On Wings Of Eagles

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Joy To The World take 2

Psalm 98:4-6 (ESV)
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Joy to the world
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and heaven
And nature sing
Joy to the world
The Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ

It amazes me at the thought of Mary and Joseph and their quest to literally find a room for the Son of God to be born. Since there was nowhere prepared for Jesus’s birth, many people missed out on the most shocking moment in human history.

God born as a baby.

Let’s face it, the Christmas season is busy. Our schedules fill with parties, activities luncheons, shopping, family traditions and errands. The room in our heart can also fill up quickly with the schedule of the season!

However, as Christ-followers, we should be drawn to celebrate differently than the rest of the world, because we observe the birth of the most amazing human who has ever lived: our God-Jesus Christ. And this Christ is worthy of our time, attention and hearts.

There have been countless people throughout history who have missed out on Jesus, even some who proclaimed themselves to be followers. They missed out because they didn’t make Him central in their lives.

They didn’t prepare a room for him.

As this song reminds us, we should be primarily preparing for Christ during this season. Not the celebration of Jesus, but for the person of Jesus himself.

While this season can undoubtedly bring stress and busyness, we do not celebrate because it’s Christmas. We celebrate because Jesus Christ came and brought his love, light, truth and way. He came to bring us back to God, for our God saves.

May you embrace the gift Jesus brought you this Christmas season, which is him. He is here right with you today as you are reading this; loving you and wanting you to fall into his loving, tender, safe arms.

Have you prepared a room for him this season? It’s never too late to prepare the room!

Dear Lord, we don’t always have space for you in our life. We don’t always carve out the time, or show You attention, or recognize Your movements around us. We pray that You’ll help us overcome our distractions, and make You a greater priority in our life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Mary Did You Know?

John 16:12 (ESV)
 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
And this child that you’ve delivered
Will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know 
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby
You’ve kissed the face of God

Have you ever received a promise, a prediction, or a prophecy, only to have to wait for it to come to fruition?

Perhaps you had been told you would be an amazing parent, but had to wait many years for your first child, overcoming losses along the way. Or perhaps you worked hard to earn a degree, but were unable to find employment in that field for a long time.

It can be very difficult to hold a dream.
In many ways, Mary didn’t have a lot of information about her unborn child. She knew that he would be known as the Son of God, the Messiah, and that he would play an important part in the future of God’s people.

Imagine being Mary, who as a young teenager was asked to carry the Son of God in her womb. In addition, imagine her being told that this baby will be the Savior of the world.

What do you think Mary thought? How did she hold onto all of this information?

What was going through her mind when she changed his diapers? When she taught him to eat solid foods? Helped him learn how to dress on his own? Guided him through childhood and helped him turn into a capable adult. Do you think she constantly had in the front of her mind, “This is the Son of God!”

Or did that thought slowly move to the background when Jesus turned out to be a normal baby and grew up as a regular child?

Jesus public ministry didn’t start until he was 30 years old. Think about it – for 30 years, Mary held the knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah.

Could you imagine holding on to an unrealized truth for so long?
Did she have any idea what kind of ministry life Jesus would have? The healings? The prophecy? The teachings? The opposition? The suffering?

I have come to believe that Mary did not know the vast majority of the details about Jesus life beforehand, and that on some level, she was just as surprised by Jesus’ ministry as anyone.

You see, God usually only gives us a piece of the big picture at a time. That’s how God works.
Because, friends, God’s understanding is too much for us to bear. He may give a premonition, a promise, or a prophecy, but often he doesn’t give us the details of how, or even when, we will arrive.

That information too much to bear.

What if as a young teenager, the angel told Mary, “You are to give birth to the Son of God, and for thirty years, he’ll be your child until he starts his public ministry. At that point, he’ll be opposed and confronted by the leaders of this country for three years, when he’ll then be brutally beaten, crucified, and all will abandon Him.”

How could a human possibly bear that knowledge?

