Monday, December 30, 2013

But You Don’t Know Me

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“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

What is stopping you from becoming who it is that God sees when He looks at your snapshot?  You look in the mirror on New Years eve and see all of the things in the past year that you did not accomplish, all of those things that stopped you from becoming the person you knew you could  become when you sat in that chair last December 31st.  It is so easy to look at our life and see the shortcomings, the failures and the mistakes.  It is much more difficult to evaluate your life for the Wow factor – those days when you were functioning way beyond your capabilities.  Think back over the last year, where are the moments when you know without a doubt that God was carrying the ball, because you know you could have never accomplished what was done.  I personally have several different events in 2013, that as I look back at all that was accomplished in such a short period of time, there is no way that God’s finger wasn’t controlling the steering wheel.

Many of you sit in your chair staring at the clock as seconds and minutes slip by into the New Year.  Perhaps you are caught up in self denial of your worthiness in God’s eyes.  Have you been there?  Have you ever sat down and contemplated why God wants someone like you?  I have.  There are days I am so outside of what the Holy Spirit desires of me, that I actually find myself trying to justify why God even wants to use me.  How can I be so out of touch one day and then so deep in His wonder and glory another day?  God’s plans for my life are not moving, but Satan is.  You see the evil within this world is set firmly against your progress as a child of God.  Sinful things happen in our life and Satan tells us, “See, that’s who you really are.  There is no way God wants anything to do with you.”

Look at the life of Chuck Colson.  He was one of Richard Nixon’s aides during the Watergate scandal.  He was sent to prison as a result of his involvement in the events leading up to the impeachment of President Nixon.   That’s pretty bad, and certainly outside of the righteous behavior God is looking for from His children.  Easily Chuck Colson could have given up, turned his back on God and become another convicted felon in the prison system.  God chose to use him though, because he was willing to be used.  Chuck Colson founded Prison Fellowship, which has become the world’s largest prison outreach program for prisoners and their families.  A ministry that has blessed millions of convicted felons in 88 countries around the globe with over 50,000 volunteers in hundreds of different prisons.  God’s ability to use every one of us regardless of the sins we have committed is not limited to our ability to understand the purpose, but simply the willingness to take a step upon His path.

God has a plan for you in 2014.  It is not dependent on what you accomplished in 2013, 2012, 2011 or any other year leading up to this one.  Your past, as sordid as it might be, is just that – the past.  Give it to God for His forgiveness and accept that it is gone.  Be it adultery, crime, anger, violence, sexual depravity, materialism, selfishness, jealousy or any other sin that fills your thoughts and keeps you from God; it is all forgiven when you authentically lift it to Him and repent or turn away from it.  When the temptations come in the future, lift your eyes to heaven and ask for His help.  Let God now use those experiences in your past to fulfill His plans for you.  If God is sovereign (and He is), omnipotent (and He is) and omniscient (and He is) than your sins are not a surprise to Him.  They may not have been His choice for your life, but they are not going to keep you from fulfilling His plans for your purpose.  He knows it all, everything about you and knows your propensities to sin.  Only He knows how to help you overcome these areas of your life and turn them into strengths for His kingdom.  Make 2013 the year you allow Him to use you.


Heavenly Father,
Renew my spirit Lord.  Enter into me through the Holy Spirit and convict my soul of the sinful nature that is within me.  I lay my sin at Your table and ask that You forgive my transgressions.  I seek Your strength in dealing with these areas of my life and ask for Your guidance in how I can use this passion and strength to lift up Your kingdom on this earth.  Use my weakness as Your strength for You are sovereign and know all of this in advance of my actions.  I repent and turn completely from this sin in my life and seek Your righteousness as I am tempted in this area.  Provide me a path of sanctification as I grow stronger in Christ this year.  In Your name we pray - Amen

(c) Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Blues

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“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.””  – Matthew 2:13

Well, it has come and gone.  All of those weeks preparing for Christmas, and it seems to be gone in a flash.  The excitement of family joining together, the presents under the tree, the Christmas carols, the shopping, the Christmas dinner all have become a part of our memories now.  Was it everything you expected it to be?  All of that excitement reached a crescendo and now life begins to resort back to normalcy once again.  Perhaps the family has left to return home, the tree is now at the curb-side and there is that dreaded feeling of emptiness as you evaluate what has transpired.  Did you get everything you wanted?  Did the reunion with family members and friends meet your expectations or leave you wanting more?

The post Christmas blues meet many of us head on after the build up to an emotional high on Christmas morning.  We all have expectations going into Christmas.  Following that wonderful event we are then left to compare the reality with our expectations, and many times if falls short.  The joy, laughter and happiness that fill your heart leading up to Christmas may seem distant now.  I propose that it is simply because you are focusing on the event and not the act of Christmas.  You see the gifts, the fellowship, the reunions and the parties are nothing more than an event celebrating the act of His birth.  Many have argued that his birth did not even happen in December, and I’m okay with that.  You see, it’s not about the exact day He was born, it’s about celebrating His birth, which leads us to celebrating His life, His death and His resurrection.

