The Christmas Account

Read with me The Christmas Account.
Luke 2:1~20

Luke, like the physician he was, recounts this event with surgical precision. Uncovering one important fact after another, overlooking nothing.

First he reviews the history of the event, just like any good doctor would review the medical history of a patient. He tells us what was happening “in those days”. And what days were they ~ days of Roman rule. When Caesar called for a counting of people the people had to do the wishes of the one in power. Luke also reveals to us previous events as this wasn’t the first time a Roman ruler called for the accounting of people in order to tax them. Everyone had to return to their place of birth to register. We so often think people of Biblical days as staying in one place when in fact they traveled around much like we do today.

After this brief but important review/introduction Luke gets to the heart of the situation and we learn of Joseph. Why had Joseph left his hometown of Bethlehem, maybe for a better job in Nazareth, better living conditions or maybe a young Jewish girl named Mary caught his eye at a Passover celebration in Jerusalem and he moved to be close to her. We don’t know for certain but what we do know it was all part of God’s plan for Joseph’s life. Now this man, Joseph, was returning home. Home to Bethlehem (meaning house of bread), the city of King David himself because Joseph was of the royal bloodline of David, and with him, Mary, his wife who was pregnant.

Luke continues to peal back layer after layer of facts as he continues and tells us “while they were there, the days were completed”. “The days were completed”. God’s timing is always perfect. He is never a minute to early or a minute to late. From before the beginning of time itself the events of history had taken place, one after another, just as God had designed them to happen. Like the ticking of a clock time had fled away and now it was the right moment for the next event in the history of mankind and the next event in the life of Mary. She gave birth to her firstborn son because God’s plan in her life was unfolding and “the days were completed for her to be” the mother of Jesus.

There He was, the Son of God, Deity, sleeping in a food trough for the animals. There were no attending doctors, no medication for pain, no sterile instruments, no private room or nurses to help with the birth. There was no one but Mary, Joseph, the sounds of people moving about in this small town and the smell of the animals. She, Mary, wrapped Him (notice the H-it’s capitalized in your Bible) in swaddling cloths so he would not move around and harm himself. That is the love of a mother protecting her son. But the love of a caring God had sent His son and wrapped Him in human flesh. He had left His glory and place in heaven and stepped through its portals to be born into earthbound humanity. He had purposefully sent His son to be placed in harms way, for us. That is the love of God, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves ~ provide a way to pay the price of our sins penalty.

And He did it at the birth of Christ in this lowly manger. Why is it that we think of Joseph and Mary as being poor ~ because they had to stay in a stable? They were not poor, they had gone to the innkeeper but because of the number of people now in this small town “there was no room for them in the inn”. No, again God’s plan was perfect. Remember, Joseph and Mary had to come from Nazareth, and she was pregnant. The way wasn’t a four-lane highway or the autobahn and they didn’t travel in the luxury of a nice automobile or travel coach. No, the way was rough, dusty and rocky and most likely they traveled on the donkey express.

So why did God choose for His son to be born in an animal stable? After all, this was, and is THE SON OF GOD, GOD HIMSELF IN HUMAN FORM. Why not in a more pleasing place, fit for the King that He is? God knew if He was born into wealth and comfort only the privileged would have access to Him. But in this stable, this lowly place all of mankind would to have access to Him. However on this night of nights when our Savior was born, no one seemed to notice, at least not in Bethlehem.

I’ve often wondered what the Innkeeper would have said if he knew the savior of the human race was being born right in his backyard, right under his nose. But that is the way that it seems to be even today. We are so involved with our circumstances, jobs, hobbies, family, friends…. that we do not recognize what God is doing in our lives, not even if it’s right in front of us. We are wrapped up in our own lives. Time for God is nonexistent or little at best and we miss out on His blessings while we chase after things that will disappear with the passing of time.

Although the people of Bethlehem didn’t seem to notice there was one group of people that couldn’t help but notice. As we read in verses eight and nine:

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night and behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were greatly afraid.”

God wasn’t about to let the birth of His son go completely unnoticed by mankind. So at the right moment God ordered His angel to open the gates of Heaven and step through into our world to announce the birth of His son to these humble shepherds. And in doing so the glory of God spilled out of Heaven and surrounded the angel and the shepherds. Notice it wasn’t the glory of the angel but it was the glory of God! Can you imagine seeing the glory of God with human eyes! I can’t comprehend it. I don’t think anyone could this side of Heaven. No wonder the shepherds were greatly afraid.

But this angel didn’t come to pronounce judgment on the nation of Israel nor the inhabitants of the Earth but came to proclaim that salvation had come to mankind. (I love this next verse~ verse 11)

“For unto you (Pam, Joe, Billy, Sarah, John,..put you name here) is born this day, in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Christ didn’t come to just a select few, the beautiful people, the lovely people, the rich people, the affluent people…and the list could go on. No He came for all people. I’m extremely thankful that the angel of the Lord didn’t say “For unto the Jewish people, or For unto the righteous people or For unto the Roman people”. If he had, we would still be without hope. Instead he said that He came for you!

