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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Scandolous love

His birth announcement should have captured the mind and imagination of every pauper and king, servant and master, Jew and Gentile. If life were fair, he would have received recognition as the Appointed One from birth. Instead, the blessed event created almost as much scandal as his life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus.

Just the name of Christ invites reaction and has since the moment his first infant’s wail erupted from untried lungs; the heartbeat of heavenly love embodied in flesh. From birth, he was hunted as a prize by a king who resented the competition of a helpless babe born in a hovel to a teenaged mother and her working-class husband. Forced into hiding, Immanuel–the Prince of Peace and hope of all men–finally found home amongst an unbelieving family and a community of skeptics.

Jesus.

From infancy to adulthood, the Savior lived marked by God–innocence incarnate…divinity expressed…love revealed but also a man reviled by family, hated by society, abhorred by the religious elite.

<a href=”https://ctt.ec/ceeNA”>Tweet: From infancy to adulthood, the Savior lived marked by God–innocence https://ctt.ec/ceeNA+ https://ctt.ec/fa5eA+ revealed@tammykennington.com#theway#thetruth#thelife</a>

Jesus.

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same and today–2,000 years later–people continue to disregard, degrade, and debase a child birthed to a virgin in a lonely cave. Has any other infant created such controversy? Any other life such hope? Any other death such awe?

When He returns, Friends, all doubt will be destroyed. All degradation overturned. All foolish talk silenced. He came once as helpless babe, but will reappear as the almighty Alpha and Omega. He lived within the constraints of flesh and blood, but will rule with eternal power and might. He died a sacrificial lamb, but will reign as conquering king.

<a href=”https://ctt.ec/mSULp”>Tweet: He came once as helpless babe, but will reappear as the almighty Alpha and Omega. He lived within the constraints of flesh and blood, but will rule with eternal power and might. He died a sacrificial lamb, but will reign as conquering https://ctt.ec/mSULp+</a>

In a season peppered with politically correct acclamations and a holiday that sometimes loses its meaning somewhere between the gift wrap and tinsel, may our hearts be fortified by the knowledge that thirty-three years after His birth the beautiful child unwrapped His righteousness on the tree and offered life to all willing to confess and believe in the beautiful name of…

Jesus.

 

Today’s Point to Ponder

How can we share the hope and joy of Christ’s birth with others while remaining sensitive to their individual world views? Are we willing to step out of the comfortable to plant seeds of the eternal?

 

Bible Verses for Reflection

(KJV) Luke 2-8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

Blessings,

Tammy

 

Kelly-Balarie-23

 

 

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Fish Symbol on CrossI want to be your encourager today–the one who reminds you that Christmas is the day Eternity entered the world…that moment when the Holy One stepped away from God’s glory to lay shivering a midst the squalor and stench of man’s inhospitable world.  For within that unremarkable town in an unknown stable, a young woman wrapped filthy rags around the King-turned-flesh.

And she must have wept tears of joy…and sorrow–knowing that God’s Miracle-child had been meant for more.  The world should have received the Lion-made-Lamb with shouts of praise and proclamations of the Messiah’s arrival!  God incarnate should have been wrapped in blankets of silk stitched together with threads of gold and silver!

Yet for thirty-three years, Jesus lay his crown of glory aside.  The one who breathed life into the spirit of man gave up His glory the moment the power of the Most High stirred life in the virgin’s womb.  Why?  Because of love.  Nothing more.

Dear friend, Eternity entered the world that we might have eternity.  But not just any eternity, nor an eternity spent shivering in a place of corruption…a place without the Lion-made-Lamb. He lived a man’s life–from cradle to cross–with you and me in mind so that we might experience Eternity himself.

It was His plan all along–this quiet redemption.  His impoverished birth for our heavenly re-birth.  His tattered swaddling clothes for our white robes.  His unheralded nativity for our celebrated homecoming.

The day Eternity entered the world is much more that Christmas–it is Christ.

Verses for Reflection

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.  (Luke 1:35)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17)

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, … (Revelation 7:9-17)

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The imperfect Christmas unfolded like a crumpled piece of gift wrap–its bright colors diminished by the absence of a firstborn son and a father more dedicated to the child than the comforts of home.  And I think of the journey he made yesterday in a quest to lavish love on one who may not understand–a love with its source from above…and within.  A love patterned after the One who is Christmas incarnate.

That first Christmas?  The One who is Christmas left His glorious home and chose mortal flesh; His immortal glory shrouded by helpless  mortality.  The God whose breath filled the lungs of the first Adam now inhaled–the unpracticed movement of the babe foreshadowing the shallow breathing of a soon-to-be Savior gasping on a crude, wooden cross.

That Christmas?  God’s firstborn son had forsaken the comforts of His heavenly home. Stripped of His heavenly robes, the Christ lay helpless and shivering…cloaked in nothing more than rags.  And I think of the journey he made in a quest to lavish love on those who may not understand–that the imperfect might one day be made perfect.  