We know that Mary & Joseph went through a period of Christmas Blues so to speak.  After the birth of Jesus you would expect that they would have time to just rest in peace and raise God’s Son.  A chance to celebrate His birth and God’s choice to bring Him to the world as a part of their family.  Mary had spent 9 months preparing for the event of Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem.  At some point in the Savior’s first year an angel appears to Joseph, once again, and tells him to take the child to Egypt.  Without hesitation, Joseph packs up his family and goes.  When God speaks to you and tells you to move, you move.  God was in ultimate control of every part of the Christmas event, and didn’t stop once the baby was born.  It wasn’t as if God brought Christ into the world and then told Mary & Joseph, “Alright, now it’s up to you.  Good luck.”  No.  He was involved every step of the way.

Just like in your life and mine.  God didn’t bring you to a point of salvation and then walk away.  At your baptism He didn’t wash you clean and then say, “Okay, now stay that way.  My work is done.”  God never promised you and I an easy path in life, as a matter of fact He promised just the opposite in John 16:33, “in the world you will have trouble.”   The key is to continue relying on God to see you through and around these troubles.  The Lord is still in control, even when you feel lost, empty and alone.  It is more important to listen to His word and be in accord with His direction on your life when you have reached the summit and are on the way down the other side.  The Christmas Blues can bring along with it serious depression for those left wanting more, and feeling lost in a world of materialism, self centeredness and jealous envy of others.  What is important is to look upward and focus your attention on the One for which Christmas is all about.  Throughout the year we can celebrate the Messiah in our lives, through our actions and in our quiet times.  Draw near to Him each day and re-discover the wonder of Christmas over and over.

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the wonder of Your Son’s birth.  Thank You for helping us through this stress-filled, exciting time of Christmas, while keeping our eyes focused on You and not on ourselves.  Help us to let go of the emptiness that can ensue following this blessed event, and draw closer to You.  As You demonstrated through Joseph’s dreams You are in control at all times.  You alone can lead us through this depression and back into our Savior’s arms.  Guide us Lord to daily walk with You and never feel alone in this world. In Your name we pray - Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Holy Night

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“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  – Hebrews 1:3

By far one of the most inspiring pieces of Christmas music ever written is ‘O Holy Night’.  This song has  a history about it that marvels those wondering about that glorious night in Bethlehem.  It has spoken volumes to millions around the globe with it’s haunting conviction, inspiration and grace for all mankind.  Written by, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, a French poet, in 1847, titled “Cantique de Noel” and put to music by Adolphe Charles Adams, a Jewish musician.  The song was first performed at midnight mass on Christmas Eve that very year.  It was during the Civil war movement in the 1860’s that, John Sullivan Dwight, an ex-minister from Massachusetts, brought the song to America and turned into the carol we are all familiar with today.  There are legends that it was sung on battlefields during the Civil war and during the Franco-Prussian war.  Some claim that that French and Germans actually stopped fighting for 24 hours on Christmas Eve in 1871 because a French soldier stood from his foxhole, unarmed and sang this song with boldness and conviction, only to be followed by a German soldier doing the same.  On Christmas Day, 1906, ‘O Holy Night’ became the first song ever played over the radio airwaves and received by newspapers, offices and ships at sea.  In the last 100 years this song has become a traditional standard in homes, churches, concert halls and radios all over the world.

It is filled with emotion for most as the words echo through our mind and hearts.  There is something about this song that transports us to that very night of our Saviors birth, falling on our knees to worship the King of Kings.  God brought justice to the world through a baby, born in a stable lying in a manger.  He embraced the corruption, sin, and perversions of the world and provided a path of redemption for them.  He came and dwelt amongst us.  Jesus was God incarnate and lived among His children for 33 years.  He challenged the authority of the time to reconcile themselves.  He challenged those that had perverted His laws with sanctimony and outward impression.  He opened the door to the unjust, the filthy and up to that point unworthy, with a message of love, humility and mercy.  God spoke to the world through this man Jesus Christ a message of compassion for our fellow man rather than the message of oppression and unworthiness that had been held over mankind up to that point.  Look closely at his life and see the Father from which he came.

God can use anything He wants to touch the hearts of man.  He has used a donkey, a star, a rod, and even a robe.  He used a teenage woman, a simple carpenter and a baby.  He used fishermen, tent makers, tax collectors, doctors and lawyers.  He’s used the holy written Word, music, poetry and carols.  His message is for all people and we all connect in different ways.  God wants to use you, just like he used a poet, a Jewish musician and an ex-minister from Massachusetts to create the incredible masterpiece of ‘O Holy Night’.  This song speaks to most everyone I have ever met, but for other’s it may be something different.  Let God use you without concern of your worthiness, for He has demonstrated time and time again, that He can do anything He wants with those that are willing.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Almighty God,
Thank you for using common everyday individuals for Your purpose.  You have shown us throughout Your scriptures the glory of Your righteousness in those that are willing to be used.  Thank You for the wonder and beauty of the music in our lives that we might come to a closer connection with You.  On that blessed and holy night of Jesus birth we celebrate the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  This gift was not Your Son, the babe in the manger, but rather the love and grace that He would provide for our redemption.  In Your holy name we pray - Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Friday, December 20, 2013

