What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Here we are again...the 2nd Sunday of Advent...and the lighting of the "Bethlehem Candle"




As we lit the Second Advent Candle we read the following:

"Today we light the Bethlehem candle.  It is symbolic of preparation.  The prophecy in Micah 5:2 that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem has significance because it indicates how God prepared even the last detail of the coming of Christ."

The following scriptures were read:

Micah 5:2

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
the ONE to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting."


Matthew 2:1-6

"Now after Jesus was born in BETHLEHEM of Judea 
in the days of Herod the king,
behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together,
he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him,
"In BETHLEHEM of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
"But you, BETHLEHEM, in the land of Judah,
are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel."

This was followed by the singing of another beloved Christmas Carol, "O Little Town of Bethlehem"


Don't you sometimes wonder why God chose Bethlehem for the birth of our Savior?  Perhaps because God wanted us to realize that He is able to make something marvelous and magnificent come out of someplace seemingly small and somewhat insignificant. Much like what He does with us, we are seemingly small and insignificant in the eyes of the world...but Psalm 139:13-16 tells us we are "fearfully and wonderfully made"...and that God had a plan for our lives before we were even born.

"For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be."



The marvelous thing about Advent and the Christmas story is that God sent Jesus, His Only Begotten Son, down to earth in the form of a tiny baby, to be born in an animal stable in the insignificant little town of Bethlehem, so that He could save ME (YOU) from all our sins. Read the following from the book of Matthew, chapter 1: 18-25 for more information...

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet 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 conceive and 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 did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

"YOU ARE TO GIVE HIM THE NAME JESUS, BECAUSE HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS."

We are the people that He has come to save...little, insignificant you and me...because the God of Heaven loves us so much He was willing to sacrifice His Son for us...this is really significant...really big news!  And THIS is why we celebrate Christmas!





Friday, December 2, 2016

Don't Miss Out! An Advent Message

This morning as I was getting dressed to go somewhere, my adult son was calling to me from the front room saying, "Mom, come look at the deer!"  I was busy brushing my teeth or washing my face or some other "important" activity, and I didn't hear him.  Finally, he came to the door of my bathroom and said, "Mom, you missed it! There were five deer running across our lawn and walking down the road in front of the house!"  So I grabbed my camera and my shoes and my sweater and ran out the door to see if I could see them, but they were long gone by that time. All that I could see were their hoof tracks in the road, heading back into the woods.  Thankfully, my son was able to get a few pictures...not of all the deer at once, but enough to get the idea:




The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be a good message for advent..."Don't Miss Out!"
Don't get so busy being busy...you know...shopping, decorating, baking, stressing over details...don't get so busy doing all the stuff, and miss out on the real purpose of Christmas!  Don't start fretting over this list and that list, and this event or that event, this gift or that gift...and totally overlook the beauty of the season...

  • the Christ child in the manger...God in the flesh come down to earth...
  • the innocence and beauty of His mother Mary...the virgin girl who trusted God even when she didn't totally understand how this could happen...
  • the obedience and kindness of Joseph...who believed the angelic messenger and trusted God
  • the shepherds watching their flocks and seeing the angelic choir announcing His birth
  • the songs the angels sang..."Glory to God in the Highest!"
  • the star that led the Wise Men
  • the gifts the Wise Men brought from afar
  • the prophets of old foretelling His birth in Bethlehem
  • and on and on and on...

Don't be like the Jewish religious leaders who doubted that this could be the Messiah, because He didn't come to earth like they thought a king should come...and they missed it...they missed the beauty of God's wonderful gift to them...they overlooked this little babe in the manger because they were expecting something else...or they were just too busy at the time to care...

So, if there is any message in these deer running across my lawn this morning...it would be..."don't miss out!"  Pay attention to the things that are really happening around you. Listen to the messages that God is giving you.  Don't miss the significance of Christmas and what it really means to you personally...Jesus came to earth seeking for you!

"From God's heaven to a manger,
from great riches to the poor,
Came the holy Son of God, a little Child;
From the azure hall of heaven
to a lowly manger stall,
Jesus came, and here He gave His life for all.

Chorus:
Redeeming love, a love that knows no limit;
Redeeming love, a love that never dies;
My soul shall sing throughout the endless ages
The adoration of this great love on high.


From a loving heavenly Father,
to a world that knew Him not,
Came a man of sorrows, 
Jesus Christ, the Lord;
In my wandering Jesus found me,
Touched my life with His great love,
And this Babe has grown to be my sovereign Lord.


