Christmas Ponderings #7 Bible Ballistics: BBs #771

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Bible Ballistics: BBs #771   Christmas Ponderings!!! #7

 

As we approach Christmas week, and we think of all the activities, errands, shopping, wrapping, mailing, cards, gifts, baking and cooking we may become overwhelmed, but I want us to take a few minutes today to remind ourselves of the JOY of Christmas, and WHO it’s ALL about!

And she shall bring forth a son,

and thou shalt call his name JESUS:

for he shall save his people

from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21

This amazing message is what Joseph received from the angel of The Lord as he was trying to decide on a course of action regarding his “espoused”, Mary, who was by this time some 3 or 4 months pregnant (remember she went to Elizabeth almost immediately after receiving the message from the angel for some 3 months).  Scripture tells us that Joseph was a just man, and only wanted to do the right thing-–even for Mary.  I’ve always wondered about that conversation that Mary had to have with her parents, for while her cousin Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptizer) knew that her pregnancy was supernatural, we’re not told that her parents had the same spiritual insight.  I don’t mean to be irreverent, but can’t you just imagine Mary telling her parents that she was pregnant, but it was a work of God!  And then she had to tell Joseph—that had to be an interesting conversation—and he simply wanted to do the right thing for Mary!  But once again God stepped in and assured Joseph that his beloved Mary was telling the truth!  I can’t even imagine the courage that it took, for surely the neighbors there in Nazareth were just as “gossipy” as neighbors today, and the rumors flew around town; and remember that Joseph would have been presumed to be the father—one who had violated Mary’s purity, and the marriage contract prematurely.

Yet in all of this, there was one other who believed—Elizabeth; and from their encounter we have two of the most beautiful of all declarations of the faith of two women in all of scripture (excepting perhaps the declaration of Hannah)—one who was past childbearing years and was gifted by God to bear a child!  The other an engaged maiden who was pregnant without benefit of the marriage being consummated!  Elizabeth got the news of her blessing from her husband Zacharias, who also received an angelic visitation and message about “John”!

And there appeared unto him

an angel of the Lord

standing on the right side

of the altar of incense.

12 And when Zacharias saw him,

he was troubled,

and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said unto him,

Fear not, Zacharias:

for thy prayer is heard;

and thy wife Elisabeth

shall bear thee a son,

and thou shalt call his name John.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness;

and many shall rejoice at his birth.

15 For he shall be great

in the sight of the Lord,

and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink;

and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost,

even from his mother’s womb.

16 And many of the children of Israel

shall he turn to the Lord their God.”   Luke 1:11-16

This faithful servant of God received amazing news via an angelic visit!  The angel’s message came to pass, and Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth would receive a visit from another mother of a special child; and six months into her pregnancy, a divine encounter took place, often overlooked in our rush to Bethlehem.

And in the sixth month

the angel Gabriel was sent from God

unto a city of Galilee,

named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man

whose name was Joseph,

of the house of David;

and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said,

Hail, thou that art highly favoured,

the Lord is with thee:

blessed art thou

among women.

29 And when she saw him,

she was troubled at his saying,

and cast in her mind

what manner of salutation

this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her,

Fear not, Mary:

for thou hast found favour with God

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive

in thy womb,

and bring forth a son,

and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great,

and shall be called

the Son of the Highest:

and the Lord God

shall give unto him

the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign

over the house of Jacob

for ever;

and of his kingdom

there shall be no end.”  Luke 1:26-33

And while Mary may have struggled to accept what the angel told her, she accepted the message from God and then went to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Maybe to confirm what she had been told, maybe to not be in Nazareth as her condition began to show; we don’t know why, except it seems to have been a God designed visit, and the encounter between these two blessed women of God gives us cause to worship and praise our God for the gift of HIS plan of salvation, which came to fruition through a simple Jewish girl of faith with an amazing devotion to her God!

Let’s simply let these two women bring us to the throne of grace today.  There is nothing I could add to what they have to say.  May we rejoice with such ardor and love!

And it came to pass, that,

when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary,

the babe leaped in her womb;

and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said,

Blessed art thou among women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me,

that the mother of my Lord

should come to me?

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice

of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,

the babe leaped in my womb

for joy.

45 And blessed is she that believed:

for there shall be a performance

of those things which were told her

from the Lord.”   Luke 1:41-45

And Mary’s response:

And Mary said,

My soul doth magnify

the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced

in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate

of his handmaiden:

for, behold, from henceforth

all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty

hath done to me great things;

and holy is

his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him

from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength

with his arm;

he hath scattered the proud

in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty

from their seats,

and exalted them

of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry

with good things;

and the rich

he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers,

to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months,

and returned to her own house.”  Luke 1:46-56

May you find comfort knowing the fullness of joy that is found in The Word of The Lord!

