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Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Three Valuable Gifts

It was a special night in the little town of Bethlehem. A baby had been born in a stable—the only begotten Son of God. His birth was accompanied by a heavenly display of lights—far greater than any fourth of July extravaganza of fireworks we have ever seen. Luke tells us that a multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel in the heavens to announce His birth as the glory of God shined down around the shepherds on the Judean hillside. A host is already a multitude or army. We can only imagine how many as multitude of heavenly armies would be. The shepherds, we are told, hastened to Bethlehem to see this newborn king.

However, it was not this dramatic scene that caused the kings in the east to search out the Christ-child. It was a star. They saw this star and related it to the prophetic scripture they had heard. They began seeking the King—and they found Him. They rejoiced with exceeding great joy, fell down, worshipped Him and gave Him gifts. That’s quite a baby shower! The gifts they brought were products of their own country. (We give back to God the first-fruits of all He gives to us!) These kings, referred to as “wise men”, were fulfilling scripture: all they from Sheba shall come; and they shall bring fold and incense; and they shall show forth the praise of the Lord. This is no surprise as the Queen of Sheba who came to see Solomon brought gifts of much gold.

The Bible does not tell us how many wise men, or kings, came that day nor does it tell us their names. We do know they brought gifts of three different types: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Most commentaries say there is no significance to the gifts except that they were expensive and therefore reflect the character and socio-economic status of those who gave them. However, we can research their various uses and origin. Together, the three types of gifts represent the roles of Jesus the Messiah: His kingly office is represented by gold, His divinity by frankincense, and His manhood by myrrh. “They offered him incense as their God; gold as their king; and myrrh, as united to a human body, subject to suffering and death.” 

Gold

Just as the metal gold is unchangeable, so is God. When melted by fire, gold becomes liquid and flows. When we are tried by the fiery circumstances of life, the experience does not change our value or our substance. It simply causes the faith and love in our hearts to flow over into others, and causes our praise and worship to flow from our innermost being to the throne of God. In both the Old Testament tabernacle and the temple, gold was used plentifully, so we see that gold is associated with worship. We are told that in the heavenly city we will “walk on streets of gold.”

Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects or those wanting to pay respect. It seems that the metal we know as gold has always held extremely high value and used as a medium of exchange. All who have studied American History known of the “gold rush” period when people risked their lives to get to an area where they might be able to find gold. It is valuable because it is scarce and must be dug out of the ground. Several state capitols in our country sport gold overlays on the dome. In other countries, it is not uncommon today to see a palace with pure gold hardware and light fixtures, gold crown moldings around the ceilings as well as in other conspicuous places—all built by kings, queens, and other rulers centuries ago and still sparkling.

Gold is a precious metal and lasts indefinitely, thus it is the basis of currency. With enough of it, we can purchase nearly any object. God is the basis of all things—He is pure precious gold. He had seen to it that His son’s family would have the money they needed to establish their carpenter shop and raise His son. It was enough!

Frankincense

Frankincense was a valuable, all-purpose substance used in medicines and perfumes as well as worship. To obtain the Frankincense, a deep, longitudinal incision is made in the trunk of the tree and below it a narrow strip of bark five inches in length is peeled off. The milk-like juice which exudes is hardened by exposure to the air.

The gum and oil were used in soaps, cosmetics and perfumes as well as an astringent for the skin smoothing out wrinkles, first-aid for wounds and bites, a tonic for ulcers, genital infections, heavy periods, depression—even digestive problems. It was known to unplug the sinuses and soothe coughs, colds, and laryngitis and was very good for asthma sufferers as it would ease breathing.

Frankincense is highly fragrant when burned, and was, therefore, used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. Aaron burned fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tended the lamps. He burned it again when he lit the lamps at twilight so incense would burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come.  This teaches us that our worship is to be pleasing to God. Remember, this sweet smelling resin comes as the result of the tree’s woundedness and pain. When we can worship God in the midst of our sorrow, our brokeness, and our pain, then it is a sweet smelling offering.

