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The Journey

Updated: 2018-03-25T15:47:43.227-05:00


Only the carpenter....


Mark 6:3 “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (NAB) “He’s only the carpenter….” (Phillips)

 “….and they took offense at him.” (NIV)

 “….they tripped over what little they knew of him and fell sprawling. And they never got any further”. (MSG)

Heavenly Father,
 “He’s only the carpenter…” “They tripped over what little they knew of him…and they never got any further.” A sad comment on all of us. We have pre-conceived notions about almost everything and everybody. 

Jesus’ relatives and hometown people saw a one-dimensional person…”the carpenter”….in Jesus. They had him labeled and pegged…”Mary’s son”, one of those kids from that family. What he was on the surface was all they could understand. Jesus came to preach repentance…change. Change goes beyond whatever one-dimension we are locked into or seeing. Change allows “the carpenter” to become “the Savior”. 

How do we see Jesus? Is he just our Savior or is he also Lord of our life? Is he a man who died on a cross in great pain and agony or is he a Son who conquered death and arose from the grave victorious? Is he just a miracle worker we can ask things of or is he a teacher who changes our life? Is he the fulfillment of your plan for mankind or just a name we attach to our churches and our “religion”? 

Jesus is the carpenter, but he came to rebuild our relationship with You. He came as the Cornerstone of the Church that would spread this Good News. He came as the Foundation we build our reborn, resurrected lives on. Even in the Church we often “trip” over the little we know of him and “never get any further”. We have to drop our pre-conceived notions taught by others and seek for ourselves to find out who this “carpenter” is. We must get to know him on a personal basis. Invite him home. Spend time with him. Talk to him. Listen to him. Be astounded by his wisdom and his signs and wonders. We must constantly seek to know who he is in our life.

 Peter learned this. His knowledge of Jesus changed as his one-on-one relationship with Jesus changed. There were steps forward and steps back, but in the end he knew who Jesus was. We too must learn this. He isn’t just “the carpenter” who fixed our lives on the cross (Easter). Nor is he just “Mary’s son” (Christmas). He is our opportunity to know You, our Father. He is Son of Man/Son of God….all the times in between Christmas and Easter, he is there waiting to be recognized as your love for us. Thank you! Amen.

Thinking about our treasure.....


Luke 2:19 “Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.” (NAB)  “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (KJV)  “Mary treasured all these things and turned them over in her mind.” (Phillips ) “Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.” (MSG)  “Mary kept thinking about all of this, wondering what it meant.” (CEV) Heavenly Father,  We all have “treasures”….things we keep….maybe in a box, or locked in a safe, or displayed on a shelf, or in a glass front cabinet or tucked away in a cedar chest or drawer. But we know where those special treasures are, and from time to time we look at them, handle them, remember their meaning for us.  Mary had a unique role in the life of Jesus Christ. A very young virgin, bearing a child in a strange town, in an unusual setting, with animals and shepherds and later wise men milling around, bowing down, leaving gifts, seeking out her baby to “see him”…to wonder at him. Every mother wonders at her own child, but these were strangers! Since the first visit of the angel, through Joseph’s affirmation and also Elizabeth’s, Mary knew these were times to remember, times to treasure, times to ponder. Her baby was special…not as all babies are special to their mothers, but in a spiritual holy way.  Mary “kept” all of this…pondered it, thought about it, reflected on it, turned it over and over in her mind. Who wouldn’t? These weren’t every-day, business-as-usual events!  If Jesus Christ is born into our lives abiding in our heart, we too should treasure every moment. From the day we first see him, from the moment he becomes “real” to us, and we see the cross and the empty tomb, and understand what they mean…we too have a treasure, something to keep, something to turn over in our minds, ponder in our hearts, wonder about what it all means.  This treasure is not meant to be locked away. No one can steal it or take it away from us! We want to show this treasure to everyone we meet! Our treasure becomes both a public and a private thing. We shout to the world that we have it and rejoice in it, but we also go alone to our prayer closet and hold it in wonder and awe and reflect and meditate on it. Jesus is ours to keep…to hold…to treasure…to wonder on and think about. How deeply do I recognize the treasure that I hold? How important have I let it be in my life? How often do I ponder it?  Lord, I wish to carry this treasure always in my heart and mind and soul. Never apart from me, but always close within me. I wish to ponder and hold it dear, always. You are my treasure! Thank you, amen. [...]

Absorbed in prayer...


