Gifts

He Lifted Them Up and Carried Them

    Balloon USAAnd he became their Savior.

In all their suffering he also suffered,

    and he personally rescued them.

In his love and mercy he redeemed them.

    He lifted them up and carried them

    through all the years.

-- Isaiah 63:8-9

I love America. I can’t sit through the American Adventure show at Disney’s Epcot without my heart swelling in pride and overflowing into copious tears (click here to check it out). It takes me back to my childhood, when every year my Dad and I would pack up and head to the Towson Independence Day Parade. Banners waived, local politicians shook our hands, bands played Sousa marches and sirens blared. That patriotic feeling of pride in our freedoms was planted deep within my heart. And even learning about her flaws and blemishes in college only soured me temporarily because for all her mistakes and flaws, she’s still the best and freest country in the world, in my opinion.

The hubby and I read a lot of books on various episodes in American History. And the more we read, the more we are astonished at the obvious ways God blessed this country and intervened to direct our path. Like the stubborn Israelites, we have at times rejected God, turned our backs on His mission and even denied His Lordship.  But despite our revisionist history, I think it is fair to say that we are a Christian nation. It was the love of Christ and desire to serve Him freely that brought the pilgrims to our shores. It was the belief that all people have inherent value and rights bestowed by God that underpinned our Declaration of Independence and later Constitution. It was our belief that God created us for good works that led us to grow our country with hard work and enterprise. It was our conviction that enslavement of other humans was repugnant that led to the election of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. It was our faith that evil can only be conquered by Good that led us to go to war for freedom around the world. Oh yes, I know that many of these ideals were corrupted by greed, lust for power and other ulterior motives. Just read the Bible and any history book to see that it has always been that way. Nevertheless, this county was founded and built to a great extent by people of faith seeking to serve God and serve others as freely as possible.

God has lifted us up and carried us through all the years. You may say that things look a little bleak right now. You may question whether God has lifted his loving hand of protection from us. You may feel that our beloved ideals are being twisted and trampled and the very freedoms that led the Pilgrims to venture to these shores in the first place are the ones most under attack. That may well be. Let’s face it, Jesus promised us troubles and persecution in this world. But He overcame the world, and we must too! This isn’t a time for hand-wringing, this is a time for sleeve rolling, and bootstrap pulling – and knees bending in prayer! Never has America needed the salt and light of Christians more. Never has our culture strayed so far from Biblical principles of morality and holiness. Never have more Americans been ignorant of the Bible, and unaware of who Jesus is and what He has done for them. The ‘news’ programs argue over solutions this country’s problems, but we who know the power of Christ, know what the only lasting solution can be: being born again into the family of God through faith in Jesus.

As we celebrate our freedom and the many blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, let us also resolve to be brave in our faith. Our country desperately needs our Good News of love, forgiveness and redemption. Take up the flag, but also take up the cross and confidently declare: ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ!” 1 Corinthians 11:1.

Wishing you freedom and bravery,

Jen Jahromi


One Nation Under God

One Nation IndivisibleThere is one body and one Spirit. There is one hope in which you were called. There is one Lord and one faith and one baptism. There is one God. He is the Father of us all. He is over us all. He is the One working through us all. He is the One living in us all.

-Ephesians 4:4-6 NLV

I hope you will indulge me just a bit because this all came together in a way that makes me believe it is straight from the Lord.

Last year I made this illustration. Those are real kids with whom I went to school, and the reference photos were all taken around 1976. Now last month I was feeling the need to get a little funky, so I created a YouTube playlist of Stevie Wonder songs. And I heard the song “Black Man” from the album “Songs in the Key of Life” for the first time. This song was written in 1976 for the Bicentennial. I’ve listed the lyrics below but give a listen because it is one funky jam.

The song recognizes the achievements of men and women of various racial backgrounds for their contribution to our glorious country. What particularly struck me was how many of the people mentioned I had never heard of or knew little about. It surprised me because my generation was bathed in messages of unity. We were teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony with a Coke and a smile. Sesame street was fully integrated. Even the colors of Benetton were united. But history still belonged to the Great Men.

Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for us now. In the Bible, Old Testament and New, God continuously reminded His people to care for the ‘other’: the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, the poor. Over thousands of years God kept sending the message that His world was made for all men (and women) and yet we didn’t seem to grasp it. Maybe every generation has to re-learn this message. Personally, I’m fine with that. It’s a great message. It’s THE Christian message. Others may try to co-opt it or twist it to fit some new-fangled ideology. Don’t scoff or mock, just tell the next generation the truth: the enemy is never people, the enemy is sin and sinfulness. The only identity that really matters is the identity we have in Christ! Red or yellow, black or white all are precious in His sight. We are One Nation of humanity, Under God, Indivisible!