 

Verse for Reflection

For unto us a son is born; unto us a son is given…     Isaiah 9:6

 

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Candle between the hands Stock Photo

I’ve been away for a few weeks–crying out to God.  Praying…weeping…grieving…and daring to hope despite my fear and unbelief. This heavy burden–unfairly thrust upon precious innocents–seems out-of-place with what I would consider a plan to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him”.  Yet, I know trials are a natural part of life this side of heaven and–sometimes–they drive all hope from the  soul.

Then–a miracle…a prayer answered in unexpected ways…a promise fulfilled.

If your journey seems to have ended in a dark, cavernous hole take Hope.  If you’ve uttered the same desperate words again–pleading with God for evidence of an answer–take Hope.  If you can’t imagine something good coming from something meant for evil, then take Hope.

Have we forgotten?  It was in a dark, cavernous hole Hope was born. Hope was the answer given for the redemption of people calling out for an answer…for deliverance…for more than all of this.  And Hope was–and is–the promise that reassures God’s glory and our holy cleansing will come despite the here and now of our struggles.

Because of Hope…because of “confident expectation”…we celebrate Advent.  We wait…knowing that He–the very Christ who was and is Hope embodied–will one day return and will bring to completion that which he began in the bowels of a cave while shivering in the cold.

Take Hope, dear friend.  He is the miracle…He is the answered prayer…He is the promise fulfilled.

Thoughts for Advent

As we light the first candle on the wreath, may we remember that Advent is a posture of expectation, waiting, and sureness.  We, dear ones, are eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of what began long ago.  Whatever our struggles or burdens today, remember that Hope promises much more and we push on “toward the goal of the upward call of Christ”. (paraphrase Phil. 3:14)  Hope came down that we might have life–and have it abundantly.  We can trust in Hope–He is not a mere wish, but the fullness of reality and power wrapped in tender skin.

So dip the match closer to the wick…watch as the flame leaps to life…and hope with expectation.  Hope is alive.

Words of Power

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1)

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babies,children,Christ,Christianity,Christians,Christmas,halos,holy,iCLIPART,illustrations,Jesus,Madonnas,Mary,mothers,religions,religious,saviors,vintages,Virgin MaryIt’s the anticipation I love.  The waiting…planning….preparing.

The Little Ones are wrapping handmade gifts with wrinkled tissue paper and a stapler.  Mom, I need some help.  The Big Guys trample up the stairs.  Where are the cookies?  You’ve eaten them already, I reply.  But the fudge is on the countertop.  My favorite Christmas CD plays in the background and I wish more days were spent like this–slowing down long enough to savor life’s small pleasures.

My thoughts jump to the anticipation of the first Christmas.  For months, the young mother had ignored the barbs and stares of others.  She’s pregnant.  Have nothing to do with that woman.  Her swelling stomach reminded her that God’s promise would soon be fulfilled.  He will save his people.  And finally, bent over in pain, she knelt in the dim light of a stable.

There were no gilded packages…just rags wrapped ’round the babe.  There were no sparkling lights…but she held the Light of the world in her arms.  And as she gazed at Him, the woman knew He was the Gift the world had been waiting to receive.

Thousands of years later, we still celebrate that day–and we continue to anticipate.  The Promise he introduced long ago in the stable will one day be made complete.  He will save.  He will restore.  He will bring peace…hope….renewal–Christmas fulfilled.

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Heather role-playing Mary and baby Jesus

Heather role-playing Mary and baby Jesus

From the moment the Thanksgiving turkey graces the table until my children unwrap the last present beneath the tree, my radio is set to local stations boasting of jingle bells and roasting chestnuts.  Yesterday, the words “you’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, better not pout–I’m telling you why” bounced around the living room while my daughter tried to convince me–and her older brothers–that Santa Claus “is too” real.

Heather’s continued belief is surprising given a recent school event. Having just lost her seventh tooth and wanting to share her bounty of wisdom, my daughter perched on top of a bench in the lunch room and announced to all of the 2nd grade students within range, “There is NO tooth fairy.  Your parent’s are the tooth fairy!”

Still, this same little girl is convinced she saw Saint Nick one distant Christmas night.  And the childhood fantasy continues…for now.

Unlike the fantasy, though, there is One who does more than watch us pout or cry.  He is more concerned about our heart condition than our outward behavior.  He is more interested in giving His life than sharing a toy that will be broken in a few months.  Instead of watching from afar, He left heaven’s perfection to bring salvation to imperfect men.

He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is the Alpha and Omega.  He is the creator of heaven and earth.  He is the babe in the manger, the sacrificial Lamb, and the firstborn from the dead.  He is Jesus.  And whether people believe or not–He is real.

Scripture for Reflection

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know my every thought when far away.  You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest.  Every moment you know where I am.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You both precede and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.”  Psalm 139:1-5

 

 

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