O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
Can you hear the longing of God for His people to draw near to Him in the passage above? This was said to the children of Israel thousands of years ago, yet God continues His tireless attempts to draw us away from sin and to Himself.
Every sin has a consequence. Every decision has an outcome. He longs for us to stay away from the evil clutches of sin and draw near to His presence.
Ask yourself these questions:
Today, make the decision to draw away from sin, honor God with your life, and obey His commandments.
"Obedience is love fulfilling every command. It is love expressing itself."
- E.M. Bounds
Oh Lord, empty my heart of all sinful desires and fill me with a longing for You. I submit myself to Your authority and give up my ways to obey You.
"To be little with God is to be little for God." - E.M. Bounds
During this trip the Lord was really impressing on my heart to focus more on spending quality time with Him and interceding for the broken and the lost. We must spend more time with Him if we wish to do great things for Him.
As we spent more time working and praying together I felt that the rest of the team had the same burden as well. Even if it was only to close my eyes, take a breath, and remove myself from distractions for a moment to praise my Savior and thank Him for loving me then it was time well spent. You never know how a whispered prayer has the power to transform your day.
As we continued to prepare for the last part of the trip, this was my prayer...
Lord, May we all have a burden to pray, mourn, and fast for our people who are in captivity. Spiritual bondage is the most miserable. May my heart be full of Christ's compassionate love. May our prayers be filled with an anguish for the lost and spiritually dead.
In preparation for Bongdong English Camp we felt more limitations than at Taein Camp. We felt a few obstacles when it came to presenting the Gospel to the children but we were able to take advantage of every opportunity we had to share Christ to the children of atheists, Buddhists, and more.
A popular saying in South Korea is, "If it happens it happens." so we learned that no matter how detailed of a schedule we had mapped out as long as the main event occurred then it was OK. This took some getting used to but we just went along with the flow.
Since we never knew if our Bible hour would be shortened or cut out completely several of us took the time to tell Bible stories during our English classes, encourage discussion on Biblical topics, or just take the time to tell them of Jesus. One day in Morgan's class he took an hour to talk about the Flood, the result of sin, and salvation. Towards the end he had been challenged by an atheist boy but took the time to kneel down and speak to him one on one. By the time he finished one or two boys had tears in their eyes.
Ruth and I spent a few classes going over the Bible Story from the day before to our PreK-Kindergarten Class. Many times we felt the language barrier so strong and it seemed as if we could make no progress with English or the Gospel but we continued to smile, teach, and laugh with the children. We knew that God was still able to work in their hearts and pray that He continues to do so.
Lord, may our simple teaching style be enough to bring a searching soul to You!
We had up to 40-50 children every day during the Bongdong Camp so it was always bursting with energy (and sometimes chaos!) when they were all together. One of my favorite parts was teaching the songs to the kids. We taught them how to say the words, what they meant, and why we praise the Lord.
We sang the songs, Building up the Temple, Father Abraham, He Made the Whole World in His Hands, Hallelujah-Praise Ye the Lord, and my all-time favorite Making Melodies in my Heart! It didn't matter how silly I felt doing the crazy action songs, I knew that they needed to understand that we were willing to get to their level and lay aside our pride in order to reach out to them.
Our mission doesn't end in South Korea but continues when we go home. The following verse was the text of one of the devotions I shared with the group and it continues to remind me where our help and strength comes from...
Through God we shall do valiantly.
We ought not to focus so much on what we are able to do but on how we are able to do it. "Through God..."
Yet, not only are we able to accomplish tasks through God but we are promised it will be done valiantly! Now, THAT is awesome!
Thanks for taking the time to read about our experiences. Feel free to leave thoughts or comments. You can also check out blogs from our previous trips here...
"For our God is a consuming fire..." (Hebrews 12:29)
This thought was foremost in my mind as we made final preparations for our trip. To be honest, I have to admit that I was not mentally or spiritually prepared for this trip as the months turned into weeks. Life was busy and my concentration was into trying to make sure my lessons were put together for the English camps. Then, the Sunday before we left our pastor preached a powerful message from this text. My heart was set on fire. I was finally ready. My spirit was burning with the passion I knew I would need for this trip.
