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Christmas Eve: Christmas Series Part 17

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 in Christmas | Comments Off on Christmas Eve: Christmas Series Part 17

This Christmas Eve, whether your home is as colorful as a carnival, as turbulent as a tornado, or as quiet as a mouse, I want to offer up a prayer for you from my heart.

For my friends who feel all too keenly the absence of loved ones who are no longer with you, I pray for the calm and deep comfort of the Lord to well up within you and gird you with grace and strength. May you be blessed with the gift of “touch”—knowing that just as your loved ones’ lives touched yours, so too, does your life touch those around you very deeply; and may you feel the depth of God’s gentle love for you. And in the coming year as you reach out to those He brings your way, may you find grace to comfort them with the comfort with which you have been comforted.

For my friends who brace yourselves for the storm clouds of strife that invariably blow your way this time of year, I pray for the love of God to overtake you so that you will have the grace to speak blessing where there is cursing. May you be a peacemaker in the midst of strife and a refuge of safety in the midst of turmoil. I pray that He will give you the gift of “hearing” so that as you navigate through the noise and agitation, you will hear with clarity this is the way in which you should walk; these are the words I want you to say. I pray that the Lord will go before you and make the rough places smooth and that His glory will be your rear guard. And may the seeds of peace and love and life that you sow—even in the midst of the storm—be cultivated by God in the upcoming year to produce the powerful fruit of salvation and wholeness in the lives of those you love.

For my friends who feel isolated, lonely, and without a family to call your own, I pray that the presence of God will overtake you, not only in your spirit, but also in your mind and emotions. I pray you receive the gift of “taste” so that you may taste and see that the Lord is good. May you recognize the breadth, length, height, and depth of your acceptance in the Beloved, and may you experience, in a very real way, the intensity of the love that God personally has for you. May the coming year bring deeper friendships, warmer connections, and a greater number of mutually-satisfying godly relationships into your life. May you learn to expect and receive these blessings; and may you, my friend, be a blessing in the lives of others.

For my friends who know you are fortunate to have all of your loved ones around the table again this year, yet who nonetheless feel let down by life, I pray that you receive the gift of “seeing”. May you see, by the Spirit of God, how precious each life really is; may you recognize the wealth of connection you have been granted; and may you receive wisdom from on high so you may further nurture and cultivate each treasured life given to you. May you see and experience how truly rich you are, and may the upcoming year bring forth great fruitfulness in your life.

For my friends who are harried and hassled and stretched to the limit by the demands at this time of year, I pray you find that place of quiet and refuge in the Lord, to take a breath, and to let His soothing presence minister rest and grace to your soul. May you receive the gift of “smell”—the ability to pause and smell the cinnamon, the evergreen, the cookies, and the cold crisp air. May you take mini-vacations in your mind as you pause and think on the journey to Bethlehem, the song of the angels, or the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger. May your heart be lifted with the songs of the season, and may you find humor in the hustle and bustle and even in the superhuman expectations you place upon yourself. And may your joy increase more and more, along with your strength, in the year to come.

And to all of my friends, I pray that the grace, mercy, and peace of God overtake you and strengthen you, equipping you for all that is ahead of you in the year to come. May you enjoy deep intimacy with the Lord, and may His voice become clearer and His Word sweeter as you journey with Him throughout the coming year.

And tonight, may every one of you find time to sneak away and snatch some silence on this holy eve. I pray that tonight, whether by candlelight, firelight, Christmas lights, or by the light of the stars or the moon, you take the time to steal away and to say thank You to the One who came to earth as that precious Baby so long ago. And as you do, may He fill your heart with His wonderful presence.

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.  (By Joseph Mohr, 1816)

Merry Christmas and may God bless each one of you, my dear friends.

Dorothy

© 2015, Dorothy Frick

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Faithful, joyful, and triumphant: Christmas Series Part 16

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in Christmas | Comments Off on Faithful, joyful, and triumphant: Christmas Series Part 16

Are you about done with all the bad news smacking everyone in the face? Wars and rumors of wars. Troubles, trials, and tribulation. It seems like we can’t even get a break from it now—just a few days before Christmas!

Listen to the words of a familiar carol:

O come all ye faithful, joyful, and triumphant
Oh come ye O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him born the King of angels;
O come let us adore him Christ the Lord.”  (Attributed to John Francis Wade, 1751.)

