Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 24. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

Final post for Advent:

Lets go to John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

We've covered several topics while reading Luke 2 every day. Lets consider Jesus as Light.

In a world where there was no hope there is now Jesus.
He was the light of life...and that light shines in the darkness...the heavens declared the glory of God.
I think we've all seen the immense light from one candle in a totally dark room, perhaps it was in a candle light service. All lights are out when one person lights the first candle. It gives you chills, it so touches the soul.
The world was dark and hopeless until Jesus came. Oh, life was rocking along but the presence of this tiny baby in a manger changed everything.

I think of my own life and my heart; there are little places I still need that light to pierce. Like the world before Jesus, sometimes we don't know how dark our existence is until the light shines.
All of a sudden we begin to see things that weren't visible to us before. Everyone has a place that needs the Light or a part of us that needs invading and changing.His light is life. He is Hope.
" Him was Life and the Life was the Light of the World..."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 23. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

Luke 2:15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

I'm not sure when I started with this thought... I think about the shepherds going (with haste) to seek out baby Jesus. What did Mary think as she lay there amidst the animal smells, birthing smells and exhaustion? Did she wonder where these guys came from? No doubt it solidified her knowledge that indeed this child of God was sent for purposes beyond her comprehension. What goes through your mind as you wonder how to mother/parent God in human form?

The shepherds were the first people to seek "go after Him" in human form. Sure we call King David a man after God's heart but the shepherds physically sought him and laid eyes on him!
Perhaps they held him in their arms. And how do you leave once you've held baby Jesus? Once you've been near him, how do you make your exit? How did it affect them the rest of their lives?
I always say, "You're changed once you encounter Jesus; you're never the same".

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 22. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}


Mary & Joseph:
Alone, isolated and homeless at the worst possible moment in their lives. Separated from the support of family, what to do about work to support the new family, lots of questions and so far no answers.
We look at the figurines in the nativity that we break out every December and we read the beautiful story but rest assured, these people were real and had emotions like you and me.
Chosen, yes but chosen most often isn't easy. It calls for situations of total reliance on God. In our world of comfort and convenience we really don't have a grasp on waiting. We don't do it well.

We often lose sight of God's dream for us because of the darkness of disappointment or the distraction of discouragement. All too often we forget God's promises in the midst of our problems.
it ever significant individual in the Bible has a history of "waiting" for the promises of God to be revealed.

Mary and Joseph are no different than us....they waited and relied on their word from God. we have the full Word, the whole Bible to thumb through and read, to lay on a table, to carry in a bag, to keep with us. Mary had one word. She had to carry this in her heart and hold onto it with everything she could...and then some. How many of us could go on one word? We'd no doubt wonder if we heard correctly or dreamed it all up...except for that babe in the womb.

Luke 1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to her,"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy,
the Son of God.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 21. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Another version says, "...they were astonished..." I like that...Astonished.

It is God's job to make miracles happen, like in our story. What I love is the response of the shepherds. Our responsibility is responding and in that we have a choice. God always gives us choices.

The shepherds responded with haste, telling of Jesus' birth and the angels announcement.
They were unconventional evangelists, speaking from the heart, speaking from experience.
When God touches your heart He reaches deep down inside. I say it every time, " You aren't the same when He touches you", it isn't possible.
God allows us to see, hear and experience things for a reason. He has a plan and whether we understand fully, our role or not, our experiences are important to seeing that plan to fruition.
We are somebody's heritage. How we respond will directly influence our children, grandchildren, and far beyond.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 20. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

Thinking of shepherds. I have mentioned before that they are favorite characters in the story. Not taking precedence over Jesus, of course.

They worked under the stars...the night watchmen over the flocks. I love the night sky and often wonder what it must have looked like. Was there a moon that night? I know there was a special star. Was it a star for that purpose only? Created to guide the shepherds and wise men? Was it a chilly night or balmy? Each trip to Israel has been in November, nights can be chilly, especially in the hills.

They strike me as tender hearted...perhaps it's the influence of the whole story.
They we're rugged, manly men, strong, capable, men of integrity. I think watching sheep was an important job. Not just anyone is cut out to spend long hours alone with only sheep for company.

