All is not lost

Last night we attended our city’s Christmas tree lighting celebration for the first time.  There were local public-schooled kids that sang before the tree lighting and it was all very festive.

Since it was a city event and not a church event, I must admit I was very surprised the first time I heard the name Jesus sang in one of the songs, but they not only sang one song about him, they sang several.  It was heartwarming, to say the least.

In this time of religious “freedom” when it as though all religions except Christianity seem to be freely accepted, it was such a wonderfully special experience for me, a Christian, to be able to hear songs about my Lord being sung without shame out in public.

I am so happy that all is not lost!  As long as we have breath in our lungs, we can still praise the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Thank You, God, for the precious gift of Your Son that we are celebrating this season.  May we never forget what you have done for us.

jamie

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The Christmas Star

The first star I saw in the sky tonight was amazingly bright.  I said to my kids, “Look!  It’s the Christmas star.”  My daughter asked, “How do you know?”  My answer was simple, “It’s Christmas.”

The wise men saw a star in the East and followed it to the Christ child. Matthew 2:10 says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”  

I am rejoicing with exceedingly great joy tonight as I am reminded that the child they saw was the One who came to bring me salvation!  He came to bring salvation to us all.

I thank God tonight for that star’s reminder that our Savior came for each of us.  His love for us is so great that He sent His only Son to this earth–for us.

Thank You, Lord, for our Salvation.  Thank you for our Savior, which is Christ, the Lord.  Thank You for choosing to give us eternal life with You.  Thank You for the hope and the promise in that star.  Lord, help each one reading this feel the hope of Your salvation upon them, as well.  You are a good, good God.  I praise Your Holy name!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night,

jamie

Keep watching

Pr. 29:1:  “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

There is a punishment and a destruction that will come that will indeed be without remedy.  This morning, I was reading Luke 12 where Jesus talks about the end coming.  There is a punishment for those who do not choose the Lord as their Master and their Lord.

As this year comes to an end, it is a good time for a reminder that there is an eternal reward, or punishment, that awaits.  Our lives are not about what we see and experience here on this earth, but about the Lord, His will, and eternity with Him.  We cannot harden our necks to this truth, but must stand corrected and ready, waiting on His return.

Jesus tells His disciples, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

This entire passage reminds me of Christmas evening.  We knew that some of our family was expected to arrive that evening.  When they called and let us know that they were 3 hours from arrival, we left my parents house and our other family and went home to prepare.  We wanted to be home when they arrived, to have our home nice and cozy, and to have food waiting on them upon their arrival.

As we waited excitedly, my kids were watching out the window and asking for updates on the time, hardly able to contain themselves with the anticipation.  Luke 12:37 says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.”  This reminds me of what we were doing Christmas evening.

The difference is that we knew what time to expect our company.  We do not have that knowledge about the return of Christ.  vs. 45 says, “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink, and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”

When we lose the anticipation about the Lord’s return and become distracted and caught up by this life, He will come back to find us unready and we will be appointed our portion with the unbelievers.

That is not God’s will for our lives.  Hell was created for satan and his angels, not for us.  (Mt. 25:41)  Heaven is the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.  (Mt. 25:34)  We are meant to spend eternity in heaven with our Savior and King.

Let us not become so distracted, as we wait, that we lose our anticipation of His coming.  He will return!  He will come back for us.  Let’s keep watching, expecting Him at any moment.  Our blessing awaits.

Eagerly,

jamie

God with us

Is. 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.” 

Luke 2:8-14:  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!”

 

Merry Christmas!

jamie

Christmas with an offended brother

Pr. 18:19:  “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

During this season of family gatherings, this verse stands out.  Not everyone’s families get together in happy, peaceful, harmonious ways.  There are times when contentions, offenses, and pain are also present.  Sometimes it is an unspoken expectation that during a holiday the contention will cease, and so when it doesn’t, it can hurt even more than usual.

Sadly, there are some people for whom forgiveness never seems to be an option.  We cannot speak for them; however, we can decide for ourselves how we will respond.  If there are contentions in your family, I am sorry.  You may not be met with friendliness or the opportunity to move in and make it all go away.  So, what can you do?