My worries and fears were burned up and I was trusting in the Lord to do whatever He desired to do... IN us and THROUGH us. The following was the prayer I wrote in my journal:
Lord, May your Spirit be welcomed wherever we dwell and transform hearts, including our own. May my mouth be ready to sing your praises, speak of Your goodness, and glorify Your name. Thank you for counting me worthY to do Your work.
The journey took about 2 - 2 & 1/2 days. Once we arrived, we were able to do some site-seeing in Seoul before meeting up with the last of our group at the airport. Then began our 3 hour bus ride to the church. I fell fast asleep until I was awakened by Morgan, who asked me if my phone was going off. Me? My phone doesn't even have service! But, I checked it anyway and sure enough it was a random alarm. It had been going off for about 10 minutes and no one knew whose it was. The entire bus, full of Koreans, was beginning to get angry because apparently it had awakened everyone but me, it was annoyingly loud, and it was 1 am! Big oops!
We finally arrived around 2 am (Saturday - July 30), slept a few hours, then began to make preparations for the camp in Taein the following week.
The camp in Taein seemed to be disappointment at first, then a series of miraculous events. In Korea, we come to the conclusion that when a schedule is set you must be prepared for anything and everything to change it around.
One of my favorite things about this trip was the daily devotions we had as a group in the morning and the spontaneous prayer meetings we had a few evenings. Even if we had to meet at 6:30 or 8 am, we determined to have this time of devotion, prayer, and exhortation. Many times, if not every time, they lasted at least an hour. We felt the Lord's presence numerous times and received the strength that was needed for that day.
Before the Taein Camp even began we were praying for 2 people in particular that Morgan was desperately hoping would be able to come. One was Darius, a young boy around 8 years old, who had captured the hearts of the group (especially Morgan's) the previous year. The other was Grace, a girl of about 13 years, who was visibly depressed and rarely smiled. They had a burden to see her set free from whatever was oppressing her. As Monday drew closer, Darius and Grace were names that were consistently mentioned in our prayers and they were the first ones to enter the door on Monday!!! Hallelujah!
Due to circumstances beyond our control we only had 6-9 children that faithfully participated in the first camp, but we were determined to continue the camp as if there were 30 or so in attendance. We prayed just as hard, sang just as loud, and played just as long as if it was a camp overflowing with children. We felt such a burden for these children and their country. There is such a spiritual oppression. It's hard to describe in so few words but it does exist.
What I loved about Taein Camp is that we visibly saw a difference in the children, including Grace, from when they first came until the last altar call. There were times that all we did was play water games (it was SOOOOOO hot!) and have a fun time with them. These children spend all of their time in school, on their phones, or doing homework that they don't get much of a fun childhood like many of us have had. So we were unashamed to spend 2-3 hours chasing them around with water balloons or a water hose, then spending an hour telling them about a God that loves them, a concept most of them could hardly comprehend. We may never know the impact of the small work we accomplished in Taein the first week, but we believe the Lord will continue to allow the seed to take root in the hearts of these precious children.
(...to be continued)
South Korea. I never dreamed that I would have the privilege of travelling there for a mission trip. Now, here I am flying home from one of the best trips I've ever taken, with many new fond memories. God is so good! One of my favorite attributes of God is He can make what's worthless into something priceless, He can take what's old and make it brand new, He can take what's useless and make it useful and He can take the worst of situations and work out His perfect will.
Through this trip, God has reminded me over and over that I'm not extra special because I'm a preacher's kid but it's only by His grace that I've had such opportunities. I'm no better than the most wretched sinner without God's grace. Because of that very thought, I've had great hope and confidence in what God would do in the lives of people who know nothing about Jesus' gospel.
Now with all that being said , let me tell you what God has done just in the past two weeks. When we first left the states to travel to South Korea, I was very anxious and somewhat nervous. I was very unfamiliar with the culture, I was really skeptical about the food, and I'd never taught English -let alone in non-English speaking country. I felt so incapable and just knew I would fail in one way or another and I didn't want to let the team down. I hoped and prayed that the feeling would go away by the time we arrived but it didn't. The feeling seemed like it would never go away but, one morning in group devotions, there was a message in tongues. I don't remember the entire interpretation but I do remember this. God said,"I will empower EACH of you..." When I heard that, a rush of peace flowed over me and I began to praise God. He let me know that I wasn't excluded and that He would give me the strength to accomplish the tasks that seemed impossible.
