His Coming. Christmas Devotional: The Heart

His Coming. Christmas Devotional: The Heart

That first heartbeat–the beauty of the sound. The pure awe of it.

I often think about when I saw my grandchildren’s heart for the first time through miraculous ultrasound photos.  Before the skin layers and muscles were fully developed–before they born.  These beautiful grandchildren, no bigger than a thumb, and hearts beating strong. God’s love. God’s little miracles. In His image. Wonderfully and fearfully made…..

Psalm 139:14, I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

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In the beginning God spoke, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Genesis 1:26

And it didn’t take long after God breathed life into the first man and woman that mankind broke His heart.

Genesis 5:6—And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at His heart.

But God…God found Noah.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord–Genesis 5:8. 

And here’s this thing about the heart of God–He continues to give and forgive.

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He was a ruddy boy who grew to be a man–far less than perfect.  And God sought his heart and he sought God.

As Samuel was searching for the next king he became confused because God had passed over seven of Jesse’s sons. Seven sons. And God kept saying no. And Samuel ask Jesse, do you have any more children? Only the youngest he said. He is tending the sheep.

1 Samuel 16:12a—Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look at, 

1 Samuel 16:7–But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, and the Lord looketh on the heart.

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1 Samuel 16:12b–And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

This is he.

The young one.

The shepherd boy.

The psalmist.

The musician.

The writer.

The poet.

The future giant slayer.

The next king

A boy who grew to be the man after God’s own heart.

The man who would be named in the genealogy of Christ.

Matthew 1:1—The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

David, although he sinned and failed God many times, Paul tells us in the book of Acts, David was a man after God’s own heart. And the promise of God, His Son Jesus would come from David’s seed.

Acts 13:22-23—And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to who also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus.

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These hearts of ours. There are no perfect ones. Some broken. Some no longer whole. Some with scars. Some with bruises. Some with holes.  And still beating because of God’s mercy and His grace.

The greatest gift our hearts will ever receive is the giving away of our hearts to Jesus. Christmas is not about the gifts wrapped under the tree, bought in a store. It’s about the gift of the heart and knowing we too can be a man or woman after God’s own heart.

Unwavering, no doubt His mother Mary held baby Jesus close. She embraced the heart of God.

How to be a gift this Christmas

Be a man or woman, boy or girl after God’s own heart 

All scripture referenced is from the KJV Bible

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 14.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 14.

It was a mad rush, everyone reacting in haste, a sense of urgency, similar to Black Friday.

Day 12

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Luke 2:1-4–And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Ceasar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be tax, everyone one into his own city. And Joseph also went from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: (because he was of the house of lineage of David:)

The descendants of King David had been ordered to pay their taxes, ordered by Ceasar Augustus. Another similarity to Black Friday. Money. And little did this small town know the birth of a King was about to happen.

Why? They were too busy, settling in for the night rather than worrying about others while Ceasar Augustus counted his money. No doubt they saw Mary great with child on donkey and Joseph, weary…before closing their doors for the night. No doubt Joseph was frantic to find a place for Jesus’ birthplace. But not one opened their doors.

Are we going to be like Bethlehem? Will we close the door on the Greatest Gift?

This is a beautiful song from Casting Crowns with a powerful message.

While You Were Sleeping

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you’re lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had come
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we’re lying in the dark
There’s a shout heard ‘cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night

How to be a gift this Christmas

Pray for our country

Pray for our world 

All scriptures referenced are from the KJV Bible

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 12

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 12

For centuries a special breed of lambs were raised in fields just outside Bethlehem for one purpose, the sacrifice. Lambs were brought to Jerusalem at Passover from Bethlehem and were slaughtered as a sacrifice to God for the covering of the people’s sins.

The last sacrificial lamb was born in Bethlehem. He is the only one we will ever need. Forever. Not just for a season, but for eternity.

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John 1:29–The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Revelation 7:17–For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Because of God’s heart for you, for me, for us–a baby was born. The Lamb of God came with a special purpose. He came to die. And now He lives. Although it is difficult for us to even comprehend this love, God writes His heart so simple –a child can understand.

John 3:16—For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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He stands all alone in the blanket of white.  This lone donkey.

And he has this special purpose to serve.

