Posts tagged “Christmas

Joy is Born

Go out and stand before me on the mountain” And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper – 1 Kings 19

A mighty wind, an Earthquake and a raging fire – in these ways and more the Lord God revealed Himself – He made Himself known – Elijah’s fire from heaven – a pillar of fire and smoke and the voice of God as the blast of the loudest trumpet. Then thousands of years later even after 400 years of silence…He came. I was inspired after hearing the song “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad to consider how He came to us.

  • He came in a way that no one could have ever expected a King to come. He could have come like a mighty storm bursting through the sky, lightening, rain and thunder
  • He could have come like a hurricane tearing through the trees, breaking limbs and uprooting.
  • He could have come like a forest fire with searing heat and smoke out of control consuming everything in His path.
  • He could have could like a tidal wave flooding and defying the rules that say to waves “stop here”
  • He could have come the way the Kings should come

But that is not how He came at all is it? He came like silent snow fall. No parades. No cheering crowds. But instead of coming with a lot of noise and the display of human excitement brought, He quietly brought Joy to the joy-to-the-worldworld. Joy is described in the Holy Scriptures like that of a war cry, a shout SHOWING gladness and rejoicing that overtakes our heart and that joy benefits us through encouragement of hope.

There is a joy that is caused by an occasion. A special moment – A wedding – A child’s first words – Good News like the birth of a child. This joy is caused not only by an occasion but also by a person. This person would be responsible for that joy; the One bringing the good news and it causes GREAT excitement! He is called Jesus! In the book of Luke 2 we read a very familiar passage that says…

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people”

Did you catch that? Not just joy but “Great” joy; the word great is “Mega” joy and this joy is to All” people. Jesus knows what we need…better than anyone. He wants you to not only receive Him and experience the joy, peace and hope that he brings but but to hand over the reigns of your life and let him be Lord. And as Lord of our life we can true sing…

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Merry Christmas!
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Peace is Born

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)

Cuba, Vietnam, Granada, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea – these are places in my life time that our country has either been at war with or at least been the threat of war. I am sure there are others that I did not mention but I think that you get the idea.

There is a lack of peace in the world however, that extends beyond the military battlefield. That battlefield is in the home and the work place and even the church where there is unrest and strife and worries and these things rip the peace out of our lives and cause terrible unrest.

Jesus said…

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world – John 16:33

God unveiled His plan for peace and sent us the Prince of Peace – Emmanuel.peace-on-earth2

Peace means much more than the absence of war. Peace paints a picture of harmony and completeness. It is a promise of peace; to make whole and restore. To have Peace or “Shalom” is to have a fulfilled life in every way. It is a state of safety where your life is put at ease by the Lord Jesus Christ – the One that we celebrate at Christmas. The One bringing this peace has the power to carry His plan of peace out.

With “Shalom” peace there is no fear; no worry, but instead a sense of harmony and oneness. Everything is exactly the way it should be. Things are in their proper order. This is “Shalom” – this is the peace that Jesus brings – Our Prince of Peace.

Jesus didn’t come so that we could give gifts on the 25th of Dec. He didn’t come that we could sing “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is coming to Town”. He came to give us peace with God and He came to give us peace within ourselves. How about you? Have you ever said yes to Him? He stands at the ready offering His peace and wants to be a part of your life.  Say YES to Him today. It’s the greatest gift you could ever receive.

Father, help us to discover the peace that came to the world, born in a feeding trough, lived a sinless life and offered Himself as a sacrifice for all the world. WHAT A GIFT! May we receive that gift as we repent and believe. Thank you.

In Jesus Name…Amen

 


Hope is Born

 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”– Luke 1:30-33

Hope – \ˈhōp\got_hope def. :  confident expectation; security; Joyful expectation of salvation.

If you searched your heart, where would you find hope? What it is that you have based your hope? Job security, finances, significant other, stuff? I will go out on a limb and say that these things will at least at some point lead to disappointment, discouragement and desperation.

Our hope is found in the fact that God has keeps His promises. Hope began in the Garden of Eden where satan is told that from the seed of the woman would come a savior, Emmanuel and that Savior would destroy all of the doubt, sadness, pain and suffering and ultimately satan himself once and for all.

His name is Jesus!

He will do battle with Satan and even though the enemy would strike a seemingly fatal blow against Jesus, he will not defeat him. Jesus will crush Satan and his power. Jesus will destroy the pain of death and sin giving us hope as we wait confidently for His return.

Is there hope in this world? Yes! Hope was born to the world 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Do you want hope? Do you need hope…real hope? Confident expectation? Do what the shepherds did so long ago. Make “haste” and bow before the King. Are you willing to humble yourself and bow in faith before the Lord Jesus Christ?

Some people think about Jesus each year at Christmastime. They are deeply touched by the season, the songs and the spirit, they promise to know him personally. Then Dec. 26th rolls around and the moment passes. Life’s pressure drag us away from the birth of Jesus, even His life, death and resurrection. Make the personal commitment that Jesus Christ will be your Lord and Savior. Is there room in your heart for Jesus? May God give you grace to make room in the Inn of your heart.

Lord, help us to put aside the pressures of gifting and receive Your sacrificial gift of love. Thank you God for loving me enough to leave Your heavenly throne and relentlessly pursue me. I surrender all to You. In Jesus Name…Amen.


