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Christmas…The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

mary, joseph and jesus

Matthew 1

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: When His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant [through the power] of the Holy Spirit.

19 And her [promised] husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss (divorce) her quietly and secretly.

20 But as he was thinking this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary [as] your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of (from, out of) the Holy Spirit.

21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from [a]failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].

22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet,

23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us.

I love December.  I have always loved the cold, the lights, the smell of Christmas trees, the time of family being together.  I graduated from college 31 years ago in December.  I got married at Christmas thirty years ago, and I had my first child at Christmas 26 years ago.  You can imagine how much I love it!

When I was a young girl, our Christmases were extravagant.  I don’t know how my grandmother did everything she did.  One year we counted 21 side dishes, a turkey, a ham, and over 14 pies and cakes.  That isn’t counting the Christmas candy she would make.  We ate on Christmas china with Christmas cloth napkins.  My grandmother cooked it and she practically cleaned it by herself!  She was amazing!  It took my mother and me one Christmas to figure out paper plates were the best idea!

The gifts under the tree at my grandmother’s house almost took up the entire living room.  We had our family Christmas with our grandparents, so it looked massive.  That didn’t count what “Santa Claus” would bring later, either!

Our Christmases have evolved over the years.  The 21 salads are gone, but we all get our favorite dish!  Our magnitude of desserts has been downsized as well.  We still have massive gifts, even though my grandparents are with Jesus now.  We now have my husband and 2 children and my brother’s wife and 4 children, along with my parents.

On Christmas it is now gumbo instead of a traditional Christmas dinner…we have that on the 23rd of December now.  We still have a fireworks show Hollywood would envy on Christmas Eve.  This was my grandfather’s and mother’s tradition.  It is so beautiful, people stop on the side of the highway to watch the sparkling display.

What has not changed at all is the fact of why we have Christmas, and that is first and foremost important thing in my mind always.  I hate it Christmas has become commercialized and an opportunity for certain greedy ones to get even richer.  I want Jesus to be remembered first and foremost not only in mind but in heart.

This year I asked my husband for something different.  I have wanted to do this for years and this year I did it!  I told my husband I wanted nothing for Christmas.  I wanted it to be about Jesus, my family being together, and our appreciation of how blessed we are.  He did sneak a gift card in on me, but I got what I wanted pretty much…just knowing and understanding the meaning of Christmas was more than anyone could give me!  I savored it.

Jesus and I had our time in prayer and just meditating on what it meant for Him to come to give His life for us!  What Mary must have gone through, and Joseph as well and what incredible people they had to be for God to choose them to be the parents who would raise His only son.  What His birth would come to and what that end of His life would mean in my life and in the lives of my loved ones and to the world!  That is when the warmth of Christmas glowed in my heart and brought peace to my mind!  Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Good night and God bless you, precious reader!

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Bible Verse of the Day-The Fulfilling of the Prophecy of the Messiah’s Birth

prophecy of jesus fulfilled

 

BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY

So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child, And all who heard it were astounded and marveled at what the shepherds told them. But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.        Luke 2:16-20 AMP

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Hebrews 11…What Faith Is

hebrews 11

Hebrews 11

Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

2 For by [faith—[b]trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report.

3 By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.

4 [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.

5 Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

7 [Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By this [his faith which relied on God] he passed judgment and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness ([c]that relation of being right into which God puts the person who has faith).

8 [Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go.

9 [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise.

10 For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.

11 Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word.

12 So from one man, though he was physically as good as dead, there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore.

13 These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth.

14 Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country).

15 If they had been thinking with [homesick] remembrance of that country from which they were emigrants, they would have found constant opportunity to return to it.

16 But the truth is that they were yearning for and aspiring to a better and more desirable country, that is, a heavenly [one]. For that reason God is not ashamed to be called their God [even to be surnamed their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob], for He has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was [d]still in progress], [e]had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God’s] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son,

18 Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned.

19 For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead.

20 [With eyes of] faith Isaac, looking far into the future, invoked blessings upon Jacob and Esau.

21 [Prompted] by faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in prayer over the top of his staff.

22 [Actuated] by faith Joseph, when nearing the end of his life, referred to [the promise of God for] the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his own bones.