Myrrh

Myrrh is a resin that has an aromatic odor but a bitter taste; its name is derived from Hebrew murr or maror, meaning bitter. Myrrh is produced from a thorn-bush and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. When it oozes from the wounded shrub, myrrh is a pale yellow color at first, but as it hardens, it changes to dark red or even black color. Ancient texts refer to its use as a medicine, antiseptic and preservative. Modern research has shown that it stimulates the production of white blood cells, boosts the immune system and is an excellent way to promote oral health. Even today, mouthwashes and toothpaste found in natural health stores often contain myrrh as an active ingredient. Mixed with other ingredients, it can be a potent topical antiseptic salve and has been found to fight gum disease, is recommended as a gargle in cases of mumps, and helps fight tooth decay.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. This would have taken the edge off His suffering, but obviously Jesus chose to allow His human side to be totally alert to the fact that He was dying as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. He had already drunk of the bitter cup by surrendering to His Father’s will and agreeing to the suffering.

Myrrh was used for the purification of women, likely because of its pleasant scent, thus Esther had to apply it to her body for six months in preparing to meet the king. It was said to keep its fragrance for several hundred years when kept in an alabaster pot and may well have been the costly perfume poured on Jesus’ head and feet at Simon’s house. Also known to be used in preserving the body for burial, Jesus said to the people: For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. After His death, Joseph of Arimathea asked for permission to take Jesus’ body, and Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.

At the time of the birth of Jesus, myrrh was one of the most expensive substances that could be collected and its uses were many. No wonder it was one of the gifts the Magi brought to honor the Christ Child. The Holy Spirit is our myrrh—He purifies, takes away the pain, comforts and strengthens us, attracts us and draws us to the Father, and preserves us for eternal life.

Three Valuable Gifts

Together, the three types of gifts represent three roles of Jesus the Messiah: His kingly office is represented by gold, His divinity by frankincense, and His manhood by myrrh. They offered him incense as their God; gold as their king; and myrrh, as united to a human body, subject to suffering and death.

The greatest gift of all is eternal life given us by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross.

 

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 14.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

Our Lord’s Family Tree

Pharisees and Sadducees alike would surely have loudly disputed Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah if they could have found any flaw in His genealogy to prove He did not come from David. They argued, debated, accused, and crucified Him, but none ever said to Him: “There’s no way you could be the Messiah.” Why? Because genealogies were meticulously recorded and fully trustworthy and showed that Jesus did indeed come from the seed of Abraham, from the house of David as the prophecies had said the Messiah would come. Both Matthew and Luke gave genealogies for Jesus Christ tracing His lineage back to David.

However, it is mandatory to take this one step further. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. After saying Joseph is the son of Jacob, Matthew abruptly departs from this line of descendents to say that Mary gave birth to Jesus, and made it very clear that Joseph was not His father. Some historians point out that Matthew relates the genealogy of Joseph and Luke relates the genealogy of Mary, although he never mentions her by name. In Matthew, the genealogy comes forward from Abraham through David to Jesus while in Luke the genealogy goes backward from Jesus, through David and Abraham all the way back to God Himself.

The names of relatives among the Jews were arrived at in two ways: natural born children; and according to their law, when a man died childless his brother was obliged to take his wife, and the children from that marriage were attributed to the deceased brother. Hebrews never permitted women to enter into their genealogical tables, so whenever a family happened to end with a daughter, instead of naming her in the genealogy they inserted her husband, as the son of him, who was, in reality, his father-in-law. This is the case of Joseph, husband of  Mary, who naturally took her place in the genealogy: Jesus ( as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son  (son-in- law) of Heli. Scripture does not say begotten of Heli because He was not his natural son, but became his son by virtue of having married Mary. Luke uses son of where Matthew speaks of begat. Joseph, son of Jacob, and Mary, daughter of Heli, were of the same ancestral family both traced back to David.

It was promised to Abraham that Christ should descend from him,and to David that He should descend from him; therefore unless it can be proved that Jesus is a son of David and a son of Abraham, we cannot admit him to be the Messiah. Whether traced from Joseph or Mary we end up at the son of David and then the line is the same back from Abraham and all the way to God, the Father, the Creator. Through Joseph, Matthew takes us back to Solomon, son of David. Through Mary, Luke takes us back to Nathan, son of David. Thus Jesus, son of Mary, reunited in Himself all the blood, privileges, and rights of the whole family of David and can emphatically be called the Son of David—even for those who do not accept the virgin birth. As believers, we know that Joseph was simply chosen to be the guardian father of Jesus. He was not His natural father—it was the Holy Ghost that overshadowed Mary and caused her to be pregnant with God’s Son.

