Savior Song

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”   When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  Luke 2:13-15

Have you ever thought about what sights and songs the shepherds experienced out in the fields that night?  It must have been quite remarkable, because if this happened to me, I would have proceeded cautiously, though what the angels said would have likely lingered in my mind.  I wonder what songs were sung around the newborn king that night, and if they had any idea of the hundreds more that would be sung in the centuries to come that would celebrate with them? 

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

While we were caroling with a group from my church this past week, we asked each of the recipients (from young children to those with Alzheimer’s) if they had a favorite Christmas song.  Some did and some did not, but most enjoyed our attempt to sing some familiar songs in the cool December night.  How about you?  Do you get a little excited when you hear Hark the Herald Angels Sing on the radio, or is it more of something you dread?  Do you sing along, even if slightly off key?  After all, it only comes along 1-2 months each year, right? 

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Psalm 96:1-2­

Even if you don’t enjoy singing them, have you ever read about the history of how some of these songs came to be?  Many are quite remarkable and give you a small glimpse into the time and place they were written.  Inspired by the Psalms, a composer named Isaac Watts published a tune called Joy to the World in 1719.  A century later in 1818, a song called Stille Nacht was written in a little Austrian town that would be sung for many years to come.  And just who is Good King Wenceslas?  There are probably new songs sung each year that we will never hear, but that someone does. 

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.  Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.  Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.  Psalm 33:1-3

Most years, I even come across songs that have just been written or that are new to me that find a place on my favorite list.  A recent one (which came out 10 years ago) that I enjoyed was an arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High by Sara Groves, which has more of a Southwestern feel to it.  There are also those secular songs that have nothing to do with Christ or Christmas, except the title, that are still popular each year, but for different reasons.  Though they may be catchy, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer offers more praise to animals than anyone, Last Christmas may have you longing for big 80’s hair more than a quiet Christmas night, and who even heard of Six White Boomers.  You get the idea.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:10

So, this coming week when you get a chance to sing along to some of those familiar songs again, do it as a praise to your Lord who was born a little baby two thousand years ago, and lives with us still today.  The God of the Universe gave us hope through a helpless baby that would one day take away the sin we could not remove ourselves.  Think on how his life and death would inspire so many to write songs of praise and thanksgiving for the gift that we could never repay.  Think of all the songs yet to be written and sung that will bring a new appreciation for the Newborn King as he is born into the hearts of new believers around the world each day.   Even if you don’t enjoy singing, doesn’t it make you want to sing, even a little? 

Christmas Blessings,
Clark

Developed or Discovered

I work with leaders from the age 13-60.  Many of them want positions of authority.  Some have had a lot of leadership experience and some none at all.  The most successful leaders are not the ones that are fighting for position but those who are quick to learn and ask a lot of questions.  They are concerned with being developed.

I am 32 years old this year.  I am reviewing my 20’s and I see a them.  There were times when I tried to prove myself so I would be discovered as a great leader.  Those times were always full of conflict and insecurity.  Then there were times when I was all about being developed, not striving or proving anything.  I recognized my need for growth huge in this time.  I found mentors and leaders who could help me.  I did what they said whether it made sense or not.  I grew a ton! Also, leadership opportunity came my way. 

Jesus was God’s son and Jesus was about 30 when He started his ministry.  Why not 18 after all he is God in flesh.  Joseph was 30 when He was promoted 2nd in command of Egypt, before that he was a slave in Potiphar’s house and a prisoner in a political prison. David was about 30 when He was finally given the role of King of Israel.  All of them had been given a dream years before that. God waited until they were developed before they were given position. 

Can you imaging being Jesus at 25.  You know who you are and the mission you have been called to and you have to wait.  From age 12 – 30 we have one verse.

Luke 2:52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

Weird thought isn’t it. Jesus had to grow in wisdom and favor with God.  Jesus needed developed.  Even at 30 he is saying my time hasn’t come.  Can you imagine Mary?  She has a virgin birth, and I am sure everyone believes the engaged pregnant woman saying she has not had sex.  She wants her son discovered for who He is. 