9 Extraordinary Words for our Extraordinary God – Everlasting Father

9 Extraordinary Words for our Extraordinary God

This is a link to the Podcast I am trying out. I am uploading a series of messages Titled, “9 Extraordinary word for our Extraordinary God”. Merry Christmas!


Extraordinary Words for our Extraorginary God – The Prince of Peace

http://markvanburen.podbean.com/category/christmas-message/

This is a link to the Podcast I am trying out. I am uploading a series of messages Titled, “9 Extraordinary word for our Extraordinary God”. Merry Christmas!


Get on Board

On Christmas we celebrate the love, generosity and mystery of God.  In the movie “The Polar Express” we meet a young boy filled with doubt, questions and flat tire faith concerning Christmas. While he lay in bed something miraculous happens. A train stops right in front of his house. He can’t believe his eyes. Even after talking to the conductor he still doesn’t believe that it is real much less that its destination in the North Pole.

Even still he somehow gets the courage to get on the train. See faith, even a little bit, a small amount is great and powerful. He finds the strength and courage to get on board. God, throughout the bible asked people to “Get on Board” and have faith,

  • God called His people (Noah and Family) to get on the ark, to get on board to be saved. “When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous.”Gen. 7:5-16. Noah “Got on Board.”
  • Abraham “Got on Board” with God Being willing to sacrifice his son for God. Gen. 22
  • Jesus “Got on Board” with God’s plan. Praying in the garden in Matt. 26:39 and Mark 14:36 Jesus cried out Abba Father, All things are possible for you, get me out of this! Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.
  • Jesus “Got on Board” with God’s plan. When Peter slashed off the servants ear Jesus said, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11

These people and more got on board. But the train didn’t stop there. They received a wonderful gift from God – Life!

  • Noah received life for he and his family. They were blessed by God, received the promise (a rainbow) and they populated the earth and Noah lived over 900 years.
  • Abraham received life and he became the great nation of Israel and his descendants were greater than the number of stars in the heavens.
  • And Jesus – Jesus life was taken…no…it was given that WE might have life eternal.

Now gifts are funny things. We receive gifts, sometimes we give gifts but we all expect gifts for Christmas. We go from Hot Wheels and baby dolls to bigger and better and more expensive stuff.

Other times we get things we don’t want (Socks and underwear) and can’t wait to exchange them. We don’t want that stuff. Even though someone took the time and spent their hard-earned money, we don’t want it.

We do that with God. We are willing many times to trade God. He has something good for us and what we KNOW it is the best gift and we trade it in for what is evil. Look at this passage from Romans –

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen – Romans 1:24-25

People exchange truth for what is convenient and comfortable; the truth of God tossed aside and consciously choosing something that is evil…sin.

In the book of Titus we read…

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.  He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” – Titus 2:11-14

We need to get on board with God’s plan. In the movie The Polar Express” the conductor calls out to each potential passenger, “All aboard”. I believe that the Lord is calling out to people right now the same thing, “All aboard” The question is, Do you have the courage and faith to “Get on Board“? Come on! Hop on board and see where the Lord take you.

Lord, I pray that we would find the courage and strength in You to step up to the train and get on board. Help us not to doubt or loose the wonder of faith as we look to you for the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Amen.


Undeserving

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins – Romans 3:24

Not sure how to express this or even if I should. Hope you understand. This has been a particularly difficult year financially for me and my family just like it has been for many of you who are reading this. With all the hope of more prosperous times on the horizon, we just haven’t seen it. As always we remember that Christmas is not about receiving presents, Santa and eggnog – these are fun things but it just not the truth. It’s about the giving of hope to a world that is in desperate need. It is about receiving the hope given as God came to the earth as a baby and endured everything that we experience, suffered terribly on the cross so that the hope of spending eternity with Him in heaven is not a dream but a reality through Jesus.

Someone walked through the doors where I am employed and gave an envelope to one of our customer service reps for me. The envelope read “a blessing from the Lord”. She brought it back to me and said, “Merry Christmas. You can’t ask who it is from.” Upon opening the envelope and examining the contents I was astonished to find a  sum of money.

I am overcome with amazement and a little bit bewildered. There is nothing particularly special about me. I am not a particularly good person. Not a particularly good husband or father. I am not deserving of such a gift. Yet someone felt that we needed help; that we needed hope.

Isn’t this what Jesus did for us? He came as a baby, lived a perfectly sinless life all the while being tempted, tried, beaten and put to death on a cross – for me and you; even though we aren’t particularly deserving  or particularly good person, husband, wife, son, daughter or father. I am not deserving of such a gift. Yet God knew that we needed help; that we needed hope. And so God made a way for us to be ever hopeful in the person of Jesus the Christ. He is Savior, Counselor, Wonderful, Everlasting, Father, Prince of Peace – My Rock!

To my anonymous giver, I thank you. Christmas is still a magical time where miracles and blessings arrive just like Jesus – when the time is just right. It’s true that I am not deserving – not deserving of being blessed with such a terrific family, loving children, beautiful wife and most importantly SALVATION. I thank God that it is not based on me but on Him.

Lord, Thank you for changing me and the change in me. I can never be worthy but You still made a way for me and have given me so much. I love You. Amen.