Alive and Active

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Alive and Active

by Joni Eareckson Tada

 

“For the word of God is living and active…”  Hebrews 4:12

One minute the night skies over Bethlehem were cool and quiet; the next minute someone turned on the light switch.  Stars that were twinkling suddenly stepped aside as the veil of heaven parted for an instant.  An angel stepped through the curtain of night, threw out his (or her?) hands to let loose divine fireworks.  “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men'” (Luke 2:13-14 KJV).

Not long ago, I decided to paint this scene.  But I wondered, How do you paint an angel… much less one rejoicing?  I knew that the moment was packed with powerful emotion.  After all, the Word of God is living and active.  Those angels must have been jumping up and down for excitement!  That’s all the inspiration I needed.

I also needed someone to model as an angel.  I called my secretary into the art studio and asked her to stand on a chair and drape a sheet around her.  “Now,” I said when she was ready, “throw up your arms and yell, ‘Surprise!'”  She gave me a funny look and so I added, “Think of your happiest memory!”  She rubbed her chin and then an idea donned.  Throwing back her head she hollered, “Whoopee!”  I quickly sketched the joy in her face.  In no time, I had my angel on the canvas.  It was the best painting of angels I had ever rendered.

This month you will see lots of Christmas cards and store windows displaying the word “Rejoice!”  You’ll sing about joy and carols and read about it in the pages of scripture.  Smile when you say it… see it… or sing it.  After all, the announcement of the angels was the Word of God, alive,  active, and full of joy!

You, Lord Jesus, are what the joy is all about.  This alone makes my smile effervescent.  I rejoice!


Taken from More Precious Than Silver.  Copyright © 1998 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

The Christmas Story … Part 2 (Conclusion)

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Christmas Story … Part 2
(Conclusion)

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. (Luke 2:21)

Long before the Lord ordained the ritual of circumcision for males, He arranged for the coagulating pro-enzyme called prothrombin to be at 130% of normal adult levels on the eighth day of life, and for natural analgesic enzymes in the blood to be at lifetime highs as well.

Circumcision on any other day can be a painful and bloody event, but on the eighth day of life it’s remarkably less so. Of course, this is a fact the medical profession has only learned in the last century. Back then people just knew that everything worked better when they were obedient to God’s commands.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)

It was 33 days after Jesus had been circumcised. Since Joseph and Mary could not afford a lamb for Mary’s purification, the Law permitted them to use the two birds instead. (Lev. 12:8)

Read the rest here.

The Christmas Story … Part 1

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Christmas Story … Part 1

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:1-2)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

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” (Luke 1:26-35).

Some commentators try to cast doubt on the validity of Isaiah’s virgin birth prophecy, saying the clearest Hebrew word for virgin is bethulah.  In Isaiah 7:14a different word, almah, is used. It means virgin too, but can also describe any woman of marriageable age. They contend that Isaiah’s failure to use the most specific word for virgin could mean that he wasn’t really prophesying a virgin birth. As if anticipating this, Isaiah included a rebuttal to their claims.  It’s simple and appears in Isaiah 8, but first some perspective.

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Noel

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The song “Noel” is a newer version of the classic Christmas song. This version was written by Chris Tomlin and features Lauren Daigle. The lyrics are beautiful and the tune is soothing and peaceful. Contemplate the Savior’s glorious birth with thankful praise and worship!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.   
—Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)

Then the seventh angel sounded:
And there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdoms of this world have become
the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever and ever!”   

—Revelation 11:15 (NKJV)

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Hope for a Difficult Christmas Season

This is from Dayspring by Rachel Wojo.

Hope for a Difficult
Christmas Season

by Rachel Wojo

Christmas carols fill the air; smiles and laughter are everywhere. A stroll through town reveals glistening windows boasting of tasty holiday treats and shiny red ribbon. Twinkling lights dance in unexpected places and bounce off sparkling trees.  Whether you appreciate lots of gold and glitter or simple candles, the blessing of our Lord’s birth is celebrated with expression!

While Christmas is full of joy and celebration, the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. For many of us, our hurting hearts experience intensified ache as memories flood our minds. Perhaps the memory is of a loved one now in heaven. Maybe the memory haunts as part of a painful past; something we wish could be changed or undone. Pain not only exists from the past, but in the daily present. Discouragement doesn’t stop lurking. Disease doesn’t stop waging its war. Death doesn’t pause for a few days.

When Jesus was born, His parents didn’t plan a gender reveal party. No one ordered a baby shower cake. Oh, Mary, yes, as the mother, she prepared for the arrival of her baby. But a business trip for tax purposes was probably the last thing on her agenda. Riding a donkey most likely would have been her last wish in her ninth month of pregnancy. The point is: Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Despite the stable which most of us would deem unsuitable accommodations, the Light of the World made His grand entrance in the form of a little baby. Human flesh held the Son of God and the glory of the night could not be contained. Angels sang their glory to God and hope, true Hope for the world was born!

Read the rest here.

Abundant #Joy

This is an excellent post by Sarah Walton of Set Apart: Hope on the Road Less Traveled.

Abundant Joy is Found
in the Presence of Christ,
not in the Absence of Pain

“Oh Lord, for years I have prayed for answers, healing, and understanding in this suffering you have allowed. Yet they have seemed not to come. Many have prayed to you on our behalf, as we have sought wisdom from the doctors you provided, and have longed for redemption of what’s been lost. By your grace, we have persevered through trial after trial, trusting  that you would uphold us and bring forth good from all our pain.

Yet, many answers we have hoped for haven’t come in the ways we desire. The world’s solutions to our pain have left us discouraged, confused, and fighting hopelessness, while the trials, burdens, questions, and uncertainties remain the same. 

I have longed for, cried, and pleaded for you to bring us out from under the pain and heaviness of these trials into a place of abundance. I have asked you to lift these crushing burdens, and carry us through the pounding waves and the raging fire that threatens  to consume our hope, testimony, and lives. 

However, in my desire for answers, I have missed something wonderful. You have answered our prayers – though different than I expected. You have been near, intimately working deep within our hearts as we have laid down our hopes and desires of this world. While you have chosen not to remove the heartache and overwhelming circumstances from our lives, you have done something greater. You have brought us into a place of abundance. For while I have been waiting for this place of abundance to come in the form of relief, you have instead brought it in the midst of the very trials I desired to be freed from. 

This place of abundance has been found in the presence of Christ, not in the absence of pain. 

Read the rest here.

What is the meaning of #Noel?

Here is another timely article from the GotQuestions? site.

What is the meaning of Noel?

Question: “What is the meaning of Noel?”

Answer: Every year, people sing songs like “The First Noel” at Christmas, and many wonder what a “noel” is. In French, joyeux noel means “Merry Christmas.” Our modern English word comes from the Middle English nowel, which Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defined as “a shout of joy or Christmas song.” The roots of the word are the French noel (“Christmas season”), which may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Since Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, it was natural for people to refer to the celebration as the “nativity” or the “birth.”

Another possible root for noel, also from the French, is the word nouvelles, meaning “news.” As the popular carol says, “The first noel the angels did say / Was to certain poor shepherds. . . .” The meaning of “news” certainly makes sense in that context; however, the early usage and definition of noel seem to focus more on the idea of birth, and that is probably the more accurate meaning.

Read the rest here.