We were able to host two English day camps with a VBS in the last hour of each day. It was a lot of work but the team pulled together and worked in unity. We all had an equal vision, not so much that we teach the children perfect grammar and pronunciation but that they would hear the Gospel and would come to know Jesus. At times it was a literal battle against the enemies of darkness. When that happened we would call on Jesus to fight for us and He always came through. He is so faithful! Many, many children and adults were affected by what was taught. I know that God will continue to work on each heart even while we're gone!
I thought I went to South Korea to teach but I'm completely convinced that God used this trip to teach me as well. He taught me that I'm not the only person in the world, that He loves us all equally, that He doesn't always choose the most "qualified" person, that hard work and sacrifice is worth it for just one soul to find Christ, that His will always prevails, and SO much more. There is so much more I could say but this blog would be a mile long. Thank you all for your prayers and support! They definitely played a huge role in the success of this trip. Lastly, thank You God for allowing me to work with such wonderful people with a heart for You and for the impact You made on the Korean people through us.
Planning Your Daily Devotional Time
Have you established a habit of having a time of daily devotions? If you haven't then now is the perfect time to start!
Prayer and devotions are a very important part of the day. Especially on those crazy and busy days. We fail to recognize that we need more of a spiritual boost than a burst of energy that comes from a blast of caffeine.
Below we will give you a few steps to begin planning your daily devotional time. It is better to get into the habit of it now when life is not so full of responsibility, crammed schedules, and such. You might want to get a pen and paper handy!
1. Establish a definite time.
Determine which time frame works for you. If you tend to find extra time before bed where you spend an hour or two on your phone or reading a book then try to set aside that time to fit a devotion in.
I know some have a hard time getting up early and focusing on a time of reading or studying, but if that is the best time of day to seek spiritual refreshment and encouragement then try it out!
Personally, that's my best time of day. I give myself an hour or 2 before work to make myself a cup of coffee (a must have!), find a quiet place to read a devotional book or a plan on the YouVersion Bible App. I have a study Bible to also go along with any Scripture references than is given in the devotional to do a little bit of indepth study.
Always keep a notebook handy in case questions or thoughts come flowing from your reading or studying! The mornings are generally a good time as well because it's the first part of the day and the rest of the day can be spent meditating or remembering what you have learned/read about that morning. It can greatly affect your attitudes and emotions for the day!
Psalm 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
2. Choose a definite place.
Find a place where you can get alone without any distractions. Make this a special time between you and God.
Do you have a certain place in your room, your house, or even outdoors where you like to just sit and enjoy quiet solitude? What about taking a walk on a beautiful day listening to an audio Bible or sermon?
3. Goal and content of devotional time.
Are there any battles you currently face? Have you gone to the Bible yet for a source of strength or encouragement?
Try looking up words or phrases that go along with your current struggles or feelings.
Do you struggle with loneliness? Or fear? What about worthlessness?
I've struggled with all of those and have found great sources of hope and encouragement in the Psalms and throughout the Bible by looking up words that went along with those feelings.
Here are a few examples:
Isaiah 41:10 - Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
1 Peter 5:7 - Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Find a good concordance or use the search tool in your Bible app to find verses to help you with the battles you're facing.
Write it down.
Meditate on it.
Don't let your struggles bring you down.Pray the promises of God. Let God's Word fill you with peace.
Written by: Sonia E. Vargas
What suggestions would you give about planning a personal devotion? Do you need help on finding ways to make this a habit in your life? Feel free to contact us or comment with any questions, suggestions, or thoughts.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
So many times after a great experience, it seems that we feel the effects of being in God's presence, but it seems to slowly fade. It's not that his presence has left, but because we depend on that one experience to get us through. For example, are you still full from last week's food or do you still live off yesterday's breakfast? Just like we cannot depend on last week's meal or nourishment to give us strength, we cannot survive spiritually depending on last month's or last week's or even yesterday's experience.
