THQ weighs in

THQ weighs in

Sunday, December 21, 2014

ADVENT IS HERE! Day 22 BUT MADE HIMSELF NOTHING Phil 2:7

It is hard to conceive or imagine
How God could have done what he did,

When he came in the form of a human

And chose on this planet to live.

Though present throughout the whole cosmos,
He made himself ever so small,
Just a cell in the womb of a woman,
Then a babe in a trough in a stall.

Though he formed both the earth and the heavens,
And all power and knowledge were his,
He now lays there so tiny and helpless,
Dependent on two teenage kids!

Though he came willing, knowing his future,
As a man he will learn it anew
And accept, as he did when in heaven,
What awaits him to save me and you.

HPW ©

God bless you all,
Howard Webber

Bournemouth, UK




4th Sunday of Advent Dec 21/14 (Posted 20/12)



The season of Advent is passing quickly. We are already at the 4th Sunday of Advent, which is the Sunday closest to Christmas Day, December 25th. I hope and pray that this has been a time of reflection and drawing nearer to Christ for each of us. Following today's post, there will be 2 more posts. One of the posts will be for the Christ Candle (white)on Christmas. The second post will be reflections on Epiphany, January 6th, which celebrates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. 

Prior to today's reflection,let's briefly review the first three weeks of the Advent season, as represented by the candles in the traditional Advent wreath. On the first Sunday of Advent (Nov. 30/14) we examined The Prophecy Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Hope). We noted that this purple candle represents the longing for the Messiah's arrival and the hope that His coming would result in a physical restoration of Israel and transformed lives. On the second Sunday of Advent (Dec. 7/14), we considered The Bethlehem Candle (a.k.a., the Candle of Preparation). This second candle is also purple, which serves as a reminder that Jesus is the King of kings. Furthermore, it encompasses the crucial preparations of Jesus' birth and our own personal preparations we make to celebrate His nativity. Last week, the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Dec. 14/14), we explored The Shepherds' Candle, the only pink candle in the wreath (a.k.a.,  the Candle of Joy). The story of the shepherds is a narrative that is marked by the joy they experienced on that night, a joy that they shared with everyone they encountered.

Today, the 4th Week of Advent: "The Angel Candle", which is also known as "The Candle of Love" (purple) is lit. Angels are an enduring and popular subject of interest to many folks. This interest has inspired many, including me, to own an angel collection. It comes as no surprise, either, that a popular American TV show, "Touched by an Angel", had a long run from  September, 1994 until April 2007. The theme of the show focused on three main angels, Monica, Tess, and Andrew, bringing messages of God's love, hope, and guidance to individuals who had been beaten down by life's circumstances. Furthermore, there are many contemporary books available that record individuals' reported experiences with angels. For those of us who have had such experiences, we know how life-changing they have been and how our faith has been increased. Also known as the Candle of Love, the fourth candle reminds us of God's great gift of love--His Son, Jesus: "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life." (John 3:16, New Century Version). Evidence of God's love for His people is woven throughout the Bible, and angels frequently carried that message of love to His creation.

So we shouldn't be surprised to hear of, nor to experience, encounters with angels. After all, the Bible is filled with accounts of angel interventions and interactions in both the Old and New Testaments. Some people have conducted studies of these accounts in order to understand what angels do--in other words, what are their responsibilities, what tasks do they perform? Angels are under God's authority (Matthew 28:18), and they follow His directions. They deliver messages from God or act on His behalf. For example, in the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, an angel is appointed to guard the east entrance to prevent access to the tree of life. Another familiar account is that of Gideon's Fleece, where an angel appears to Gideon with a message from God (Judges, chapters 6-8). The 28th chapter of Genesis records Jacob's dream of angels going up and down a staircase. There are many accounts of angels throughout the Old Testament. [For those of you interested in resources to discover these accounts, you can Google,for example, "What tasks do angels perform? Here is the link to one of the ones that I found:  http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/angel/angel_02.htm].

The accounts of angels are not limited to the Old Testament, either. There are many recorded instances of intervention, instruction, and assistance. For example, an angel rescued Peter from prison (Acts 12: 5-10). And in Matthew, chapter 28, the account of Jesus' resurrection is recorded. Throughout this account, we read of the involvement of angels. For example, an angel rolled the stone away from the tomb when Christ rose from the dead (verses 1-4). An angel provided comfort and hope to the women who went to the tomb early on the Sunday morning following Christ's crucifixion, indicating that Jesus is alive (verses 5-6). The angel gave the women a message from Jesus--they were to pass the Good News onto Christ's disciples and to tell them to meet Him in Galilee (verse 7).

