The Shepherds – God Uses Ordinary People

Ordinary people.

That’s what the shepherds were. Just ordinary folks. There was nothing extra-special about them but, they were the first to hear about the birth of baby Jesus.

The Bible says the shepherds were out in the fields around Bethlehem keeping watch over their flocks. It was just a regular night. But then, the sky was filled with angels. And the angels announced to the shepherds that they had good news.

That night, in Bethlehem, a Savior was born. Then the angels encouraged the shepherds to go to Bethlehem to see the baby. They would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

So the shepherds traveled to Bethlehem and found the baby just as the angels had said. The shepherds….not the upper-crust of society, were the first to hear of Jesus birth.

If you’ve ever thought God can’t use you…you are wrong….God can use us….doesn’t matter what our background is…God can use us.

Someone has said that God must have loved ordinary people because He made so many of them. God can use all of us….no matter how ordinary we are.

The Story Behind “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”

One of our favorite carols was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was considered by many to be America’s greatest poet. As a child, Longfellow was very intelligent… at the age of three he was already going to school and by the age of six he was reading classical literature. After completing.  his education, Longfellow quickly rose to the top in the halls of academia after accepting a position at Harvard. Life was good for Longfellow. But then, tragedy struck.
Longfellow’s first wife became suddenly ill and died. Seven years later he re-married and he and his wife had five children. Again, life was going well for Longfellow until, tragedy struck again when his second wife, while lighting a match, set her clothes on fire and shed died as well. Then, before he could get his life together., America was hit with the Civil War.
Longfellow hated the Civil War. He pleaded with God to end it. When Longfellow’s son was wounded in battle and was sent home to recover Longfellow’s prayer turned to rage. As he tended his son’s injuries and saw other wounded boys on the streets of Cambridge, he asked his friends “Where is the peace?”
He took pen and paper and began trying to answer that question when he heard the sound of church bells. As he began to write, his poem was filled with gloom and despair. The poem would have been completely void of peace and hope had it not been for the last two verses. In those verses Longfellow wrote…
“God is not dead, nor death He sleep. The wrong shall prevail the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men…” which are the last words of the famous Christmas carol…. “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”

Listen to Casting Crowns wonderful version of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”

It’s Christmas…. But You Don’t Feel Like Singing

One of the great things about the Christmas season is the music. I love Christmas music and I’m guessing you do too. I have a playlist on my iphone that is “Christmas Music.”
I love to sing along to;
“Rocking Around the Christmas Tree,” by Brenda Lee.
I love to sing along with Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.”
And, I love the old song, “Please Come Home For Christmas.”
In church, I love to sing “Silent Night” and other Christmas carols.
But, there are times when we don’t feel like singing. Oh, we may want to sing, but we can’t. Why? Has anyone closed our mouths?
No… there are times we can’t sing because we are hurting. Maybe we are grieving the loss of a parent, spouse or friend. Maybe we are going through a messy divorce. Maybe you recently lost your job. Whatever it is, you are hearing the Christmas songs but, you just don’t feel like singing. I understand.
The Psalmist understood to. In Psalm 137:2 he said, “But how can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a pagan land?” The people of Israel were in exile. They were there because they had disobeyed God. They were hurting.
Out of their hurt they asked, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a pagan land?” In other words, “how can you sing when you are hurting?”
That’s a good question because it is tough to sing when you are hurting. Maybe that’s exactly where you are today. You are hurting. You are struggling. Maybe you wish you could just skip Christmas this year.
So what can do we about it? Let’s think about what Christmas is… it is the birthday of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus is “Emmanuel God with us.” Think about that… Jesus is God with us.
Does God understand how you feel? Yes.
Does God care about you? Yes.
And God will be with us. I didn’t say all the hurt would go away but God will help us.
So today, if you don’t feel like singing, ask the Lord to lift your spirits. Ask the Lord to help you sing… during this time when you dont’ feel like singing.

Merry Christmas From The Potts Family

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Merry Christmas from the Potts family!
Holli and I are enjoying time with our family today. We are very proud of and thankful for our three children; Robert, Will and sarah. We are thankful we are close enough to see them and have them with us on Christmas.
We are thankful that in this past year we have been called to serve FBC Emerson as Pastor. We have moved in the past few weeks and now live in Emerson. We are excited about what The Lord will do here.
Thanks to those of you who read my Facebook posts and my blog. I have always enjoyed writing and I am thankful that The Lord uses my posts to hopefully, encourage others.
If you would like to be notified each time I write a new article, subscribe at http://www.greggpotts.wordpress.com on the side of the page. It’s easy to do and completely free.
We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas Day!

“Yes Virginia” There Is A Santa Claus!