Chorus:
Redeeming love, a love that knows no limit;
Redeeming love, a love that never dies;
My soul shall sing throughout the endless ages
The adoration of this great love on high."

Redeeming Love, written by Gloria Gaither/William Gaither

So...as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ anew, think about those deer running across my lawn... and "don't miss out!"


Friday Foto Friends & An Advent Message-"Behold, I Will Do A New Thing!"

Yes, I am "recycling" this Advent message from last year again...this time for our Friday Foto Friends (Click HERE to visit with other friends and Deb at Breathing in Grace) event as well...  I hope you are as excited about preparing for Christmas as I am...no, not just the decorations and shopping and baking, etc., but about actually preparing our hearts for Christmas...for the Advent of the Christ Child once again! That is a message that is well worth recycling and repeating over and over and over again!!

Original Message:

I believe in recycling...old Christmas cards, and last year's Advent messages.  This one has some of my childhood Christmas memories...as well as a message of hope for today and forever.  Please go back in time with me...and look forward to our future as well...




Picture is from a Christmas card received in previous years!

Can't you just imagine what these children are saying as they stand in front of this toy store window? The little boy sees a sailboat and a pony, and perhaps a toy truck or train.  The little girl sees a new baby doll or a teddy bear...or possibly a dollhouse.  The older girl has her eye on a bride doll or a pretty new dress.  They each have stars in their eyes and dreams of the magic of Christmas morning, when they will discover new and exciting gifts under the tree...maybe even some surprises they never imagined they might receive.

I remember those idyllic days of childhood.  My older sister and I would snuggle into our beds on Christmas eve wondering what Santa was going to bring us...hoping that he had actually read our Christmas list and that perhaps there would be at least one thing we were yearning for under the tree. We found it almost impossible to close our eyes and sleep...every little noise just had to be Santa and his reindeer on our rooftop!  And oh! The excitement and thrill as we actually heard sleigh bells ringing and the prancing of hooves...no matter that we learned in later years that our sweet daddy was actually ringing those bells and throwing stones on the roof to make it sound like hooves...we never felt sorry that our parents allowed us to enjoy the dream and fantasy of Santa Claus as long as we could.  Those were the kinds of moments that made our childhood happy and memorable.
Me, My Sister and Two Older Brothers on Christmas Eve,
"Hanging our stockings with care in hopes that St Nicholaus
would soon be there..."  


There was never any doubt as to what was the real meaning of Christmas.
We had been brought up going to Sunday School and Church from practically the day we were born.  Our family had a strong faith and belief in Jesus...and in the child of the manger.
But we enjoyed the fun and tradition of the Christmas legends and mysteries...and our parents made sure that Christmas was always a time to be merry and bright!


Yes, that's me...so sweet and angelic! Wonder what happened to that
little innocent babe?  
Yes, Christmas at our home was magical and happy. Homemade cookies, pies and candies...hot chocolate with marshmallows, toy trains and villages under the tree, lots of singing and laughter. Homemade paper chains and bells strung from wall to wall, and myriads of pretty colored lights and glistening balls on the tree.  I think that's the way God intended Christ's birthday to be...a time to celebrate...and a time to rejoice!


I believe God wanted to wipe away the tears and sorrow of His people...and to give them a new hope...Some ONE to redeem them from the cares of this world and to show them the way to live "out of this world" eternally!

In Isaiah 43:18-19 He said to us through His prophet:

"Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing!
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?"

That's what the promise of Christmas is all about...through the wonder and majesty of a tiny babe in a manger...God gave His people hope...He did a new thing...He sent His only Son to this old, sinful, sorrowful world, and through Him sprung forth salvation, full and free...new life...old things are passed away:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation; 
old things have passed away;
BEHOLD! ALL THINGS HAVE BECOME NEW!"
II Corinthians 5:17

Now, isn't that good news?  Isn't that the best gift ever found under a tree on Christmas?
We are new creations in Christ!
Oh! What wonder! What joy! What delight!
Jesus came to earth for ME that night!

This beautiful Nativity ornament was always on my parents' Christmas tree.


"Jesus, my Saviour, to Bethlehem came,
Born in a manger to sorrow and shame;
Oh, it was wonderful~
Blest be His name!
Seeking for me, for me!

Seeking for me, for me!
Seeking for me, for me!
Oh, it was wonderful~
Blest be His name!
Seeking for me, for me!

"Seeking for Me!", a Hymn,  Anonymous, 19th century

What are YOU longing for this Christmas? May all your dreams come true, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.






