Saturday, December 24, 2011

Joy to the World ~ The Lord is come!

This is the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ as told in the New Testament of the Bible. Enjoy this accounting of Jesus Birth and enjoy this Holy Season. Remember that Jesus IS the Reason for the Season!
Mary, a virgin, was living in Galilee of Nazareth and was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. An angel visited her and explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.
At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel's words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, "How will this be?" The angel explained that the child would be God's own Son and, therefore, "nothing is impossible with God." Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.
Surely Mary reflected with wonder on the words found in Isaiah 7:14 foretelling this event, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

While Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary's apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning.
Although Joseph's initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to verify Mary's story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God's will. The angel explained that the child within Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us.
When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose him to be the Messiah's earthly father.
Joseph too must have wondered in awe as he remembered the words found in Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."(NIV)
At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that acensus be taken, and every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being of the line of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Probably due to the census, the inn was too crowded, and Mary gave birth in a crude stable. She wrapped the baby in cloths and placed him in a manger.

The Shepherd's Worship the Savior:

Out in the fields, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Savior had been born in the town of David. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angels and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds decided to travel to Bethlehem and see the Christ-child.
There they found Mary, Joseph and the baby, in the stable. After their visit, they began to spread the word about this amazing child and everything the angel had said about him. They went on their way still praising and glorifying God. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. It must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the tender child she had just borne—was the Savior of the world.

The Magi Bring Gifts:

After Jesus' birth, Herod was king of Judea. At this time wise men (Magi) from the east saw a star, they came in search, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews. The wise men came to the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The rulers explained, "In Bethlehem in Judea," referring to Micah 5:2Herod secretly met with the Magi and asked them to report back after they had found the child. Herod told the Magi that he too wanted to go and worship the babe. But secretly Herod was plotting to kill the child.
So the wise men continued to follow the star in search of the new born king and found Jesus with his mother in Bethlehem. (Most likely Jesus was already two years of age by this time.) They bowed and worshipped him, offering treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh. When they left, they did not return to Herod. They had been warned in a dream of his plot to destroy the child.
Joy to the World, the Lord is born: 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I'm praying for another Christmas Miracle~~

In 5 short days, the world marks the Celebration of the Greatest event in the history of mankind, the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

Our Savior, Our Creator, the Sovereign of the Universe, the Great I am! He came to live among us, and to die for the sins of mankind. He was God, yet for his short 33 years on this earth, he was also human. His birth was prophetic. There are over 60 verses mentioning the birth of Israel's Messiah in the Old Testament of the Bible, with over 300 mentions of it through the Old and New Testaments.

He was born of a young virgin woman named Mary. The Holy Spirit visited Mary and told her that she was going to be with child: "But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1:30-33 
Can you imagine Mary's surprise? Yet, this young woman of God, listened and obeyed. Jesus' arrival was not something that most people would have even noticed. But His arrival was announced by the angels to a field full of shepherds. Luke 7:15 tells us all about it:

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
 and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Jesus came into this world born in a stable because there was no room for his parents at the Inn. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in hay in a cattle feeder. Pretty humble beginnings, right? Yet, Kings and Wise men sought Him to see about this life changing event that had happened.

So what is so important about the birth of this one child and why are we still talking about it and celebrating it, over 2,000 years after the fact? Why is the calendar split in half because of his birth? BC (before Christ or AD (Anno Dimini ) after his birth?

Jesus Christ IS the long awaited Messiah! He is the Savior that God promised. His birth changed the Universe forever. Many unbelievers will say "Come on. Why would the long awaited Messiah, the King of the World be born in a lowly stable, surrounded by farm animals?

Because He could. He could be born anyway he wanted, but he chose to enter the world in a humble manner, so he could relate to His creation. It's the perfect scenario really. So unexpected. Everything about the Christmas story is unexpected. Jesus was born of a virgin and born in a stable, yet the entire world changed forever. His earthly parents were a young in-experienced teenager and a carpenter. His birth and his lineage is well documented throughout the entire Bible. He was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! His arrival was something to celebrate and it still is, 2000+ years later.

Christmas is the season of miracles!

             In 1997, when I was very sick and the doctors were telling me I didn't have long to live, the prayers began. I had people all over the world praying for me, asking the Lord to spare my life. Even some people who knew me and weren't religious folks at all, told me they began praying for me. The Lord heard every single one of those prayers and it turns out those doctors were WRONG, I didn't have brain cancer, I had MS!

I can remember clearly jumping up and hugging the neuro-oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, Dr. Steven Brem, who told me I had MS, not cancer. He said " Well, Mrs. Watts, I've never had anyone give me a hug when I told them they had a debilitating disease like MS. This is a first for me." I then explained what we'd been through for the last month and how relieved I was to only have MS. That was my first miracle!

On Friday 12/23,2011 I will return to Moffitt to have a treatment for my MS that I've had before, CCSVI (Chronic CerebroSpinal Venous Insufficiency). I very successfully had this procedure in August of 2010, (which was clearly my second miracle), again in May of this year (Unfortunately not so successful that time) and now, this will be my 3rd time. You've heard that the 3rd time is a charm, right? I am expecting and praying for another Christmas miracle - because we have a God of miracles and Christmas is the Season of Miracles! 

                                                    Christmas is a Season of Miracles!
Dr. Bulent Arslan, my compassionate doctor ~~extraordinaire, and dear friend, will be in charge one more time before he and his family moves away to Chicago. I am asking the Lord to have his Mighty Hand upon Dr. A. as he does my surgery, to give Him wisdom and guide his every step. Between Dr. A. and the Lord, I know I am in the absolute best of hands! I am asking all my friends and family to please pray for me this Friday at 2 pm, believing and expecting that the Lord will move in a mighty way!

Do you have a Christmas miracle you are praying for? Seek His face and He will reveal Himself to you in the quiet of the night. He is the God of Miracles and He promises to Never leave us or Forsake us. Matthew 28:20 tell us "...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

Merry Christmas to all of my wonderful family and friends. As we close another year, we all have so much to be thankful for. God has richly blessed this nation and all of us with so much. Please take time during this holiest of seasons to slow down and look for Jesus, because you will surely find him. Even in the midst of all the Christmas busyness, the shopping, the gift giving, lights, special programs, parties and decorating. If you take time and be still, you will find Him, because He is there. Don't ever forget that Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

If you look for Me at Christmas~~

Jesus, the Reason for the Season~~ © Greg Olsen

Joy to the World, the Savior Reigns~~

My prayer for today:

Dearest Heavenly Father:

Thank you Lord for another year. Thank you for the many blessings you have given me and my family. Lord, this is a sad Christmas because we lost Mom a few weeks ago, but I know that she is spending her first Christmas in Heaven with you this year and I am rejoicing in that fact. Watch over everyone I love this Christmas and in the New Year and give them Your Peace with surpasses all understanding. I pray for my surgery this Friday, you know what's in my heart Lord, please bring your healing upon me.

I ask all this in the Mighty Name of Jesus, my Savior,