O Come Emmanuel 


Abraham believed. I like to think O Come, O Come Emmanuel is the Israelite’s cry for their saving promise. The song definitely wasn’t their doing, it is an ancient hymn originally penned in Latin and chanted by monks in abbeys across Europe. I find it amazing that we still sing this song in modern times. It has truly stood the test of time and truth. 

This song is the sum of our words for this season: anticipate, wonder, and believe. It is the story of the Israelites and their desire for God’s promise of a Savior and King to manifest on earth. It is now the cry of Christians to bring the Savior a second time, bringing heaven to earth. 

Christmas is a celebration of what has been done and what is to come. Jesus came once and fulfilled God’s first promise regarding His Son. Yet, there is a second promise. Jesus is the King that has come and will come again (Revelation 1:8). The fulfillment of a new earth and an eternal reign lived in peace. 

My favorite version of this song is by Bethany Dillon. The song is quiet and haunting, leaving my spirit searching and restful all at the same time. The words are a good read without the music. This song is filled with scripture arranged for a powerful look at God’s promise of a Savior who was and is and yet to come. 

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Believe

Believe, it is a word we see almost everyday during Christmas. It’s associated with something that gets our hopes up. The hope of getting something we really want. It builds our anticipation and creates wonderment in our imagination. However, the true meaning of “believe” during Christmas is really about believing in Christ. 
Abraham believed in God’s promise centuries before the promise was born. God credited Abraham’s belief as righteousness, meaning Abraham was fully forgiven and given eternal life because he believed God’s promise.

The same is true for us today. Believing in Jesus, the entire act of how he was born, the life he lived, his death on the cross, and his resurrection to life again activates eternal life in us. All we have to do is believe. We have the history as proof. Abraham had only the promise.

Jesus is the proof of God’s love for us. When we believe on Jesus, we get the gifts of love, joy, peace, and hope. All of them living in us. Jesus is an all inclusive package, so to say. Believe on Him and receive a bounty of goodness in return. 

Wonder

I came across something in the last few years. It is a saying that I now have hanging in my home. The magic of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence.

Magic is a word we can easily visualize. Something that wasn’t there has now appeared. But I would like to exchange that word “magic” for another commonly used word during Christmas, “wonder”. During the Christmas season, there is wonder in the air. The wonder of a miracle in the virgin birth and the coming Savior of the world.

So why change magic to wonder? Because wonder is what Mary experienced when the Angel told her that she would become pregnant while still a virgin. The Holy Spirit brings wonder in His workings. We experience wonder at Christmas because of the workings of the miracle of the Holy Spirit. Who is God. And in Jesus who is God with us. It’s seems complicated but it really isn’t. To work on earth, God needs hands that are seen and spirit who is unseen. God is truly amazing.

The foundation of wonder at Christmas time is not in getting the things we long for, it is in the miracle of a virgin birth and the arrival of the Savior of the world. If you experience wonder this time of year, it is because it is the foundation of the experience of the season. Your spirit is agreeing with the meaning of the season. 

Christmas Missives

I’ll never forget the Christmas of 2009. It was the toughest year of my life. It was Christmas time and I didn’t feel like celebrating. It was the season of gifting, so I followed through with the obligatory task of shopping. I have never been the kind of mom who buys her kids toys all of the time, so Christmas and birthdays are when our kids get the things they have been asking for. Like any good mother, I bought a ton of toys and joyfully wrapped them. As I shopped and wrapped, I anticipated the delightful experience of watching the kids open their presents. Christmas Eve arrived and we ate our traditional meal. The kids mulled around the Christmas Tree, peeking at the carefully wrapped presents under the tree. We busied the kids by asking them to make piles of gifts for each person. One by one, the kids stacked presents by chairs around the Christmas tree. Meanwhile, the adults attended to the dishes. Momentum built as things were put in their place.

As the adults sat down by their unopened gifts, the kids danced around floating on air. Anticipation was ever present. To burst the bubble of expectancy, we allowed the kids to tear open their presents. Both were still at the age where an adult needed to help them, one by one, we’d tear a little piece and they would go to town. As each present was opened, the one before it was moved to the side for the next prospect. As opening presents usually does, it goes by really fast leaving a mess of paper and ribbon strewn about. By the time they were done, they were surrounded by toys not knowing what to do or why they had just gotten all of these things. Their confusion left me wondering why I had just gone into debt to create a 10 minute experience resulting in confusion.

