On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.
Let’s look at our scripture passages for Christmas Eve beginning with the letter to Titus, Titus 2:11-15 (NASB) . . .
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Our Second passage is from the gospel according to Luke . . . Luke 2:1-14(NASB) . . . .
1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Tonight all candles are lit starting with the “Prophecy Candle” (purple), then the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple), Next is the “Shepherds’ Candle” (rose), then the “Angels’ Candle” (purple) and tonight the “Christ Candle” (white).
Let us pray . . . Father unto You be glory, honor and power, joy, peace, love and purity for only You have given us Christ the Lord Who is King and Shepherd, Savior and Lord. We thank You for Your graciousness and love, for the amazing sacrifice You make, in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
The fourth and last Sunday of Advent is for the celebration and representation of Peace. Let’s read our scripture passages, the first being from the first letter to the church of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NASB)
4 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.
3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.
4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
Our second passage of scripture comes from the gospel according to Luke Chapter 3, verses 1-6 (NASB) . . . .
3 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins;
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.
5‘Every ravine will be filled,
And every mountain and hill will be brought low;
The crooked will become straight,
And the rough roads smooth;
6And all flesh will see the salvation of God.’”
Today we light four candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple), the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple), the “Shepherd’s Candle” (rose) and the fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the “Angels Candle,” represents peace.
Let us pray, Father we thank You for bringing us through this time of preparation to receive Your Son, our Lord and Savior. What a magnificent gift You have given and are giving us when He returns to gather His brothers and sisters, Your children, Home to glory. Keep us ever mindful of the price You paid when He came to earth in human form, totally human, yet totally divine, in His precious name we pray, Amen.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our second scripture passage is from the gospel of John 1:19-28 (NASB)
19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.
It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle” and it represents joy. Today we light three candles, the “Prophecy Candle” (purple); the “Bethlehem Candle” (purple) and todays is the pink or rose candle know as the “Shepherd’s Candle.”
Let us Pray . . . Father thank You for giving us time to prepare for the coming of Your Son. As we look forward to His birth, we also look forward to His coming again and thank You for our redemption through Christ our Lord, Amen.
On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the “Bethlehem Candle,” symbolizing Christ’s manger. As we begin our Celebration of the Second Sunday of Advent, let’s join together and read from the letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verses 4-13 (NASB) . . .
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
“Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Your name.”
10 Again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him.”
12 Again Isaiah says,
“There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lets now read together from the gospel of Matthew. Matthew 11:2-10 (NASB)
2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:
5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Advent-wreath-wk2-m8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!
9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger Who will prepare Your way before You.’
Let’s pray, Father we thank You for Who You are and for all the ways You show us Your love. Through the Prophets of old You gave us a promise and we see You have fulfilled it. We can therefore learn from this that Your word is tried and true. You will always keep Your promises. Thank You for showing us Your love as we prepare for the birth of our Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Our second reading is from the book of the gospel of Luke, chapter 21:25-33 (NASB) . . .
25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
Let us light the first candle of Advent. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah. (Light the first Purple Candle)
Father we thank You that You love us enough to send us Your son for our redemption and new life. Prepare us for the day of Your coming again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(4)I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. (5)They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. (6)This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. (7)The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. (8)O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:4-8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
No matter what country, background, or ethnicity we may have, all of us have experienced disappointment in our lives. Whether it is a desire to serve the Lord in ministry, or a plan to expand a business, or the hope of a bride in her new marriage, things don’t always turn out as we had hoped. These are times of “shattered dreams.”
There was a time in several friends’ and my own life where it seemed as if everything kept derailing – no forward momentum but lots of backwards falling. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick . . . ” is the way the Scripture puts it (Proverbs 13:12 NASB). Yet we learned to move forward and not give up, in spite of heartaches and what seemed like failures. We learned that friendship are huge helps in times of trouble, as are our deepening relationship with the Lord. And we learned that what we THINK we see, may not be what God is doing!
And there is good news! The second part of Proverbs 13:12 which we rarely hear says “. . . But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” God is all about life. The reason Jesus went to the cross is to allow us access to life – both here and throughout eternity (John 3:16). When God created the earth and all that is in it, He commanded all of it to prosper and bring forth life. He asks us to be the vessels of His “River of Life,” the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t break “bruised reeds,” people who are sad and hurting. He came to bring us LIFE and that MORE ABUNDANTLY (John 10:10).
When it seems like there is no hope, there is God who creates the dawn. When the dreams appear to be dead, there is the God of resurrection! Tomorrow is a new day for us all. What happens today may be the stepping stone to the breakthrough you have waited for. Faith is built on what we can’t see, but we know God has in store for us. May the fulfilled desires of your heart come quickly, and may all that delays your hope be destroyed by the blessings and love of our Savior!
(This information is taken by permission, from “Whispers of Heaven” written by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011.)
(19)“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.(20)“The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.(21)“The people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise. ——-Isaiah 43:19-21 (NASB)
Why does our God want us to praise Him? Is He an ego-maniac? No, He wants us to praise Him because true praise is an expression of love. Plus, He inhabits our praise (Psalms 22:3)! The more we praise Him, the more we pull down the plans of the enemy.
In a practical sense, praising the Lord brings our minds out of our situation and focuses us on Him. In the spiritual reality, praising the Lord allows His Presence to flow without interference. It creates a place of thankfulness in our hearts. And being thankful is also an expression of love.
