Advent 2012

Obedience

Then he [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:51-52 NIV)

Butterflies Mag JPEG

Trust and Obey

With little thought about the lessons of obedience they are enforcing, our parents steered us from harmful situations when we were creeping babies. They continued with their training as we progressed through the toddler years, re-enforcing rules and preparing us for school.

Teachers then joined in the development of our obedience and respect for authority through expecting completion of assignments as well as through exams.

By the time we reached adulthood, we understood the importance of following rules and the necessity of accountability. We also knew there would always be someone in authority over us that had the right to demand proper conduct from us.

As our example, Jesus also had to learn obedience. He didn’t leap from the babe in the manger to the Miracle Man. He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52) in much the same way the rest of us have. First, He learned to obey His earthly father. Joseph taught Jesus carpentry, Jewish customs, and the laws of Moses.

By the time Jesus was twelve-years old, He knew the importance of God’s law and stumped the scholars of His day (Luke 2:41:49). He had the desire to be about His Father’s business and to teach the true word of God. But He understood the necessity of obeying His earthly father.

When Jesus became a man and entered His ministry, He spoke often about the importance of obeying the Father. Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teachings” (John 14:23).

True love stimulates obedience like nothing else. Many other aspects of life spur obedience like fear, the promise of rewards, and respect, but nothing delights God more than obedience through love.

How about you? What drives you to obedience?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 24

The Most Amazing Thing about Jesus…

 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:25 NIV)

In the past two thousand years, there have been scores of books written about Jesus Christ. But none of them have recorded anything new that Jesus had done while He walked the dusty paths of Judea. It has been enough for humanity to consider what has already been recorded about Him. Still, can you imagine the many miracles and teachings He had done in just three years which compelled the Apostle John, an eyewitness, to write the above verse? The world couldn’t hold the books if everything Jesus had done had been written down.

That is an amazing thing indeed. But it’s not the most amazing thing about Jesus.

Microscopic CreaturesTo Die For?

Microscopic Creatures
To Die For?

Jesus was God incarnate…God in the flesh. That’s like you or me becoming an ameba to save a world of microscopic, single-cell creatures who know and care nothing about us. Imagine giving up all the freedom and vast array of abilities you have to become a microscopic, single-cell creature. Imagine those creatures wanting to make you their political leader, then turning against you when you refuse the office. Imagine them spitting on you, beating you, and torturing you to death. Imagine coming back to life in their realm to show them your authority and having them reject you still. Imagine doing all that knowing beforehand what would take place. That’s what Jesus did when He came to earth as a man.

Incomprehensible? Yes, but it’s not the most amazing thing about Jesus.

From the beginning, Jesus was with God and in fact, was God. By Him and for Him all things were created. Jesus is the Light of the world. In Him there is no darkness. In Him is life from which all living things generate their existence.

This knowledge is unattainable to us, yet it is not the most amazing thing about Jesus.

Jesus Loves Even Me

Jesus Loves Even Me

Even if I had been the only person in the universe throughout all history that believed and accepted God’s gift of salvation, Jesus would have come to earth to take on the sins of the entire human race. Although I am at times ungrateful…although I am most unworthy…although I was hopeless…although I have done nothing to deserve it nor can do nothing to repay Him for it…although I was like a dead carcass along the road, yet Jesus loves me.

That’s the most amazing thing about Jesus.

How about you? Does Jesus love you that much? Oh yes, He does!

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 23

Love

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. (John 3:16 AMP)

Celebrating Life Eternal  4 WebLove? Who can define it?

One reason love is so difficult to define is because there are so many levels and types of this affection we label love. Another reason is it has lost its significance as society has claimed it as a descriptive word for almost everything from appliances to zumba.

Nevertheless from Love Story’s “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” to Precious Moments’ “To feel warm, secure, and wanted is to feel love,” slogans everywhere attempt to clarify it meaning. Maybe if we put them all together, we’d get some sort of an inclination of the real thing. For me, a sense of belonging to and being valued comes into play as well as a desire to meet the other person’s needs as best I can.

But if you really want to know the specifications of love, read 1 Corinthians chapter 13—referred to as the love chapter in the Bible. Better yet, reread John 3:16 and consider all the implications of true love in that verse alone.

God dearly prized, values us. He seeks us for His own. He wants us to spend eternity with Him in His kingdom so much that He willingly gave His Son for us. Jesus paid the debt of our sins and bridged the gap they caused between Him and us because we were unable to do so.

Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus’ first advent and prepare our hearts for His second coming. It was love that compelled Him to come in the form of an infant. It was love that drove Him to the cross. It was love that raised Him from the dead.

