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Country X – Christmas in July

Rough Times in Country ‘X’

Pastor holding commentary and Bible dictionaryLeaders who couldn’t attend
the April gathering also received
their Bible dictionaries
and their one-volume commentaries.

Image of pastora with concordanceThere are more pastoras than you might think, either co-laboring with their husbands or serving on their own at the Lord’s direction.

It’s nearly Christmas! And I want to give thanks, to the Lord and to you, for the “Christmas in July” which a group of forty pastors in… well, let's call it “Country ‘X’” in Latin America… experienced this year. I’d like to keep them out of the limelight for security reasons, “just in case.” (But you can read more about their national situation in recent news, as well the murder of a pastor and [continue reading…]

A New Year Prayer

John Wright Follette
(1884-1966)

O Lord, I pray that through this coming year
Our fellowship may deep and richer be;
That I may recognize Thy presence near,
And turn as to a friend, my Lord, to Thee.

Walk with me, then, and guide me with Thy eye –
I dare not trust myself to move one pace.
I know not what ahead of me may lie
Of joy or sorrow; yet whate’er the case,

One thing I know, that Thou art near my side,
And knowest well my weakness and my frame.
Thou needed strength wilt give, if I abide
In Thee, and in the strength of Thy dear Name.

I ask Thee not to give me joy, aside
From that which comes from doing Thine own will.
To know Thy thought and purpose, naught beside,
Except that Thou wilt them in me fulfill.

O, help me not to fail Thee, Lord, in this,
But with Thy grace and strength, O keep me true.
Forbid that in Thy thought for me I miss,
But help me trust in Thee to bring me through.

Afresh I offer up to Thee my life,
To use me as Thou wilt or set aside;
To manifest Thyself in open joy and light,
Or in some hidden corner there to hide –

It matters not to me, if only Thou
Wilt make my foolish heart what Thou dost choose,
And daily yielding to Thee, teach me how
To gain more of Thy life, and mine to lose.

Live out Thy life through me, and let there flow
Such streams from Thee, my Head, that naught can stem
The currents of Thy life – e’en here below.
These things I ask in Thy dear Name. Amen.

 

Lyre and Wreath, used under license from www.123rf.com (santi0103/123RF Stock Photo)

To discover more hymns, visit our growing list of Powerful Poetry.

Image credit: Copyright: santi0103/123RF Stock Photo
Used under license

God’s Hour

John Wright Follette
(1884-1966)

O Holy night, borne to us on the wings of time,
From out the dark recesses of eternity,
God’s hour, the promise of eternal life and light,
A gleaming jewel rests within thy dark embrace.
O holy hour, the miracle of God is thine,
He clothes Himself with human form and comes to us.
The bud of promise which Jehovah God once spoke
Breaks into bloom and sheds its fragrance o’er the earth.
Tonight the Rose of Sharon rests upon the breast
Of Mary as she holds the little Christ Child close.

God’s hour of promise has not passed but still is ours.
The night is dark, deep shadows clothe the hearts of men,
But still within the manger rude, the glory shines.
O hasten with me, then, and gather at His feet.
This is the hour for which our hungry hearts were made,
We need its light, its mystery and fragrance sweet.
This is God’s hour, a jewel gleaming in the dark,
God bless the Christmas night! God bless the Christmas hour!

 

Wreath and bell image, used under license from www.123rf.com (profile_katisa/123RF Stock Photo)

To discover more hymns, visit our growing list of Powerful Poetry.

Image credit: Copyright: profile_katisa/123RF Stock Photo
Used under license

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Charles Wesley
(1707-1788)

“…the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:1

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Revelation 22:20

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

 

Wreath and bell image, used under license from www.123rf.com (profile_katisa/123RF Stock Photo)

To discover more hymns, visit our growing list of Powerful Poetry.