Mark 1:35 “Rising early the next morning, he went off to a lonely place in the desert; there he was absorbed in prayer.” (NAB)  “In the early morning, while it was still dark….went off to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (NIV)  “Very early the next morning, Jesus got up and went to a place where he could be alone and prayed.” (CEV)  Heavenly Father,  Jesus started his day with deep prayer. He found a lonely, deserted place away from the crowds and prayed until his disciples came looking for him. He could have stayed in bed. He could have prayed with his disciples. He could have waited until later when he was busy and snatched some hurried prayer moments like most of us do. But he chose to get up before everyone else, go some place where he would be least likely to be interrupted, and spend solitary time with you.  The NAB says he was “absorbed in prayer.” I like that image….his thoughts totally focused on conversation with You, his whole being directed to listening and worshiping in an abiding relationship. I need to let prayer absorb me. I need to let your presence come into the silence of my lonely deserted place and draw me to you. Too much of my prayer time is focused on my own thoughts, desires, requests, problems. My “deserted place” tends to be crowded with the agenda I bring along with me. Trying to be alone with you in silence to meditate on your words is what this morning time is about for me. But is that the same as being absorbed in prayer? Yes and no. Maybe it is as close as I can get for now.  I pray that your words will surround me and teach me. I pray for insights and guidance. I pray for a changed attitude, for spiritual maturity, for an abiding relationship. I must come to you early, while still in the darkness of the world and find your presence in the lonely places of our relationship. I must allow you to absorb my thoughts, my spirit, my soul, my whole being. Lonely places of new recognition, new confrontation, places only I can go to be with you. You will meet me in any place I’m willing to go. When nothing else is there, but you and me, You will absorb me in prayer and I will absorb you in abiding relationship. Help me listen. Help me find absorption. Help me pray. Thank you always in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. [...]

The Holy Spirit helps us to pray....


Romans 8:26-27 “The Spirit too helps in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech.” (NAB)

“The Spirit also helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily, but his Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings, which cannot find words. He who knows the heart’s secrets understands the Spirit’s intention as he prays according to God’s will for those who love him.” (Phillips)

Heavenly Father, 
One thing is clear here about prayer. The Holy Spirit helps us in our “weakness” or “present limitations”. The pull of the world tends to ground us, keeping us tethered to worldly ideas and concepts and worldly time frames. But the Holy Spirit knows heavenly things, heavenly timelessness and can reach beyond our limited knowledge and understanding. The Holy Spirit helps us in prayer. When we sit in confusion, not knowing the words to say or even able to express our thoughts, the Holy Spirit can gather our feelings and longings and unintelligible groanings and turn them into prayer. 

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are always One. They can transcend any limits, any weakness of ours and turn our faith and hope into prayer. When we feel our prayers are hopeless, our prayers are unworthy, our prayers are too confused or unfocused to be of any use, the Holy Spirit can intercede for us. What we don’t know or can’t say, he can and does. 

Our call is to come in prayer with faith, hope, and love through our Savior, Jesus Christ, trusting and expecting answers. Our work is to pray, and your work, O LORD, is to hear and understand and act in accord with your holy will. You tell us to ask, to seek, to knock. Our worldly minds often ask the wrong things, seek the wrong answers, and knock persistently on the wrong doors. But the Holy Spirit can turn our prayers of faith, hope, love into prayer that asks, seeks and knocks on our Father’s heart. 

Father, If Christ is within us, then the Holy Spirit is there guiding our prayers and both intercede for us in your presence. Hear the groanings and sighs of my heart that I can’t express in intelligible thought! Hear my faith, my hope, my love and express them for me. Turn my mute, blocked heart secrets into expressions of love in faith in Jesus Christ. Turn my hopes into expectation of your loving answers! Thank you, Holy Spirit for helping intercede when I don’t know how to pray. Amen.

The truth will set you free....