You see, He’d rather have suffer all of that than to face eternity without us.

How about you? Do you feel loved today? Have you excepted Jesus’ wonderful gift of love?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 22

Preparations

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 NIV)

Little Bride

Little Bride

Christmas is a time of preparation. Some people start shopping and planning the week after Christmas for the following one. It’s a big day in our lives, and we take all precautions to make it as special as possible.

But Christmas isn’t the only day of the year that warrants our attention and time. There are birthdays, graduations, summer picnics, Independence Day, and anniversaries to plan. And of course the single most important personal event, our weddings.

I began planning my wedding when I was four-years old. I had no clue who I’d marry (I didn’t meet “Mr. Right” until after I graduated from high school), but I knew I would get married someday. I played bride with lacy slips and veils, and Mom’s jewelry. Of course, my tastes changed through the years, which meant my wedding dress wasn’t exactly like the one I had played in at the age of four. However, some things didn’t change—like my dream of having an outside wedding.

As much fun as I had preparing for my big day, I wasn’t the only one looking ahead to my living the proverbial nest. My parents helped me prepare for it from the time I was old enough to stand on a chair to dry dishes. Mom taught me to cook, clean, take pride in personal hygiene, and to seek God above all things. Meanwhile, Daddy taught me to stand on moral principles, to never make promises I didn’t intend to keep, and to pray with all my heart. Together they shaped me into a woman capable of taking care of herself yet submissive enough to bring honor to her husband as well as to her God.

My Wedding Day

My Wedding Day

Now my wedding day is a thirty-nine-year-old memory. And looking at it in retrospect, I realize it too was nothing more than preparation for an even grander event…the marriage of the Bride Groom of heaven to His Bride, the church of which I am a member.

What would happen if we spent as much time preparing for Jesus’ wedding day as we have on our own? Time’s a wasting. There are invitations to send, relationships to restore, and broken hearts to mend.

How about you? How are you preparing for Jesus’ return?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

(Day 21 Click Here)

Day 20

Christmas Sacrafices

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4 NIV)

Crown of Thorns 4WebOften sacrifices are made during the Christmas season to provide desired gifts for our loved ones. We forego buying much-needed coats for ourselves so we can purchase winter jackets for our daughters. We postpone replacing our worn-out boots and shop for baseball cleats for our sons. We ignore our usual grocery list and make Christmas dinner lists. We may even sell our watches for money to buy those special gifts as the story goes.

However, our sacrifices don’t end with monetary gifts. We give up time to practice for programs and/or to attend them. We make critical adjustments to our schedules and alter our daily routines to accommodate the holiday traditions. In all this, we pride ourselves in making sacrifices for the sake of our families.

Really? What do we know about sacrifice?

We talk about inconveniences as though they are true sacrifices. We consider depriving ourselves of our wants in order to make others happy a sacrifice. And maybe we’re right in some small way.

Nevertheless next time we think we’re making a sacrifice, it might be beneficial to consider the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Yes as Christians, we have pondered His 39 lashes, His humiliation, and His horrendous death on the cross. But have we thought about the sacrifice He made in becoming a man? Jesus lived in a boundless form, in a borderless kingdom, in a timeless world. I don’t believe we will ever be able to comprehend His sacrifice until we arrive in heaven and experience His realm.

While He sacrificed all He knew and enjoyed for each of us, Jesus came to be our example. Today is New Year’s Day–the day of resolutions. Maybe we should resolve to take a year to examine the sacrifices of Christ.

How about you? What is your New Year’s resolution?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 19

What Did You Get for Christmas?

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13 NIV)

Baby JesusWhat did you get for Christmas? The question buzzes everywhere you go for a week or so after the big day.

As a child, I tagged along with my family to relatives’ homes to see what was left under everyone’s trees. We sat on their couches as one-by-one our cousins displayed their new toys, clothes, jewelry, or whatever they received. We spent a short time at each house to play. Then, that household packed into their car and follow us to the next relative’s home. By the time we returned to our house, we had a caravan of relatives following us. Into our living room the parade marched and sat around our Christmas tree as we showcased our new belongings.

Funny how most of those “wonderful” gifts have been long forgotten. But the ones that I disliked receiving stick in my head, namely socks and undies. My childhood wish list never included the necessities. And I didn’t like getting them one bit. Of course, our relatives never saw those items.

Nevertheless, our attitudes change with time. This year when my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, the only thing I could thing off was… “I need socks.” What? My feet get cold, and my socks are pretty much worn out. There’s only so many times you can darn them.

