O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
O come Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go
O come Desire of nations bind
All peoples in one heart and mind
Bid envy strife and quarrels cease
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace
CCLI Song # 31982 John Mason Neale | Thomas Helmore — © Words: Public Domain — Music: Public Domain
I have always enjoyed this song. The tune, the minor key; it has a Semitic bent that makes it feel as though an historic Jewish worship service was chanting to God to bring His Messiah to them.
The words of the song are also appealing to me because God has fulfilled this promise in the birth of Jesus, the Christ. The request to come was physically fulfilled when Christ was born in Bethlehem in the City of David.
Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 8:8-10 – “Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, It will reach even to the neck; And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. “Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; And give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be shattered. “Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”
Matthew 1:23 – “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Emmanuel means “God with us.” This is not “another god” or “a really good man” or just “another prophet”; this means GOD with us, in flesh. The Gospel of John records that Jesus was God, not a god, in Chapter 1:1-3. The Apostle John then records that God became flesh (Jesus) and lived among men (verse 14). While His creation received Him, His own special creation (humanity) did not (vs. 11).
But this did not deter God from accomplishing what He had come to do – to save mankind from sin. John says in verse 12: “…But as many as receive Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name.” Isn’t that a great verse of hope?!
The coming of Emmanuel was not only the hope for those alive over 2000 years ago, but He is still the hope that we cling to today. This is not the idea of “I hope so” that implies it may not be real. No, this is a “certain expectation” that arrived and lived among us.
Today, this certain expectation continues. Why? Because when He ascended back into heaven after His crucifixion and resurrection, He promised He would return. I don’t know about you, but I feel ready, especially after the year 2020! But there are so many who have not heard about Emmanuel – God with us! And because they have not heard, I want to be around as long as possible to tell as many as possible and to help others be ready for His return. That’s the mission of GraceWorks Global and that’s my ultimate goal in life.
So as we celebrate Christmas 2020, GraceWorks Global wishes you the joy of Emmanuel. God is with you!
The Quarantine Fifteen. The Internet is filled with jokes and memes about how much weight we are all going to gain during the COVID-19 Quarantine. We laugh at the jokes while we snack on every carbohydrate imaginable. I, Sheree, have personally baked 18 loaves of bread, 36 cinnamon rolls, and 50 cake pops – just in the past week. (Yes, I have a problem, but that is not the focus of this article!)
Because GraceWorks Global is an international ministry, we have many friends and contacts around the world. People understandably reach out to ministries like ours during times like this, so we have a “front row seat” to what the situation looks like outside of America and – my friends – it’s heartbreaking.
You see, while we joke about the weight we will gain, we know of people who are going hungry.
Not just missing a meal or two. Not just losing a little weight.
I can’t even type that without tears.
There are countries where the government has ordered people to stay at home with the promise that food vouchers will be given. But the food vouchers are only given to people who agree with the government religion. Christians and other religious minorities, after having been denied the ability to work for their food, are now being denied the ability to obtain food at all, simply because of their belief system.
That should break our hearts into tiny pieces because I know it breaks God’s. In fact, we are commanded to remember these people!
Something should be done! But what?
The particular country we know about is not open to us to help, and we don’t have any political clout in our own country, so even though we have a ministry set up to help people just like this, we are unable to do so.
For this reason, we are not asking you for money. We have no way to make sure it would get to them or provide the food they need.
We are asking you to pray.
I don’t mean the “Oh yeah. I’ll pray about that.” prayer that we never actually get around to praying for. I mean the “My heart is broken! I’m losing sleep over this! God I’m begging you to provide for these people!” type of prayer because, my friends, if we lived in that country – this would be you. It would be me. And it would be our children. Our precious, vulnerable, children.
So when you grab the next snack, pray while you eat it. When you sit down to your next meal, spend extra time not only thanking God for His provision but beseeching Him to provide for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing starvation. When you are awake at night, pray. If you are able to fast, then do so! Skip a meal and remember those who have no choice but to skip meals. Commit yourself to praying about this – faithfully and fervently – for the duration of your own quarantine.
We will be praying with you.
And hey – if you are reading this and have any political power in any major country, let’s talk. It may be that God has put you into your position of power “for such a time as this”.
During our devotions this morning, my kids asked me what in the world we were going to do for the next couple weeks. This is humorous because today is just like any other day for our homeschool family. But apparently just the thought that we aren’t going to be going to church this week, or the store, or the other activities we would usually attend, was enough to send them into pre-boredom panic.