John 8:31-32 “If you live according to my teaching, you are my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NAB)  “If you are faithful to what I have said you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Phillips)  “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you…..” (MSG)  “…..continue in my word” (KJV)  “….hold to my teaching” (NIV)  “If you keep on obeying what I have said…” (CEV) Heavenly Father,  What is the mark of being Jesus’ true disciple? I have 6 translations, each saying it a bit differently: “live according to my teaching”….”are faithful to what I have said”….”continue in my word”…”hold to my teaching”…”stick with this, living out what I tell you”…”keep on obeying what I have said”.  1. Live according to: to act upon it, respond daily  2. Be faithful to: single-minded clarity  3. Continue in: consistency and forward movement  4. Hold to: tenacity and persistence in duplication  5. Stick with – living out: commitment to a life style  6. Keep on obeying: obedience at all times.  All of these things are connected to Jesus’ teaching, what he has said, his word. Being a disciple is a single-hearted commitment to be faithful to and obey and live out consistently and continually Jesus’ teaching and words.  The most well-known part of the verse is the final part that follows the “then”: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus told us “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life…” If we substitute “Jesus” for “Truth” in this verse we have “You will know Jesus, and Jesus will set you free.” Becoming his disciples through faithful obedience to his words, will allow us to know Jesus…to understand who he is and what he has done for us. This truth, this knowledge of Jesus will “set us free”….bring us salvation. Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is our Lord. Knowing Jesus is freedom.  Knowing Jesus comes from following Jesus. Discipleship isn’t just saying something, it is living something. I don’t want to use the word “doing” because we are not earning our freedom by what we do. We are discovering who Jesus is, why he wants to save us, what he did to bring it about, establishing an on-going relationship that becomes our life. We are changing. The clearer we see and know Jesus, the closer we are to the Truth that sets us free! Jesus’ part---the work of salvation….is finished, but our part…becoming a true disciple…is on-going. The Holy Spirit is here to help us…the Spirit of Truth. We are set free in the Truth of Jesus Christ to live forever with our Father. Thank you, amen! [...]

Walking in the light...


John 8:12 “No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall possess the light of light.” (NAB)  “I am the Light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (KJV)  “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)  “The man who follows me will never walk in the dark, but will live his life in the light.” (Phillips)  “Follow me and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.” (CEV) Heavenly Father,  This verse begins: “I am the Light of the World.” If we follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we are being led by the Light. We can’t possibly walk in darkness, because the Light is always right there before us! The world is darkness. Not because you created it that way, but because man has thrown the shadow of sin over it everywhere he touches it. The evil one uses this darkness to enslave us. The hopelessness that comes from sin, lays on us like a shroud…a death blanket blocking light.  But Jesus is The Light! He brings Light back into the world, hope back into the realm of despair, lifts the shroud of death, and dispels the dark of sin with his Light! Hope reborn! If we are following him it is impossible to also be in darkness. We now “possess the Light of Life” (NIV). Jesus’ light is life not death. Eternal light, eternal life. We will “have the Light that gives Life” (CEV) and “live his life in the light” (Phillips). Our life is now in Christ’s life. There is no darkness there.  This is a light that is on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year! Eternal, forever….the sun may burn out some day, but the Light of Jesus Christ will still shine! This constant Light illuminates the world for us and shows us all we need to see and know. This Light is a growth light…bringing Life in its beam. The only way to again be in darkness is through a choice to back away from the Light. The Light is still there, but our feet are not following.  This darkness is not a comforting darkness like our normal night where we find rest (but there are always slivers of light in the night). This darkness is sin and death and the darkness of a complete absence of light…deep, penetrating, scary, like in a cave where you are afraid to move, paralyzed with fear, and have no guidance or assurance of where to step. This is not a darkness to desire. We walk out of that darkness forever in the footsteps of the Light of the World! Eternal Light and Life now ours! No more darkness ever!  Thank you! amen. [...]

Laying-down-my-life love....


John 15:13 “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (NAB)

 “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (KJV)

Heavenly Father,
 Comparisons….great-greater-greatest. Jesus says this is the “top” category….”No greater love”…same as greatest if you put it into a positive rather than a negative. The greatest love is “to lay down one’s life for ones friends.” He laid down his life for us…literally…on the cross. He didn’t have to do it. He chose to make this sacrifice. Love chooses the right thing to do for the other person….our friends. Love isn’t selfish and doesn’t choose for its own benefit. Love focuses outward toward another.

 Love like anything else can have levels or degrees. We move to the highest degree when we can lay down our life for friends. To me, “laying down my life” doesn’t necessarily speak of dying. If I lay down a book, I “set it aside”. Laying down my life for friends can be setting aside my own life, my own concerns, to focus on theirs. This is love…the love of listening and caring. The love of.. “I’m not important, tell me your problem”. Jesus said being his friend involved obeying his commands….the command to love. Each time we set aside our self-involvement, self-concerns, self-focus, we obey his example of loving others. 

Paul understood Jesus’ command to love others or he couldn’t have written 1 Corinthians 13 where love is described and defined in totally selfless terms….and called “the greatest of these”. So love is the greatest attribute of Christ that we can develop and “laying-down-my-life-love” is the greatest form of this love. Jesus topped the charts by laying down his life for all, even before they were friends. Now it is our turn.