My husband obliged much to my delight as I remembered opening socks on Christmas Days past. My parents gave us grand Christmases with what looked like a sleigh-full of gifts under the tree. Most of which were socks, underwear, mittens, hats, and scarves. Soap, deodorant, and perfume filled stockings. Yes, the majority of our gifts appeared on the list of necessities, rather than on our wish lists. But my parents knew our needs and did their best to supplied them.

Above and beyond all the presents we’ve received or given to show our families our desire to supply them with the necessities, the wondrous gift of God’s love exemplifies His understanding of the human condition and the universal need of salvation. He gave His best for those who were not yet called His sons and daughters. And God wraps us, the receivers, in His Holy Spirit as a gift back to Himself.

How about you? What did you receive for Christmas this year?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 18

Christmas Fasting

Fasting Means Giving of Ourselves

Fasting Means Giving of Ourselves

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)

Christmas Fasting

 by Brenda K. Hendricks

Twas two days after Christmas when all through the house

Everybody was overfed including the mouse.

All the toys lay broken tossed on a pile

The children sat in a row without a smile

“Let’s go to the store and buy some more.”

While the kids insisted on getting other stuff.

Mother slammed the bedroom door in a huff.

The children continued to cry and to pout

Until Father ended it with a mighty shout.

“This isn’t what Christmas is meant to be.

It isn’t about you, Mother, or me.

It’s all about giving, yes, indeed.

It’s all about giving to those in need.

It’s about the One who gave His all on a cross

To give eternal life to those who are lost.

It’s about giving of ourselves His story to share

And helping one another our burdens to bear.”

The children jumped down from their lofty places.

With tears streaming and gleaming on their sorry faces,

They gathered their toys and began to mend

Soon the playthings were as good as new again.

The children wrapped their toys and kept not a one.

Giving to the kids down the street proved much more fun.

The family learned a lesson in fasting that day.

God is delighted when we give things away

When we deprive ourselves of things we need,

It should be for the sake of doing a good deed.

If we show kindness to others and keep it hush-hush

When we see Jesus, we’ll have no reason to blush.

He’ll say, “Well done my good and faithful friend.”

And we’ll receive blessings upon blessings in the end.

Day 17

The Reason for the Season

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV)

Pauper to Princess

Pauper to Princess

Christians claim that Jesus is the reason for the season, but they’ve gotten it all wrong. According to scripture, WE ARE THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. We are the lost sheep Jesus came to seek and to safe. We are the ones for whom He humbled Himself and entered a small world, in comparison to His kingdom, which was created by His own hands. He lived to show us how to serve others, respond to our enemies, and glorify the Father. He died to cleanse us from the filth of our sins in preparation for adoption into His family. He rose again to affirm our inheritance.

The day we accept Jesus’ offer for salvation, God accepts us as His sons and daughters. That makes us royalty—princes and princesses.

As a child, I loved to play that I was a princess. I never really believed that I would become one, but it was a lot of fun to make believe that I belonged to a special family everyone admired. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood the truth of my play acting. Psalm 139: says that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Romans 8:15-17 reminds me that I have been adopted and can now call God—Abba Father. Not only that, I’m an heir of God and co-heir with Jesus as the above verse also proclaims.

Unfortunately, I don’t always act like a princess. Sometimes I drift away and play in the “dirt” like a little waif. Sometimes I think I know better than my Father. I try to tell Him how to handle situations I know little or nothing about. Sometimes I tremble in fear for lack of trust in His sovereignty. Sometimes I get spunky and refuse to do His bidding. Sometimes in full awareness of His will, I run ahead to do it before it’s time.

Nevertheless my Father remains faithful, just, and patient. If I need discipline, He does so in love. But He always forgives me, cleans my “soiled garment,” and sets me on a higher rock. He promised to never leave me, loose me, or reject me.

I’m glad my adoption certificate is in His hands, signed in Jesus’ blood, and sealed in the Holy Spirit.

How about you? Are you an heir of God? How can you modify your behavior to portray the prince or princess you really are in Christ?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 16

Reverence the King of kings

On coming to the house, they [the Magi] saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 NIV)

Learn from the Magi

Learn from the Magi

Humility is not an American attribute. Of course many Americans are humble, but for the most part, we Americans are known for arrogance and rudeness around the world. Many show little respect for authority, let alone understand the importance of paying homage to a king. Our culture teaches that all men and women are created equal. Therefore, our high officials receive the same greeting as the local plumber or salesperson. We know nothing of bowing before anyone who holds an office.

