Tag Archives: Christmas

December Days and Wisdom

nativity

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

As a child, waiting just fifteen minutes for some looked forward to pleasure seemed impossible. As a 60 plus year old woman, those quarter hours fly by like calendar pages flipping haphazardly into a vacuous past just like they did in the cartoons I watched as a young girl.

November is almost gone. We are on the verge of stepping into December, a time of year I both love and loathe.

I love December for obvious reasons. It’s the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ. I loathe December for obvious reasons. It’s the time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ, or rather, it’s how we celebrate that for me often devolves into a mess of plans and purchases, desire and failure to do everything perfectly, and an undercurrent of anxiety as I compare my faltering efforts to celebrate Christmas “rightly” with the relative ease that others seem to enjoy.

So this Christmas season, I’m asking the Lord to help me number my days and apply wisdom. There’s something to growing older that makes me want to slow things down. But in order to number these December days aright, I need the Lord’s wisdom to do it.

It is wise to ask for wisdom from the One who gives generously…that is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, sincere wisdom.

It is wise to take my eyes off myself and look to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

It is wise to reflect on the brevity of time and ponder anew the beauty of eternal perspective as it relates to the Christmas story.

It is wise to celebrate the season as simply as possible and guard my sense of wonder and awe in honoring the birth of the One whose life, death and resurrection changed the world.

It is wise to stop comparing myself to others resulting in prideful arrogance at doing better or self-centered pity at doing worse (oh, how grievous are both of these pitfalls!).

It is wise to look past the clamor and commotion of the season and find time to be quiet and still before God.

It is wise to cultivate a thankful heart, to count my myriad blessings and appreciate the loved ones near and remember those who live in memories of Christmas past.

It’s inevitable that I will fail to thoughtfully number my days and apply wisdom perfectly. So, it is wise to let the Gospel inform the truth and miracle of Christmas. My sins do not change who Christ is, and my sins do not change who I am in Christ.

Lastly, it is appropriate and wise to consider these words from Spurgeon:

“Our lives are illustrations of heavenly goodness, parables of divine wisdom, poems of sacred thought, and records of infinite love; happy are we whose lives are such tales.”

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 

 

 

 

 

 


Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After–The Christmas Story

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

Christmas is a time of looking back. The once upon a time of the Christmas story is the birth of our Savior and the events surrounding it. We rightly celebrate the miracle of the Incarnation. Emmanuel, God with us!

However, doesn’t the celebration deserve a looking forward to the glorious future that awaits us in Him?

The revelation of Christ surely includes His birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection, all amazing facets of God’s Grace toward us. But, the hope that sets our hearts to sail ever higher and surer is a hope that rests fully on the Grace that will be brought to us at the final revelation of our Savior. Our hope resides not only in that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but in what we have not yet seen and patiently wait for; we will be like Him and see Him as He really is. This is Grace that is embodied not only in the birth of God’s Son, but also in His future revelation and our future glorification.

God gives Grace. He increases Grace. Grace upon Grace, His manifold Grace! And then, with nothing of our own work or merit attached to it, when all has been fulfilled, He lavishes us with more Grace. We are swept away in a mighty, rolling river of Grace, and the vast seas of this world are but a drop compared to the ocean of Grace that awaits us at the eternal and full revelation of His Son in the world to come. This is the happily ever after we long for.

To this end we hasten, to this end we hope.

Looking back and looking forward; Grace began the Christmas story, and Grace will finish it, too.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Merry Christmas!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Internet Mixer–December 21, 2012

This week’s Internet Mixer:

Going Overboard: Douglas Wilson’s article in CT on what it means to celebrate Christmas.

All Glory Be To Christ: A music video from King’s Kaleidoscope. I loved this.

Ravi Zacharias speaks to Hamas Leader:  This video is worth the watch!

Silent Night, Peaceful Day, A Christmas Story: A World War II Christmas story from the family archives of Matt Heerema.

That’s all the Mix for this week. Have a blessed weekend!

Terrie


Looking for the Perfect King

The Magi Journeying

Image via Wikipedia

Sermon Notes
Pastor Milton Vincent
December 25, 2011-Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

Matthew 2:1-12
The theme in this section of Scripture is “searching.”
v. 2; “Where is He?”
v. 4; “inquired”
v. 8; “search”
v. 8; “found”

What we know about the Magi:
-Magi is plural for Magis (magician)
-Not a stage magician (i.e. David Copperfield, etc.)
-They were from Babylon or Persia
-Speaks of the wisest of men
-Tutors of kings, appointers of kings, advisors to kings
-Knew something of the coming King of Israel

SIX OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THE MAGI’S SEARCH FOR CHRIST, THE PERFECT KING

1. They travelled a great distance to find Christ.
-approx 900 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem, at least 4 month journey one way
-Imagine the conviction they had concerning the Messiah having been born for them to travel a total of 8 months to find Him.
-The Star was some sort of supernatural light.
-See Daniel 9; Numbers 24:17
-How far are you willing to travel to find Him?

