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)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.
(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)
(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)
(9)So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. (10)You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. (11)Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. (12)I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. —– Leviticus 26:9-12 (NASB)
We have an awesome God who turns His face toward us when we love Him and obey Him! The words “turn toward” in the Leviticus passage from today are translated “respect” in the King James Version, and do actually mean turn toward, face to face, in the Hebrew. Those who had a face-to-face relationship with God in the Bible became the founders of our faith and friends of God.
God does not play favorites. Scripture tell us that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 KJV). God is totally equal in the availability of His love. But He DOES respect –turn to–us when we seek Him and Love Him with our whole heart. He honors those who serve Him faithfully in any capacity. Every part of the Body is valued! We can all have a face-to-face relationship with Him and be His friends! (1 Corinthians 12:12-27.)
When I was a child, one of our neighbors had a grain silo that was nearly always full. Once in a while the kids in the neighborhood would climb up to the top of the silo and slide down the grain piles to the bottom. We had no concept of any danger, but I did notice one thing: when old grain was in the silo, playing there was just plain nasty. The smell was moldy and rancid. The taste of the air as we breathed it in was unpleasant. I got to the point that, unless they had freshly filled the pile, I wouldn’t play there anymore.
Today’s Scripture talks about eating the old grain to make way for the new. All of us have “eaten” of the old practices of Christianity that do not make room for those who are called by the Lord. We have all been through the old traditions or teachings which are either just plain wrong or keep us from being God’s friend. When mankind tries to be in charge, they tend to hang the veil of the temple back up and try to keep everyone but themselves out. But that veil was torn when Jesus died for us. That open door is for everyone who will receive Him!
It’s time for us to clear those old pockets out and let Him fill us with His fresh anointing, with His love which is the “new grain” that brings life. Fresh grain makes great food and accomplishes its purpose: to feed people! the personal, flowing love of God, His Presence, becomes the new grain that brings life to others.
(This information was shared with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyrighted 2011)
(20) And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (21) [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”] —– Matthew 17:20-21 (NASB)
We are called to be mountain movers. We are called to release the River of Life through us. But this is tough to do when there are blocks in our minds and hearts.
My husband and I once visited Lake Foredyce in northern California in the High Sierras. Around the edges of the lake are many small streams. As I walked around our camp one day, I noted that most of the streams stayed connected to the original source and flowed into the lake. But some went off on their own and dried up in the heat. They all started at the gorgeous waterfall upstream, but not all flowed toward the prescribed destination.
Rivers that flow with depth and power are mountain movers. They can go over and around rocks, and even move those rocks out of the way! A deep, rushing, powerful river can change the landscape!
If we think we are Christians but walk in sin, we are not established in God. If our goals in life are based upon how important we think we are, they are not God’s goals. And we are building our house on the sinking sand. Our “stream” will not be deep enough to withstand the trials of life and we will dry up because we have not stayed connected to the Source.
The Scripture verse today has an admonition, which was aimed at a demonic deliverance situation. It tells us that it takes the establishment of our hearts in Christ to accomplish great things through His power! False Christians, those who are Christians in name only, will not accomplish His will.
“Mountain movers” in Christ are people who keep themselves closely connected to Him. When they make a mistake and go off the path, they quickly make course corrections and get back to Jesus. They stay clean daily with a heart of love and repentance, thinking about others. They grow deep into the Holy Spirit, keeping His Presence first and foremost in their lives. They are not religious or rigid, nor are they selfish and rebellious. They are free and loving, and they allow that River to go where He wishes. They change the landscape! Let’s change the landscape and move those mountains for ourselves and for each other!
(This information is used with permission from “Whispers of Heaven” by Rosalie Storment and Faye Higbee, copyright 2011)
There’s a television advertisement here in America that shows a dog worrying about his bone. He’s so worried that he can’t sleep. He tries burying it in the backyard, but still worries. Then he takes it to the bank to a safety deposit box and still can’t sleep. He takes it home and gets insurance, then he can stop worrying. Its a picture of what we do!
The most difficult thing in the world is to not worry. Even well known Christians, in their desire to “teach” us what is to come, tend to cause the vast majority to worry. They go over and over again on the negative things until our faith is shaken rather than helped. We watch the evening news and for many, it causes anxiety. Some people have literally stopped watching the news or praying for others because the needs overwhelm them. Here is your word for the day: Let Jesus carry things–don’t worry! He is your insurance policy!
Having a light heart in the midst of whatever happens can only happen when we pray out of trust and faith instead of fear and worry. Here is the point:: does God hear us when we pray? Does He answer? If He hears us, then He answers, because it is who He is–He lives in us! He can’t ignore us because He loves us. He lives here–we’re His house! Of course He wants us to be a place of peace and safety.
If we truly believe in and have a relationship with Jesus, then we know that He listens even when we can’t speak. He knows that our future is good, even when the world is smothered in deep darkness (Isaiah 60). Even when circumstances surround us that seem hopeless, there is no greater Helper than God. All things work together for good for us (Romans 8:28).
If we know that God is listening, if we believe that He hears, then we have no reason to worry. We can move forward with joy because we know the Kind of kings personally, and He’s made the way for us. Even crucifixion, which looked like a disaster, was a triumph for us all. We are destined for victory, no matter what it looks like in the natural.
21)The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding. (22)It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it. ——– Proverbs 10:21-22 (NASB)
You can certainly tell a person who loves the Lord by their countenance, and by their love of worship. Blessings seem to follow them wherever they go. You can tell someone who loves the Lord by their willingness to laugh–to show forth the joy of the Lord. You can see in them all the attributes of 1 Corinthians 13 (patience, kindness, not envious, not boastful, not conceited, do not act improperly, not selfish, not easily provoked, keep no record of wrongs, do not find joy in unrighteousness, rejoice in truth, do not worry about people’s faults but believe them no matter what the circumstance).
While we may fail in one or two of these area on occasion, the majority of these things “ooze” from the Believer who loves and stays in worship to the Lord.
A friend’s smile, that “rainbow of joy” oozed God’s love. It leaked out of her in spite of her circumstances. Ultimately, that how I came to know Christ personally. It was the Sonshine that radiated from someone who loves Him. That love brought me the greatest blessing of all –friendship with God and with the people of His Kingdom!
All of us should love the Lord so much that the windows of our hearts show His love. We can only do that through relationship — worship and praise and trust. May the Lord reveal to you today how powerful His Presence is in worship. May His blessings overtake you and be poured out over you. May He turn your morning into joy and your sorrow into dancing. And may every trial show forth the deliverance of your loving Father!