When you go so long without a refreshing, weakness begins to overtake you. You lack the strength you want to had. When we get to the point where our prayers feel weak, or it seems that we can't feel God as strong as we did last week, you must realize that we cannot live on our own strength. We will fight. We will fall. We will fail.
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord , the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding." - Isaiah 40:28
God's strength never fails.
When are dependents allies in the Almighty; when our hearts and our hopes are renewed in Christ; we will be carried above our difficulties.
"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord ? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." - Psalms 18:30-32
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" - Psalms 27:1
Did this post make you think of God's strength and our dependency on Him? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Jonah 1:1-3; Nahum 1:1
Nahum was a prophet who was also sent to Nineveh, the city that repented when Jonah finally obeyed God and preached to them, warning them about coming destruction.
The Ninevites listened to Jonah and did the very thing God asked. Yet, in Jonah, we find that he is disappointed in God's decision to spare them.
Nineveh is called "the bloody city" in Nahum 3:1 because large numbers of people that had been conquered were massacred there.
And God spared them?! That's correct.
He kept their city from being obliterated when they repented under the preaching of Jonah. But then Nahum comes along more than 100 years later with the same message.
By this time they had returned to their idolatry and cruelty to an even greater extent. They were now in a battle against God. (Nahum 2:13a)
The time for their repentance was over. They would now receive the judgment they deserved.
At the beginning of the book of Nahum we read the words,
"The burden of Nineveh, the book of the vision of Nahum." (Nahum 1:1)
In this prophet, Nahum, we see a much different attitude. This "minor" prophet had a burden. It was his job to let this evil city know that their period of grace was about to come to an end.
The books of Nahum and Jonah end in a question.
In Jonah, we are left wondering about Jonah's fate, yet we know Nineveh has been saved.
In Nahum, the prophet remains fervent in his burden and vision while it is declared to Nineveh that there is "no healing" available for them.
Nahum 3:19 There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?
At this end, we know that Nineveh is no longer repentant but rejects the warning. The description of their destruction is given and occurs in exact detail in 612 BC. Notice the comparison of these 2 prophets.
Jonah - warned the people out of obligation yet desired to see them destroyed.
Nahum - carried a burden for the wicked people of Nineveh.
Even though Nahum knew that they were going to be destroyed, he still preached his message. He never gave up. If perhaps there was one or two individuals that he was able to save, would it have been worth it? Yes! Even though the city as a whole ignored the warning, what if God saw a faithful few that were still holding onto hope? If God sent us to a place that seemed hopeless, where our voice was ignored, would we continue with a burden and vision?
Notice more comparisons between the burdens of Jonah and Nahum.
Jonah had pity... for a plant! (Jonah 4:6-11)
Nahum had passion... for a wicked city. He was a committed preacher
Jonah flees. Nahum fights.
Think of these 2 men and their attitudes towards their calling. Think of their message. Think of their character. Which one represents you? Or are you a little bit of both?
Any comments about this article? Feel free to write in the comment section below!
Do you ever wonder what you will leave behind when you die? Perhaps you've not gone so far as to think of that moment when you take your last breath, but granted it will happen. Will you leave a legacy, a family, a book of memories? How about prayers? Have you uttered prayers for a seemingly hopeless situation? Have you pounded on the doors of Heaven for a lost loved one?
Think on this... your prayers never, EVER, expire! Isn't that amazing?! Ponder on the fact that when you have said your goodbyes on this earth, that your prayers still linger and Christ continues to intercede on your behalf. This ought to make us more determined to never take for granted the power and the lingering presence of prayer.
It has been said that “prayer moves the arm that moves the world;” and if there is anything that can prevail with God, it is prayer - humble, fervent, earnest petitioning.
So Pray on. Cry on. In time we will come to realize how much an effect a whispered prayer really had in an individual's life.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16c
The following is a portion of a friend's blog post. Click here to view Chrissy's blog.
