Monday, December 11, 2017

He Might Come Tonight—Are You Ready?

            IF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE SHOWED UP ON EARTH TONIGHT, would you be excited to see Him?
            Or not?

            As we move forward in our Advent peace study, I want to take you to the Gospel of Matthew, second chapter, verses 1-4. It’s the chapter about the Wise Men coming from the east to worship Jesus after His birth.

            “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’
            When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”

            You can find a lot of commentaries about this passage online, and I would encourage you to do more research, but let me give you just a screen-shot background.
            First and foremost, this event actually occurs around two years after Jesus’s birth, so Jesus is probably two.
            Second, King Herod is a Roman who has been appointed by the Romans to rule over the Jews. So he’s not a Jew; but evidently he knows something about Jewish law and prophecy.
            Another thing to know about him is that he’s evil. Pure evil. And power hungry. And probably mentally imbalanced. He has three of his sons murdered, and his mother-in-law and his second wife. This is a man who sounds paranoid and doesn’t trust others. And he certainly seems to revel in his power.
            He lives in Jerusalem. And that’s where the wise men go to find him, to obtain information about the location of the King of the Jews.
            Notice how they title Jesus? As “King of the Jews.” Inferring that Jesus is the real king, and they know and acknowledge that? And maybe Herod isn’t?

How would you react?
           First, I doubt that three plain old wise men from the east riding into town, requesting an audience with King Herod, would have gotten much notice, IF they were just wise men, and IF just the three of them came riding in like you or I would enter a city. As many authors have suggested, they could have been kings themselves. But Scripture never says there were just three of them; and they probably came into town with a resplendent entourage and a stream of servants and horses or camels carrying baggage.
            Be assured, they got everyone’s attention.
            Including the Jerusalem residents.

What gold nuggets are in those verses?  
In just four lines in Scripture you learn that:

1. The wise men know Jesus is to be worshipped. So that means he’s incredibly important, and His birth is significant—to everyone.

2. Herod evidently knew and believed in the prophecies, enough to realize that this newborn king is the Christ, the anointed one of Israel. The Messiah. In verse 4, we see him gathering all the chief Jewish priests and scribes together to tell him where the Christ is to be born.

3. The arrival of the wise men and Herod’s reaction certainly got the attention of the residents, because it’s clear that they hear about the wise men’s reason for arrival and their request. Someone must have made a big deal about it and spread the word. Quickly.

            And we learn something else, in verse 3, that surprised me. I’d never noticed it before. Let’s read it again:
            “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (My emphasis.)
            Now, I can understand old Herod being troubled. Terrified, probably. With any possibility of someone else grabbing his throne, Herod is reactive and proactive. He’s not about to let that happen. But now here comes this baby who threatens his rule and very existence. And he’s terrified.

Not what you’d expect—       
            But the people?! Why are they troubled? (Historians estimate the population to be between 20,000 and 80,000, with best guestimates at 40,000.) I can understand the Roman citizens being nervous, but they didn’t believe in all of that Jewish prophecy anyway, so we can probably discount them from the passage.
            But shouldn’t the Jews be excited that prophecy has been fulfilled and their long-awaited Christ has been born? Their Savior, their King? After all, some historians say there were probably 6,000 Pharisees in Jerusalem. The Scripture-sleuths. The crème de la crème of Jews.
            But they’re not excited. They’re troubled. Troubled.
            Why? It doesn’t say they’re ambivalent about Him, or disinterested. It says they were troubled. What reasons do you think they might have for being troubled about Jesus’ birth?

            I can think of several.
            1. A new king would upset the apple cart they’re used to. People usually don’t like change.
            2. They automatically react to Herod’s reaction, like mob mentality, without giving it much thought.
            3. They know who this king must be, and they believe in Him, but they’re a little nervous about what He’s going to think of them. And maybe what He’s going to do to them.
            And then there’s the big reason—
            They don’t know Him, and they’re afraid.

Second Advent details
            Scripture says that when He returns again, those who don’t know Him are going to be frightened. Things are going to get so bad that the unbelievers would rather have a boulder drop on them than face the events.

