“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
We hope you will enjoy our “Prayer Note” — an internal communication here at The Cove, created each month to remind and encourage our staff to pray. We share these with you at the beginning of each month in hopes that you, too, will be encouraged.
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS
Some of the most priceless moments of every Christmas celebration involve imperfections. Think back on all the church Christmas programs you’ve attended. Did any of the more memorable scenes involve mishaps or bloopers? If those amateur holiday productions were like most, a shepherd might have tripped over his staff, a wise man lost his crown or an angel forgot one of her lines. Yet we grin, applaud and cherish the memory of the sweet and endearing depiction of the Savior’s birth. Is there any better portrayal of the miracle of Christmas than seeing it through the eyes of a child?
The Christmas season is a study in contrasts. One evening a large and accomplished choir may stir your spirit and move your emotions with a dramatic performance of Handel’s Messiah, and the next night your heart melts as you open the front door to find a group of Christmas carolers from the junior high youth group singing a sweet though slightly off-key rendition of “Silent Night.”
Each December we’re given opportunities to travel back to Bethlehem and consider both the majesty and simplicity of the Incarnation. The miraculous story never grows old: The perfect, sinless, infinite Son of God taking on fragile flesh and coming to us in the form of a helpless baby. God’s perfect Son being born to a humble peasant girl in an obscure village, coming to bring salvation to a world marred by sin and imperfection. Majesty and simplicity merged to bring hope. If we wrote the script ourselves, we would welcome the King with flawless and beautiful surroundings. But we didn’t—He wrote it, and for a backdrop He rejected the perfect in favor of the imperfect. What could be more ordinary and imperfect than a stable and a makeshift bed of straw?
This Christmas, let’s ask God to help us find the miracle in both the majestic and the mundane. Let’s appreciate the beauty yet resist the temptation to measure our joy by the degree of perfection we can achieve. The tree may be slightly lopsided, with a gap in the middle. The gingerbread house may be leaning precariously to one side. And our actual home—filled with ordinary, imperfect people—may not look like the picture-perfect image of the harmonious family in the airbrushed magazine ad.
But “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NASB). He came as our Immanuel… God With Us (Matthew 1:23, NIV), to bring His good and perfect gifts of peace, joy, salvation and hope right into the middle of our mess. If Christmas finds you lonely, tell it to the one who bore your griefs and carried your sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4). If the season finds you anxious and overwhelmed, allow your heart to be calmed by the one who is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). If Christmas finds you struggling with sin, admit it and confess it to the one who “knew no sin yet became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). He came into our broken world, born in a dusty, dimly lit stable in order that He might one day deliver us from the filth of sin and the darkness of despair.
Seek to reflect the majesty of Christ this Christmas. Light the candles and hang the lights to announce that the Light of the World has come. Sing the timeless carols that tell the world of the joy He brings. Fill your home with reminders that God came in the flesh to make His home in our hearts. Then kneel and welcome Him. And if you notice the floor is a little dusty, thank Him for the reminder. The stable was dusty, too.
This December, please pray that the beauty of The Cove’s Christmas displays will honor and glorify the King of Kings whom we serve. Pray that those who come to celebrate His birth would sense His presence, feel His love, and be blessed and encouraged by every carol and hymn of praise that is sung. Pray that the Holy Spirit would empower and fill each flawed, imperfect person who serves Him on staff at The Cove. May He pour His strength into our weakness, and may the light of His presence shine through the cracks to reveal His glory. Oh come, let us adore Him!
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).
Join us in praying for the following events in November:
Christmas at The Cove with Reggie and Ladye Love Smith and Friends — December 1, 2 & 3
(Emcee: Tom Bledsoe)
SeniorSalt Impact Carol Sings — December 5, 12, 13 & 14
(Emcee/Worship Leader: Ron Whittemore; Musician: David Gaines)
An Evening at The Cove with Tommy Coomes Band — December 5
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Karlene Shea — December 11
(Emcee: Patty Stump; Pianist: Kris Bartman; Special Music: Skylar and Luca Bartman by Faith Abiding)
Christmas at The Cove with Charles Billingsley — December 15
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Christmas at The Cove with Travis Cottrell — December 16
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Christmas at The Cove with Annie Moses Band — December 17
(Emcee: Michelle Bachelor)
Thank you for praying!
If you’re like most of us and haven’t started humming Christmas hymns quite yet, you might be after seeing what’s now selling (like hotcakes) in Ruth’s Attic Bookstore!
You might be thinking, “Christmas stuff, already??”
Yes! It’s for those organized people that actually do their Christmas shopping before the 2nd week of December!
Since we’re on the subject of Christmas, we’d love to hear from you:
What is your favorite Christmas hymn or carol?
What is your favorite Christmas food?
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Leave your answers in the comment section below.
Would you like to attend a Carol Sing, Women’s Christmas Luncheon, or a Christmas at The Cove dinner and concert? We’d love to have you! Click here for our Christmas events schedule.
Welcome to Kendra Graham’s Online Bible Study! This is a place where we can come together and share in our journey towards Scriptural truths and spiritual maturity. We pray this will be a safe, respectful, resourceful place to come and discuss God’s Word…to discover What it says…What it means…and What it means to you!
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Kendra Graham notes from Luke 2:20
WHAT DOES IT SAY? THE FACTS ONLY PLEASE. In this step you need to list the outstanding facts of the passage. DON’T get caught up in the details, just list the facts. Do not paraphrase. Use the actual words of the passage. This is God’s Word, a lot of times this step seems tedious to some, but I urge you, as we read, and say and write God’s Word, it begins to sink deep into our hearts. If you just pick one fact out of the verse, write it down and meditate on it.