Part of Christmas tradition is the annual visit of jolly ole St. Nic on Christmas eve into the homes of boys and girls around the world. Years ago, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York’s Sun. The letter received the quick response of an unsigned editorial written by veteren newsman Francis Pharcellus Church. It was published on Sept. 21, 1897. It has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
“Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
“Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
“Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
“VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
“115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

The Birth Of One Child Has Changed The World

Today is Christmas Eve.. the day before we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew gives us his account of the Christmas story… “…behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel which means ‘God with Us…she gave birth to a Son; and she called His name Jesus.”

Recently I saw a church sign that read “The birth of one child changed everything.” That statement speaks volumes! The birth of Jesus Christ did change the world.

The History Channel has been running a series entitled “Mankind.. The Story of Us.” It has covered the development of the human race. But one key element has been left out… man’s sin problem. In the beginning when Adam and Eve were in the garden, the scripture tells us sin came into the world when the fruit was taken. As a result of that, mankind is separated from God.

Throughout history man has tried to rectify his sin problem by building altars… living a good life.. giving money.. but none of that has worked.. because man’s problem is a heart issue. God recognized this and sent His son to this earth.
Jesus was born of a virgin.. He came into the world without sin. He died on the cross.. offering a perfect sacrifice for us… and as a result of Jesus death on the cross, man’s sin can be forgiven.

And all this is possible because of the birth of Jesus.

     Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of the greatest person who ever lived; Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

Happy birthday Jesus!

Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth

     

 In three days, we will celebrate Christmas… the birth of Jesus.  When we think of Christmas, we think of the nativity scene with the animals… the shepherds… Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger.  Baby Jesus… think about those words.. Yet, even at birth, the baby whose birth we celebrate was Lord. 

      One of our favorite Christmas carols says “Jesus, Lord at thy birth.”  From the time Jesus came into the world, Jesus was and is Lord of all creation.  “Jesus, Lord at thy birth.”

      The Psalmist said “I look to you for help, O Sovereign Lord.” The God the Psalmist was praying to is the same baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  The Psalmist is asking God for help… protection.

       This Christmas, maybe you need help.  And I’m not necessarily talking about financial help although that could be a concern.  Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year for many people.  Depression is something many people deal with during this season.  If you have family issues.. they tend to surface more during this season than any other.  

       Christmas is a time for reflection and maybe.. as you slow  down and think about your life.. maybe there is some pain there.  We all have experienced bumps and bruises in our lives.  Whatever you are dealing with, you can turn to Jesus.  The Psalmist did.

        There is a song that goes;

        “He is Lord, He is Lord.

          He is risen from the dead and He is Lord.

          Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess

          That Jesus Christ is Lord.” 

The Story Behind… “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”

       One of our favorite carols was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was considered by many to be America’s greatest poet.  As a child, Longfellow was very intelligent… at the age of three he was already going to school and by the age of six he was reading classical literature.  After completing his education, Longfellow quickly rose to the top in  the halls of academia after accepting a position at Harvard. Life was good for Longfellow.  But then, tragedy struck.

       Longfellow’s first wife became suddenly ill and died.  Seven years later he re-married and he and his wife had five children.  Again, life was going  well for Longfellow until, tragedy struck again when his second wife, while lighting a match, set her clothes on fire and shed died as well.  Then, before he could get his life together., America was hit with the Civil War.  

      Longfellow hated the Civil War.  He pleaded with God to end it.  When Longfellow’s son was wounded in battle and  was sent home to recover Longfellow’s prayer turned to rage.  As he tended his son’s injuries and saw other wounded boys on the streets of Cambridge, he asked his friends “Where is the peace?”  

      He took pen and paper and began trying to answer that question when he heard the sound of church bells.  As he began to write, his poem was filled with gloom and despair.  The poem would  have been completely void of peace and hope had it not been for the last two verses. In those verses Longfellow wrote…

       “God is not dead, nor death He sleep.  The wrong shall prevail the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men…” which are the last words of the famous Christmas carol…. “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”
Listen to Casting Crowns wonderful version of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”
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Cause Santa Claus Is Watching You

Most of us have at times in our lives looked up to someone or followed someone’s example. More than likely it was our Parents or possibly, our Grandparents or maybe a teacher or a coach. You may do certain things or believe certain things because of someone’s influence.
Influence is powerful. That’s why it is so important for us to emulate people who set a good example. In III John, the apostle John said “Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you.”
John was talking about a man in the church named Diotrephes. Diotrephes was preventing the church from ministering to some missionaries and John called him out. He was setting a bad example.
We need to be careful that we are setting a good example. Parents, your kids are looking up to you. Older church members…some younger church member is looking up to you.
At times Parents may tell their kids,”Don’t do as I do…do as I say.” Parents…if we say that,,that’s not a good example.
None of us are perfect..we all have flaws but…we need to be aware that others are watching us.
There is a fun Christmas song that goes…
“Be careful what you say and do
Cause Santa Claus is watchin’ you
He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere.”

Well others are watching us and more importantly…Jesus is. We need to set a good example.