Amen and Amen!!!

Christmas Ponderings #6??? Bible Ballistics: Vol. 18 No. 07

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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 18 No. 07   Christmas Ponderings #6???

 

This may seem like a strange “Christmas Ponderings” topic but the thought hit me between the eyes and I’ve learned that if it hits me, it will probably hit others, so I’m going to share this brief word and pray that it will help and encourage each of us!

Hast thou not known?

hast thou not heard,

that the everlasting God,

the LORD,

the Creator of the ends of the earth,

fainteth not,

neither is weary?

there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power

to the faint;

and to them that have no might

he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths

shall faint

and be weary,

and the young men

shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the LORD

shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings

as eagles;

they shall run,

and not be weary;

and they shall walk,

and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:28-31

Let’s just walk through this and see what we can draw from God’s word to encourage, help, and strengthen us for the days before us.

What’s your answer to these questions?  Have we “not known”?  Have we “not heard”?  Have we allowed the hustle and bustle of life to rob us of what we truly know about our God?  I find it amazing that so often I am distracted by the struggles of life, by the issues that come upon us when we least expect them, by things that I want to change but are often out of my control, or my realm of responsibility.  It’s so easy to allow the happenings of life to rob us of the joy of “living” life to the full!  God reminded Israel just as He’s reminding us today, that we need to remember WHO HE IS, and WHAT HE can do!  HE is truly our “all in all”; and I’m so glad that “Christ is all, and in all.” (See Colossians 3:11b)

Peter says is nicely:

Grace and peace be multiplied

unto you

through the knowledge of God,

and of Jesus our Lord,

3 According as his divine power

hath given unto us all things

that pertain unto life and godliness,

through the knowledge of him

that hath called us

to glory

and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us

exceeding great

and precious

promises:

that by these

ye might be partakers

of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption

that is in the world

through lust.”  2 Peter 1:2-4

We have great promises that God has made and given to us who will believe –will you trust and believe God’s Word to you?  I pray that we will each examine our hearts, minds, and lives to see if we are living in obedience to God’s Word or flying by the seat of our own way (pants)—our own emotions—our own ideas—our own plans and designs?  How easy it is to be swayed by those around us—be it the people around us, the media influences or just plain old ‘our own’ personal stubbornness—rather than relying on the truths of God’s Word!

Oh, Lord, teach us to lean on your “power…and… …strength” for all those things that assail us and try to get us off kilter—even more importantly—off balance from YOUR Word!  Oh, how I want to learn to “wait upon the LORD”, to live with the confidence in my God that expresses itself in what Paul prayed for the Colossians:

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord

unto all pleasing,

being fruitful

in every good work,

and increasing

in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might,

according to his glorious power,

unto all patience

and longsuffering

with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks

unto the Father,

which hath made us meet

to be partakers

of the inheritance of the saints

in light: Colossians 1:10-12

As we think of being one who will “wait upon the LORD”, I find Paul’s admonition pretty doable, in part; I’m ok with the “might” and “power” of The Lord, and I can even make progress on the “patience and longsuffering”, but I do find a hitch sometimes in the “with joyfulness”!  Maybe you have problems with being joyful in the areas that demand patience and longsuffering; while many think these two things are the same, there is a subtle difference and I think it worth mentioning so that we can understand that God understands humanity!  All of it—remember, Jesus came and lived a sinless life amongst all the trials and temptations of real life; so, one of these words is dealing with difficult circumstances and the other with difficult people.  Which do you have in your life right now?  I just want to remind each of us that God is still faithful to every trial.

Will you join me in committing to strive to be more diligent to “wait upon the LORD” in every situation.  To let God direct not only our “steps”, but our words, our actions, our desires, and responses in every situation—regardless of whether it involves circumstance or people or both!  And remember:

Ye are of God,

little children,

and have overcome them:

because greater is he

that is in you,

than he

that is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

Praise God!!!  Amen and Amen!!!

 

Christmas Ponderings!!! #5 Bible Ballistics: BBs #770

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Bible Ballistics: BBs #770   Christmas Ponderings!!! #5

 

Christmas!  I love this season of lights, joy, smiles, tots, and toys, but most of all I love what it means—and that’s not about any of the frills and bells, but the celebration of the arrival of a Savior, a Redeemer, a Deliverer, A KING!  But mostly I rejoice that HE came to DIE for you and me, if we will but trust to HIS substitutionary, atoning sacrifice for SIN; and contrary to popular opinion, SIN IS the issue, and it is why Jesus came to BE the payment for sin.