I Believe

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“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe”  – John 8:46

Sitting here with tears welling up in my eyes, I ask myself what is going on.  Where is that strong, 49 year old father and grandfather, man of the house with no emotion?  My heart is captured today by thoughts of what God was willing to do, so I could one day rest in His arms and find complete peace.  I am weakened today by the corrupt and unjust world that we live in.  I pain and struggle with anger over the way we are slowly letting Christ be removed from Christmas.  In an attempt to be loving and non-confrontational, we set by and watch as institutions, the media and the governments all over the globe remove references to God from our very existence.  Words like Holiday party and Winter Festival are becoming commonplace.  Nativities outside of churches are being banned because they might offend a passerby, who may not be a Christian.  A Christian man in the public’s eye cannot stand up and proclaim the word of God as truth without public ridicule and losing his career.

It was argued, when I was a child, that the world was becoming to commercialized and focused on Santa Claus rather than the true meaning of Christmas.  The history of Santa Claus would contradict that belief though.  Most of us know the story of Santa Claus stems from the Saint Nicholas, who was a Bishop in the land of Myra during the 4th century.  He was known to give gifts to the impoverished children and Mistresses of the land.  This tradition over the years has evolved into legend and folklore of Santa flying around the globe in one night delivering toys to children.  Certainly, one can question this wonderful story if they so choose, but the fact still remains that Saint Nicholas with the love and charity of Jesus Christ stimulated the Christmas event of gift giving. 

Today, it is no longer a question of Santa Claus – fact or fiction; no, it has become a politically incorrect inconsiderate faux pas to wish someone a “Merry Christmas”.  The question of the season has shifted from  do you believe in Santa Claus to do you believe in Jesus Christ.  If you do, then I can wish you a Merry Christmas, otherwise I have to restrain my celebratory attitude and bid you a Happy Holiday.  All of this in reaction to a society that is intent on minimizing the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ, traditionally celebrated on December 25th each year.  I struggle with this because it hurts inside to see the world being so flippant about the most important man to ever walk the earth and the most important decision they will ever make in their life.

God has handled rejection before, and this is nothing new for Him.  As demonstrated in the scripture today, in John 8 we find Jesus Christ deity being challenged directly by the Pharisees of His day.  As He clearly stated to them on that day, the truth reigns forth today.  If Christ were unrighteous or sinful in those days He would have been immediately put down.  The fact is that He was perfectly righteous in all of His behaviors and actions.  This set Him apart from every other man to have ever walked the earth.  In this scripture He simply says, “just believe” and as for me I believe.

A recent song from Natalie Grant titled “I Believe captures the love of God through the birth of His Son – Jesus Christ.  I strongly suggest listening to it on Youtube this Christmas season and share it with as many friends as possible.  Take a stand and tell the world  I Believe this Christmas.

I believe
The Wiseman saw
The baby born the angels called the son of God
Heaven’s child
The great I am
Born to take away my sins through nailed pierced hands
Emmanuel has come
I believe

Almighty God,
You created the heavens and the earth.  You created mankind and all creatures upon this earth.  You are the Alpha and the Omega.  For centuries You have faced rejection, adversity and criticism, yet You still love us enough to provide a plan of salvation.  Thank you for giving us Your Son – to redeem our sins and provide redemption for those that believe on Him.  Yes Lord, I believe. - Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Where is the Joy

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“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”  – John 16:20

I am a huge fan of sports.  Baseball, football, basketball, soccer and yes even golf.  There is just something about watching two teams competing for a prize that stirs something inside of me.  I find myself pulling for the underdog more frequently than the favored though.  I think this is because it always seems as though they appreciate the victory more.  But, with every victory there is also the bitterness of defeat for the other team.  Seeing the frustration, pain and disappointment in the eyes of the defeated often times pulls on my emotions even more so than the jubilation and celebration of the victors.  During the game these bitter rivals will do anything they can to win.  In some cases victory is snatched away at the very last moment of the game and their excitement and joy is immediately taken from them and displaced with frustration, sadness and emptiness.

Of late though, I have observed something in many events I watch on TV.  After the game is over and two teams have battled fearlessly for hours, many of them come to the middle of the field and kneeling hand in hand lift their praise to God.  This is the real joy.  The victory in the game is temporary and fleeing, but the joy of the Lord is consistent.  Despite their differences, their bitterness towards each other, they recognize something bigger that ties them together, and that is a faith in Jesus Christ.

The disciples of Jesus Christ had to have been taken aback when Jesus was telling them that He must leave.  In John 16:16 He tells them He must leave and won’t be with them anymore, but then He will return after a little while.  They knew Him, had trusted Him and followed Him for 3 years.  They had believed that He was born the Messiah in a small manger for the purpose of restoring God’s Kingdom.  In their minds, it was only a matter of time before they overthrew the Romans and took over.  At that time there were many zealots gathering men in the name of Jehovah to form an army against the authority and power of the day.  Jesus had not demonstrated any of the same tendencies, yet these men continued to follow Him, knowing that He would one day be the King.