That would give anyone reason to shout. And that is exactly what the multitude of heavenly host were doing ~ they were shouting. Notice the exclamation mark at the end of verse 14:

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!”

They weren’t singing as we so often think of in the songs we sing at Christmas time but they were shouting. I’m sure it sounded like heavenly music just the same.

What a great revelation from God to these shepherds. As Luke continues with his dissecting of the event we find that the shepherds went with haste to see for themselves this great event that the Lord had made known to them. Unlike the inhabitants of Bethlehem these shepherds paid attention when the Lord showed up. They not only paid attention they went to see Him and they found Him just as the angel had told them. (Let me interject something here before we move on. When we seek after the Lord, He has assured us we will find Him. God is moving in our lives! Are you paying attention and seeking Him? He has something for you; a specific plan for your life, a wonderful plan but we must seek Him.)

When the shepherds found the Babe, Joseph and Mary I wonder what the conversation was like? We are told “But May kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”.

When the shepherds had seen Him they went and told everyone about this newborn Child. That’s the way we should be ~ when we come into the presence of Jesus we will want to tell everyone about Him. The people they told just “marveled” at what the shepherds told them. Wow! Is that right? Wonderful!! And in the next verses we are told of the crowd of people who like the shepherds, got excited and went to see this Christ Child for themselves. Right?

No, sadly the Bible never tells us of one person whom the shepherds told about this Christ Child ever going to see Him. They marveled at what the shepherds had told them but this great news never moved from their head to their hearts. They were too busy doing their own thing, living their own lives ~ they just didn’t take time to see for themselves.

Isn’t that the way it is still today? We can tell everyone about Jesus but they have to make the decision to come to Him and more times than not people are just too busy to take the time to learn of this Savior who came to die for them. Let us be like the shepherds ~ they were not deterred because the people didn’t accept what they had said. They had done their job and left rejoicing and giving praise to God for all they had heard and seen.

Let me say something to you. Yes, you. God has a plan for your life. Did you know that? Well, He does. Just like He had a plan for Joseph and Mary He has a plan for you. In this account we are told that while Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem “the days were completed for her to be…and she delivered…” (Luke 2: 6~7).

There was a point in time in Mary’s life when God made known His plan for her. As a young girl she boldly accepted His plan. And while she was in Bethlehem it was time for her “to be” the mother of Jesus. It was time for her to “deliver” a Savior to the world.

So let me ask you. What is it that God has asked you “to be” for Him? What is it that He wants you to “deliver” that will speak His love to a lost and hurting world? What is it? What is it that God has been tugging at your heart about? What is it that you can’t seem to get away from ~ something in your life that keeps coming to your attention? Listen ~ that’s God talking to you.

God has a plan for you. Are you willing to have the courage as Mary and boldly say ~ Yes Lord, here I am, use me? He is waiting for you to take a step of faith and start an adventure with Him like no other.

Let us boldly go into all the world proclaim this same good news that the angel had told the shepherds so many years ago ~ That A Savior has come into the world to pay sins penalty, to bridge the gap between God and man, to provide a way to have a relationship with our Creator. That is what Jesus did for you, for me and for all mankind.

I hope you have been blessed by this Christmas Account and pray God’s protection and blessings on you in the New Year. Who knows, in sowing the seeds of God’s word to the world our paths may cross.

In Christ,

Thanksgiving~ A humble gratitude

Thanksgiving
A humble gratitude for all seasons
God’s word tells us in 1Thessalonians 5:18
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Have you ever wondered what God's will is for your life?  I think we all have from time to time.  Well, here is one thing that God wants all of us to do ~ to give thanks in All things. When we are willing to obey Him in the things He tells us, and this one is pretty clear, it opens the door for us to discover His specific will.  Let’s not forget to be grateful for our many blessings this season and throughout the year ~ in all things. Here are some of mine, what are yours?

~God’s faithfulness
~God’s mercy
~My Country ~ The United States of America
~Freedom
~ Hands that don’t hurt
~ God drawing near to me
~ The ability to read & write
~ Getting up early to spend time with God in His word
~ Trees ablaze with color that only God can create and Crayola can’t match
~Work for my hands to accomplish
~Unexpected blessings
~God’s precious gift of salvation
~The music of the morning
And of course ~ family and friends!
Blessings always
~

HARVEST AMERICA - ONE DAY, ONE CHURCH , ONE MESSAGE!

HARVEST AMERICA with Pastor Greg Laurie.  This one day evangelistic outreach is designed to reach America with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  ONE DAY, AUGUST 26.  LIVE from Angel Stadium in California ~ 4pm Pacific time, 5pm Mountain time, 6pm Central time and 7pm Eastern time.  ONE MESSAGE.  JESUS loves you and HE DIED, so you would not have to live separated forever from a loving GOD.

Login in: Harvest America .   Invite friends to join you.  Get your church involved or host it in your own home.  GET INVOLVED!!!

Although this is directed specifically toward America, the message is a worldwide message, for everyone. 