 

Black Man

by Stevie Wonder and Gary Byrd

 

First man to die for the flag we now hold high was a black man (Crispus Attucks)

The ground where we stand with the flag held in our hand was first the red man's

Guide of a ship on the first Columbus trip was a brown man (Pedro Alonzo Nino)

The railroads for trains came on tracking that was laid by the yellow man

We pledge allegiance all our lives to the magic colors, red, blue and white.

But we all must be given the liberty that we defend,

for with justice not for all men History will repeat again

It's time we learned this World Was Made for All Men

Heart surgery was first done successfully by a black man (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams)

Friendly man who died but helped the pilgrims to survive was a red man (Squanto)

Farm workers' rights were lifted to new heights by a brown man (Cesar Chavez)

Incandescent light was invented to give sight by the white man (Thomas Edison)

Now I know that the birthday of a nation Is a time when a country celebrates,

But as your hand touches your heart, remember we all played a part in America

to help that banner wave.

First clock to be made in America was created by a black man (Benjamin Banneker)

Scout who used no chart helped lead Lewis and Clark was a red woman (Sacagawea)

Use of martial arts in our country got its start by a yellow man (Yamashita Yoshitsugu)

And the leader with a pen signed his name to free all men was a white man (Abraham Lincoln)

It's time we learned this World Was Made for All Men.

God saved His world for all men: All people, All babies, All children, All colors, All races, This world's for you and me.

(call and response with children)

Who was the first man to set foot on the North Pole? Matthew Henson - a black man

Who was the first American to show the Pilgrims at Plymouth the secrets of survival in the new world? Squanto - a red man

Who was the soldier of Company G who won high honors for his courage and heroism in World War I? Sing Lee - a yellow man

Who was the leader of united farm workers and helped farm workers maintain dignity and respect? Caesar Chavez - a brown man

Who was the founder of blood plasma and the director of the Red Cross blood bank? Dr. Charles Drew - a black man

Who was the great American heroine who aided the Lewis and Clark expedition? Sacajawea - a red woman

Who was the famous educator and semanticist who made outstanding contributions to education in America? Hayakawa - a yellow man

Who invented the world's first stop light and the gas mask? Garrett Morgan - a black man

Who was the American surgeon who was one of the founders of neurosurgery? Harvey William Cushing - a white man

Who was the man who helped design the nation’s capital, made the first clock to give time in America and wrote the first almanac? Benjamin Banneker - a black man

Who was the legendary hero who helped establish the League of Iroquois? Hiawatha - a red man

Who was the leader of the first microbiotic center in America? Michio Kushi- a yellow man

Who was the founder of the city of Chicago in 1772? Jean Baptiste - a black man

Who was one of the organizers of the American Indian Movement? Denis Banks - a red man

Who was the Jewish financier who raised funds to sponsor Christopher Columbus' voyage to America? Luis de Santángel - a white man

Who was the woman who led countless slaves to freedom on the underground railroad? Harriet Tubman - a black woman

 

Blessings of Freedom to all,

Jen


Freedom in Surrender

America autocor colenhLive as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

1 Peter 2:16

We Christians can talk a good game. We are so good that we can not only convince those around us, but even convince ourselves of our piety or our sold-out commitment to God. I’m speaking from personal experience here, but I suspect I’m not alone.

Of course, we can’t fool God. But He has given us a few ‘quizzes’ for us to take to gauge our true commitment. He is acutely aware of what we love in this world and what is most likely to usurp His place in our hearts. He asks us to give up the world’s security and put our trust in Him alone.

First is money and possessions. Remember that rich young ruler in Matthew 19:20-22?

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

First off, it’s pretty obvious this young ruler had convinced himself of his piety! But Jesus knew exactly where his heart and thus his treasure truly lay. Money itself is not evil, just the love of it that keeps us from sharing our blessings with others and with God. Generosity is a little quiz for us.

Second is family. This one is more difficult. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says, If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Jewish superlatives were different than ours, but the meaning is still pretty clear: nothing and no one can retain first place in your heart. It has to be Jesus first. 

Many of us have family members who are not Christians or who do not put Christ first in their lives, and it causes friction. It is challenging to surrender our children to the Lord and allow Him to work their lives apart from our advice and desires. But as the saying goes, God has no grandchildren. No one gets to Heaven because of the faith of a family member. We all have to make our own choice and will be held accountable for our own actions and thoughts and choices. Putting God before family is another ‘quiz’.

