Redeeming grace

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. *

In a world (and sometimes my heart) where resentment, discontent, anger, frustration, and ugly attitudes can abound, redeeming grace is an amazing gift that soothes my soul.

He redeems, renews, and refreshes …. God does it and then does it again.

and again and again.

God’s well does not run dry. He sent Jesus to restore, renew, redeem, remove, reveal, renovate, refresh, repair, reclaim, and replenish.

Some days I feel like I am a full time job for God! Of course, He is bigger than me and my flailings. He holds onto me while I argue and complain. He restores my soul. His redeeming grace is steadfast and true.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

All is calm…

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing, Alleluia.
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
*

For some of us, everything is ready and the house is relatively calm. But for others, there is a lot of last minute hustle on tap for today.

It all depends on what is happening in life at the moment. And yet, it is important to press the pause button and choose calm. I prefer less hustle, but that probably has to do with how busy things have been for the last six weeks helping everyone else get their Christmas gifts in order due to our business. It is a wonderful change in pace to go from long working days to just shipping out a package or two a day and spending more time with the kids and grandkids.

Nearly all is calm here in my neck of the woods. We don’t host a huge dinner because we don’t have the space. That’s okay with me because these limitations contribute to my calm. They also limit my distraction from the true celebration here. The gifts and family time are fun and precious. But…

Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

When I ponder these words, the what is and what isn’t in my life takes a back seat. Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the gift for the whole world, is here. His salvation is a gift for me. And this so very personal gift from God is an incredible treasure to me.

Christ, my Savior, is born.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

The Prince was born to bring your peace…

All you, beneath your heavy load,
By care and guilt bent low,
Who toil along a dreary way
With painful steps and slow:
Look up, for golden is the hour,
Come swiftly on the wing,
The Prince was born to bring your peace;
Of him the angels sing. *

Wow. The imagery of this verse is so strong. I see this person trudging along, weighed down by the situations and circumstances of life. All burdens are not created equal. And a heavy burden on the backs of two different people can look very different because everyone’s ability to carry burdens is different and how people “wear their burdens” is just as various. And, we don’t always know the whole story. We only see a small portion of the whole story.

But … the Prince was born to bring your peace!

Alleluia!

The sizes of our burdens vary greatly but they are burdens nonetheless. Even a small burden can appear to loom large depending on what else is going on. Today, I thank Jesus for being the Prince of my peace. He is the one who can calm the raging sea and calm the storm in me.

This life is always full of challenges and burdens. But I look to the one who came to give me His peace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*By: Edmund H. Sears

Solemn Stillness

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to all,
From heaven’s all gracious king.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
*

It is difficult for me to carve out a chunk of time for solemn stillness, especially during the Christmas season. Our retail business is so very busy in November and December. This year was especially busy which was why I decided to do PrayerPoints for Advent. It isn’t that I needed one more thing to do, I needed to do this very particular thing.

I needed set aside time to consider the coming “all gracious king”. I needed to find some peace and calm in my day.

It works!

What I gain from “giving up” this time (I could be working on any number of business things) is a peace that extends through me all day. And I do appreciate that I wake up each morning, anticipating where God will take this devotional time. What I say in PrayerPoints may not be profound to you because I don’t always find the best words to express what God is doing in my heart.

I am so very thankful for His peace in my life. I encourage you to make time to enjoy His gift of peace today.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* By: Edmund H. Sears

Veiled in Flesh

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as Man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!
*

I love how God works! He often takes the ordinary and does something amazing with it.

Our Redeemer was veiled in flesh.

And He dwelt among us. Who would have thought to look in a stable, amongst the animals?

When I ponder this plan it is both simple and complex:

  • So very rich and yet, so very poor.
  • So very dirty and yet, so very pure.
  • So very quiet and yet, so very loud.
  • So very vulnerable and yet, so very protected.
  • So very loved and yet, so very pursued.

As I think about the events that led up to the birth of Jesus, it is hard not to consider my own culture and experiences and make my own applications. I relate as I can but it doesn’t mean I have an accurate picture. Of course these things happened so long ago that it is hard to imagine the circumstances.

And so I trust that the One who has created the earth and all stars was able to execute the delivery of the Christ Child.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* Words written by Charles Wesley 1707-88

In cloud and majesty and awe

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

I love reading the Old Testament. God’s patience with His people is abundant. If I was in a place to see some of the kind of activity He showed in the time of Moses, I surely would have been in awe at His majesty. But I particularly intrigued by how God moved His people with the pillars of cloud.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. [Exodus 13:21 ESV]

I am often in awe of the work that God does. And when I am still long enough to consider it all, His majesty comes through loud and clear. His ability to create, resurrect, release, and redeem can overwhelm me because I have seen it in my own life.

But those clouds —

I could benefit from seeing them. Sometimes seeing a very direct message or path is helpful. But, God probably knows it is better for me not to have such direct instruction. When I am seeking Him daily, my days go better. My life may not be smoother but I am more at peace. Even in the midst of some chaos, God calms my heart and gently leads me in the way I should go. With my eyes on Him, my direction is in His direction.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Preparing

Advent is all about preparing for the Christ child.

At the moment, I am in Hungary with a Christmas Market tour group. It has been very interesting to be here at the start of Advent. The Christmas markets typically do not start until December 1st because that is the day that begins the countdown to Christmas. There are Advent wreaths all around. Many home and store windows are decorated but I have hardly seen any “Santa” things. I don’t feel quite as bombarded with the commercialization of Christmas. Some stores and towns use large windows for the Advent calendar and each day a window is opened to reveal something special. The preparation helps the anticipation of baby Jesus.

There is a lot of preparation we Americans do in anticipation of Christmas. Being involved in a retail business that does a lot of business during this season, I need to be intentional about preparing my heart, particularly when time is short and the to-do list is long. I don’t often have a rhythm or predictable schedule but I might need to start scheduling it in because I think I might enjoy something that is consistent and dependable.

It is time to take a breath and relax and remember what this time is all about. How am I preparing my heart? How am I preparing me? Am I letting God soften the callouses and refocus my distracted thoughts?

How do you prepare?

Come, Lord Jesus.
Liz