Thursday, December 1, 2016

JOY IS COMING TO THE WORLD!!!! Another Advent Window!

(Joy To The World...under construction...coming soon!)

Isaiah 35: 4, 5-6, 10

"Say to those who are fearful-hearted,

'Be Strong! Do Not Fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God;
He will come and SAVE you!"

"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped,
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the dumb sing,
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert....

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting JOY on their heads,
They shall obtain JOY and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

In these perilous days on earth, many are fearful-hearted, weak, sad, without hope.  Many are longing for a miracle...and a way to find JOY in the midst of all this terror and sorrow.

And then we open the Advent window today and there it is:JOY...JOY IS ON ITS WAY TO THE WORLD...It's coming to us in a rough and hand-hewn manger, in a stable strewn with straw and the scents of donkeys and sheep and cattle...JOY is on its way to us...all the way from Heaven, in a helpless little babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, with a young mother, weary and worn from the journey and the birth of her babe in such a rude and dirty stall...and a young father with wonder in his eyes and holy fear as he recalls the message of the angel telling him not to fear...

JOY is on its way to the world...and angelic choirs sing their praises while shepherds watch with amazement and awe...

JOY is on its way to the world, and the Wise Men traveled far and wide, following a star to find the King of Jews as it had been prophesied to them so many months before...

JOY came to the world when Jesus, the little babe in the manger grown to be a man, opened the eyes of the blind, caused the deaf to hear and the dumb to sing His praises, and the lame to run and jump for joy that he had been healed.

JOY is coming to our world today...This same Jesus, grew to be a Man, the Son of God no less, Sacrificed His sinless, pure life on the cross for the sins of the world, so that we would be SAVED!

No matter what this world tries to do to cause fear and sorrow in our hearts, God's Word is sure...His Word is true:
"Be Strong! Do Not Fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God;
He will come and SAVE you!"

I don't know about you, but this news gives me great JOY!  JOY IS COMING TO THE WORLD...CHRIST IS COMING BACK TO REDEEM HIS OWN!  And that is very good news...


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On the 4th Day of Advent My True Love Gave to Me...

On the 4th Day of Advent my true love gave to me, 
a Scrub Jay in a pine tree!

For those of you who do not know what a Scrub Jay is...here is more information:
http://fl.audubon.org/birds/florida-scrub-jay    But to sum it up...This elusive bird lives only in the scrubby woodsy areas of Florida.  The Ocala National Forest, where I live, is an excellent habitat for the Scrub Jay, as the forest is also known as "The Big Scrub".

So, today, on this fourth day of Advent, my true love (hubby) took me to walk where we are searching for our (what I am calling) Charlie Brown Florida Cracker Christmas Tree.  So named because the Christmas trees grown in Florida, at least in this part of the state, are not your perfectly shaped spruce, fir, or scotch pine type trees that you can get in most other parts of the country.  The natural Christmas trees that you can go out and cut here in this part of Florida are known as sand pines...because they grow in the sand and have  shallow root systems.  They grow very tall, but before they do, there are some areas where, with a permit, (and payment of $7.00) we can go and cut our own Christmas tree!
So that is what we have decided to do this year, replacing our almost 20 year old artificial tree with a real live Florida Cracker Christmas tree. I call it a Florida Cracker tree because the "Florida Crackers" were the first pioneer settlers in Florida...mostly cattle and citrus farming people and just good old country folks.  They would go out in the woods and cut their own tree for Christmas, and they weren't the fancy trees of their city and northern friends...just ordinary little pine trees that served the purpose just as well.

Since we live out here in the forest, and these cutting areas are close to where we live, I figured it was a good time to try it out and see how it goes.   We got our permit yesterday, and now we are on the search for the perfect tree.  I'm not in a big hurry, because I don't want it to die before Christmas if we cut it too soon.

So we went back to the woods today to continue our search, and that is when we saw this beautiful Scrub Jay, flitting around from tree to tree and to the bushes, calling us and welcoming us to his part of the scrub woods...

 When we go back again I intend to take some unsalted peanuts and see if he will come to me, as they are known to be very friendly birds.  We shall see how that goes...




Isn't he beautiful?   I feel honored to have had this special visit with him today.  He really didn't seem to be very afraid of us, even though I am sure he doesn't have much opportunity to communicate with humans very often.  Perhaps he is lonely out there in the big old scrub woods!



