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.
No one around, no one talking with me
Where have they gone I once tried to ask
Knowing no one would answer, alas
How can this be? I wanted to know
Where have they gone? Why did they go?
People don’t care whistled clear through my mind
People don’t love or choose to be kind
When will it end? Will it be over?
Or will this continue like red crimson clover
Try as I might, the answer won’t come
Guess that means now nowhere is home
Where will we live? Where will we die?
When did it turn so pale in the sky?
No clouds to float, no rain to cleanse
No happiness, sorrow, now no friends
When will this be over? When can we rest?
Will we be permitted to say “you were blessed?”
Once there was peace. Once there was joy
For every older man, for every little boy
Once maidens were valued and older women wise
Not shunned as an oddity or hated as a guise
Now humans have become sad and all seem to quail
While all thoughts are currently ripping the veil
Between you and me, between us and them
The conclusion will come, the finale, the end.
We mostly have no idea what God has in store for each of us. Angelic encounters, miracles, healings –we simply are “scratching the surface” of the wonders HE has promised. As heart friends, we not only pray that you experience the voice of God and His Presence, but that all of His Kingdom will be yours!
As believers in Christ, we have access to the heavenly realms. We must have eyes to see. We can be closed off, afraid, or our minds refuse to believe. But God is able to get past the “educated idiot boxes” of our brains. HE LOVES TO GIVE US HIS KINGDOM! He gets great joy from it!
At one point in my life, I was severely depressed in spite of my love for the Lord. It had become necessary to move home with my mother, who was slowly dying. I was single, very lonely, had no social life, and was in a constant state of working –from 5:30 a.m. to whenever I’d get to bed. One afternoon, I went out jogging on my lunch hour. As I passed a nearby Catholic church, I jogged past a sad-looking elderly man. He was dressed all in black, in the specific uniform of a Catholic priest. But he was dragging his rosary on the sidewalk behind him in a dejected manner.
As I passed him and smiled, the Lord immediately told me to go back and give the man a hug and tell him Jesus loved him. I made a U-turn and obeyed. As I hugged the man and chit-chatted for a moment, tears welled up in his eyes. Then I started to leave and the man vanished! He did not go into the church, he was not walking along the street, he was simply gone. I was left with an odd combination of fear and awe, excitement and joy.
I called my pastor, who started laughing. “What’s the matter, can’t Catholics have angels?” he remarked. And then it hit me. An ANGEL. The minute he said it, I literally began to tremble from my head to my toes–and cried with overwhelming joy. God was still with me. In the midst of my struggle, the Lord gave me an encounter that lifted my heart and my eyes to His Kingdom and got me out of my self-pity.
GOD WANTS TO GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He lives IN us. His Heavenly Host are the messengers that lift our heads when we are struggling. They are sent to minister to the saints. And they don’t always look like the scary ones in Ezekiel or Isaiah. Sometimes they look like a guy in a knit cap who miraculously opens doors, a priest who disappears, or a homeless person with a grocery cart.
God’s Kingdom is as close as you desire it to be. In Luke 1:38, Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
May everything God says about you come true! May every portion of His Kingdom be revealed in your life, including those wonderful encounters with His angelic host.
(This information was shared with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)
(37) And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ (38)This is the great and foremost commandment. (39)The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ —— Matthew 22:37-39 (NASB)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but loving one another is about as easy as peeling a sea urchin. There are a lot of sharp things that can stab us. Loving God is easy — He IS love, so His response is always gentle, kind, and fulfilling. Loving people often requires leather gloves to keep from getting hurt.
One day when my husband and I drove into the driveway, we noted our “condo” birdhouse was full. The birds had taken up residence and were fully engaged in nest building. The funny thing is, every “apartment” was taken by a different kind of bird. The top one housed a chickadee, the middle floor a sparrow, and the basement held a pine siskin. They sat happily on their perches, singing sweet bird songs, enjoying the safety of the nest that kept them high above any predators. They didn’t seem to care that they were different “denominations.” They were just thankful for a place to live that was protected and safe!
Part of the secret to getting along with people is being thankful. I am thankful more than words can express for the friends in my life. It is their prayers and encouragement that keep me going. We can co-exist in peace because we know that we love each other, even through difficult times. We don’t have to be jealous, envious, or demand things of each other, because we are thankful for who we are and that we have Jesus. Like the birds in my front yard, it doesn’t matter about our differences.
One of these days, Jesus is going to return for His Bride. He’s going to see if we have been selfish “bridezillas,” or if we have learned how to find the unity of the Holy Spirit. We will never truly agree on doctrines, practice, etc. But we should be able to love with thankful hearts and sense the Presence of God in each other. Today let’s allow thankfulness to spread through us. Let’s enjoy the goodness of God in each other and let go of all the things that we think we know. We can travel the road to destiny together, and sing our heavenly songs of love with joy!