Not everyone has positive experiences with their earthly father so at times it is difficult for them to relate to God as Father, the more we know Him, the more we are thankful and filled with praise, the more His Presence will heal all the places we missed from any lack in in our earthly parents. The praises we sing give us refuge under His wings. They give us triumph over circumstances. They bring His restoration and redemption to our lives in a River that flows unrestrained through us.
(11) Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. (12) Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. (13) Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.——–1 Chronicles 29:11-13 (NASB)
The title today isn’t referencing an old Science Fiction movie. It’s about victory in the heat of battle. As the Israelites traversed the desert, they encountered the Amalekites. This vicious army attacked them, forcing Joshua to lead his people into battle. During the battle, as long as Moses held us his hands, Israel prevailed. When he put his hands down, the battle turned against them. So Aaron and Hur sat Moses down on a rock, and held his hands up so that the battle would be won. (Exodus 17).
In the Promised Land, Joshua came up against the Amorites (Joshua 10). In order to finish the battle while daylight allowed them to see, Joshua commanded the sun not to go down, and the moon to stay still for an entire 24 hours. In that time frame, the Lord brought about a victory for Israel. Their enemies literally fled before them, as Israel obviously had the Living God on their side! To us, these were bloody battles, the path to victory, almost weird. Spiritually, however, there is a lesson in them.
Today we find the Lord reminding us that perilous times breed fear and anxiety. They also breed weariness. If the battle is hard enough, we start slipping into darkness and despair, even though we may know the Lord. The solution? Love, unity of spirit, and willingness to lift up the arms of those who are weary, bringing the true power of God that causes light to come into the lives of those who need to finish the battle.
When the Lord asks us to show others the simple truth of His love, it’s a call to help others finish the victory. It can be a needed miracle, or a small helping hand, but sometimes the strangest of actions can bring God’s power to bear on a problem. Listen for His voice and leadings in these perilous times: the victory belongs to the people of God!
(This information is shared by permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)
(14)Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16 )in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.—-Ephesians 6:14-16 (NASB)
Anyone who has ever operated in the anointing of the Holy Spirit knows that to stand and watch Him do the work is an amazing experience. I was asked to do a short one-person drama one Sunday, and the Lord literally took over. It seemed as though I was watching from backstage! People in the audience started to weep and shout amen, and I had no idea what was really going on. Later, they explained to me what happened–the Lord told the story of the woman with the issue of blood through me. . . and I was completely clueless. God was my shield and fortress, and He did the performing that touched hearts!
Whatever our appointed task is at the moment, God wants us to let Him do it. Fear always threatens us first—“You can’t do it,” or “God doesn’t want you to do it, you’re not worthy,” or any number of other negative thoughts are thrown our way like flaming arrows straight to our hearts. In biblical times, flaming arrows were often shot by the enemy. If those arrows came at the shield, they would be ineffective. If there was no shield, death would result. Faith tells us that our God will take care of us, and that knowledge, that understanding, , is a shield against everything that threatens us!
Being confident in God’s protection and love allows us the freedom to do whatever is necessary for His Kingdom. It allows us the ability to handle any of our personal problems as well. Psalm 91 tell us that if we dwell in God, His wings cover us from anything that may be kindled against us–everything from plagues to terrorist attacks. The operation of His anointing for the gifts of the Spirit works the same way–when we abide in Him. He works through us.
Whether it’s an assignment that requires anointing to complete or a situation of spiritual warfare, stand still with your shield and watch God work for you, with you, and through you! Everything He has appointed for your to do will be accomplished.
(This information was used by permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)
(28)Do not move the ancient boundary Which your fathers have set.————Proverbs 22:28 (NASB)
In the Book of Joshua, chapter 4, Joshua took 12 stones (one for each tribe) from the middle of the Jordan River and set them up in the Israelites‘ lodging place as a landmark, honoring the miracles given by the Lord when He parted the Jordan River for His children to walk through to the other side on dry ground. Landmarks also were used as property boundaries for each clan, and it was considered a sin to move them, just as it is illegal today to move a property marker.
God gives us landmarks in our lives, not to stay in one place, but as remembrances of what He has done in our lives. He never changes! We can use those times, those markers to help us move forward into the new places that God has for us. That’s why we shouldn’t move these landmarks or throw them out. We must pass them instead.
One landmark day in my own life was a class I had to take for my former job. I’ve never been a big lover of heights. In planes, I’m fine. Hanging off cliffs or tall objects, not so much. We were required to put on a harness and climb a telephone pole about 38 feet tall. The pole swayed as I started the ascent, which totally freaked me out, even though I was in a perfectly safe harness. I forced myself not to look down, but kept my eyes on the spike that were the foot and hand rests. As I got to the top, my leg hung up on the last spike and the pole began to sway even more. I couldn’t free my leg and fear tried to grab me. Since I could go no further upward, I pushed away the fear and reminded myself that I was in a safe harness. So I jumped! Everyone below me clapped that I had overcome a tremendous fear! I realized that if I could do that, I could overcome anything. It was a landmark day.
All of us are given landmarks in the times and seasons of our lives. We are not to camp by those landmarks, but move forward into the promises of our Lord God’s Presence with us in all that we face will establish His purposes for us. We don’t have to fear; we can move forward into destiny!
(This information is shared with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)