FACTS: “The Shepherds went back, praising God , all they heard and seen was just as had been told them.” – Luke 2:20
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? THE LESSONS. Look for a lesson to learn from each fact. What are the people doing that they should be doing? What are the people doing that they shouldn’t be doing?
Is there a command to follow? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow?
I love the story of the shepherds so much. Every Christmas these shepherds settle into my heart and I am once again reminded of a faithful God who loves me and came for me. The life of a shepherd was more of a curse than a blessing. A terrible job, a stinky job (they were living in the fields). These shepherds were off the grid and far from most people’s minds, living away from their families outside of town. These shepherds drew the short straw having to work the night shift, risking their lives for a bunch a sheep against thieves and predators for a menial salary. Shepherds were outcasts of society, one step above the leper who was completely exiled from society. If you were a shepherd, someone working the worst job, with the worst pay and high danger, away from your family: what would your view of God be?
God hates me? God loves everyone else, but my life is obviously expendable and hey, God probably wants to hide me somewhere so I don’t nauseate others with my presence? The night would give someone like a shepherd a lot of time to think, not that I am a shepherd, but I have had many a conversation like that with God in the wee hours of the night when not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. You don’t have to be a shepherd to feel unimportant, forgotten and hated by God.
BUT…. this night of Luke 2…. THIS NIGHT WAS DIFFERENT! Out of everyone in the world God Almighty could have told and invited to His birthday party, it was the shepherds…those shepherds, living in the field! The outcasts… the ones not even allowed to go to the Temple to worship because of their filth! This very first Christmas, God was not asking them to get cleaned up and go to church, He was asking them to come to His bedside just as they were, immediately, right away! Heaven scrolled back the night sky, and gave those shepherds a Christmas cantata that they would not soon forget.
The Shepherds each for themselves had to decide what to do, would they go or stay? They had every reason in the world not to come to Jesus…. I mean, they cold lose their jobs, then what? Shepherding was the lowest job around, who would hire them? What about their family and their well being? What if it was a lie? Some cruel joke God was playing? What about their stench, they had some things to fix before they came to Jesus…. some habits to break…. some things to make right, they may have been only on step 6 out of 12…. but if they waited to clean up their lives and character, or waited to “Yelp” out a shepherd sitter at that time of night, they would have missed Jesus. SO… they went in haste.
The Shepherds found Jesus…. just like the angels said, in Bethlehem, in a manger, wrapped in rags. Everything was just as heaven proclaimed to them earlier. God had not lied. God truly did invite them! God had eternity to decide who to invite when He was born, and He chose them! #sobering #overwhelming #Godseesme
These shepherds went back praising God. Why? What did that baby do for them? They went back to their bad job, with bad pay, with bad hours…. they were still away from their families, they were still the lowest common denominator of society… it’s not like they got a new car, a new job, a new house, all their debts paid…. why the difference?
We cannot come to Jesus and leave the same.
Those Shepherds knew that night, that God did not hate them, they were not forgotten, they had not fallen through the cracks, they were not an embarrassment to God, they knew that they knew, because of that job, that night shift, that God Himself moved heaven and earth to tell them personally that He saw them, and loved them.
God’s Word was true even to them. God doesn’t demand behavior modification before you come to Him, or a New Years Resolution, He just asks and pleads that YOU come, in haste so you too can know that you know that you are loved by God.
Don’t miss Christmas.
I know you have every excuse in the world not to come. School systems are shutting down Christmas plays of “Charlie Brown Christmas” so that Linus will just keep his monologue under “wraps”…. so we just see trees and gifts but miss the true “Reason for the Season.”
Why would a world work so hard to keep you from knowing how loved you are by God? God loved you so much that He refused to trust you to another, so He came personally with skin on, to bring “Peace, goodwill towards men.” Peace…. the angels proclaiming what the death of Jesus would do on the night of His birth. Is it not time for true peace between you and the God who loves you and gave Himself for you? Ask Him this year to give you the song of the Shepherds, so that you too may know that you know that YOU are loved by God.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME NOW? APPLY IT…. TODAY. Take the lessons you learned and put them into the form of a personal question that you would ask your spouse, or a friend or your son or daughter.
As you write the questions, listen for God to communicate to you through His Word.
*Do not rush. Do not write things down just to have something on paper, this step takes more time that you may think. This is where Scripture meditation becomes real, this is where you begin to hear that still small voice speak to you, and place His finger in your life and begin to direct your paths…. this day, and the next, and the next. Do you trust Him enough to put into place that which He is moving you to?
Now, in haste will you come for a moment and praise God for His love for you? Will you ask God now to bring peace between you and Him? Your sin and my sin cost Jesus His life, will we now proclaim that story this Christmas since the lips of Linus have been sealed?
LIVE IT OUT:
This Christmas, recite Luke 2 as often as you can, sharing your own shepherd story with those you love. As the shepherds proclaimed in Luke 2:17, will you take up their mantle this Christmas and continue to make known the statement which was told them about this Child, Jesus?
#GodSeesMe #LetLinusspeak #TrueMeaningofChristmas #ComeInhaste #God’sWordIsTrue
Would you like to begin your journey to peace with God today? Click here to learn more and to pray to receive Christ in your heart.
JOIN US FOR OUR FREE WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY AT THE COVE, BEGINNING JANUARY 12, 2016.
If you can attend in-person, we’d love to see you. Click on one of the links below to register.
If you’d like to register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study (January 12 – February 16, 2016), click here.
NOTE: If you are unable to attend in person, we will continue the online study as well, using lessons shared during the LIVE study.
Register for Kendra’s Tuesday evening study here or by calling 1-800-950-2092..