Contrary to Jewish tradition which never mentions woman in tracing genealogies, Matthew includes five women in the genealogy of Jesus. Tamar, whose nationality is not given, played the harlot and had a child by her father-in-law, Judah. Bathsheba, referred to as she who had been the wife of Uriah, was impregnated by David when he had an adulterous affair with her. Afterward he had her husband placed on the front lines of battle so he would be killed. Then David married Bathsheba, the widow. Their first son died, but later they had another son, Solomon, who became David’s successor as King.  Also named in Jesus’ ancestry table are Rahab, a Canaanitess who hid the spies in Jericho then later married one of them; and Ruth, a Moabitess, who was the grandmother of David. From studying Matthew’s choice of names to include in the ancestry of Jesus Christ, we find exemplified the words of the Apostle Paul: In Jesus Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek…male nor female. Our Lord and Savior identified with the sinners and outcasts and did not hesitate to have them included in His genealogy. Those who are strangers and foreigners are welcome. I cannot read the genealogy in Matthew without shouting, “Hallelujah! He included me!”

The Virgin Birth

After setting the record straight for the genealogy to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah (, the Anointed One, the Christ) would come out of David, Matthew takes great care to point out that He was born to Mary—he does not mention Joseph here. Note carefully the wording: And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. “Of whom” as it appears in the Greek in this passage is feminine singular, indicating clearly that Jesus was born of Mary only and not of Mary and Joseph. Even in English we observe that the preposition “to”, “by”, or “of”, refers to the noun immediately preceding it. Jesus was born of her, not of them. It is one of the strongest evidences for Jesus’ virgin birth. Matthew goes on to relate that Mary was found with child of the Holy Ghost…that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. He has set the stage, gotten the attention of the Jews with the genealogy, and now Matthew tells the whole story: Jesus was the Son of God! God begat Him!

 

The Name

The name Jesus is from the Greek for the Hebrew Jeshua or Joshua which means The Lord is salvation. Christ is from the Greek for the Hebrew Meshiah or Messiah, which means Anointed One. 

Prophet, Priest and King

No person ever born was the Son of God except Jesus Christ. In addition to that, among his direct ancestors were the most famous, most prominent kings, priests, and prophets. Though many kings are mentioned in his genealogy, David is the only one here called a King because with Him the covenant of royalty was made and to him the promise of the kingdom of the Messiah was given.

David, the most notorious of sovereigns, was king and prophet. Abraham, the great man of faith, was priest and prophet. However, no person operated in all three offices except Jesus Christ. He alone was prophet, priest, and king. He possessed and carried out these as only the incarnate Son of Almighty God could do.

The prophet’s purpose was to make known the will of God to men; Jesus was intimately and thoroughly acquainted with all the mysteries of the eternal world and He came to declare the Divine nature and its counsels to mankind: No man has seen God at any time…the only begotten …Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; He has declared him.

The priest’s purpose was to offer sacrifices to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus came as our high priest to Himself be our sacrifice—an atonement for the sins of the whole world.

The king’s purpose was to reign over, protect, and defend the people committed to his care. Jesus came as our King: Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Much of His teaching was about the Kingdom of God—not an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one that is within each of us who have crossed that line of faith and become His followers.

Jesus carries out this three-fold office of prophet, priest in the heart and soul of His followers as well as in the world. Jesus as prophet teaches man the will of God, convicts him of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and shows the way of salvation. Jesus as priest appropriates the atonement to the guilty conscience. Jesus as King delivers the captive, opens the eyes of the blind, causes deaf ears to ear, puts words into the mouths of the dumb, heals the sick and lame, and reigns over the human soul.

The Anointing of Prophets, Priests and Kings 

Prophets, priests and kings among the Jews were anointed for their offices. Anointing with oil was ceremonial to consecrate a person to any important office whether religious or governmental. This custom was reflective of the feeling that the Holy Spirit gave the gifts of leadership. Since it was believed no man could foretell events unless inspired by the Spirit of God, the prophet was anointed to signify that God gave Him the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. Since it was believed no man could offer an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of men, the priest was anointed to indicate he was chosen by God to carry out the sacrifices. Kings were inaugurated by anointing with oil since it was understood that no man could carry out the law and judge over the people unless God had chosen him for that task.