There is no where in the Bible that speaks of Mary and Joseph riding to Bethlehem on a donkey, however scholars believe this is true because donkeys were the major form of transportation in Biblical times.

But there is one sure thing written in the Bible about the need of a donkey.

Matthew 21: 1-3, And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

The cattle of the field need the protection of a donkey–The people of Jerusalem needed lambs for the sacrifice of Passover–Jesus needed the colts for His entry into Jerusalem–the animals–God used them for a special purpose. And there was Mary and Martha who gave unselfishly to their purpose of serving.  This beautiful purpose of serving.

The Lamb of God came with a special purpose–He served and He gave the ultimate sacrifice–He gave freely. Because of love.

And God gives us all a purpose and a time to fulfill our special purpose.  It’s up to us to rend our hearts wide–

Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

How to be a gift this Christmas

Pray for God to show us ways to serve Him by serving others 

Pray for God to show us our special purpose 

Share the story of the birth of Jesus with others–His purpose

 

All scriptures referenced are from the KJV Bible 

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 11

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 11

Driving up the mountain to Boone I was surprised by a flock of small birds that flew out from some nearby trees along the roadside. The sky was covered by these tiny black specs, thousands of them flying off to some unknown destination. As I watched in wonder at God’s beauty my mind wondered to the Christmas story and the presence of angels.

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It’s dusk and another day’s work is done. The sheep are all accounted for and it’s finally time for rest. But before the shepherds could lay down their weary and aching bodies, heaven opened and God’s special messenger appeared with the greatest birth announcement this world has ever received.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:9-10

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. Luke 2:13-14.

A multitude, a great number, not just one angel, but thousands covered the night sky. Like snowflakes–singing angelic praises.

Luke tells us after their song and praise, the angels went away, “into heaven”.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made know unto us.  Luke 2:15

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And angels adorn our trees and our children costumed in angelic whites and golds and silvers in our Christmas programs and God sends.

I sat in awe of him–on this Sunday morning–he walked through the doors and worshiped with my church, this man whose skin may have been different but the heart the same.  He stood in the midst of our congregation and I watched him as he stood and sang during the offering song. He didn’t need a song book. He knew the words by heart. I watched as a deacon and others in my church reached out their hands in fellowship–welcoming him while the offering plate passed from pew to pew.  He was one that never returned. Could it be, we as a church have entertained angels as the Bible speaks? I believe.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2. 

How to be a gift this Christmas

Share a little of Christmas every where you go if nothing but a smile you carry

Pray for those who will be celebrating their first Christmas without a loved one

Pray for the homeless and the hurting

All scripture references from the KJV Bible 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 10.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 10.

As the evening skies darkened the shepherds would gather their sheep into the sheepfold, counting each one in the evening and then again in the morning as they returned to pasture. They slept near the flock to protect them from wild animals and thieves–always on watch.

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These sheepherders were shunned by society–forbidden in the Temple courts or religious gatherings. Isolated to themselves because no one wanted to be around them–reeking of animal smells was just one of many reasons they were considered unworthy.

But God…God sent an angel to these shepherds to tell them the good news and how they could witness this miracle birth. And they obeyed. Imagine, the lowest of society was honored to hear of Jesus’ birth first, His first visitors. God reached down His hand and touched these shepherds’ hearts. Come, I have news for you. Your Savior is born. Come and see my Son.

Luke 2: 8-12, And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Luke 2: 15-20, And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

These outcasts known as simple shepherds–their lives were changed forever that night. And that’s what happens when we meet Jesus.  Our lives are changed for eternity.

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Our nativity figures and Christmas programs always depicts three male shepherds. The Bible references them as “shepherds” or “the shepherds” (Luke 2:8,15,18).

And there’s this beautiful story in the Old Testament of Rachel, the keeper of her father’s sheep.

Genesis 29:6, And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

Genesis 29:9, And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them.

And what if one of those shepherds who visited the baby Jesus–what if one of them was a woman? What if one of the shepherds was a shepherdess? What if she was sent especially to help Mary after the birth of Jesus, if only for a few moments of time.

What if?

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.  (John 21:25)

How to be a gift this Christmas

Read our Bibles. Share a Bible with someone in need 

Go through old family photos and make an album for a loved one 

Ask a teacher how you can help in the classroom–Does a child have a need, do they need a gift for a loved one, do they need a friend? 