While Americans can be overbearingly prideful and disrespectful, we don’t hold a monopoly on the careless attitude toward authority. People around the globe are arrogant toward God. Even Christians have become so “friendly” with our Savior that we have lost our fear and respect for Him. Note: where no fear exists contempt for the law excels. In essence, when we lose our fear of God, we become lax and sloppy in our worship. We shrug off His laws. We begin to do what seems right in our own eyes. Sound familiar? Look up Judges 21:25. In those days, everyone did as they saw fit with no regard to God or His laws. They had no king and lived in total chaos.

Chaos abounds in the world today. We need to develop fear and respect for the government officials who help maintain law and order on earth. While we’re at it, we need to reverence the King of kings.

Matthew records the events of the Magi. Being astrologers, they recognized a new, significant star; and convinced that it denoted the birth of a king, they followed it to Jerusalem and eventually to Bethlehem. These wise men realized the importance of paying homage to the king—any king. They had no way of knowing that the child before whom they knelt was the King of kings. Nevertheless, they revered Him. They brought expensive gifts as tokens of their admiration, respect, and fear.

We would do well to imitate their attitudes and actions. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:10-11). We have a choice—humble ourselves now and pay homage to the King of kings out of obedience, love, respect, and reverent fear. Or we will be humiliated before His throne and drop to our knees in shame with dreadful fear and trembling.

How about you? Which do you choose?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 15

Impossibilities

 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17 NIV)

WImpossible challenges float from the sky like snowflakes at Christmastime. I plan. I design. I procrastinate. I go to lunch with friends. I shop with my mother. I fall behind schedule. Now with the big day closing in, I have homemade gifts to complete, cookies to bake, and an art video to finish. Oh, and did I mention gifts to wrap…if I get them finished.

These projects only rank on the impossibility list because of my own negligence. But Christmas sheds light on areas of life that we have no control over. We scurry through the season trying to forget, or at least minimize our concerns for a brief time. Still health issues deplete our energy. Broken relationships zap our strength. Lack of income smothers our giving spirits. This list seems endless and hopeless.

Yet another list of impossibilities emerges at Christmastime…an angel speaking to a young maiden, an angel in a dream, a trusting husband, a babe born of a virgin, a choir of angels on a hillside, shepherds seeking, a star guiding, wise men kneeling. All arranged by God’s hand because God delights in doing the impossible.

The cumbersome woes of this world flicker like flames on a candle. Although it seems impossible for us to extinguish them, with just a breath, God is able to snuff them out and restore the joy of the season.

How about you? What’s on your list of impossibilities this Christmas? Have you given them to the God who delights in doing the impossible?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 14

Christmas Communications

Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas…And they wrote letters… .(Acts 22a-23a KJV)

Christmas Visitors

Christmas Visitors

Christmas is a time for communication. We tend to contact people we haven’t managed to connect with the entire rest of the year. We send newsletters, greeting cards, and packages. We take time to phone, to meet at the local coffee shop, or to drop by one another’s homes to admire Christmas decorations and munch homemade cookies.

At least, that’s the way it used to be. Now we post pictures of our baked goods and glistening ornaments on Face Book. We share holiday anecdotes, memories, hopes, and dreams. Thanks to the internet and social networking, we can do all the communicating we want from the comfort of our own homes with people all over the world. It’s a good thing, right? Yes, it’s great to interact with people we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Ironically, the use of mass communication has hindered our ability to communicate effectively on a personal level. We seem to be losing our knack and our need for face-to-face association. We are becoming an isolated society.

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies

We’ve lost more than we’ve gained through social networking. Nothing says “I love you” like an in-the-flesh visit. You can show me pictures on Face Book of all the cookies you’ve made. But I can’t enjoy them until you place a plateful in my hand. Then I can smell the spices, peanut butter, and chocolate. Then and only then, I can dunk one in my coffee and taste the homemade goodness. I’ll say it again…nothing beats an in-the-flesh visit.

God knows the importance of hands-on, face-to-face, in-the-flesh communication. That’s why He came as a babe. That’s why He walked with the people, healed their sick, and washed their feet. That’s why He sent His disciples out to minister to the needy. That’s why we calls us yet today to share His word, His grace and mercy, His love.

How about you? With whom can you dunk a cookie in a glass of milk this week?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

(Day 13 Click Here)

Day 12

No Greater Love

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1a NIV)

No Greater Love

No Greater Love

In the resent shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, several teachers as well as the principal laid down their lives for their students. The faculty did not deserve to be executed. Their love for their students compelled them to do whatever was necessary to protect the innocent. Although they did as much as possible and paid the ultimate price, they could not save all the little ones. As we commemorate these brave men and women, relatives and close friends are crushed. Fear abounds where security once existed. The entire nation lies in shock and in mourning, sickened by the senselessness, violent mass murder of elementary school children and faculty.

