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JEM-PRECIOUS STONES
(Issue #36 -- Declaration -- December 2005)


I love this time of the year! The lights dazzle my eyes, the snow reminds me of childhood anticipation, and the Christmas in the air brings many opportunities to tell the world about Jesus! Now, I know that many of the stores aren't saying Merry Christmas, but there's nothing to stop us from shouting it! In spite of this weak attack on our celebration of a Savior, I believe that more people are open to Jesus and Christianity at this time of the year.

God came to us wrapped in flesh. The gift He brought was eternal life with Him. His death and resurrection seals our eternity!

What better time of the year to DECLARE His Glory!

In His Service,
Matt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACROSTIC FOR DECEMBER
BIRTHDAY GREETING
INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHT
POINTS TO PONDER
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
MERRY CHRISTMAS
A MOMENT OF 'HA HA'
TESTIMONY TIME
CHALLENGE OF THE MONTH
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
QUICK TIP OF THE MONTH
CRAFT OF THE MONTH
SKIPPING STONES
BIBLE QUIZ
CHECK IT OUT!
JEM'S PUZZLER OF THE MONTH



ACROSTIC FOR DECEMBER
By: Denise Imbody

Declare it from the rooftops that
Emmanuel means that God is with us and that
Can NOT be changed no matter how hard the
Lost try to make it so by making God
Absent in all public places,
Retail stores, and wherever else they think
Anyone will listen to the lies...for the
Truth is definitely visible for the
Inquiring minds who choose to
Observe for themselves the
Need for the Savior!

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BIRTHDAY GREETING

May the love of Christ's warmth surround all you December babes, and fill your special day with His grace and mercy. May you be a light in the darkness around you, and may you be a great witness for our Lord--Happy Birthday!

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INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHT
By: Gwen Tweedy

The Shepherds, the wise men and animals came to the manger low
To see the gift of God's Son He did bestow.
They knelt in worship and homage to their King
And even the angels did praise and sing.
They never forgot that marvelous night
When Shepherds and people exclaimed in Awe and fright.
They knew the Messiah had come to rule and to reign
To take away fear hate and sadness and pain.
They had witnessed a miracle they would not be the same
That wonderful day our Savior came.

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POINTS TO PONDER
By: Jacqueline Moore

We Are a Peculiar People

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9. KJV

Recently I posed the following question to a group of friends, “do we as Christians often use phrases, or terms that could be confusing to someone who has not studied the word of God?” As I gave this topic a little more thought, I realized that it is not only how they speak that make Christians seem different, but it is also reflected in the things they do.

An example that came to mind was a few years ago, some of my Christians sisters and I had gone out to celebrate my birthday. We were all having a good time laughing and dancing to oldies style music. Then the tone of the music changed and a song came on which was offensive to women.

I immediately left the dance floor. Suddenly, I realized that each of my friends had also done the same thing. We later laughed about it because none of us had planned or talked about doing anything like that. Since we were children of God, we all felt the same way. We could not as Christian women condone the message in that type of music.

Christians often do or say things the rest of the world just cannot understand. They read the bible or religious books because they want to. They listen to gospel music or a recorded sermon in the middle of the week. They praise God even when things around them may not be going right.

The NIV bible interprets the aforementioned scripture this way: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Very often Christian’s speak in terms or in a language that may be indistinguishable to others who may not be familiar with the word of God. A question a friend had asked brought this to my attention. She asked, “What does favor mean?

Without hesitation, my response was “looked upon with favor or blessed with certain advantages because of God’s grace.” My friend posed the question because people were constantly asking about her license plate. This particular friend has a vanity license plate that reads, “favrd.” The response of some who have read the license plate on more than one occasion has been one of bewilderment.

Upon further discussion with other Christians, I determined that non-Christians can become confused by this spiritual banter. It is not that Christians mean to or even recognize their conversation may have changed and that others around them may no longer be involved in their discussion. It is not because they stopped speaking English or started speaking in tongues or in Latin.