I am not sure if anyone else observed what I had that night. What I saw seemed manufactured. Maybe I was having a midlife crisis. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. It all just seemed so fake and meaningless. The reality is that there was an elephant in the room no one was talking about. We were all suffering inside. We were acting Christmas out as if we were in a movie, putting off the truth that real life was a big mess. Everyone else in the house had their own junk they were dealing with. No one could claim they were really happy, except the kids who were innocent to it all. A couple months later, we found ourselves seeking new life.

I was surprised to hear Christians also struggle with the season. With the ultimate meaning of the holiday in their very name, it seems that finding Jesus at Christmas can be difficult. It has taken me a long time to really understand Christmas and to garner the peace, joy, and love that is supposed to come with it. The truth of Christmas spirit is not in the hustle and bustle but in reverence and reflection. When I could see and experience Jesus in my life, meaning came flooding into to my heart.

About three years into my walk with Jesus I attended a dance program at our church. I was rarely excited to see Christmas programs. I was still stuck in my cynicism. But as the music began and the dancers made their way to the stage, a light turned on inside. I looked up at the screen where the words to the songs were displayed and I caught a glimpse of scripture. My heart melted and I began to cry. Actually, I began to weep. You might think that is weird, that’s okay. Crying and me has it’s own story but if I am crying, you know I am experiencing the presence of God. Christmas Carols, Christmas songs often contain scripture from the Bible. I had never taken the time to really listen to what the songs actually said. To me, they were just songs played over and over again in the mall during Christmas time. The interesting thing about this particular song is that I have never had an affinity for it, it was Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Yes, you read that right. The words jumped off the screen, they were AMAZING !

To give you some context, the first scripture that I ever sought out and read with any understanding was Psalm 91. I used to have a lot of fear in my life. At this particular time, my husband was out of town on business. In order to feel safe, I would sleep with the television on in my room. I would drift in and out of light sleep the whole night long. Any bump or creek would wake me up and I would lay in bed scared to get up and check it out. For the first time it seemed ridiculous that I was so scared. I picked up my phone and looked up scriptures about fear. I wasn’t baptized yet, just attending church and a weekly Bible study, but God showed up. Big. Psalm 91 still brings great joy and relief to my heart.

The words on the screen had a word I recognized from that night where I was so scared.

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings

Wings. That is all I had to see to have an “aha!” moment. God and I have a history with wings and feathers. Maybe that should be a blog someday. Anyway, God, birds, feathers and wings. They all go together for me. So what about Pslam 91? In verse 4 it says, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

I lost it. My hard heart toward Christmas broke that night. I could finally see God was really in it. This holiday, Christmas, means something. Maybe my revelation seems a little strange to you, that’s okay. God reveals himself differently to everyone. My encouragement is this: if you have trouble with Christmas, I implore you to seek out your own revelation of what this season means. If you find yourself cynical, ask God to show you the reality. If you lack peace, seek peace. Whatever it is that disturbs you about Christmas, find a way to flip it around and relate it all back to Jesus. The real reason for the season.

 

Prince of Peace

Peace comes at Christmas because the Prince of Peace has come to earth. I know, for some, experiencing peace is an unfulfilled desire. It seems like all this talk about peace is a big fat lie. I get it, I have been there. 
Peace is a promise and peace is real. The problem is, we believe that peace can be obtained with practical application or experienced externally in our environment. Peace is internal. It is possible to be in the midst of total chaos and feel at peace. The presence of the Prince of Peace is on the inside. 

Jesus keeps us in perfect peace when we think about Him. You might wonder how that could possibly be. The thing is this: Jesus is God represented in human form. Think of it as meditation. You can access peace in chaos when you meditate on the highest power… God with us. It is possible if you choose to disengage for a moment to remember, the season is simple and the expectation is about someone else. Not what you are to obtain or produce. It is the simple celebration of God with us.

When you feel the chaos of the times, search inside for peace. That is where it lives. It cannot be manufactured anywhere except through the presence of sweet Jesus. He’s there, just say His name. 

Anticipation


I am starting to understand something about Christmas. There is an element of anticipation. It’s about the build up to THE DAY!  The day we celebrate the birth of a newborn king. 

The Prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus’ birth. This prophecy created anticipation of the coming Messiah. God designed this season  to be one of anticipation because he foretold our Savior from Genesis to Malachi. The birth of the Messiah was truly something to anticipate and celebrate.

I remember celebrating Christmas because it’s just what you do. There was no meaning attached to it except for the family traditions and gifts. For some, that’s enough. As an adult it left me depressed and cynical. It all seemed overrated and underwhelming.

Now that I understand Jesus is the reason for the season, I anticipate. I get the symbolism, I understand the songs, and I experience all the words and wonder of Christmas. Keeping my eyes on the reason creates the season. Love came down on Christmas Day. Real love came to earth to live among mankind.

Trust in the Lord

​Do you trust God? I think trusting God has a lot to do with renewing your mind. I found out the hard way that lasting life change can only come from God. 

In order to receive the change God has for you, you have to trust Him. Christians hear all of the time that God is faithful, God is in control, God keeps all His promises. When you are new in Christ, those statements can seem underwhelming. God hasn’t had the opportunity to show up yet. 

As a relatively new Christian, community has been important in showing me the truth of trusting God. That He is faithful. The stories I have heard from long time Christians who have endured tremendous trials and have remained faithful, with answered prayer or not, prove to me a faithful God. 

Testimony is huge for newbies like me. I want to know why your faith endures. I love hearing where God showed up. I want to know your Jesus story. It builds my faith! It builds the faith of anyone who hears. Testimonies show that we can trust the Lord and be okay if we don’t understand.

Changing the Way You Think

Have you ever thought that some of the things you say to yourself in your mind sound pretty awful? I remember when I was new in Christ, God showed me through a book called A Woman After God’s Own Heart that my inner dialog was a mess. See, I used to be super negative. Something or someone was always against me. No one had my best interest in mind but me. I was one of those people who believed no one was trustworthy. 

How do you experience people who are negative, cynical, and untrusting? It might be okay if it includes some comedy but after a while it makes you want to stay away from them. Being around positive and encouraging people builds us up and we want to be around them. So, if Christians are supposed to be ministering to the world to display the love of Christ, which attitude would you think bears fruit for God?

If we transfer a negative belief system and lack of trust onto God, faith can remain distant and cold. The truth is that God wants to renew our minds to think the way he does. This is for our good and produces a fruitful life. 

Be Continually Thankful

What do you think of this scripture? What space do we stay in so that we don’t stumble? Confirming and validating your salvation, that you are His.

Have you thanked God for your salvation lately? Truly I tell you, it’s a good thing. No pun intended. Go ahead, say it…”Thank you God for saving me. Thank you that I am yours!” Does that free up your mind a bit? Take a breath and check your spirit. 

I stumbled upon this scripture as I was searching scripture for the first chapter of my book. Yes, the I’m Made New Devotional is being penned as I speak. Just taking a break for my daily post.

In light of the rules, our confessed salvation keeps us from stumbling. It’s hard to fall away from God when you are grateful for what He has done for you. Salvation is a foundation. Be thankful your are saved and belong to Him.

The Law is Love


​I know, I know… Some of you might be saying this is taken out of context. We have to follow the law, it’s in God’s word. If you are one of those people, I bet your face will turn red as you read my post. 

As I have said in previous posts, I am not a rule follower. I am the kind of person that needs a lot of grace. People clean up my messes, turn in my time card, and remind me of the rules all of the time. I am a free spirit and free spirits tend to be all over the place. We have lots of things to see and do!

Let’s face it, sometimes, doing the right thing means you have to break the rules. Like, would you jaywalk to save a kid from on-coming traffic? Hmm… Which violates your conscience more? Breaking the law or not saving the kid? Yes, I really said that. 

If you take a look at the 10 commandments most of them have to do with our interactions with others. As a Jesus follower, do you have a burning desire to treat people badly? Most people don’t. I thought Christianity asks us to think the best of people. If we assume everyone is out to break God’s law and we stick it to them, are we in sin just like the one we are pointing a finger at? You tell me. 

Todd White is one of my favorite Evangelists. He says if we choose to follow the law, we can’t miss one. I guess there is over 300 laws in the Old Testament. Holy cow! Honestly, I am so uncurious about Jewish law that I don’t even know the right number. My head couldn’t even wrap itself around keeping that many laws. Seriously! I love the Grace of God. I’d choose that over the law anyday.