The absence of good…the absence of love…the absence of respect for human life—evil caused this tragedy.

Evil always demands the blood of the innocent. But none has been shed that was more pure and innocent than the blood of Jesus Christ. He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).” Then He did just that. And His sacrifice has the power to save all who will believe. Unfortunately not everyone will take Him at His word and trust in Him. Some will lose their lives. But for those of us who take refuge beneath His wing, He will save. He will welcome us into His family, not as servants, but as His children. That was His mission during His first advent. His second coming—He will defeat the evil one.

What greater love is there?

How about you? Do you celebrate Christmas with Jesus’ second advent in mind?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 11

A New Creation in Christ Jesus

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 AMP)

Snowperson 2When I was growing up, Christmas time meant snow and lots of it. My brother and I built snow forts for snowball battles and snowmen, in fact entire snow families in our backyard. We started with a hand-sized snowball and rolled it around the yard, forming a huge mound for the base. The next one was about 2/3 the size of the first. Then we made the head. Not too unlike every other snow people you’ve seen gracing the yards of your neighbors.

But as we grew older, we got more creative. Our snow people had arms shaped from snow, not mere twigs. Their heads grew ears, obvious cheeks, and yes, lips. Of course, they had to have hair, so we sculpted that in also. We worked hard to make them resemble us, their creators.

Our child’s play with creating snow people bears a striking resemblance of God as work in us. Scripture says He created us in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13), but He didn’t stop there. He invites us to come to Him through faith in Jesus. When we do, a new creation begins (2 Corinthians 5:17).

He shapes us through circumstances, both good and bad. His sole desire is to restore His image within us that He originally created in human beings that He intended from the start of creation.

How about you? Can you sense God’s creative hand upon your life as He develops a Christ-like image within you?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 10

God with Us

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

The Return 4 webGod with us. Wow! What a thought. God is with me.

When Jesus walked the dirt paths of Judea, people literally lived in the presence of God. They touched Him. More importantly, He touched them. He healed the sick, cast out demons, forgave sins, calmed storms, and taught about His Heavenly Father. He proved His deity through signs and wonders. The most significant, of course, was His power over death. Several times, He raised people from the dead, Lazarus being the most notable do to the length of time he lay dead in the tomb. But the greatest of all signs and wonders was His death on the cross where He suffered for our sins, which was climaxed my His resurrection from the dead three days later.

In doing so, Jesus Christ remains Immanuel—“God with Us.” Because Jesus lives eternally, our object of worship extends beyond religion to relationship.

For me, this means I have access to my Wonderful Counselor in times of despair, and He gives me peace that passes all understanding. I have a Father who disciplines me when I fall short of His will and holds me close when others fall short of my expectations. He does both because of His never-ending, unconditional love for me. His sheds His light on my path so I don’t lose my way and into my heart so that I know the areas on which He needs to work. He gives me His word that I may live by His assurance that I have a place of comfort and rest. I have a relationship with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He calls me His friend, His beloved. His daughter.

How about you? What does Immanuel mean to you?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 9

What in a Name?

…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Pauper to Princess 4WEBNames have meanings. Now there’s a revelation for you. Like you didn’t already know that, right? When it comes to choosing names for babies, much consideration goes into it for most of us.

When we were expecting our children, my husband and I named our daughters after people we admired and never considered their meanings. Nevertheless, the names we chose fit our daughters to a tee. Not only that, my own name describes me pretty well too. I bet many of you have discovered the same thing. Coincidence? I seriously doubt it. I believe that God knew exactly who we’d each become, what our characteristics would be, and what we’d be interested in. Therefore, He prompted our parents subconsciously to give us names that would coincide with our biological makeup.

Regardless of your take on this subject, we know that God chose the name for His Son with great care. The name Jesus literally means “God saves” or “YAHWEH is salvation.” The name Jesus comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic short form יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a), which was the real name of Jesus and is also translated Joshua in the Old Testament. God sent His Son Jesus to save the world from sin and punishment. And that He did on the cross.

Yet, God also called His Son by other names such as the ones mentioned in the above verse. Each one tells of His majesty. Each one paints a different picture of the Son of God. Each one is unique to Jesus the Messiah.

After you think about the meanings of these names, consider Revelation 19:12—He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. God has a name for His Son that He is waiting to reveal…a name to which no one else will answer. It must be a marvelous name to describe the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lamb of God, the Word of God, the Light of the World. One name that completely identifies the Alpha and Omega. That must be quite a special name.