And she shall bring forth a son,

and thou shalt call his name JESUS:

for he shall save his people

from their sins.

22 Now all this was done,

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken

of the Lord

by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child,

and shall bring forth a son,

and they shall call his name

Emmanuel,

which being interpreted is,

God with us.”    Matthew 1:21-23

God came down to deliver us!  It doesn’t get any better than that; if you will but receive this amazing gift of love, salvation and deliverance given to all who will believe.  The King stooped down in love to deliver us from our sin, that we could be HIS children, not just HIS creation—and yes, there is a difference.

For the wages of sin is death;

but the gift of God

is eternal life

through Jesus Christ

our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

Have you received the gift from the KING?  You can truly come to this KING for life, “abundant life”!  How?  By being “born again”, “born…of God” by grace through faith!

He was in the world,

and the world was made by him,

and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own,

and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him,

to them gave he power

to become the sons of God,

even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born,

not of blood,

nor of the will of the flesh,

nor of the will of man,

but of God.

(All because HE came as a babe, to die for you and me!)    

14 And the Word was made flesh,

and dwelt among us,

(and we beheld his glory,

the glory as of the only begotten

of the Father,)

full of grace and truth.”  John 1:10-14

This King who came for us—let’s celebrate HIM– for as He told Pilate, as HE faced the cross, it’s why HE was born!

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again,

and called Jesus,

and said unto him,

Art thou the King of the Jews?

34 Jesus answered him,

 Sayest thou this thing of thyself,

or did others tell it thee of me?

35 Pilate answered,

Am I a Jew?

 Thine own nation and the chief priests

have delivered thee

unto me:

what hast thou done?

36 Jesus answered,

My kingdom is not of this world:

 if my kingdom were of this world,

 then would my servants fight,

that I should not be delivered

to the Jews:

but now is my kingdom not from hence.

37 Pilate therefore said unto him,

Art thou a king then?

Jesus answered,

Thou sayest that I am a king.

To this end was I born,

and for this cause came I into the world,

that I should bear witness

 unto the truth.

Every one that is of the truth

 heareth my voice.”  John 18:33-37

What is truth?

For all have sinned,

and come short of the glory of God;”  Romans 3:23

WHO IS TRUTH?  The BABE born to be KING, that’s WHO!

I am the way,

 the truth,

and the life:

no man cometh unto the Father,

but by me.”   John 14:6

Amen!!!

Christmas Ponderings!!! #4 Bible Ballistics: BBs #769

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Bible Ballistics: BBs #769   Christmas Ponderings!!! #4

 

Why Christmas?  Why do we really get excited about Christmas?  Why do other get depressed, or sad, or just feel that there is no hope?  Partly, I think, because we are human creatures of emotions, fears and hopes, and we choose each day, sometimes moment by moment how we will walk in this world; we decide if we will choose to believer and receive the hope that is in this great story of the love of God!  While others may fail us, they may disappoint our greatest expectations, or the loss of ones held dear drains us of the desire to press on—I’m here to remind us all, myself included, that God is still ruling today—whether we choose to recognize it or not.  And Jesus IS the greatest gift ever given to mankind!

And I heard as it were

the voice of a great multitude,

and as the voice of many waters,

and as the voice of mighty thunderings,

saying,

Alleluia:

for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”   Revelation 19:6

And HE was reigning when Jesus willingly took on the form of a human in Mary’s womb—yes, Jesus was incarnate God in her womb—all for you and me.  And He’s still calling people to Himself.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:

if any man hear my voice,

and open the door,

I will come in to him,

and will sup with him,

and he with me.”   Revelation 3:20

It’s why HE came—“save His people from their sins” (see Matthew 1:21)—it’s why HE still delays HIS return.

For

God

so loved

the world,

that he gave

his only begotten Son,

 that whosoever believeth

in him

should not perish,

but have everlasting life.

17 For God

sent not his Son

into the world

to condemn the world;

but that the world

through him

might be saved.

18 He that believeth

on him

is not condemned:

but he that believeth

not

is condemned already,

because he hath

not

believed in the name

of the only begotten

Son of God.”   John 3:16-18

The choice has been given to every person, and refusing to choose, is choosing; even while God is calling to you today, because HE loves you and wants you to come to HIM in repentance and faith and find the abundant life that Jesus can and will give to HIS own.  He wants YOU!

