T’was the Years Before Christmas

I read this stirring poem tonight.  It was written by a good friend Steve Weber.  In Steve’s own words, “God gave me a poem that came faster than I could write it for my sermon this morning based on the “silent” 400 or so years before Jesus’ birth. the title of the poem is, “T’was the Years Before Christmas”. Hope this provokes you to realizing that when God appears to be silent in your life it may very well be because He has something climactic planned.”

I am reprinting here with Steve’s permission.  I hope it blesses you and helps you to keep your focus on the true reason we celebrate Christmas–the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Merry Christmas!

 

Twas the years before Christmas and all through the land
The people were restless under Rome’s command
God’s silence was deafening in every home
His voice not heard for centuries as His people groaned

Who would deliver, who would set free
These people who once had such vic’try
When would God come to set His people free
When would the King Jesus return for you and me

As each voice rose up with a clatter, Lord Jesus knew what was the matter
The sheep needed their Shepherd so to the throne He did go
Dear Father they need me down below.
The time has come, all is in place, though they know not now, they will soon see my face

So to a young girl did Gabriel arrive, to deliver a message no man could contrive
“Dear daughter of the king, you shall carry His seed, that the world may know I am indeed…
The One whom the prophets spoke of before, the King, the Messiah, the Jesus of lore..
Fear not my dear girl, for you have been chosen, for with God the impossible is what has been spoken

The world as you know it will not be the same, your sins forgiven, no more shame
But He will not come as a prince or a King, but the Savior wrapped in clothes bearing “the Name”.
To Shepherds will I announce his arrival in time, and you will be called blessed because you are mine
Though the world may mock and your heart will be broken,
fear not my dear daughter, for your God has spoken”

Then turning away from heaven above, the seed entered Mary with tremendous love…
Now they shall know, now they shall see, T’was the years before Christmas prepared just for thee.
Now receive Him my friend, do not turn away
Let His love lift you as you surrender each day.
Though the journey be long and troubling at times
I am with you dear child because you are mine

by Steve Weber

Living Through a Major Renovation

Steve and I moved recently into a home that, while relatively new, needed some renovations, particularly in the master bathroom.  We had hoped to have the master bath remodeled before we moved in, but for reasons beyond our control, that did not occur.  Thus, we find ourselves in the midst of a major renovation project.

Home remodeling projects are never fun, easy, or inexpensive.  We have tended to buy newer homes and have generally limited home upgrades to cosmetic changes, such as painting or changing the floor coverings.  Our largest projects prior to the current one involved converting a screened porch into an office and finishing a portion of a basement.  Neither of those projects inconvenienced us much.

Renovating the master bathroom, however, is a totally different story.  Naturally, we had to remove all of our belongings from the bathroom and relocate them to the small guest bath down the hall. Since the closet is accessed through the bathroom, we had to empty the closet.  Our clothes are distributed among the closets in the three extra bedrooms. Unfortunately, for the sake of time, we did not perform this task in any organized manner. Getting dressed in the morning requires a search through all the closets for the desired clothing.

The existing tub and shower had to be gutted.  At the end of the first day of demolition, construction dust coated every piece of furniture in the master bedroom.  That night we vacuumed the carpet, dusted the furniture, and washed the bedding.  Then we covered every inch of the bedroom with plastic drop clothes.  Again this was done without proper forethought.  I wish I had retrieved clothing I would need from the dresser, but alas I did not. At least I know where the desired items are as I fight my way through the yards of plastic covering the dresser.  The first time we had to access the answer machine on the night stand, we moved it into the guest room, as well.

More plastic is adhered to our staircase and upstairs hall.  It keeps the debris off the carpet but not off our feet. I avoid going upstairs as much as possible because I don’t like getting bits of plaster stuck to the soles of my feet.  No matter how much we sweep, we cannot get it all up.  I look forward to the day we pull the plastic up and I feel carpet under my feet again.

Remodeling is messy, it’s inconvenient, it’s time consuming, and it’s costly.  So why are we putting ourselves through this process?  We do it for the end result, of course.  We are expecting to have a beautiful master bathroom that meets our needs when the remodeling is complete.  And although it feels like the remodeling has been going on forever, the entire project should be completed in only a few weeks.  We are willing to endure a short period of unpleasantness in order to achieve the desired finished product. We look forward to the day very soon when our master bathroom will be completed to our specifications and will once again be a usable part of our home. 

