*O Holy Night . . . December 2017
I have several favourite Christmas carols as I’m sure you do also. One of them is ‘O Holy Night’ of which I have a playlist of different people singing it. By the time I had heard it sung for the fifth or sixth time one phrase began to jump out at me. And that is ~
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.
The thrill of HOPE here is in the impending birth of the Messiah. The world is and always has been weary, suffering under a cloud of oppression of all kinds. Poverty, sickness, greed, violence and now in the twenty-first century, unheard of atrocities happening to innocents around the globe.
We have tried to appease some of this suffering by using the kindness of St Nicholas during his lifetime and turning it into a franchise called Santa Claus who lives at the North Pole. These are nice fantasies, and I have been a fan of the three Santa Claus movies each year, but I think I’ll give them a miss this year. There is NOTHING in all the Christmas advertising that even remotely alludes to Jesus, the Son of God, born as a babe in a stable, and why we actually DO celebrate Christmas. It’s ALL Santa. And to top it off in all these movies, when children query Santa their parents keep the deception going!
We act like Santa Claus IS real!? When did our faith shift from God, the REAL maker and provider in this universe, to an overweight candidate for a heart attack fictional fella who supposedly circumnavigates the world in one night. He has become our all powerful, all wonderful, miracle worker!
No wonder our world is weary. It’s an insult to the real Nicholas who used his very large inheritance to look after the needy of his time.
Our need is for a Saviour who can provide ALL year round, not just one night of each year.
But to me, the biggest atrocity in all of this fiasco, is that we LIE to our children. If they cannot trust us, who can they trust.
Many years ago, when we were struggling a lot financially, the burden of having to deliver our children’s requests for Christmas was huge. One year there was a particular doll that one of our daughters wanted, and I could not find it anywhere, so opted for something else. She was so disappointed when this doll was not under the tree. I found out later that it was a new all-the-rage doll and so popular which is why I could not find one, and of course, her best friend had got one.
My point is, that apart from the deception, there is so much pressure to deliver, and those who suffer the most are the parents who cannot in a million years ever afford to keep up the charade.
If only the world would turn to Jesus at this time of year, and recognise our Saviour, we would find encouragement and hope and therefore provision for our weariness.
So to put it in a nutshell . . . Jesus Christ is our Saviour ALL THE TIME . . . not just on one night of the year!
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wise men from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
*Are you ready? . . . December 2017
I’ve had only two dreams from God in my life, but wow were they powerful! The first one was 23 years ago, and as if I needed another reminder because the first one I didn’t fully follow through on, I had another one 12 years ago. They both had the same theme, namely, that I was not ready to meet my maker when the time came.
This was the second dream as I wrote it on 20/4/2005 :
I had a dream. It turned into a nightmare! The beginning is vague! Comings and goings to somewhere and nowhere along a road and through a tunnel I could never know each time where it was taking me. Eventually, one day we were told we had to get out of town, because the lava was coming! I thought there was plenty of time and that I had a couple of weeks and so dilly-dallied. I didn’t remember the way out, but thought I had plenty of time to find out. I decided suddenly to pack a few of my most precious possessions (even though I knew we weren’t supposed to stop and do this) Favourite clothes, scarves, jewellery and stuff that had a lot of emotional memories and that I didn’t want to leave behind. I was in the middle of doing this and wondering how to get out, because I still hadn’t found out, when I realized it was very quiet. Everyone had gone. I was alone. I opened the front door and lava was all around me pouring down the streets. It was all around me, everywhere. I knew I had waited too long. I was alone. I was aware that I was about to die an awful, painful death, and it was my fault. The feeling of terror that came over me is indescribable!
At this point I awoke. I was in my own bed, snuggled under the blankets and I realized it was only a dream.
But in another moment, I realized it was from God!
To be very plain and to the point, God showed me how empty and fruitless my life was, and how much importance I placed upon the THINGS of this world, appearances, looking cool, and being trendy. The death I was about to die was not just physical, but eternal.
I gave away just about every scarf I owned after that to prove to myself that those things were no longer important to that degree. It was very hard to do. But it freed me. I still have a love for those things, but they no longer rule.
Also, to this day I cannot watch anything that involves volcanoes, because it gives me too vivid a picture of the excruciating pain and sheer terror of an eternity without God.
It brought me to my senses. The things of this world are momentary but life in Christ Jesus is eternal. There is nothing that is more important than the state of my soul, for it is in the soul realm that decisions are made.
The decision to continue living according to the world’s standards or the decision to live for Christ.