Dear Lord, we thank You that You give us the information we need at the right time. Help us to trust You this Christmas Season. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Angels We Have Heard On High

Luke 2:14 (ESV)
“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly, sweetly through the night
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brief delight
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo

When the angel appeared to Mary in Luke 1:30, its first words to her are, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”

Do not be afraid…

An angel is depicted appearing to Joseph in Matthew 19-25, encouraging him to not be afraid to marry Mary.

And when the angels appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:9, and the “glory of God shone around them and they were terrified”… how did the angel comfort them?

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great for for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

As we think about “Angels We Have Heard On High,” we would  probably all admit that angels are not a topic we think about very often. The original Greek from which we derive the word “angel” is angelos, which literally also means “messenger.” True to name, angels are depicted throughout Scripture as messengers of God’s decrees, appearing to provide directives and prophecies to frequently ordinary people, like Mary, Joseph, and shepherds, that would alter the course their lives.

And when God calls upon our lives – when we are challenged to take up the cross of Jesus, abandon the pathways of sin, and embark on a new adventure seeking the Kingdom of Heaven – isn’t fear natural?
Although we may like to think that we would respond to such a divine beckoning with open arms, our natural response is always fear.

The angels appeared to change lives forever. Neither Mary, Joseph or the shepherds were ever the same. There is much to fear in the unknown, and that’s exactly where God calls us.

But, like the people recorded in Scripture, we too have to wade through the fear, fight off our natural, sin-dictated inclinations, and join in with the heavenly chorus of worship.

God’s way is different than everything we’ve ever known on this Earth. Bigger, bolder, more daring, more audacious. He uses regular people to accomplish the most extraordinary feats in human history.

Can we join with the angels in worship, abandoning our fears and siding with the King’s master plan?

Dear Lord, It’s not easy to follow You sometimes, particularly when the path that You lead us down is frightening and unknown. We pray that You’ll also strengthen and encourage us to be bold. Thank You for Your reliability and knowing that You lead and guide us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Matthew 16:13 (ESV)
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Go tell it the on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is Lord

This soulful rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” was arranged and performed by Pittsburgh local music legend, B.E. Taylor, a man of deep faith who passed away. Alexis is a native of Pittsburgh herself, and B.E. Taylor’s music has been the soundtrack of the Christmas season for many families

In many ways, the pursuit of Christian faith and the spiritual journey can be characterized by that question – “Who do you say Jesus is?”
Peter himself was quizzed on this topic by Jesus in Matthew 16:13. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Everyday, we’re challenged to answer the same question – “Who is Jesus to me?”
A prophet? A man? Fictional character in an old story? A guy with some good ideas, but ended up getting himself killed?

Or is he Lord? Savior? Messiah? Son of the living God?

Is He reigning over your life – or does He add a flavor of spirituality to your worldview?

The answer to the question of who Jesus is to you is the most critical inquiry of our lives. Everything else – how we live, work, raise a family, be a friend, worship…everything – is built upon the foundation of our answer to that question.

Christmas is a time for reflection on God’s goodness, mercy, and the joy that he brings.

“So, go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is Lord”

Dear Lord, we often find ourselves confused about who You are and what You do in our lives. Although we try to confess your name, we struggle and fall apart at times. May we know your mercy this Christmas, and pray that You build us up stronger in identity and understanding of how you work in this world. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Come and Worship

Matthew 2:2 (ESV)
Saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Angels from the realms of Glory
Wing your flight o’er the Earth
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim the Messiah’s birth
Come and Worship
Come and Worship
Come and Worship
Worship Christ the Newborn King

Christmas is a season for reflection on worship, and we’re called to come and worship the newborn king!

This wonderful worship song, “Come and Worship” depicts a two-fold action.

1.) Come
All are invited to come and approach God.

2.) Worship
This is an act of reverence. An act of praise.

Much of Jesus’ ministry was surrounded by a flurry of people who were always coming and going. The Gospels depict many wrestling with their obligations and desires before committing to following Jesus.

For example, one man wanted to bury his father before following Jesus (Mt. 8:21-22), while another wanted to say goodbye to their family (Luke 9:61-21). The Gospels also depict a man described as a “rich young ruler” who couldn’t bear to give up his wealth to follow Jesus (Mark 10:17-27).

