VIDEO CMA Country Christmas 2011 -Complete Show

Jul 13, 2012

The second annual Christmas country music extravaganza, “CMA Country Christmas,” featured top stars of the genre performing Christmas carols for a live audience. Some of the performers talked with ABC, which aired the program, about their perspective on the holiday and how faith plays a part.

Hosted by Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, the two-hour holiday special attracted such country personalities as “American Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Sugarland, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill, who sang a special duet with Miss Piggy.

A Royal Birth

christmas-for_unto_us_a_child_is_born 1
The upside-down approach to God’s divine announcement
by Karen Woodall

The birth of Prince George Alexander Louis created quite a stir in England this summer. The news of his arrival was made public on July 22, 2013, at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, followed by the official announcement posted outside Buckingham Palace. Social media and news outlets quickly spread the news. Celebration erupted with all the pomp and circumstance that you would expect surrounding the birth of child who is third in line to the throne of England.

Yet amid all the coverage, there wasn’t a single interview with a dock worker or cab driver recounting their firsthand story of Prince George’s birth. No sanitation workers or bus drivers told what it was like to visit the special newborn in the hospital either. That’s because none of the commoners in the country were personally ushered in to see the new heir to the throne.

But 2,000 years ago, a group of ordinary people—commoners like these—were the first to receive the news from God the Father about the birth of His Son.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,

keeping watch over their flocks at night.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them,

and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.

I bring you good news of great joy that cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11 NIV)

Shepherds of first-century Jerusalem were not the sort of people to receive important news first. They were social outcasts, considered unclean by the religious system of the day. Though they raised the sheep for sacrifices, they themselves were prohibited from entering the temple. But despite being ostracized, these were the people—in fact, the only people—who were drawn to visit the newborn King.

Why do you suppose the Lord chose to send the most important birth announcement in history to this particular group of ragged men?

The answer is given to us by the angel himself: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Generally speaking, powerful rulers aren’t concerned about “all the people.” Political candidates in our time rarely entertain the poor, sick, or old unless the press is around. Yet influential politicians frequently host lavish dinners for the wealthy and powerful. It’s the same now as it was then. People who lacked influence or affluence were often overlooked by those in positions of authority.

But on that first Christmas, the angels showed up to a group of lowly shepherds to tell them a new ruler had been born, One not like any before. He would be a Savior—yes, a Shepherd—for all people, including (and perhaps especially for) those who have been ignored and forgotten by the world.

The invitation to see Jesus was first extended to the outcasts of the world because that’s the essence of the message He came to bring. Later He would state it more clearly: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). If you haven’t ever identified yourself as particularly lost or forgotten, remember that we were all born as outcasts from God’s family (Col. 1:13). His message to you is the same today as it was for those shepherds so long ago.

“A Savior has been born for you. He is Christ the Lord!”

Graphic credit
http://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/merry-christmas-2/

God’s Standards

“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

It is remarkable how different are our human standards of value from those of God. But what should be the criteria by which men recognize hearts of lovingkindness, attitudes of justice, and characters of righteousness? These are the attributes of our Creator and Savior, and it is our achievements in these areas that determine our real standing, in the scales of eternity, before Him. Human wisdom, might, and riches easily generate pride, and pride is “the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

Thus the Scripture has to remind us “that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: . . . That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26, 29). We should, indeed, desire wisdom, might, and riches, but not as measured by the world. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). “As poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:10). “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Let lovingkindness become the standard of true wisdom; justice, the measure of real power; and righteousness, our criterion of riches. All are found fully only in Jesus Christ.

If we must “glory” in something, let it be the cross. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). HMM

The journey is too great for thee

“The journey is too great for thee.” (1 King 19:7.)

AND what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat, and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work, and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on, and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep, and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was—under the juniper tree! and it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.” Let us not confound physical weariness with spiritual weakness.

“I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,
Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought by my mind possessed,
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.

“Will God forgive me, do you suppose,
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without an asking if I may,
Without ever trying to trust and pray?