It is a challenge indeed! Life is full of so many questions marks in every direction…
Questions are not wrong. How does one learn…simply by asking questions. Often times, however, we ask questions of God and when an immediate response is not given, we begin to... (Read more)
I believe that the issue facing us today is more than an outrageous bathroom policy, a recurring terrorist threat, a dramatic political show, and an increasing lack of respect from our youth. It's a sin issue. It ought not to be that one is considered worse than another.
Lying is just as great a sin as murder.
Stealing is just as great a sin as adultery.
Sin is a disease that begins in the secret places of our hearts and continues to take control until it has our actions, attitudes, and thoughts completely under its grasp.
The problem is that many want to continue living with the "pleasures" of their sin but reject the possibility of consequences of their sin.
"For the wages of sin is death..."
Aren't you glad we have a Father Who loved us so much to pay the "wages" of our sin!
"...but the gift of God is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
This disease called sin is destroying the Godly foundation this great country was founded on. It's eating away at the morals of our government, chueches, and families.
And finally, it's causing us to destroy our own selves by making us believe that we can enjoy it's clutches and make Heaven. How wrong we are!
Choose the free gift.
We are living among a generation who believes more in magic than in miracles. It is a generation who believes more in fairy tales than in faith.
We are urged to believe in a world of fantasy than in a Father Who created the world.
In the Gospels, we read of wonders done by Christ and His followers. As the desert was dotted by thousands who listened to His teaching, He didn't sprinkle them with pixie dust or wave a magic wand for a feast to appear. He performed a miracle. A miracle which is produced by faith and dependency on the Father.
(Read Mark 6:32-44)
Yet, the disciples soon forgot this wonder they had witnessed when they again thought they were capable offulfilling such needs on their own. (Read Mark 6: 45-52)
Magic may seem harmless for the imagination but when it slowly breaks down the foundation of faith it can mean destruction for the soul.
A fantasized love may seem harmless for the heart but when the sacrifice of self never takes place the shattered pieces of broken relationships lie in the dust.
How much greater to know that your child, your friend, or your sibling believes in a God to part a sea than in a fairy who waves a dusty stick?
... Do ye now believe? - John 16:31
Have you spent time today with the Savior? If not, right now is a wonderful time to start. To begin, come before Him and get a fresh glimpse of your worth in His eyes. God invites you to do so with a powerful promise from Hebrews 4:16;
let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The following is an excerpt from Jackie Kendall's book, Lady in Waiting Study Guide:
"When you are confident that you are worthy of the Savior's love, you will refuse to settle for anyone or anything that does not reflect His love in like fashion.
God the Father purchased you for the highest price in history - the blood of His Son. You are worth it!
You are loved. You are whole. You are precious. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are royalty. And you deserve a Boaz who agrees with each of these truths!"
When you struggle with feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, shame, or guilt, come before the throne of God where grace and mercy are so readily available. Always remember that you are beautiful, cherished, and valued by your Loving Savior! Seek His face now and always.
Read more on being confident and satisfied in who you are and what you are in Christ here.
What does the word "security" mean to you?
Definition: the state of being protected or safe from harm.
Who or what do you receive your security from? Is it your job, your money, a relationship? Who do you trust with your life?
But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
In Him, you have safety: freedom from danger. We have a Father Who protects.
Through Him, we have freedom from fear: He gives us peace.
Are you secure in the good plans of God for your life? Is your heart satisfied with the love of Jesus? Surrender your heart, plans, and ideas to God and trust that He will "do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask our think" (Ephesians 3:20) #GEMministry #truth #heartchallenge
Have you ever been in a position where you felt one way about a person (whether disgust, admiration, distrust, etc) yet acted in a totally different manner in their presence?
Has someone ever treated you with utmost kindness and respect only to find out that they are the very ones spreading lies and gossip about you?
That's a very harsh and hurtful feeling isn't it? Has it ever occurred to you that we treat God in the same manner?
Francis Chan puts it in plain terms in his book, Crazy Love:
If you merely pretend that you enjoy God or love Him, He knows. You can't fool Him; don't even try.
Do we really think that we can tell others and even God Himself that we love Him, yet our lives tell a completely different story? It's as if we forget that God is all-seeing and all-knowing. We end up fooling ourselves, not God. We make ourselves believe that we're ok by saying the right things or even doing the good things, but if the heart is not in sync with God and His Word, then we become the fool.
