Category Archives: Christmas Countdown

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 14

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Happy Saturday!

Are you having some opportunities to go to parties and gatherings with your friends this season?

It’s such a festive time of year and even though we may complain about the hustle and bustle, if we aren’t going to at least a few events we can feel like we are missing out, right?

I am noticing that Jesus got invited to a lot of social gatherings too, but today’s passage has him as the guest in the home of someone who was more interested in setting Him up than in making Him feel welcome. 

“One Sabbath, when He went in to eat at the house of one of the leading Pharisees, they were watching Him closely.

There in front of Him was a man whose body was swollen with fluid.

In response, Jesus asked the law experts and the Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?’

But they kept silent.

He took the man, healed him, and sent him away.

And to them, He said, ‘Which of you whose son or ox falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?’

They had no answer to these things.

Luke 14:1-6 CSB 

I find it interesting that a man who needs healing just happens to be in front of Him at this Sabbath dinner in the home of a prominent religious leader. 

I also note that Jesus doesn’t just heal, but sandwiches the healing in between two questions that reveal He knows the minds and hearts of the host and his guests. 

This passage makes me think of people who have expressed dread over gathering with certain relatives this Christmas because their faith and devotion to Christ are not welcome. 

While I don’t think we should enter into family get-togethers spoiling for a fight, I do believe we can look at this passage and see that Jesus was neither threatened by the confrontations He would face nor was He hesitant to do the right thing. 

He didn’t avoid going to the Pharisee’s home and He used every opportunity to explain what the kingdom of God looks like. 

The attendees seem to have sparked the conversation and Jesus did not back down or make excuses or default to nervous small talk or polite deference. 

He didn’t do a slow simmer and then burst out with some tirade of self-defense. 

He went into the Pharisee’s home, confident that He was where He was supposed to be and looking for what God had for Him to do at that moment. 

And like He always did, He acted in obedience by taking one faithful step after another – not scheming or plotting, but just trusting His Father to give direction and then acting out of His desire to do only what God told Him to do. 

How did He know what that would be? 

Remember what we have read repeatedly throughout the book of Luke so far…He went off regularly to quiet places to pray. 

Before we enter in to the various gatherings that will present themselves to us this season, let us continually be spending much time alone with God.

Reading His Word, meditating on what it says and then prayerfully seeking Him on how to live that out in this Christmas season of 2019. 

This is how we walk the journey faithfully. 

One obedient step at a time <3

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 13

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Well I just want to say if you are still with me on this Christmas Countdown Journey I am rather proud of you.

I know I have read through Luke before several times. I also know I have used it to look up answers in Bible Study books. But I don’t know that I have ever felt so impacted by how intense Jesus is.

Quite the contrast from all the warm fuzzies of the holidays.

Quite sobering when He answers a death threat from Herod with “Go tell that fox…”

He isn’t backing down.

He isn’t seeker friendly.

He speaks of a narrow way and warns that bad things happen to people.

All people.

And while we tend to ask “why do bad things happen to good people?”; He seems comfortable saying we really aren’t that ‘good’ after all. Any of us.

It would appear that He is not impressed with our being chummy with Him as a persona.

He speaks of narrow doors and the cutting down of fruitless trees.

We can feel the intensity of the ministry building as He nears the time of His final trip to Jerusalem.

He is determined to make the most of these last opportunities.

And so must we.

Continue pressing on with your reading.

I am right there with you and cheering you on.

If you have questions or thoughts jot them in the margin or in your journal and go back.

God is speaking to you and you want to have a teachable heart.

Bless you as you hang in there because the time you invest in study and reading will bear fruit in your life <3

Christmas Countdown 2019…Day 12

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I have been sharing texts and messages with several friends and family members the past few days as they encourage me during the preparation for our women’s event tomorrow night. 

They know me and thus know the demons I fight as I gather ten million different thoughts scribbled in a notebook and pray for a group of unknown faces that represent a variety of needs and struggles and hopes and joys. 

They know that I haven’t had copious amounts of time to sit cloistered in some study room where the outline has come together nicely and a three point message is now typed in 18 point font ready to be delivered with minimal hand motions and the dreaded “uhm’s” between thoughts. 

They know me and they love me because they are my people. 

In the Luke 12 reading today, I am deeply touched by the way Jesus speaks to His “people.”

Eugene Peterson words it this way in The Message:

By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples.

Luke 12:1 The Message

Throughout this portion of our reading today Jesus refers to the small band of His devoted followers as “dear friends”, “little flock”, “dearest friends”, “My little group of disciples.”

I love the intimacy of this in the midst of one difficult verse after another.

The account of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospel recorded by Luke is rapid fire. Like the world we live in it is heated and direct and full of unsettling snippets of how to live as a Christ follower in a world that is cold and hardened against Him.

It’s loud out there today, my friends. 

There is much clamoring for our attention. Much that would draw us away from following the teachings of Jesus.

Invitations to enter the market place and save money on door busters and gifts that will please our loved ones…opportunities to enter into the great debates of politics of all kinds and add our two cents to the issues which we really have no business in…social issues abound and humanity is offering all manner of ways to solve the problems that we create on the daily…voices in our heads that tell us what our life should or could look like, if only.

If only we tried harder. If only the right people were in power. If only everyone thought like me or behaved the way I think they should.

But there is only one voice that deserves our full concentration. 