Were they priestly shepherds watching the sheep that would be used soon for sacrifices? Praise you Father that we no longer have to offer up the sacrifice...for nothing could truly atone for our sins.
Shepherds would bind and swaddle newborn lambs to insure their legs were straight for no lame lambs could be used for the sacrifice. They were wrapped, swaddled, and laid in a manger until they calmed. After a short time they were loosed to return to momma.
Was this a sign to the shepherds to hurry? The angel said so...
Vs. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The shepherds knew swaddling was brief; they must hurry to find the Christ Child.
Oh the picture of Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb from His beginning in the world!

Perhaps you'd like to watch this brief video of "Bethlehem, Beyond the Christmas Story".
The stream stopped before it was completely over but it provides a glimpse into the land now. The presumed birthplace is enshrined and gaudy but it is also protected. You will learn a little history that may help your understanding as you continue reading Luke 2.

I have never been to Bethlehem but I have stood in Efrata looking at the hills of Bethlehem on a moonlit night and it takes my mind to a night in ancient times. My imagination takes me to the hills with watchful shepherds and the lowing of sheep. Men, going about their whose lives are never again the same...

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 19. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

When we think of nativities we think of Jesus lying in a cute little wooden manger. The criss cross style, filled with soft hay. It's rectangle shaped and just right for the length of a baby.

When I was in Jerusalem last year, my friend Chris took me to the Pool of Bethesda. It was my very last day and I was flying out that night. I soaked up as much of Israel as I could. It was pouring rain and I would have wandered longer and taken more pictures if not for that reason.
But those squares you see in the photo are what mangers really looked like in the days of Jesus. He would have been placed in one of these, not the wooden manger we know.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 18. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

A Song in the Night...

9 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.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Jesus is born and lies in a manger. A most unsuspecting place to find "The One" that seems such a threat to the ruler of the land. No room in the inn for Mary; no room for another king in the heart of Herod.
He calls for the destruction of that threat. Dozens of fresh, innocent children are stripped from the mother's breast that nurses them. So fresh from quickly silenced.

Yes, angels sang ushering in the King of Kings; they sang as never before. A song to bring Him into this world, they sang to the innocents leaving it, they sang to help Mary endure it all.
A song in the night to praise, to grieve, encourage, to declare Creator, Comforter, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 17. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

When I was pregnant and attending my first Lamaze classes the instructor was very intent on us finding a focal point. A pretty place to go to in our minds when the pain of labor became unbearable. Personally, I thought this was kind of dumb.

When the time came to find that happy place it wasn't sandy beaches that crossed my mind and transported me to another world. I saw a lowly stable area...A young girl without her mother...a man, not the father, yet the only one to assist in delivery in times when men didn't do that job. You know the fear was very real for both of them. Mary had no doctor to assist in a clean sterile environment. Could any place be more unsanitary than a stable/cave? No meds to ease the pain of childbirth... LOL this was my "go to" place for my own births. I thought, if Mary, the chosen mother of Jesus could bring her child into the world unmediated, I could too. I think it was a vision from The Lord because I truly love sandy beaches and would not have gone here on purpose!
so with each of my three births I was transported to a different aspect of Mary and her birth...

Yesterday, Christmas came early. It came, again, by way of a baby boy...he's 6'1" but he's my baby boy. His arrival changed everything inside me...again.
For weeks I have heard how he wasn't spending $800 to fly home for four days. He's been in NY for 3 months but I last saw his face in Aug. and only for a couple of hours. At home I hung three stockings for those of us that would be here. I was so saddened that I didn't put up a tree because this missing child was the one who always helped me. I decided to skip church yesterday and work on mailing his box. I slept late and after my Bible reading went to shower. When I came out I noticed closed doors and was told someone stopped by to see me. Shock! Who?? I had no make up on and hair wasn't fixed...oh man! I was told it would be okay, just come on.