Thankfully, my family already has a lot of experience with staying occupied during times of waiting. One of the things we often do is play “Activity Bingo” – for prizes! It encourages them to stay occupied, gives them suggestions on how to occupy their time, and then rewards them for doing so. Then it occurred to me there might be other families that could benefit from what I’ve created.
Here’s how it works… Each child receives a bingo card and chooses which activities he or she would like to accomplish. Children can get a BINGO by accomplishing any 5 activities in a row, either vertically or horizontally. Each BINGO earns a reward coupon of their choice. I usually give a bonus reward coupon for completing the entire card. That’s it! Simply print the cards and the coupons, cut them out, and have fun! (I like to print on cardstock, but whatever you have is fine.)
I am including an Elementary Age BINGO card as well as a Teen version and reward cards. They are in both PDF and Word format so you can customize if you like!
Have fun! And if you have any questions or need any tech help, don’t hesitate to contact us. GraceWorks Global is here for you!
As you certainly know by now, the recommendations being given to halt the spread of the Corona Virus have changed daily. As of today, borders are closing and we are being asked to restrict all unnecessary travel and meetings.
In light of this, we have decided to postpone our trip to Nicaragua, originally scheduled for next week. We are working on new dates and new plans for when the virus situation is under control.
Please continue to pray for those affected by the Corona Virus and for GraceWorks Global as we reschedule many events, both here and in Nicaragua. Also be praying, as we are, that God would allow each of us the opportunity to share Christ with those around us during these uncertain times and that His love and compassion would be evident in our lives – even if that means giving up our last roll of toilet paper!
I (Sheree) think I take after my Grandmother. For Christmas one year, our entire family got together and bought her a state-of-the-art computer, hand built by one of her grandsons, with all the technology she needed to stay in touch with her entire family. We were very excited to give it to her. When she received it she said “Thank you” and we moved on with the festivities, happy that we had done a great thing for her.
After she passed away we were reading through her daily journals (which she had asked us to do). On December 25th of that particular year she had written only 2 sentences…
“They gave me a computer. I didn’t want it.”
We all laughed until we cried at that entry. My poor grandmother! That computer could help her stay in touch with all of us but to her it was scary! She would have to learn new technology. She wasn’t sure she could ever figure it all out. She felt overwhelmed and didn’t want to venture into the unknown. The unknown is scary. And often lonely. So she would rather have forgone the computer and stayed with the status quo, which was to only be able to talk on the phone with her grandkids instead of actually seeing them and her great-grandbabies on a video call. Oh what she would miss!
But here I sit, remembering that story and thinking about how much I am like my grandmother when it comes to accepting the blessings of God. Allow me to tell you a story – a story of God’s goodness and my foolishness.
We were given a travel trailer 6 years ago. It slept our whole family comfortably and worked well for ministry travel. However, over the past few years it had become “no longer roadworthy” and needed to be permanently parked. But there we were, on the cusp of being full-time with GraceWorks Global, knowing it would require many weeks “on the road” visiting churches and supporters. What were we to do?
Well, let me tell you what I wanted. I wanted to pack our little mini-van and stay in hotels. To be honest, I’m not a fan of pulling large trailers or driving large vehicles – and when I say “not a fan”, I actually mean “terrified”. There have been some accidents in my past that have led to some overwhelming fears and, to date, I have not been successful in overcoming them. So Sheree’s idea of a great ministry trip is to pack our Toyota Sienna with 6 people, luggage for 6 people, food for 6 people, and all the sound equipment, musical instruments, and ministry necessities needed for us to present GraceWorks Global at various churches around the country. Yes. That really is as ridiculous as it sounds. I’m pretty sure our vehicle would look astoundingly similar to the Grinch’s sleigh after he had stolen The Who’s Christmas – piled 10 feet high.
Fear is a funny thing. While my husband was telling me this wouldn’t work, I was insisting it could. But, being the reasonable person I am, I decided I would pray about it. And I did. I figured a motorhome would be best for the long travel days we would have, so for a solid year I prayed that God would provide us a motorhome we could afford, but I didn’t pray very hard because I didn’t actually want it. Besides, motorhomes are very expensive and I have an aversion to debt, so I felt pretty safe in the fact that we wouldn’t find one in our price range. I knew God COULD do it, but I figured He was on my side and wouldn’t. (I know. I’m so mature.)