No man before or after Jesus Christ held the three offices; and no one ever had the title Messiah—the Christ—but Jesus Christ. He alone is King of kings and Lord of lords—the King who governs the universe and rules in the hearts of His followers; the prophet to instruct men in the way wherein they should go; and the great high priest to make atonement for their sins. The word Christ means the anointed one, and not Moses, Abraham, David, or any others had the title of Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one, even though all had been anointed.

The Anointing in Us

Jesus told His disciples that His Father would send the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who would teach them, guide them in the truth, remind them of the things He had taught them, and show them of things to come. John explains that the Holy Ghost is the anointing and that He lives in the followers of Jesus Christ and they know all things. Since we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, we have the gift of discerning the spirits—detecting truth from error. Therefore, since Jesus is the prophet, priest and king, and by His spirit He lives in us (that’s what the anointing is all about), He has made us priests, and kings, and given us the gift to prophesy (to edify, comfort and exhort the church), and to bring our own confessions and burdens and prayers directly to Him, and to rule over our emotions and choices we make. Why? Because He has adopted us and we are heirs to all that is His: as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

 

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 11.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

Bright Morning Star

The abyss between light and dark is growing wider every day. We’ve watched this happen over the past few decades as shaking took place around both the secular and church worlds. Men and women of position did not permit the Word of God to be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path. They walked in partial light. With the pathway still obscured, they stumbled and fell. Ah, but take heart! The Bright and Morning Star shines to give direction. When heeded, there will be no stumbling. There may be thorns and rocks in our pathway in the form of persecution and tribulation, but in the heart there will be no doom or gloom. Jesus said, I have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.

The Bright and Morning Star indicates a new day is about to dawn with new opportunities and clear direction visible to all. Jesus is that star! He will continue to shine brightly in the days to come. His Church will triumph in every battle, win over every obstacle, and disintegrate every weapon formed against Her. She will outshine every counterfeit, every bad report, and every evildoer. Jesus said He will build His Church. The Church of Jesus Christ is not defeated; she is alive and well, although in some geographical locations around the world her light may still be underground.

We thank God for the shaking. We are brave. We are disciplined persons. Those who judge themselves need not be judged. We discipline ourselves so we won’t have to receive imposed discipline. We’ll be strong to conquer in Jehovah’s strength. We are bold. Those who know their God are those who do great exploits. New discoveries, righteous feats, recovery of those things relinquished or stolen—all come to those who choose to follow Jesus. His disciples know that Light shines brighter in total darkness.

Shine like stars

Something wonderful happened on a dark night in Bethlehem. Jesus, the Son of God arrived! His star, bright and beautiful, was shining in a steady burst of light. There was something different about this star. The wise men, taking note of it, did some research. They determined it to be the star of the newborn king of the Jews whose prophesied birth was anticipated by many. In the midst of their excitement, the magi embarked on a journey to Bethlehem to meet and worship the Messiah. Bethlehem, meaning “house of bread”, was the place where they would find King Jesus and get fulfillment for their lives.

The Star of the Show

Those who become popular or famous in a certain setting are referred to as the “star.” Why? Because they stand out from the others. We are familiar with the expressions: Basketball star. Hockey star. Movie star. They’ve made it. They’re topping the pop charts! One question: What are they going to wear? Every pop star needs an image and a knockout wardrobe to match.

We often refer to a person who stands out in a performance as being the star of the show, All the characters are needed to make the show complete, but this one person just outshines the others. The audience, impressed with the character, leaves the event talking about this outstanding person. So it was with the star of Bethlehem when Jesus was born; it outshined all the other stars in the heavens. Everyone familiar with sky-watching would notice its glow.

We Shine like Stars

We, too, shine like stars. We may be a star in the dark life of someone near us. Although we may not like dark places, our light always shines more brightly there. Perhaps that’s why the Lord has placed us where we are—to bring light. As Christians we are to shine like lights in the universe. Wherever we live and work, we must be a light-bearer—a star others want to follow and when they do, it will lead them to Jesus. The starlight of Jesus in us should shine brighter than anything or anyone else around.

