Go Tell it on the Mountains, Christmas Meditation Day 4

When I lived in Florida, a hill consisted of six feet or greater. Our property in North Carolina is at twelve hundred feet. I walk down steep inclines to feed my chickens, and if I drive to town, the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking.

So to prepare our hearts for Christmas, I’d like us to visit the prophet Isaiah. Here are a verse to meditate on today.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Isaiah 52:7

I always wondered where that song came from.

Let’s turn over to the New Testament.

“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.’” Luke 2:8-12

The best news ever was pronounced to lowly shepherds on a lonely hillside by majestic angels.

What was the good news?

A Savior, a Redeemer came to rescue sinners like me. Like you.

You may wonder what sin is. It’s not just doing bad things like murder, adultery, and stealing. It is also not doing the good things you should do.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17

It’s not living a life of faith.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that there is hope for us. A life that doesn’t fade here on earth, but a life spent with Christ that goes on forever.

Now that is something to shout about.

On a mountain. Or a computer screen. Or at work. Or in your living room.

Here is a delightful choral group performing this great Christmas song. It will definitely wake you up!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIaRVpThGDM

 

The Shepherd, Christmas Meditations Day 3

“Let’s sing it again, Daddy,” I’d chant to my larger-than-life father.

“Okay, Sissy,” as he slid his arm around me and we’d throw back our heads and continue.

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?

But the Shepherd made answer: This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die;
Sick and helpless and ready to die.

Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track

They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.

Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn;
They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.

And all through the mountains, thunder riven
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven,
Rejoice! I have found My sheep!
And the angels echoed around the throne,
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!
Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!

That’s a big song for a five-year-old girl. When we would finish, often I noticed a tear or two in my father’s eye.

You see, he wandered. So did I.

Since we are approaching Christmas, I’d like for us to look at an Old Testament passage found in Ezekiel 34:11-12

“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheepand look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.”

 

God is speaking to Israel–look it up if you are interested. The chapter is fascinating.
Let’s look at something Jesus said in the New Testament, John 10:11;

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

If I Gibbs, I would look at the patterns.

-God is the shepherd of Israel and promises them He will bring them back into His care after they are scattered.

-Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd and is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.

And He did.

He found a drunken sailor who knelt at the Salvation Army drum. That drunken sailor became my father. The Good Shepherd sought out a rebellious teen, cleansed her life and her thoughts and made her a new creature.

Me.

The baby born in Bethlehem was born to die.

Because He is the Good Shepherd.

Here is a link to the song, friend. Sing it with me, won’t you? It’s an old hymn and a good one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxSpSOV0Ek4

 

 

 

Comfort His People, Christmas Meditations Day #2

Glad this election is over. Aren’t you? Don’t know how you voted, but these last few months have been tense–to say the least.

It’s over now. Party decisions have been made all over the United States. Now we need to lick our wounds, and heal with our fellow Americans.

We need to be comforted.

Remember when we climbed up in our mom or dad’s lap and felt their strong embrace? Maybe you didn’t. One of my most vivid memories as a child was when we went on vacation, and my daddy woke me up to put me in the car. He picked me up jammies and all, held me close and gently placed me into our beat up station wagon.

Usually, I was awake, but pretended to be asleep with my eyes held tightly shut.

Maybe you need comforting right now from life. Or a loved one’s death. Or a loved one’s absence.

I’m speaking to you, friend. Listen to this passage from Isaiah 40:1:

Comfort, comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard serve has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”

No matter who is in the Oval Office, no matter who left, or even if your dear one has been promoted to glory, you have hope.

We have hope.

It all began with a baby, in a manger.

Be comforted my friend. You have hope. It came wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Here is the link to the song of the day from Handel’s Messiah:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqkhyJFXK9I

Are There Anniversaries in Heaven, Christmas Meditations Day 1

Today would have been my parents 68th Anniversary. They made it to 59.

Here is my question; Do they celebrate anniversaries in heaven?

Here’s my guess–yes.

The reason I say that is God is a God of celebrations. Several feasts were required of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and they continued in the New Testament. One of the feasts lasted for a week with no work and living in shelters made with branches.

That sounds like a campout to me. Cooking over an open fire, hanging out with family, friends, and neighbors. That probably would have been my favorite.

The fact is, Almighty God required everyone to stop work and celebrate.

We are getting ready for the biggest celebration of the year in America–Christmas.

Jesus–the second Person of the Trinity left heaven and miraculously condescended to earth. Born as a baby, grew up as a man, and died as our Savior.

That is something to celebrate.

To remind me of this awesome fact, I’m going to write about it in order to take the time to celebrate. So here is my first passage of Scripture to meditate on today.

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

In America, we’ve just finished a long, mud-slinging campaign. We as a country decided who would be our President for the next four years. No, I’m not gonna go there.

Here’s my point. No matter who rules temporarily, God rules eternally through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is something to celebrate…

Here is a link to help you with your own celebration, friend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS3vpAWW2Zc

PS Ribs.

Not a Traditional Thanksgiving

The Hyltons have always been adventurous when it comes to food. My kids ate squid and mussels at a young age. In fact, one of our favorite meals to cook together is mussels fra diavlo. Sure, we love turkey, but not necessarily on the fourth Thursday of November.

Sarah is with her other family this Thanksgiving but Micah will be here on #peeledpoplarfarm.

We’re not sure of the menu. We’ve talked about everything from BBQ ribs to Chinese food. Doesn’t matter, we will be together, and may even have a few visitors.

What I am thankful for is not necessarily traditional, either. Sure, when my kids were little, we went around the table and asked everyone what they were thankful for. The expected answers always appeared: our family, house, food, dogs. All good things, yes.

But today, I’m taking a break from the traditional Thanksgiving blessings and am thanking God for a few unusual things.

First, I’d like to thank Him for things He has kept from me. Like friends. Not that I don’t have friends here in North Carolina, but they are new and we are still in the be careful what you say mode. (At least they are.)

Because of lack of friends, Tom and I have become better friends. No, he won’t go Black Friday shopping with me, but we often talk while watching re-runs of our wood stove while lounging on the couch. That is a good thing. (Except the whole lack of Black Friday shopping.)

Because of my lack of friends to confide in, I’ve had to take my thoughts, worries, and fears to the Lord. I’m glad about that, too.

The second thing I am thankful for is that I’m a nobody. Most of you already knew that, but I didn’t. I actually thought I was doing God a favor by following Him. Shoveling chicken manure in old sweats has a way of defining that.

Recently, I read of an American Christian who traveled to a foreign country and attended a secret church. In that church were men bent over from years in the rice fields.  They were not allowed an education because they were Christians. The writer also mentioned a woman who had her child taken away because she followed Christ.

In my book, these people are somebodies. But it really doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the Creator of the universe thinks. And He is pleased.

The third thing I am thankful for is God. In my Bible reading today, Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name be glory. Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.

I’m glad the Almighty isn’t at all like me. He is unique. One-of-a-kind, Holy, and completely worthy of praise. And He is loving and kind and truthful.

I pray you will have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I’ll let you know if it’s ribs or Chinese this year. Or maybe we’ll have mussels.