Last is our life. This one might be the most challenging of all. The verse above touched on it, but as Christians we should be thoroughly convinced that death is not the worst thing that could happen to us. As humans, our core motivator is to stay alive for as long as possible. But as Christians, our core motivator is to do God’s will. Our hope and our trust is that Heaven and Jesus are waiting for us when our earthly mission is complete whether that is at age 1 or 100.

As he was about to be stoned to death for his unwavering belief, Acts 7:55-56 says, But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” “

Surrendering our life to the Lord is the key to eternal life: If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it -Luke 9:24. And 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Jesus urged us to love one another as He loved us, and He was willing to die for us, so we should accept that as a possibility. Romans 12:1 urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as true and proper worship. We must be willing to love God so much that we entrust Him with our ALL of our life to use in whatever way He chooses. Complete surrender as slaves to Christ is the hardest test.

Thank you to all the martyrs, missionaries, first responders, soldiers and sailors who have given their lives for their brothers and sisters. We honor their courage and sacrifice!

PRAYER:

Lord, we surrender our finances, our families and our whole lives to you. Help us recommit to you daily as we forgo the security of this life to place our trust fully in you. We know that true freedom is only found in following you.

Blessings,

Jen


Christ, Our Passover Lamb

 

Christ our Passover Lamb

1 Corinthians 5:7-8

I love literary symbolism and our Bible is chock full of it. My favorite is the ‘type,’ a literary prefiguring where a person or story serves as a metaphorical prefigure of another that is to come later. There are so many, and that’s what amazes me: thousands of years in the past Christ was hinted at by so many stories in the Old Testament.

In Sunday School we just learned about the first Passover. Passover is such a ‘hint’ at what God was preparing with the Messiah and Easter that in hindsight, it’s almost impossible to miss. But I’ll hit some highlights to show just how much of an unbroken line there is from Moses and the Hebrews to us today.

  1. The Need for Salvation: Moses was a miracle baby who should have been killed in infancy. These were desperate times for the Hebrews. Although living as slaves, God blessed them and increased their numbers. But Pharaoh feared their power. They were abused and oppressed and had no spiritual leaders. After crying out for God’s mercy, it still took 10 terrible plagues until they were set free from bondage. Before Christ arrived, there were 500 years of silence from God. The Israelites strayed from God’s word and devised their own sects and rules. They were occupied by Greece and then Rome, persecuted and burdened by extreme taxation. Still Rome feared there would be uprisings. Today the world is still in need of deliverance from sin and suffering. People still subjugate and abuse others, and we are still pushing God out of the equation and trying to do things in our own power.
  2. The Leaven: God instructed the Hebrews to rid their homes of yeast and any kind of leavening. Yeast is a wonderful symbol of sin: “Your boasting is not good.  Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?”  (1 Corinthians 5:6). The thing about yeast is that it is in the very air, surrounding us always just like the temptation to sin. The Hebrews had to prepare by ‘cleansing’ themselves and their homes. John the Baptist made it abundantly clear that God wanted Israel to repent of sin and cleanse themselves with the waters of baptism. Repentance first and then Deliverance. Today we know that arrogance and pride are the number one reason people refuse faith in Jesus Christ. But if we repent and accept Jesus as our savior, we will be delivered from sin.
  3. The Blood of the Lamb: For God, atonement requires blood: Leviticus 17:11 "…it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” God instructed the Hebrews to paint the blood of the unblemished sacrificial lamb on the doorposts of the house so the Angel of Death would pass over them. Jesus came as the new Passover lamb, pure and unblemished by sin, dying as a sacrificial atonement for the sins of all mankind. Now, we must all be symbolically covered by the blood of Jesus to receive forgiveness from and reconciliation with God.
  4. The Feast: In the original feast they ate the lamb that had been sacrificed along with unleavened bread and other foods, and drank wine. By Jesus’ day the Passover meal (Seder) had become ritualized including starting with a prayer over the wine to remember the deliverance of the first Passover. Jesus used the symbol of eating the body of the sacrificed lamb at The Last Supper when breaking the bread: This is my body, broken for you. He changed the prayer over the wine from a remembrance of physical deliverance to one of spiritual deliverance: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” This meal is now our Holy Communion.
  5. Deliverance: The original Passover caused the death of all the first-born Egyptian boys and animals. It was so terrible that Pharaoh finally granted freedom to the Hebrews and sent them out of Egypt with all the resources they would need for their journey. By Jesus’ day Israel was crying out for deliverance from Roman rule and persecution. They expected their Messiah to come as a king and conqueror, driving out the Romans and reestablishing the line of King David. Instead, they got a meek and mild teacher, healer and miracle-worker who delivered people not from worldly captivity, but from the captivity of sin and death. This is a far better deliverance - a permanent, eternal one. But so many people then AND NOW could not fathom this gift from God. They didn’t accept His free gift of redemption then, and many do not now. Others, however, are just waiting to hear this miraculous Easter story of God’s love and receive eternal salvation.

