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  • Where do you find prayer in the biblical story of the birth of Jesus?
  • How important is prayer in your congregation's celebration of Christmas?
  • How do you integrate prayer into family Christmas gatherings?
  • Christmas morning?
  • ...?

 

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How should we then pray?

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SAD PROPHESY FULFILLED

(Matthew 2:16-18)

Pastor Heath Tibbetts

First Baptist Church, Machesney Park, IL

  

This is the saddest part of the Christmas story. And for many people, it's also the most uncomfortable. Some Bibles use as a heading for this passage "slaughter of the innocents." Why would God allow such a horrible event to follow such a joyful one? 

 

Herod is angered because the Wise Men do not return. He exacts his revenge on Bethlehem. Fearful of being deposed, he seeks to eliminate his replacement. Scholars debate the number of boy babies slain, but given the size of Bethlehem, it is probably between 20 and 40. 

 

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the anguish of even one death. Multiply that by dozens, and we can only imagine the grief in Bethlehem. 

 

What is God's point? Look at the tragedy in Bethlehem as a great and pitiful word picture. 

 

God wants us to know that sending His Son into the world is exceedingly joyful and deeply sorrowful. Contrast Christmas morning and Good Fridaynight.The joy of our salvation has a high price. Angels sing as they welcomed his birth; sinners weep at their Savior's sacrifice.

  

 

Prayer: 

Lord, thank you for sending Jesus. I begin now to understand what it cost Him -- and You.

For about 10 years I've been choosing my "verse of the year". I make it a point to read, memorize,  meditate, study, and apply it to my life all year. The Lord led me to Hebrews 10:22 & 23 for 2014.  

"Let us draw close to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."

I'm delving deep  into my own heart to discern God's idea/description of a SINCERE HEART.  I praise Him for what He's showing  me.

I've found this yearly practice to be exceptionally helpful in my daily walk - and it's also a wonderful way to hide God's Word in me heart, as memorizing doesn't come as easily as it used to.

 
Dear GPRN Friends

As we prepare to take our annual Summer Holidays in South Africa and excitement is brewing for Christmas and New Year celebrations, my thoughts go to each and everyone who has been a blessing to me during this year.  It has been such a joy and honor to work with great men and women of the Lord to mobilize, build and network in the Prayer Movement of the World.

I pray that in the coming years the Lord will use each and every one of us as an instrument as we labour together for the Glory of His Name.  

 
Please take Psalm 116 as my Christmas gift to you
as you read this message.
  

 
Much Love and Many Blessings to all
Isebel Spangenberg
The Work of Christmas Begins

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
                                                                                                                            ~ Howard Thurman
 

"God's House can only become a House of Prayer for all Nations,
when His people become People of Prayer"   

~ Unknown
             

Have you seen the Trimmings on the Christmas Tree?

The Christmas tree, the greatest symbol of Christmas is an evergreen tree, representing life. The custom of erecting a Christmas tree can be historically traced to 15th century. “The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity. [1]                   

The branches on the evergreen tree, remind us of the many roles we have in our lives such as parenting, grandparenting, great-grandparenting. They also remind us of all the relationships we have with our family, friends, neighbors, our careers, hobbies, activities, sports etc. As we submit, each of these branches to God He can adorn them with ornaments, as He develops our character, with the fruit of the Spirit. 

Lets look at the ornaments on the tree representing the fruit of the Spirit. When we accept God’s unconditional LOVE in our hearts allowing His love to flow through us to others he will give us JOY. Our hearts will be full of joy amidst the daily challenges of our lives because “The joy of the Lord will be our strength.”  When we experience the JOY of the Lord as our strength, we will have PEACE. PEACE is calmness in our hearts amidst the challenges we face, extending through our lives to others. After our adorning with love, joy, and peace, we will be empowered with PATIENCE, an attitude that does not lose hope for others even if they irritate or hurt us. KINDNESS expressed with our words and deeds to a sad or lonely heart may be their connection for Jesus.  Then GOODNESS will flow into good works from our kind heart reflecting the character of God attracting others to Jesus.     

Another ornament placed on the tree is FAITHFULNESS. Just as God is faithful to us, it is important that we too, are dependable and trustworthy with others. Faithfulness brings us to GENTLENESS, an ability to be pleasant, composed and controlled in the daily challenges of life. The last ornament we will place on the tree is SELF-CONTROL, which adorns our lives with the character of strength to restrain us from doing wrong. We cannot have self-control without all the other ornaments.     

Then the tree will be wrapped with a garland of Gods righteousness and the star will be placed on the top directing people to Jesus. We will plug in the lights illuminating the tree representing Jesus the light of the world, a symbol of hope. Just as we have beautiful Christmas trees in our homes, our lives will be beautiful when adorned with the fruit of the spirit.  

This year lets give our grandchildren a spiritual application of the Christmas tree representing everlasting life adorned with the ornaments of the fruit of the Spirit, wrapped with the garland of God’s love, the star directing others to Jesus, and shining as lights in a dark world. 

Pray that your grandchildren together with their parents and yourself will stand as a symbol of hope in a dark world adorned in strength and beauty of the fruit of the spirit like the beautiful Christmas tree. The greatest and most lasting Christmas gift you can give your grandchildren is the gift of a praying grandparent.     

By Lillian Penner

¹ Christmas tree, Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

RHYMES AND REASONS
An Advent Prayer

New lyrics to an ancient Advent hymn

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
December 16, 2016

Bookmark and Share
An Advent Prayer
O come Befriender of the lonely soul
and fill their emptiness until it's full.
Stand by the grieving as they weep
and walk with them although their path is steep.
Rejoice, rejoice, our Friend who knows our plight
and be to us a candle in the night.

O come Defender of the working poor
and give them what they need (and then some more).
Provide them with the means and way
to give their children toys with which to play.
Rejoice, rejoice, our only sure defense
and comfort those whose burdens are intense.

O come Redeemer of our nation's wrongs
and fill our hearts with plaintiff, hopeful songs.
Confront the demons that divide
especially hateful prejudice and pride.
Rejoice, rejoice, Redemption's Child, rejoice
and give all those who worship You one voice.

O come Fulfillment of what God has deemed
and satisfy creation's deepest dreams.
Accomplish all that love demands
and bring about the peace that You have planned.
Rejoice, rejoice, Fulfiller of God's heart
as we rejoice and sing "How Great Thou Art."

tune: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

In some family gatherings, I don't know everyone well enough to know if they're all believers.  So I pray going into the gathering for openness to the Holy Spirit's promptings, that God will give me grace and truth to share as appropriate.  I pray for 'clarification' - that is, that people won't just assume they're Christians because they're celebrating Christmas but will be challenged to understand what salvation really means.  I pray that God will help me to make the most of every opportunity.  And finally, I pray that he will be honored in our celebrations - in the love of family, in our conversations, and in the focus of the day.

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