May we recognize those areas and strive to make it right before the time comes when we give an account to God. You can't fool Him now and you won't fool Him then.
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5
If you don't love Him as you should know then you can tell Him that you want to love Him. Read the Bible and trust in His promises.
When you strive to study Him you will learn to love Him.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mark 12:30
Psalm 147:5 - Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
This Psalm is full of praise.
Read the rest of the chapter and list some things that God is actively doing. Such as, healing the broken hearted (vs. 3), lifting up the meek (vs. 6) covers the heavens with clouds, (vs. 8), and the list continues. This chapter lists many practical yet necessary acts of God that we continually take for granted.
Praise doesn't come natural for us, does it? The needs that arise in our lives and in the lives of those around us seem to arouse fear rather than hope. Yet, God and His faithfulness become more real to us when we praise. Perhaps that's why the psalmist opened up this chapter with a charge to do just that.
Vs. 1 - Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
Another word for comely is beautiful; attractive. Praise is a beautiful thing in God's sight and draws is closer to Him.
Offer up praise to the One who understands you better than you understand yourself.
What are some reasons for praise in your life?
Is there anything happening in your life right now that is making you feel fearful?
What gives you hope?
Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide.
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reigns and my heart.
This is the prayer of a man who was made righteous by pleading for a heart examination and doing something with the result of God's judgment on his character. You see, character is rooted in the heart and flows through the channels we know as our mouth, hands, thoughts, attitudes, etc. (See Commended Character)
David, known as a man after God's own heart, wanted a character that reflected his Lord. That wouldn't have happened if he prayed, "Create in me a clean heart," (Ps. 51:10) then ignored the Lord's cleansing process.
Ever stop to think just how PERSISTENT a child is???? Even when they can’t walk yet! They will wiggle and squirm their way; sometimes cry and whine in the process to get “there”–hoping that someone might have sympathy on them and give them what THEY ARE WANTING. Which, we all know, would just be way too easy…Nope, instead we sit there and watch that child with his intense determination to get that “toy” or object they have become fixated upon. Super cute, right?! IT’S THE TRUTH! Every parent (and auntie) is guilty of sitting there and watching this display of ... Read more at our friend's blog page. (Click here)
Eventually, what is hiding in your heart will soon display itself through your actions and attitudes. Make sure that you are allowing good seed to take root and that God is given freedom to cultivate it as He wishes.
Saturday is Soup Kitchen day. We left before 8, chopped veggies, cleaned tables, and swept floors before the children and mothers started coming in for a delicious lunch of chicken and rice soup. Mmmm... Allison did an illustration about the heart getting dirty from sin and the blood of Jesus cleansing us. Diana told a Bible story about Moses. Everyone is enjoying their time serving the people and getting to know the children.
Click here to listen to Elisabeth Elliot talk about "Endurance" and about her experience of dying to self. This week marks 60 years that her husband, Jim Elliot, and 4 other missionaries were speared to death by the very people they were trying to reach. God used these men to open up the jungles of Ecuador to the Gospel and influence countless others with their testimonies.
*The broadcast is found at reviveourhearts.com
As I think on the night that our blessed Savior was born and all that was happening in that town of Bethlehem; with the census taking place there must have been a flood of people that filled the town. All these people and yet God chose to send His angels to make the very first announcement of His son’s birth to some simple shepherds that were watching over sheep in the field. Shepherds; not the most dazzling of jobs, nor probably the highest regarded by society (though Christ Himself would call Himself the good Shepherd later), but still chosen by God.
I imagine that the angels greatly anticipated announcing the long awaited birth of Christ that would bring hope to a wicked and dark world. Oh how the angels rejoice when just one soul is saved, surely the magnitude of joy and praise that would come forth from those same angels at the very moment the One to bring us salvation was born could shake the heavens! I imagine that at the moment the prophecies of a Savior being born was fulfilled the angels rejoiced greatly and brought that rejoicing to earth as they proclaimed to those simple shepherds “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Oh how the joy of the Lord poured out as the sky filled with “a multitude of the heavenly host” as they continued their praise to God! How the shepherds probably quaked as the angels declared “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” A birth announcement like no other!