 Who can we lay down our life for? Who are our friends? Is Jesus our friend? Will I lay down my life…set aside my free will and desires….for him? It’s a choice we make daily. Teach me to lay down my life for my friends in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Following Christ....


I read the following in one of Max Lucado's books: "God does what it takes to get our attention.  Isn't that the message of the Bible?  The relentless pursuit of God.  God on the hunt.  God in the search.  Peeking under the bed for hiding kids, stirring the bushes for lost sheep." Mankind doesn't change a lot.  We are all individuals, with unique circumstances, but at the same time we are like other men and women who have lived before us.  Somewhere in scripture we can find our story and how God dealt with it.  I believe this is particularly true of the NT stories.  The gospels are filled with encounters between Jesus Christ and men and women we can identify with at different times in our lives. Jesus asks many questions:  "Who do you say I am?---"What do you want?"---and he issues many challenges:  "Go and sin no more"---"Come, follow me"---"Go, and sell all"---"Who touched me?"---Who are my mother and my brothers?"---"Don't be afraid, just believe"---"Your faith has healed you"---"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place"---"You give them something to eat"---"Put out into deep water"---"Blessed are the..."---"get up!---walk!---come out!---be still!" The more time we spend in scripture with Jesus, the more apt we are to encounter ourselves in these multiple lives and circumstances.  It changes every day as we read the words.  God's words in scripture are alive through Jesus Christ.  As we read his words, we find him pursuing us, and inviting us to come and follow and find our place as God's children.   We have all the guidance, all the commands, all the encouragement, all the rebukes, all the life lessons we need.  We need only study them and obey them.  We have the Sermon on the Mount with lessons for kingdom life.  We have Jesus' own descriptions of himself----"I am..."---- to show us who we follow and the power and authority he brings to our lives.  We have the lessons of Paul and Peter and John and James and others who knew him, to show us the characteristics of being a Christ follower as we live the Christian life.  It's all there, spelled out in God's words and in his Holy Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. He wants us to "grow in grace and the knowledge of God."  He wants us to worship in "spirit and in truth".  We wants us---period!  We are God's children and he is leading us to eternal life and home.  Thank you, Father for pursuing us through your Son, Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  amen. [...]

The virgin birth....


I've been reading Christmas devotional books for the past month, and one of my favorite has been "Why This Jubilee? by James C Howell.  The following is a quote from that book: "Speaking of skepticism:  If we sneer at the idea of a virgin birth, it may be because we modern people have trouble believing anything much beyond what we can control, measure, or do for ourselves.  We have science, and we understand physical cause and effect.  But is everything reducible to cause and effect?...God does things we couldn't dream of achieving.  I prefer not to be the kind of person who says Mary couldn't have been a virgin because we are so smart and we grasp cause and effect regarding how all babies find their way into the world." What a refreshingly expressed view of the virgin birth!  As a biologist I could easily weigh in on the side of science rather then the miraculous---but I don't.  When we limit God to science we make him like ourselves.  God is much larger then science or our world!  If we believe any of the miracles in the Bible, then why not the virgin birth?  If we believe none of the miracles of the Bible but only what we can see and prove through science, then we have no faith at all.   God is not limited by what we see, what we know, what we understand.  God is beyond limits as the Creator.  By using a virgin birth he not only proves the paternity of Jesus as his Son, but he tests our faith right from the start.  The most important question we answer in this life is "Who is Jesus Christ?" Rom. 10:17  "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. "  (NIV) Rom. 10:17  "Faith, you see, can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ."  (Phillips) Jesus is both the message---the good news---and the messenger.  He came to demonstrate God's great love to us.  Jesus' life illuminates this message for us.  Our faith comes when we hear this message and embrace it. [...]

Dec. 25...God so loved the world


(image) “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son, so that whoever believes in him will live forever.” John 3:16
 Heavenly Father, 
I wondered how the Advent Book would end the story on Christmas Day. John appropriate! Not usually thought of as a Christmas scripture, but surely the most important in the Bible. 
The Good News all summed up in one sentence. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.” This is what the Christmas story is all about. Your love for us. Your plan of salvation. Your presence in our lives. Your solution to the problem of human sin. Your eternally wide open arms welcoming the prodigal sons home. Our “second chance”.....our only chance, but made so simple. Just believe on the One who came and lived for us and died for us. Just trust his grace and let all the rest go.
Peace on earth!



