O Come, All Ye Faithful

Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name ,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

Adoration is a word that we love to use during the Christmas season thanks largely to the classic carol O Come, All Ye Faithful as we sing, “O come, let us adore Him.” So many of us during the Christmas season spend more time thinking about Christ and giving Him adoration than any other time of the year. Think about it for a moment. More people go to church during Christmas than any other time of the year. We also tend to find ourselves singing and listening to songs about Jesus more during the Christmas season than any other time of year. As a result, Christmas is a time when we love to praise Him, honor Him, and adore Him much in the way Philippians 2:9-11 describes.

While it’s great that Christ earns so much of our attention and adoration during Christmas, it’s important to remember that we should pay that same amount of attention to Him 12 months a year instead of just one. Sure, it’s easier to get caught up in all the Christmas hype and spend more time thinking, singing, praying, and adoring Christ during December, but in order to have a true relationship with Christ we must adore and spend time with Him daily and not just during Christmas. This year as you move out of the Christmas season and back into the normalcy of life, strive to find a way to capture that Christmas spirit that will enable you to adore Him and grow with Him every day of your life.

Questions:
What things keep you from adoring and spending time with Christ on a daily basis?

What steps will you take to ensure that you spend time daily with Christ?

Silent Night

Glories stream from heaven afar. Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah!
Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is born!

The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.”    Jeremiah 23:5-6 NIV

When I was a child, we were poor. We rarely bought anything other than necessities throughout the year. About two months before Christmas, my parents asked me to write a list of all the things I wanted. I would pour through catalogs, to stores (before the internet) and dream about all the things I could possibly enjoy for the coming year. After my list was complete, I waited anxiously anticipating the gifts under the tree. The waiting felt like years, but it was worth the wait. Christmas morning was the best day! I spent the rest of the year enjoying my new toys!

God’s children, for hundreds of years, had anticipated the arrival of their Savior. Parents told their children of the coming King: The one who would save them all. Their kids told their kids. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the One they had heard about. The arrival of Jesus, their Savior, was a holy night. The heavens rejoiced. Angels sang. Shepherds quaked at the sight. At Christmas, we remember this day that heaven came to earth! The day God fulfilled His promise! The day God became man to redeem his children from a broken world. Your savior is here. He is present! You don’t have to anticipate something you already have. Celebrate. Enjoy the gift you have received!

Questions:
In what areas of your life are you waiting and anticipating God’s presence?

Angels From The Realms Of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.                                                                                                                                                                           Luke 2:13-14 NIV

The actions of the angels are one of the most exciting aspects of the Christmas story from Luke 2. First you have the angel who suddenly appears to the shepherds to tell them the good news of Jesus birth (Luke 2:9). Then, as if the shepherds haven’t had enough, there is a whole multitude of angels suddenly appearing in full concert to finish it off (Luke 2:13). This is such an epic celebration like nothing ever seen in the Bible, and it was displayed not for the government officials, the upper class of the city, or the spiritual elite, but for the lowly shepherds. What a beautiful tension and a perfect picture of the power of Christmas. It is the biggest news that mankind could ever know, its celebration is led by the very angels who hang out in the perfect presence of an all-powerful God, and the message is meant for the lowly and broken.

This old carol is such a simple but powerful reminder of all who have been invited to celebrate and to worship Jesus. Jesus is the most amazing gift given to us. God loved us so much that He sent His only son to enter humanity so that ultimately we could have the chance to be right before a holy God. That is the power of Christmas, and the angels understood it. The shepherds experienced it first-hand. The wise men believed it. They not only joined the worship celebration, but their excitement and worship inspired others to do the same. This Christmas, let our worship would be so authentic and exciting that we would draw others to “Come and worship; come and worship; Worship Christ the newborn King!”

Questions:
How can you celebrate and worship Jesus throughout this Christmas season?

How can you inspire others to do the same?

Breath Of Heaven

Breath of Heaven, Hold me together
Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, Light my darkness
Pour over me, your holiness, For you’re holy
Breath of Heaven

The LORD is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Psalm 27:1 NIV

So many of us hold Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a very high esteem because she was chosen by God to carry His Son and bring Him into the world. It was the greatest task anyone has ever been given. Even though we hold Mary in high esteem, it’s important to remember that she was a normal person just like us. In fact, she probably battled fear as much if not more so than most people. She was an unmarried teenager that found herself miraculously pregnant after an angel told her she would give birth to the Messiah. She was probably afraid of the great task that God had given her and dealt with fear from the backlash she and Joseph received because of the unique pregnancy. She was probably battled fear on their long journey to Jerusalem as she was nine months pregnant and taking a long journey on a donkey. Despite her fear, however, she remained faithful to God and the task they were given.