How about you? Did you know you are so special to God that He has a unique name for you too? It’s written on a white stone and no one else in all of His kingdom will be known by your name (Revelation 2:17 NIV). What a wonderful God and Heavenly Father we serve.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 8

A Personal Touch


“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Christmas—the time of year the spirit of giving prevails, prompting us to spend money as though we have no bills to pay the entire month of December.

Charities take advantage of this giving frenzy, overstuffing our mailboxes and tying up our telephone lines. With the assurance that a government grant will double our money, we make pledges to send relief to the needy across the world.

We take special trips to nursing homes and hospitals, send cards to shut-ins, and pack shoeboxes for children in third-world countries. It’s a good thing to give in Christ’s name. The one thing He has asked of us. The one thing we can truly give back to Him.

But what about the needy in our own communities? With all the unemployment and the funds running out, many people right here in Hometown, USA need care packages. The elderly person across the street whose spouse has passed into eternity would probably appreciate a visit and a hug. The couple who lost their child to cancer might enjoy a night out to take their minds off their loss if only for an hour. Yes, we could buy them a gift certificate at a nice restaurant. But wouldn’t it be better to invite them to our houses for a meal and play games.

Jesus said what we do to the least, the forgotten in our communities, we have done that very thing to Him. If Jesus was the one to whom ministering, wouldn’t we do it with a personal touch? Rather than sending a card, wouldn’t we go to visit Him and yes, hug Him? Wouldn’t we invite Him to our houses and offer Him our best meals?

How about you? What will you do for the least popular people in your community this Christmas?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 7

Let’s Decorate

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.  Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:8-9 NIV)

“Let’s plan a birthday party for Eric. He’ll be four in a few weeks, and his parents are both unemployed.” My neighbor, Sandra, practically burst into my living room that day. Her eyes twinkled with anticipation. “We have to think of the coolest theme ever.”

“Okay.” I agreed. “How about Bob the Builder? My grandsons loved that character when they were that age.”

“That might be a little harsh. Eric’s father was a construction worker, you know. He got a permanent pink slip two weeks ago.”

“Sorry. I didn’t know his situation was permanent.” I tapped the table as I often do when thinking. “Clowns. Everyone loves clowns. And I just happened to know…”

“Not everyone.” Sandra shook her head. “Eric’s one of those little guys who’s deathly afraid of the Bozo’s and Tipsy’s of the world.”

“What about Superman, Spiderman, or the Hauk.” I strike an incredible Hauk pose. Sandra grinned, but shook her head to that suggestion too.

“He calls them all weird. And don’t you dare suggest Batman. The boy’s just not into superheroes.”

“Wow! He is a tough one.”

“Yeah. But we have to make it special for him. His family has been through so much lately. Did you know their dog got hit on the road the other day?”

It was my turn to shake my head.

“It didn’t kill her outright; but with both parents out of work, their only option was to put her down.

“Poor little Eric.” I poured us each a cup of coffee and returned to the table. “What about an amusement park theme?”

“Oh that’s perfect. He went to Knoebel’s Grove Amusement Park this summer and couldn’t stop talking about it. I knew you’d come up with a great idea.” Sandra sipped her coffee. “Let the planning begin.”

*****

This little scenario demonstrates most of our desires to plan a birthday party for the pleasure of the honored guest. But do we take in as much consideration when decorating for Christmas. God expects us to honor and glorify His Son, especially when we say we belong to Jesus and desire to celebrate His advent.

Several years ago, I took inventory of my decorations. What did they mean to me? How did they honor Jesus? Would He be delighted in the choices I’d made in preparation of His birthday celebration? I gave away many of my ornaments that year and changed my outlook on how to observe my Lord’s birthday.

I’m not suggesting that you trash your ornaments, just consider their meaning. If some hold a special memory, share it with your family and guests.  As you trim your tree, reflect on Christmases past. While you set up your nativity, think  about the rule each person represented played on that first Christmas Eve.

How about you? How will you plan Jesus’ birthday  this year?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 6

Day 6 arrangement

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10 NIV)

Christmas is More

by Brenda K. Hendricks

We all enjoy presents with ribbons and tags
Getting and giving packages, boxes, and bags.
What can I give? What should I ask for?
How much do I have to spend at each store?
I’ve shopped all day and have hurting feet
And I’m tired of smiling at everyone I meet.
I’ll be happier when the decorations are hung
The day is done and the last song is sung
But what if, what if, what if it’s true
Christmas means much more to me and to you?