They do not make up words or embellish conversations. They simply speak the truth and interject words, similes, and metaphors into their speech. They do not intent to leave others out of their discussions but rather, take for granted everyone knows what they are referencing.

Let us examine some of this confusing banter. The first example is, “Going into my Prayer closet.” (Time for prayer and meditation). Next, “Peace be still.” (Trust in the Lord, have faith that it is in His hands.) “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” (Nothing meant to harm me will be successful.) There are many more we could examine, but I believe this justifies my statement.

Christians are simply taking what they have learned about the word of God and are applying it to their everyday lives and interjecting these types of statements into their speech and thought process. Upon further examination, we find all have been commanded by the word of God to do exactly that. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

What may seem peculiar to the rest of the world is the thing all Christians should be striving and trying to become. A Chosen people.

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QUOTE OF THE MONTH


If thou art living a righteous and a useful life, doing thy duty orderly and cheerfully where God has put thee, then thou art making sweeter melody in the ears of the Lord Jesus Christ, than if thou hadst the throat of a nightingale; for then thou in thy humble place art copying the everlasting harmony and melody which is in heaven.
-- CHARLES KINGSLEY

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MERRY CHRISTMAS
By: Barbara Lea Campbell

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" Romans 1:16 NASB

Merry Christmas! Who would have thought those 2 simple words could cause a stir in our nation? But they certainly have.

I have never once thought I was being rude, offensive, or intolerant when I offered a "Merry Christmas" to others during this time of year. Yet a number of major retailers in the US think I am, so much so that they have banned the use of "Merry Christmas" in their advertisements. (For more information go to http://www.afa.net/ ) They are also not allowing their associates to say "Merry Christmas." "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" are the preferred phrases.

Many Christians are shocked, but they shouldn't be. The phrases "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" have been around for years... easing their way into our conscience... becoming the norm... setting the ground work for such a time as this. There is no doubt that anything Christian is considered taboo in our Politically Correct world. We mustn't offend anyone with our outward expressions of faith and that includes saying "Merry Christmas." Never mind that I am offended daily by the sex used in advertising to sell everything from soap to car tires!

Are there other Holidays during this time to consider... certainly -- Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and December 25... many nonbelievers celebrate a worldly oriented Christmas on December 25 with all the trimmings. But does the existence of other holidays nullify the existence of Christmas? Thanksgiving often falls during the Muslim month of Ramadan, but no one fusses at the phrase "Happy Thanksgiving." Easter and the Jewish Festival of Passover walk hand in hand, so are we being asked to not say "Happy Easter"? What makes "Merry Christmas" different?

CHRIST -- by banning "Merry Christmas" retailers are taking Christ out of the holidays. It is that plain and simple.

So what are we to do? Many Christians will do nothing -- as is often the case, they will ignore this, think it is no big deal UNTIL the day "Merry Christmas" is banned on a larger scale... say by the government (and don't think that day won't come). Then those folks will be the first to be outraged and say "How can this happen!"

Many are protesting by boycotting certain retailers over the Christmas season and some have even written them letters. You can certainly choose to make a stand that way.

But the main thing we as the Church should do is to speak boldly -- not just against this, but about Christ. Say "Merry Christmas" to those you meet... not as a protest... not as a cursory "Have a nice day"... but with meaning.. "Merry CHRISTmas -- may you be blessed with Christ this day!" Declare to the world around you that you are celebrating the birth of Christ... not just some secular holiday full of tinsel and Ho! Ho! Ho! Let's Live Christmas out loud this year!

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." Acts 4:29 NIV

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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A MOMENT OF 'HA HA'

A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange.
--Author Unknown to us

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TESTIMONY TIME

My Testimony: By Marilyn Christine

....man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Sam. 16:7

I remember when my husband and I received the Lord as our Savior- we both accepted Him in the same month of March 1987 but not the same day. I was the quiet one who accepted the Lord one night after a Billy Graham program while David was the one who faithfully made that walk up to the front of a church that we both attended together. He took me there as I was too shy to go to church by myself. He and a few friends there knew that I had accepted the Lord shortly before.