The first proclamation of the birth of Christ: not to kings, not to priests, but to shepherds. God had a reason for choosing these men! Luke 2:8 tells us a little tiny bit about these shepherds but it is enough for us to know that these shepherds were diligent. They were not sleeping or slacking, and though their job may not have been the best according to society they were there diligently watching the sheep. They did not know the significance of the night, nor did they know that anything special was going to happen, they were just doing their job. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” When most of the very full town was sleeping, God chose these men to receive and then share the good news. Just as these men were diligently keeping watch over their flock, God knew they would diligently listen then go and tell all that they could that the Savior was born!
Just as the shepherds were chosen, though not looked upon as the greatest in society, we too are chosen by God to share that Jesus was born and then died for us so that we may have life! You may not think of yourself as anything special or great but, you are! You are chosen by God to be a light in this dark world we live in. At a candle light service on Christmas Eve I watched as, starting from one candle, a fire was shared from person to person until the whole sanctuary glowed. All this from ONE candle, and in giving its light to other candles it lost nothing, but gave so much and illuminated so many faces. If only we, obtaining that fire from Christ, could share it with all those that are around us, how many lives could be illuminated! We may have to step out and go to others, as some had to step out into the aisles at the church to light another’s candle, but it will be worth it. May we take the Light of Christ and share it with all we can in the time that we have ahead of us.
Read Luke 2:8-14
Written by: Diana Clements
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels' voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine
We sing these lyrics every year in December and strain (at least I do) to make those high notes sound less like scraping metal and more like an angelic chorus.
There's something to be said, however, of the powerful message of the song. When you cease singing from memory and begin to read the words as for the first time, it speaks of the mercy and grace of a Wonderful Loving Father.
Though penned by a French man who had no personal salvation experience, it echoes the Gospel shared by Luke in a way that can send tingles down our spine or bring tears to our eyes.
Why would such a song be so powerful? You see, if you truly study Biblical history then you will find that the world had gone through 400 years of silence from God by the time Mary was visited by the angel!
The 3rd line of the first verse describes the state of the word as it waited for the Promised One. "Long lay the world in sin and error pining". Yet that night of Christ's birth is often described as holy because of "A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices" and calls for a time of worship.
When you truly comprehend the depth of God's love and the divine works that was accomplished then you will also "Fall on your knees". To repent. To worship.
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
It was this hymn that was chosen as the first musical piece to ever be broadcast over radio. There has to be something to be gleaned from this song in other seasons besides Christmas. And truly there are other "Holy Nights" that we can sing about.
What about the night that you got saved? or the night God's promises were once again proven true? or perhaps the night you realized God had truly performed a miracle in your life?
We unknowingly live miracles every day, whether it be regarding our safety, avoiding countless illnesses and diseases, being an influence to others in a powerful way, and so much more.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
If we could learn at least one valuable lesson from the baby boy born to redeem us, then it ought to be how to love. The full impact of Christ's character ought to ignite us to love those around us with the same compassion as He did to the sick, the proud, and the lost.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." 1 John 4:11
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
The message of Christmas is that God SO loved us that He provided a way for us to be redeemed. Jesus proved to be the one powerful enough to break the chains of sin, if we so chose to trust Him. When we do so, then we can unashamedly do as the following says:
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine
Is Christ your Lord? Do you have the overwhelming urge to "praise His Name forever" and proclaim "His power and glory"?
Have a blessed Christmas!
Sonia E. Vargas
Sonia E. Vargas
Sonia's desire and hope is to write for the purpose of inspiring this generation, especially young woman.
Hannah Helm is a fun and outgoing young woman who loves to bring laughter and joy to anyone she comes in contact with. She is 24 years old and is a leader of Girl's Exalting the Master Ministry.
Paula is a passionate follower of Christ and loves to encourage others around her to do the same. She is 27 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014.
Kristyn is a sweet and gentle young lady from Trinity Holiness Tabernacle. She is 19 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She plays the piano and sings beautifully. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014 and Honduras team in 2016.