23 [Prompted] by faith Moses, after his birth, was kept concealed for three months by his parents, because they saw how comely the child was; and they were not overawed and terrified by the king’s decree.

24 [Aroused] by faith Moses, when he had grown to maturity and [f]become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,

25 Because he preferred to share the oppression [suffer the hardships] and bear the shame of the people of God rather than to have the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life.

26 He considered the contempt and abuse and shame [borne for] the Christ (the Messiah Who was to come) to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward and away to the reward (recompense).

27 [Motivated] by faith he left Egypt behind him, being unawed and undismayed by the wrath of the king; for he never flinched but held staunchly to his purpose and endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible.

28 By faith (simple trust and confidence in God) he instituted and carried out the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn (the angel) might not touch those [of the children of Israel].

29 [Urged on] by faith the people crossed the Red Sea as [though] on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried to do the same thing they were swallowed up [by the sea].

30 Because of faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encompassed for seven days [by the Israelites].

31 [Prompted] by faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed along with those who refused to believe and obey, because she had received the spies in peace [without enmity].

32 And what shall I say further? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,

33 Who by [the help of] faith subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,

34 Extinguished the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings of the sword, out of frailty and weakness won strength and became stalwart, even mighty and resistless in battle, routing alien hosts.

35 [Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection. Others were tortured [g]to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life.

36 Others had to suffer the trial of mocking and scourging and even chains and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated—

38 [Men] of whom the world was not worthy—roaming over the desolate places and the mountains, and [living] in caves and caverns and holes of the earth.

39 And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised,

40 Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].


Acts 7…Stephen’s Sermon

acts 7

Acts 7

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Stephen’s Sermon

7 “Is this true?”[a] the high priest asked.

2 “Brothers and fathers,” he said, “listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran, 3 and said to him:

Get out of your country and away from your relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.[b]

4 “Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this land you now live in. 5 He didn’t give him an inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, but He promised to give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him, even though he was childless. 6 God spoke in this way:

His descendants would be strangers in a foreign country, and they would enslave and oppress them 400 years. 7 I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, God said. After this, they will come out and worship Me in this place.[c]

8 Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision. After this, he fathered Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Jacob with the 12 patriarchs.

The Patriarchs in Egypt

9 “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over his whole household. 11 Then a famine and great suffering came over all of Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestors could find no food. 12 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors the first time. 13 The second time, Joseph was revealed to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 Joseph then invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people in all, 15 and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our ancestors died there, 16 were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

Moses, a Rejected Savior

17 “As the time was drawing near to fulfill the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people flourished and multiplied in Egypt 18 until a different king who did not know Joseph ruled over Egypt.[d] 19 He dealt deceitfully with our race and oppressed our ancestors by making them leave their infants outside, so they wouldn’t survive.[e] 20 At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful in God’s sight. He was cared for in his father’s home three months, 21 and when he was left outside, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted and raised him as her own son. 22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his speech and actions.

23 “As he was approaching the age of 40, he decided[f] to visit his brothers, the Israelites. 24 When he saw one of them being mistreated, he came to his rescue and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He assumed his brothers would understand that God would give them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. 26 The next day he showed up while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them peacefully, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you mistreating each other?’

27 “But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed him[g] away, saying:

Who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me, the same way you killed the Egyptian yesterday?[h]

29 “At this disclosure, Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons. 30 After 40 years had passed, an angel[i] appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he was approaching to look at it, the voice of the Lord came: 32 I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.[j] So Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him:

Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have observed the oppression of My people in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to rescue them. And now, come, I will send you to Egypt.[k]

35 “This Moses, whom they rejected when they said, Who appointed you a ruler and a judge?[l]—this one God sent as a ruler and a redeemer by means of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out and performed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness 40 years.

Israel’s Rebellion against God

37 “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, God[m] will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers.[n] 38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him, but pushed him away, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron:

Make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what’s happened to him.[o]

41 They even made a calf in those days, offered sacrifice to the idol, and were celebrating what their hands had made. 42 Then God turned away and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

House of Israel, did you bring Me offerings and sacrifices 40 years in the wilderness? 43 No, you took up the tent of Moloch[p] and the star of your god Rephan,[q] the images that you made to worship. So I will deport you beyond Babylon![r]

God’s Real Tabernacle

44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Our ancestors in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers, until the days of David. 46 He found favor in God’s sight and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God[s] of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built Him a house. 48 However, the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says:

49 Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is My resting place? 50 Did not My hand make all these things?[t]

Resisting the Holy Spirit

51 “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your ancestors did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. 53 You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.”