With His words, the disciple’s joy was being drained away.  Confusion arose as they tried to comprehend what He was telling them.  How could the Messiah be taken away right in the heart of His ministry?  What were they going to do if He were no longer there to lead them?  What they would discover in the coming 24 hours is the bitterness of their Messiah being arrested, punished and crucified on a cross.  The joy they had relished for the past 3 years would be ripped from their grasp in the final minutes of His life.  Fear, confusion and sadness would overcome them just as He said would happen.  The world around them would cheer and encourage His death in those final moments.  Where only days before the world was cheering and praising His holy name, how quickly they would turn on Him.  The disciples would band together though and continue praising Him even in their sorrow.  Their first hand experience of His resurrection fueled their passion to spend the rest of their lives telling the world of His glory and righteousness.  We find in the New Testament, chapter after chapter, verse after verse of their trials and tribulations for the next 70 (or so) years spent preaching the joy, love and peace of the Savior.

From their joy in Christ, the world has since become knowledgeable and closer to Jesus Christ.  There have been times in history when the majority of the population had a faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  He was lifted up above all others and held in the place of glory and honor, where He should rightfully be.  But in the past 25 years we have seen a repeat of those final days in Jerusalem.  The majority of the world are turning away from Jesus Christ and looking for other answers.  Some statistics would state that as little as 32% of the world’s population would claim to be a Christian, but less than 20% hold true to and believe what Jesus claimed in the scriptures.  Those of us who are bible believing Christians can feel the pressure, the shifting of the tide (so to speak).  In John 16:1-2, Jesus tries to prepare His disciples for what is to come in the future, and I believe His words are just as valid today:

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away.  They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”  John 16:1-2

We must hold true to the joy of the Lord through these hardships and trials in this world.  Hold fast to the peace, mercy and grace of our Savior and know that there will be pain, bitterness and sorrow.  By banding together in love as brothers and sisters in Christ, we will remain strong in our faith and joy in the Lord.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Almighty God,
Thank you for Your word.  Thank You for giving us the peace and clarity in Your plan of salvation.  Through Your Son’s birth and life we find the joy in living out these trials in our lives.  Help us to remain strong, bound by love and faith in Your word, to deal with the world that seems so against it.  Help us to be shining examples of Your love to all that we meet, so that through our joy during trials they come to know You more.  In Your name we pray - Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mary Did You Know

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“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  – Isaiah 7:14

 I sat in the waiting room just two weeks ago, waiting for the miracle of birth to enter into my family once again.  My daughter was giving birth to my 3rd granddaughter – Isabella Grace.  As I sat there in the hospital waiting room, my mind was adrift in thought of who this baby girl would grow up to be.  Would she have blond hair like her mother, would she laugh with the same twinkle in her eye?  What was it like to be in the womb with God the Father right at that moment. What plans will the Lord have for her with the life He has given her?  How will she change the world for His Kingdom?  What an amazing life she will have.

Based on scripture in Luke’s 1st book, Mary, the blessed mother of our Savior – Jesus Christ, knew that she carried the Messiah.  She knew that through God would fulfill this scripture of Isaiah 7:14 through her.  Nine months pass from the moment that Gabriel visited Mary with the news of God’s plan.  During that gestation period, Mary felt the Savior of the world developing and growing within her body.  There came that moment in the 4th or 5th month when her little waistline expanded beneath her robes.  Then she would feel a flutter, a tickle inside as the Savior rolled over within her womb.  With modern day technology time transported back to those days – an ultrasound would have shown Jesus Christ sucking his thumb, stretching his legs as a foot presses against Mary’s side as she feels him kicking. 

I envision Mary with her hands overlapped on her swollen belly, cradling her unborn child.  She sings him soft Jewish lullabys handed down from generation to generation.  Mary’s physical state would have been obvious to those in Nazareth by her 3rd trimester.  Perhaps there were sneers and gossip amongst the neighbors.  Perhaps she lost the trust of her parents, or perhaps they saw the glorious plan of the Lord unveiling before their eyes and accepted it at face value.  Did Mary cry herself to sleep at night as she contemplated the scriptures of prophecy?  Especially Isaiah 53:5, describing how Messiah would be pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities and punished for our unrighteousness.  Did she comprehend these powerful words describing her son’s death?

On that glorious night in Bethlehem did Mary hold the baby Jesus close to her bosom with every intention of protecting him from any harm in life.  There’s no way she could have envisioned everything that Christ would bring to the world.  She could not have projected the miracles he would one day deliver.  We have no scriptural verification that Mary had any insight to Jesus saving grace, through God’s perfect plan.  As His body hung on the cross she wept bitterly.  She visited Him in the tomb just as she would any other beloved family member who had passed away.  None of this could have been envisioned by this young woman as she held her baby that night.

