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.
(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.)
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.
(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)
Over the last several years, we have heard many prophets and speakers talk about abundance from God. We know that in John 10:10, Jesus Himself proclaimed that He came to give us an abundant life. So why do we have such a difficult time believing it?
The words “more abundantly” in John 10:10 come from the Greek work perissos, which mean exceedingly, more than extraordinary, over and above abundant. Remember the passage that tells us that eye has not seen nor ear heard the wonders God has for us? (1 Corinthians 2:9.) Or the one that promises He will give us more than we can ask or think? (Ephesians 3:20.) He’s trying to tell us that if we will just Know Him, and trust Him, He will grant us the fullness of His Kingdom, and everything we could possibly need on earth. Our cup will overflow (Psalm 23)!
The problem comes when we attach our ideas onto God’s promises. Our idea of abundance often only encompasses being wealthy in the financial sense, or something we may want at the moment of our prayer. God’s mind doesn’t work like our, so we get discouraged easily when things we expect seem to fall through. Our expectancy isn’t in what God has, it’s in what we want.
Your word for today is this: God’s Hand of help is here. He is waiting to pour out abundance upon you. Joy, peace, love, redemption, restoration, hope, destiny . . . all those things He will pour out on you, and more (over and above). His ways may be different than our plan, but His plan will work much better! Get ready to step into the new day prepared for you! It is going to be overflowing with abundance.
(This information was shared with 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)
(3) He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; (4) ]He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers. ——— Psalm 104:3-4 (NASB)
When we talk about our God and fire, we often get the picture of a mean, angry God coming to earth to kill and destroy His enemies. Scripture says that our God is a “consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24 KJV). So when God tells us to be “fire-starters” and that He makes His ministers flames of fire, what does that mean? Do we need to run around with matches, exacting vengeance for God? Not even close.
When Moses stood before the burning bush in Exodus 3, the bush was completely engulfed in the flame of God, but it did not burn up. When he encountered God in that manner, he was changed forever! His entire outlook, his entire future suddenly became consumed by the God He had met. In the years after, Moses spent many hours in the tent of meeting because he was a friend of God.
In metalsmithing, the hottest part of the flame is very near the tip of the torch. It is there that the flame is hot and the impurities low. The closer we are to God when we touch the lives of others, the less of our own garbage we deposit on them. The more we are consumed by His love, His fire, the better we will be able to bring them in touch with Him. The picture in all of Scripture is about the closeness of God bringing about transformation.
As servants of the Most High God, we should give out of the pure love of God to be an agent of change to those around us. His powerful gifts, His unconditional love, His Presence, all come as an outgrowth of our love for Him. The miracles, those “burning bushes,” those moments that change the lives around us flow from us simply because He is here. Let Him light the flame today!
(This information is used with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)