            My question for you is: How about you? If He returned tonight, would you be troubled, or would you be oozing joy and praising Heaven?
            Would you be humbled, or anxious?
            Would you be excited, or trying to hide?

            Or would you be like the wise men who searched for Him, found Him, and worshiped Him?

            Are you in King Herod’s camp, or the Wise Men’s?
            Where would you like to be?

            If you’re a wise person and have found Him, amen! I’ll be worshiping right alongside you. I might be flat on my face worshiping, but I will be worshiping.
            If you’re unsure, I pray that you take this Advent season to search and find. He will be found by you if you search diligently and honestly for Him. With an open heart. 

            And when He has been found, worship! You will have crossed over from Herod’s camp to Jesus’.
            And you won’t be troubled about His return.

Make it a great week!

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Google Images           

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Season of Healing Music


            Soft, falling snow, pine trees, special beverages and treats? Oh, and how about gifts?

            And what about those grand choir and symphony programs, that special music we listen to this time of year. Songs that rejoice over our Saviors birth, of family time, of dreaming of a white Christmas and sleigh bells jingling.

            Since it’s Music Monday, I thought it would be a great time to kick off our Advent celebration by delving into music and how it can heal and bring us peace.

7 Healing Frequencies of Music—Play like King David?
            Maybe many of you are familiar with him, but I was just recently introduced— through a third-party email promotion—to Christian musician, author, and speaker, Michael Tyrell and his Whole Tones Music project.

            Michael focuses on the healing power of music through his Whole Tones brand and claims to have found the 7 healing frequencies that transform people’s lives with healing, hope and praise.

            On his website video, he appears to be a sincere, genuine (and fervent) believer who says he was “directed by the Lord to create this music,” which he believes is the same type of music David played on his lyre to bring healing to King Saul.

            He calls it WholetonesTM: The Healing Frequency Music Project.

            His story, which you can find on his main website, is quite amazing. While there you can watch a short video of the artist and read the story.
    WTDirBrand&gclid=CjwKCAiA9f7QBRBpEiwApLGUihXwyvbtKM6eF7TMK            nK53xmxkRbQOd8ArjO6Arq8oK8JwQjY0DiqPRoCD78QAvD_BwE

            And he now has a Christmas album with traditional songs he’s orchestrated with his Wholetones, healing frequencies method.

            They claim that the “healing music” can:

ü  dissolve stress
ü  help you enjoy deep, restorative sleep
ü  reduce pain and discomfort

      If all of that is true, and the music truly is healing, then the cost of his music is a bargain. And he offers a 365-day return guarantee.

      Here’s a link to his special Christmas music. (Don’t forget to return here after you’ve listened to a sample of the CD!)

              ntent=&utm_source=advancedbionutritionals&subid=2017_1116ab_christmas&u tm_term=wholetones-christmas&AFFID=79204

Bring on the Christmas music!
            If you’d like a real holiday visual and musical treat, go to this YouTube video of an unusual, and moving, Christmas production. It brought tears to my eyes.


            You can also go to #sharethegift


            Or you can enjoy the Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform Carol the Bells (for sentimental reasons, one of my favorite Christmas songs).



            Now, can anyone say O Holy Night!


            And Little Drummer Boy like you’ve never seen it performed before. The photography in this one isn’t the greatest, but the drummers are phenomenal!


            We can’t let Christmas go by without hearing Handel’s Messiah!

            And if you want to see how music transcends countries and generations, treat yourself to this Ode to Joy video.


            Happy singing!

            I hope you’ve been able to prepare your heart for Christmas. I know it can be difficult this time of year, but it’s certainly worth the effort!

Make this Advent a special one.

Until next week—

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Google Images          

(Note: I am not an affiliate of Whole TonesTM music, and I do not receive any benefits from promoting or directing you to the music.)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is There Room in Your Inn?

            Although we’re not technically into the theological Christmas season (which starts next Sunday with Advent), I’m going to kick off the season today, with a familiar passage in the Gospel of Luke. I’m sure you’ve heard it before.
            “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling
            cloths, and laid Him in a manager; because there was no room for them
            in the inn” (Luke 2:7 NKJV).