Of course, there are plenty of other creatures out in those woods to keep him company, I have no doubt.  We saw plenty of tracks of coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, turkeys, and even bears...so you can be assured he isn't too lonely...but maybe he just likes to meet and greet strangers...and has the gift of hospitality!
Perhaps he would make a good innkeeper...and would welcome 
the Holy Family to his woods....

Thinking about which...since it is the Advent Season...the time of preparation for the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ....the time of celebration of His birth...and the time to look forward to His soon return...
I wonder how many of us would make a good innkeeper?

I saw this picture on the internet the other day

How about you?  Do YOU have room for Jesus in your heart and life today?
Would you welcome Him into your home if given the opportunity?

Christmas is more than just the perfect  (or NOT so perfect) Christmas tree, gifts, parties, and even more than church programs and musicals...Christmas is about accepting the greatest gift of all,

Jesus,
born in a manger,
died on a cross,
rose from the grave,
came back to tell us that because He lives 
we can face our troubles and sorrows 
and look forward to eternity in heaven with Him
Forever!!
Hallelujah!!
Amen!

I hope you have enjoyed the opening of this Advent Window for today!  We just never know what surprises we may find in our ADVENTure  preparing for Christmas!  Who'd ever thought a Scrub Jay would appear?  A special gift along the way...Thank you, Lord, for brightening our way!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let the "ADVENTURE" Begin (again!)

I started this Advent calendar a couple of years ago, and am trying to keep it going and updated each year.  Advent actually started on Sunday, now three days ago, so technically this is a day late...but it really doesn't matter!  Let's just enjoy the days together, regardless of which day it really is, okay?  Okay!  Here we go!  

Advent Day Two  

I've decided to create my own personal Advent Calendar this year...one day at a time. Yesterday was the first day of Advent...and you can click HERE to open the first window!

This is rather experimental, and I'm not too sure exactly WHERE this "ADVENTure" will lead...well, let me take that back...I do know where this "ADVENTure" will lead...and my goal is to help you find your way as well. And we will follow our "Leader"...God's Holy Spirit...the True Spirit of Christmas...Who will show us the way.

Some thoughts for today, this 2nd day of Advent:

"Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.  But only speak a word, and my servant  will be healed."  Matthew 8:8

These words were spoken by a Roman Centurion to Jesus...a man who most likely could not be a follower of Christ openly, and yet, he saw something in Jesus that caused him to have great faith...so much faith that Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!..."Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you."  "And his servant was healed that same hour."  Matthew 8:10, 13

My prayer for this Advent season is to have such faith as this centurion.  Even in the face of strong opposition and the world's rejection of our Messiah...I pray for the faith to believe that He only needs to speak a word...and my prayers will be answered.

"Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof...but only speak a word..."
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

What are your prayers for this ADVENT season? What are your great needs? Perhaps now is the time to think about that, now at the beginning of this holy season of hope and promise. List your expectations and desires for answers to prayers...then approach the Messiah humbly, but with faith. Expect Him to hear you and to heal...heal hurts, fears, sorrows, disease.  What a marvelous gift that would be for this Christmas season!

Today I prayed for some visible sign of God's presence with us...you know, "Emmanuel...God with us?" (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23), and I saw it in the clouds on my way home this afternoon...the shaft of sunlight was so bright I could barely look at it in my rear-view mirror. The light made me think of Christ's return for us someday...hopefully soon.  It was a holy moment there in my car as I praised Him for that great hope.  Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me at the time, and by the time I got home it was starting to dissipate, but here is what I was able to capture:

Still pretty awesome.  

And then, as I drove into the yard, this is what I saw waiting for me:

(Signs are created by my son, Ben's Country Woodshop)
My son builds/creates these signs...and he had just completed these today...so this is our first Christmas decoration for our yard!  A very fitting beginning to our ADVENTure, don't you think?
This is how this sign looked on 12/1/2015!

And here it is again, on 11/29/2016!  Still my first decoration for the front yard and porch!


Lord, again, I pray for Your healing power in my life today...and in the lives of my friends who are here with me, praying along.  I pray that we will have the faith to believe You, no matter what the future holds. Thank you for Your healing power today, In Jesus Name, Emmanuel, God with us!
Amen.


"Return for Your Servants' Sake..." An ADVENT Window

11/29/2016:  This is a repeat from last year two years ago, 11/30/2014.  I intend to open the Advent Calendar windows again this year, hopefully with some NEW and exciting "ADVENTures" each day, but since I am getting off to a late start, I will just share this post again . Tomorrow is a NEW day...and I can't wait to see what God is going to show us when we open the Advent Window of the new day.  Have a blessed day today my friends!  (We are actually on the 3rd day of Advent today, so we will have to play catch-up as we go along).