There’s plenty more that could be said about the symbolism and similarity between Passover and Easter. In fact, a whole study could and probably has been done on it. For me, it all highlights just how almighty God actually is in planning and spanning thousands of years of human history, weaving together people and events to bring about His good and perfect will for us. He is so much bigger than we could ever dare to imagine. He knows and loves each one of us intimately and personally and yet can hold the universe together at the vastest and most microscopic levels. He is an amazing, awesome God.

PRAYER:

Father God, I am in awe of You. You have performed wonders, brought about miracles, woven together history, and yet are still concerned about me. I am humbled. Help me to share Your Awe with others. Make me an Easter Person who keeps the miracle of reconciliation and resurrection in my heart and on my mind always.

Easter blessings to you,

Jen Jahromi


God's Valentines

Love Letter From ChristThe only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NLT)

Letters of Introduction…remember those? Probably not. But if you watch as many British ‘period pieces’ as KJ and I, you may have learned of them. In the very olden days before cell phones, internet, landlines, or even telegraph, people needed letter of introduction. With no possibility of “googling” anyone, or even seeing a picture of them, how could you truly know who anyone was – or their status, reputation, resume, etc.? Answer: letters of introduction. And the higher up your status, the more important such things were.  Imagine stepping off a boat in a foreign land as the new Ambassador for the crown – that would have to be SOME letter, and it better come with a royal seal!

These days there are myriad ways to ‘know’ someone. We have all sorts of identification numbers, criminal and driving records, credit scores, resumes, tax returns, test scores, GPAs and so much more. Social media captures our faces even in other people’s pictures. Just ‘google’ yourself and see…or don’t. It may just upset you. Because although these are ways to know ‘about’ you, they aren’t the same as knowing the real you.

How do we truly ‘know’ a person?  Jesus says in Matthew 7:20, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Paul echoes this in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 above. He makes the case that those believers he shared the Gospel with are his ‘letter of recommendation.’ Their good works and changed lives were the proof of his teaching, and the proof of Him who sent Paul to teach – Jesus Christ.

We who follow Christ are all Ambassadors of God’s Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20) and our letter of introduction is the fruit of our lives: love, joy, peace, kindness, etc. which should be plain for all to see. This letter has been written on our hearts by Christ himself. It has been sealed with the Holy Spirit of God which lives within us directing and leading us, making us daily more like Christ. This wonderful letter becomes our life, and our lives become a beautiful love letter from God to the entire world, because the Lord does not want ”anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Yes, we are the original ‘love letter.’ We are God’s Valentines to the world. We don’t need fancy, scented stationery, forget-me-nots, paper doilies or glitter (although those are awesome) in order to share the simplest, but most profound message in the universe: God loves you! He knows you and He wants you to know Him! And just like the classic valentines, He always ends with ‘Won’t you be mine?”

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, send me. Here I am. Let my life shine brightly and reflect the light of your love and message of salvation to a dark, lonely, desperate world. Like the silly valentines we received in school, may I bring a little joy and sweetness and love into peoples' hearts when they see me. And may everything I do point them to You.

Blessings,

Jen


Star of Wonder

Alternate text

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 

Matthew 2:1-2

That star…. For me, that star was always the biggest wonder of all the miraculous things that happened on that Holy Night (besides God becoming man). I mean, God can send Angels whenever He wants to. Not to discount the awesomeness and amazing sight, but I doubt that takes much advanced planning. Now John and Jesus were miracles that took at least 9 months, and perhaps more to find godly women who would be willing to take on that kind of mission. But the star...assuming it was not supernaturally manifested, but an alignment of heavenly bodies in the night sky over Israel...THAT took a LOT of advanced planning.