You know those Christmas coffee commercials that make you cry... The house is decorated, the parents wish their son was coming home but he's not there... And suddenly they smell the coffee and go done stairs and he's sneaked in and they are altogether again...they are heartwarming.
Yesterday, i walked into my "Christmas coffee commercial" moment. There in my kitchen was my son. He looks so different I could hardly wrap my brain around the fact that he was standing here. He hasn't lived at home since May. I burst into wracking sobs and stood there in his arms for the longest time. I won't forget the first moment I laid eyes on him and I won't forget when Christmas came early for me, in my baby boy.
...and Mary pondered all these things in her heart....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 15. {{ God, You &Luke 2 }}

I haven't been able to post every day like I wanted but thoughts continue to run through my mind regarding our Luke 2 passage.
Today, as I was hearing the tv in the background, I heard a reference to " the hands that carved the rock..."
My mind immediately went to God who spoke the mountains (the rock) into existence. I thought of Mary who no doubt was the first to lay human hands on Jesus, God, the baby... As she took the birthing position and squatted to bring him into this new world. A new world yet not completely unfamiliar to him. As he is pushed from one world into another she grabs him. The hands of his mother will hold him and comfort him the rest of his days.
vs. 7 "And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger..."
I think how these are the hands God chose for his son. Never think your life isn't miraculously chosen. We never really understand the depth and wonder of our lives because we're too busy being caught up in ourselves. He has made you for his purpose, his design on your life is for a reason and you are wonderfully, fearfully made....yet another miracle.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 12.12.12. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

It's a momentous day...the last like it we will see. 12.12.12. I kinda like it so I looked up the twelfth word and the twelfth verse in today's reading.

twelfth word: "Go" it's an action word. You have to put feet to it, move to it. No sitting still with this one. Joseph was obeying the law of the land by registering himself and Mary. how man times have we read God telling who ever to go to the city I will tell you?

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

I love the first phrase, "And this shall be a sign unto you..." We have only to look around us to see the signs of His love, provision, all of creation shouts its glory to God.

I read something today that said something to the effect of, "The heavens remember..."
I had to think on it a moment but then it made sense. God tells us even the rocks cry out glorifying their maker but I never thought of the universe doing the same. You know its like you know it on the inside somewhere deep down so it's not totally foreign but has some bit of familiarity. The heavens remember that night; what is the span of two thousand years to them? They are held by their maker and were made for His pleasure.
We were made for His pleasure, to glorify and worship Him. ? So...."Go", Be the sign.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 11. {{ God, You and Luke 2 }}

When we read the first few words of Luke 2, we already hit a miraculous thought. Tax the whole world? Vs. 3 tells us..."and all went to be taxed..."

This is mind boggling to me. Part of my questions that arise as I look at the normal people of this cast is...what if they didn't? What happens to those who don't get taxed, recorded? I think we have no idea how stiff these regulations were. Obviously it was so serious that Joseph had to take Mary in her delicate condition, knowing they probably weren't going to make it back for a home delivery.
we know it was days of travel and would have been further delayed with a very pregnant Mary who no doubt had to rest often. I can't imagine the jostling even of being on a donkey.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up 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 and lineage of David:)

and so my mind wanders and it's not grand spiritual ideas that always cross my mind...but it's the: couldn't they hid somewhere? What happens if they don't? What happens if the do? Kind of questions about registering with Caesar Augustus.
Would we be so willing to do that in 2012? if our government suddenly said you have to go back to the land of your ancestors and register...Where would it be for you? do you have money to drop everything and go? Leave your job or take a leave of absence while you go? Load up kids, take them out of school, drive, fly? What will it cost to eat along the way?
I believe there was a cost to having to go. not just financially but even with the safety and well being of Mary and the coming baby. I think we have no idea. Just me thinking this morning....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 6. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

thinking this morning and several times about this verse:

17 "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,..."

The shepherds have always been the characters I am drawn to. I think of when the angel came and they went to see Jesus, it says they spread the word.

In the last few years there have been moments God has spoken to me. Sometimes, I didn't really want to accept what He was telling when it was to surrender everything and move to Israel. It was a touchy topic but within months I was embracing those words to me and the changes that had taken place in my heart.
Another time He was calling me to go back for a different purpose. This time I would go alone and meet up with 12 people who were strangers to me and be in His land for nearly three weeks.

