Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year, New Possibilities!

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it - not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives. 2 Corinthians 3:3 The Message 

What will 2016 bring? As this new year begins, each of us stands before new opportunities and beside endless possibilities. Uncertainties and unknowns lay waiting, too! So - how shall we live? Begin now to answer this question by reading God's word and seeking His response to you. Find your Scripture verse for this year; the Holy Spirit will lead you. Let it be your spiritual map for the year, a guide through the unknowns, an assurance for the journey, a rescue in a crisis, a witness to others along the way. In following Christ, we become living letters written by the Holy Spirit. This coming year, let's choose to live fully and love completely for the glory of God. ~dho

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day, 2015


Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas! On the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, remember to light the Christ candle - today and every day! ~dho

Thursday, December 24, 2015

EXPECT... Christ is Coming! - Advent 2015

Jesus promised: Behold, I am coming soon!... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Revelation 22:12-13

"We must practice living to the glory of God."  Tozer

Christ is coming! God's promise echoes throughout the Old Testament in times of obedience and  oppression, in bondage and brokenness, in rebellion and rescue. Christ is coming! "For unto us a Child is born...and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Scriptures and scholars  confirm the birth and death of Christ. Skeptics walked the same dusty roads, welcome the same amazing miracles, witness the same teachings as the disciples. Discontent and fear grows while political powers denounce Jesus. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus tells His disciples, "I will see you again..." EXPECT!

The world strikes discords of injustice, failure, hate, dishonesty and feeds temptations for these weaknesses. From the time of Jesus' resurrection until now, wars and famines and natural disasters fill the pages of history. Many believers have identified these as signs of the last times, have predicted the arrival of the Messiah. Most of these predictions have passed.In the words of the angels said as Christ ascended, "Why do you stand looking into heaven... Jesus will come in the same way you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) Holy Scriptures tell us we will not know the time or day Christ returns, but Christ is coming! EXPECT!

Throughout history - wars and rumors of wars are unceasing along with inhumanity and wicked schemes. The days on earth are full of hostilities and marked with rebellion.  From the 1st Century to the 21st Century - Christians eagerly wait Christ's return within the chaos. So with eager expectation we prepare our hearts to share the Gospel story. In the sacrament of communion, we take the bread and cup in celebration of Christ's victory of death and sin, and in celebration of His coming again. Bread of Life chooses us in love and calls us to love each other. Christ is coming! EXPECT! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th Sunday of Advent - 2015

Jesus said, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 
Mt. 19:26

Christ is coming...always coming! The Promise of Christ's coming again becomes the victory over life's difficulties. In these last days of Advent, seek His presence, find His peace! Expectantly watch for Christ! This ADVENT know the promise of the coming of Christ. ~dho

Thursday, December 17, 2015

LIVE...Christ is Coming! ~ Advent 2015

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13
Just as our Lord came into humanity from the outside, so He must come into us from the outside. Have we allowed our personal humanity to become a "Bethlehem" for the Son of God?"  Oswald Chambers
Frederick Buechner says, "Advent is made of moments. This slow, unfurling of grace." Our busy, over-packed commitments can muffle the whispers of the season. Sometimes, almost by accident, we find these "unfurling of grace" moments rendered in sacred song, revealed in children dressed as shepherds and angels and wise men, remembered as ornaments are carefully hung on our Christmas trees. Within these moments there is quiet joy, joy of being, joy of abiding with Christ, joy of God's unending blessings. LIVE!

Joy comes with the coming of Christ that holy night in Bethlehem. As joy enters the world full of chaos, love tenderly welcomes. Soon, Joy sings from the wings of angels with glorious song to shepherds who rest in the night. A new day, a new way is born. From an unexpected entrance and into the darkness, Joy comes and humanity will be forever changed, a joy of Eternal Hope, a joy of Perfect Love, a joy of Everlasting Peace. Although Joy enters the world in Bethlehem on a dark night over 2,000 years ago, the coming of Christ still brings joy for us - for you and for me, for strangers we never meet and some who will become friends; joy comes for the affluent and the afflicted, for the brave and the spiritually bankrupt. Joy calls to the powerful and the powerless, the elderly and the children, the every-day person walking an every-day path. Today - in this moment - the coming of Christ calls each us to become a 'Bethlehem' for Him. LIVE!