This December, Jupiter and Saturn will put on a show for skygazers that hasn't been seen in roughly 800 years. Astronomers are calling it the Great Conjunction of 2020. On December 21 — coincidentally the winter solstice — the two largest planets in our solar system will appear to almost merge in Earth’s night sky. In fact, Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that you will be able to fit them both in the same telescopic field of view. That’s an incredibly rare occurrence. The last time Jupiter and Saturn were this close together was in 1226 A.D., at a time when Genghis Khan was conquering large swaths of Asia, and Europe was still generations away from the Renaissance.

Seekers of celestial significance will likely see the whole event as some sort of sign related to the kind of year 2020 has been. But you don’t have to put any stock in astrology to revel in the astounding beauty of this conjunction.  However, from an astrological perspective, much like the one the Magi had way back then, consider the meanings of these two planets:

  • In classical Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler of the gods and their guardian and protector. Astrologically speaking, Jupiter is associated with the principles of growth, expansion, healing, prosperity, good fortune, and miracles. Jupiter governs long distance and foreign travel, big business and wealth, higher education, religion, and the law. It is also associated with the urge for freedom and exploration, as well with gambling and merrymaking.
  • In classical Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of seeds, crops, and the harvest (agriculture), leader of the titans, father and founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. Astrologically speaking, Saturn is associated with focus, precision, nobility, ethics, civility, lofty goals, career, great achievements, dedication, authority figures, stability, virtues, productiveness, valuable hard lessons learned, destiny, structures, protective roles, balance, conservation, and karma (reaping what you have sown or cosmic justice) but with limitations, restrictions, boundaries, anxiety, tests, practicality.

God is and was certainly aware of human perceptions of the meanings of the planets. And here we have the two ruler planets coming together on the longest night of the year heralding good fortune, miracles and religion combined with harvest, nobility, and great achievements through hardship.  What does that mean for us? God only knows. It could be something miraculous, it could be nothing at all. The Magi would probably know.

Certainly, it was a celestial event like this that caused them to pack up and head west.  It's important to pause and reflect on the profound wonder of 3 wise and powerful astronomers/astrologers from Persia or further traveling all the way to Israel just because of the sign they saw in the stars.  And this sign was so significant that they packed up the most valuable gifts in the ancient world to present to the King the star was announcing. These Magi were not Christians (no such thing yet), they weren't even Jews. Most likely they had copies of the Jewish scripture acquired during the 'captivity' centuries earlier.  But they had read them and interpreted them and witnessed a celestial event big enough to convince them.  Oh that we would have such faith!  Oh that we would drop everything in our lives to find Him.  Oh that we would present our most precious gifts (our hearts, souls, minds and strength) to Him and bow down and worship Him!  For Jesus was the fourth King present that day...the King of Kings who has taken away the sins of the world and who will soon return when every knee will bow before Him.

It may be too late find that first Christmas star, but it's never too late to find Jesus in your heart.

And as you enjoy the show in the sky this month, keep in mind that Jupiter appears brighter because it’s bigger and closer than Saturn. Jupiter sits just over half a billion miles away, while Saturn is roughly double that distance. So, as you look out at the two, you’re really staring down the barrel of our solar system and out into interstellar space. This cosmic perspective is a precious reminder of our place in the solar system. And hopefully, it makes us all feel a bit closer and more connected to the outer planets, and to the One who created them all, even if the pandemic has us feeling farther apart than ever before.

PRAYER:

Lord, help me to appreciate the incredible gift of love and forgiveness that You gave us by sending Jesus into our world.  Guide me to be more intentional in giving my heart, mind and body to you.  I worship You in Your awesome, incomprehensible wonder and want to live out Your plan for my life, no matter the cost! Amen.

Keep looking up,

Jennifer Fefel Jahromi

www.zazzle.com/visionsandverses

Parts taken from https://astronomy.com/news/2020/12/jupiter-and-saturn-will-form-rare-christmas-star-on-winter-solstice


Aroma of Christ

Alternate text

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

~2 Corinthians 2:15

Ah, the aromas of Christmas...gingerbread, fresh coffee, pine boughs, cinnamon pine cones, cloved ham, mulled cider, candy canes, PIE...yum!  For me, smells are memory joggers. Familiar smells bring back the feelings and memories of whole episodes of my life. And scents are important to God too. The Bible often speaks of the aromas of burning meat or of incense going up to God as a sacrifice.  And that's what Paul is saying to the Corinthians.  We need to let our lives be a fragrant sacrifice to God.  And that aroma of Godliness and the Good News will either attract some to us or repel some from us.  Jesus came on Christmas day to make his entire life a sacrifice for God on our behalf.  His sacrifice didn't start on Good Friday, it began in consenting to come down to earth to dwell among us...Emmanuel, God with us. 

