★ Day 12 – Reason for the Season – Oh Holy Night ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1O12 - Daily Dependence - Silent Night Lyricsne of my favorite classic Christmas hymns to sing is “Silent Night,”

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin Mother and Child, holy
Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Today’s “Reason for the Season” is focused on the moment that the Israelites longed for, for hundreds of years, the night that the savior of the world was born.  The prophet Isaiah foretold of the coming of Jesus over 700 years beforehand…Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) says,

`”Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”

“God is with us” and He sent Jesus to be that connector. Saint Athanasius said,

“He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”

Yesterday in the ★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★ we discussed how perilous the journey to Bethlehem must have been for the pregnant Mary traveling over 100 miles on the back of a donkey.  Something that has always astounded me is that after everything Mary and Joseph went through, when they arrived at Bethlehem it didn’t any easier.  Luke 2:6-712 - Daily Dependence - The Nativity Story Birth of Jesus recalls the Birth of Jesus,

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.  She gave birth to her first child, a son.  She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”

Two simple verses in all of scripture that records the most incredible event in human history!  Another classic Christmas song that I love is “Away in a Manger,” which is this lovely, soothing song but do you know what a manger really is?  The Holman Christian Standard Bible translation gives us some insight…Mary “laid Him in a feeding trough.”  Here is the definition of what God’s Son was placed in…

trough  (trôf, trŏf) n.

1.  A long, narrow, generally shallow receptacle for holding water or feed for animals.

The messiah was born in a stable, amongst animals and then placed in a “shallow receptacle for holding water or feed for animals.”  Incredible…Definitely not the idyllic scene that so many paintings and movies depict!  In Charles Stanley’s “Life Principles Bible,” he had this incredible commentary on Luke 2:7,

“Amazingly, God stepped into this world not as the reigning King with pomp and ceremony, but as the humble Child who was wrapped in simple swaddling clothes.  Far from a royal crib, Jesus’ first resting place was a primitive feeding trough.”  

In the movie “The Nativity Story” they showed Joseph frantically running from door-to-door because Mary was in labor, and it may have been that, or it may have been under calm conditions, but regardless at the end a 100 mile journey it must have been heartbreaking and quite frustrating to find that there was no suitable place for them to stay.  Day 3 of the 121 Advent Bible Reading Plan said,

“As His followers, life will be difficult, but our hope is not at the mercy of our circumstances and our perspective is not limited to what is seen, but is wrapped up in the truth of the Gospel for all eternity.  We have hope and can hope because it has been given to us in Christ.”

Life will be difficult…It was for Mary and Joseph, and it most definitely was for Jesus…But our hope is in the baby that was wrapped snugly in strips of cloth and laid in a manger over two thousand years ago.  While I was reading John Piper’s “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,” he addressed what I had always questioned about with the no vacancy signs throughout Bethlehem.

“Now you would think that if God so rules the world as to use an empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, He surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn.

Yes, he could have.

The question is not what God could do, but what He willed to do.

God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your sake He became poor.  The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake.  (See 2 Corinthians 8:9)”

The way Jesus came into this world was for our sake so that we would have a Savior that understands adversity and any hardship that we may ever experience…Jesus endured it all for our sakes!!  I will close with this additional powerful point from John Piper’s devotional…

12 - Daily Dependence - The Nativity Story and Cross“God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children.  The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.”

“Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth.  But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.”

Jesus’ life started in a “silent night, holy night,” but ended in agony and chaos all for our benefit!!  Today I am thankful for that Holy Night that brought into being the hope of my salvation!

Here is my favorite version of “Oh Holy Night” sung Rebecca Pfortmiller…You will be blessed!

12 - Daily Dependence - May the peace and hope of Christ's Birth be with you

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 13 – Reason for the Season – The Nativity Revealed ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

In the 1960’s and 70’s there was the Classic TV game show ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ with host Monty Hall where audience members would try to win cash and prizes by making wacky deals. 47 - Daily Dependence -Let,s Make A Deal CBS has since revived the show in 2009 with host Wayne Brady.  I have not seen the new version but as a child, I remember my parents watching the original in syndication.  What was so much fun about the show was that audience contestants were picked at random, dressed in ridiculous costumes, trying to win cash or prizes by choosing between curtain number 1, 2 or 3.  Before the contestant could decide, Monty would tempt them with something from within a small box, or flash cash in front of them and then they chose between what they knew or what was behind the curtain which could be a new car or a farm animal.  The interesting part was always…will they take what they know or risk losing it for the chance for something better?  The success of the original and the subsequent sequel, is that at the core of every person is the desire to get a deal!
47 - Daily Dependence -Deals

Whether it is BOGO, clearance sale, or straight out free gift, ever single person wants to stretch their dollar a little farther and maximize their buying power.  And if we are honest with one another, what we really want is to get something for nothing!  But there’s no such thing as a “free lunch” or is there?