The Lord is not slack

concerning his promise,

as some men count slackness;

but is longsuffering

to us-ward,

not willing that any should perish,

but that all

should come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

Oh, how I sit here amazed that God could love me that much—me, a sinner who couldn’t save herself, any more than you can, but HE reached down some 45+ years ago and called me to Himself and made me face my sin—not my supposed goodness that I had done!  Oh, how I praise HIM for HIS truly amazing GRACE to reach down to an angry, selfish, disobedient child (woman) and save my soul, and set my feet on a new path.  And, no, I didn’t get it all right after that, but all that I have done (both good and bad), HE has taken and used it to grow me more into the likeness of Jesus and allowed me to help others see Jesus.  If you don’t know HIM today, I invite you to reach out to Jesus—He is truly knocking at your door right now.  Don’t turn HIM away?

Forasmuch then

as the children

are partakers of flesh and blood,

he also himself

likewise took part of the same;

that through death

he might destroy him

that had the power of death,

that is,

the devil;

15 And deliver them

who through fear of death

were all their lifetime

subject to bondage.

16 For verily he took

not on him

the nature of angels;

but he took

on him

the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things

it behoved him

to be made like unto his brethren,

that he might be

a merciful

and faithful

 high priest

in things pertaining to God,

to make reconciliation

for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself

hath suffered being tempted,

he is able to succour

them that are tempted.”  Hebrews 2:14-18

For we have not

an high priest

which cannot be touched

with the feeling of our infirmities;

but was in all points tempted

like as we are,

yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly

unto the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy,

and find grace to help

in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-16

And one last thought in closing for today:

Pilate therefore said unto him,

Art thou a king then?

Jesus answered,

Thou sayest that I am a king.

To this end was I born,

and for this cause

came I into the world,

that I should bear witness

unto the truth.

Every one that is of the truth

heareth my voice.”  John 18:37

WHO “is of the truth”?  Only those who have come to God through Jesus Christ, The SON!!!

Jesus saith unto him,

I am

the way,

the truth,

and the life:

no man

cometh unto the Father,

but by me.”  John 14:6

Won’t you open your ears and your heart today!!!  Remember, that baby didn’t stay in the manger, HE went to Calvary for you and me:

Behold,

I stand

at the door,

and knock:

if any man hear my voice,

and open the door,

I will come in to him,

and will sup with him,

and he with me.

Amen and Amen!!!

Christmas Ponderings #3??? Bible Ballistics: Vol. 18 No. 06

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Bible Ballistics: Vol. 18 No. 06   Christmas Ponderings #3???

 

As we looked earlier at Joseph, the earthly father to Jesus, a builder—the carpenter–, we find that while Joseph was a builder of various objects for life in has day, objects that might last a lifetime, some longer, some not so long; but Jesus built a bridge with HIS life, death and resurrection—a bridge that delivers us from sin, death and hell and opens the way into God’s presence.  This babe who was born in a barn and put to bed in a manger (a feeding trough), visited by shepherds and wisemen became the means of salvation for all who will believe in HIS substitutionary, atoning sacrifice for salvation!

Therefore being justified by faith,

we have peace with God

through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access by faith

into this grace

wherein we stand,

and rejoice

in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only so,

but we glory in tribulations also:

knowing that tribulation

worketh patience;

4 And patience,

experience;

and experience,

hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed;

because the love of God

is shed abroad in our hearts

by the Holy Ghost

which is given unto us.

6 For when we were yet without strength,

in due time Christ died

for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:1-6

We receive the “Holy Ghost” (or Holy Spirit) of God, the Spirit that HE shared with Adam and Eve before sin—the part of them that died because of sin—the part that Jesus restored at Calvary—for you and me:

the blood of Jesus Christ his Son

cleanseth us

from all sin…”.   1 John 1:7b

One of the things that amazes me, is that God had this plan in place before HE created us; HE knew we would fail, that Adam would sin, and yet HE “so loved the world”—you and me, every sinner ever born (and the two who were directly created by God’s own hand!)—that HE had already provided for our redemption (to buy us back) from this sin of ours, and the death and hell that it leads to if unchecked by the blood of Jesus.  Why would I say this?  Because God said it in HIS Word by more than one author, and as we prepare to celebrate (or like me just plain celebrate Jesus every day!) Jesus’ birth, we need to understand that HE wasn’t ‘plan B’—HE was always the exact plan!  Let’s consider some scriptures to see what we find.

