Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
I pray that we can all be mindful of the blessings we have and to praise God, extending them to those we know and those we meet in 2021.
In His Name, Janet
started his rise to power. Which means that for most of Joseph’s life there was political turmoil in Europe, followed by war. No wonder a walk home on a quiet night inspired this young priest to praise God with song. It was one of those precious and rare moments when looking out over his village all was calm.
Over the years, I’ve studied more on the history of this beloved song. The version we sing here in the U.S. is only three verses long, but the original song had six verses and was performed for the first time with just a guitar and a few voices. Like most hymns or worship songs, the author tries to convey some attribute of God in each verse, which I have highlighted here in a simple list.
This song was not just about one peaceful night, but about the Lord of Peace. That little baby born in a stable was holy, our Savior, Lord, salvation for all. He came to embrace us and fulfill a promise from God for peace.
I’ve come to realize that although Joseph was inspired by a peaceful night in his Austrian village, what he sang to his congregation was a song of true peace. Peace that comes from God - not circumstances. So often we live surrounded by some form of trouble. Our peace is shattered or stolen, there is no calm, and the future seems bleak. Yet if God has declared goodwill toward us, if He saw fit to promise us peace, and then fulfill that promise with Jesus, then truly all can be calm and bright.
This Christmas, I pray we all remember that special night when a baby was given to us and the angels declared “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14
In His Name, Bonnie
the excitement of presents and new toys. Understanding why we celebrate Christmas brings so much joy to one of the most exciting holidays. Let us learn more about the twelve adorenaments of Christmas and ways we can adore God.
First, is Immanuel which means “God with us.” Jesus left His glory in heaven and came to this earth to take on our human form. "Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).
Second, is The Door. Jesus called Himself “The Door.” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) We must believe in Him and walk through the door to receive the gift of eternal life.
Third, The Vine. "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5).
Fourth, The Giver of Living Water. Jesus told the woman at the well that if she drank from the Living Water that she would never thirst again. "But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" (John 4:14).
Fifth, The Light of the World. Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness of a world full of sin. When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
Sixth, The Bright and Morning Star. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
Seventh, The Lion from the Tribe of Judah – Jesus was a descendant of Judah, Jacob’s son. "Behold the Lion from the tribe of Judah." (Revelation 5:5).
Eighth, The Lamb of God. Jesus was perfect and when He died on the cross, He was sacrificed for our sins. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
Ninth, The Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11
Tenth, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. "Which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords." (1 Timothy 6:15)
Eleventh, The Bread of Life. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
Twelfth, Savior. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)
Learning more about the meaning of Christmas is one of the many ways to bring the family together. It's also an exciting and meaningful way to countdown to Christmas. I have always enjoyed reading the verses and hanging up each adorenament decoration on the tree for each day before Christmas. If you or your family don't have any adorenament decorations, you can make your own simple decorations and hang them up for years to come as a reminder of why we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I hope you are all having a fun and safe holiday season and that you are all blessed during these wonderful Christmas times.
In His Name,
How Does God See Our Choices?
way of seeing, “right” and “wrong” are as important as we make them. We tend toward a narrow and punitive mindset when it comes to making decisions, thinking there is only one right way to do something, only one right choice—and we’d better make the right choice if we don’t want to bring about disaster and years of unhappiness and regret.
This mindset is somewhat understandable regarding a major life decision, as the consequences are far-reaching. But isn’t our view unnecessarily narrow? Do we believe that if we miss that opportunity, we are doomed to the “wrong” choice? Are God’s resources that skimpy—really? Is God’s creativity that ineffective?
It seems that the God of abundant gifts provides many options of grace in a lifetime. And God understands that the core of our abundance is found in our relationship to Him. Marriage or no marriage, this career or that one, this home or that one—every set of options we face, whether this hour or years down the road, should be the raw material for a life of a relationship with God.
When God watches me make a decision, I have this image of Him seated, leaning forward with his hands on his face shaking His head from side to side. But I know His attention is focused on the direction of my heart. Am I moving toward greater faith, hope, and love, or toward greater fear, negativity, and selfishness? Do I grow a little more God-ward in the decision I make this morning? Does the process of discernment turn me to more prayer and attention? Do I choose out of love—even if, technically speaking, I don’t make the best choice?
God sees us, every moment, with compassion, grace, and creativity. If I botch a decision today, His creativity will still bring from that choice growth and forward motion if I seek grace and creativity and if I am open to God’s involvement.
I may feel that my mistakes and missteps make God upset with me or nervous about my future, but, deep down, I know they don’t. Neither is God waiting for me to mess up so that I can be taught a lesson. God does wait and watch—to see if I will invite His participation into my worst day, my most chaotic plan, my most botched decision.
My decisions do bear consequences, but God has never allowed consequences to limit what can be done with a life. Frankly, even if I were able to make excellent decisions for years on end, I would still be living in a world affected by a lot of bad decisions by myself and other people, some of them very close to me.
God can work with our decisions, but God will not force our hearts to open and welcome divine love. For that, God will always watch and wait.
The gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.
Blessings & Happy Holidays,
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.