Let's back track from the Resurrection to Jesus' birth. Last week we looked at the spectacular birth announcement that the shepherds received from an angel, who was then joined by a large group of angels. Going back a little further, we read of the angel, who appeared to the father-to-be of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25). Remember: John the Baptist was chosen to be the one who prepared the people by pointing them back to God via the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

A short while after an angel predicted John the Baptist's birth, the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary, the mother-to-be of Jesus. Gabriel had a life-changing announcement: Mary was chosen to carry the Christ child, the Son of God, within her. The baby was to be called "Jesus", because He would save His people from their sins(Luke 1:26-38). This visit of the angel to Mary is known as the "Annunciation". The Annunciation celebrates the announcement that the angel Gabriel made to Mary. Many Christians observe the Annunciation on March 25th (9 months before Jesus' birth on December 25th).

Now, this plan had to include an earthly-father-to-be, too (to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the lineage of King David. Mary was "betrothed" to Joseph. Betrothal was a public commitment, which proceeded marriage--it is sometimes compared to a prolonged engagement with the promise of marriage. However, engaged or betrothed people were not supposed to be sexually intimate. So, when Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, he was upset, and he tried to think of a way to break off their engagement. His dilemma was resolved when an angel appeared in Joseph's dream, confirming that Mary's pregnancy was the result of the Holy Spirit and not of another man (Matthew 1:18-25).

So, we see that God sent His angels to announce to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God, of the Messiah. An angel also informed and reassured Joseph that Mary had been faithful to him--and that she was pregnant via the Holy Spirit. An angel, then joined by a huge group of angels, make the grand announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Later, when Jesus was about 2 yrs. old, an angel was sent to warn Joseph that Herod was seeking to kill Jesus. (Herod was anxious and angry that there was prophecy and talk of prophecy of a new King of the Jews being born--he didn't want competition for his throne). Throughout all these interactions and interventions, the angels were carrying God's message of love.

Challenge: 

What can we learn from these accounts of God's angels? In Hebrews 1:14 it states, "Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?" (The Message). This includes each of us who has acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, and who have received Him as our Lord and Saviour. We don't pray to the angels. However, when we pray for help, God may use them to provide that help. Regardless of the manner in which God provides for our needs, His provision for us stems from His great love for us. Have you had an encounter with an angel that you would like to share with us?
  
Suggested Daily Scripture Readings
Sunday, Dec. 21st Mary's Song of Praise  Luke 1: 46-55
Monday, Dec. 22nd  Mary Treasured and Pondered the Events Surrounding Jesus' Birth  Luke 2:19
 Tuesday, Dec. 23rd The Birth of Immanuel Matthew 1: 18-25
 Wednesday, Dec. 24th  This is how God Demonstrates His Love  1 John 4:9
 Thursday, Dec. 25th--The Christ Candle

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk


Saturday, December 20, 2014

ADVENT IS HERE! Day 21 I HAVE HEARD


I have heard of hosts of angels

Hovering above the earth,

Heralding Christ Jesus’ coming,

Telling shepherds of his birth.

In response, I’m told, the shepherds
Went in search to Bethlehem,
Found the Christ-child in a manger,
Left his presence different men.

Later, so they say, came wise men
Bringing treasures rich and rare;
They bowed down in sheer amazement
When they found the Saviour there.

Have I ever seen an angel?
Can I prove the stories true?
Why do I believe these stories?
Why? Because I’ve found him too!

HPW ©

God bless you all,
Howard Webber

Bournemouth


Friday, December 19, 2014

ADVENT IS HERE! Day 20 GOD’S WHISPERED WORD.

What is it there within that shed

That brings men miles to bend their knee?

What is it hidden in the straw

That shepherds leave their flocks to see?

When local folks who live nearby

Pass by the place indifferently.

God’s whispered Word to those with ears;
His still small voice is in that stall.
God’s candlelight’s in Bethlehem,
A flickering thing, so pure, so small,
That only those with eyes to see
Perceive his secret in it all.

Lord, place your Word within my heart,
And make my soul your manger bed;
That whether noticed or ignored
My life may speak what your life said;
That those who have the eyes to see
May meet you in this cattle shed.

HPW ©


God bless you all,
Howard Webber
Bournemouth, UK

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ADVENT IS HERE! Day 19 WHAT A GIFT

On a night, dark and cold,

Came a gift, long foretold,

Far more precious than gold,

Who’d grow up to be bold

And to break Satan’s hold,

And bring blessings untold.

And the angels? They praised
The shepherds? All gazed.
The parents? Were dazed.
The wise men? Amazed.
King Herod? Half-crazed.
And Bethlehem? Just lazed.

By the life that he led,
And the words that he said,
And the food that he fed,
And the blood that he shed
When he died in our stead,
He still raises the dead

…..if we let him.

HPW ©


God bless you all,
Howard Webber
Bournemouth, UK