Parent Stars

Some of the brightest stars in our lives are parents. Parents who love Jesus and seek to be godly in all their ways light the way for their children to do the same. As they see their parents in situation after situation asking, “What would Jesus do?” children follow that star. Where will it lead? To Bethlehem—the house of bread. Here they can worship the King and find direction for their lives.

Teachers are stars

School teachers, Sunday School teachers, Bible teachers. Whatever they teach, if they love Jesus they are also stars in the lives of their students. Those who follow their teaching by precept and example will soon arrive in Bethlehem where they can worship King Jesus and set their lives on the right course.

Friends are stars

As friends who love Jesus, we will be a light by esteeming others more highly than ourselves. We will not demand our own way, but will exercise discernment with regard to good and evil. Our lips will not speak evil; our eyes will not look on evil; our ears will not listen to evil; and our mind will not think on evil things. We will think on things that are lovely, of a good report, pure, and honest. In so doing, we will be a bright shining star in the life of our friends who will see our good behavior and give glory to God.

Shine on!

Currently, there’s a promotion on to get people to buy a star for someone they love. They get to name the star and it becomes their very own. What a media rip off! Millions of stars exist in the galaxy. They are not for sale! Neither is the free gift of Light that Jesus offers to all who will accept it.

Whatever the season, let’s allow our star to shine. Jesus has put us here to shine forth His Word so that others may see it and follow the light to find Him. If Jesus has been born in our heart, we can be a friend’s Bethlehem—the place where they can find King Jesus. We can feed them the Word and lead them to worship Jesus and follow Him.

When we think of the people who have been stars in our life—helping to give us direction and encouragement at difficult times, let’s remember them with a thankful heart.

Jesus is the brightest star and always will outshine all the others, but we must be His stars shining in the universe as we lift up His Name, His Word, and point others to Him.

In a supernatural way, the glory of that Holy Night invades homes all over the world during the Christmas season. Customs and traditions have particular significance in bringing people together. Many books have been written on the subject of making memories—intentionally planning activities that the family will remember. In all of our planning, we must be sure that Jesus is the center. Without Him, there would be no Christmas. Without Him, all memories are merely temporal. Without Him, we live in darkness. No wonder the songwriter penned the passionate words: Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 8.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

Holy Night

It was a dark, dark night, but a Light pierced through that darkness. Those who walked in darkness saw that great Light. The Light was Jesus. He still shines today in the darkest places, on the darkest nights of our life. If we look, we will see His Light. It will be a “lamp unto our feet” giving direction; and it will be a “light on our path” pointing the way so we won’t get lost in the mundane and trivial matters that take us hostage. Perhaps all dark places in our life are really Holy Nights—places where Jesus can burst through and shine. In fact, it seems that God works the night shift.

Think about it. God created the earth at night: Darkness was upon the face of the deep. God’s people were delivered from Egyptian bondage at midnight. He parted the Red Sea and dried up the land for them to cross over by having the east wind blow strongly all night. He sent them manna from heaven by night so they could gather it first thing in the morning. In a night vision, the Apostle Paul received a call from God to go to Macedonia. During the night, Jesus walked to the disciples on the sea in the midst of a storm. Jesus was born while shepherds watched over their flocks by night.. Even the resurrection of Jesus took place on the night shift. We know because we’re told that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark and saw the stone had been rolled away. God’s work by night continues to cause great light to come into the lives of people everywhere

When the season of advent approaches—the time when we remember the coming of Jesus into the world—the lighting of candles is symbolic of what happened when darkness was upon the face of the deep…and God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that is was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. It reminds us that God who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Light in the Night

As we light candles during the advent season, as well as any other time of the year, let us remember the Word of the Lord that came through Zacharias telling us, The dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to them who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Peter reminds us that we have been called out of darkness into light. The expression “called out” implies separation from darkness thus being made holy.

What is Holy?

The Hebrew word for holy, qodesh {ko’-desh} means “separateness, holiness of God, of places, of things. In the Old Testament we have many references to “holy things”—set apart for use in worship. In the New Testament, we who have been overshadowed by the Holy Ghost and allowed Jesus to be born in our heart are made holy for worship—set apart for His use.