Who is this company of the faithful? Who are these joyful and triumphant? Do the lyrics refer to men and women from the past who because of their unique, cushy time in history were able to live victorious Christian lives? Is this the company to whom the carol refers?

This company, from every land, language, and race, spans both history and the globe. This company—the faithful, the joyful, and the triumphant—is your company. If you have made Jesus your Lord, you are counted among them.

Indeed, in the last days difficult times will arise. Men will be lovers of self and haters of good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. The Lord warned us of this ahead of time. But you, Christian—you are called faithful. You are called joyful. You are called triumphant. This is who you are. This will never change—despite the spin culture puts on your deeply held, Bible-based beliefs.

You are faithful because of the Lord’s faithfulness to you. Therefore, your ability to be faithful does not rest upon circumstances or the rise or fall of the popularity of the gospel. You can remain faithful because you know He will never fail you nor forsake you. You will be able to stay faithful throughout the rest of your days because He will never let you down. Let this truth build great strength within you.

You are joyful because His joy—one of the fruits of the Spirit—is planted deep within you. This joy, like God’s Word, is imperishable. It cannot be stolen from you. Whether you feel it or not, joy is there inside of you, waiting to be cultivated and nourished through your sacrifice of praise to God. As you sow thanksgiving to Him, the crop of joy will increase and abound, and sooner or later it will overflow in your life. The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is your strength. God’s joy will lift you above every subtlety, scheme, and snare that Satan can concoct. God’s joy, when acted upon, will transform your tests into testimonies—whether the culture believes it or not.

You are triumphant because of Jesus’ triumph over sin, death, and hell. You have been ransomed from the domination of the devil and have been transferred into the safety and soundness of the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Because Jesus has crushed the serpent’s head, you, too, can tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means harm you. Because Jesus rendered powerless him who had the power of death—that is, the devil—you are now free from slavery to the fear of death. Of this you can be confident: God will always lead you in triumph in Christ and will manifest through you the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

Will the knowledge of Him always be warmly embraced? If the prophecy concerning the turbulent last days in 2 Timothy 3 is any indication, the answer to that is no. However, take it from those faithful, joyful, and triumphant souls who have gone before you: Your victory is not based on the behaviors, opinions, or applause of the age in which you live. You are triumphant. It’s a done deal in Christ. So walk in it with the confidence that comes from above.

Don’t allow this generation to tell you who you are. You are the faithful. You are the joyful. You are the triumphant. And you unashamedly adore Christ the Lord.

Dorothy

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould… Romans 12:2, J.B. Phillips

© 2015, Dorothy Frick

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Heaven greets Earth: Christmas Series Part 15

Posted by on Dec 22, 2016 in Christmas | Comments Off on Heaven greets Earth: Christmas Series Part 15

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” Luke 2:8-9, KJV

Perhaps one of the shepherds had just added wood to the fire; maybe one of the men had just returned with a straying lamb upon his shoulder; perhaps another one had just cracked a joke. Then faster than lightning, they were jolted out of their everyday monotony by a close encounter of the heavenly kind.

Who can even imagine what that must have been like? The sound and smell of sheep, the familiar camaraderie of fellow shepherds, the usual constellations and night breezes, and then, suddenly—Light! Blinding, shimmering, holy light shone all around them—and in the midst of it stood the angel of the Lord. They were terrified.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”   Luke 2:10

Fear not?! I was less afraid when that lion that sneaked up on us last year! one of the shepherds might have said to himself. But strangely, the odd salutation seemed to calm their jittery nerves. Squinting and rubbing their eyes, they strained to make sense of what was happening. Who is this and what’s he saying about good news…something about all people?

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11

Well, I’ll be, someone must have mused. He’s talking about our own Bethlehem! The shepherds stole glances at one another.  A Savior? Born today? Could he be talking about the Messiah? Almost afraid to breathe, they dared not move, intent upon understanding every word coming from the mouth of this heavenly stranger.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

Now, there’s something I get—a manger; I’ve filled plenty of those in my time, one of the shepherds might have thought to himself. But who would put a baby in a manger? I don’t get that part at all! Especially if this Child is the Messiah!

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13-14

Before their very eyes, the sky filled with an enormous company of angels, their voices resounding through the hills, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Hearts pounding out of their chests, the shepherds must have trembled, wept, and stared skyward with mouths agape.