Door bells ringing
Laughing and singing
Family and caring
Memory sharing
Talking and joking
Tender rib poking
Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe
Smooching under the mistletoe
Peace and good will greetings
Services, parties, and Holiday meetings.

Still there’s more, I give you my word
There’s more to Christmas or haven’t you heard
An angel visited the virgin, Mary, and blessed
Then visited Joseph in a dream and impressed
“Take Mary to wife and name the child Jesus
God incarnate brings peace and iniquity ceases.”
On a hillside, shepherds watched sheep that night
While angels chorused God’s promise with delight
‘til God’s glory turned darkness into day
And baby Jesus slept calmly on the hay.

Mercy and grace
Shone on His face
People believed
Miracles received
Burdens lifted
Tempers shifted
For thirty silver pieces He was sold
As prophets had foretold
A crown of thorns
Soldiers’ scorns
Hung on a cross
Total chaos
Three days in a tomb
Three days of gloom
‘til God said, “Arise My Son
You paid the price for everyone.”

I’ll fill my days
Singing His praise
And joyfully my faith I’ll present
Shouting from the rooftop about His advent.

So tell me, tell me, tell me do
What does Christmas mean to you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 5

Christmas Lights

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

Children from three to ninety-three gaze at the awesome displays of festive Christmas lights that illuminate practically every street. What is it about Christmas lights that enchant us so? Could it be that they commemorate the sighting of the angels by the shepherds on the hillside the night Jesus was born? Or the star that led the wise men from the Far East to the King of kings? Does it really matter what they represent? Christmas lights add gaiety to the season and bring pleasure to many people who otherwise find little pleasure in it.

Travel with me down such a street. Ooh and ah at the sights. Some yards glitter with sleighs, deer, and snowmen all made of wires and white lights. Others present Santas, giant gifts, and Christmas trees all shimmering with a rainbow of lights. Still others exhibit manger scenes—life-size Marys, Josephes, shepherds, wise men, donkeys, and sheep bow their heads toward the infants nestled in the mangers. They too glisten with lights, some from within, some from without. At the intersection, we turn the corner with anticipation, but our hearts sink. The street is dark for as far as we can see. We motor on hoping to find more displays. To our dismay, there are none, not even an ordinary street light. We head home, hearts and heads heavy with mundane reality.

Little life exists in the absence of light. Is it any wonder that darkness is synonymous with the lack of moral and spiritual values?

Although darkness holds great power, even the tiny glow of a firefly extinguishes it momentarily by God’s design. Bring on greater light and darkness must flee.

Similarly, spiritual light obliterates the iniquity within the human soul. Manmade religious “lights” illuminate the absence of moral standard. They even reflect guidelines of conduct to secure a safe environment in which to live. But like a Christmas lights, these moral lights only simulate the real light God has provided for humanity. That Light is Jesus Christ. In Him, no darkness nor shadows exist. He is the only one who can completely extinguish darkness. Those who walk in His light live fearlessly, full of hope and zeal for life.

Through Jesus Christ, we too become the light of the world to illuminate the path for others to find their way to Him.

How about you? How are you letting your light shine for Jesus this Christmas?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 4

Serving vs Giving

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35 NIV)

Although it’s very familiar, the above verse is seldom used during advent. Yet, it is extremely appropriate.

Christmas isn’t about receiving. It isn’t even about giving. It is all about serving. Jesus came to earth as the servant to all humanity. He taught and lived servitude. He still does. And He expects it from His followers. Yes, He gave His life for our atonement, but it was the ultimate act of servitude.

The difference between giving and serving is as great as the difference between giving and receiving. Giving simply means to transfer possession of an object from one person to another. It can come from the heart and be very meaningful. Nevertheless, the act of giving falls short of the image Jesus presents through His talk with the disciples as He stood a child in their midst and said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:37). He used a child to illustrate His desire and concern for service because there is no one so needy as a young child. They have no capability of self-care, but must rely on someone else to supply their needs.

Tending to the necessities of small children is a service that Jesus held in high regard. But He never wanted it to end there. We are to consider other’s needs, adults as well as children, more important than our own. Finding ways of helping others, even if they are capable of doing it themselves, shows love on a higher level than the mere transferring of possessions.

While on earth, Jesus served others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, rescued the perishing, raised the dead, and ultimately took our sins upon Himself, died on the cross, and rose again. He did for others and for us what we could not do for ourselves.

How about you? How can you follow Jesus’ example and serve others this Christmas and throughout the coming year?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 3

Angels We Have Seen

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. (Luke 2:8-9 NIV)

AngelsYesterday, we considered how we’d feel if an angel appeared to us in a dream. But how would we react if we saw an angel while fully awake with a group of friends?

