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The Stench and The Stars

 
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” NIV
Matthew 2:10

The Stench and The Stars

 

beamTwo small yet significant memories of my world mission tour are finding a special place in my heart as I draw closer to Christmas. Each in its own way has drawn me closer to Jesus.

First, in Thailand, my team was heading home from a house church meeting and had to drive half an hour through rice fields. We were laughing and singing in the truck bed. My precious Thai sister grabbed my arm mid-song and pointed to the sky. As I looked around and above, the blanket of stars covering us overwhelmed us. Worship bubbled out of us for the rest of our drive through the stars.

When I think back to letting the stars envelope me in Thailand, I imagine the shepherds and the wise men chasing the star that led them to Jesus. I wonder if the glory of the night sent shivers of anticipation through their souls. I wonder if, with every step taken, they felt the presence of God grow stronger.

Second, the animals I was lucky enough to share living space with. Chickens. Cows. Goats. Pigs. Sheep. They’ve poked their heads in the window to wake me up in the morning, they’ve sung me to sleep, and they’ve greeted me in the kitchen at every meal. One thing is for certain: livestock smell. No matter how clean you keep them, they will never have a good-smelling home. They’re dirty. No one wants to live in a pig sty.

When I remember the smells that came with carrying straw bales into the pig sty, I think of Mary and Joseph welcoming a new baby into their lives – a baby that would save their lives. I think of the animals around them and the messiness and the noise having a baby in a stable would create.

For thousands of years, people were stuck in their own filth and brokenness, praying for a salvation that many said would never come. And then one night, the stars changed. Hope showed up in the stables in the form of a newborn baby. God decided the best place to enter the world is in the middle of the stench.

Suddenly, this Good News becomes GREAT news because it shows us that God isn’t put off by our messes. He doesn’t shy away from the stench of our sins. Instead, He inserts himself into the middle of the mess and begins to change the story.

So, here’s to a Christmas of trusting in a hope that meets us in the smelly stables of our lives. Here’s to letting the way God changes the stars lead us to worship at His feet. And here’s to trusting God as He changes the mess into something beautiful.

Chelsey

 

When Your World is Rocked

When Your World is Rocked

 

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14, NASB
 

DDoE_Christmas_2014_mary_and_gabrielWhat do you do when your world is rocked? You know, when something happens and everything, at least for the moment, changes. In that respect, most of us can identify with the young Mary.

Since 2012, I have become quite familiar with unexpected events forcing me to rearrange my life. While on a Zookeepers’ mission trip to Nicaragua this past March, I noticed a dark area in my field of vision. Because we were so busy with ministry activities, I tried not to think about it but prayed for God’s protection and healing.

Upon returning to the states, I immediately scheduled an appointment with my optometrist that day. Long story short, I had a retinal tear necessitating emergency surgery that evening. The realization that I could have lost my sight in that eye compelled me to change my daily routine drastically for the next few weeks.

With Christmas just a few days away, I find myself pondering the immense life changing experience of the young virgin Mary. She was engaged to marry Joseph; I expect her excitement in becoming a wife was like that of most of us.

However, an unexpected visit and a ringing announcement from the angel Gabriel would forever alter Mary’s life. Chosen by God Himself, she was to be the mother of His son, Jesus, the Savior of the world, the Messiah. The conception would be a miracle performed by the Holy Spirit. Wow! Talk about rocking her world!

I can only imagine the anticipation, uncertainty, and ridicule she must have experienced during the next nine months. This young girl had to grow up in a hurry. She not only experienced the joy of pregnancy, but most likely the shameful gossip and unkindness displayed by those not aware of God’s purpose for her life. Yet, according to what we see in the Scriptures, she hung in there, never giving up or losing her faith.

Yes, Mary’s precious Child would be the very One to bring hope, help, and healing in her time of need and chaos, as well as ours. When our world turns upside down, rest assured Jesus is the Rock on which we can stand.

[Digging deeper – Ps. 18:2, 62:2; Matt.1:18-25; Luke 1:30-31, 2:7, 19, 33-35]

Because of Him,

Beverly <><

God’s Light

God’s Light

 

I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel! 
Luke 2:30-32, NLT
 

God_s_LightI’ve always enjoyed Christmas programs that re-enact the birth of Jesus. Often the scenario is one of great anticipation. Auditorium lights are turned off while the audience waits faithfully for the darkness to be pierced by bright light and an awesome scene. Some have waited for hours, having even arrived early in order to get just the right seat and best view of the event. Finally the moment arrives and a hush falls over the crowd. Shadowed outlines of participants in the nativity scene emerge in the darkness.

But that’s not what the people are waiting for. A few more minutes, and then, you see it—awe-inspiring, mesmerizing, bright light! The light is focused on the most important person in the nativity scene—the baby Jesus! The crowd oohs and aahs with delight and approval at the wonder before them. He is the one that people came and waited in the darkness to see, the one that brought them out of the darkness and into the light.

Today’s Dose contains words spoken by a godly Jewish man named Simeon. He waited for years, faithfully believing God’s promise that he’d see the newborn baby Jesus before he died. (Luke 2:25-29)  After Simeon held the baby in his arms he exclaimed, I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. Luke 2: 30-31 

As the program light revealed the baby in the manger to the audience, God has revealed His Gift of salvation to us through the light of His son, Jesus Christ.

Just as the light in the auditorium was bright enough for all the audience to see the baby in the manger, God’s light, Jesus Christ, is bright enough to reach to all the people in the world, Jews and non-Jews. Simeon faithfully believed that God’s light could pierce anyone’s darkness. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel! Luke 2:32 

Everyone experiences periods of darkness in their lives that they’d gladly trade for light and contentment. Maybe you are in that situation right now. Dear one, Jesus is the light that is able and willing to shine down in the midst of your darkness and give you peace. He accepts all those who faithfully believe in him.

Light up your life this Christmas and let Him lead you out of darkness.

God’s riches blessings to you and yours this Christmas,

Rita