11/30/14:
Last year at this time I was beginning the Advent season by opening new Advent Calendar windows each day:Click HERE,  and then  HERE.  But it kind of fizzled out as I got busier into the ADVENT/Christmas preparation season for real.  This year I hope to do a little better at keeping up with the ADVENT window tradition...but looking at my schedule and household situation, I shouldn't be making any promises that I can't keep.  However, since today IS the first day of ADVENT, here is my first window or glimpse into the real meaning of ADVENT...something to think about as we prepare for the coming of our Lord...

In our morning devotions today
we read some verses that I had never noticed before as being used particularly during the Advent season.  I was somewhat taken by surprise as I read these verses aloud to my loved ones gathered in our living room early this Sunday morning.  They were not the traditional verses I expected to see during this season of waiting for the celebration of the nativity of our LORD.   However, as each written word was spoken, I could see the expediency of each verse as we look at current events and anticipate our Lord's RETURN.

Read along with me, and allow these words written so many centuries ago (how many, Lord?~8th Century B.C., which would be over 2800 years ago) to sink in...

Isaiah 63:15-19 (New King James Version)
(Isaiah's concern and confession for his people)

"Look down from heaven,
and see from your habitation,
holy and glorious.
Where are Your zeal and Your strength,
The yearning of Your heart
and Your mercies toward me?
Are they restrained?

Doubtless You are our Father,
Though Abraham was ignorant of us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us.
You, O LORD, are our Father;
Our REDEEMER from
Everlasting is Your name.

O LORD, why have You made us 
stray from Your ways,
and hardened our heart from Your fear?
RETURN FOR YOUR SERVANTS' SAKE,
the tribes of Your inheritance.

Your holy people have possessed 
it but a little while;
Our adversaries have trodden 
down Your sanctuary.
We have become like those of old,
over whom You never ruled,
Those who were never called by Your name.

Isaiah 64:1-7
(The remnant's prayer for deliverance at the return of Christ)

"OH, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence~

As fire burns brushwood,
As fire causes water to boil~
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble 
at Your presence!

When You did awesome things 
for which we did not look,
YOU came down,
The mountains shook at Your presence.

For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor
perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God
besides You,
Who acts for the one who
waits for Him.

You meet him who rejoices and 
does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned~
In these ways we continue;
AND WE NEED TO BE SAVED.

But we are all like an unclean thing,
and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

And there is no one who calls on Your name,
who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
for You have hidden Your face from us,
and have consumed us
because of our iniquities."

Our next reading came from Psalm 80, selected verses...as you read through these words perhaps you will get the picture of the ADVENT of the RETURN of CHRIST, for WHOM we are all awaiting at this present time...

Psalm 80

1.  "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim,
shine forth!

2.  Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
Stir up Your strength,
AND COME AND SAVE US!

3.  RESTORE US, O GOD;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

14.  RETURN, we beseech You,
O GOD of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
and visit this vine

15,  And the vineyard which Your 
right hand has planted,
and the branch that You
made strong for Yourself.

16.  It is burned with fire,
it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.

17.  Let Your hand be upon the 
man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom
You made strong for Yourself.

18.  Then we will not turn back from You;
REVIVE US, and we will call upon Your name.

19.  RESTORE US, O LORD GOD of Hosts;
cause Your face to shine,
and we shall be SAVED!"


So, what is Advent...and for WHOM are we waiting? How are we waiting? What is the purpose of Advent?

In my mind, Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Messiah...and in our case, the RETURN of the Messiah.  Yes, we as Christians are preparing for two different types of celebrations...As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His first Advent to earth...we cannot truly celebrate the first Advent without being conscious of and ready for the Second ADVENT...the RETURN of our Messiah to earth to redeem His people from the world.  He came the first time to REDEEM us from our sins...from an impossible situation from which there was no rescue without His perfect sacrifice.  He will RETURN in the second Advent to claim His children and take them home to live forever with Him in heaven.  But we have to embrace and believe in the Christ of the FIRST ADVENT to be redeemed and accepted and claimed by Christ in His SECOND ADVENT...and to live eternally with Him forever.

I know my description and explanation may not be totally theologically and eschatologically (things to come in the future) correct...but in essence it is exactly what we are waiting for....the RETURN of our Savior, Messiah, and King to earth to claim His bride and take her home to live forever with Him in Heaven.  Kind of puts Christmas in a whole new light, doesn't it?

