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Joy in Death?

God’s Word…Life and Truth

A Merry Christmas

A Christmas card from a long-ago neighbor arrived with sad news.

Her beloved husband of fifty-seven years went home to be with Jesus.

Our family lived next to Bud and Iris for ten years.

Bud was kind and friendly to everyone, including our rambunctious children.

I think it appropriate, learning of Bud’s passing through a Christmas card.

He and his sweet wife know Jesus as their personal Savior.

There is joy in death, when we know our loved one is in the loving arms of Jesus.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

 

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Posted by on December 17, 2015 2: 46 pm - in Christmas, Eternal Life, Joy in Jesus, Psalms, Salvation

 

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Who is the King of Glory?

12919-Jesus_Hands_Resurrected_400w_tn“1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. 10 Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24 – NLT).

As I shop for just the right gifts for our family, as I lay awake pondering on all the activities of the season, as I decorate our home, as I recall loved ones who have passed,…there’s a longing in my heart to simply be with Jesus. Do I give the King of glory full entrance into the innermost and uppermost place in my soul? In all the “pomp of external ceremonies,” is there room for Jesus?

Matthew Henry Commentary

This psalm is concerning the kingdom of Jesus Christ, I. His providential kingdom, by which he rules the world (v. 1, v. 2). II. The kingdom of his grace, by which he rules in his church. 1. Concerning the subjects of that kingdom; their character (v. 4, v. 6), their charter (v. 5). Concerning the King of that kingdom; and a summons to all to give him admission (v. 7-10). It is supposed that the psalm was penned upon occasion of David’s bringing up the ark to the place prepared for it, and that the intention of it was to lead the people above the pomp of external ceremonies to a holy life and faith in Christ, of whom the ark was a type. A psalm of David.

Who is the King of glory? (Matthew Henry Commentary)

He is Jehovah, and will be Jehovah our righteousness, an all-sufficient Saviour to us, if we give him entrance and entertainment. He is strong and mighty, and the Lord of hosts; and therefore it is at our peril if we deny him entrance; for he is able to avenge the affront; he can force his way, and can break those in pieces with his iron rod that will not submit to his golden sceptre. In singing this let our hearts cheerfully answer to this call, as it is in the first words of the next psalm, Unto thee, O Lord! do I lift up my soul.

May we simply be with the King of glory this Christmas season.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 11: 32 am - in Christmas, God's Word, Joy in Jesus, Psalms

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?

Lord, out of the mouth of children___This week I asked my grandchildren what they wanted for Christmas. Before they had time to answer, Max, our 4-year-old grandson, looked up at me and said, “Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?” Touching my heart deeply, I responded, “Yes.” Then I asked Max what kind of gift(s) he would like to give Jesus. He instantly replied, “A heart box.” I said, “Oh that sounds very nice; I think Jesus will like that.” Pausing for a moment, Max continued, “How do we get our gifts to Jesus?” “And does Jesus have a cell phone?”

I believe Max’s question requires some introspection.

As we busy ourselves with gift-buying and endless holiday gatherings, let’s remember to intentionally celebrate the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus.

Max’s Heart Box for Jesus

Nana’s Instructions

Help children make a Heart Box. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, fill the box with special “gifts” for Jesus. Place the box under the tree and open on Christmas morning. Family members take turns reading or sharing the gifts given to Jesus.

Suggested prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to our world. These gifts are for You, in honor of Your Birthday. For You taught us, whatever we do for those in need, we do for You.

For similar ideas, see the “Sparkle Box” story at: http://www.thesparklebox.com/

Gift Ideas for Jesus:

  • Showing love to others.

  • Sharing.

  • Obeying parents. (Picking up toys, not fighting with siblings, etc.)

  • Helping others in need. (Purchase a gift for a needy child.)

  • Give canned goods to a local homeless shelter. / Serve at a homeless shelter.

  • Donate new or gently used toys to the Salvation Army, etc. / Volunteer ringing bells for S.A.

  • Pray for the special needs of others.

  • Visit a nursing home or shut-ins, taking homemade cookies.

  • Tangible items (Younger children: rocks, colored pictures, birthday cards, etc.)

  • Make a card for Sunday school/school teachers, etc.

  • Be creative! And let your child come up with his/her own gift ideas.

Store the heart box in a handy place, so that you can get it out every Thanksgiving.

HEART BOX FOR JESUS

Materials Needed:
Wood box with latch (Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), or make own.
Wooden heart
Paint (Various colors, including red for heart.)
Picture of child
Shellac or Mod Podge
Glue
Typed label or handwritten (FOR JESUS) under the heart.

 – Paint the wooden hearts and the wood boxes.  Let dry.

– May choose to decorate boxes with markers, etc.

– Glue picture of child on hearts.

– Shellac (Mod Podge) pictures / and if desired, the entire box. Let dry.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants…” (Psalm 8:1-2 NIV).

 

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An Unexpected Gift

money giftI was thrilled when our eleven-year-old granddaughter placed a stack of mostly one-dollar bills and a check in my hand. She said, “Here’s some money that I’ve saved up for our mission trip.” Just returning from her birthday party, Ella gave me her birthday money, along with some babysitting money, etc. I could feel my heart welling up inside as I received this unexpected gift.

