What emotion is filling you this Christmas?

Nativity

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in amanger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. Luke 2:1-20

My prayer for you:

Father, thank You for entering the world through a poor young woman who was obedient to Your will. Thank You for emptying Yourself of Your glory and eternity for a time to become a baby. Thank You for sending the first news of Your arrival on earth to shepherds and filling them with wonder and boldness to spread the word about what had happened. Bless us with the joy and wonder that filled the shepherds that night and embolden us to proclaim Your praises and sing, Joy to the World!

What emotion fills your heart at Christmas?

Jesus feeds the 5,000 – 7-step lesson of the miracle

Grassy HillA grassy hillside in the Galilee region

Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test [prove] him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” John 6:3-7

Jesus and His disciples had retreated to the mountain after they received the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded.

When I heard that Pastor Chuck Smith had gone to be with the Lord, I was on my way to work. I had meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and talking points to write. As I drove, I remembered our time in Israel with Pastor Chuck, the times at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and the changes in my life as a result of Pastor Chuck’s influence. When I got to the office, I shut my door to pray, grieve, and remember. I thanked God for Papa Pastor Chuck, opened my door, and attended to the needs of the day.

There was Jesus with His disciples, perhaps remembering the good that John the Baptist had done, grieving, and thanking God. Then, Jesus looked up, saw a need and taught the disciples how to attend to the need in a seven-step process:

1.  Possibility: Where’s the opportunity to fill the need?

Jesus asked Phillip, Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”

2.  Recognize: Acknowledge our limitations.

Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”

3.  Surrender: It’s not much, Jesus, but this is what we have.

Andrew came to Jesus and said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”

4.  Obey: Take the next step even if you don’t know what Jesus will do.

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

5.  Observe: Watch Jesus at work.

Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

6.  Gather: Preserve the miraculous increase.

When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

7.  Reflect: Ponder the lesson in the miracle.

“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’ … Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:31-35

After the miracle, Jesus departed to the mountain alone, and the disciples left by boat. They retreated.

After a long day at work, I enjoyed remembering Papa Pastor Chuck with my husband, Keith.

There is a time of retreat and a time of ministering. Sometimes rest is interrupted by need.

My prayer for you:

Father, empower us to recognize the process and possibilities open to us as we allow You to work in this world. May we surrender all that we have to You, so that You can multiply it beyond our imagination. Bring us to that retreat with You and teach us the lesson of taking in Manna from heaven. We praise You, Father, for Your goodness and holiness.

The leper’s 7-step process to total healing

Cobblestones

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:19

As Jesus traveled to Jerusalem along the border of Samaria and Galilee, 10 lepers stood at a distance from him and raised their voices:

“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Luke 17:13

Leprosy was a contagious disease – linked with sin in Biblical times. Lepers lived outside the city and were considered unclean.

“Unclean, unclean” was their cry when they came near people.

There was no cure. There was no hope – except in this man Jesus who went about healing the blind, raising the dead, and feeding the thousands.

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Luke 17:14

Ten lepers asked Jesus for mercy, and Jesus cleansed all of them. This ceremonially cleansing enabled them to live a normal life and to enter the temple. They were physically cured.

The Samaritan, however, returned in gratitude and threw himself at the feet of Jesus loudly praising God.

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:19

Jesus proclaimed that the Samaritan’s faith made him sozo, or whole, completely restored to health and saved from destruction. The Samaritan received all that Jesus offered when he fell at Jesus’ feet in thanksgiving.

The Samaritan’s healing was a seven-step process.

  1. He cried out for healing.
  2. He obeyed the command of Jesus to go show himself to the priest.
  3. He recognized his cure.
  4. He returned to Jesus.
  5. He fell at the feet of Jesus.
  6. He praised God.
  7. His faith made him whole.

The healing that Jesus offers is more than a physical healing. He offers a healing that is complete, a healing that will make you whole, a healing that will restore your mind, body, soul, and spirit to what God has planned for you and all the promises, treasures, and fullness He has for you, sozo.

My prayer for you:

Gracious Father, You, alone, are good. You, alone, are our Healer. Restore our minds, bodies, souls, and spirits to all that You have planned for us. Bestow all the fullness of your promises, treasures, and plans that You have prepared for us from the beginning of the world. We praise You for Your amazing love, that You would have mercy on us and grant us fellowship with You. Thank You, Father.