The decision to pursue death or the decision to pursue eternal life.
“This world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.” 1 John 2:17.
My Word! . . .
The reason I chose to tell you this story, is not to be preachy or scare the pants off you, but to be real. And you may ask what does it have to do with the Christmas we have just celebrated?
Well, we celebrated a little child being born, who happens to be the Son of the Most High God. And He is Wonderful to know. He is my Counsellor, He is Almighty God, and my Everlasting Father, Who brings Peace to my heart and soul. He is Jesus. Prophesied by Isaiah several hundred years before Jesus was born.
And without the graciousness of God in bringing that dream to me, I would not be experiencing His wonder and His peace in my heart and soul each day. I do however admit in all honesty that this does not make me perfect and that now might be a good time to give a few scarves away (so to speak) for I do tend to get so distracted doing things that are unimportant rather than concentrating on the immediate issues.
But all in all ~ I know my Redeemer lives!
And it all began one cool starry night in Bethlehem, over 2,000 years ago now, when the Messiah, that is, Jesus Christ the Lord, was born in a humble manger. He came to save us from our sins and the ensuing eternal death.
Without Christ in our hearts we cannot ever see God.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life, no-one can come to the Father except through Me." Jesus, in John 14:6.
My prayer ~
This New Year, tap into the God of your childhood, and invite Jesus to come and settle in your heart. This will bring a new wonder and peace to your soul unmatched by any other experience you could ever have.
*Once Upon A Time . . . December 2016
There was a great God who created the heavens and the earth, the trees and flowers and herbs, and all the animals and birds and everything in the sea. He then decided to make a being in His image. This being he gave the ability to think and create and make choices. He called this being mankind and breathed His life into them.
This God lived in an eternal place of perfection, joy and laughter and great wonders, where He had created myriads and myriads of beautiful angelic beings to populate His abode which was called Heaven. However, a long time before, there had been a huge rebellion in Heaven, and many of the angels that had lived with God, had been cast out of that wonderful place because of their choice to want to oust God and take over. Because it was incredibly important for Heaven to remain an eternally perfect and loving and joyful sanctuary for those who gave God the glory and respect and reverence He deserved, He created an eternal place of exile for those who had rebelled against Him. This place was called Hell. You see, He couldn’t risk the Love and Joy and Peace and Contentment that permeated from Him throughout Heaven, being destroyed by evil, arrogant, prideful beings who were only out to please themselves. Much like removing a rotten piece of fruit from the bowl so that it doesn’t spread its rottenness to the other fruit in the bowl. It gets thrown into the trash where all the bad things belong.
Mankind, in the form of a Man and a Woman, lived in a Garden that God provided for them. They looked after this garden and all the animals. They arose from peaceful slumber each morning and sang praises to God before setting out to their work for the day. They lovingly cared for each other with all purity, and tended the garden God had given them as their home, with the same love. Then one day one of the fallen angels, wanting to get back at God, manipulated and deceived the man and woman to turn away from God and seek their own glory. God found them cowering from Him one afternoon when He came to walk with them in the garden. They knew the huge error of their choice to turn from God and were now for the first time experiencing fear. Fear and shame that caused them to hide from their creator. That sinful moment, God knew He had to put into action a plan for the redemption of His creation. In their present state of sin, mankind was doomed to eternal exile from God in Hell. Because sin was now in the blood of man, it was by this bloodline that future generations would inherit this sin, and all mankind be lost to eternal death. God knew the only way this could ever be achieved was to offer the sacrifice of sinless blood. So He turned to His Son, and He responded with a nod of affirmation.
Can you imagine living in the most miraculous and peaceful and joyous and beautiful place ever, and being asked to leave that place and go and spend 33 years in another land full of hatred, disease, strife, and evil? Not only that, but to actually become a sacrificial offering to save those horrible, evil and sinful people who live there? And after the incredibly painful and heartbreaking experience of spending much time with the people there looking after them and healing them, they don’t even recognize and accept the love you give them? Well, this is not just a once upon a time story, it is the His-story of a God who gave His all for mankind. This Christmas, I pray that we recognize the truth in the greatest love story ever told, and accept Jesus, our Saviour, Redeemer and Lord into our hearts once again, or perhaps for the first time. Because, you see, we wouldn’t even have Christmas to celebrate if it wasn’t for God’s great love for His creation, and His willingness to give us all of Himself for our eternal life.
He gave His all.
All He wants from us, is our hearts.
