The First Christmas- The Perspective of the Angels

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Imagine that you are one of the angels created by God and stayed faithful to God. You have seen Jesus on his throne in heaven. He is the one who created you. He is the one you have worshiped since he created you. He is the one that has sent you to do his bidding to serve human beings, sinful human beings.

As an angel you have seen Jesus in all of his power and glory and you know he is the creator God.

Now imagine coming to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus is a human baby who has just been born. If I was one of the angels, it would BLOW MY MIND. The all powerful Son of God who created everything is now a human baby.

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The angels were perhaps astounded by it all. He left his throne to become one of the humans that dared to sin against God and who are weak and vulnerable and yet God loves them so much that sent Jesus to be their Savior. You are well aware that there is no Savior or salvation for the fallen angels.

Perhaps you are one of the angels sent to be the announcement choir to the shepherds, lowly men who smelled bad because they were with the sheep all day every day and God chooses to announce the birth of the one you have seen on his throne in heaven to these shepherds.

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Is it any wonder that Peter wrote of the angels in 1 Peter 1:

“Even angels long to look into these things.”

What things? The things pertaining to the gospel our salvation according to the context of the chapter.

They long to understand it all.

But they are not created in God’s image. Only human beings are. They are not called God’s children. Only human beings who have received Jesus are.

I think if we stop and try to comprehend the true first Christmas from the perspective of the angels, it will amaze us.

John tried to describe what he saw when he was taken up into the throne room of Jesus in heaven in Revelation 1:

 “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars,and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance”

 

No wonder John’s reaction was:

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”

Fortunately for John, Jesus put his hand on John’s shoulder and said It is me don’t be afraid.

That is the Jesus the angels had seen for thousands of years on his throne in heaven. No wonder they long to understand how Jesus could become a human baby to be our Savior. That is the core of the gospel. Because he loves us, Jesus left heaven to be born to grow to die for us and defeat death for us through his resurrection.

If you take time to ponder this, please share your reaction.

Thank you for reading, God Bless.

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God Sent An “Elderly Woman” to Give Me a Message

This past Saturday when I finished reaching my morning English class at church, I went outside and noticed it had begun to snow lightly. We had  light snow all day. It is a bit early for where I live. Most Novembers we do not snow and our first snow comes in December.

As I was driving home in the snow, memories of snow in Minnesota came to mind specifically the ones in the fall of 1991. In October of 1991, we had a 28 inch snow that shut down the city for a few days around Halloween. A few weeks later, we had a 14 inch snow. That second snow something significant happened that I will never forget.

I was feeling discouraged and in a fit of frustration I told God I wasn’t going to pray because it only made things worse. I told God, “There is no hope and prayer won’t work it only makes it worse.”

God knew how to get my attention. It had been drilled into me as a child. Help elderly women. Even in my worst days as a teen, my instinct was to watch out for the elderly, and anyone else who was disadvantaged,

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I started walking to a local supermarket five blocks away. Most of the sidewalks had not been shoveled due to being in a low-income neighborhood. I had walked three blocks when I noticed a old woman trying to walk in the snow. I stopped and asked her if she was okay. She told me she needed to get to the Walgreens to get her blood pressure medicine. Red flags went up in my mind about this older woman walking in the snow to get her blood pressure medicine. So I offered to help her. I walked backwards in the snow stomping footprints for her to step in while I held her hands.

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To put her mind at ease, I shared a few things about myself because I didn’t want her to worry. I shared with her that I was a student at the bible college studying for ministry and that I worked part-time at Billy Graham’s ministry.

She looked at me and said, “Billy Graham? I pray for Billy Graham. I believe in prayer especially when there is no hope.” That rattled in my spirit because she had basically just repeated my words back to me that I had said to God.

We got to the Walgreens that had only one door for both entry and exit. I offered to stay and help her home, but she said she would be fine and could have a cab called. I started to walk away but felt I need to make sure. I went into the store and looked around. I couldn’t find her.

I asked the cashier what happened to the old woman who came in for her medicine. The cashier looked at me with that look of wondering who the kooky guy was. She told me, “No one has been in today because of the snow.”

I left wondering what had just happened. I realized that God had sent me a message to not give up on prayer. Hebrews 13:2 came to mind:

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing so some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness Award

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Thank you Jess of jesskidding.wordpress.com for nominating me for the Random Acts of Kindness Award today. I enjoy following her blog as she shares about her family life and faith.

Amy of anewlife had also nominated me the other week, but I had not followed through yet, so when Jess did today, it seemed like the idea was knocking.

God knows how to get our attention and often does in ways we don’t realize what is happening until after it occurs. When I was a student in a bible college in Minneapolis, I was experiencing a difficult time and had 33 cents until my next payday a few days later. I went to a convenience store a few blocks away to buy a package of Ramen noodles for at least something to eat for that day. While I was looking at the Ramen noodles, a man came over to me and said, “You’re a student at the bible college aren’t you?” I told him I was and he said, “Let me buy you some food,” He bought me enough food for a week. We went to the cashier and he paid the cashier. I wanted to thank him and went to the parking lot to do so. It was only a matter of seconds, so there wasn’t enough time for him to be gone. When I went out to the parking lot, he was gone. There was no sign of him anywhere. It made me think of the Hebrews 13:2- “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” I had not shown him hospitality, but I was sure God had sent a messenger to help me.