The song Breath of Heaven gives us a prayer that Mary most likely prayed asking God to hold her together, be near her, and to light her darkness. How many times have you prayed a similar prayer? Christmas is a joyous time, but the reality is that for many of us, it’s hard to experience that joy in the midst of all the turmoil and trials that are happening around us. Just as God protected and guided Mary through a difficult time, allow Him to guide you this Christmas. Pray and share with Him what troubles your spirit and allow Him to restore the joy of Christmas within you by holding you together, being forever near you, and lighting your darkness.

Questions:
What trials are you enduring currently that ‘s robbing you of the joy of Christmas?

What are some things you can do to reclaim joy and hope in your life?

Go Tell It On The Mountain!

When lo! above the earth rang out the angels’ chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth.

“…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”                                          Luke 2:10 NLT

The first time a woman finds out she is pregnant, she is filled with joy and searches for the best way to share the news with her husband, friends, and family. When a man is ready to propose marriage, he knows he has to find the right way to ask the question and share the news.

Words can sometimes fail to fully convey the truth of good news. So, when God was ready to bring Jesus into flesh on earth, how did He bring the Good News? In the greatest spectacle, “a vast host” of angels appeared to seemingly random shepherds in a middle-of-nowhere field. Holy light shone down and their voices rang out – it’s the sort of blockbuster, showstopper you would expect for the greatest event in history. The only odd thing is the audience (“lowly” shepherds), and how few of them were probably there. Maybe that goes to show that no stone should be left unturned when we are sharing news like this.

When Jesus began teaching, He did not spread the Good News by word alone. The blind received sight, the lame walked, and the dead were raised – all to communicate beyond words what the Good News meant.

Isaiah 62 shouted, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look your Savior is coming.” Jesus commanded the disciples to go to the ends of the earth. And in the classic spiritual, we are implored to “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere! Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born!”

Questions:
Are you shouting out the Good News? Why or why not?

Is there a way for you to share the Good News in a more powerful way than through words?

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie…
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Corinthians 1:27-28 NLT

Bethlehem. A town which could be considered tiny and insignificant. Micah 5 describes Bethlehem as being “….small among the clans of Judah.” Yet Micah goes on to say “out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.” Sure enough Jesus was born in Bethlehem some 700 years later.

The significance of insignificant Bethlehem can’t be understated. God loves to work in amazing ways through the unlikely and the overlooked. It’s easy for all of us to feel undervalued and unimportant, but that is exactly the type of person God will use. Think of the endless ways God could use you if you surrender to His will.

Actually Bethlehem did have some significance before Jesus’ birth. Among other things it was also the birthplace of David, Israel’s greatest Old Testament warrior and king. However, this is also another example of God’s amazing province. David after all was the youngest son of Jesse who considered him the unlikeliest of his boys to become king. But God saw through all that and had him anointed the next ruler of Israel. Again God was working in ways that are outside of man’s conventional wisdom.

We tend to see our life and circumstances through a man made perspective. Once we realize that the Lord works in mysterious ways which are far above our own we will be more ready for Him to use us in an exciting way.

Of course nothing has more significance than the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. How unlikely is it that it would begin one quiet, peaceful night in a quiet, peaceful town. The “everlasting Light”, the “hopes and fears of all the years” all started in the “…Little Town of Bethlehem.” You can’t make this stuff up and thankfully it’s not.

Questions:
How have you seen God use seemingly insignificant people and events in your life or the lives of others?

Have you ever felt overlooked? What effect has that had on you?

What action will you take to allow God to use you in a significant way?

The First Noel

O Holy Night

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

He is a light to reveal GOD to the nations, and he is the Glory of your people Israel!        Luke 2:32 NLT

In the midst of so much imperfection, the night Christ was born can be considered one of the most perfect nights ever in the history of mankind. God used imperfect circumstances and an imperfect location in the form of a humble manager to bring His perfect and holy Son into the world. God could have easily made Jesus’ birth triumphant, but He chose not to. It is through all that imperfection that made this night so holy and so perfect.

The way God brought His son into the world is much the same way He works within our lives. Oftentimes God takes the imperfections in our lives and uses them to perfect us. God loves to take the physical and emotional scars and use those to grow us into stronger people. He also desires us to take what we learned from our imperfections and help others who may be struggling with the same things.

