Symphony and Harmony

There is a psalm that says “how wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in harmony.” Ps 133:1 Harmony is a beautiful thing. If you have ever heard the many instruments of a symphony playing one song you know how beautiful it can be. In fact, the word symphony comes from the word “symphoneo” which means "to agree with and to be in harmony". We have all been made to fit with a voice that was intended to blend with the rest of creation.
Now, lets go back to that symphony thought for a moment and imagine that the clarinet player had left their instrument out in the rain and it was weather damaged. As they begin to play there is a sudden un-harmonious sound that takes your attention off of the melodic piece and places it right on that instrument. Suddenly the French horn starts bellowing and you realize that someone has stuffed a t-shirt in the end and the sound is muffled. To describe it is one word you would say it was, well, hideous! What was only moments ago a beautiful classic tune has become a collision of sound that no one really appreciates.
And what about musical styles and tastes? You may like one type of sound while someone else enjoys another genre. One is not better than the other, they are simply different and appeal to different people. An audience is usually brought together around a common desire to hear a specific sound. The genre attracts a following and the following promotes the genre. Same thing happens at work and in the church. And the same thing also takes place in our cities. It’s our community and we are the symphony.
There is an amazing score beginning to be written in towns all over our country. It’s melodic, filled with tempo changes and incorporates an amazing variety of instruments. There will be solo’s and ensembles and moments when the entire orchestra plays together. And to play together we all need to be in tune!
Unity is the key element to building a harmonious community. In fact you can’t spell community without it! You and I were uniquely created, injected with divine power and purpose and given a voice to bring hope and encouragement to others and peace to our families. In order for this symphony to be wonderful and pleasant, each voice must play as it was intended, unaffected by adverse conditions and unmuffled.

What sounds are YOU making? You may be called upon to be featured in a solo or asked to lay back and blend together with the rest of the instruments. Are you willing to do what it takes to make beautiful music? You are the only one who can determine to create a harmonious sound with your voice. It’s personal. In fact look at these two words: unite and untie. The difference in coming together or falling apart start with where “I” am placed!
How wonderful and pleasant it is when we can live together in harmony!

How to Have a "Mary" Christmas

Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

This was an awesome time for Mary. She had been chosen…not just picked to be a player…she was chosen to carry the savior of the world in her womb. She had been in the presence of the angel of God, telling her these words from Luke 1:28: “greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” Literally!!!!
Understandably she was somewhat “frightened” by these words and unsure just what “highly favored’ meant. It was then that the angel continued…
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end”.
Now Mary was in a relationship, just not THAT kind of relationship so this news was a bit unsettling. The explanation that the angel gave did not bring much more help…’The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The angel went on to say, even your relative, Eliz, she’s going to have a child too. She thinks that she is barren but I tell you that she is already 6 months pregnant! Nothing is impossible with God! 

To have a M-A-R-Y Christmas you have to hear that nothing is impossible with God. NO THING is impossible with God. We live in a culture where people do their own things and many times people get hurt. We have homicides, burglaries, abuse, domestic violence all of which are serious. We also have spouses that are not in fellowship with Christ, bosses that verbally abuse us and make us feel small, and friends that somehow seem to throw water on our dreams just when they start to catch fire. No Thing is impossible with God. The key in that sentence lies in the last two words…WITH GOD. When you walk IN Christ…when he lives in you, you find more power, more love and more fulfillment than you thought ever possible. Like Mary you FIND FAVOR. PS 5:12 tells us that the Lord blesses us and surrounds us with that favor. It simply means that acts of kindness come your way, preferential treatment, approving attitudes encamp around you…everything lines up for your benefit. Now I know that this is a hard thing for many people to digest today…they’ve  been discouraged for so long, they’ve been the object of scorn and attack for so long and have learned how to live by maintaining themselves in their present condition.
 If you want to have a MARY Christmas you have to start thinking differently. You need to start believing in God and what’s more, you need to start believing in yourself. Nothing is impossible with God. You are highly favored and right now, today, you are at a place where you can find favor!
 If you want to have a MARY Christmas you have to learn how to "treasure up". Our text says that when she was visited by the shepherds and they told her what the angel had said, she treasured up all these things
When you treasure up, you are accumulating thoughts of all the wonderful treasures that have been done for you. Imagine today, that you and I could start treasuring up all of the precious and wonderful things that God has done for us…that we could gather those things in our mind and lock them away as treasures. That we could become so filled with all of the "treasures” that there would be no more room for things that were not valuable. Imagine being so full of value and worth that you had no more space to hold feelings of worthlessness.  Mary gathered up in her mind all of the words that had been said, the angelic visitation, the future life of her son…her place in God’s plan.
 If you want to have a MARY Christmas, not only do you treasure up all these things…you ponder them in your heart. Our challenge will be getting our head knowledge into our heart. Mary thought about all of the things that had been said, all that had come to pass, all that had happened to her when she found favor. As we become consumed by what we have treasured up, we become renewed…though outwardly it appears that we are wasting away…we begin to have a change of heart and inwardly we are being renewed day by day. Heart trouble comes from treasuring up the wrong things and the wrong acquaintances. The bible says where your treasure is, there your HEART will be too.
I try to make a decision every year before we really get into this holiday to have a MARY Christmas. I begin connecting with people that I had unfinished business with. Some I must forgive, some I ask  to forgive me. I confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and I believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead. I completely believe that NO THING is impossible when he is in the equation. Like Mary, I FIND FAVOR. I feel like I am in the center of incredible blessing and freedom that only comes through Christ. I not only man-up to my responsibility, I treasure up all of the things that He has said and is saying to me and I think on those things. Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I’m having a Mary Christmas and I pray that you are too. It’s not too late. We have a few weeks to finish up this years business and go into the next one with a fresh start.
Let’s work together to have a Mary Christmas!