Sacrifice is good for us -- it keeps us humble; it makes us compassionate; it sets our hearts and minds on Jesus and his work. Times are tough. Joblessness is staggering. COVID is resurging with a vengeance. The world seems cold and cruel to many people in the world and in our neighborhoods. If you know the warmth of Christ and the hope of Christmas, then I urge you to make some sacrifices this year: a little more intentional time with the family, calls to shut-ins, cards to neighbors; a little more money in the donation buckets, a few more canned goods to the food banks, a few more bags of clothes to the needy, a few more coats or socks or toys in the donation boxes. We can have gifts under the tree spilling out into the room, but these things will rust, deteriorate or break eventually. However, our good works will earn us treasure in Heaven that will last forever -- as will the souls of those we bring to Christ. If you have a heart to give, Compassion International is one of my favorite charities. Here is a link to their Christmas Gifts page: https://www.compassion.com/charitable-gift-catalog.htm.  And of course there are the Advent Missions of our church, and our church itself (Hereford Faith & Life)!

God bless you and your family and friends as you prepare Him room in your homes and hearts for Christmas this year!

Jennifer Fefel Jahromi

www.Zazzle.com/VisionsAndVerses


Rededication at Hanukkah

Hanukkah Quilt"It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah the Festival of Dedication.."  -John 10:22NLT

A century or so before Jesus' birth, the Greeks under Antiochus Epiphanes conquered Egypt and subsequently Judea and Jerusalem.  The king ordered an end to all religion but his own, and set up an altar to Zeus on the sacrificial altar of the Temple.  There, he even sacrificed pigs, considered unclean. This was an abomination to the Jews. 

Mattisyahu (Mattathias), was serving as a priest in God's Temple in 167 BC when a Greek official tried to force him to sacrifice to a pagan god.  Mattisyahu resisted and killed the official, which triggered reprisals by Antiochus IV against the Jews.

Nevertheless, Mattisyahu — and after his death, Judah, one of his five sons — took charge of the fight against the pagan Greeks and earned the name "Maccabee" (possibly from "hammer" in Hebrew) because of their hammer-like blows against their enemies. Three years after the Maccabee uprising, in 164 BC, they had taken back Jerusalem and purified the Temple.

And while the Greeks defiled the Jewish Temple, they would not succeed in eradicating its means for purification — oil. Despite the pagan altars within her and impure animals that were offered to idols on the Temple's holy ground, a day's worth of purified oil remained concealed on the Temple grounds with its seal intact. This jar of oil, sanctified to the God of Israel, would help push back the spiritual darkness that had overcome the Temple. And while it was only enough for a single day, it miraculously burned for a full eight days.  By the last day, the Jews had prepared enough sanctified oil to keep the light shining perpetually. To commemorate this, they established the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah. 

On the Christian calendar, Hanukkah falls during Advent, a time of preparation -- both for the celebration of Christmas and for the eventual return of the Messiah, Jesus.  Advent and Hanukkah are both solemn occasions that call us to be re-dedicated to God, and to be prepared to do His work in the world.  For the ancient Jews, there were more conquerors to come, and more challenges to their faith and very existence. For Christians today, we see similar efforts by authorities to diminish our faith. For now, it might be a relatively benign 'Holidays' or 'Winter Festival' instead of Christmas, and closed churches due to COVID, but the Book of Revelation suggests that much stiffer tests of our faith will come.  Let us be re-dedicated and prepared then, for whatever may come. During this joyous eight-day season of Hanukkah, be prepared to reach out to People here and around the world with the Good News that Jesus is the Light of the World.

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness."  (John 12:46)

May you be filled with oil of joy this upcoming Hanukkah and clothed with the garments of praise during this Holiday Season!

Jennifer Fefel Jahromi

www.Zazzle.com/VisionsandVerses


50% Off Cards, Invitations and more!

As Fall captivates us with her changing colors and changing temperatures, and before the holidays begin to arrive with all their preparations and busy-ness, NOW is a great time to stock up on all your stationery needs!

Zazzle is having a 50% Off sale on cards, invitations, ornaments, mugs and more, so now is a great time to get all those purchases taken care of, and free yourself up to actually enjoy leaf peeping, football, feasting and the get togethers on the horizon!

CLICK on any of the products below featuring my art and designs and be sure to use Code: GIFTGUIDES50 before 9/29/2019 11:59:59 PM PDT.