“Will God forgive you? why think, dear heart,
When language to you was an unknown art,
Did a mother deny you needed rest,
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?

“Did she let you want when you could not ask?
Did she set her child an unequal task?
Or did she cradle you in her arms,
And then guard your slumber against alarms?

“Ah, how quick was her mother love to see,
The unconscious yearnings of infancy.
When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,
When over-wrought nature has quite given way:

“Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,
As you used to do on a mother’s breast,
He knows all about it—the dear Lord knows,
So just go to sleep as a baby goes;

Without even asking if you may,
God knows when His child is too tired to pray.
He judges not solely by uttered prayer,
He knows when the yearnings of love are there.

“He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,
.And He knows, too, the limits of poor weak dust.
Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,
For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,

“When He bade them sleep and take their rest,
While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed—
You’ve given your life up to Him to keep,
Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”

The night also is Thine

“The night also is Thine.” Psalm 74:16

Yes, Lord, Thou dost not abdicate Thy throne when the sun goeth down, nor dost Thou leave the world all through these long wintry nights to be the prey of evil; Thine eyes watch us as the stars, and Thine arms surround us as the zodiac belts the sky. The dews of kindly sleep and all the influences of the moon are in Thy hand, and the alarms and solemnities of night are equally with Thee. This is very sweet to me when watching through the midnight hours, or tossing to and fro in anguish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon as well as by the sun: may my Lord make me to be a favoured partaker in them.

The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the Lord of Love as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the tempest. His love wraps the night about itself as a mantle, but to the eye of faith the sable robe is scarce a disguise. From the first watch of the night even unto the break of day the eternal Watcher observes His saints, and overrules the shades and dews of midnight for His people’s highest good. We believe in no rival deities of good and evil contending for the mastery, but we hear the voice of Jehovah saying, “I create light and I create darkness; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

Gloomy seasons of religious indifference and social sin are not exempted from the divine purpose. When the altars of truth are defiled, and the ways of God forsaken, the Lord’s servants weep with bitter sorrow, but they may not despair, for the darkest eras are governed by the Lord, and shall come to their end at His bidding. What may seem defeat to us may be victory to Him.

“Though enwrapt in gloomy night,
We perceive no ray of light;
Since the Lord Himself is here,
‘Tis not meet that we should fear.”

Friend, go up higher

“Friend, go up higher.” Luke 14:10

When first the life of grace begins in the soul, we do indeed draw near to God, but it is with great fear and trembling. The soul conscious of guilt, and humbled thereby, is overawed with the solemnity of its position; it is cast to the earth by a sense of the grandeur of Jehovah, in whose presence it stands. With unfeigned bashfulness it takes the lowest room.

But, in after life, as the Christian grows in grace, although he will never forget the solemnity of his position, and will never lose that holy awe which must encompass a gracious man when he is in the presence of the God who can create or can destroy; yet his fear has all its terror taken out of it; it becomes a holy reverence, and no more an overshadowing dread. He is called up higher, to greater access to God in Christ Jesus. Then the man of God, walking amid the splendours of Deity, and veiling his face like the glorious cherubim, with those twin wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, will, reverent and bowed in spirit, approach the throne; and seeing there a God of love, of goodness, and of mercy, he will realize rather the covenant character of God than His absolute Deity.

He will see in God rather His goodness than His greatness, and more of His love than of His majesty. Then will the soul, bowing still as humbly as aforetime, enjoy a more sacred liberty of intercession; for while prostrate before the glory of the Infinite God, it will be sustained by the refreshing consciousness of being in the presence of boundless mercy and infinite love, and by the realization of acceptance “in the Beloved.” Thus the believer is bidden to come up higher, and is enabled to exercise the privilege of rejoicing in God, and drawing near to Him in holy confidence, saying, “Abba, Father.”

“So may we go from strength to strength,
And daily grow in grace,
Till in Thine image raised at length,
We see Thee face to face.”