Month: December 2011

All the fulness dwells in Him…

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Colossians 1:15-19 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.   For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —  all things have been created by Him and for Him.   And He is before all things, and in Him all things  hold together.  He is also  head of  the body, the church; and He is the beginning,  the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.   For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him

This speaks of the baby in Bethlehem…not a mere sentimental story, but a powerful statement of God’s eternal love and power and redeeming grace!  Jesus Christ is born and salvation has come!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Decorations at the Horners

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Reading the Christmas Story

Keeping the Right Focus

Taking the discussion toward Christ at Christmas

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This week I found this helpful tool by a friend of mine, Donald Whitney.  Most of us want to talk about Jesus Christ during the Christmas season but are not always sure how to get things moving in that direction.  Here is a great way Don has prepared for ordinary folks like us to elevate the conversation and Jesus at the same time!

Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering

Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met. At other times we simply don’t know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin.

Here’s a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialogue gradually to a deeper level.  Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

1. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since last Christmas?
2. What was your best Christmas ever? Why?
3. What’s the most meaningful Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
4. What was the most appreciated Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
5. What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?
6. What is your favorite Christmas tradition now?
7. What do you do to try to keep Christ in Christmas?
8. Why do you think people started celebrating the birth of Jesus?
9. Do you think the birth of Jesus deserves such a nearly worldwide celebration?
10.
Why do you think Jesus came to earth?

 Of course, remember to pray before your Christmas gatherings. Ask the Lord to grant you “divine appointments,” to guide your conversations, and to open doors for the gospel. May He use you to bring glory to Christ this Christmas.

Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney.  All rights reserved. For more short, reproducible pieces like this, see http://www.BiblicalSpirituality.org

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

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Shelly Moore, Mike Passaro and Patrick Downing share this poignant version of a great carol of expectation…

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

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Before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophets had laid out the hope of salvation and their words had built an expectation that the Messiah would come and bring salvation to a desperate world.  Those who heard and understood the prophecies waited.  In prayer, they called out, “O come, O come Emmanuel!”

This week we celebrate once again the fact the the Son of God did come and His name was called Emmanuel, “God with us.”  Mary and Joseph were to name the newborn baby Jesus because it is He who would save His people from their sins.  God answered the prayers of a people longing for relief, looking for redemption, but more than that, He simply kept His promise.

Many had abandoned all hope of a Messiah ever coming and so were not ready when He came, did not believe in Him even after the miraculous nature of His sinless life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection and ascension.  No expectations were disappointed among them because they had none.  But a remnant of hopeful people still called out to the Lord for His promised Savior to come.

Although the expectation of His coming remained, sometimes the cry of the heart reflected a certain melancholy, a plaintive call from hearts still hoping but seeing little to sustain that hope.  Faith won the day over sight and the reward was great when it was declared, “…I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

The promise was fulfilled and the people rejoiced!

Yet another promise should prompt us to raise our expectations.  That is the promise that the Messiah is coming again!  Throughout the New Testament, the promise of the return of Jesus Christ is announced in no uncertain terms.  So why should we not add our voices to the chorus anticipating His first advent by crying out with joyful anticipation for His second coming?  When Jesus spoke to John in Revelation, He told him that He would come quickly when He came, to which John responded, “Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!”

How shall we then live until He returns?  Each moment of every day should be lived in the glorious light of eternity, marking each opportunity as one more way to invest in what will last forever.  The sure cure to a life caught in the temporal mundaneness of a worldly existence is to lift our eyes and see that Christ rules and reigns now in the lives of His own, and that one day He is coming again to rule and reign over all creation.  As Paul stated it so eloquently in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Who among those who love Christ does not long for His appearing!  Now it remains for us to call out, “O come, O Come Emmanuel–come, Lord Jesus” and establish your reign in us and all creation forever and ever!  And until you come, we will live, empowered by His Spirit and captivated by His glory, as citizens of His eternal kingdom!

In the post accompanying this article, you will hear the sweet melody of that old carol, “O come, O come Emmanuel” offering our prayer for a fresh sense of expectation to grip our hearts!

Devotions for Week Ten

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Dads Words of Wisdom Are you living according to your priorities, or are you being driven along by a helter-skelter pace of disconnected activity?  This week, fathers and sons can discuss what it takes to live intentionally and purposefully.

Click on the “For Dads” tab on the upper right hand corner of this blog to go to the “Dad’s Words of Wisdom (Chapters 8-13)” page and scroll down to the last entry each week.

Simeon’s song

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On Sunday morning, we will explore Luke 2:25-38 and try to understand what it must have been like for Simeon and Anna to have such a vivid expectation of God’s promise being fulfilled in their lifetime.  Living for eternity instead of the immediate begins with a commitment to live expectantly, waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled.

How much different our lives would be if we spent each moment of each day looking for all that God has promised, walking by faith not by sight, and sensing with joyful anticipation what it will be like to enter each breath of life knowing that God has so much planned for those who are willing to truth Him!

If you are in Raleigh, come worship with us tomorrow.  All week as I have been thinking and praying about this text, I could not keep this song by Michael Card from coming to mind.  If you are like me, you will want to watch it and listen to it several times to get the full impact of what that day in the temple courts must have meant to Simeon–to embrace the promised Messiah in his own arms and look right into the face of the “Word become flesh,” Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Most High God…Immanuel, God with us!  Merry Christmas!

“Labor of Love,” sung by Point of Grace

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Andrew Peterson’s moving song of the night of Jesus’ birth…sung by Point of Grace.  Merry Christmas!

Oils: People of the World

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Carry On Baggage in Ghana, 2005

Devotions for Week Nine

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Dads Words of Wisdom This week’s practical word of wisdom warns fathers and sons of a common problem…temptation!  What do you do that you would never do if someone were with you watching?  Great conversation starter for you both!

Click on the “For Dads” tab on the upper right hand corner of this blog to go to the “Dad’s Words of Wisdom (Chapters 8-13)” page and scroll down to the last entry each week.