Before I became a Christian I was a nice gentle, quiet, kind, and proper lady so not much changed on the outside of me I was still the quiet proper lady that most knew- David was more uncouth and a bit on the wild side- He had tattoos ( and still does, they don't erase off) and had been a known bar boy in his early years although he no longer drank at the time. His language was not the best in most circles so when he became a Christian there was an immediate change in character; and to top it off, he bounced off of walls-LOL

What surprised me was how much attention he drew- After all, he had a testimony and it was exciting to listen to; while quiet me just remained quiet me and had no testimony to tell that others wanted to hear- In fact, most folks were surprised to find out that I was a new Christian as they just assumed by my behavior that I already was a Christian before. And the comments always were: "but you are so nice. In fact, only one lady told me about Jesus and thank God she did- She would come for coffee where I worked and when she paid she always told me that Jesus loved me and finally I asked her if she really meant it. She said she did and invited me to church where she attended and because I thought you had to be a Christian to attend church I started watching Billy Graham to find out what I had to do. ( God does have a sense of humor) The rest is history- amen

But the Lord is faithful to both of us and has kept us in His hand ever since. And I am still quiet (well, most of the time) and David is too old to bounce off walls.

We learned that to look instead for faith and truth that lie within the heart and that we must always be willing to share the gospel with everyone no matter what our assumptions are . What if no one had told me because they thought I was good- We often are able to see that the bad need to be saved but what about the good? And yes, now I do have a testimony- Jesus is my Lord and Savior-tell your good friends about Jesus today. Jesus loves you!
©MCMP 2005

***If you would like to share your testimony in an upcoming issue of JEM Precious Stones, please feel free to send it to Precious_Stones@JEMMinistries.org. If we use it, you will get full credit, but please know that due to the number of contributions, and other concerns, we may not be able to use all submissions.***



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CHALLENGE OF THE MONTH

We really should be getting into God’s word, as much as we possibly can. We would like to encourage you with a challenge each month, to memorize a portion of Scripture. So, we will provide a passage, and hope that you will take the time to study it daily. If you are already doing this on your own, that is great--we just thought with prayer, and making it a bit easier for some folks, that we could help those who may not be doing this yet. All passages will be from the King James Version of the Bible. We do not mind other versions, and you can study it in whichever version you like. We have chosen KJV, because it is public domain. We pray that you will hide His word in your heart.

Luke 9
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

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RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Submitted by: Kimberley Briski

Anniversary Cake

1 package cake mix
1 package instant pudding
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
4 eggs

Put cake and pudding mixes in a large bowl-add the eggs and oil. Blend together well. Slowly add the milk a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. grease bottom of cake pan (angel food type). Set oven at 350 degrees and preheat for 10 minutes. bake one hour and 10 minutes till top of cake is springy to the touch and cake pulls away from the sides of pan. Loosen sides of cake when its COOL. Lift out by center tube and run knife around bottom before turning it over onto cake plate. DO NOT FROST UNTIL ABSOLUTELY COLD! Frosting will get runny and icky.

This was given to me by my grandmother when I was very young and on my own. It's delicious.

Do you have an original recipe that you would like to share? Click here to submit it!

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QUICK TIP OF THE MONTH
Submitted by: Barbara Lea Campbell

Do you have a tree, but no tree skirt? No problem! There are lots of things you can use and many are found in your home! How about a pretty sheet, even a white one! or a table cloth. Or maybe you have a quilt or afghan tucked away that will do the trick. I have even used pieces of material from my sewing supply. Look around your home and see what you have on hand that can be draped under the tree. You will be surprised at how nice it will look!

Do you have an original Quick Tip that you would like to share? Click here to submit it!

