Friday, December 23, 2011

O Christmas Tree

Many of my blogger friends have been sharing pictures of their Christmas trees, mantles, tables, etc.   So, today I am posting a picture of our tree.  The tree is my favorite decoration during the Christmas season!  I love the ornaments (my favorites are the ones that my boys have made over the years) and the white lights on our tree!  The white lights create such a peaceful atmosphere that you can't help but to relax and stare at it for hours. :)  My absolute favorite part of our tree is the star!  Everytime I look at it I am reminded of the star of Bethlehem and Jesus!  He is the reason for the season!

Our Christmas tree....

From our family to yours....MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Mother's Treasure

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:17-19

Can you imagine the joy Mary had as she listened to the shepherds share of what the angel(s) said to them?  Think about the honor that she must have felt when she realized that the shepherds and wise men had dropped everything they were doing just to come see the Christ child that had been born--her baby!  With so many visitors and gifts for her baby, I am sure that humility covered Mary's heart and soul as she rejoiced over the birth of Jesus.

As Mary held baby Jesus in her arms, I am sure she thought about the long journey that lead to that day in the stable.  From the gossiping tongues of Nazareth, to the decree that was issued that brought them to Bethlehem-the town with no room for its King, I know it was all worth it to Mary as she held her baby.

As she looked into his eyes and imagined him growing over the years, do you think it crossed her mind that his future would lead to a Crucifixion?  As she watched everyone ooh and ahh over her baby, did she know that He would walk on water or make a blind man see?  As she kissed her baby's face, did she consider that he would one day rule the nations?  Oh Mary, did you know???

Irregardless of what she understood or didn't, Jesus was her son and a mother's love runs deep for her child!  She treasured her gift from God and trusted Him for his future.

Today, I am sharing a video of the song "How many Kings?"  I pray you listen and allow the words to speak new meaning to you during this Christmas season. 

How many fathers (mothers) gave up their sons for me?....Only one did that for me and you! Thank you Lord for the relationship you made available to us through the birth and death of Your son, Jesus Christ. 

Today, I unwrap the gift of our Lord, the Great I AM, who became the least for me.  May we all celebrate Jesus' birthday with a new appreciation and understanding this year. 

Happy Birthday Jesus!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!!

Unwrapping His gifts,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Baby Changes Everything - Part 3

Angels visit the shepherds

Luke 2:8-18

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.       
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Today, when a mom gives birth, birth announcements are usually sent by text message, facebook status update, blog post, article in a newspaper, or by mailing newborn picture cards announcing the new addition to the family.  This modern technology is so cool and appreciated, but it does not compare at all to the birth announcement that our Savior had!
Shepherds were keeping watch over their flock at night when an angel of the Lord appeared before them.  The King James version tells us in verse 9 that the shepherds were 'sore' afraid when the angel appeared.  Merriam-Webster gives the following definition for sore:
                                                                   a.  causing pain or distress
                                                                   b.  painfully sensitive
These shepherds were painfully terrified!  Can you imagine yourself in a field tending to flock, minding your own business, and all of a sudden an angel appears before you with the glory of the Lord shining all around?  Yeah, I think WE would be scared to the point of pain as well! :)

The shepherds were terrified, but their fear quickly turned to joy as the angel shared the greatest birth announcement EVER; the birth of Christ the Lord!  The angel proceeded to tell the shepherds that the baby had been born in the town of David.  But how would the shepherds know which newborn baby would be Christ the Lord?  Well, the angel gave specific details in what the shepherds were to look for.  The angel described that the baby would be wrapped in cloths (VERY common for newborns) and lying in a manger (NOT common for newborns).  Now, that is the sign to remember!

Then the heavenly choir showed up!  A multitude of great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel and began praising God.  Can you picture this revival?  It's the middle of the night in a field with sheep, angels are present with an angelic glow as they sing praises to God, and shepherds have their hands lifted toward heaven in worship of our Savior's birth!  What a sight to imagine!!! 

The shepherds were so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, lying in a manger!  The shepherd's mission was accomplished and they shared the great news with everyone! 

Today, I unwrap the gift of  our GREAT and GLORIOUS God humbling himself through the unlikely package of being born in a stable, lying in a manger!  He deserved so much better, but chose the lowly setting of a manger for our King so that His glory would be clearly displayed.

To be continued...

Unwrapping the gift of Jesus,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Baby Changes Everything - Part 2

An Angel appears to Joseph in a dream.

Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Mary, while just engaged to Joseph, is found to be with child as a result of a miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine the gossip that probably traveled among the enemies of Jesus once they found out about this virgin woman giving birth to Jesus? Oh, I bet there were a LOT of whispering conversations with glaring, judgemental eyes in Mary and Joseph's days.

Joseph was having a hard time dealing with her news of pregnancy. He was a righteous man and did not want to marry someone that had been unfaithful to him. He decides that he will divorce Mary quietly to keep her from public disgrace. (Remember, the engagement was binding in the Jewish culture, so Joseph would need a divorce to break the engagement). I can only imagine the worry and distress Joseph went through at this time, but God would soon deliver a message to him.

God sends an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream. The angel shares that the child that has been conceived in Mary is of the Holy Spirit. (It seems that Mary had not disclosed this little bit of information to Joseph. How would you explain such a thing to anyone? I guess that's why God sent the angel to explain it to Joseph). The angel gives Joseph instruction as to what to name the child and that he is being sent from God for a reason. This baby to be named, Jesus, is being sent to save his people from their sins. (Whoah! Thank you Jesus for meeting us in our sins, but mostly for your purpose of saving us from them!) 

When Joseph awoke, he had a whole new understanding of Mary's pregnancy. He took her home as his wife. He had no union with her until she gave birth to a son and just as the Lord commanded him, Joseph gave the baby the name Jesus.

Today, I unwrap the gift of a miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. I praise God for the awesome marriage counseling that he delivered through the angel in Joseph's dream!

Rejoicing in these gifts,

A Baby Changes Everything - Part 1

A post from a fellow blogger has sparked an interest in me to "unwrap" Jesus in a new way this Christmas season by being fully present with Him and allowing every one of my senses to come alive so that I may receive everything that He has for me. 

I will be blogging a multiple-part series of posts titled "A Baby Changes Everything" over the next couple of weeks.  I pray that God will bless and encourage us both as we go through this "unwrapping Jesus" journey together this Christmas season!

Luke 1:26-63

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.
37 For nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

God sent the angel, Gabriel, to Mary.  He informed Mary that God had favor upon her and that she would give birth to Jesus.  Mary had to put forth a LOT of faith and trust because she was a virgin and I am sure she was somewhat worried as to how she would be sharing this news with Joseph of a baby.  At this time, did you know that Mary was betrothed to Joseph?  There were 3 stages to a Jewish wedding back then:  engagement (a formal agreement made by the fathers) betrothal (the ceremony where faithful promises were made) and marriage (appoximately a year later, the groom will come for the bride at an unexpected time).  Mary and Joseph were just in the (promise ring) stage of their relationship and she was still a virgin, but she was to be with a baby.

To be continued....  

A Baby Changes Everything - Faith Hill

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