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know,
that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered,
will soon deliver you

Almighty God,
You brought the Savior of the world to a young, God fearing virgin just as You said You would.  You brought forth Your Son in the flesh to walk amongst mankind, that we might learn from His actions, words and love.  You have given us the scriptures to learn from and to hold close to our chest in times of need.  Lord, help us to not miss Your plan of redemption and tribulation when it happens just as the prophecies say it will.  Help us to be watchmen on the alert at all times for the return of Messiah – In Your name we pray – Amen.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peace on Earth

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“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14
Read the headlines of any newspaper today and tell me if there is peace on earth.  We have often heard the carol that states “Let there be peace on earth” or “Peace on earth, good will to men”; but yet we see the chaos, calamity, darkness, depravity and pain that rules the earth today.  We are reminded daily of the problems that are facing the world and infrequently exposed to the blessings that are likewise happening.  Here are the headlines from CNN just this morning:

Latest news
  • ·        Snowden open letter offers Brazil help to investigate NSA surveillance 
  • ·         Northern Ireland leaders condemn Belfast bomb blast 
  • ·         Dozens killed after 'barrel bombs' fall on Syria's largest city
  • ·         Putin, Yanukovych to meet, as Ukraine protesters urge closer EU ties 
  • ·         Massive jailbreak in Ecuador, 55 escape
  • ·         Amnesty: China's abolition of labor camps a 'cosmetic change'  
  • ·         North Korea's top brass commemorates Kim Jong Il's death 
  • ·         52 killed as militants attack hospital at Yemen's defense ministry 
  • ·         Footage shows Yemen gunman open fire

What was the process of communicating news before CNN, FoxNews, BBC or the Internet?  Before there was television, radio or even newspapers how did people discover what was going on around their town, yet alone around the world?  Think about it for a moment.  The communications medium has evolved dramatically in the last 120 years to the point where we know within minutes of something happening on the other side of the world.

In the Civil War days they used the church bells to communicate good news and blessings that had occurred in any community.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived in the 1800’s during the Civil War era and knew of pain and hardship.  A scholarly man, he had lost his first wife shortly after they were married.  His 2nd wife, and mother of his 5 children, was burnt to death in an accident while lighting a match her clothes caught fire.  Henry loved his country but hated the Civil War, yet his 19 year old son went off to fight for the Union Army anyway.  He was seriously injured in the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia and spent much time being nursed back to health under his father’s care.  With all of this tragedy in his own life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sat down one night in total desperation and penned one of the most recognized poems to ever be printed.  In the process of writing the poem one can see his transition from hatred, anger and depression to peace, acceptance and contentment.  His poem was put to music and has become a cherished favorite of many around the globe as they seek out peace during the Christmas season.  His poem titled, “Christmas Bells.” tells the story of one man desperate to hear the church bells chime with “good news” and blessings to overcome the feelings of loss and pain in his own life.  He needed to know that the world was still at peace even though he was not.

And in despair, I bowed my head:
'There is no peace on earth,' I said,
'For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.'
Then pealed the beIls more loud and deep;
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men'.

What Henry Wadsworth Longfellow realized that Christmas day in 1862 was the same thing the shepherds realized upon coming to the manger scene that first Christmas morning.  After 400 years of silence God had decided it was time to reveal His plan of salvation through the birth of His Son. The message from the angels to the shepherds was God reconnecting with mankind through this baby.  This message of peace and good will for mankind became the first sermon preached by these shepherds to all they met after seeing the baby Jesus born the blessed night.  It is the same message we need to hold true too today, despite the despair, chaos, depravity and depression.  There is a God in heaven and He is in control, and will one day judge the righteous from the unrighteous.  Satan’s power will fail in the end and that must remain our hope when we are seeking peace on earth.

The musical group Casting Crowns has a version of this carol that came out in 2009.  I highly recommend you listen and as you do think of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow putting pen to paper at Christmas 1862.  This could become one of your favorite Christmas Carols as well.

Loving Father,
You broke Your silence in the declaration of angels to shepherds on a hill side.  Your message to mankind was Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men; and this holds so true even in today’s desperate times.  Lord, we seek Your love, compassion, and purpose in our lives.  Be real in our lives today, fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we might be overflowing with passion to evangelize Your message to everyone we meet.  Use us Lord to be Your voice this Christmas, on the streets, in the malls and restaurants, and at our work.  Put the right words on our lips at the right time to be a blessing for all that we meet.  In Your name we pray – Amen.


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Monday, December 16, 2013

Go Tell it on the Mountain

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations”  – Matthew 28:18-19a

We read of the shepherds and wise men coming from miles away to kneel before the Christ child, born to Mary and Joseph the glorious night in Bethlehem.  We’re not told what happens after their visit.  We don’t have CNN interviewing the shepherds as they walk away from the manger scene, or the BBC live interview with the kings as they traveled across distant lands back to their homes.  I can only imagine what their expression of faith must have looked like as they came upon fellow travelers upon their routes in the following days after their visits.