As I have watched the bathroom transformation, I have been reminded of the way God moves in us to transform our hearts and reform us to be useful for His needs.  Our old bathroom was operational but it didn’t meet our needs.  The old fixtures had to be demolished and the space cleaned of all the debris before the workers could install the new fixtures.  God has to rid our lives of everything that hinders His work before we can be fully useful to Him.  Sin has to go, of course, but also bitterness, pain, and unforgiveness.  When we give those things to God, He removes them from our hearts and fills the empty spaces with His love, peace, forgiveness, and understanding.  The old has to give way to the new.  The process is often messy and painful but the end result is more beautiful than we could have imagined.

I’m looking forward to the day that my bathroom renovation is complete and even more so to the day that my personal renovation is complete and I stand in the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If your life needs a renovation, Jesus Christ is the answer.

I Serve a Risen Saviour!

Today is Good Friday.  It marks the celebration of the greatest act of love that the world has ever known.  Jesus Christ, the son of God, paid the price for my sins on the cross at Calvary.  Without Jesus’ sacrifice, I could not have forgiveness for my sins.

Thankfully, Jesus’ death was not the end of his life.   Jesus battled Satan and overcame death and the grave.  On Sunday we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave.  How wonderful it is to serve a Saviour who not only bore my sins but who is alive forever more.

In celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am sharing one of my favorite Easter hymns.  I hope that each person who reads this has received Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness of their sins and the promise of eternity in Heaven.  If you have not done so, please consider doing it today.  Your life on Earth will be happier, fuller, and more satisfying, and you will get to look forward to a future in Heaven.

May you have a blessed Easter weekend.

He Lives

I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today;

I know that He is living, whatever men may say;

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

Chorus:

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.

Verse 2:

In all the world around me I see His loving care,

And tho’ my heart grows weary I never will despair;

I know that His with me, thro’ all the stormy blast,

The day of His appearing will come at last.

Verse 3:

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing

Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!

The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find,

None other is so loving, so good and kind.

Lyrics and music by Alfred H. Ackley

You’re Blessed!

The Beatitudes from Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only than can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are–no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full,” you’ll find yourselves cared for.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world–your mind and heart–put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You’re blessed when your commitment to god provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Not only that–count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens–give a cheer, even!–for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.  And know that you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:3 – 12 (The Message)

May your life be truly blessed this week in all the ways that matter.  May you feel God’s presence in your moments of grief, disappointment, and weaknesses. May you know that God loves you far more than you can comprehend and that He will never leave or forsake you.  May you bask in His presence as you read His word and spend time with Him in prayer.

The world offers no peace, no contentment, no satisfaction compared to what God has offered mankind through His son Jesus.  If you haven’t taken the time to know Jesus and to make Him your Lord and Savior, please consider doing so today. Only when you do so will you be truly blessed.

In Celebration of Kristi

Yesterday I learned that Kristi DeVore Shores’ life on earth had ended. I was saddened by the news that this beautiful, vibrant thirty-nine year old woman had lost her brief battle with stomach cancer.  She was diagnosed with the illness less than three months ago.  As she fought her brave battle, family members and friends interceded with God on her behalf.  On Tuesday God healed Kristi.  It was not the healing we had hoped for, yet it was an answer to our prayers.  When Kristi’s eyes closed, her soul was transported into the presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

My heart aches for the family she left behind:  her loving husband Ryan who dreamed of growing old with her, three precious children who are young enough to need a mother’s daily care, godly parents who set a wonderful example for their children in their marriage and their daily walk with Christ, and three siblings who have stayed close despite busy lives of their own.  From their Facebook posts, I know the family members are sad, but they are also happy that Kristi is pain-free and they are secure in the knowledge that they will see Kristi again when their time on Earth comes to an end.

There are hundreds of posts on Kristi’s Facebook page and web site.  Some friends share the many ways Kristi touched their lives, while others tell funny stories about her.  Most offer words of condolences to her family.  All loved her and were better off for having known her.

Those of us who knew Kristi have perfect assurance that Kristi is in Heaven.  Kristi is not in Heaven because she was kind or loving.  She didn’t earn her way into Heaven through generosity or good works.  She isn’t there because she was a loving wife, a caring mother, a dutiful daughter, and a precious sister.  Kristi was all those things and many more.  Yet, Kristi knew that she could never be good enough to get to Heaven on her own. Many years ago Kristi acknowledged what is true of all of us, that she was a sinner in need of a Savior.  Kristi believed that Jesus Christ died for her sins and she confessed Him as her Lord and Savior. And because she did, she is spending eternity in Heaven.

Perhaps you’ve been told that there are many roads to Heaven.  It sounds nice and many people believe that.  However, God’s Word teaches us that Jesus is the only way.  “There is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

Where will you spend eternity?  If you haven’t accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation, I urge you to do so today.  The rest of your life on Earth will be better, and you will receive the promise of an eternity in Heaven.