Dec. 24...I have seen the Savior


(image) “Simeon said, “I have seen the Savior you have given to the world. He is the Light that will show God to the nations. And he will be the glory of your people.”
Heavenly Father, 
Tonight the wait is over in our yearly celebration. Tonight we go to church and sing the Christmas songs and light the candles, and hear the scriptures read. The music swells and so do our hearts! We are full of good cheer and great joy and “peace on earth, good will to men”! A night to celebrate! 
A night to look to heaven and wish we too could see the angels and hear them sing. In our hearts, we do hear them. In our hearts the child has arrived and is settling in snugly.
 Simeon says, “I have seen the Savior you have given the world”! I’m sure the shepherds were spreading the same message after their visit to the manager. The wise men carried the message to far lands. Now our turn has come. Have we seen the Christ? Who will we tell? where will we spread the light that has come into the world? The “good news” is for all and we must help send the light everywhere there is darkness. 
Something to think about now that Christmas is almost over for another year. Do we put Christ away with the mangers and trees and trimmings, or do we keep him close by and let his light shine through us? Thank you, Heavenly Father, for this greatest of gifts and for once again challenging me to help spread the Good News whenever I can and especially to those who are closest to my heart. amen

Dec. 23...Simeon took Jesus in his arms


“That day a godly man named Simeon was in the temple. The Holy Spirit had told him he would see the Messiah before he died. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God for keeping his promise.” Luke 2:27-28

 Heavenly Father, 
The scriptures of advent are almost done. The journey has been interesting and once again new and different. Tonight we meet a “godly man”, Simeon. 

Simeon represents all the faithful who waited and hoped and obeyed. Simeon was promised that he would see the Christ child before he died. Did he spend his whole life in eager anticipation wondering.....”is this going to be the day?” He waited in your presence, in the temple. We all should wait in your presence for the Christ, the one who comes to save. 

In my youth I memorized Simeon’s song, that he sang when he saw the baby: “Now let Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” 

Simeon knew he needed no more than this baby. His salvation had come and he could leave this world behind. Jesus, the one who saves! Jesus, a light to the Gentiles and the Jews and all the earth! A Light shining in the darkness and dispelling the gloom. Peace on earth and peace in heaven. 

Time to depart and go “home”, home in heaven with you.....complete, forgiven, accepted, fulfilled, made righteous! All in that tiny baby that he had waited for, for so long. Our wait can be over, too! The Christ child is here! Welcome him! Hallelujah! amen

Dec. 22....Jesus presented at the temple


“Soon after his birth, Joseph and Mary presented Jesus to the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem, in keeping with the Jewish law.” Luke 2:22 Heavenly Father,  Today’s scripture is one that we tend to skip over at Christmas. Mary and Joseph follow the law and take Jesus to the temple and “present him to the Lord”......they take him and dedicate him to you, his Father! You gave him to them and they give him back, like all good Jewish parents. He is to be one of your people.  How strange and convoluted it all is when you try to analyze it. You came to earth as a baby. You are both father and son. You are the giver and the given. You are the giver and the gift! You came to save us, but had to use Mary and Joseph to save yourself as an infant from Herod. How to imagine the Eternal God of the Universe as a helpless baby!??  It seems so crazy and yet it seems so right. I’ve been listening to a Christmas CD that has a song with the line, “What a strange way to save the world!” To us very strange and incomprehensible. To us a mystery, a paradox, a puzzle. but once the puzzle is accepted and believed it doesn’t seem to matter any more if we understand it.  We accept the baby, we accept the man/Savior, we accept the gift of grace and our hearts swell with thanks and love. Jesus is ours now. Jesus is here in our hearts. We are his temple and he has been “presented” there to you, Lord. He is the lifeblood running through us. He is our connection to you forever more. The “man” in him is forever connected to our humanity. The Lord and Savior in him is forever connected to his Father and to our hearts and minds and souls.  Thank you, Lord, that you are all wise and powerful and knew how to reach us and connect with us to make us new! Praise and thanks forever more. amen [...]

Dec. 21....the Lord warned Joseph


Heavenly Father, 
You sent your son to die for us, but you are the one who will choose the time and place, not Herod! Your angels intervene and send the holy family to Egypt and safety. The child must grow and become fully man, as well as fully God. Until he experiences all that being human is, he can’t take the burden of human sin and dispose of it. 

There is much that we cannot fully understand about Christ and his life as both Son of God and Son of Man. What must it be like to be both God and Man? I would think it would be like having a war going on inside you every day! 

