Birthday of The King

It’s Jesus’ birthday!!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘’God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 – NASB) “And she gave birth to her firstborn Son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7 – NASB)

His birth was foretold throughout the entire Old Testament. It was announced in Matthew and Luke. It has been celebrated ever since. That little bitty baby, born in a manger was the Holy Son of God. He was to be called Immanuel which means God with us. Isn’t that an amazing concept. Jesus, left His heavenly home to be with us. To be with imperfect, sinful humans. Not only that but to also die for us. He paid the price for our salvation. He could’ve told His Father, God, I don’t really want to do this. I like it here in Heaven. Have you seen those humans? Do you really think we want them here for all of eternity? And, um, you want me to go there, be born in a stable and then have them reject me and then after all of that, die for them? Um, are you sure?

Had Jesus questioned God’s plan for Him it would’ve been a much different result. No, Jesus willingly came to the earth to fulfill God’s will for Him and to fulfill all the prophecies written about Him. Jesus is God come to earth for you dear friend. He did this for you.

As you celebrate His earthly birth, reflect on the thought that God did this for you! That night long ago there was absolutely no room in the Inn for the Savior of the world. Do you have room in your heart for Him?

If you’ve never made room for Jesus in your heart but would like to, or have questions, please contact one of us at biblestudyjourney.com. We would love to help you make that room.

Wishing you a wonderfully blessed Christmas. May God pour out His blessings on you in extraordinary ways.

Twas Long Before Christmas

Twas long before Christmas, before you and me.
Before ribbons and boxes were piled under trees.
The stars were hung in the heavens with care
Knowing mankind soon would be there.

The moon in the sky hung her pale head
Wrapped in the night like a blanket in bed.
When God in His Glory, along with the Son,
Planned out the gifts He would give everyone.

We’ll start with a dawn that comes everyday
Chasing the darkness and night away.
With every morning as life starts anew
A reminder to all, my mercies are too.

Fill up the earth with wondrous sights
Mountains that soar, eagles in flight
Children that laugh, and mothers that sing
A world overflowing with every good thing.

Tell me, what Father whose son asks for bread
Would give him a stone or a snake instead?
If we who are evil can give good things
How much more does the Heavenly king?

The Father paused, lost in his thoughts.
Something is missing. Something is lost.
He pondered a time, What did they need?
The Son stepped forward,… I think it’s me.

Ancient eyes turned, looked at the son.
Speaking his names, one by one.
You are Alpha Omega, Beginning and End
Their Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, their Friend.

To the earth you will go, born in a stall
Proclaiming my favor to the great and the small.
So unto us the Son was born,
Laid in a manger, used and worn.

Unto us the Son was given
Light of the World, the Hope of Heaven.
He lives with us. Emanuel,
God himself has come to dwell.

Dressed in humanity from his head to his feet.
His clothes were humble, his home not so sweet.
The beam of the cross would be flung on his back.
The gifts He would bring provide all that we lack.

His wounds give healing; his words give life.
The Spirit he brought gives power and light.
He taught to forgive and be forgiven,
Take joy in our life, and long for heaven.

To care for the poor and defend the weak
Help those in need, and always seek
Joy and peace, New Birth, and Grace,
Hope and Love, for the whole human race.
Wrapped in that infant, ever so slight.
That first Happy Christmas, for all a good night!

The Gift

You know what I’m talking about. The gift you spent days looking for. When you found it you knew it was just right. You made your purchase and took it home. You got just the right paper and wrapped it up, put a ribbon on it, and placed it under the tree. You spent the remaining days until Christmas anticipating the excited reaction when it was unwrapped.

The day arrived. You placed your perfectly chosen and perfectly wrapped gift into the hands of your loved one. With eyes glowing they ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the box. With a look of disappointment, they pulled out your perfect gift. They thanked you politely and set it aside. Then, with excitement shining in their eyes, they reached for the box.

The perfect gift. They shoved it aside to play with the box.

I wonder if this is what God sees at Christmas. He has carefully prepared and presented His Gift–His Son. He’s placed Him within our reach, and we carelessly shove Him aside. We reach for the meaningless things of this world.

As Christmas approaches I challenge each one of us to hold on tightly to the gift itself. To remember, appreciate, and thank the Giver. To remember that all those trappings of the season–all those boxes under the tree–are worth nothing compared to that carefully chosen Gift. JESUS.

Good News of Great Joy

Joy!

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;” (Luke 2:10)

In the 1960 movie Pollyanna, Pollyanna’s missionary parents died, and she was sent to live with her controlling aunt in a town that basically her aunt Polly ran. Aunt Polly would even give the minister his passage for his sermon each week. Pollyana loved playing the glad game. She would look for the positive or glad side of things. At one point Pollyanna ran across Rev. Ford practicing his sermon, shouting and all, in the middle of the field. She told him no one owned the church. She also told him that her dad had told her there are 800 “glad” passages in the Bible. The next day Rev. Ford told the congregation about his encounter with Pollyanna and said she was wrong. There were actually 826, and he knew because he had stayed up all night counting and reading them.

A couple years ago I spent time looking up the word JOY in the Bible. There are pages of references. What this tells us is that God considers joy quite important. Let’s take a look at a few.

In Psalm 63:6-8 we read, “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

Isaiah 49:13 reads, “Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.”

Jeremiah 33:9 tells us, “It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.”

These are just 3 of the passages that mention joy. In these we see singing for joy after meditating on all the things God has done. We also see joy because of the comfort and compassion He pours out. When we consider all that God has done for us, how can we not sing for joy.

