The Birth of Christ

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

The birth of a baby is a miracle. To the new mother, father, or anyone else present it can’t be described in any lesser terms.

Mary had to have an amazing trust in God. After Jesus’s birth and all the astonishing events surrounding that birth, the words to describe her state of mind convey peace. From the very beginning of conception, she never once questioned God. I know my conversations with Him would have been quite different.

We are fortunate to have great Old Testament models like Mary who spoke to God with faith-filled words and responded with unhesitating trust. “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.

Ironic

Teach me Your ways, so I may know you and continue to find favor with you (Ex 33:13b)

God works in mysterious ways—okay, not “mysterious” because His Word pretty much explains how He operates, but maybe in ways that seem ironic to us. A simple example is giving. It would seem the more we give away, the less we have in our stockpile. The truth is that we can’t out give God. The more we give, the more he refills, pressed down and filled to overflowing.

A more complicated “irony” deals with praying for someone who we feel needs to change. The more we pray for that person, the more the Holy Spirit shines a spotlight on areas in our own lives that could use some work.

I’m not totally familiar with the Twelve-Step program, but I’m sure one of the beginning steps is confessing (admitting to) our personal flaw. That first step puts both us and the other person in the healing hands of the Great Physician and “He will teach us so that we may walk in His paths.”

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Digging Deeper

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains (expounds, correctly interprets) the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The devotional that I read today from Oswald Chambers says, “If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can.”

My goodness! That would take a lifetime! But it should take a lifetime as we examine, restate, scrutinize, pore over, and live out God’s word.

Once we have tasted God’s word and know and accept it as true, the hardest part is over. We no longer have to question God and His love for us, just prayerfully work toward understanding and assimilating His word into our lives.

I am always thrilled when I am part of a discussion of scriptural principles. It helps all involved to better understand and express our beliefs, and to know God better.

Life Eternal

The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b)

I was fortunate to have been raised in a church that recognized Jesus Christ. I used to feel that those years were spiritually wasted because I never learned about the saving grace, nor how to have a personal relationship with Him. But although I didn’t “know” Him at that time, I was learning “about” Him.

Now I am much more privileged to have a personal, exclusive, just-the-two-of-us relationship. We communicate each and every time I choose. And whenever I choose not to listen to His voice, He waits patiently, guiding (or nudging) me to the best paths.

Those years certainly were not wasted. After all, isn’t that how all good relationships begin—getting to know “about” the other person and learning about ourselves through them as well.

And, by far, the best part about our relationship is that it is the never-ever-ending story.

Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. (Prov3:5)

 I mentioned before that sometimes I run ahead of God. His timing is perfect, and my anxiousness and lack of patience often gets me in trouble. But the other area in this verse—leaning on my own understanding—gets me into even deeper trouble.

My vision is finite. I cannot foresee the future, and even more crucial, I cannot see into the hearts and minds of others. What looks like anger, might actually be the way the person protects himself from hurt; what looks like selfishness, might be him ensuring the needs of his family. My understanding of a situation can be muddied by my preconceptions or my expectations. Sometimes I can’t explain my own motivation, let alone other’s.

This is just one area where relying on the Lord will not only affect our eternity, but it is a guiding principle for success in this world too.

Children of Light

For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Eph5:8)

 “Children of light” sounds like an amazingly beautiful concept, like playing on a sunny beach under a clear blue sky. But allowing God to turn on the light (truth) often reveals things about ourselves that we may not like.

I find that it is easier to justify– diminishing my responsibility, shifting the blame to others or circumstances beyond my control. Justification keeps us trapped in the quicksand of darkness. But if we are willing to admit our wrongdoing (or destructive thoughts), He is faithful and just to purify us (1John1:9)

It seems ridiculous to let our silly pride keep us from all the rewards that come with walking in the light.

Healing

If my people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin, and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

What would a “healed” land look like?

God created diversity. In this country our diversity gives us the richness of our culture. But a healthy land must also have unity. We share common bonds of humanity—needs, emotions; however if our emotions ruled us, we wouldn’t be united at all. We’d be acting selfishly and destructively, each satisfying his own needs.

We can’t heal our land by legislating kindness or righteousness. We couldn’t even come to a consensus of what “good” means.

God gives us the answer in this verse. We have to park our own egos, pray, and seek His face, then listen to His voice in our hearts, telling us what to do and what to turn from.

I hesitated inserting this often-quoted verse in the conversation, but my heart hurts because of the division in our country. The solution to healing our land doesn’t lie in any person, or even any system, but we can trust the Creator Who has given us the formula for how to fix it.