MY BIRTHDAY:  HOPE & PRAISE

It is December 27 already… this year is ending soon! I do not remember a year that so many are so glad when it will be over. Of course that is because they hope the pandemic will end — as if virus germs adhere to a calendar. I think it is normal to want to forget the negative of the past and look to the positive of the future.

Today is MY BIRTHDAY. When I was born those “many” years ago, my family was impacted but probably few others noticed my birth. No angels heralded my arrival, no star marked the location of the not-world-changing event, no wise men traveled from afar to welcome me, and no gold, frankincense, nor myrrh were delivered. As special, wanted, and loved as my family made me feel, among the multitudes of babies born on our planet, I did not stand out.

More than 2000 years ago, one baby did stand out, and His birthday was celebrated around the world just a couple of days ago. His extraordinary birth was a pivotal point in human history. His birth was truly different for He was born as no other before or since.

That unique baby was born fully man and fully God in God’s divine plan. Only He was the perfect One to be the payment for the sin of the world to allow God’s forgiveness, to provide salvation for whosoever will believe and by faith in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal life as a free gift from God.

That baby grew up to willingly give His life on a cruel cross, and His resurrection proved He was the fulfillment of Scriptures and is Saviour to the world. What a plan… what a life… what a Saviour! It is all because of His great love for us!

As the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2: 14)

Today I celebrate MY BIRTHDAY and ponder the original Christmas birthday. I am thankful for both. My life is in God’s hands, and whether I have twenty more birthdays or no more, I am His child and trust His plan for my life here and in the next life.

I have HOPE in Him and PRAISE for Him: Glory to an awesome God!

LISA APPELO:  GIVING FAITH AND HOPE

Today many are edging toward a time of last-minute shopping for Christmas gifts. I want to share a thought from Lisa Appelo to help us maintain a proper perspective: “We bring gifts because of Jesus — not Santa.”

Lisa has learned important life lessons through hard experiences that include grief and loss. Her personal example  increases my faith and gives me hope. To learn more about her story and to find encouragement for faith, hope, and grief visit her website at LisaAppelo.com.

Lisa reminds us that Jesus modeled generosity, compassion, and gift giving. As John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave his One and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

There is no CHRISTmas without CHRIST after all! According to Lisa, we give at Christmas because God first gave to us.

Lisa is wisely teaching her children to give to needs around them and thinks that Christmas is a great time to see and meet the needs of others.

May we remember the world’s greatest Gift ever given as we celebrate this Season of that Gift. And may we each receive that which we all need this year — faith and hope that are at the heart of a real Christmas.

CHRISTmas blessings to you all!

KOALA DECORATES CHRISTMAS TREE:  JOY & HOPE

Danielle Garrand’s article for CBS News on 12/4/20 featured an example of one of God’s creatures bringing joy to humans.

This particular example was a koala celebrating Christmas the best way it could. The brief article was entitled “Koala wanders into Australian family’s home and climbs their Christmas tree.” The accompanying photo gave me joy… and hope.

Amanda McCormick was surprised to find a koala perched in her Christmas tree. Apparently the koala entered a South Australian home, perched itself within a Christmas tree, and was found appearing to be very content among the ornaments.

The koala embraced the Christmas tree as we
should embrace Christmas celebrations that honor Christ. There is no Christmas without Christ’s birth! On the night of His birth God sent angels to proclaim, “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Luke 2: 10)

The koala appeared to be content just being in his place as we should be content being in our place. Psalm 46: 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This realization brings contentment.

The koala brought joy to the McCormick family and to countless readers around the world. Koalas naturally climb trees to perch. That is how Creator God designed them. If we live as God designed us, then our lives will bring joy to others.

To share joyful blessings is to share hope. I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas. What a surprise to be reminded by a koala that decorated a Christmas tree in Australia!

Whether or not you have a Christmas tree and whether or not it is decorated with a koala, may you celebrate the real “Reason for the Season.” Have a joyful CHRISTmas!
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PEARL HARBOR DAY: HOPE & PEACE

Today is Pearl Harbor Day and marks 79 years since a terrible attack by Japanese planes that left thousands of American victims. It led to America’s entering into World War 2 and many more lives being lost. The cause was just, and when it was over — for a time — freedom and peace reigned. Unfortunately humankind does not embrace peace for long.

Today flags are at half-mast, and remembrance events are being held across America. I think it is important to remember such historic yet tragic events. They provide hope for the future and remind us to work harder to pursue peace.

These events remind me to be grateful for our military men and women. I especially think of the Greatest Generation. It is personal for me, because my parents were included in that generation.

Also these remembrances can remind us that we should follow the Prince of Peace. Only He can bring lasting peace to human hearts.

Now may the Lord of Peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all.”
(2 Thessalonians 3: 16)

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 5: 1)

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”  (Romans 8: 6)

To read other posts regarding historic Pearl Harbor Day, please go to posts of 12/7/2018 and 12/7/2019. Look for the hope, and remember to pursue peace!

WHISPERING HOPE:  HOPE & COMFORT

I am thankful that my mother loved hymns, because she made sure that their music and messages were part of my childhood. I remember thinking as a child that “WHISPERING HOPE” was especially beautiful. Written by Septimus Winner, a well-known poet, composer, and violinist, this hymn was published in 1868.

Even when I was a child maybe that word, hope, held special meaning for me. Of course I did not imagine I would someday aim to share hope by writing a blog. No one even knew what a blog was when I was born during the mid-twentieth century!

If you do not know the song or have not heard it in awhile, please find it, listen, and be blessed. The hymn as sung by Jim Reeves is a favorite of many. May you be blessed with hope and comfort by its music and message. I will include the hopeful and comforting lyrics below.

WHISPERING HOPE

Soft as the voice of an angel breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion whispers her comforting word.

Wait till the darkness is over, wait till the tempest is gone;
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow after the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.”
(S. W.)

Like many who author hymns, Winner based his on Scripture. His lyrics refer to Hebrews 6:19 and to the anchor that holds a believer’s soul steadfast… the “whispering hope.” The truth of this verse gives hope and comfort, so we can find these blessings in the hymn… thanks to one who surely had experienced that hope himself.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”  (Hebrews 6: 19)