Joseph and the wise men obeyed the angels without a second thought......Go! now!......away from Herod, away from danger. They trusted God’s word, given through the angels. They trusted a God who had already proven trustworthy, who had guided them every step of the way. We too, trust in a God who has never failed us. We trust a God who guides us every step of the way. We trust a God who sent a baby to change our lives! We trust a God who sent a man/God to die for us and save us. We trust a God who is wiser than we can ever understand, but whose wisdom never fails. 

May the angels bring the message once more into our hearts as we hear them singing, “Glory in Excelsis Deo”! Glory to God in the highest! Tell the nations! Tell the world! Sometimes we too may have to take the baby and flee from unfriendly, unreceptive surroundings, but the key is to keep the Christ child with us wherever we go and hold him fast. God will not allow him to die! God will protect him and all who hold him fast in their hearts. Thank you, O LORD, Most High! amen

Dec. 20...they bowed down and worshiped


(image) “At the house, the Wise Men saw Jesus with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshipped him and gave him gifts of gold and incense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11 
Heavenly Father, 
The wise men “bowed down and worshiped” the Christ child. Even though they were “kings”, they recognized one greater then themselves and paid homage to him.“King of Kings”! Lord of Lords! Names we call him by to show his place in the world.......on top, best of the best, greatest of the great.
 He inspired men like Herod to want to kill him, because Herod couldn't stand the thought of someone more important, more powerful. He inspired the simple shepherds to praise God and tell others. He inspired the wise men to “bow down and worship”. Everyone who meets Jesus must choose a reaction.....worship or hatred, praise or fear, joy or indifference. Part of celebrating the Christ child’s birthday should be a time of rededication, reawakening of commitment, rediscovery of joy, repositioning Jesus in our lives.

“Come let us worship and bow down, 
Let us kneel before the Lord, our God, our Maker.”

 Make us new! Make us clean! Make us whole! Jesus is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace! amen

Dec. 19....the star


“The star the wise men had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” Matthew 2:9  Heavenly Father,  The star was a nice touch to the story! Especially now that the word “star” to many means a famous person of great charisma and talent. Jesus truly was “THE STAR” of Bethlehem that night! “A star, a star, shining in the night, He will bring us goodness and light....”  The wise men were thrilled to see the star. It meant a great king! It meant a savior, long expected and awaited. When they saw it, they were “overjoyed”. What a neat word.....not just joy, but overjoy! More joy! Extra joy! Above and beyond joy!  Are we overjoyed by the star? Do we see Jesus light up our lives and dispel the darkness and light the way? Look for the star! See him shine! Let him illuminate every corner of your life forever more. Jesus is the Light of the World! No more, need men walk in darkness. Thank you, Star of Bethlehem! Thank you, Jesus! amen ****** LIGHT  Lord send us your Light! Shine in the hearts of folks everywhere  Shut out the darkness of gloom and despair!  Shine past the lights on our Christmas trees  The outdoor displays for all to see The lights in the stores, and the churches, and malls  The only true Light came from the stall. The Light from the manger banishes gloom!  The Light from the baby fills every room!  The Light from Jesus brings peace and love!  The Light from our Savior brings hope from above!  Let us carry the Light in our hearts every day  Jesus the Truth, the Light, and the Way.  (Mary Freeman 1998) [...]

Dec 18.... Herod who was king...


“Herod, who was king, secretly questioned the Wise Men. Then he sent them to Bethlehem where, according to what a prophet long ago had written, Christ was to be born. King Herod told the Wise Men to tell him when they found the child, so he could worship him too. Then they went on their way.” Matthew 2:7-9 Heavenly Father,  I find that reflecting on small bits of this story daily is better than absorbing the whole message at once and missing the small details.  Herod......his name brings chills to those who know scriptures, as we remember the evil he represents. He speaks to the wise men in secret, rather than in the open.....already in his heart he knows whatever he does will not be done openly or honestly.  “Find the baby.....tell me where.....that I might worship him, too.” Herod was king and intended to remain king! Why would he worship the promised child? Lies came easily to him. I wonder if the wise men suspected?  Many claim to want to worship, but often, just like Herod it is only “lip service”. We have ulterior motives for worship. Some come because they were taught it is the “right thing to do”. Some come hoping for something in return....a miracle, financial help, status, etc. Some come to “fit in” with their peers. Some come to gain power, fame, glory, praise, self-satisfaction. Not all good reasons, or honest reasons, or kind reasons.  But many like the wise men come because they feel compelled to come, drawn by the King’s power, guided by his Holy Spirit. They come to find something rather then to get something. Some, like the wise men, even come to give......their hearts, their souls, their love, their service, their worship.  Why am I here at the stable? Am I a wise man, a shepherd......or a displaced king? “All who seek me, will find me, if they search with all their hearts.”  Dear Lord and Savior, make a home in my heart and displace all that shouldn’t be there.. amen [...]

