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 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 4.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. December 4.

She could have said no you know, this young innocent girl. She had plans for her life, to be married, have children. But God….but God had better plans. She would be the mother of our Savior, her Savior.

And how can we not stand in awe of how Mary responded to the news from God’s messenger, the angel Gabriel. After Gabriel announced God’s plan for Mary’s life, she listened in silence and then ask one question.

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Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Luke  1:34

Only one question, no panic, no excuses, no what will people say, will Joseph still marry me, will my life be in danger? Just one question, How? How will this be? 

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And the angel reassured her of God’s greatness. Luke 1:37–For with God nothing shall be impossible. 

Luke 1:38–And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. 

And Mary turned her fear into faith, her faith into obedience, and became a great servant for God.

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A few years ago while working at Samaritan’s Purse at the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Center a lady named Joanna was there.  There volunteering her time at my table. Eighty-eight years young, a retired English teacher from Tennessee. I ask if she would like to take a break after a few hours and she replied, ‘No honey. I just want to work. It is such a blessing to be here’.

There was this thing that happened on the Sabbath. Reading my Bible in the early morning and some journal notes from months past and I turned to the book of 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4–Verse 3, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.”

Our pastor, he stands with a smile and welcomes us to Sunday morning worship and says, if you have your Bibles turn with me to 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4–Verse 3.
And there it was again, but this time on the big screen in front of my watery eyes and our pastor reads, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.”

And there was Mary and Joanna, serving. Their gospels shining with the brightest of lights.

How can we be a gift this Christmas…

We shine our lights brightly by serving others

We shine our lights so others can see Christ

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. Luke 11:33

 

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.

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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.