*Jesus Christ is Born . . . December 2015
Recently I watched The Santa Claus Christmas movie. I watch it every year, and each time I am moved deep within my spirit from two different scenes in this story.
The first scene is when Scott Calvin (the Santa Claus) first arrives at the North Pole and is in denial of who he has now become. He is in the toy factory and trying to be persuaded by the head elf that he is now Santa Claus. He declares ‘What if I don’t want to believe in Santa and Christmas and all this anymore!’ (my words) and the entire very busy and very noisy workshop goes deadly quiet. You could have heard a pin drop. The entire room is in shock and grief at such a statement.
I got a really strong feeling and a bit of a picture of what heaven must feel when we decide to deny God. When we declare that we no longer believe in Him and what He sent His only Son to do for us.
The second scene is when Santa, having accepted partially who he is, is sitting on a park bench watching his son play football and every child in the park is drawn to him like a magnet, lining up to see him, because they know who he is, and come and sit on his knee and make their requests known to him.
This is exactly how God wants us to see Him and approach Him. In absolute faith that ‘He Is’. That He will supply all our needs, that He will heal all our sicknesses, diseases and infirmities, that He will look after us always.
God the Father, Yahweh, the Great I Am, loved us, all of us, no exceptions, so much, that He put into place over many hundreds of years, a plan, to send His only Son to this earth, born as a babe in Bethlehem, to eventually pay the price for our sins (therefore our loss of eternal life)
This miraculous birth is what we celebrate at this time each year. It’s time to put fiction behind us, accept His love, recognise that HE IS and focus on the reality that JESUS is the ONLY true meaning of the Christmas season.
*Advent of the Coming King . . . November 2015
The word Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means ‘Coming’.
Many Christians around the world observe Advent by recognising the four weeks leading up to Christmas as a chance to prepare themselves for this special event on the Christian calendar. This year, Thursday 26th November marks the first of four candles that will be lit, sometimes in the form of a wreath, to signal in the coming of this special event. Each week a new candle is lit until the four weeks mark the lighting of all.
But what is it we are celebrating? What is it we are waiting for?
Of course, it is the Birth of the Baby Jesus.
But it’s more . . . It’s the coming of the Messiah. What does this mean to us?
Matthew 2:6 quotes the Old Testament (OT) book of Micah, “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
The OT was written to create an anticipation of, and pave the way, for the coming of Christ. Throughout the entire OT are predictions and foregleams of His coming.
By the time we come to the end of the OT, the entire story of Christ has been pre-written in language and symbol, which, taken as a whole, cannot refer to any other person in history.
As woman (Eve) fell in the garden of Eden, so through a woman (Mary) would mankind be redeemed (Gen 3:15)
Abel’s offering, the call of Abraham, the institution of the Passover, many of David’s psalms, a great deal of the prophets, and much, much more all through the OT lead us to that glorious night in Bethlehem well over 2,000 years ago when God became flesh and dwelt among us, in the persona of His Son Jesus, the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.
Isaiah 7:13,14 says, “O house of David . . . a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (which means ‘God with us’)
Isaiah 9: 1,2,6,7 says, “In Galilee . . . the people have seen a great light . . . For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, from henceforth even forever.”
Jeremiah 23:5,6 says, “The days come, says the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous branch, a King, this is His Name whereby He shall be called, ‘The Lord Our Righteousness’.”
Early in the OT it is stated that the Hebrew nation was being founded for the blessing of all nations (Gen 12:3, 18:18, 22:18) Then we begin to see One Person through whom this will be accomplished.
First He is called Shiloh, then He is called Star, then a Prophet like Moses, then He is spoken of over and over as King, Prince, Anointed One, First Born, Wonderful, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
It was foretold He would be born of a virgin, at Bethlehem, and spend some time in Egypt, and be raised in Nazareth.
It is an incredibly important event we celebrate each year, but sadly buried under a heap of tinsel, carousing and over-spending, that leaves many buried under a pile of debt and disillusionment.
This is not what God intended when He sent His only Son from the glorious beauty of paradise, to earth. For us. Just for us.
It’s an unbelievably amazing thing He came to earth to do. For us.
Let’s celebrate His Birth with the respect He deserves, and not over-indulge in any way, but from this week until the date in December that we’ve chosen to celebrate this momentous event in history, be aware of and anticipate His coming with joyful hearts, and generosity for those less fortunate.
Not everybody does the advent candles. But they represent the Light of the world, Jesus.
John 14:6 says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no-one comes to the Father, but through Me.”