Year In Review Part Five: Family

Today each member of the Downing family gives a few words as we look back on 2021.

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Blessings,

The Downing Family

Year in Review Part Four: Trouble

Today we part the curtain and show you our top four difficulties of 2021.

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Blessings,

The Downings

Year in Review Part Three: Seminary

Friends, today we review this year’s Seminary ministry.

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Blessings,

The Downings

Year in Review Part Two: Food Ministry

Friends, today Ezequiel joins us was we discuss our food distribution ministry. (Donate by clicking here)

Click play to hear our year in review of our food ministry.

Blessings,

The Downing Family

Year in Review Part One: Ministry Context

This year has been spectacular in many ways! Here is part one of our year in review.

Click here to hear part one of our year in review.

With love,

The Downing family (and Llamas)

Christmas Devotion: Presents

When the wise men saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Apostle Matthew 2:10:11
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The wise men brought Jesus gifts which were filled with meaning. They brought gold, a gift fit for a king. The gold was also very useful for the family as they fled to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. We may not have gold but we can make Christ the king of our lives!

The wise men also gave a perfume called frankincense to Jesus. Frankincense was used by priests to worship God in the temple. This gift points to the fact that Jesus would be our priest, the one who would stand in the gap between the Holy God and sinful humanity. Frankincense points to our redemption, our salvation.

The third gift was myrrh. Myrrh was used to prepare a body for burial. It seems like an odd gift for a child but in light of the mission of Christ this gift makes perfect sense. The way our redemption was purchased is through the atoning death of Jesus. He took our sin and shame and died because of it. Then three days later he defeated the consequence of our sin, he rose from the grave. The resurrection narrative tells us that Mary and some other women tried to anoint the body of Jesus with myrrh on the third day after his crucifixion. The expensive myrrh that they were going to use was most likely the same myrrh that the wise men gave to Jesus.

The beauty of this last gift was that it was never used. Jesus died to purchase us life but before the myrrh could be used he rose to give us hope!

Our prayer for you this Christmas is that you join the family of God, that you live because of Christ’s work on the cross and that you live in the hope of his resurrection. If we follow him in life and in death we will follow him in his resurrection as well!

Have a blessed Christmas,

Tim2, Dad, Mom, Elias, Angelita, Ezequiel, Adelena, Timothy, & Esperanza

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Christmas Reflection: Room

And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Doctor Luke, Luke 2:7

On the very first Christmas there was no room given to Christ. Unfortunately many today still seem to have no room for Jesus in their hearts. This is unfortunate because everyone has a hole in their heart that only a relationship with Christ can fill.

One wise Christian addressed the following words to God, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” The way to find peace this Christmas is to make room for Christ in your heart. Put him first and all else will fall into its proper place.

Our hope for you today is that you make room for Jesus. Put him first, then fit the other things in your life around him.

Joy To The World! The Lord Is Come!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of His love,
and wonders of His love,
and wonders, wonders of His love.

Wtih much love,AE4CC7DA-43B8-4EB7-BAB4-3FE9CA162129 The Downings

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Christmas Devotions: Going Home A Different Way

After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the wise men went back by another route to their own country.

The Apostle Matthew, Matthew 2:12

The wise men sought something beyond their experience. They had seen in the stars that God would send a King to the Jews. They struck out to seek this one that God sent. They did what was wise, they responded to the light that they had been given. Even on their way home they responded to the truth they had encountered, they took a major risk and tricked King Herod because they were warned in a dream.

God gives each of us a certain amount of light. We are responsible for the light or truth that we have been given. In your life when you encounter deeper truth, a clearer light, respond accordingly.

Our hope for you today is that you set your heart to respond to the light that you have been given.

Trust And Obey

When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
but is blest if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove
the delights of his love
until all on the altar we lay;
for the favor he shows,
for the joy he bestows,
are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey.

With much love, AE4CC7DA-43B8-4EB7-BAB4-3FE9CA162129The Downings

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Christmas Devotions: Jealousy

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men.

The Apostle Matthew, Matthew 2:16

King Herod was jealous of Jesus. His goal was to keep the power that he had as king and Jesus was a threat to that goal. The wise men describe Jesus as the King of the Jews so Herod took action.

Jealousy is a motivation that many people hold in common with Herod. During Christmas, greed and jealousy can overshadow the true joy and message of the season. These motivations do not need to control us. The beauty of Christmas is that we no longer are obligated to allow our sinful impulses to guide us. We can live a life free from such sin. All we need to do is accept the good news that a Savior has come to rescue us, then live the kind of life Christ showed us was possible to live.

Our hope for you today is that you live beyond your natural jealousy and live controlled by the impulses of Christ.

Bonus Content:

The hymn “A Child of God” by Barney Warren provides for a sharp contrast to the words of this devotion. The jealousy and sinful impulses do not have to be the norm. We are after all “Saved from sin today, every band is riven!”

Praise the Lord! my heart with His love is beaming,
I am a child of God;
Heaven’s golden light over me is streaming,
I am a child of God.

Refrain:
I am a child of God,
I am a child of God;
I have washed my robes in the cleansing fountain,
I am a child of God.

Let the saints rejoice with my raptured spirit,
I am a child of God;
I will testify that the world may hear it,
I am a child of God.

Let a holy life tell the gospel story,
I am a child of God;
How He fills the soul with His grace and glory,
I am a child of God.

Saved from sin today, every band is riven,
I am a child of God;
Through the tests of life I have peace from heaven,
I am a child of God.

With much love,AE4CC7DA-43B8-4EB7-BAB4-3FE9CA162129 The Downings

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Christmas Devotions: Sacrifice

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “Listen carefully: This child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected. Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul as well!”

Simeon, Luke 2:34-35

Mary, the mother of Jesus was blessed among women but she also carried a certain sadness since the birth of Jesus. The truth is when God calls us into a significant ministry, that ministry always comes with a significant price.

For Mary the price of being part of God’s plan was the terrible task of seeing her son rejected, beaten and eventually crucified. In the descriptive words of Simeon’s prophecy a sword did indeed pierce Mary’s soul.

The call of Christ should never be taken as easy. We are called to embrace our cross and follow him. It does cost us to follow him but he is worth everything we have.

Our hope for you today is that you count the cost of following Christ and commit to paying the price of discipleship.

Bonus Content:

Today’s hymn is not considered a Christmas hymn but it perfectly captures the bewildering truth that Mary had to grapple with. A truth that every believer eventually must face. He died for each one of us! “And Can It Be” is one of Charles Wesley’s most powerful hymns.

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

Refrain:
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!

‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Amen.

With much love,AE4CC7DA-43B8-4EB7-BAB4-3FE9CA162129 The Downings

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