Join in on AUGUST 26, 2012!

The Scent of Christ

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ,"
2 Corinthians 2:15

When we accepted Christ as our Savior we were covered in His act of obedience to the Father ~ His shed blood on the cross.  We are no longer "covered" with sin but with the sweet smell of obedience that rises to the Father whenever we come into His presence.  I can almost picture Him with His eyes closed and just inhaling the fragrance that ascends and with a smile on His face He declares ~ That's my beloved!

We are His Valentine!


Transform My Heart

The devotion was out of Galatians 5:22-26 ~ the all so familiar "Fruit of the Spirit". I read over it quickly, really reading it from memory rather than the words on the page. As I looked at it a second time there it was~the thing God had for me, the thing He didn't want me to miss. The first word in verse 22 ~ BUT. Why is it there? Most of the time in reciting this verse I never mention it. However here it was staring me in the face.

I went back to the beginning of the chapter and began to read. As I did God began to unravel the reason for this oh so small word with its HUGE meaning ~ "BUT". In verse one we are admonished to "Stand fast therefore in the liberty (generosity) by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.". (Galatians 5:1). A few verses later in verses 19-21 he tells us of this "yoke of bondage" ~ "the works of the flesh". The list reads like themes of recent Hollywood movies~adultery, fornication, uncleanness, sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, etc. Doesn't sound like a quiet evening at home does it?

Those are the things we can expect when we live our lives without Christ. Verse 19 states that "the works of the flesh are". They "are"! You can count on it! Does it have to be that way, No. Why? Because of the small word ~ BUT, meaning~ there's another choice, something else is available. Christ is telling us~you don't have to live a life full of unrest. He wants you to live a life full of purpose.  God is a "purpose-ful" God!  He has a purpose for you and your life.  He tells us: I've paid the price and poured out my "generosity" (liberty) to all mankind, if you will only accept it, accept me and follow me. If you do, verse 22 tells us what our transformed hearts will experience~love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Life isn't easy at its best. "BUT" this I know, regardless of what the day may bring my God has already provide a place of peace if we will only follow him and rest.

Dear one, life is full of choices. You can live your life struggling with the works of the flesh if you choose to do so ~ BUT ~ Christ himself shed his blood to give you another choice ~ peace in Him. From centuries past He is still call to all who will listen to Him ~ I DIED FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH IT.

Lord, Thank you for every word that you have given us. Let us not dismiss the small ones and quickly move on. Let us drink in every word that can transform our hearts after you and allow us to live and rest in the fruit of your spirit.

Happy New Year!

It's been a while and since it is the start of a New Year I wanted to give an update on my prayer request.  With surgery scheduled on my hands in December all I could do is to keep doing what I was doing and wait for my surgery date.  At least that's what I thought. With the built up stress on my hands and the pain I was in I didn't make it to the surgery date.  Instead, the pain level increased not only in my hands but everywhere.  During a brief visit to the hospital I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

Since that diagnosis I've had to do some soul searching because I know that nothing touches our lives unless it is first filtered through God's hands.  All of this was part of His plan for me, all this pain has purpose so I set out to find out what that purpose was and is. 

God quickly showed me that through all this He was trying to get me just to "Trust Him" and REST in Him.  I was doing neither.  Yes, I "trusted" the Lord but then set about attempting to get all the ministry work done in my own strength. That isn't His plan for me, nor for anyone else.  God wants me and you RESTING in Him and letting Him do the work through us.  He doesn't want us exhausted and that is exactly what I was ~ exhausted. 

Looking back now I see the red flags ~ warning signs ~ God had placed along the way in attempts to get my attention. But when you're headstrong and stubborn God has to use more serious measures.  And that, HE DID! 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~ "In Everything Give Thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  It's difficult to "give thanks" when you're in pain but that is exactly what I have to do ~ Give Thanks to God for the pain because I know it has been His way of teaching me to REST IN HIM ~ GIVE HIM COMPLETE CONTROL OF MY LIFE AND LET HIM GET THE WORK DONE THROUGH ME IN HIS TIME AND IN HIS WAY. 

Let me ask you.  Have you been/are you burned out?  Maybe you don't even realize it ~ I didn't.  Do you see the warning signs God is placing in your path?  You'd be wise to pay attention.  He puts them there for your welfare.  Are you attempting to "be all and do all" for everything and everybody? Let me encourage you to STOP and examine your life and motives and ask God to reveal to you if you are truly RESTING in Him or are you doing His work your way.  Philippians 1:6 ~ "HE who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Do you see it?  "HE" began the good work in you and it must be "HIM" who completes it ~ not us.

For those of you with "RA" ~ I thank God for you and have a new appreciation of what you go through daily and pray that God will bless and comfort you and send a cure for this debilitating disease that WE live with.  Let me share with you some scripture God had to bring to my memory.
Psalm 100:4
Isaiah 40:29
Isaiah 40: 31
Isaiah 41:10
Isaiah 41:13
Isaiah 49:15~16
Isaiah 53:5

You are constant in my prayers!