Several weeks ago, Ella and I attended an informational meeting regarding a mission trip that our church will be taking to the Dominican Republic in June. The leaders shared passionately the love they have for all the children in this impoverished area. This will be Team Mission pic 1Xtreme’s third trip to the Dominican Republic. Joining Team Xtreme, Ella and I will work on the construction of a three-story building project, and attend to the needs of hundreds of children who live on the streets in small hut-like homes. After leaving in our car from the meeting, Ella exclaimed, “Yes, I want to take this trip…but raising $14,000 is going to take a lot of time!” She originally thought this was the cost for each of us to go. (It is actually $1,400 per person). She then said, “I don’t need anything for Christmas, so I’ll just ask for money for our mission trip.” I sensed God’s pleasure in this shared moment with my granddaughter.

The gift of money that Ella placed in my hand was only unexpected in my mind, not in Ella’s. Ella planned to keep her vow all along.

As I later began to reflect on this sacrificial gift from Ella ($96), I started to think about another unexpected sacrificial gift that was given to the world, over 2000 years ago.

Although God foretold of His Son’s birth in over 100 prophecies, Christ’s birth came unexpectedly for most, but not for all.

It continues to amaze me that God chose a simple peasant girl named Mary, to give birth to the Messiah, in a humble stable that was home to barn animals. Scripture states that God sent the angel Gabriel to prepare Mary for an unexpected delivery.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold (Luke 1:26-38 – NIV)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

From reading Mary’s response after the angel’s visit, we learn that she was not at all surprised when the time came to give birth to Jesus.  Others who received this unexpected gift were: Joseph, the angels, and the shepherds.  They all received the glorious gift of the Savior that starry lit night, in the little town of Bethlehem.

Luke 2:4-21 – NIV

 mangerSo Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

I love the part where Scripture specifies, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

My Prayer to God

Help me Lord, to treasure up all the unexpected gifts that you give me throughout my life, each day. I praise you and thank you, for the gift of salvation, through your Son, Jesus. And I want to publically thank you for the recent gift of money from Ella, and from others who have recently mailed us sacrificial gifts of money to go toward the cost of our mission trip. They truly are a blessing!

Parents/Grandparents: Teach children to intentionally watch for unexpected gifts, and then encourage them to give thanks when they discover them. Christmas is a great time to start! And as we give thanks, along with our children, I believe that we are in some small ways, giving Jesus a birthday gift.

Some gifts that we may receive throughout the year.

– The gift of time (given by a loved one, a teacher, pastor, friend)

– The gift of friendship (a new friend God brings into our life)

– The gift of labor (mom doing the laundry, dad repairing a toy, grandpa transporting to softball practice)

– The gift of a hug…smile…warm embrace…

– The gift of grace

– The gift of mercy

– The gift of forgiveness

– The unexpected gift of money for a mission trip!

The greatest gift we can expect at Christmas–is JESUS…and His wondrous love. Be sure to watch for this God-given gift in unexpected ways. Then be sure to share God’s gift with those you love, and the “others” who are in need of an unexpected special gift of love this Christmas.

 Merry Christmas!

To all my blogger friends…Facebook friends, and so on…

With the love of Jesus, Charmé

Ella, church Christmas program, 2014

Ella, Living Hope Church Christmas program, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 2:4-17 – NIV

 

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What, no “real” Christmas tree this year?

churchBreaking tradition is difficult for me, especially when it comes to family. For as long as I can remember, there has always been a “real” Christmas tree in all my homes. My earliest memory of this tradition actually flashed into my mind just the other day. My grandfather, who was a Shriner, helped sell Christmas trees at a local grocery store. The proceeds went toward the Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospital. He would bring home a tree for us to decorate. Fast forward to my married with children days. My husband and I began our own family tradition of packing up our kids in the car and heading to a Christmas tree farm, where we picked out the most “perfect” tree on the grounds and then we cut it down. Some years, however, the trees were not so perfect, like the one in Colorado. The trunk was so crooked it caused our “perfect” tree to tumble over in our living room (every time we were away from home). Oh my, fun times!

Well, this year I’ve been struggling in my spirit with the issue of buying gifts with money we really don’t have to spend. Going through some difficult transitions with job changes and playing catch-up with some financial obligations, the money just hasn’t been there to buy “all” those gifts to put underneath the tree. What tree? When it comes right down to it, going to the Christmas tree farm and cutting down a real tree isn’t cheap. This is what we’ve done, though, with our kids and now grandkids. Not this year!

While thinking of ways to cut back on spending this year, but still capture some favorite family memories, this idea came to me.

Family Church (4 Generations Collage)

Family Church (4 Generations Collage)

Several years ago, my husband, Jeff, inherited a wooden church that his great-grandfather made as a carpenter; he was also a Baptist pastor. This beautiful wooden church has been passed down from generation to generation (now to the 4th generation). One of my most favorite memories of this church is when Jeff’s grandparents had it. They always had an artificial tree sitting in the chimney of the church, decorated with old-fashioned bubble lights. That’s it! This year, we will sit the church in our living room, where our “real” Christmas tree normally sits, and possibly we will put an inexpensive little tree in the chimney. Since we receiving the church, I purposefully display my hand-made nativity set. My grandchildren love to play with the various pieces, especially placing baby Jesus in and out of the feeding trough.

It never ceases to amaze me how God cares for even our little family traditions. My God is the Master Creator!

This year, we may not have a “real” Christmas tree, but we will focus on Christ. Instead of placing our gifts under a tree, we will place them around the church. And on Christmas day, Pappy (Jeff) will share the story of the greatest gift of all—Jesus, by reading the Gospel accounts of His birth from Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-11.

  • What are some of your favorite, or new Christmas traditions? Please share some in the comments.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 9: 12 pm - in Christian Family Traditions, Christmas, Seasonal Celebrations

 

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