Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who Came First?

Every culture has a group they look down on. When I was in Romania we were told to stay away from the gypsies. In Germany we were told that the area we lived in was looked down upon for their poor use of the language.

It was no different in Israel back in the day, shepherds were told to stay out of town, probably because they smelled of sheep. But they were also thought to be thieves and not trustworthy. According to "A Visual Guide to Bible Events" most Jews would not do business with a shepherd directly...hmmm.

Yes, Jesus is the great shepherd. And, the sacrificial lamb. And, most importantly, the Messiah. Yes, he came for everyone.

But, I can only imagine how surprised and taken aback the town people were when the shepherds dared to enter the outskirts of town as they looked for the baby in a manger.

There Mary was resting, and the first visitors to come from any kind of distance in the area were the last people on earth she expected to see. Yet, they came and paid their respects to the newborn king.

It was not the first time something like this happened, but it became more evident when Jesus was born that God calls people from all corners of life to come and worship. He is open to receive all those who would want to bask in his forgiveness, his miracles, his love, his peace, or whatever he may offer them specifically.

Only man places limits in his heart and thinking. Ouch!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why Be Born?

As we approach Christmas I am reminded of how much I need Jesus in my day to day activities. How fortunate I am to know he is still alive. He has saved me from the darkness and emptiness that a life without his peace offers.

Accepting his birth, his coming to earth as man, taking on our weaknesses and propensity to imperfection, even his ability to master those and remain true to his natural righteousness as the Son of God is easy for most.

But as we rejoice in his birth let us keep in mind Psalms 89 and 98. There was a reason he came. He was here to complete the oath to David...not as man sees and understands, but in a way that is far beyond.

We are to continue to worship him as they did on that first night. For one day he will return, not as a newborn without skill or ability, but as the man who bore our sins on the cross and came out the winner.

Sing to him a new song continually...for he has done much for all of us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

He Did What?

For years I have had the verses from Jeremiah 29 posted on my refrigerator. You know the ones that read, "I know the plans I have for you...'(verses 11-13). I've heard them so often quoted to bring comfort to those who are going through difficult times.

What I did not realize is why those verses are there.

Jeremiah was writing to those folks who had been carried off to Babylon. You know, Daniel and his friends. "Well, that's interesting," I thought. But there was more. I'm sure it was mentioned in a Bible study or even a sermon, but I simply do not remember anyone pointing out and 'connecting the dots' in verse 4.

God caused them to be taken there.

Now, just think about that. Here are some well-to-do-believers following all the precepts of God, taken away from their home to a foreign land to serve in the courts of a king who could care less about their God or their beliefs.

Yes, the Babylonian army took them because of their social standing. But more importantly, God ordained the righteous to go too.

Verses 5-10 tell them to relax...start families...make a life for themselves...don't believe everything they hear...they are going to be there a while.

Jeremiah's letter had to have arrived to Daniel and all his friends because there is no mention of any one trying to escape and return back to Israel. Perhaps this letter made the suffering, challenges and testing a little easier to manage.

I have to wonder. How many times does God place difficult situations in our paths on purpose? How many times was I just to relax, get on with life, etc. rather than worrying about getting out of the stressful situation and back to where I was?

Or, was I focused on the problem or change rather than looking to see what I needed to do for God in the situation I was in?

No one wants their peace disturbed in their lives, I know I don't, or their faith tested. But, sometimes it appears God does. And when it does, He walks right beside us all the way...for He knows the plans He has for us.