            Because there was no room for them in the inn.

No room for you—
            Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been told the hotel was full, the motel was booked, that there was no place for you to stay? Even your friends or relatives didn’t have a room to put you up in. So you had to cancel your plans, request to be put on the waiting list, or drive on to the next town, hoping they’d have room for you there.
            Pretty frustrating, isn’t it? And don’t you get at least the tiniest impression that you don’t rate as high on the importance scale as everyone else does when that happens? You feel kind of second-class.

Preparing for the guest
            Now think back to a time where you knew in advance that a friend or relative was coming to visit you. They may have called you unexpectedly, or at the last minute, and asked if you could put them up for a night or two, or maybe more. Maybe they didn’t even ask, like when some parents call and just tell you they’re coming and expect you to put them up, without asking permission or checking to see if your schedule will flex around their vacation.
            You said yes and then made plans to accommodate them. And you probably had to go through some trouble or inconvenience to your schedule to do that. You had to make sure the sheets and towels were clean and you had enough food in the kitchen to cover the extra people. Maybe you had to rearrange your schedule to pick them up at the airport, or be home when they drove to your house and spilled out onto your driveway with their luggage. Maybe you even had to take a vacation day to make sure all was ready when they arrived.

Extending an invitation
            But what if you were the one who presented the invitation? In that case, you probably had done some serious mental and schedule planning. You really wanted to make sure your friends or relatives had a great time and made great memories staying with you, so you made sure the guest bedroom was looking extra special and clean. (Or you booted one of your kids to the living room couch so your guests could enjoy privacy in a nice room.)
            You might have zipped down to Bed, Bath and Beyond to purchase brand new extra-fluffy bath towels for them—the works, with color-coordinated spa-sized bath sheets, fingertip towels and washcloths. You bought food treats for them to enjoy, maybe some of their favorite wine. You had a calendar full of activities, and a line-up of local sites for them to see, so you could show them the best of your hometown. You wanted to make an impression.
            To show them just how much you love and appreciate them. You made room for them to show them just how much they mean to you.

Preparing for the welcome

            And that’s where we’re going with today’s post.
            As we look toward and gear up for this special, holy season, have you made room for the person it celebrates? For Jesus? Is there room for Him in your inn?
            Since He doesn’t take up residence in a physical inn any longer, but sets up shop in your heart, have you done all you can to prepare your heart to receive Him and give Him a place to stay? I mean really prepare it. Not just think about it a couple of times, but really have the cobwebs swept out, the windows thrown open to give it fresh, clean scent, and the surroundings looking as though someone put some time in the expectation and joy of receiving a guest?
            Or are you more distracted with the fringe benefits of the season—the gifts, the food, the traveling, the special choir and symphony performances—with the actual celebration of His first Advent creeping in as an afterthought?

            And that’s my challenge to you—to all of us—this Advent. To do some spring cleaning of our hearts in winter in order to be fully prepared to receive Him anew this Christmas. In a fresh way. To pray and think more about Him than we do about making sure we’ll get the best deals on whatever it is we’re purchasing for presents. To spend more time with Him than we do on decorating every square inch of the house, planning meals, making shopping lists, and preparing the spread.

Making room for Him in your inn
            Instead, let’s prepare and decorate our hearts. If we do, an interesting thing will happen.
            Our hearts will be overcome with joy and flooded with peace. Because that’s what this magnificent guest brings with Him. And what does He want as a present?
            If you haven’t given Him that yet, I pray you do so this year. He’s a houseguest you won’t ever want to leave. Be ready when He knocks.
            If you have already opened your heart to Him, you may need to do some major cleaning to make sure He feels at home, or some spot cleaning to make sure you feel as though you’ve done all you could to show Him just how much you love and appreciate Him.
            Sometimes the ones closest to us are the ones we tend to overlook.

            So spend the week preparing your heart for the arrival of the King of Kings! He’s the most important visitor you’ll ever have, and you don’t want to look back with regret at not making room for Him in your inn.

May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).

Photos courtesy of Google Images