Image credit: Copyright: profile_katisa/123RF Stock Photo
Used under license

The Original Aromas of Christmas

Copyright © 2018

by
Jim Kerwin

Burning frankincense, image used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_fotomemAll our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King!
1

Your dieting resolve may be challenged as I enumerate the following list: pumpkin pie, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, roasted turkey and stuffing, eggnog, hot apple cider with cinnamon. Those are all holiday edibles, but I mention them not so much for their waistline-destroying properties as for their aromas. I can quickly add to the list of Christmas aromas from non-edible sources: the fragrance of a fresh pine tree, wreaths of pine branches, and seasoned oak burning in the fireplace. I would even add the tantalizing scent of “chestnuts roasting on a open fire,” but then we’d probably be back to derailing ongoing diets.

Those of you outside North America no doubt have your own aromatic reminiscences of Christmas. In any case, if you’re like me, you have a sort of mental database of aromas, of scents, of fragrances that you associate with Christmas. In fact, if one of those aromas registers on your nostrils, it may trigger events from your childhood, or certain Christmases that were special, or maybe certain Christmases that were difficult. I can’t think of another holiday that has such fragrant associations.

Decades ago, over the Christmas holiday I was on a short-term missions trip to India. On Christmas morning I arose before dawn to [continue reading…]

We Wise Men of Orient Are

(usually know as)1

We Three Kings of Orient Are

John Henry Hopkins, Jr.
(1820-1891)

We wise men of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star. [continue reading…]

As with Gladness Men of Old

W. Chatterton Dix
(1837-1898)

As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led by Thee! [continue reading…]

This Shall Be a Sign unto You

Copyright © 20181

by
Percy Gutteridge

Image of the manger copyright by www.LumoProject.com, licensed exclusively by FreeBibleimages.org for teaching purposes only; used with permission according to license terms.“This shall be a sign unto you.”
But what was the sign?2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because He was of the house and lineage of David:) 5to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:1-18

As we read through Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, we discover a key theme of the Christmas season. It’s the message that the angel gave to the shepherds. The fact that an angel said it underscores its importance. He said:

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

What is the significance of this sign? If God took the trouble [continue reading…]

How Great Our Joy!

Anonymous
(Traditional German Carol)
translated by
Theodore Baker
(1851-1934)

While by the sheep we watched at night,
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.

Chorus:
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!
Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!

“There shall be [continue reading…]

For the Beauty of the Earth

Folliott Pierpoint
(1835-1917)

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each [continue reading…]

Give and Be Given

The Giver and the Given

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Image of a seedling being passed from one generation to the next, used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_yarrutaGod, as the Giver and the Given,
calls for us to give and be given.1

As I was waiting on the Lord this morning, I was reminded that He asked me to give up three major things during my senior year of high school.2 (That was 49 years ago, if anyone is counting.) Although each thing requested seemed large and costly at the time, none of the decisions to obey was difficult or required a protracted inner struggle, because Jesus was my Lord. The cost was counted, and each transaction was [continue reading…]

He Giveth More Grace

Annie J. Flint
(1866-1932)

…He giveth more grace…

James 4:6

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of [continue reading…]

Count Your Blessings

Johnson Oatman, Jr.
(1856-1922)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Chorus:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
[continue reading…]

God’s “Plan B”

Our “Plan A”

A man's heart deviseth his way: 
but the Lord directeth his steps. 
Proverbs 16:9 KJV

Message of the graphic: 'Time for Plan B'; used under license from 123RF.com -- https://www.123rf.com/profile_iqonceptAll any of us should want
is God's will for our life.1

If things had gone according to “Plan A,” right now Denise and I would be just returning from a three-week teaching trip in Perú, having ministered to about 140 leaders in the cities of Lima, Jicamarca, Huánuco, and Chancay. There was one small problem with that – barely a tenth of the amount needed for travel came in. And so, since we're completely dependent on the Lord's supply for these trips, it was easy to determine that Jesus must have [continue reading…]