Something to ponder as we go about our hectic days of shopping, baking, decorating, partying, eating and celebrating.  This first Advent window opens up a whole new realm of possibilities and purpose. 



"He who testifies to these things says, 
'Surely I AM coming quickly.'
Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Amen."

Revelation 22:20-21



Monday, November 28, 2016

On the First Day of Advent...

Hi everyone...and welcome to Advent!  Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent, and we did pretty much the same thing as last year, so I will just repeat this post from last year....  This picture was also taken last year...and our wreath this year is very similar, using the same cedar candlestick holders that my son created for us last year.

So, without further adieu, let the 2016 Advent Adventure begin:



On this first Sunday of Advent we gathered together in our home for our weekly church service with neighbors and friends and started the service with the lighting of the first candle on the 
Advent Wreath:






As we lit the first candle we read:

"This candle reminds us of the promise of the prophets that a Messiah would come.  The prophecy candle is symbolic of long years of waiting during which the prophets, inspired by God, kept alive the hope that the Son of God was coming to redeem us."

Then we read the following scriptures:

Isaiah 7:14


"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall
call His name Immanuel."

Isaiah 9:2-7

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, 
Upon them a light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation
and increased its joy;
They rejoice before You 
according to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For YOU have broken the yoke of his burden
and the staff of his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
as in the day of Midian.
For every warrior's sandal from the noisy battle,
and garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

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."


And then we sang together  "O Come, O Come, Immanuel"

I will continue the Advent Candle series next week when we light the second candle.  If you have never experienced the lighting of an Advent Wreath before, here is a little bit of the history:

"The word "Advent" comes from the Latin, "Adventus", meaning "coming" or "coming in", and the "coming in" of Christ has been celebrated by man on many different levels, both spiritual and social since the first years of Christianity.  The traditional Advent Wreath, like most Christmas and Advent customs, has been passed on from generation to generation.  In the Advent Wreath's evergreen boughs we are reminded of the eternalness of God.  In it's perfect circle, His all-encompassing love is symbolized.  Each week, as we add the glow of one more candle, we meditate upon another facet of the life and role of our Lord.  Candles, which are living flames, are symbolic of Christ, the Light of the World, Whose coming is nearer as the light of the candles is increased.  The purple candles represent the royalty of Christ.  The pink candle is the purple fading into the white candle, which represents Christ's birth and His purity.
Jesus said, "I Am the Light of the World...Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness."  (John 8:12)" 
This year for our home Advent Wreath, I gathered some fresh green boughs from one of our pine trees, and wove their stems into a grapevine wreath that I already had. I also added a few branches of a wild holly tree that is loaded with red holly berries.  Then I placed the candles in candle holders inside the circle of the wreath.

 Our special antique table that we have been using for our home Communion Service (click HERE for more about that story) is also a perfect place to hold the Advent Wreath.  Little did my husband's grandfather know when he built this little table so many years ago how it would continue to honor the Lord in the homes of his future generations.

If there are times in your life that you are unable to attend worship services at a local church, there is no reason why you cannot have a home worship service.  Although for me it is unique because my husband is an ordained minister, but one does not have to have a seminary degree to lead your family in a time of worship.  You primarily need your Bible, and ask the Lord to guide you and give you insight into His Word.  The Bible tells us that "where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."  I am not suggesting that this should be the norm, but there are times and seasons in life when it may be necessary for reasons beyond your control.  And, even if you DO attend church regularly, there is still no reason why you cannot have times of home worship and prayer as a family or with your neighbors and friends. As a matter of fact, it could be a true blessing for your family as well as those around you. 

In many nations of the world, this is the only form of church worship available, and that is often in what is considered "underground"...hidden and in secret, due to government restrictions and anti-christian leadership.  I pray that America never has to find out what that is...Pray for our nation. I look forward to the day when the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy will be complete:

"Of the increase of HIS government and peace 
there will be no end..."
Isaiah 9:7

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel..."


Stay tuned for more ADVENT Adventures in the next few weeks as we prepare our hearts for the Advent of our Lord...The first advent was when Jesus came to earth as a baby in the manger in Bethlehem to offer Himself on a cross for our salvation.  His second advent will be when He returns to earth:

"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption draws near."
Luke 21:27-28

"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that DAY come on your unexpectedly.
For it will come as a snare on those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape 
all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:34-36

Are YOU Ready?