In the beginning

God created

the heaven and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

And I will put enmity

between thee and the woman,

and between thy seed and her seed;

it shall bruise thy head,

and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  Genesis 3:15

And from Jesus Christ,

who is the faithful witness,

and the first begotten of the dead,

and the prince of the kings of the earth.

 Unto him that loved us,

and washed us from our sins

in his own blood,”  Revelation 1:5

Just as God “created” all things, (and remember the reference to “beginning”, means “our” beginning NOT God’s) HE knew that we would fail—that we would sin—yet HE had already prepared a plan to ‘buy us back out of sin, death and hell’, oh, praise HIS dear name.  Do you know Jesus?  Have you come in repentance and faith to the cross where HIS precious blood was spilled out for you and me?  This precious Lamb of God who, as John the Baptizer declared:

Behold the Lamb of God,

which taketh away

the sin of the world.”  John 1:29b

And when was this plan established?  Not when we sinned, but beforethe foundation of the world”!

And it shall come to pass,

that whosoever shall call

on the name of the Lord

shall be saved.

22 Ye men of Israel,

hear these words;

Jesus of Nazareth,

a man approved of God among you

by miracles

and wonders

and signs,

which God did by him

in the midst of you,

as ye yourselves also know:

23 Him,

being delivered

by the determinate counsel

and foreknowledge

of God,

ye have taken,

and by wicked hands

have crucified

and slain:

24 Whom God hath raised up,

having loosed the pains of death:

because it was not possible

that he should be holden of it.”  Acts 2:21-24

The “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” tells us that God had already established the plan before Jesus came.  And even before that!

And the Word was made flesh,

and dwelt among us,

(and we beheld his glory,

the glory as of the only begotten

of the Father,)

full of grace and truth.

15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying,

This was he of whom I spake,

He that cometh after me

is preferred before me:

for he was before me.

16 And of his fulness

have all we received,

and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses,

but grace and truth

came by Jesus Christ.”  John 1:14-17

In the beginning

was the Word,

and the Word

was with God,

and the Word

was God.

2 The same was

in the beginning

with God.

3 All things were made

by him;

and without him

was not any thing made

that was made.

4 In him was life;

and the life

was the light of men.”  John 1:1-4

Jesus, God the Son, was always God, always with God, and part of the very creation of all that we know!  Yet not only was Jesus before creation, but He was also the redeemer before “the beginning” all began.

Father,

I will that they also,

whom thou hast given me,

be with me where I am;

that they may behold my glory,

which thou hast given me:

for thou lovedst me

before the foundation

of the world.”  John 17:24

Not only was Jesus “before the foundation of the world”, and we were in the heart and mind of God for salvation then as well.

Blessed be the God and Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who hath blessed us

with all spiritual blessings

in heavenly places

in Christ:

4 According as he hath chosen us

in him

before the foundation of the world,

that we should be holy

and without blame

before him in love:”  Ephesians 1:3-4

Forasmuch as ye know

that ye were not redeemed

with corruptible things,

as silver and gold,

from your vain conversation

received by tradition

from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ,

as of a lamb

without blemish

and without spot:

20 Who verily was foreordained

before the foundation of the world,

but was manifest

in these last times

for you,

21 Who by him

do believe in God,

that raised him up

from the dead,

and gave him glory;

that your faith

and hope

might be in God.”   1 Peter 1:18-21

So, as we consider the “incarnation” of the babe in the manger, the savior of the world, the creator of all things, may we be grateful and mindful that HE came for us, not as a second thought but because HE chose us and prepared for our salvation before the foundation of the world.  Thank you, LORD, —Father, Son and Holy Spirit—for loving me/us and preparing the sacrifice for my/our salvation.  May my/our life be a true reflection of your glory, in all things—before, during and after this Christmas celebration!!!

Grace be to you

and peace from God the Father,

and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

4 Who gave himself for our sins,

that he might deliver us

from this present evil world,

according to the will of God

and our Father:

5 To whom be glory

for ever and ever.

Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5

Looking for that blessed hope,

and the glorious appearing

of the great God

and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us,

that he might redeem us

from all iniquity,

and purify unto himself

a peculiar people,

 zealous of good works.”   Titus 2:14

And the greatest celebration that we could have is to share the truth of Jesus’ eternal plan to save us unto Himself by grace through faith. May you truly know HIM.

For by grace are ye saved

through faith;

and that not of yourselves:

it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works,

lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship,

created in Christ Jesus

unto good works,

which God hath before ordained

that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:8-10

May you find the hope that the “Babe” brought to all who will believe!  He came for you and me! Take heart my dear friends.  Jesus still saves and changes lives today!

Amen and Amen!!!