His Coming. Christmas Devotional. Blessed are those who see hope.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. Blessed are those who see hope.

Wonder if Mary wept when all she had to wrap her new baby in were rags or if Joseph apologized to Mary–to God…I’m sorry, there are no rooms.  This is the best we have for right now.

This humble beginning, it was all God’s plan.  This gentle arrival–it was never meant to be in a palace.  And honestly maybe Mary did cry some tears and Joseph said I’m sorry a few times.  But more than anything they kept seeing hope.  And hope laid in a manager full of straw wrapped in swaddling clothes.

For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

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And there was Simeon waiting on death–waiting on hope.  He saw the child come into the temple with his parents–the child Jesus and Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God for his eyes saw his own salvation–his hope.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death: before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou 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. Luke 2:26-32

And she came running, an instant the scripture says to see the Christ child.  Immediate. Rapid. Quick. In a moment.  This elderly widow woman, a prophetess who spent her days at the temple fasting and praying–day and night.  Anna, she wasted no time giving thanks to the Lord just as Simeon did and she took her hope out into the streets of Jerusalem and shared the good news of forgiveness and redemption.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38. 

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Thank you to photographer, Jill Miller Woodie for the use of this photo 

She tried but there was no stopping the flooding of the heart for this mama.  She signed her name and said, ‘I am so grateful you all are here.  This is the first time I have had to do this.  It’s been hard this year.’

And I watched as the ministry volunteer who was completing her paperwork reach right through the office window opening and wrap her arms around this mama’s neck.  And they cried hope together.

How can we be a gift this Christmas

Practice kindness in everything..everywhere

Consider giving to Wilkes Hope Ministry 

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

All scripture referenced is 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 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 6

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 6

The dictionary states that your name is a word used for identification, called, or known. A newborn responds to the sound of his or her Mama and Daddy’s voice first and then as a toddler they learn their own name.  And in the Lackey household we quickly learned if our parents called us by our full name more than likely we were in trouble for some kind of mischief–which happened fairly often.

Your name–unique to you, chosen by your parents, often with special meanings or named after a family member or loved one.

And Jesus-He was named by His Father.

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And when the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary he revealed to her the name of her child, God’s child. You shall call him Jesus.

Jesus Christ

Christ the Lord

Emmanuel

Luke 1: 31-32, And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

Matthew 1:21, And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:23. And they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:24-25, Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and He called His name JESUS.

Luke 2:11—For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And Jesus named by His Father, God–His name is still and will always be the name above all names–salvation. 

Acts 4:10, Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Acts 4:12—Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

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The blanket of black peels away to red and blue leaving only a silhouette of the dark and planes are ascending to their high on this early morn.  School bus motors are humming, flashing their bright. And cars and trucks and 18-wheelers all moving in haste–competing with the clicking of time.

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And in the school buses are children and a driver–all with names.

Planes with passengers and crew all in flight–every seat filled with names.

And within each speeding car and truck are drivers–passengers–children–all with names.

And there’s this bus, four to be exact before the day’s travel ended–dull in color with windows lined with cages limiting the passengers’ views and the bus, marked with black lettering–NC Inmate Transport Unit. Inside sits rows and rows of men or women–all with names.

Names. And God knows them all. And there is no hierarchy of importance with God.  Only this whosoever.

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.

How to be a gift this Christmas

Seek out a prision ministry and give of your time or resources

Seek out a ministry that gives to children whose parents are incarcerated and give of your time or resources

Invite the whosoever to your church, your Christmas programs, Christmas dinners

Pray for the lost.  Pray for the whosoever. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 1.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 1.

Not the number of shopping days that remain or the number of days until Santa comes. It’s His coming. 

It’s preparing  our hearts for the coming of the greatest gift we will ever receive.  Preparing our hearts for Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6–For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

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For four hundred years God remained silent.  And then the angel of the Lord spoke to Zacharias. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John (Luke 1:13).  And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17).

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She stood in the midst of the falling rain one hand gently touching the red of the poinsetta and the other on the cold hard stone.  And she decorates where her husband was laid to rest many years ago.  I know the joy he brought to her, his family, and his church.

And this is not her first Christmas without him.  But there she was, tiny raindrops clinging to her hair strands and she–still grateful for the gift of him.

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Our greatest gifts are never under the tree wrapped in paper with the largest of bows.  This December, this Christmas season–let’s not miss the gifts of family, friends, strangers.  And most of all let’s not miss the GIFT of JESUS.

How can we be a gift this Christmas…

Show your love to a widow this Christmas season–buy or make a small gift, tell them they are important to you–to others. Pray for them.

And always, every chance include children in the ministry of presence. 

Honour widows that are widows indeed. 1 Timothy 5:3

 

 

 

 

 

A week of thanks; the Saturday Gratitude Journal

A week of thanks; the Saturday Gratitude Journal

I haven’t picked up that particular journal in a while.  The journal where I started writing my gifts–my blessings.  Not that I haven’t been thankful or received many undeserved blessings.