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’” Luke 2:15

How long the angels remained above the shepherds’ encampment is left to speculation. How long before the shepherds could even speak one to another is also unknown. But one thing is perfectly clear; the shepherds knew they had been visited by messengers of the Living God. They understood that they were summoned to witness the intersection of God and Man. Perhaps the old Psalm whispered in their hearts:

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.” Psalm 85:9-11

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.” Luke 2:16

Maybe the shepherds left one or two of the younger ones with the sheep; nevertheless, it was with great haste that they made their way to town and found the stable. And there was the baby, lying in a manger, just as the angel said.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:17-19

The small band of rough, plainspoken shepherds related their tale of angels and glory to the mother of the Child and her husband. Others who had already gathered there to see the newborn heard the astonishing story as well. Wonder and awe filled that little shelter; Mary, still a virgin, treasured all that she was hearing as she soaked up everything this motley crew had to say.

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” Luke 2:20

Everyday life beckoned the shepherds back to their post; but as they departed from there, the glory of God welled up within them and they could not help but praise Him for all they had witnessed. Surely God is with men; surely God is with us!

May you, too, experience that God is with you—because He is!

Dorothy

© 2015, Dorothy Frick

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Interview with the magi, page 3: Christmas Series Part 14

Posted by on Dec 21, 2016 in Christmas | Comments Off on Interview with the magi, page 3: Christmas Series Part 14

“…we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  Matthew 2:2b; 9b-10

[Background: Passed down in my family through the millennia is this interview with one of the magi conducted by my many-times-removed, great, great, great, great, etc., forebear, Dorotheonea Fricknacius who was a young reporter for the Jerusalem Journal around the time of Christ. This is the last page of her three-part interview. If you have not done so yet, please scroll down and read pages 1 and 2 of the interview first before you read this.]

Interview with Harar, magi from the East, page 3

Journal: How could the Journal—indeed, evidently nearly all of Jerusalem—miss such an important birth?!?

Harar (not his real name): My fellow magi and I were bewildered by this lack of knowledge as well. Yet the prophecies, the shepherd’s tidings, the Star—all of these events—gave such witness to the unthinkable: that this little Boy was indeed the Jewish Messiah. We could do nothing less than venerate Him who will one day rule the nations!

J: I heard that you gave Him gifts.

H: Absolutely. It is our custom to present tokens of respect to kings to whom we pay homage. Your King Solomon received gifts from many foreign dignitaries, including the Queen of the South, who visited Jerusalem to view his kingdom.

J: Did you bring a gift to Herod, also?

H: He was not the King to whom we were drawn. No.

J: If you don’t mind, would you let us know the manner of gifts that you gave to the Child?

H: Certainly. We offered gold as a tribute, for as your Scriptures say, the government will one day rest upon His shoulders. We presented frankincense, the precious incense of worship, for as your prophets foretold, this small One is Immanuel, God with us. Myrrh, a sacred resin used in anointing the dead—oh, how His mother drew back when we presented this—was to bear witness to the prophecies that this Child was born to one day die for all mankind.

J: So you really believe then, that this Child could be the One for whom we have been waiting?

H: This Child is the One. Our eyes have seen and our hands have touched Him. He is indeed the One who will conquer sin and death. Yes—He is the Messiah!

J: Surely Herod was not aware of this! He never would have sought Messiah’s death!

H: Be that as it may, that night all of my fellow magi and I were warned in our dreams to depart from that country quickly, by a different route than we came—and not to return to Herod. We left at sun up, and having bid the blessed couple farewell, we kissed the Son and departed.

J: The Child…is He…dead?

H: We sent spies back to determine the safety of the Boy and His family. Indeed, Herod had struck, for our spies returned with reports of unspeakable carnage. Infants and little boys lay gutted and dying in the streets. Women, men, older boys, and girls were weeping, wailing, clinging to small, lifeless bodies on every porch…

J: The Child…?

H: The Child…yes. I get overcome whenever I remember the reports of the senseless massacre of so many innocents…Our spies found the shepherd, who had spoken with Joseph, the Child’s father, shortly after we departed. It seems an angel had appeared to Joseph in a dream as well, warning him to take the Child and His mother and flee.

J: Where did they go?

H: Our sources have located them, safe and sound, far from Judea. We are keeping in contact with them as inconspicuously as possible. We want no harm to come to this Child.

J: But where is He?