Another moment that made me think of that verse happened a month before that day. In November 1991 there was a 14 inch snow that fell close to Thanksgiving Day. Being in the inner city, the sidewalks were not cleared off. I walked to a market to buy some food and saw an older woman struggling to walk in the snow. I went up to her and asked if I could help. She told me she needed to get to the pharmacy for her blood pressure medicine. I helped her walk the three blocks by walking backwards, stomping footprints for her to step in, while holding her hands. While we were walking, I wanted to reassure her I wasn’t a danger to her, so I told her I was a student at bible college and worked at Billy Graham ministries part-time. She looked at me and said, “I pray for Billy Graham. I am a big believer in prayer especially when it seems there is no hope.” I had just told God there was no hope and I wasn’t going to pray before I left my place. We made it to the pharmacy and she told me she would be fine. I started to walk to the market, but want to make sure she would be okay. I went back to the pharmacy for check on her and she was nowhere to be found. I asked the cashier about her and the cashier told me no one had come in yet that day.

I would like to nominate Lily of retrospectivelily. She shares about her life with an autoimmune disease, her faith, and also about literature.

I would also like to nominate faithonthefarm a blogger who shares his faith.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Here are the rules:

• Tell who you nominate and why.

• Copy and share the picture that shows the award, posted above.

• Share a paragraph of something that impacted your own life in the way of receiving kindness or how you extended kindness to someone else.

• Nominate anyone or share to your own page. If you so choose to Participate. Tag or ping-back to the original person who nominated you, or the original post.

Christmas Season- …Name Him Jesus for He Will Save His People…

When children are born, one of the most important decisions is what name to give to the baby. Names have meaning to them. Some names are from grandparents or parents. Other babies are named because of the meaning behind the name. We have celebrities who are known their first name. If someone says Oprah there is little doubt show they are talking about.

The angel told Mary her baby’s name would be Jesus. The angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus. in that culture it was the father chose the names of the babies. Joseph was Jesus’ earthly step-father, so on earth it was his role to choose a name for the baby, however, it was God who actually chose the name Jesus.

The name Jesus means salvation. That is why the angel told Joseph to “name Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sin”. The whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to save us. God wants us back with Him. God wants us to be His children. He loves us so much that He sent His best. He sent His only Son, Jesus.

Christmas Season- A Choir of Angels

When God wanted to announce the birth of Jesus, He first had one angel make the announcement to the shepherds. After the announcement was made, it was time for the musical celebration. I have been blessed to hear several choirs sing wonderful songs. My favorite is still the Hallelujah Chorus in Handel’s Messiah. I have heard many choirs sing the Hallelujah Chorus. Still to this day that song moves me. However wonderful a choir may sound, it cannot compare to that first choir celebrating the birth of Jesus.

The bible tells us in Luke Chapter 2 that after the angel made the announcement, “a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God.” They sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Imagine being there to witness the heavenly host appearing and singing. It would have been a stunning and breathtaking sight.

As glorious as that was, what is even more amazing to me is who God shared this with. He shared it with shepherds out in the field. It was not a formal event with a red carpet that was invitation only with the invitations going to the rich and famous. It was a spectacular event shared with the lowly of the culture to show that God’s love is for all people.

Christmas Season- God’s Way of Announcing the Birth of Jesus

I always enjoyed the new product launch announcements by the late Steve Jobs when Apple would launch a new product or updated product. He would come out on stage dressed in a black turtleneck and bluejeans with a big screen behind him showing the new product. Millions of people waited in anticipation of the new product whether it be the iPod, iPhone or iPad. When anyone plans a major announcement like running for political office, introducing a new coach etc, it is a major event with the press there to cover it and put it on TV and the internet.

In contrast when it was time to announce the birth of Jesus, God did not call the press corps to cover it. There media coverage available. They did not have TV, radio or internet back then. God sent angels to announce the birth of Jesus, but not to the rich and important of society. God sent the angels to shepherds who were in the fields watching their sheep at night. Think about the significance of God sending the angels to shepherds. Shepherds were not important in that culture. They had hard lives which consisted of staying with the sheep 24 hours a day 7 days a week. By sending the angels to the shepherds God announced to the world not only that Jesus was born, but also that Jesus is for all people no matter what their standing in society is.

It is also interesting to reflect on the fact that these shepherds took care of sheep and lambs. When Jesus came to John the Baptist at the river, John cried out “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior of World had been born. Jesus would become the Savior by sacrificing Himself on the cross and the Lamb of God.

Jesus is for all people and wants all people to come to Him. No one is unimportant to Him. His love is equal for all people.

Christmas Season- Angels Amazed

Several years ago I wrote a drama monologue from the perspective of the angel Gabriel and what he must have thought to see Jesus born as a baby. The piece began with Gabriel looking down at the manger and then coming down to check it out and being stunned by the scene. Think about the angels who had served Jesus since He created them. They had not only served Him over the centuries, but had also seen Jesus in His glory in heaven. They had seen Him as He really is in the fullness of His glory.