When God speaks to you, it's "Life Changing". You aren't the same anymore. You can't be, You have been touched by His voice, His words, His presence. And who among us could keep that a secret? You don't want want to tell everyone, spread the word. Like the shepherds go tell anyone who will listen and people marvel because deep down they want to hear from God too.

Yes, it's special when God speaks to you, He chooses to impart something to YOU.
He chooses because you have made a decision to come to him by reading His Word. Every time we come to read our Bibles He speaks. Even in reading the same passage daily, we get something new...Come read me with me...Luke 2.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 5. Dreams

I'm reading "Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas". It was a free download and I thought I would glance through and see what it held. I had no idea how captivated I would become with the words as told by various characters in our story.
Over the years many of them have already been considered I have let my mind wander to the thoughts of "what was it like for_______?". And fill in the blank with different members of this cast. I will give my thoughts another day. Today I will share a tiny bit from the book that is hard to lay down yet hard to remain in for long periods of time. It pierces the soul, makes you really sit in awe of this story if you allow yourself to delve into its depths.

You know who reminds me of me these days? Old Job, faithful old Job. I too followed the commandments, no one forced me, it was my decision. Yet all seemed taken away, like Job.
Before that I had other dreams. Dreams with no angels in them. I Dreamed of Mary and a house full of children, of growing old with her. The children would grow strong and devout and Mary and I would ease into a cranky elegance. We would live a well ordered life. Then all those dreams were snatched away.
If you do not believe there were moments when I was tempted to " curse God and die" then you make me out to be something I am not. I am not angel or one of the lesser God's. I am a man and this was not the life I had planned.
But curse the Mighty One? I could not. My ordered life? a memory...The control I'd long worked to establish? Gone. Maybe it was never really there but I thought it was and I lived like it was.
My reputation among family and friends? Stained. What kind of story have I fallen into?

there will be more from this book throughout the coming days. Keep reading and let it sink in.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 4. {{ God, You & Luke 2 }}

My thoughts this morning are not real spiritual...well, I guess that's not true. they are "very" spiritual but from the dark side of the spirit realm.

When I chose to do this daily reading in Luke 2 and blog about it, I didn't take into account what it might bring to my life in regards to spiritual warfare. Yesterday was bad. It was like "hell broke loose" bad. So while I'm crying and wading through the trenches of the day it hits me....
What must the warfare have been like the night He came? The night Jesus broke through the barriers of time and space to come that we (mankind) might be free. Was there a battle in the heavenlies between the angels of God and the angels that were cast from Heaven eons ago? did they try to prevent His coming? not understand it? "What? God himself going down there?"

I imagine a fierce battle with swords drawn and the deafening sound of beating angels' wings. Then I imagine a host, thousands of angels guarding and ushering the coming of Jesus as He travels from his home in Heaven to fulfill his Father's will. Though there is a battle in the heavenly realm, we are reminded as We continue to read Luke 2 daily, the battle is won.
He goes before you and me. And while we may wade through the trenches, feel hopeless, lost, and cry I am reminded that in vs.6 "And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."

This night in humble surroundings, God himself, as Jesus, came to fight for us. He came to change us, give hope, go for the one lost sheep and bring it in, He binds our wounds, He is the Healer, He goes before us and FIGHTS for us, for you and me.

2 Chronicles 20:15-17
" not be afraid or discouraged, the battle is not yours...Take your position, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

God, You & Luke 2

Today is the beginning of our reading Luke 2:1-21, and we're doing this daily. Do this whenever it fits into your day; for me it will usually be mornings but I also enjoy reading before bedtime.

Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalm 119:18 ESV)

When you open the Bible, you aren't just opening any book. It is the inspired word from the creator of the universe who has chosen to reveal Himself to us in its words.

Hebrews 4:12 reminds us: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

I love looking at the realness of the words of the story. Join me here,FB or by email as we read HIStory for the next 23 days. If you have children read this aloud to them also... I think you might be amazed at how quickly it sinks into their memory.