Dec 17....we saw his star


(image) “Sometime later Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2
Heavenly Father,
 We always put the wise men in our manager scenes, but in reality they came along later. They came in complete assurance that the prophecy was fulfilled and the King had been born. Surely in Jerusalem, the capital city where kings should live and reign, to a royal family in a palace! Where is he? 
They saw his star and they came to worship. Why would wise men from other countries come to worship the king of the Jews? They knew the prophecies and knew the Christ would be great. They saw the incredible star that apparently heralded the event. Maybe they came out of curiosity, both scientific and personal. Maybe they came through some inner longing or need.
 Why do any of us seek him? Something in us calls out to him, something we’re missing that we need to find. The most important thing any of us can do is to seek “the King”, the one who will rule our lives and change them forever. Follow the star! Follow Jesus, the Savior! Amen

Dec 16....the baby was named Jesus


(image) “On the eighth day the baby was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was born.” Luke 2:21 
Heavenly Father, 
Like all fathers you chose your son’s name before he was born. The angel told Mary and Joseph to name their child, Jesus.......which means "Savior"...."the Lord is Salvation". 
A specific name, for a specific purpose. His name told everyone exactly why he had come, and who he was. We should have no doubts about Jesus. 
Many do have doubts and refuse to believe he is who he says he is......or who You say he is. Jesus........ our Savior. Our one chance to be free. Our one chance to get rid of the burdens of sin and death that weigh us down. 
Savior, save us! All we have to do is ask, to seek him, to knock on the door of heaven, and he will answer. All we have to do is call his name.......Jesus! Savior! amen

Dec 15....Mary pondered these things


“Mary knew these things were precious, and she thought about them often in her heart.” Luke 2:19 Heavenly Father,  This piece of scripture seems very personal to me. “Mary knew these things were precious and thought about them often in her heart.” I do know that all this is precious beyond price and that I should think about them often.  Forgive me that my heart is not always as filled with thoughts of you as it should be. Forgive me that I often let the mundane and unimportant fill my mind instead. Forgive me that I sometimes let myself become weary of doing good or even caring about others and that I fill my days with trivial details rather than thoughts of you. Help me to lose my guilt feelings when they are unhealthy rather than productive. Help me to truly seek you and your glory rather than my own wants and wishes.  The most precious things I can hold in my heart are the baby and the mission he came to accomplish. Help me reflect more on Jesus as my Lord and Savior, Jesus as my mentor and friend, Jesus as the life I wish to follow and obey. Fill me every day with more of your Holy Spirit and less of my own weak useless one.  I wish to spend more time with you and your words, to make more time in my life for the “Good News” that you sent for all mankind. Let me live up to my name......Mary......and be more like the Mary’s of scripture who focused their lives on you...pondering each moment, treasuring each word. You are most precious and I can’t afford to ever see you as less than the dearest treasure in my heart! “Create in me a clean heart, O LORD, and renew a right spirit within me.” amen Heart's Treasure A baby born...God's holy Son! Shepherds and angels the story impart. But Mary watched and listened...... And treasured these things in her heart. She pondered each visitor, every moment, Every detail surrounding his birth. She wanted to always remember The days that he spent here on earth. What future would lie before him.... This child sent from heaven above? Mary knew that her child was special And she treasured each moment with love. As we gaze at the babe in the manger.... The Son of God....the Son of Man, We too, should treasure this Christ Child... The fulfillment of God's holy plan. (Mary Freeman 12-2007) [...]

Dec. 14...they told everyone


“After the shepherds had seen Jesus, they told everyone around what the angel had said. All who heard were amazed. The shepherds returned to their sheep, praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:17-18

Heavenly Father, 
After the shepherds found the baby, they told everyone about what they had seen. They didn’t keep it a secret or just ignore it, they told everyone.

 When I see the baby and hear the angels do I spread the “good news”? Jesus isn’t meant to be a secret. He came for all. He wants to save everyone. He wants us all to believe in him. The shepherds also returned to their work, “praising God for all they had heard and seen.” 

Finding Jesus and hearing the good news of the Savior of all mankind, should lead us to praise and worship. As we leave the Christmas season and get back to our ordinary lives, the sights and sounds should remain in our hearts and minds and bring us into your presence with thanksgiving and praise.