I can envision shepherds leaving through the countryside, filled with the excitement of seeing the King of all Kings lying in a manger.  The questions on their minds had to center around, how is this baby going to save the world?  When would he become the King and help them fight the oppression of the Roman government?  Why did God bring angels to tell them of this glorious event, what should they now do with this knowledge?  Walking along the paths over the hills of Bethlehem and through the pastures they wouldn’t have been able to help themselves from telling other shepherds or those passing by of the events they had witnessed.  Sitting around campfires for the next year or more this story was bound to be told from one to another to another.  “Remember that night when the host of angels came and told of the baby Jesus being born in Bethlehem.  It must have been the Messiah, otherwise why would the angels have come to us?”  For years their story would be told and retold, passed on from generation to generation until it was captured in Luke’s gospel.

Kings from faraway lands had come to give gifts to the Christ child.  Their journey took significant time as they traveled over treacherous mountain paths, across deserts and through villages in their caravan.  The star of Bethlehem had guided them directly to the location of the baby.  Upon finding the young child they worshiped him as their King, and brought gifts.  After being witness to the Messiah, the chosen King of all Kings, they would leave along a different path from which they came.  As they traveled the long journey to their homeland, they would have the respect and honor of those they came in contact with.  Their story would be one of the miracles of God the Father, the glory of the new born Messiah and the salvation of all mankind. 

The shepherds and the wise men became the first evangelists of Jesus Christ to the world.  Through their travels how could they not have told all that they met of the wonders that had been revealed to them that first Christmas.  But that is only where the story begins.  It started in Bethlehem and continued for the next 33 years to be revealed through Christ’s death and resurrection. From that moment on we are all instructed to take the message to the world and share of His righteousness just like they did after His birth.  

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
Our Jesus Christ is born.

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for delivering us through His death and resurrection. Help us to be evangelists to all we meet and to share Your message of love, grace and mercy with all mankind, just as the shepherds and wise men did after that first Christmas morning.  In Your name we pray. Amen

Friday, December 13, 2013

Word of the Father

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“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”  – John 1:14

Christmas lights have always captured my childhood wonderment.  I drive home in the evenings and see the beauty of the lights on the rooftops and front lawns of homes and it brings a sense of warmth and joy.  There’s something about the colorful expression of individuals that invokes Christmas’ from my childhood.  I used to lie on the floor in my parent’s living room, staring at the lights on the Christmas tree, intentionally blurring my vision by looking cross-eyed and watching as the lights would seem to multiply.  Blinking colors of red, blue, green, amber and white with Bing Crosby Christmas album playing on the record player in the background and I would be lost in the magic of Christmas for the night.

Lights are nothing without the electricity that flows through them.  When the Christmas lights are unplugged at night they go back to the state of being dark because the essential element that heats the filament is missing.  The light bulb is simply a container of argon and nitrogen gas with a tungsten filament.  When the light switch is turned on, electricity flows through the filament and creates heat which is expressed through the illumination of the gases causing light to then fill the bulb.  This light then allows for the human eye to see in the darkness.

We read in John 1:1, the Word was God;  so in John 1:14 above, we discover that God became human through Jesus Christ, born to live amongst us and enable us to see the Father .  He filled the human form with His very essence so that His righteousness would shine to all that looked upon this man.  Jesus was 100% human, in that his physical form and needs were that of a man.  He required food, water and rest.  He communicated through the spoken word and showed emotions of love, anger, joy, compassion, fear and pain.   Yet, at the same time, God the Father dwelt in him during his 33 years on this earth in the physical form of man. 

We know that the slightest crack or broken filament in a light bulb will cause it to no longer illuminate the presence of electricity.  The slightest imperfection in Jesus life as a man would have brought an end to his ability to glorify God’s perfection.  We see him in the garden on the night he was betrayed, crying out to His Father to take this cup.  The enormity of the world’s sins bearing down upon his shoulders and the fragile human form felt the pressure.  Because God had become man within this form though, Jesus Christ was able to fulfill his purpose through his death and resurrection. 

The perfection of God is immutable.  Just as electricity fills a light bulb, God’s perfection filled Jesus Christ; and in doing so created the Light of the World, so that all mankind could see God’s presence.  As you observe the Christmas lights this season, take in the warmth, the glow and the beauty; but realize that they will go out in a month.  Look for the Light of the World in Jesus Christ and never be without light again.

 Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be the glory giv'n;
Word of the Father,
Now in the flesh appearing

Almighty God,
You have dwelt among us in the flesh through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  We can look upon His life as an example of Your perfection and see Your presence through Him.  Just as You filled Him with Your glory and essence, let us be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we may live within Your perfect plan.  Help us to see the Light of the World this season as we gaze upon the Christmas light displays and share His light with those we meet.  In Your name we pray - Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Will You Give Him

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“He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””  – Luke 21:2-4

When I was a boy, my favorite Christmas cartoon was The Little Drummer Boy.  I can’t tell you why, but for some reason I connected more with this story than any of the other Christmas favorites – Rudolph, Frosty, Here Comes Santa Claus or Charlie Brown’s Christmas (although this was  a close second).  Each year as time would draw close to Christmas, TV Guide would publish the schedule of Christmas shows and I would seek out this cartoon before the others.  There is something about a story that exemplifies the act of giving rather than receiving that spoke to my heart.

