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Archive for the ‘Ordinary People with Extraordinary Faith’ Category

Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38) are examples of two ordinary people who lived open, expectant lives of faith.  They lived expecting greatness from the Lord God.  Both went about their daily lives in the Temple praying and serving the Lord, but with attitudes and hearts open to receive.  Because of that heart openness, both heard the prompting of the Holy Spirit in their hearts to act.  Simeon was prompted by the Holy Spirit to go into the temple courts (Luke 2:27) and because he responded to the prompting, he held Jesus Christ in his arms.  Anna, too, came upon them and recognized Jesus Christ as the One who had come to redeem the world (Luke 2:38). 

Am I responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?  Or, do I get so caught up in my daily routine that I “miss” Jesus moments in my life?  In the hectic activities of the season or even in those moments of worship, prayer and fasting, I don’t want to get so caught up in the activity that I miss the relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Lord Jesus, slow me down today so I don’t miss You.  Divine appointments with You, Lord Jesus, are more important than any task I have to complete today.  My heart is open to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Fill me with your joy and peace so I don’t miss those appointments You have scheduled for me.  Keep the eyes of my heart open for those You want me to help today.  Amen.                  

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Scripture tells us that the three Wise Men traveled from great distances following a star.  These learned men knew the writings of the prophets.  Their faith compelled them to investigate.  It wasn’t enough that they had read or studied history.  But to follow a star!  Think about it.  Traveling at night.  Traveling a great distance.  Traveling for as much as two years because of a star?  Could you?  Would you keep going? 

Matthew 2:2-12 relates the journey of these Magi.  They stopped in Jerusalem and asked questions that disturbed King Herod and all of Jerusalem. (Matthew 2:3).  But even the meeting with the King could not detour them from their purpose.  The star “once again” appeared to guide them (Matthew 2:9).  Following a star led them to the Christ child.  It makes me wonder, did they take their eyes off the star?  Is that why they stopped to ask questions?  Did the star disappear for a time so the Lord could use this meeting with King Herod as a way to inform the authorities and leaders that God was at work and things were about to change for all time? 

Are there times when I am walking with confident faith and suddenly it seems as though I must have missed a step because matters are not going as I anticipated?  Are there times when I have been at a project for so very long that it seems I will never reach my goal or accomplish the task and I start questioning whether I am doing the right thing? 

Oh, Lord Jesus, like the Wise Men, help me to keep my eyes on You—the Bright Morning Star.  Guide me, Lord, when the journey seems long and weary.  Guide me when I start to question whether I am on the right path.  Extend Your Grace to go before me as You did the star that went ahead of the Wise Men and stopped over the place where You lay as a baby.  I want to reach the place where I may lay my treasure before You and be filled with the Joy of Your presence.  Take my doubts and weariness away.  Show me the way, Lord Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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The shepherds camping in the area had just set the night watches over their sheep.  It had been a long, tiring day—herding sheep, watching for predators, checking to make certain none were missing, injured, or allowed to stray.  The sheep were kept close so they could know the shepherd’s voice and follow his instructions.  Yet, when the heavenly angels appeared with the news of Christ Jesus’ birth, we are told the shepherds “left running” to find Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in the manger.  (The Message, Luke 2:15-18).  Men who understood duty and responsibility to the tasks before them, yet, with such acceptance for the wonder of the message they had heard, these men left all and “hurried” to find Christ and spread the good news of His birth. 

Do I hurry to spend time with Christ?  Do I hurry to share the good news of His grace and blessings in my life with others? Or, do I get so caught up in the duties and responsibilities—those matters I consider urgent—that I fail to “hurry” to Jesus and keep as a priority sharing the good news of His birth? 

Lord Jesus, I want my hurrying to be only towards You.  In these final days of preparation for Christmas gatherings, please help me keep duty and responsibilities from overshadowing the reason for the celebrations—Your birth.  Amen. 

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Mary, a young woman going about her daily chores is visited by an angel. (Luke 1:28) Stop right there!  How do we accept a heavenly visit without screaming, panic or worse—running away?  Though Scripture relates that Mary was shaken and “greatly troubled” by the angel’s greeting, she didn’t run and she didn’t question the validity of the angel’s presence.  In fact, when she was told she would become pregnant with the “Son of the Highest” her response was not doubt, laughter, sarcasm or even denial.  She simply asked, “how?” no “why me?” or “are you kidding?” 

The “why me” or “are you kidding” would have been my response.  So, why could Mary have logic-defying faith?  She could have studied the Torah and prophets just as we have.  She could have been taught of the coming of the Messiah from the time she was a small child just as we have been taught that He will someday return.  Yet, when she is informed that she will become pregnant by the “power of the Most High”, her response is without reservation as to why her or why now.  She simply responds, “I am the Lord’s servant.”  (Luke 1:35-38). 

Mary knew her Lord God well enough to walk with confidence that He could be trusted to do only good; conviction beyond logic.  Mary praised the Lord God (Luke 1:46) and gave Him all honor by recounting His protection for His people and that He always provides (Luke 1:46-55).   She did not allow tradition, culture, opinions of others, rational thought or even her past experiences limit her thinking.  She simply accepted without over thinking; to her the facts did not count. 

Oh, Lord God, how many times do I discount a prompting of the Holy Spirit because it doesn’t make sense or seem reasonable?  There are so many times I doubt Lord that I have heard your voice.  Forgive me, Lord God, for limiting you.  Forgive me for the times I try to “figure things out” rather than walking in trust.  Help me Lord Jesus, in this season of new beginnings, to be more like Mary and ask “how” you want me to do something rather than “if” or “why.”  As I prepare for 2011, Lord Jesus, open my heart and mind to hear how you want me to extend your grace and love to others.  Send me.  Use me.  Guide me.  With authentic faith, let my heart echo Mary’s words, “I am the Lord’s servant.”   Amen. 

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Joseph was a humble and righteous man who had lived according to Jewish law and tradition and chosen by God to be the earthly father that would guide and teach Jesus from birth to adulthood.  Matthew 1:19 reminds us Joseph was a “just” man.  Within the culture of the day, Joseph would have been considered a man of character.  He was a business owner—he had a carpentry business.  He was betrothed to Mary.  Betrothed in that culture meant that the couple had a year period of living apart but separated from other relationships to make certain they were pure when they married. 

Joseph learns Mary is pregnant.  He knows he isn’t the father yet we are told he quietly tries to figure out the situation.  He doesn’t react in anger.  He doesn’t desire to embarrass her or her family, but rather seeks to find a way to end the relationship quietly.  While he is considering all of this, he falls asleep.  I do that.  Sometimes my brain just needs to rest because it is weary from all of the conversations going on in my head.  But there is a difference from that type of rest than what Joseph experienced because while he slept he was visited by an angel of the Lord. 

In the dream, Joseph is told something that goes against everything he has ever been taught or known is right.  Yet, “he did as the angel commanded” without wavering or hesitating.  2000 plus years later we still read this legacy of faith in those few words.

Not a learned man.  Not a scholar.  Not a seer.  An ordinary tradesman—a carpenter—a simple man who trusted in His God enough to go against all of the dictates of the culture.  What extraordinary faith! 

 Oh, Lord Jesus that I might be so certain in who You are and in the truth that I am Yours that I do as You command without wavering, without hesitating even in the face of opposition or logic.  Extend Your grace and mercy, Lord Jesus, that You fill my heart with such confident assurance of Your voice over all the others competing for space in my brain.  Give me the strength today to do as You command and go out in Your love and grace to touch others during this season of new beginnings.  Amen

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