“Glory to God in the highest!” 
“Joy to the world the Lord is come!” .....unto us a child is given, unto us a Savior born. 
He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, 
Almighty God, 
Everlasting Father,
 Prince of Peace!

Dec. 13....Let's go to Bethlehem and see


“When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manager.” Luke 2:15-16  Heavenly Father,  The shepherds reacted as we all should......they rushed off immediately to find the baby the angels told them about. They didn’t say.....”Let’s wait until morning” or “Were those really angels?” or even just stand around discussing it. They believed and then they acted.  We too, must believe and act. The baby is there waiting, we’ve been told the good news, now it’s up to us. If we believe the story than we need to rush to the manager to see the Christ child. We must seek him and see him for ourselves.  I’m sitting here in my living room surrounded by nativity sets.....all very different yet all with the same elements....and at the center of each is the Christ Child lying in the manager with everyone clustered around. Jesus is never off to the side or in the back.....he’s always “front and center” of the grouping, the center of attraction. That’s where he belongs for all of us....right in the center of all we do.  The shepherds were busy men doing their job, but they dropped everything to find the Savior. We must make sure that we aren’t too busy to stop and find the Savior, too. It’s the most important thing we’ll ever do. Lord, let my heart seek you always and always be willing to drop whatever I’m doing when the angles bring me the "good news". I do believe and I wish to seek him with all my heart. You promise us in scripture that if we do this....we will find you. amen [...]

Dec. 12....a heavenly choir


(image) Suddenly a great assembly of angels from heaven appeared with the first angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to men with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:13
Heavenly Father, 
The shepherds were already frightened and amazed by just one angel shining with your glory, they must have trembled and hid when the whole night sky lit up with a multitude of angels! What a glorious sight and sound it must have been to see and hear the angels sing, just as they sing to you in heaven..... ”Glory to the highest heaven......and on earth peace to men with whom God is pleased.” 
Was the sound nearly unbearable for human ears? Was it sweet and perfect and harmonized? Was there music of harps and lyres? To hear an angel choir must be amazing! I guess in a way this was like a proud father passing out cigars......”This is my Son! Come see him!” Glory to God indeed! The greatest event in creation has just begun. The only Son of God is born! There can’t be enough angels to sing “glory” for that event! amen

Dec 11....this will be a sign to you


“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 Heavenly Father,  “This will be a sign to you.....” The angels gave the shepherds all the details they would need to verify their message. They weren’t looking for just any baby.....this baby would be wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. The shepherds probably understood the clues in the message better than us.......Where would a baby be if it was in a manger? a stable, or cave that the animals used. Why is the baby in a manger? Why not the inn? Big crowd in town for the census. Check the stables in town, especially the one at the inn.  This baby will stand out....the only one just born lying in a stable. From birth to death Jesus was “different”, special, extraordinary. The details of his life at birth and death are remembered because they were dramatic. The early part of his life is almost totally unknown because it wasn’t important. Drama for the important events, silence for the rest. The shepherds understood the signs because the angel made it plain to them and at the same time dramatic. When you want my attention for important things, you use the same method.....I don’t hear angels, but you make it dramatic and memorable if I’m paying attention. Just like the shepherds I need to be awake and watching if I want you to speak to me. May the events of this Advent season stand out and get my attention for the details that I need to know. Point me to the Christ Child and give me a sign. Amen [...]

Dec. 10....I bring you good news


“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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11  Heavenly Father,  Out of your shining glory, the angel speaks the words....” I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” The “gospel” , the good news.......and it is only the beginning of the story.  The truth is all there, even at this starting point.....”a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.” Later we will know more details....this is a Savior who loves all of us enough to die for us. This is a Savior who will forgive our sins. This is a Savior who will wash us clean and make us new in your sight. This is a Savior who will reconcile us, justify us, sanctify us, redeem us, make us righteous, bear our burdens, lead us to you, send a counselor to remain with us and in us,.......the list goes on and on.  But on that night the “good news” is just that the promised Messiah is here at last! The Lord of lords, King of kings, Prince of Peace. God incarnate! God come down among us to be our Savior. The shepherds, who lived under Roman rule didn’t need to know any more than that. The Savior had come at last! Hallelujah!  Their idea of a Savior and what Jesus really came to do, may not have been exactly the same, but they understood the “good news” that the angel brought. Today we still may not always understand every detail and the “whys and wherefores”, but we too can understand this much....Jesus came to earth that night, Jesus is our Savior, and Jesus is Christ the Lord!..........Good News indeed. Hallelujah! amen [...]