One Voice, One Spirit, One Way

One God – Three in One who whispers across eternity and calls us His own. 

One God who sent His Son.

One God who is the Son.

One God who gave the Spirit of the Son to dwell in us when we receive Him into our hearts. 

Immanuel. 

God with us.

And He calls us His friends….His little flock…His disciples.

Rest in that today. 

Hear His voice over all the other voices and rejoice in His love for you <3

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 11

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Have mercy…I am looking at all that needs to be done and wondering how in the world it is going to happen…how about you??

But we are pressing on with Luke 11 today and since all of us are short on time (or maybe it’s just me? ha!), I am thankful that my reading eyes rested on the line that gets me every time I read about the way Jesus describes our prayers.

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He starts with a parable about a man who has late night guests and discovers there is nothing in the house to feed them and they are hungry.

So he goes to his neighbor’s house and in an act of boldness bordering on rude, he begins knocking and calling out that he needs to borrow some bread.

The desperation of the need to feed his guests drives him to the point of caring little what he is doing to his reputation in the neighborhood as he continues to knock and cry out.

Jesus tells those who are listening that the neighbor will finally relent and open his door, just to make him go away.

I am quite certain given the full context of Scripture that Jesus was not encouraging us to pester God so much that He gives us our answer so we can go away, but it gives a picture we can understand here in our every day life about the truth that persistence does pay off.

It shows us how the desperate need of another that may burden us and cause us to go again and again and again in prayer…even when our knuckles begin to bleed a bit as we pound on the door one more time…is heard and understood.

And Jesus follows this with an assurance that if a neighbor will get up out of bed to lend someone a loaf of bread…if a father gives a child a snack instead of a snake when he says he’s hungry…

and He points out that the neighbor is just a tired human being who wants his friend to go away and the dad is not a perfect father but even he knows how to take care of his child…

so how much more will our good, good Father answer us when we cry out.

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Andrew Murray has written a wonderful book called The Ministry of Intercession based on this particular parable if you are looking for some good post-Christmas reading material, but the part about all of this is the promise of ask, and it shall be given…seek and you shall find.

We can jump on that promise and really start asking for some stuff but here is the kicker.

Because Jesus ends all of this with the “how much more”…how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.

How often do I beat on the door for a need and forget that what I need…what my family needs…what my friends need…what this world needs…is the Holy Spirit?

Ask and He will be given…

Seek Him and He will be found…

What a great promise <3

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 10

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We are just two week’s away from Christmas Eve. 

How does that land on your heart? 

If you have been making the effort to “dwell” during this Advent, you may be tempted to let panic seep in. 

Suddenly I am aware of things I haven’t purchased and exactly what letter I stopped on in our address book.

I don’t know what we will have for dinner after returning from services which we also have not nailed down details on attendance of said services. 

We have one tree standing expectantly awaiting being decorated by the contents of three green plastic tubs.

And the ornaments that I have faithfully written need to be painted on every to do list since October remain rather plain and brown and still in the original packaging tucked away somewhere. 


Kidding. 

I know where they are…they are in the sack with the last half of the cards…sigh…

But I have managed to read some Christmas stories to the kiddos and we iced cookies yesterday, though it was a rather raucous event from which I am still healing. 

And so we move on to what really matters, right? 

Day 10 of our journey through Luke.

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And as I read through three versions to make sure I wasn’t adding anything to the text, all I can say is Jesus was not too concerned about marketing the gospel in a one size fits all way. 

He sends seventy-two disciples out, two by two. They are sent to the villages where He will be going soon…that’s at least 36 villages and yes, I had to use a calculator. It doesn’t say they didn’t do several per group so wow…

Their mission is focused – they are not taking vacay clothes and are not googling local restaurants. This is not a social networking event. 

They are to make their way straight to the town, undistracted by those traveling that path. 

They are to enter a home and if they are received, they are to bless that home and if the home does not welcome them, they leave it. 

If the whole town rejects them, they are to “shake the dust off their feet”…in other words, take nothing from that town and move on. 

He pronounces some pretty serious judgment on those who reject Him and then He frees the 72 and all of us from getting all dejected when we are rejected because of Him.

My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me. Anyone who says “No” to you is saying “No” to me. And anyone who says “No” to me is really saying “No” to the one who sent me.

Luke 10:16 The Message

This is both a huge burden and release of responsibility for a disciple.

On one hand we are asked to go wherever we are sent, traveling light in a material-driven world, for the purpose of ministering both the good news of the kingdom of God and healing. 

Which means we need to understand and know what that good news is and how to articulate it, not to mention having grasped the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and deliverance to those we encounter through the likes of us. 

The release comes when we realize that we have nothing to fear. 

He equips us and…

we have been set free from the extremely cumbersome weight of worrying about what others think of us. 

As ambassadors for Jesus Christ, if we are accepted in our ministry…it’s because He has been accepted. 

Glory! Praise Him! 

I don’t have to keep performing at a level to maintain success…it is His success and I am simply the conduit for someone to see and know Him.

And if the ministry I do is rejected, it is Him who stands before me and while I may weep that someone is missing out on the greatest gift ever, I don’t take it personally because it was never me I was trying to promote. 

What better time to proclaim the Kingdom of God than Christmas? 

I pray for opportunities today to extend the conversations about the holidays to the Holy…to highlight the Christ of Christmas in all I say and do <3