In Acts 20:35 Paul reminds us of what the Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  For the most part I believe Christians grasp a hold of this concept, but have difficulty putting into practice.  Especially in today’s economic climate it is so unnerving to look outside of our own four walls at the poverty and brokenness in the world when we are struggling with the credit collectors ourselves.  So often when we think of giving our mind immediately shifts to focus on the financial side of the equation.  This is natural, but limited in scope.

The Lord has given you talents and gifts that He has not given to everyone.  It is what makes you unique in character, persona and wisdom.  These gifts are not for your benefit but for His and were intended to be used to glorify His Kingdom here on earth.  Some of you have the gift of counseling, some of music, some of writing and some of cooking; as examples.  During this Christmas season, how can you use your gifts to help others and in turn bring glory to God in the process.   If you’re good at wrapping presents, consider setting up a gift wrapping table at the local mall and wrap presents for free.  If you love to bake, then use that talent to make Christmas cookies for your local firemen or police officers and take a plate into them with a letter of thanks.  If you love to sing or play the guitar, consider setting up a chair in the shopping area of your town and serenade those passing by with Christmas carols and bring a little cheer to their day.  Carry extra blankets in your car, so when you see a homeless person, you can give them some comfort this Christmas.

Be the hands and feet of our Savior to the world by giving back this Christmas.  You and I both know that the joy inside is generally overwhelming when you see the true appreciation of someone when you take the time to give to them.  The expression of love from the heart cannot be matched by any monetary or material gift.  Like the little drummer boy, you may not have the financial means to give a present, but you have everything you need to give someone love this Christmas.  You just need to take the initiative to do something about it.

Come they told me (pa rum pum pum pum)
A new born King to see,
(pa rum pum pum pum)
Our finest gifts we bring
(pa rum pum pum pum)
To lay before the King
(pa rum pum pum pum)
(rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum)
So to honor Him
(pa rum pum pum pum)
when we come.

Loving Father,
Thank You for the gifts You have given to me that make me unique in this world.  Thank You for creating in me the desire to help others and to reach out to the world with Your message of love and mercy.  Help us to be good stewards of all the You have given to us and to take advantage of those opportunities to give back to others with the same love that You have given to us.  In Your name we pray - Amen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Away in a Manger

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“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  – Luke 2:6-7

Each of us have an image in our mind of that glorious night when Jesus was born.  Perhaps you picture him in the traditional manner, lying in a wooden manger overflowing with straw, while Mary and Joseph kneel in worship next to the manger.  Perhaps you envision the bustling streets of Bethlehem, due to the census, and a rude Inn-keeper shooing the pregnant Mary and her husband away toward a stable behind the Inn.  In your vision, were there cows, donkeys, horses and sheep present at the miraculous birth?  Much of our imagination of that night in Bethlehem is derived from the Hollywood portrayal of the Nativity scene.   For years people have put Nativities in front of churches and homes, complete with straw, wooden lean to and wooden or ceramic characters.

Scripturally, we know none of the above.  We know that the expecting parents could not stay in the room where they intended to stay that night in Bethlehem.  Perhaps it was the distant relatives of Joseph, perhaps it was a boarding home for travelers which was the custom in Persia during those times.  In Greek the word used was katalumati, which means – a lodging place.  So we don’t know what house it might have been, but this word is referenced in later scriptures: Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11 which translate to guest room, so we can infer that the room Joseph and Mary were expecting that evening was for traveling guests.

History tells us that mangers during that era were actually hewn from stone and filled with water, grain or straw for the animals to eat.  In some cases these were set up outdoors, just behind a dwelling and other times they were in a nearby cave hollowed out of limestone for some of the animals to be kept safe at night.  There were also customs at that time that the animals were actually kept in a cavernous area below the dwelling, separated from the guest quarters but still part of the same structure.

For centuries people have speculated where this historical landmark is so that they may celebrate the birth of the Son of God.  I’ve been to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and seen the location deemed accurate in the 3rd century AD and perhaps it is authentic.  As I walked away from the church that day, I wasn’t filled with emotion or any sense of accomplishment.  No, as I walked away it struck me that seeking out the historical landmarks is not the relevant in my Christian walk.  The importance is to seek out the living Christ in my daily walk and strengthen my understanding of His teachings and examples to live out in my life.

I hold onto the traditional image of Jesus Christ, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger filled with straw.  In my mind there is a stable; a wooden lean too, with a thatched roof from palm leaves.  The donkey, cow and sheep kneel in adoration of the Christ child.  Mary is exhausted, yet amazed and filled with love and emotion.  Joseph is by her side, cradling her against his body, as they both observe the sleeping child in their presence.  I hold onto this image because it represents to me the reverence I have for my Savior.  Is my picture accurate?  No, I can guarantee that it is not accurate, factual or proven by any man.  That’s not important though, what is important is that my Savior was born so I may be redeemed.

