Merry Christmas from our home to yours.
May you enjoy the birthday celebration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Luke 2:1-20 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the in. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” so they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 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. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
As you ponder these verses, consider with whom you will share the good news of Christ’s birth. Be a shepherd this week!
Isaiah 9:1-7 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. 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 shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to 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. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
During advent we wait in anticipation for the coming of Jesus. Only he is able to shine his light on our dark world. When Jesus Christ returns, he will banish sin’s darkness once and for all, and we will bask in the light of his presence.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Music has filled my week and my heart. I heard children singing in preparation for their Christmas pageant at church. I sang carols with a group of 40 quilters at our Christmas party. I attended an Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert which included the entire Target Center lifting their voices to sing along. Last night I was treated to the voices of the St. Olaf choirs accompanied by their full orchestra. There is just something about Christmas music that heightens the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. I pray your days are filled with music and laughter as you walk through this advent season. Here is one of my favorites Christmas classics, composed by Adolphe Adam in 1842.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land,
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend;
He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!
Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.
The seasons and days fly by faster every year. This week I prepared and celebrated Thanksgiving, which very quickly turned into Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday tomorrow. So, I decided to give today a name too….. Spiritual Sunday!
Today is the perfect day to slow down as we begin the advent season, to focus on preparing and celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus. Spiritual Sunday would be a great day to share your journey to the manger with someone. Walks are always better with someone beside you.
This year give a gift under the tree that will change a life. Give a gift that will not wither or fall, but one that will stand forever. Give the gift of God’s word. If you or someone you love would like to read through the New Testament in 365 days, I would be thrilled to share my book “Walking in the Word, A Daily Journey Through the New Testament” for only $10 a copy. Email me at email@example.com
Happy Spiritual Sunday
1 Corinthians 7:15 God has called us to live in peace.
The biblical word for peace is shalom. Theologian Tim Keller explains, “Shalom experienced is a multidimensional, complete well-being – physical, psychological, social, and spiritual; it flows from all of one’s relationships being put right – with God, within oneself, and with others.” The Bible begins with Adam and Eve in the garden, a place of complete peace. It ends in heaven, another place of peace and wholeness. It’s the messy stuff in between that makes it hard to find peace some days.
We celebrate Thanksgiving this week. You may not experience shalom around the table with family and friends. God can make peace out of our pieces. I pray this year may bring peace to your home.
Peace is not the absence of something. Peace is the presence of Someone – a God who loves you and cares for you. A God who is peace.
Luke 22:39-44 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
This is football at its finest! Following Augustana University’s win to advance them to the playoffs the entire team took time to pray together. These young men were celebrating their narrow one point win over Winona State with their fans and families, but when coach called, they all met in the end-zone, took a knee and prayed.
Jesus knew the importance of prayer. He gave us wonderful examples of what prayer life should look like. Jesus’ prayer life was not a passive act of praying in the pews. Instead, Jesus prayed to the point of sweat droplets hitting the ground.
In today’s world, instead of taking punches at teammates or politicians, let’s use our energy to pray. Take a knee this week as you spend time talking to Jesus. Thank him for his wonderful examples of prayer.
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
November is a great time to reflect on life’s blessings with an attitude of gratitude in preparation for advent. Below are a list of verses to walk you through the month. Just one verse to begin or end your day with an attitude of gratitude.
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Last night we fell back into daylight savings time. We gain an extra hour in our day today! How will you spend the hour you have been given?
I want to live a life where people can tell I’ve spent time with Jesus.
Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Visiting an apple orchard is one of my favorite fall outings. Last week we strolled through acres of apple trees sampling as we walked. Here was an orchard loaded with rows of apples trees, each with their own unique tastes. I bit into sweet apples, tart apples, firm apples, soft apples and everything in between.
We serve one God… our Lord Jesus Christ. We are his followers, yet we are all unique. The fruits of the Spirit we share with the world are done so in our own unique ways. I share love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control differently than anyone else. I have been created uniquely for a special purpose. You have been created uniquely with a special flavor to be shared with the world.
After walking the entire orchard and tasting enough apples to leave with a belly ache, I went into the apple hut to ask the ladies to put together a bushel of apples for applesauce. They knew just the right apple variety mix to make the perfect applesauce. You and I are the perfect mix for sharing our fruits with others as we respect the uniqueness of the fruits we share!