(This information was used by permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)
(4)for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. (5)We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, –2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NASB)
The Lord admonishes us to keep the “slag” cleared out. “Slag” is the trees that have died or been broken off during harvesting and fallen to the forest floor. While over time they will become soil, if too many of them pile up beneath the healthy trees, they become a severe fire hazard. Foresters generally pile the slag separately and burn them to keep the forest clear.
It works the same way in our spiritual lives. Distractions, looking at the wrong things, can keep our focus miles away from where it belongs. Then we miss the excitement and joy of receiving the Father’s blessings.
A dear friend shared with me an experience her husband had one day that further illustrates this point. He was hiking through the woods and looked down a canyon. He saw something flying that was partially black and partially white. Since he was walking somewhere near our local dump, he thought, Oh! That must be a crow flying with a white garbage bag. He looked close and realized it was a bald eagle! The revelation came to him — I’ve been looking at the garbage of life so much, I missed the majestic blessings!
God has many blessings for us–but it’s up to us to keep the brain clear of stuff that gets in the way. Focusing on the problems always blinds us to the solutions. Allowing the “slag” to pile up places us in danger of more problems. May you have a clear pathway, free of slag, free of distractions and things which block us from the blessings of God!
(This information is used with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)
(7) If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (8) My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (9) Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. — John 15:7-9 (NASB)
If you love Jesus, and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior, then you are “family.” When the people of Israel were told to gather in family groups at the Passover, even those who had no lamb for sacrifice were to be welcomed as their neighbor’s table under the covering of blood. If you love Jesus, then you are part of His family, covered by His blood from death. So regardless of your background, if you have accepted Jesus as Lord, you are “family.”
As part of that family, you are deserving of respect, honor, and love. Only in that way can we really lift one another up and encourage each other toward God‘s plan. Only with that kind of honor and love can we encourage one another when we are struggling in a trial. God is the giver of victory: Jesus’ name means “Savior.”
This morning we received a phone call about someone who was suffering from a terminal illness who had been asked by several people “when was she going to die.” My heart shuddered in grief. Such lack of respect and compassion should not pass the lips of family members. Those words left an echo in the woman’s heart–an echo of hopelessness.
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say to someone who is suffering, or who has had a terrible tragedy in their lives. But life and death are in the power of our tongues. God does ALL things well–sometimes we forget. The words we speak to others will echo in their minds, so compassion should be the focus we given them rather than judgment or fear or harshness. God gives the gift of life to us to operate through us. Let me repeat that: God gives the gift of life to us to operate through us!
Like the grapes that ripen to make new wine, anointing gives the power to break chains. Victory belongs to God’s family, no matter what the circumstance! We should always send forth that life-giving victory to anyone who is struggling. God loves us, and His tender touch is understanding, kind, patient, and gentle. If you are part of His Family you are guaranteed the victory, you are promised great and mighty help no matter what problem may come. Rejoice! Share that rejoicing with others! Show everyone that our God is Love!
What kind of movie is playing in your head? Faith is learning to change the channel from fear to faith in every circumstance. If you are like me, sometimes it’s hard to do, but God’s Word works!
Philippians 4:6-7 is a familiar read: (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. (NASB)
Everyone faces fearful circumstances, whether illness or anything that may seem to destroy our lives. It’s what we do with that emotion that will determine whether it overcomes us or we overcome it. When people want to tell us horror stories of any circumstance, we need to put up our hand and remind them that we belong to the Living God and therefore, will be fine whatever the outcome. One of the most difficult trials, for example, is cancer.
A dear friend had overcome brain cancer seven, yes, SEVEN times. They had given her a death sentence so many times. She waved them off and reminded them that only Jesus has the keys to death, hell and the grave. And she wasn’t going there, she was a citizen of Heaven and therefore would go home when He chose and not before. It was an amazing testimony. At age 79, she slogged through mud up to her knees to minister in remote villages in the Philippines. Her faith was determined and filled with joy no matter what the outcome would be. She went Home to be with the Lord in the late 1990’s. But she went home with victory on her lips and joy in her heart!
As one friend often puts it, “What are you going to do, scare me with Heaven?” We are citizens of another country–not of this earth. While we live in the natural realm and must do what has to be done, we also belong to the supernatural realms of the Holy Spirit. Our lives belong to DAD. Jesus gave us access to wonderful places we cannot even comprehend: the very Throne Room of the God of all creation! If the God who created the universe allows us to hang out with Him, how can anything we face on earth keep us down? We all can change the channel of our brains from the movie of death and destruction to the Holy of Holies. In HIS Presence is fullness of joy! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
(This material was used by permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Fate Higbee, copyrighted 2011)