 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

Almighty God,
Often times we get wrapped around proving Your scriptures to meet our understanding and knowledge.  Forgive us for our lack of faith and acceptance of Your word as it is, holy and without fault.  Help us to grow from our study of Your word and to make it active in our life.  Thank You for that amazing Christmas night, where regardless of the circumstance and situation, You brought Your Son to dwell among us.  It was in the humblest of venues that He entered the world.  Not in a palace, not in royalty.  Through this humbleness and meekness, He opened the door of salvation to all mankind, not just the elite.  That is the importance of the message of His birth in a manger not fit for the King.  Amen
© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Child Shivers in the Cold

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“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh”  – Matthew 2:11

Every year with butterflies in their stomachs and visions of Santa, Rudolph and the elves in their minds the children finish up their hot cocoa before heading off to bed.  They have every intention of staying up into the wee hours of the morning to “catch” Santa Claus as he brings the toys, treasures and fills their stockings.  But alas, they doze off without ever seeing the old fellow, giving credence to the statement that he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.  Like many children around the globe, my little ones awake Christmas morning with brightly colored boxes and toys with ribbons under the Christmas tree.  With excitement and little patience they sit through the reading of the Christmas story before be let loose on the gifts.

Now, let us picture another scene.
The night air is cold as the wind blows from the Northeast.  There is very little shelter to break the winds bitter sting as they huddle together trying to keep warm.  She held the baby close to her bosom as they walked through the cobbled streets of the small, dark city.  There were no street lamps or city lights in this remote village, high on the mountainside, just a few candles in the windows of some of the more elite villagers.  The stars in the sky created a canopy of lights that would give them some direction that night, and the light from the moon cast shadows in the corners of the few buildings.  As the young couple moved through the streets, the child coughing in the frigid air, they came to rest in an abandoned alleyway, with walls on each side to block the wind for the night.

This small family is homeless, hungry and cold.  The year had presented them with struggles after the economy crumbled, then an earthquake hit, followed up by a hurricane 7 months later.  The mother had only months before given birth to the child she carried that night.  She still nursed the baby, which provided some nutrition to the infant, but took it’s toll on her own health.  The father had worked in a local shop only a year ago and seemed confident and ready to raise a family with his new wife.  But what is he to do when the shop was physically destroyed beyond repair and there were no other jobs in the village.  He had managed to do odds and end jobs throughout the year to make some money and provide some food for his family, but those jobs just weren’t there anymore.  The Christmas of 2013 certainly won’t be the Christmas he envisioned for his wife and newborn child.

There are people all over this world that will wake on Christmas morning in the streets.  No Christmas tree, no presents, no celebration or excitement.  There are children in this world that will not come running down the stairs in the morning to see a Christmas tree filled with toys and stockings hung by the fireplace.  They will wake up to another day of struggling to find food, water, work and warmth.  Remember, there are 6.3 billion people in the world.  Many of these live in remote mountainous areas and rain forest jungles where the word Christmas means nothing.  It’s just another day in the bitter cold of winter. 

We think about Christmas and the gifts we will give or the gifts we will receive, but it is so much more important to focus our attention on understanding and accepting the greatest gift ever given on Christmas morning.  There is no bow, no golden wrapping paper or tinsel.  The nametag simply says
         To: ALL
         From: GOD

 It is a gift of peace, love, goodness and grace.  Not one of us deserves this gift, yet in His loving plan of salvation He has made it available to each of us.  It requires no credit cards, loans or waiting in line.  The demand is beyond comprehension and yet there is no end to its supply.  Once accepted, this gift comes with no return policy, for there is nothing we do that nullifies it’s value.  You see, when God reached down and gave the world a Savior, His gift was for everyone, regardless of financial status, address, health, education or welfare.  God chose to give you the gift of salvation from a world of unrighteousness, injustice and sin.  His gift ensures your eternal state with Him in heaven one day.

So as you prepare for this Christmas celebration this year.  Pray for those who are homeless, hungry and hurting this Christmas.  Pray for those that are in war torn villages, and those that are struggling to recover from natural disasters this year.  Pray for those that are in the remote areas of the world that the message of Jesus Christ love, mercy and grace might reach them this year.  We can’t all travel to these areas of the world and make a difference first hand in their lives, but we can support those companies that do.  I recommend you consider, if possible, giving a gift to an established missionary organization this year.  Compassion International, Worldvision, World Harvest Missions or the American Red Cross are just a few.  Also, you needn’t look far across oceans to find those in need.  Seek out your local food banks, homeless shelters and orphanages and consider donating your time, money and gifts to those who really need it this Christmas.  A few less presents under your tree on Christmas morning, and a few more under theirs might just change the world.

Said the king to the people everywhere,
"Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light."


Almighty God,
You have given us the greatest gift for Christmas in Your Son Jesus Christ.  Let us not take this for granted, but chose to receive it and give it to others this year.  Help us to take our eyes off of our own desires and focus on those that are in need this year.  Place opportunities before us that will help spread Your love throughout this season.  In Your name we pray - Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2013
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