In Luke 2:10 (the verse at the beginning) we see the angels declaring to the shepherds that they brought good news of great Joy. The newborn King had just been born. All of heaven was rejoicing, and now the earth could too.

During this time of year, it’s easy to focus on all that needs to be done, to think about how hard this past year has been, or about the loneliness you feel while the rest of the world is out having parties and fun. Dear friend, I want to encourage you. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and take time to reflect on the Christ of Christmas. Let each of us fix our eyes on Jesus.

Spend time during this season to talk about the things God has brought you through this year. End by thanking God for all He has done and sing songs of joy together.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…” (Jude 1:24)

“I’m not going anywhere”
-jesus

Have you ever gone from the mountain top of joy to the depths of despair in what feels like the blink of an eye? One moment all is right with the world and the next, it’s a very dark place? That’s how I imagine Mary, the character in this week’s “God Story”, felt.

She likely was part of the Jesus entourage coming into Jerusalem.  She watched as the crowds lined the streets and lay their palm branches before Jesus.  Her voice probably joined theirs crying “Hosanna”.

When you think about it, it’s ironic that they would shout “Hosanna” as Jesus passed. By that time in history it was just an expression like “Hurray” or “Woo Hoo”, but literally translated from Hebrew it means “Save us!” So imagine, crowds of people lining the street calling out to Jesus “Save us!” when a few hours later, these same voices would cry out “crucify him” –Still, underneath all that anger directed at him later, even though the words were different, the crowds were still calling out to Jesus, “save us”.

After coming into the city, things went downhill. Jesus was arrested, tried, crucified, then died, and everything Mary Magdalene had built her new life on was gone in a moment. That’s where our story starts. In that dark place where everything she had pinned her hopes on had disappointed her.

She was alone coming to the tomb early in the morning when it was still dark. She didn’t feel the cold, she probably didn’t feel anything anymore. All her tears were used up, she was empty, like a wrung out rag.  Not having much sleep over the last few days, she was exhausted, going through the motions of what needed to be done. Someone had to take care of the body.

But when she arrived… the stone was already moved and the body was gone. Even though she thought she couldn’t feel anything anymore, this caused her heart to race. Hadn’t these people done enough to this gentle man? They beat him, they tortured him, they killed him, and now they were going to desecrate his body?

Not knowing what else to do, she ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was missing then returned to the garden tomb, alone.

Mary had been so certain there were no tears left. If that was true, why were her cheeks wet? Still, she didn’t care, she just wanted Jesus back.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

The voice startled her. Assuming it was the gardener and not looking she replied, “If you moved him, just tell me where he is and I’ll go get him.”

What she heard next changed everything. One word… “Mary.”

She thought it sounded like… It couldn’t be. – Surly her mind was playing tricks on her… yet – when she looked – it was HIM.

Like an arrow shot from a bow, she flung herself at him.

“Teacher!” she cried, touching his face, his arms his hands. Was this real? She clung to him like a man clings to the edge of cliff. He was real, not a figment of her imagination.

After a while he said. “Mary, You can let go.  I’m not going anywhere yet.”

What an experience Mary had! Many of us, like Mary, have found ourselves in a dark place. Lonely, exhausted, empty, and hopeless. Surprisingly, Christmas can be just that kind of time for many.  We are so consumed by the busyness of the season or painful memories it’s like someone has “moved Jesus” and we “don’t know where they put him.”

I challenge to you this season to, like Mary, “Cling to Jesus” – hold tightly to Him during this season. Listen and believe it when he tells you “I’m not going anywhere”. Read this story for yourself in John 20:1-18.

(As we explore how to Tell Your Story, each contributor will share a part of their God story with us. April’s Story is here.)

Merry Christmas!

We’d love to hear from you. Share with us how you keep Jesus front and center during your holiday season!

 

First post in series: Tell Your Story
Previous post in series: Because of What You Say
Next post in series: Tell Your Story. Praise God.

Preparing our Hearts
for Christmas

Celebrating Advent

Welcome to one of the most peaceful, beautiful times of the year. Most of my life I didn’t really know what advent was. Sure we had different calendars that we opened the little windows or a green felt hanging that had little candy canes tied to it. Each night we would take a candy cane off until we reached the bottom with the little bell and then rang out that it was now Christmas. It was a countdown thing.

Several years ago, the church I was attending, started using the advent wreath and candles. In my mind at the time, it was something liturgical styled churches did. I really had no idea what it was. I was intrigued though. So, I started researching and studying to really figure out just what it is and how to celebrate.

The dictionary defines Advent as “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. In Christian theology it is the coming or second coming of Christ. Preparation for the commemoration of the birth of Jesus.”

Here is how I define it now: It is a time of reflection and devotion focusing on the real meaning of Christmas. It is a taking time out of our busy schedules to slow down and spend some time preparing our hearts for what God has in store for us.

Would you like to take this journey of preparation with us? For the time leading up to Christmas as well as Christmas day, there will be devotionals to help lead us to the place our hearts need to be for this time of year. There will also be little activities you can do with your young children (if you have them) to help them prepare their hearts.

 

2017 Advent Ideas

Subscribe to Postcards (our blog) to receive our 2017 Advent Ideas. You will receive 4 emails (one per week) leading up to Christmas. These emails will include an Advent devotional as well as optional activities for children, all created by contributor, Cindy Snyder.

Subscribe in the sidebar or footer and join us this advent season!