When the angel appeared to Virgin Mary with the announcement that the Holy Ghost would overshadow her and she would become pregnant with the Son of God, she answered, “May it be to me according to your word.” The ground of her heart was holy—full of the Light of God. She was devoted to loving and serving the one true God. Obedience with joy was the result.

Only You are Holy, Lord

Years ago when our music leader first introduced the song, “Only You are Holy, Lord,” I asked that we not sing it again. I recalled the Scripture where the Lord says, Be holy as I am holy, and We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation… I could not reconcile the scriptures with “Only You are Holy, Lord” when obviously the scripture says that we, His people, are also to be holy. However, when I did a study of the word Holy and traced it through scripture, I found in the song of the Lamb where (Jesus) says to God …for You alone are Holy. The Greek word translated holy in this passage means purity from defilement. Truly there is only One who was, is, and always will be pure from defilement. Those of us who have been cleansed by blood of  Jesus Christ are made clean by His Word. Thus being set apart, we are holy. How wonderful that we can be the children of a perfect Father, and allow Him to pour into us His attributes!

Yes, it’s true. When we yield our hands, feet, and voice as members of righteousness, they are holy. Why? Because they are totally devoted to, set aside for, the service and worship of our Holy God. Where we live and through whatever situations we must endure, the ground beneath us is Holy Ground. If we treat it as such, our outlook will be less sinister and negative, and more positive and grateful. The Lord promised to be with us ALWAYS. He is with us on the job, at school, at home, and in the marketplace. He doesn’t get out of the boat in a storm. He doesn’t run in and hide when there’s a hurricane or tornado. He doesn’t leave us in times of trauma and disaster. He goes with through them with us—sometimes taking us right on into His home!

Holy ground for Moses was in the fire. Holy ground for Joshua was in the battle. Holy ground for Mary was in a heart, mind, soul, and body willing to give birth to Jesus. Where is our holy ground? Wherever it is, we need to listen carefully. God is speaking to us—making the nights of our life into holy habitations for Him.

 

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 7.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

That’s How Jesus Is

Ham, pumpkin pies, and sugar cookies. Weeks before the holiday arrived Mother was busy cooking and baking. Her culinary artistry was known to all and many times she had people calling in unsolicited orders for several dozen of her decorated cookies. While the oven was baking, her sewing machine was humming. One year she fashioned stuffed animals out of knee socks for all the nieces and nephews. She transformed our modest little house into a glittering castle with Christmas decorations in every room, many of them handmade. The nativity scene was in place along with the Silent Night Church music box. The Christmas carols were on the piano and the radio. Christmas morning dad loved to play with us children and watch my mother enjoy Christmas. She would make a big breakfast after which we would pack up the car and head for my grandparents’ home to spend the day with her sisters and their families.

Years passed. My grandmother had gone to heaven. My sister was married and had a family of her own. My brother was engaged to be married a few days after Christmas, and I was due to give birth to my first child a week before Christmas. There was only one problem: We lived more than two hundred miles apart. Mother knew how much it would mean to me for her to be with me when I brought my new baby home from the hospital—especially since I was having a C-section, and my husband was having elbow surgery the next day. She took care of all her Christmas preparations and celebrated with the rest of the family in advance. My dad could not miss work to come along so he spent the holiday with my sister and her family, and two days before Christmas my mother drove the 350 miles from her home in West Virginia to Bloomington, Indiana, picked up my baby and me at the hospital, and drove us the one hundred miles south to Louisville and our very bare, undecorated apartment to which we had moved two weeks before. She hustled to get the tree decorated and the pies in the oven, then she went to the local hospital and secured my husband’s discharge. Together we made a delicious Christmas dinner and afterwards prepared special food boxes which my husband, arm in sling, took to some elderly ladies who had no family.

I cannot recall this gift of love without tears. My mother left everything and everyone, at a time of year she loved best, to come and serve me and my husband and help care for our newborn. That’s how Jesus is. He could be totally immersed in the company of the saints that are worshipping Him in heaven and the angels that are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy,” yet He has time for you and me. He left His Father and the riches and beauty of His home in heaven to come to earth and live in human flesh because we needed Him. He died so that we could live. How blessed we are to have the fragrance of the Holy One alive in our spirit.

 

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 5.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

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