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CRAFT OF THE MONTH
Submitted by: Kimberley Briski

Christmas Ornaments

Combine:
3/4 cup-1 cup applesauce
4.12 oz. bottle cinnamon

Mix until stiff

Sprinkle flat surface with cinnamon and roll out 1/4 inch thick

Cut with Christmas cookie cutters, I like the ones that press a design as well

Make a hole at the top with a toothpick to string later

Let dry several days on waxed paper, turn each day carefully

We do these and put the year on the back in permanent marker

They smell good too!

***If you have an original recipe, quick tip, or craft, that you would like to share with us, please send it in with your first and last name, and your email address to Precious_Stones@JEMMinistries.org. If we use it, you will get full credit, but please know that due to the number of contributions, and other concerns, we will not be able to use all submissions.***

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SKIPPING STONES
(A word of encouragement)
By: Denise Imbody

Special songs are being sung,
Pretty lights are being strung,
Yummy smells fill the air,
Everyone, suddenly seems to care.

Lonely people on the street,
Have warm smiles that greet,
Not true of any other time of year,
People just pass by, filled with a bit of fear.

Money is cheerfully given,
Lovely packages tied up with ribbon,
Find their way under the tree,
For all friends, and family to see.

Those who do not have a lot,
Secret things, for them, are bought,
Mangers are all over the place,
Reminds us of His loving grace.

So, what is all this about?
It’s not time for any doubt,
It’s time to stop and celebrate,
The birth of the One so great.

Some have not heard
What it says in God’s word,
Of the good news of His Son,
And how it all has been won.

Tell those who do not know,
How Jesus loves them so,
How He was born, died, and rose again,
To save us from all our sin.

A glorious story that needs to be told,
To men, and women, young and old,
The most freeing story they’ll ever hear,
All about this time of year!

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BIBLE QUIZ

In this section, you will find five questions each month. Scripture references will sometimes be provided, but other times you will have to seek out the answers. We pray this will help you to get to know God's Word more.

Since we are talking about declaring the Lord and His Truth, in this issue, I thought we'd focus on some questions along the same lines.

1. In the NIV, in Luke 14, what 4 places did the master tell his servant to gather folks to come into his banquet?

2. Do you know where this Passage of Scripture can be found?
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

3. If we are ashamed of Jesus and His words, what did He say He will be of us, when He comes in His glory?

4. Did you know that the Bible speaks of God's creation praising him? Well, it does. It says in Isaiah 55 that the_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ and _ _ _ _ _ will burst into song, and that the _ _ _ _ _ * _ _ _ * _ _ _ _ * _ _ _ _ _ will clap their hands.

5. Do you know where this Verse can be found?
Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.

Click here for the answers

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CHECK IT OUT!

In this section we will share, and recommend our favorite website, book, movie, or any other favorite things we can think of to share with you. These are all highly recommended.

CD of the Month: Declaration
Recommended by: Barbara Lea Campbell

Declaration by Steven Curtis Chapman

Ready to declare to the world that you are a Christian? To share all God has done for you? Need a bit of motivation? Then pop in Steven Curtis Chapman's Declaration CD. The first thing you will hear is the upbeat song "Live Out Loud" which encourages us to NOT hide what Christ has done for us, but to let folks know.. let them see Christ in us. We are also reminded that "Jesus is Life".. without Him we are merely existing We are encouraged to trust in the Lord "This Day" no matter what our circumstances. One of my favorite songs on this CD is "God is God"... that is our anthem when we cannot find the answer to Why? God is God and I am not.... There are many more wonderful songs on this CD.. "When Love Takes You In".... "Magnificent Obsession"... and more. Not a bad one in the bunch! So grab Declaration and start Living Our Loud!