The First Christian Martyr

54 When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts[u] and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with[v] Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 56 “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

57 Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. 58 They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And saying this, he fell asleep.


Betrayal

Jeremiah 29:11

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 8: 31-39

The Believer’s Triumph

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. 35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.[o] 37 No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, 39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Have you ever been betrayed or as some may say “sold out” by someone close to you, someone you loved very much?  There are three people in the Bible that come to my mind that were “sold out” by people who should have loved them and cared for them, but instead betrayed them.

Esau was sold out by his own mother, Rebekah who helped and plotted to steal away Isaac’s blessing so his brother (her favorite) child could have it.  Joseph was sold out by his brothers because of their jealousy of their father’s great love for Joseph and because God had shown to Joseph He would one day use him mightily.  Jesus, by his own disciple Judas, to be crucified for thirty pieces of silver. 

Betrayal is a hurtful thing, but when it is done by those who are family or a close and dear friend, it is even a more bitter thing!  As the Lord began to speak to me about this subject, I began to research what happened to Esau.  He was the only one I could not remember to the full extent what happened to him after he was betrayed.  His father told him he would have the “fatness of the land and the dew of heaven”.  In other words, though he had no other blessing to give he would still be blessed richly and would have a good life that laid before him. 

Esau was still so angry at what his brother had done he was going to find Jacob and kill him.  When his mother heard the plan she warned Jacob and he ran for his life and had to serve in hard labor for someone for several years.  Esau did become extremely rich and Jacob did as well over time.  But, ironically, Jacob (whose name means “trickster”) was tricked by the man he worked for into marrying the sister of the woman he loved.  He had to work a total of 14 years of hard labor to have the woman he loved dearly before she could become his wife.  He had been tricked and betrayed by his father-in-law, just as he had tricked his father and his brother.  What goes around does indeed come around!

Joseph was sold out (literally) by his brothers.  They hated him so much they were going to kill him and then thought they could sell him and at least make a profit off of him.  Is this where human slavery starts?  I am not sure, but I do know that is exactly what they did!  He was falsely imprisoned, but he rose to the top of the Kingdom in which he served as a slave and became second in command.  As the years rolled on a horrible drought came to the land, but because of Joseph’s position he was able to feed his family and lived a life of richness and luxury himself, even more so than the ones who sold him out to be rid of him.

Next, we find Jesus.  Jesus our Saviour, the Son of God, perfect in all of His ways, yet hated and despised by men!  Judas, His treasurer, sold him out for a mere 30 pieces of silver.  But, we all know how that ended up as well.  At the end of the crucifixion, those who crucified and mocked Him said, “Surely this IS the Son of God!”  Jesus was not defeated.  He went into hell and retrieved the keys to death, hell and the grave and bore all of our sins, sicknesses and guilt.  He bore all things that would steal our peace and gave us His authority and power to continue His work by the Holy Spirit after He ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father and His enemies are His FOOTSTOOL!! 

Each one of these who were so betrayed, went on to have full, rich, meaningful lives!  What if they had become bitter and carried out sinful revenge?  What if they had not let God exalt and raise them up?  Their stories would have changed drastically and gone in a very wrong direction! 

Maybe you have been betrayed and feel your life is over.  Maybe it was by your spouse, a child, YOUR mother, like Esau experienced!  Maybe you have not been the favorite of your parents.  That is extremely painful and children, even when they are grown, deal with much rejection, shame, and anxiety due to it.  They think there has to be something wrong with them if the one who was to love them the most pushed them aside for another!  They never realize that it isn’t what was “wrong” with them, but what is wrong with that parent that did such a horrible deed!!

Whoever it is or was, don’t let them steal the blessings of God from you!  God has a good plan for your life and if God be for you, and He is, who can be against you??  Nothing can separate you from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus!  Love only gives the best!  God is your source not people.  Look to Him and let Him bring restitution to your life.

Blessings in abundance, my precious reader!  They belong to you anyway!!  See you soon!


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