H: I am sorry, but that information is confidential. Soon enough, however, He will be revealed to Israel and then to the world at the time ordained by Israel’s God. Until then, pray that your nation will not miss, once again, the day of her visitation. And as for you, young lady—be prepared. When the Coming One appears, will you be found ready?

And so ends the interview between my many-times-removed, great, great, great, great, etc., forebear, Dorotheonea Fricknacius and the magi whom she called Harar.

May the majesty, power, and miracle of Christmas overtake your heart and your mind as you, like the magi of old, seek Him with all of your heart.

Dorothy

(Much of the preceding has been fictionalized. The Messiah, however, who was born to die for all is very real. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.)

Merry Christmas!

Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will release you from captivity…Jeremiah 29:13-14a, Amplified Bible

© 2015, Dorothy Frick

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Interview with the magi, page 2: Christmas Series Part 13

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in Christmas | Comments Off on Interview with the magi, page 2: Christmas Series Part 13

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Matthew 2:1-3

[Background: Passed down in my family through the millennia is this interview with one of the magi conducted by my many-times-removed, great, great, great, great, etc., forebear, Dorotheonea Fricknacius, a young reporter for the Jerusalem Journal around the time of Christ. This is page 2 of her three-part interview. If you have not done so yet, please read page 1 of the interview from yesterday’s entry before you read this.]

Interview with Harar, magi from the East, page 2

Harar (not his real name): Throughout Arabia and Persia are magi, kings, and scholars learned in the lore of ancient prophecies and in the intricate portendings of the heavens. There has been a general expectation for over a century throughout the lands east of the Dead Sea that a great Judean Prince would be born in our time. This Man will obtain dominion unlike any before Him. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom which will not be destroyed.

Journal: That sounds like Messiah. But how were you magi, from so many varied nations, so certain that the time had come for such a Prince’s birth?

H: Ancient seers throughout Arabian and Persian history have foretold that a scepter would arise again in Judah. Indeed, one of my own country’s prophets, Balaam, left record of this One to come, saying, “I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel…Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion.

J: Yes, come to think of it, my people have that very prophecy recorded in our own sacred Scriptures.

H: I knew to look for a Star—a very special Star to the west—proclaiming this One’s arrival. As my father and my grandfather before me, I regularly studied the night skies, searching for the one out of Jacob.

J: When did you first spy the Star?

H: Oddly enough, it had arisen more than a year before I saw it, in skies further to the east. Magi from Persia and eastern Arabia began arriving in Moab with one goal: to follow the Star. I met them there on my frequent business in the region, and I was shocked but deeply stirred by their tidings. The Star was beckoning to those who would heed: Come at once to the land of Jacob. I had no choice but to drop my business dealings and join my fellow magi. We had but one goal: to behold and to touch the Desire of nations.

J: You, a star gazer and believer in magic arts, along with others of the same persuasion, actually believed you would find in Israel, a nation that historically outlaws such practices, One who would command your respect and attention?

H: We knew He was there. If we found Him, however, we would not merely pay attention; we would pour out our hearts to Him in adoration.

J: Any luck?

H: At first, none. No one in this land of prophetic fulfillment could give us any coherent direction. Truly, among ourselves, we magi wondered if those to whom this Child was sent actually cared about His advent at all.

J: You did eventually find a Child, though, did you not?

H: Yes. Herod had heard of our inquiries and sent for us. His chief priests and scribes had informed him from Scripture that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. From our collective data, Herod deduced the Child was nearing two years. He then commissioned us to make haste to Bethlehem to search carefully for the Child. When we found Him, we were to report immediately back to Herod.

J: So Herod knew you were looking for a Child, not intending to plant one.

H: Absolutely! We continued from Jerusalem, now traveling south to Bethlehem, following the Star.

J: Describe the Star to refresh our readers’ memories, please.

H: Oh, how could one forget such a display! The Star was more lustrous than any in the heavens, and boasted a tail that extended far below its upper peak. It stood low on the horizon, ever beckoning west to those of us from the East, but for those in Jerusalem it took its stand to the South over tiny Bethlehem, pleading with any who would pay heed, Come! A Child has been born! As we drew near to the little town, we were amazed that so few seemed to pay the Star any attention at all. “Oh, that?” they would say. “That Star’s been in the same spot now for nearly two years. We’re used to it by now.”