There is one thing that is absolutely free…and that is GRACE!  The definition of Grace as it pertains to Christian belief is:

“the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

Let that sink in….“the free and unmerited favor of God.”  It is so hard to comprehend the true meaning of this reality.  For hundreds of years, people have tried to express the truth of God’s Grace in songs, poems, and sermons.  But the Bible describes it best…One of the most incredible verses on Grace is from Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) which proclaims…

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible, he made this commentary on these powerful verses:

“If our salvation were dependent upon our actions – if we could be redeemed by doing good works, keeping the commandments, and refraining from sin – we would always be in danger of losing it whenever we stumbled.  However, because salvation is a gift given to us freely – and not in exchange for anything we can do – it is completely secure.  Our salvation therefore magnifies the awesome love and grace of God alonesince He blesses us not because of our merit but because of His goodness.”  

I love that, God “blesses us not because of our merit but because of His goodness.”  This is especially important because our sin separates us from God.  Here is a incredible picture of what Grace means.

47 - Daily Dependence - Grace is the BridgeThe old testament prophet Isaiah said to the people:

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.”  Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

This true for us today, our inequities or inward bent toward sin has separated us from God.  Isaiah said because of our sins, God is hidden from us, or another way to say it, our sin pushes God away from us.  BUT Grace, changes everything because it bridges the gap between our sin and God.  Many people have a hard time believing that God’s grace, His favor and His love is free to anyone through belief in Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection for all of our sins over 2,000 years…You cannot earn your salvation, or do enough “good deeds” to make it to heaven but it is a free gift, as Acts 15:11 (NLT) says:

"We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The grace we receive is undeserved and is solely based on “who God is” and not on anything we do.

One of my all time favorite hymns is from John Newton called “Amazing Grace.”  Hillsong Worship just released their 23rd album called “No Other Name” which I have been listening to it over and over…just absolutely incredible!  The stand out song for me off the new album is a revitalized version of my favorite hymn called “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)“.

How beautiful is that picture?  God takes our failures, our weaknesses and forms something beautiful out of the broken mess that each of us are.  So back to the question at hand, is there such a thing as a free lunch?  NO, THERE IS NOT…because even though Grace is free to us through faith in Jesus, it came at a heavy price for God.  So how will you respond?  Will you accept God’s Grace?  Will you accept Jesus as your savior?

Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken vessel and forgive my sins.
I am wretched and in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of salvation and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  So take this heart Lord, I’ll be your vessel so that the world can see Your life in me!  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation (see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17)!  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life!  Please contact me if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

 

To finish this Thought for Today, check out this incredible short film about the life, death and love of what OUR savior Jesus Christ did for EVERY PERSON!

 

★ Thought for the Day – Value in Weakness? ★

When you read the name of this Thought for the Day, what did you think?  I think that there is probably a unanimous belief that weakness is not something to aspire to.  In every aspect of life, this is for the most part a true statement.  But in the Kingdom of God, that is not the case.  The Apostle Paul prayed over and over to be released from the pain in his side, but God’s response was far different than what Paul was expecting…2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10b says,

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me….for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10b are my life verses.  The idea of strength through weakness has always intrigued me.  Grace is such an incredible aspect of God’s love for us, He freely offers all that we need, even though we do not deserve it.  In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible he made this profound statement…

“Regardless of your situation, you can trust this principle: Whatever brings you to your knees in weakness carries the greatest potential for your personal success and spiritual victory.”

“What the world views as strong is really nothing more than weakness under wraps.”

40 - Daily Dependence - What value could there possibly be in weakness
Excerpt from Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible

 

I love that, “What the world views as strong is really nothing more than weakness under wraps.”  but in the Kingdom of God that is the complete opposite.

So what value is there in weakness?  Tremendous value…when your are working in partnership with God!!

 

 

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