Book of the Month: The Jesus I Never Knew
Recommended by: Kristina

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord this month, I would like to recommend to you a wonderful book entitled The Jesus I Never Knew. The author, Philip Yancey, has long been known for his articles and books that both challenge and encourage those who follow Christ. In The Jesus I Never Knew, Yancey takes us through Jesus' birth, message, death, and resurrection. He describes in detail the world in which Jesus grew up in, covering the political, historical, and religious climate of His day. Yancey is at his best when he offers us glimpses into the real Jesus, the one who is both human and divine. I also enjoyed how he was able to weave modern stories, poems, and quotes into this wonderful story of Jesus. The Jesus I Never Knew was the 1996 Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year, and a story that I plan on reading through once again this Christmas season. As we take the time to celebrate His birth, I hope you will consider reading a book that has forever changed the way I think of Christ, and one that has drawn me closer to the Son of God.

Idea of the Month: Read the Bible Through
Recommended by: Barbara Lea Campbell

This idea isn't a new one... in fact, we have mentioned it several times in "Precious Stones"... and we are mentioning it again because it is an idea that is timeless and well worth mentioning again. 2006 is just around the corner and what a perfect time that would be to start getting into God's Word.. and a great way to do that is a Reading Plan. Most of these are for reading the Bible through in 1 year, although there are some that stretch it over 2 years or read just the Old or New Testament in one year. You can read the Bible in order.. Genesis to Revelation.. you can read a bit of the Old and New Testament each day.. you can read it in Chronological order... Historical Order... there are even programs which are extremely random jumping all over the Word throughout your week. You can print out a plan for the entire year and place it in your Bible or sign up to receive the Word via email... there really is no limit on How to read your Bible.. so why not dive into the Word this coming year? It will be the best thing you do!

Here are some of the plans you can find online... there are many more.. and there are Bibles available at your local Christian bookstore and through sites like http://www.christianbooks.com that are set up to be read daily for 1 year.

http://www.bibleinayear.org/
http://www.bibleplan.org/
http://www.heartlight.org/devotionals/reading_plans/
http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/journey/
http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html
http://www.navpress.com/Magazines/DJ/BibleReadingPlans.asp
http://www.verseoftheday.com/readingplans.shtml
http://sites.silaspartners.com/CC_Content_Page/0,,PTID34418|CHID152282|CIID,00.html
http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/biblereading-1yr.html

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JEM'S PUZZLER OF THE MONTH

In this section you might find a word search, An unscramble the words, OR any kind of word puzzle. We hope you will have fun with it! Ü

Break the code and you will find words and phrases that encourage you to live your life out loud! Hint: when you see the letter L in the coded words below, the "real" letter is E.

Example: KQLHG is SPEAK

1) BLRPHVHFSIY

2) KZHVL FZL AIKQLP

3) ML MIPB

4) YIF HKZHCLB

5) QVIRPHSC XLKN

Click here for the answers

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Please feel free to pass this along! If you would like to be added to the JEM-Precious Stones mailing list, send an e-mail to Precious_Stones@JEMMinistries.org requesting to be added in the message field. If you are not a member of the JEM community, and you would like your name removed from this mailing list, please send a message to the above address, and request removal in the body of the e-mail.

Please e-mail us with any comments, suggestions, or feedback, at: Precious_Stones@JEMMinistries.org. We would love to hear from you! We would also love it if you would visit our JEM website, at: http://www.JEMMinistries.org As we continue with this monthly E-zine, you will also find a link to past issues there.

May God bless and keep you throughout this month! May He smile upon you, and show You mercy all of your days--and may You find peace in Him, and through Him! In Jesus' name, Amen






Answers for this month's BIBLE QUIZ:

1. Streets, Alleys, Roads, and Country Lanes (Luke 14:15--24, especially verses 21 and 23)

2. 2 Timothy 1:7-9;NIV

3. He will be ashamed of us, when He comes in His glory. (Mark 8:34-38)

4. Mountains and Hills, Trees of the field (Isaiah 55:12)

5. James 5:12;NIV

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Answers for JEM'S PUZZLER OF THE MONTH:

1) DECLARATION

2) SHARE THE GOSPEL

3) BE BOLD

4) NOT ASHAMED

5) PROCLAIM THE TRUTH

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