Just as Jesus was a light to reveal God to all the nations, we can be that same light as well. Don’t let your imperfections hold you back. Instead, allow God to use them to shape you into the person He designed you to be, which is a light in a dark world. Give God your weaknesses so that He can turn them into your greatest strengths.

Questions:
What weaknesses do you need to give God so that He can perfect you?

In what ways do you see yourself as being a light to reveal God’s truth to others?

When A Child Is Born

…new hope, new life. Many things come to pass with the birth of a new child.
For a season, everyone, forgets their own weariness and own problems.
This tiny creature will change people’s lives…forever.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.                                                                                                                                 Isaiah 9:6 KJV

There is nothing like the announcement of a new baby to bring excitement in a family. As the song says, “…new hope, new life. Many things come to pass with the birth of a new child. For a season, everyone, forgets their own weariness and own problems. This tiny creature will change people’s lives…forever.”

Expectant mothers gain a lot of attention, as friends and family are typically very intent on being involved in the entire process of pregnancy up until the very end. When the moment finally occurs, there is nothing like the sound of a newborn baby’s cry to validate the life that has been growing and developing over the past nine months, and create such overwhelming joy.

The same excitement that comes from physical birth also occurs when we experience spiritual birth in that moment when we ask Christ to become our personal Savior and Lord of our lives. In fact, many people now celebrate both their physical and spiritual birthdays because they understand the day Christ came into their life is just as important as the day they came into being.

Imagine the joy that was evident at Christ’s birth in that His physical birth would ultimately change mankind forever. We can have spiritual birth because of His physical birth. John 10:10 says, “One…came…that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” We have a new life all because of one child: Jesus. As you reflect on this Christmas season, be thankful for God did by sending His only Son so that we can have new life. Be thankful for that holy night when a child was born so that we could be born again.

Questions:
What led you to your spiritual birth?

What does new life in Christ mean to you?

We Three Kings Of Orient Are

O star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect Light.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

It’s often difficult for people to understand that Jesus was born just like us. He wasn’t born in a luxurious palace or a fancy hospital. He was born outside, in a manger. He came into a world filled with sin, yet he lived an absolutely perfect life. He came to lead us, and guide us into a loving relationship with God.

The three wise men are a great example of what complete submission to God looks like. The moment they saw the star they likely dropped everything they were doing and embarked on a long journey that was most likely difficult at times. The men had no idea where they were going, but placed their complete trust in a star to lead them. They devoted everything to seeking Him no matter the cost. Just like the three men in this song followed a shining star to see Jesus when he was born, if we submit ourselves to God, He will direct our paths and be a perfect guide for our lives.

Questions:
What are the areas in your life you need to submit to God?

Try to remember a time where you did submit something to God. What was the outcome of that situation?

The Little Drummer Boy

Come they told me, Pa rum pa pum pum
A newborn King to see, Pa rum pa pum pum

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.                                             Romans 12:1 MSG
The night was silent, except for the beating of his heart. It seemed so loud to him, he wondered if his travelling companions could hear it too. He was nervous to see a king, but he kept walking, holding tightly to his drum.

His heart was about to beat out of his chest. The others were carrying beautiful boxes filled with precious gifts, gifts worthy of a king. He had nothing but his drum which suddenly seemed an inappropriate instrument to play for king, not to mention a newborn baby king. If only he had a more soothing instrument, like the harp the shepherd boys sometimes play.

His heart beat was deafening as he stood before the king. And then Mary nodded. The King’s mother nodded at him.. She actually wanted him to play. He raised his sticks and began to beat out of the first pattern that came into his head, the rhythm of his beating heart.

And so the Little Drummer Boy gave his heart to God. He played his best.

He gave his best. How often do we feel our gifts are not good enough? We compare ourselves to others, wondering why their gifts seem so much more “useful” for the kingdom. We want to teach like our Pastor, or sing like our Worship Leader. Or maybe we want to share our blessings, but at times, we don’t feel very blessed. We can’t give what we don’t have, but rather than lamenting our lack, we need to look for our “drum”, the one thing that only we can give.

The truth is God already has teaching like the Pastor’s. He already has singing like the worship leader’s. And what He wants, what He can really use, is your heart.

Think of ways that you can bless others this season and in turn bless God. You don’t have to spend money. You just have to give of yourself, of your heart. Just like the little Drummer Boy. And Jesus smiled at him. Think of Jesus smiling at you. Kind of makes your heart race, doesn’t it? Listen.

Questions:
How can you bless God by blessing others this holiday season?

Are you giving your best to God? If not, how could you give your best to him today?