So the year went on and on and no one gave us a motorhome. All the motorhomes we looked at were very expensive and would require a loan. Plus, we found a homeless couple who needed a home. Our travel trailer was perfect for their needs. So we were now completely RV-less! Hotels here we come, I thought! But my (wise) husband was still looking. Surprisingly, he didn’t think the whole “Grinch Sleigh” thing was the best ministry travel plan. Enter God. (Okay – God was there all along but sometimes it’s easier to see Him than others.)
In a conversation my husband had with his dad, we were informed that a friend of his had a motorhome for sale. As it turns out, this friend has a heart for missions, and foster care, and adoption. Ugh. How much could we possibly have in common??? But hearts don’t pay for motorhomes, so we asked how much the Motorhome would cost us. The answer? “Well, he owes *this much* on it but is willing to sell it to you for your ministry for less than he owes. Yeah. The same amount I had decided in my talks with God was the most we could possibly afford.
Me: But… we still need a car hauler and those can be a couple thousand dollars!
Hubby: Oh! I forgot to tell you. The owner is throwing in a car hauler.
Me: But tires on these things always blow up! And they are expensive too!
Hubby: Oh yeah – he just put new tires on it.
Me: Surrendering. So, God literally just took our old travel trailer to take care of people who were living in the freezing Payson winter. AND He threw in the motorhome I had prayed about, for the price I asked Him to give us, with all the accessories we would need. And I’m whining.
I’m indescribably thankful for a forgiving God and a patient husband.
So here I am… traveling across I-40, typing this at the table of our “new” motorhome. I just fixed my family lunch at this same table, while we drove. (Just meats, cheese, and crackers. Don’t email me with cooking safety warnings. :.) We are all traveling in more comfort than we have ever experienced on a long trip. 2 kids are on the couch, cuddled up in blankets (and seatbelts), reading and eating lunch. My oldest daughter just finished some beadwork across the table from me. My oldest son is riding shotgun and chatting with my husband who is behind the wheel.
All of this because God answered my prayer by giving me something I didn’t want.
So if today you are afraid of the unknown, or overwhelmed by circumstances, or thinking God isn’t listening or answering, be encouraged. For one thing, you couldn’t possibly be as pathetic as I am, so you’re already one step ahead. And for another thing, God IS working. But He is not just working on your circumstances; He is working on YOU – to conform you to the image of His Son.
And maybe He’ll even use a motorhome to do it.
Having moved out of my office at Ponderosa Bible Church, I needed a place to work that has internet. Our house doesn’t have anything other than our hotspots and they don’t last very long.
Payson Christian School (https://www.paysonchristianschool.org/) and school administrator Dr. Aaron Walp, have graciously given me an area that I can use as an office! The facility has great internet and is quiet (for the most part, between bells). I am so very thankful for how God continues to provide for our needs through His people and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Today we are preparing to venture out internationally. Another opportunity to share the love and truths of Jesus to others in other parts of the world begins tomorrow. Please pray for safety in travel, good health, open doors to share the gospel, and new believers to disciple.
These pictures depict the daily ministry of our friend and co-worker, Roel, in the Philippines. Roel makes contact with individuals through a Cebuano-translated gospel tract that GraceWorks Global has produced. This brochure gives the gospel and also a brief plan for spiritual growth of new believers. (The area in the photos is a park in the center of a very large round-about.)
Roel led one man to Christ, then gave him a Bible in his language and within days several more people were reached through the brochures and the testimony of the new believers. The group is growing and some are now even attending church! The most exciting part is that this is not an isolated occurrence. It is happening every single week! Roel also spends many hours each week discipling and teaching the new believers.
We praise God for His grace and mercy in the hearts and lives of these individuals. We also praise God for allowing us to be a part of our co-laborer’s family on the opposite side of the world
GraceWorks Global has been working in Nicaragua for several years and we (the Mann Family) personally have friends in many areas of the country. Currently, there is political unrest (revolving around the nation’s Social Security Program) and people are being injured. We are asking for prayer for this dear country for wisdom for its leadership, peace for its citizens, and most importantly, that God would open hearts to His free gift of eternal life through this and every circumstance.
We love all the different ways God has enabled us to share the gospel internationally, but one of our favorites is having fun with the kids! Here is a clip of adorable Filipino kids during one of our recent times of children’s ministry in Cebu.