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GOD MADE HIMSELF UNDERSTANDABLE
I read of a story from the famous Danish philosopher from the mid 1800s, a Christian theologian named Soren Kierkegaard. It is a familiar story, a story rewritten by many over the ages in many different forms, yet it is still relevant today. Here’s what he wrote:
A prince wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father, he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage, his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love.
But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand? He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor.
The prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him, because of who he was and because he loved her first.
This very simple, almost childlike story is what John is describing here--God came and lived among us. He had to reveal Himself to us in an understandable way, and this is precisely what Jesus did--became flesh just like you and me. He made Himself understandable.
(From a sermon by Rich Anderson, Love Came Down At Christmas, 12/16/2010)
YOU KNOW CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE WHEN:
10) There are more pine needles on your carpet than on your tree
9) The credit card is smoked along with the turkey and ham.
8) It’s A Wonderful Life has been shown for the 13th time
7) A trip to the mall and back is more challenging then the Indy 500
6) The Salvation Army bell ringers start accepting credit cards
5) You are pulling an all-nighter because of the words
"Some Assembly Required"
4) Your Christmas list is written in black while your check book balance is written in red.
3) Santa’s belly is not the only thing shaking like a bowl full of jelly.
2) The NFL referees are not the only ones giving away games
1) The infamous fruitcake returns from it’s 12 months of hiding.
There is a rather poignant Christmas story about a little girl who watched her mother & dad getting ready for Christmas. To her, it seemed that dad was preoccupied with burdens & bundles, & mom was concerned about parties & presents, & they just had no time for her.
She felt that she was being shoved aside. In fact, it seemed to her that she was always being told, "Would you please get out of the way?"
So one night in December she knelt beside her bed & prayed this prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven, please forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us."
JESUS DIED FOR MARY TOO--Communion Meditation
Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian observed that Mary’s silence at the cross always amazed him. If he were being crucified in the middle of town, his mother would have "Pitched a fit", but Mary never said a word. Lowry wondered if maybe what made the difference for her was remembering back to that 1st Christmas. Remembering touching his little hands and feet and counting his fingers and toes.
On a serious note, Lowry says:
"I wonder if she realized then that those were the same fingers that
had scooped out the oceans and formed the seas.
Mary probably counted those little toes- I wonder if she realized
that those were the same feet that had walked on streets of gold and
had been worshipped by angels.
Those little lips were the same lips that had spoken the world into
When Mary kissed her little baby, she wasn’t just kissing another baby - she was kissing the face of God.
33 years later she’s standing on a hillside watching blood pour from His veins, from the side of her own son... and she didn’t open her mouth. What a great testimony to the fact that
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On Christmas morning, a little girl was singing “Happy birthday to you.” Below in the kitchen making breakfast her mother immediately thought, “Dear little thing is all confused. She’s gotten Christmas mixed with someone’s birthday. But as she listened more closely she heard her daughter sing, “Happy birthday, dear Jesus, happy birthday to you.” We are reminded of Your statements regarding childlike faith. Matt 18:3: And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
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DEAREST JESUS, HOLY CHILD
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.
SOURCE: Martin Luther
COMMUNION IN YOUR ‘CIVVIES’
Janet Daley writes in the UK Telegraph about a “movement among Church of England clergy in favour of going into civvies.” One of the things that the Church of England Synod is debating is the agitation some are having for dress-down Sundays, which would allow the vicar to take Communion in his shirt sleeves.
Doing away with ‘intimidating’ vestments the church hopes will be part of an accessibility outreach campaign in which priests could look more like ordinary people. Like schoolteachers who wear jeans instead of suits in the classroom, they want to demystify their own authority - to, as they say, ‘break down barriers’.
Almost 2000 years ago, another campaign to identify with common man—“to break down barriers”-- began.
“…Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
SOURCE: SermonCentral Staff. Citation: Janet Daley, “In tragedy and in joy, an unchanged church is best.” 10/07/2002. http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/ opinion/2002/07/10/do1002.xml
One of America’s greatest poets is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The year 1860 found Longfellow happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln which he believed signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation.
The following year the Civil War began. On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window sealing locks of her daughter’s hair, using hot sealing wax. Suddenly her dress caught fire and engulfed her with flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams. As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands.
Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not even allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard, which so identified with him, was one of the results of the tragedy – the burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.”
In 1862 the toll of war dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.”
In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.
But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began:
I heard the bells on Christmas day.
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But...
For thousands of years the Israelites had been looking for the coming of the Messiah. There in Bethlehem by the miraculous power of God, Mary, a young virgin, gave birth to the Savior of the world. Most people missed that glorious event, but a few did not.
Who are the Biblical examples for us to follow in showing adoration to the Lord Jesus Christ?
1.) Mary... having a heart that is completely surrendered to the will of God. Mary, the chosen mother-to-be of Jesus, responded to the angel Gabriel's startling announcement with, "I am the Lord's servant... may it be to me as you have said."
We do not know all Mary went through after she conceived the Christ Child by the Holy Spirit. We do know that Joseph, not understanding at first how his beloved Mary had become pregnant, had it in his mind to quietly divorce her. But God intervened for His faithful servant, Mary. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and told him not to be afraid to take Mary home to be his wife, that the Child in her was of the Holy Spirit. Joseph and Mary obeyed God even at personal expense (Matt. 1: 18 - 24).
2.) The shepherds... believing, responding and witnessing. Believing the announcement of the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to find the Baby Jesus lying in the manger. Then they spread the word concerning what had happened and what was told them about the Child (Luke 2: 16, 17).
3.) Simeon... living a Holy Spirit-led life full of praise to God. The Holy Spirit had led Simeon, a righteous and devout man, to go into the temple courts just as Joseph and Mary came to consecrate Jesus to God when He was eight days old. Recognizing that Salvation had surely come to both the Jews and the Gentiles, Simeon took Jesus into his arms and praised God (Luke 2: 21 - 28).
4.) Anna... being thankful and always about the Lord's work. The elderly prophetess, Anna, never stopped worshiping the Lord in the temple. She often fasted and prayed. When she saw the Baby Jesus she gave thanks to God (Luke 2: 37, 38).
5.) The Magi... physically giving of themselves, their hearts, and their gifts to the Lord. The Magi from the East had come on a long and dangerous journey with one purpose in mind, to worship a newly-born King. Having thus presented themselves in worship, they then gave their gifts: gold, a tribute worthy of a King; frankincense, a fragrance often used to honor God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, a spice used to embalm the dead, foretelling Jesus' sacrificial death to come (Matt. 2: 11).
Like these before us, if we are sincere in the surrender of ourselves to Him, we, too, should not be unwilling to part with all that is dear to us for His glory and worship--our reputations, our finances, our time, our plans.
How will you show your adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season? Start with inviting Christ into your heart to be both Savior and Lord!
Oh come, let us adore Him... Christ, the Lord!
A couple of years ago on America’s Funniest Home Videos, a young boy was shown on Christmas morning. He came down to see a large present beside the tree and ran over to tear it open to see what was inside. The paper went flying and suddenly he broke into a dance and jumped around the room saying, “Wow Just what I wanted I really love it. Wow ” After awhile he went over to look at it again and said with a puzzled look on his face, “What is it?”
On that first Christmas the angels announced the birth of a new child. The heavens were opened and all the company of heaven broke into praise. Shepherds went racing to Bethlehem to see what it was all about. And for two thousand years we have been jumping up and down saying, “Just what I wanted Exactly what I needed ” But in the next breath we look again inside the stable and ask, “What is it?” We are puzzled by God’s gift.