Joseph has a vision of greatness. He tell his family who you would hope supports his dreams, and he gets sold into slavery by his brothers.  If Joseph is to one day lead an Egyptian amy being in the caption of the guards house, in charge of everything in the house.  Maybe God is up to something.  If farmer boy is going to be 2nd in command of the greatest nation on earth, learning politics in a political prison doesn’t seem that far out.  As a prisoner, Joseph is put in charge of the prison. Slavery and a prisoner would not his first choice, but he was developed into who God wanted him to be. 

You might feel stuck in obscurity and that you have not been discovered yet in the dream that God has for you, but God has a tendency to test his people in the place of obscurity to see if they will be humble and be developed or just whine about their circumstances.  God has GREAT THING planned for you life, but He wants you focused on being developed so He can trust you being discovered.  Who is further in the journey that you need to have mentor you?  What job do you have you need to do your very best in?

Go be Vital!

Recklessly obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Prepping for Christmas

Recently I’ve reflected on some of the big things I’ve prepared myself for in my life. In college I had to write and defend a senior thesis, which I started the first day of classes, and poured myself into until the day I defended it. I read over 20 books, met with a professor an hour each week to discuss its progress, went through many re-writes, and had several others give me feedback. It was a ton of work, but it all paid off. As an athlete, I’ve also learned the value of preparation. The more work I put in during the months leading up to a big race the more prepared I feel. I love getting to the finishing stretch, seeing my time is going to be right on target, and still having energy in the tank.

A question we ask ourselves too little during the holiday season is:  what do we need to do to prepare ourselves for Christmas. To prepare for Christmas means that we take steps in our lives to turn our attention from all the worldly hustle and bustle to focus on God. Jeremiah 29:13 puts it this way: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. This means that we need to truly take the time to reflect on what it is God did for us that Christmas night two millennia ago, and indeed what He continues to do for us.

What does this look like? Well, it can take a lot of different forms, but let me give you a few examples. 

  1. Spend time in deep prayer: I’m not talking about “God, bless this food, Amen.” I’m talking about blocking out 15 minutes or more to really spend time with God. Share what’s going on in your life: the good and the bad. Share what you need, and be open to how God may move you to meet the needs of others. Let God’s love pour over you, and remember how much he cares about your life and eternity. 
  2. Get into scripture: Read about Christmas and Easter in scripture. Don’t just read the words, but think about what God was up to. Here is God, the creator and sustainer of all things, chasing to leave heaven to be with us and to die for us. Are you letting the significance 
  3. Spend time in silence: Ok, we’re guys so we probably all dread such an exercise. But seriously gents, we need to spend some time in silence contemplating what God has done for us, what He is calling us to do, and we are (or are not) responding to that call in life. We need to really reflect on how our walk with God is, and be ready to make changes if we need to. 

Want to really get the most out of Christmas this year? Then put in the preparation this week. You’ll be glad you did! 

Searching For Joy

Luke 2:9New International Version (NIV)

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

Is there news that will bring joy? I don’t know about you, but the news I read and hear doesn’t bring me joy. Usually, the news is hitting at someone in politics, especially the President, or it goes to what is wrong or a disaster that has happened. News is more of a downer than joy filled.

My mind travels to the night the angels visited those ceremonially unclean shepherds. These men were men who watched over sheep whose whole purpose was to provide food, clothing, or to become someone’s sacrifice. There is not much joy here either.

Yet, God sends, not just one angel but a host of angels. He sends them to those who were considered the poor and the lowly. He did not sent the angels to the rich and mighty, but to men who tended and watched over sheep.

The angels tell these men the Messiah has come. He is born in the City of David, Bethlehem. There were to be the ones to see Jesus first. They jump to their feet and hurry to the village. There they find a man and a wife and a baby lying in a manger. This baby is the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love of the world.

My heart leaps with joy knowing we serve a God who sees us for what we are instead of what the world tries to convince us who we are not. What are you searching for today? Are you searching for joy? May all of us find joy in Jesus the King, the One Who bring true joy to every heart.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Only 9 more days until Christmas. The greatest gift you can give your spouse and family is your time. Take time to go with them to look at Christmas lights, musicals, or simply sitting down to watch, It’s a Wonderful Life. Allow your presence to be a present.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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