Advent's joy, Immanuel, God with us, transforms our hearts and homes, our families and friendships, our communities and cultures. Christ becomes new life in us. Messiah - a name spoken by prophets, a Baby announced by angels, the Son affirmed by God, a Teacher nourished by the Spirit, a Savior crucified by sin, a Redeemer resurrected by Grace, a King returning by Promise - let my life be a Bethlehem for You! Be born again in me. Don't miss Him! LIVE! ~dho

Monday, December 14, 2015

3rd Sunday of Advent ~ 2015

Jesus said, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 

Jesus comes to us that we may have joy, that we may have HIS joy! As we move through this season that celebrates Jesus, remember that He brings joy into the world and into us. The Light of the worlds brings joy... IS joy even in our darkest and most difficult times. This ADVENT rejoice in the coming of Christ. ~dho

Thursday, December 10, 2015

LISTEN...Christ is Coming! ~ Advent 2015

For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

"The Giver becomes the Gift, this quiet offering." Ann Voskamp

Familiar names fill Bethlehem's ancestry, names like Caleb, Rachel, Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, and David, and its place is etched in history long before the coming of Christ. As predicted 700 years before (Micah 5:2) in the village of Bethlehem surrounded by the darkness of night, the Gift arrives - "this quiet offering" - Christ the Lord. From a virgin womb to a worn manger, the coming of Christ births God's plan for reconciliation. The Bread of Heaven comes to give life to the world. With the power of redemption, reaching into the darkness of humanity, Love embraces brokenness. LISTEN!

Centuries foretell this holy night, revealing more than recorded historic prophecy. In an ordinary stable, Jesus is born into the world. An event so extraordinary, thousands of heavenly angels proclaim His coming, "for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Songs of praise and hope fill the night sky. From silent terror to urgent action, these shepherds, these socially undesirables, these lowly peasants, these religiously unclean sinners who are not allowed into the temple, who are not allowed to testify in court ~ THESE simple shepherds become the first to be told of a Savior entering the world. They respond, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." (Luke 2:15) The humble surroundings of Christ's coming stand in stark contrast to the glorious announcement of the angels. The first witnesses who would testify about His birth are the antithesis of the kings and religious leaders who would testify against Jesus. LISTEN! 

The coming of Christ marks a permanent place on history's timeline, marks the beginning of a spiritual transformation for humanity. He comes bringing salvation to all - for kings and outcasts, for rich and poor; Christ holds no preferences for race or gender, for social status or cultural origin. He is not defined by person or place. On that mysteriously, miraculous night, the coming of Christ begins to change the people, one simple shepherd at a time. Good news of great joy for all people comes as a gift of Perfect Love. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) Immanuel, God with us, comes to us. Don't miss Him! LISTEN! ~dho

* Ann Voskamp, "The Greatest Gift"

Sunday, December 06, 2015

2nd Sunday of Advent ~ 2015

Jesus said, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 
Mt. 19:26

In the quiet of the darkness of night, suddenly angels fill the sky singing, "Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Shepherds, bewildered and amazed, look up at the multitude of angels. Shepherds hear the angelic proclamation that a Savior is born in Bethlehem, a baby who is Christ the Lord. These who society considerd religiously unclean, these not legally allowed to testify in court - THESE simple shepherds are the first to be told of Christ entering this world. The shepherds go and see the baby lying in a manger. In celebration, these witnesses to the holy coming of Christ tell others about their unbelieveable experience.This ADVENT celebrate the coming of Christ. ~dho

Thursday, December 03, 2015

WATCH...Christ is Coming! ~ Advent 2015

"The LORD will rise...and His Glory will appear upon you." Isaiah 60:2

"This Christmas story - it begins in the beginning, this love story that's been coming for you since the beginning. It begins with the always coming of Christ."  
Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

There is deep beauty in the "always coming of Christ" that touches the soul with uncompromised hope. God's presence with His people, His shekinah glory, fills the imagination today in scenes recounted in the Old Testament. For Moses, after completing the tabernacle as God described, the "glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle." For the people of Israel, "throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night." When the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies in the temple Solomon built, "the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD." Solomon's prayer of dedication acknowledges that God cannot be contained in a dwelling built by man and declares "from Your dwelling place" hear the prayers of Your people. Shekinah comes from a Hebrew word meaning "dwelling of the divine presence of God" and affrims, "Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You." God's omnipresence exceeds the boundaries of time and space; He is infinite and everlasting. WATCH!

Hope speaks through the prophecies and promises of the coming of Christ, of a Messiah, a Savior. Isaiah gives words of a future hope, this always coming of Christ, "Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of LORD rises and appears over you." From the beginning, God's everlasting covenant of love has contained a New Covenant, a Perfect Love, a Blessed Assurance ~ an always coming of Christ. In Revelation 15:8 John describes God's shekinah glory and power when the Messiah comes again, "The Temple was filled with smoke from God's glory and power." The promise that Christ is coming ~ always coming ~ prevails! The Messiah's words still echo through centuries of time and generations of waiting, "Look, I am coming soon...I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." WATCH!

Full of signs and symbols, Advent gathers God's prophecies and promises of redemption. Centered around an evergreen wreath and the lighting of candles, the Eternal God calls to us in Scripture and story and song. Iconic pictures come to mind as we hear the Christmas story read once again. Familiar carols and children dressed as shepherds and sheep pause the world, if for only a moment here and there. In this stillness, God's glory fills us. Lost in the wonder of indescribable love and surrounded by the divine presence of God ~ remember and reflect and reclaim hope in the "always coming of Christ." Don't miss Him - WATCH! ~dho

* additional Scriptures referenced in post with links below from
 Exodus 40; 1 Kings 8:11; Isaiah 60:2; Revelation 22:12-13