All he encountered were invited to come and follow Christ, but many things got in their way – distractions that seemed noble, such as a burial or even informing one’s family they were leaving. Make no mistake, the logic behind their reasons not to follow Jesus seemed reasonable. But no matter how appropriate their reasons for not immediately following Jesus seemed, in the end they missed out. The greatest opportunity ever – to come, follow and worship the King – passed them by.

However, we also learn in Matthew 2 about three wise men (magi) who did not pass on the opportunity. They traveled from very far to come and worship the newborn King. They dropped everything in their homeland and traveled a great distance to meet the infant Christ. They had long awaited this opportunity and left behind their lives to come and worship.

This season, I hope we can all commit to be more like these three men, who came and worshipped the newborn King. Let’s be willing to drop everything if need be – the shopping, the cleaning, the busyness – and worship Jesus Christ. It is a simply astonishing and unbelievable reality we celebrate every December 25th, that the Word left his perfect dwelling place within the Trinity and came down to this earth and sacrificed everything to restore us back to him. This is the Good News. This is why we celebrate Christmas!

Dear Lord, lots of things grab our attention, things that seem to be good and worthy of our attention. Help us to let you be our number one priority and our joy. Thank you for being so good to us! In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

“Hymn of Joy”

Psalm 148:3-5 (ESV)
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee
God of glory, Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day

Throughout “Hymn of Joy” is imagery describing God’s creation singing out in joy and worship. The idea that creation plays a part in the worship of God is central in many passages of Scripture, such as the Psalm 148, which as a psalm focuses almost exclusively on this concept, like our verse for the day.

What a wonderful idea – everything can participate in the glorification of God – the creator of all things!

But… what does this actually mean for our everyday life?

Is this just flowery, pretty language? A poetic response to our Maker? Or could there be more to it?

The marvelous elements of nature – the mountains, the oceans, the forests, the stars – may not actually speak, or engage in worship – but they do inspire human beings.

We can appreciate God’s creation because we have been made in God’s image.
We’re the creatures God appointed to be stewards of nature – and we are the ones who can see the glory of God in what he has created.

God has given us a remarkable world to live in, and we can find his joy, peace, and power in what he’s made for us.

Everywhere we look – we can see the hand of God. It’s a remarkable, profound, easily-taken-for-granted gift bestowed upon us.

Although the effects of sin have destroyed, polluted, corrupted – God’s strength, creativity, and glory can be seen in all that he has made.

This Christmas season, as you go about your business, attending to friends, family and celebration – keep your eyes open. Look for God in all moments and places. When you look around you, at both nature and people…what do you see?

Christmas is a time for reflection and introspection. A chance to step back and appreciate what you have and thank God for it.

I pray that, much like this song says, that your, “Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee.”

Dear Lord, as we forward in joy this Christmas, we pray that You will let our eyes and minds to see You everywhere we look. We pray that we can find You in the midst of the things You have created. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Joy to the World

Luke 2:10-11 (ESV)
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

I love the Christmas season. I like the cheerful decorations, spending time with family and friends, and eating Christmas goodies. One of my favorite part of Christmas, is the Christmas carols like “Joy to the World!”

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come,” God’s people announce at Christmastime. Based on Psalm 98, Isaac Watts’s eighteenth-century carol celebrates the coming of Jesus, the Christ. The joy of the Savior’s coming resounds throughout all of creation, even the fields and rocks and hills and plains “repeat the sounding joy.” This is good news for all of God’s world!

What’s so good about this news announced each Christmas? Why sing this carol with such exuberance? Watts answers that question in the third stanza, where he declares that Jesus has come to deal with the curse of human sin and rebellion. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus brings the blessing as “far as the curse is found.”

In Watts’s hymn, this phrase repeats several times—and for good reason. Released from bondage to sin and the power of death over us, we are now freed to live with joy, to love God and our neighbor, and to cultivate the earth God has given us. So let’s sing with joy that good news: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come”!

Dear Lord, You have come and released us from the ­power of sin and death. Help us to live in ways that proclaim the wonders of Your love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.