets had said: 
"He will be called a Nazarene."
The birth of Jesus changed many lives.
We often sing of the nice and the comfortable, but we must not forget the sorrow too.
On the sixteenth day of Christmas we learn about the fourteenth group of people.
The story is filled with deep sadness and overwhelming grief.
I wonder if that is the reason why Jesus is called 'the prince of Peace.'
Even now, the world needs peace and a hope that can only come from above, when we sing, "Oh little town of Bethlehem", we will know there was more to the story.
But we will also know, on the night Jesus was born, that Oh Holy Night, a Savior was born and our souls found our hope forever.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The fifteenth day of Christmas

On the fifteenth day of Christmas we hear of the thirteenth person of the Christmas story.
The thirteenth person of the Christmas story is Herod.
He is someone we don't hear much about very often other than in the Christmas story.
I suppose there is a reason God allowed him to be a part of the story but I struggle with his decision making and his power.
Matthew 2:16
Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wisemen's report 
of the stars first appearance. 
Herod's brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 
A cry was heard in Ramah --
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead. (Jeremiah 31:15)
On the fifteenth day of Christmas we learn of a terrible decision maker Herod.
Who caused much anguish of heart and much turmoil in the country.
I cannot find words to convey my horror and sorrow.
There was a reason I guess, but I do not understand it.
I cannot even imagine this terror.
More to come tomorrow... on the sixteenth day of Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The fourteenth day of Christmas

On this fourteenth day of Christmas we learn more of the Christmas story.
Luke 2:1-12
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. 
About the same time some wise men (*or magi or astrologers or astronomer's) from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 
"Where is the newborn King of the Jews? we saw his star as it rose
 (*or star in the east) and we have come to worship him."
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.
He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, 
"Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?"
"In Bethlehem in Judea," they said, for this is what the prophet wrote:
'And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you and who will be the shepherd for my people Israel."
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, 
"Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. 
And when you find him, come back and tell me so I can go and worship him, too!"
After this interview the wisemen went their way. 
And the star in the east guided them to Bethlehem.
It went a head of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with great joy! 
They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary 
and bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts
of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route,
for God had warned them in a dream to not return to Herod.
The twelfth group of people in the Christmas story were the wisemen.
They were well known in the region and most likely, they were very aware of the stars and which ones would shine and form constellations, which as an astrologer they would also know
the grouping of stars at the time of someones birth.
It was symbolic to see a star in the sky.
On this night, the night when Jesus was born they saw a special kind of brilliance.
It was a star out of the ordinary and it rose and and became brighter until it arrived at the place where Mary and Joseph and Jesus was staying.
It was a home, a house, not an inn with a stable.
The baby was nearing age two now because most likely it took them months to find him.
(Remembering there were no GPS devices back then).
The star led them to the house where Mary and Joseph were with the baby. Studies have said they were in a home, as it took months to find the baby and when they found him he was near the age of two.
There gifts were symbolic of royalty, of death, and of priesthood.
This was no accident. The gifts were chosen for a reason.
On the fourteenth day we learn of the twelfth group of people.
God continues to use the ordinary. The least expected.
As we move through the Christmas story we soon realize it is not just
about a little baby born in a manger, in the town of Bethlehem.
It is so much more.
So much ordained and planned as the story continues.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The thirteenth day of Christmas

On the thirteenth day of Christmas we learn of the eleventh person of the Christmas story.
The prophecy of Anna.
Luke 2:36-40
Anna, a prophet was also there in the temple.
She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher,
and she was very old.
Her husband died when she had been married only seven years.
Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four.
She never left the temple but stayed there day and night, 
worshipping God with fasting and prayer.
She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph,
and she began praising God.
She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
I am not sure if we have ever heard of her before other
than in this scene in the temple.
She was a prophet and she understood and knew that
Simeon would know without a shadow of doubt who
was the one to come to rescue and save the people.
She saw the excitement in Simeon and his worship of
the baby and then at that moment, it was clear to her,
this is the one they had been waiting for.
He is here. The Messiah.The chosen one.
I would imagine she had to have been very in tune to the prayers and
petitions of those in the temple, since she had lived there
for so many years.
I would also think that because of her excitement upon seeing this child, she confirmed one more time to Mary and Joseph that this baby, their baby, was the chosen one.
The Messiah who they had been waiting for.
On the thirteenth day of Christmas we read about
Anna and the hope that was fulfilled for her along with Simeon.
Before they died they both were blessed to see the
Savior who had been sent by God.
Luke 2:39 
When Jesus parents did all the requirements of the law
of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Michael Card - "Now that I've held Him in my arms"

This goes with the blog post .. the twelfth day of Christmas, listen to the song then read the blog post.