It couldn’t have been a hallucination. No two people see the exact same vision at the exact same moment even if they’re under the influence of drugs that induce hallucinations. Not to mention the message…everyone heard the message. Add to the excitement and drama a multitude of angels too numerous to count singing a chorus of praise to Almighty God and you’ve got the formula for an unexplainable event. That’s what the shepherds experienced the night Jesus was born.

Have you ever attended a conference with thousands of other believers? The singing overwhelms the soul and gives us an inkling of the sound the shepherds heard. Have you ever seen the northern lights? Or the most gorgeous sunrise? Neither would compare to what the shepherds saw.

A few years ago, I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. The beauty of God’s creation literally took my breath away. But I can’t begin to imagine the mixed emotions the shepherds must have felt. Fear…most assuredly. Excitement mingled with wonder. Curiosity coupled with paralyzing tremors.

I would’ve thought I was dreaming until I saw the fear in the other shepherd’s faces. Then, I would’ve trembled in awesome wonder at the realization that angels from the Most High were serenading us. Someone else would have had to suggest we go to Bethlehem to see the miracle. It surely would not have been me. I would’ve been speechless for quite some time.

How about you? How do you think you would have reacted to seeing the angels on the first Christmas?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Day 2

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19 NIV)

Joseph’s dilemmaGloria in Excelsis Deo

  1.  The unset of the news of Mary’s pregnancy left Joseph feeling betrayed by the one he loved. Joseph was faithful to the law and thereby a righteous man. His initial reaction was to apply mercy to the law, but nonetheless, act within his rights to divorce her.
  2. Although the Bible doesn’t say so, Joseph must have prayed for an alternative. He was a righteous man after all, one who loved God and sought His guidance. Perhaps, Joseph asked for a sign that he was doing the right thing in divorcing Mary.
  3. To reassure and comfort Joseph, an angel appeared to him in a dream and reminded him of the prophecy about a virgin giving birth to the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14).
  4.  Joseph believed the Scriptures and looked forward to the Messiah, as did most Jews at that time.
  5. Joseph’s faith was being tested. And he passed. He accepted the angel’s explanation of Mary’s pregnancy and took her to be his wife.

Christian Encouragement:

As I sit here writing this blog, I wonder how I would have responded had I been Joseph. Of course, it’s difficult for me to put on a man’s shoes. I reason like a woman. Duh!

I may have been so wounded by the news that I would’ve wanted the full punishment the law provided. At least, that may have been my initial response before I had time to think through the situation.

Years ago, a business associate betrayed me and tried to ruin my reputation. It hurt deeply, and I was devastated. He pressed me until I finally hired a lawyer to make him stop. So maybe I would have tried to work out something other than public disgrace or death for Mary. I did give my associate plenty of time to reconsider his course before pursuing the law. And I prayed before I did so.

In regards to the Joseph scenario, I hope I’d have taken time to pray and seek God’s will in the situation as Joseph did. He must have been in great distress over the situation. I mean God had to send an angel to convince him not to divorce Mary.

And how would I have reacted to an angel in my dream? Frightened…I’m sure. But would I have had enough sense to believe and to act in faith? I can only speculate. However if I’m walking close to God and expect to hear from Him, a messenger in a dream would surely have a positive effect on me.

Points to Ponder:

How about you, have you ever felt betrayed by someone close to you?

Did you seek God’s will in handling the situation? If so, how did God reveal His will to you? What was your response?

How would you react your saw an angel?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

(Day 1 Reasons to Believe Part 5 click here)

5 Comments

5 thoughts on “Advent 2012

  1. What a wonderful message and I appreciate your sharing on the days of Advent up until now. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for blessings me with some things to think on but most of all reminding me to keep my eyes on the Light of the World thus being His Light!
    Rebecca

  2. I went through my Christmas decorations several years ago…and now they all fit in one large container (except for the tree & stand). It cleared a lot of space in storage and simplified my process for decorating for the season so I can focus on actually enjoying it! People thought I was crazy for getting rid of so much, but our house still looks festive, it takes me literally less than 2 hours (if I’m in a hurry) to put up/take away everything and I had the joy of knowing that it provided decorations to a local charity for others who wouldn’t be able to affford a lot! A win-win all around! Go, God! Thanks for sharing your Advent thoughts! Grace & Peace!

    • Becky, thanks for commenting. It’s amazing how less stressful Christmas is when we put things in proper perspective. What a cool double blessing you had in donating your decorations. I’m sure God was pleased with your sharing.
      See you in a twinkling,
      Brenda

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