Continue to pray.  Continue to walk in love.  Continue to walk with integrity, being the person you claim to be in Christ.  Continue to trust in the Lord and His faithfulness in your life and the lives of those with whom the contentions exist.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.  But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.  Ps. 13

David wrote this Psalm when it seems he was experiencing similar emotions with those who would not forgive and relent.

We have the Lord and Savior on our side.  We have the One who shows Himself strong for us.  We have the one who keeps us safe when our trust is in Him.

It is hard when others do not like us nor will offer forgiveness; however, Jesus said that the servant is not greater than his Master.  The world hated Jesus before it hated us, and if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute us.  (John 15:18)  Jesus knows about rejection, hatred, contention, and betrayal.  He’s been there.  He is able to offer aid to us if that is the case in our lives, as well.

We cannot force others to forgive or love us, but we can walk in the knowledge that we have a High Priest who will comfort us and offer mercy.  He is always on our side.

If you happen to be the one who has not been forgiving or relenting, perhaps this is the Christmas when you can offer that gift to someone as imperfect as you.  Everyone needs forgiveness, which is why Jesus came as our Savior.

Whatever the case, I pray that the Comforter will be able to offer you peace this Christmas season.  The Lord is faithful and does not allow the righteous soul to famish.  If you allow it, He will give you all that you need.

Praying for you,

jamie

True trust in God

I know it’s Christmas, which is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but the next chapter in my regular reading this morning was about Jesus’ crucifixion.  He was brought before Pilate, accused, betrayed, scourged, ridiculed, struck, spat upon, mockingly worshiped, forced to carry His cross, pierced, blasphemed, and killed.  Only as He died did one of the centurions proclaim, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

During our Christmas performance at church last night, Mary, the mother of Jesus sang a song that said, “Only God knows what my eyes cannot see.  When I don’t understand, I still believe there’s a plan…that only God knows.”  Mary had trusted the Lord even when it made no sense to her.  Joseph had done the same.

As I read about Jesus’ death this morning, I couldn’t help but note the striking difference in feelings that emerge from the story of His birth and the story of His death.  How proud I felt last night of Mary and Joseph for truly trusting God, in His sovereignty, and being vessels to carry out His plans.  We find Joseph trusting in and obeying God more than once as we read the scriptures.  We find Mary, not only being willing, but also magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord.

The story of Jesus’ death includes His mother, as well.  Yet, as I read about her looking on as her Son had been humiliated, abused, and was now suffering and dying on a cross, I felt such sadness for her.  How much harder must it have been to continue to trust in God’s plan during that pain.

And yet, we find her afterwards, in Acts 1:14, gathered with the other believers, continuing in one accord in prayer and supplication.  She continued to submit herself to the Lord and His will even though she had witnessed His will including the horrific death of her Son.  She understood what Jesus’ death meant.  She understood that there is so much more to this life that what our eyes can see.

Oh, how I pray that we will be able to trust in the Lord as Mary did.  As the end approaches, and things increasingly point us away from the Lord, we must still trust in Him and His will.  He still has a plan, and if we’re willing, that plans still includes us.  There is so much more for those who believe in Him.  There is so much more than what our eyes can see or what we can even understand.

The birth of Mary’s Son brought the gospel, healing, and deliverance to those who heard and were touched by Him.  The death of Mary’s Son brought salvation upon the whole world.  Whatever God does through our willingness is also a part of His plan.  We can trust in the One who continues to be faithful.

Counting on Him,

jamie

Give a precious stone

 

Pr. 17:8:  “A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; wherever he turns, he prospers.”

Last night I met with some missionaries who give out stockings every Christmas to lonely, elderly people in our area.  They were recalling a stocking they’d delivered about 3 years ago to a precious elderly woman from our church.  They presented the 95-year-old with a Christmas stocking and tears came to her eyes.

As she gazed at her stocking, she told them that she had never had a stocking before.  In 95 years, she had never had 1 Christmas stocking.  Imagine all the emotions she must have experienced with this simple gift that had her name across the front in glitter.

Certainly her spirits and emotions were strengthened (prospered) that day as she held her precious gift.  Who can we help prosper?  Find someone who needs a precious stone, and then bless them.

Appreciatively,

jamie