The bible says in I Peter 1:12 that the angels long to look into things pertaining to our salvation. They long to understand God’s love for us and to comprehend the plan of God. I think about how the angels must be amazed by God’s love for us especially since they have never sinned against God. How they must be in wonder over the love God has for us.

Then ponder the fact that the angels who had worshiped Jesus for countless eons, witnessed Him being born as a human baby. Jesus was sent by the Father because as the bible says in John 3;16, “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” How they must have marveled at the sight of Jesus the Son of God laying in a manger which was a feeding trough for animals. One day Jesus was on His throne in heaven and nine months later He was a newborn human baby  in a stable surrounded by animals. It is incredible enough for us to ponder, but think about the angels who knew Him in all of His glory in heaven. No wonder the bible says they long to look into the things pertaining to our salvation.

Christmas Season- Joseph’s 3rd Dream- Guidance

In our modern culture filled with things like twitter, facebook, emails, youtube, internet, and TV, it can difficult for us to imagine having none of those things to help us communicate major events. At the time Jesus was born, they didn’t have any of those forms of communication. Communication between people in different countries could take months via a message brought by a friend. When Herod died, it was safe for the Holy Family to return to Israel. The vicious ruler, who had wanted to kill Jesus, had died. God sent the message to Joseph through the 3rd dream of Joseph. The angel spoke to Joseph and told Joseph it was safe to return because the one who wanted to kill Jesus had died.

Joseph brought Mary and Jesus back to Israel, but after hearing it was Herod’s terrible son Archelaus who reigned in Judea, Joseph took the family to Nazareth. Even in this small detail an ancient prophecy was fulfilled about Jesus being called a Nazarene.

God spoke to Joseph in three dreams that we have recorded. In those dreams God gave Joseph assurance and guidance and revealed to Joseph God’s plan. Joseph followed through on God’s guidance and did what he was told to do.

When I reflect on Joseph’s part of the Christmas events, I wonder if I listen to God enough. Do we in the modern world rely so much on our technology that we do not listen to God? Do we get so busy that we do not make time for God? I remember an older gentleman at my church and what he asked a pastor who was excited about new technology at the church office. he asked him “does it pray for you?” I am not against modern technology at all. I use it all of the time. I am simply pondering whether we listen to God like Joseph did or do we try to keep God in a box and limit God’s influence in our lives. My desire is to reconnect with God this Christmas Season and take time to reflect on the people and events of the first Christmas.

 

Christmas Season- Joseph’s 2nd Dream Leads the Family to Safety

The angel spoke to Joseph in three dreams. The first one was to assure Joseph the baby Mary was pregnant with was indeed from God. The second dream was a warning to get out of town fast because danger was coming. King Herod was furious that the three wise men did not return to tell him where the baby was, so Herod ordered all of the male babies under 2 years of age to be killed in Bethlehem. Imagine what must have been going through Joseph’s mind as he woke Mary up and told her they needed to flee to safety. As Mary’s husband and Jesus’ step-father, Joseph was responsible for their protection and welfare. He was told by the angel in his first dream that the baby was from God and now the angel tells him the baby is in danger.

So the Prince of Peace was born and King Herod wanted to kill Him. Jesus who came to bring us back to God, who healed the sick, who brought the dead back to life and performed many other miracles, as a baby was a threat to a king. Love had come into the world in the baby Jesus and evil wanted to destroy Him.

It makes me want to pray for the protection of those I care about and also pray to be able show His love to those who have suffered due to the violence of others such as my friends who have come her as refugees and my friends who have come here seeking a better life and have been taken advantage of. There is great deal of suffering in the world and there are people around us who need love and compassion.

Christmas Season- Joseph’s First Dream was one of Assurance and Guidance

Joseph is a good example of how we at times need assurance from God and at times need guidance from God. Joseph had planned to quietly divorce Mary, so she would not be publicly disgraced and be at risk of public stoning. He did not believe Mary at first, but did not want to harm her. In America when we have a big decision to make we like to say “let me sleep on it” as in give me some time to make a good decision. Well Joseph literally slept on it. He went to sleep and the angel spoke to him in his dream to tell him that the child Mary was going to have actually was from God and to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

There are times we can face a big decision or have confusion. During those times it helps to slow down long enough to hear God’s calm voice of guidance. Take time to pray and meditate on God’s word. God is speaking all of the time. It might be through friends, through life circumstances, or through prayer. He may even speak to us in a dramatic fashion if we don’t listen to His first messages and He wants to get our attention like He did with Joseph.

When the angel spoke to Joseph in the dream, the angel gave Joseph assurance about God’s will by saying the child was from the Holy Spirit and to not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. There are times we need assurance that we are in God’s will. The angel also gave Joseph instruction regarding God’s plan. The angel told him, “you are to name him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Joseph had his first instructions as to what he needed to do. As we read later in Matthew’s account, Joseph followed directions by naming the baby Jesus. When we ask for guidance, it will come with directions. The follow through is what we need to ask God for strength to do sometimes.