Despite the nonchalance of most of the people, we met a humble shepherd who lit up like the Star itself when we asked about a Child king. He took us with great joy to the makeshift home of a carpenter and his wife and their young Son. On the way he told us tales of angels radiating heavenly light far more brilliant than the luster of the Star. The angels directed him and his peers to this same Child, who according to the angels, was none other than the Savior, Christ the Lord. We knew it was true as we entered the home and met Mary His mother and saw the young Child.

We immediately fell in worship; we could not speak other than in praises to God. His mother, a young girl, to be sure, stood humbly, even embarrassed, yet dignified, obviously soaking up all that she was seeing. After some time, her husband extended his hand to us and allowed us to hold the Child. Such lowly beginnings for the very Son of God! It made utter sense, though. The King—yea, the Savior of the human race—had to be clothed with humility so that the lowest of the low could rest assured that they, too, were included in His embrace. Likewise, the highest of the mighty would be brought to their knees embracing His revelation.

To be continued…

© 2015, Dorothy Frick

(The preceding has been fictionalized.)

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Interview with the magi, page 1: Christmas Series Part 12

Posted by on Dec 19, 2016 in Christmas | Comments Off on Interview with the magi, page 1: Christmas Series Part 12

For the next three days, I will post a rare interview with one of the magi who trekked to Bethlehem in search of the Christ Child. This document from antiquity has been passed down for millennia in my family. My many-times-removed, great, great, great, great, etc., forebear, Dorotheonea Fricknacius, was a young reporter for the Jerusalem Journal around the time of Christ. She, like Lydia in Paul’s day, was something of a novelty—a woman in the work world. Her journals show that she sensed the hand of God on her pen as she wrote, and she always cited Psalm 68:11, “The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host.

She famously tracked down one of the magi from the East who had sought out, found, and worshiped the newborn Messiah. She changed the names involved to protect the innocent. Her ancient account will appear for the next three days in the First of All, Pray blog, starting with today.

Interview with Harar, magi from the East

By Dorotheonea Fricknacius, reporter for Jerusalem Journal

[Reporter’s note: Shortly after last year’s slaughter of male children aged two and younger in Bethlehem and its environs, I became increasingly concerned about what part, if any, the mysterious royal visitors from the East might have played in this devastation. Understanding that they were connected to a “child search”, I had to know if they had any influence on Herod’s subsequent all-out attack on the baby boys of Bethlehem and throughout Judea. My sources gave me several regions in which I might find some of the eastern kings and magi, so I set out two months ago in a caravan heading east. My first stop was to be in Moab, our neighbor to the east of the Dead Sea. Here my effort was immediately rewarded for there I met a man who was the spokesman for one of the magi whom I will call Harar. He was reposing in the region of Mizpah on his way to other business when I was granted an interview. I determined that if all went well, I would have no need to continue eastward in search of more magi. Fortunately, Harar told me everything I needed to know. I praise God; I do not relish camel rides.]

Harar: My servant tells me you come from Jerusalem to obtain an interview concerning my recent Judean visit. I must first ask, however: were you sent by Herod?

Journal: No, sir. I have come seeking Truth.

H: You, a native of Judea, come to me, a Gentile astronomer, to seek truth?

J: Yes, sir. Although my people are blessed with the Holy Scripture, it seems in this case that those further from the Truth in distance and blood have searched for it more diligently than many of us to whom it has been so graciously sent. I seek to learn of your purpose for visiting Bethlehem.

H: Are you speaking in reference to the Child?

J: Yes, sir. As you surely have heard, soon after you and your party departed Bethlehem, a slaughter of the innocents was ruthlessly carried out by decree of Herod.

H: So I have been told.

J: After the slayings, Herod implicated you and your fellow magi with planting a male child from the east into a household in Bethlehem. This child supposedly would one day overthrow Jerusalem and then give control of Israel to the kings of the east. With this story he defended the massacre.

H: Such lies will not prosper! So you have come for the Truth?

J: Yes, sir. I want to tell my people your story.

H: Quite the contrary, young lady. This story belongs to the Jews. The fact that they are largely unaware of it makes it no less theirs. My fellow magi and I were merely appointed by Providence to play a small role, and now our lives will never be the same. Oh, that Israel would have recognized the dawn of her visitation!

To be continued tomorrow…

© 2015, Dorothy Frick

(The preceding has been fictionalized.)

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