 

All scriptures referenced are from the KJV Bible 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 9.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 9.

The news of snow coming. Snow is on the horizon. And we are rushing to the grocery store, preparing. And to many of us the snow brings out the child inside of us running to the window, watching for that first snowflake.

And then it comes and the world becomes quieter and the noise stops, at least for a little while.

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_DSC0599.JPGAs we witness royal births in our world today the news is spread world-wide with large crowds waiting in anticipating the birth of the new royal. And once the news of the birth is officially announced, often times bells ring out through the towns, communities, cities and the country in which the child was born There is a new royal baby. Born on this day._DSC0194There were no royal bells ringing throughout the land announcing the birth of Jesus.  He came in the humble of poverty. He came in the quiet, like a winter snow.

Please slow down and slip away from the noise of the “commercial Christmas” and listen to this song “Winter Snow” written by Audrey Assad and performed by Chris Tomlin. Listen to the slow and the quiet of this Christmas season. This song will take your heart straight to the manger.

 

“Winter Snow”
by Audrey Assad (2)

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we’ve scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling, oh yeah, to the earth below
You came falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

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And the snowflakes are large on this winter morning. And the silence of a winter snow always brings the most beautiful birds. Perhaps on this day they too need the peace and stillness only God can provide.

How to be a gift this Christmas

Pray 

Dear God, As we prepare for your coming birth this Christmas help us to never be too busy to celebrate in the quiet. Be thankful. To always remember without Your birth–there would be no Christmas. And burden our hearts with a flame to share with others Your goodness–Your love, Your forgiveness–Your salvation–Your second coming. Amen. 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 8.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 8.

Liz Curtis Higgs, author of The Women of Christmas wrote, “Three women played vital roles in the Messiah’s birth: Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. Their lives were markedly different. Elizabeth was married, settled, mature. Her kinswoman Mary was young, still living at home, and engaged to a carpenter. Anna was an elderly widow whose every waking hour wholly dedicated to God.” 

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And they all learned from one another. Three different generations, three women devoted to God.

When the angel Gabriel told Mary how she would conceive he also shared the news of her cousin, Elisabeth. 

Luke 1:36—And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 

Luke 1:39-And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah

053848A7-3BEB-4876-A4AB-D1B4CA8118A9.jpegI love how the scripture reveals to us the urgency of Mary. She didn’t waste any time getting to her cousin’s side. Was it because Mary thought Elisabeth needed her or did Mary need Elisabeth? 

They needed each other. 

The Bible tells us that Elisabeth was well past her childbearing age. Zacharias referred to his wife as “well stricken in years”. 

And Mary, so young. Two women so very distant in age but hearts entwined with one another. 

Because of family. 

Because they were women. 

Because of two miracle babies growing inside their wombs. 

Because of God’s love. 

As soon as Elisabeth heard Mary’s voice, she knew. Her baby knew. I can only imagine both women falling into each other’s arms to their knees, embracing each other with hugs, gentle cheek kisses, smiles, tears of joy, prayer.

Luke 1:40-45–And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sound in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 

And Elisabeth praised Mary for her faith and her obedience to God. 

Mary stayed with Elisabeth for three months, her first trimester before returning to her home. During Mary’s visit with Elisabeth I expect these two women spent much time in prayer, baking bread, sewing baby clothes and long talks about pregnancy, the unknown of their childbirths to come and God’s goodness. 

They needed each other and God provided.

The Bible doesn’t tell us this but I truly believe Elisabeth gave Mary the encouragement she needed to go back home and share her good news. Although Mary’s faith was strong, we all need encouragement at times when life gets hard and dark.

We have so much to learn from Godly women. God offers these women in our lives for a reason–for strength, love, inspiration, encouragement. Seek out these ladies, these gifts, spend time with them, learn.

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She was standing outside in her yard in her puffy coat and flannel pajamas and she was hugging this fat cat with a tail that was swinging like a pendulum on a clock.  And her wide smile shouted ‘I’m just waiting on the snow to begin.’

And there’s these little girls and young ladies growing up–girls who are looking to us women to help guide them.  And guide them God’s way.

How to be a gift this Christmas 

Place an extra tip in the jar

Listen for the bell and drop a gift inside the red Salvation Army buckets 

And say Merry Christmas to everyone you see