2. They were persistent, bold and public in their efforts to find Christ.
-They came to Jerusalem saying; the word, saying, here is in present tense=continually saying
-They kept asking person to person, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”
-They are bold, persistent and public in announcing their intent to worship this King.
-How persistent are you?
-See Heb. 11:6

3. They stirred up trouble in their quest to find Christ.
-Herod was troubled by their arrival-Bad news!
-Herod was suspicious and paranoid that someone would take away his power.
-History tells us that Herod was suspicious of his wife’s brother, mother and eventually his wife. He killed them all.
-History tells us that Herod also killed all 3 of his sons.
-The wise men arrived (not necessarily 3 of them) with a large entourage.
-Herod assumes a miraculous event has taken place but refuses to believe in Christ as King. He wants to kill Christ.
-(Note: Later in chapter 2, Herod orders killed all male children in Bethelem under the age of two! Such was his evil suspicion and paranoia!)

4. They received help from Scripture in their quest to find Christ.
-See Micah 5:2
-Look for Christ of the Scripture
-Go to the Bible; it will point you to Christ.

5. They rejoiced greatly in the star which led them to Christ.
-They rejoiced because they knew the star would direct them to Christ.
-If you value Christ, you will rejoice in people or things that direct you to Him.

6. When they finally found Christ, they worshipped Him.
-Jesus was probably between the ages of 4 1/2 months and 1 1/2 years old at this time.
-Note that they worshipped the child, not His mother (Mary).
-They fell to the ground; a posture that says “I am at your mercy and at your service.”
-Their worship was an act of respect and surrender to the King.
-They gave valuable gifts.

We do well to be seekers of Jesus like the Magi. Do you see what the Magi saw? Worship Him.

Note from Terrie to all my Cornerstone Family:
I try to give a faithful representation in my weekly Sermon Notes post of what is presented to us on Sunday mornings. Sometimes, though, I have to “fill in the blanks” by memory. I would be very thankful if you would leave a comment if ever there are any needed corrections. Blessings to you all!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie


A Christmas Mystery

christmas 2007

Image by paparutzi via Flickr

“He, through whom time was made, was made in time;
And He, older by eternity that the world itself, was younger in age than many of His servants in the world;
He, who made man, was made man;
He was given existence by a mother whom He brought into existence;
He was carried in hands which He formed;
He nursed at breasts which He filled;
He cried like a babe in the manger in speechless infancy–this Word without which human eloquence is speechless!”  
Augustine of Hippo, Sermon on Christmas

The glitter, the glitz, the shiny bows and brightly wrapped packages; evergreens aglow, tables laden with every sort of food and favor, these are the trappings of how we celebrate Christmas. And enjoy these things though we may, they are mere allegories, like dancing shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave, fragile in their representation of a glorious truth…

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…*

Celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. The jumping off point of the Gospel, without which there would be no Good News. Rejoice in the birth of Christ as a revelation. Revelatory grace and revelatory love.

What child is this? Born in a manger in Bethlehem. Living life as the perfect God-Man and dying for the sins of the world. He is the clearest picture of who God is. The purest portrayal of the Father. The transcendent God who takes on human flesh, intersects with time and enters history. Our history and our future. His birth changes everything. Glory to the Newborn King! Who can fully appreciate the miracle of the Incarnate God?

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).*  

God with us, worthy of the best celebration. This Christmas, I pray for you a holiday with its eyes on eternity, resplendent in its reflection of the Light of the world. May the reality of the Incarnation inform your heart and mind, manifesting itself in a glorious burst of ineffable praise at the mystery and truth of what God has done.

*(John 1:14, Matt 1:23)

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Happy Holidays!

Happy Christmas, painted by Johansen Viggo

Image via Wikipedia

Happy Holidays!
Do these words offend you?

There are lots of reasons why people may use the more generic “Happy Holidays” during the Christmas season. Perhaps the speaker means no offense and repeats the phrase without even thinking about it. It could be that the Happy Holidays wisher is just trying to be polite and truly doesn’t want to offend people who do not celebrate Christmas. Maybe the cashier at your local grocery store has been instructed by his boss to give a more inclusive greeting. Maybe he is just trying to keep his job!

Of course, there are those who purposely and consciously refuse to acknowledge the true meaning of Christmas, and some are zealous enemies of the cross, indeed! However, do we really think that the words “Merry Christmas” coming from the mouths of such people will in any way please God?

Whether the Merry Christmas naysayers’ motive be a premeditated denial of all that is Christian or merely ignorance of the weight and beauty of Christmas in the hearts and minds of believers, as followers of Christ what should our response be?

Five Ways Believers Can Show the Love of Christ to the Happy Holidays Crowd:

1. Have compassion.
If you are a Christian, you are a recipient of the great compassion of God. Consider the compassion of Christ toward unbelievers:
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)

2. Show mercy.
Remember your helpless state before God had mercy on you.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–(Eph 2:4-5).

3. Exhibit understanding. 
Were you not in the same predicament before God graciously saved you?
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…(Rom 5:6,8)

4. Communicate Grace.
Consider Paul’s instruction to the Colossians about how to behave toward unbelievers:
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Col. 4:6)
And, Paul’s instruction to the church at Ephesus:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29)

5. Convey Love.
The reason behind the season is Love.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)
Jesus suffered and died for the very ones who would crucify Him. That’s you and that’s me.

His motivation was love. Radical, life-changing, Gospel saturated love.

Listen to the words of Christ:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matt 5:44)

So, when you are out and about this holiday season and someone wishes you “Happy Holidays!”, how should you respond? How about a heartfelt, “Merry Christmas!”? Who knows, you may get an opportunity to give a more thorough explanation of the true meaning of Christmas.

…for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord [!]…(Luke 2:10-11)

Merry Christmas!
By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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