Why is it we sometimes fail to give thanks–thanks to Him where all our blessings flow? And perhaps we do.  For the big things. But what about for the everyday. Maybe it’s the busyness of this drowning in life that we often bring on ourselves.  The rush. The everything else is more important.  Or I’ll do this later.  And later comes and we are exhausted.

Or maybe–just maybe our focus is on the struggles, the trials, the “wants”, the “have-tos”.

Can we say we truly have a grateful heart?   In all things?

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It came as a dare to Ann Voskamp, Christian writer and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully. A challenge, so to speak to pen one thousand things in her life she was thankful for. And she began in simple, in the everyday, gifts we sometimes overlook .

Researchers studied in excess of one thousand people from the young to the old who kept gratitude journals and found this, “Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in our studies, we often have people keep gratitude journals for just three weeks. And yet the results have been overwhelming. We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits: 

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Resource: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good/

 

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But giving thanks is so much more.  It’s worship.  It’s prayer.  It’s talking to our Heavenly Father.  It’s what we are supposed to do.

It’s recognizing all of His good gifts.  In all things.  Sorrow and in joy.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 136:1

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20. 

And on this rainy Saturday morning I look back over the pages of my gratitude journal. The gifts I had written not so long ago.  The ink is dry but I still remember and I am once again reminded of how He gives.

Listening to the birds singing in the early morning through open windows–no man has ever produced music such as this

My Daddy’s white handkerchiefs

White roses

Beauty in the healing miracles–Baby Everleigh

Blessed assurance

Sunrises so blinding you have to look away

Receiving gifts from the core of someone’s heart.  And me, feeling so unworthy. 

You don’t have to have a fancy journal to begin. Only a pen and paper will do, along with a thankful heart.  The Saturday Gratitude Journal

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 

James 1:17 (KJV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Belongs Right Here

She Belongs Right Here

I read somewhere that small birds have what they call perching toes.  Three in the front and one hind toe to tightly wrap around a tree limb or object.

And I watched her for the longest time—this morning.  Her tiny toes and spindle legs. She wasn’t clinging to the blossomed limb, instead she was searching—digging in the dirt, searching for dropped seeds.  And I thought to myself, why? Why is she working so hard for her food when all she has to do is spread her tiny wings and fly up to the bird feeder filled with seeds. Take her place among the other birds and feast alongside of the others.  And then I wondered if she felt as though many of us do at times. That she didn’t belong.

Unworthy.  Afraid. Alone.

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This sinner woman, she didn’t care about what anyone else thought. She never asked for  permission, nor did she ask for their approval. She didn’t hand the oil to someone else and ask them to break open the box and wash His feet because she was worried about what others might say about her.  She just did.  And her breaking came with tears, shame, raw faith, and the total surrender of the crushed pieces of her life.

Just how many tears does it take to produce enough water to wash soiled feet?  And how much broken does it take to be this ashamed?_DSC0379.JPG

 

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Here Jesus was at the home of a Pharisee and she knew He was a guest at the table.  And she entered into the house and stood behind Him.  Behind Him—ashamed to show Him her face. Her faults and failures, but brave enough to know He was love and He was forgiveness and she, a sinner—needed both.

And when the Pharisee saw this “woman of ill repute” washing Jesus’ feet, the Bible says the Pharisee spoke not out loud, but only to himself. But Jesus knew.  He knew his thoughts.  He knew his criticism. He knew his judgement.  And He knew his questioning of why.

Why would this so-called prophet named Jesus allow this sinner woman to touch Him?

And Jesus, He made himself part of Simon’s private conversation.

And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. 

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I  have something to say to you, Simon, Jesus said.  And He began to tell Simon a parable about two men owing debts, one owing only 50 cents and the other with a debt of $5.00.  And when both debtors couldn’t pay the creditor, he forgave both of their debts.  Paid in full.

Then Jesus asked Simon, which debtor do you think will love the creditor more for this forgiveness? And Simon said, ‘the one with the most debt.’

Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Jesus asked of Simon. Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. Luke 7:42-43

And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet:but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Luke 7:44

 My head with oil thou didst not anoint:but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Luke 7:46

 Her show of love was humble, unselfish.  And her many sins—forgiven.

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. Luke 7:47-48

 And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Luke 7:50

And Jesus came to the defense of this woman who washed His feet with her tears. She belongs right here.  She belongs right here with Me.

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_DSC0331.JPGThere was another woman in the New Testament— her reputation was considerably different than that of the sinner woman.  And Jesus, again He was quick to defend her actions—telling His disciple to leave her alone because like the sinner woman, she belonged.

In the book of John, John didn’t only describe her as a woman with an alabaster box of ointment, he called her by her name, Mary—Lazarus’ and Martha’s sister.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. John 12:3

Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him.  Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.  John 12-4-6

Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she keep this.  John 12:7

And there’s this little bird waiting for a crumb to fall and Jesus sees.  And there will be times where we feel small, unworthy, insignificant, we don’t belong. Hard days when the devil keeps pushing and days when it seems we are slipping into a dark pit and it’s easier to quit than to fight.

And Jesus says, Let her alone. Because she belongs right here.  She belongs right here with Me.