Category Archives: Christmas Countdown 2019

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 5

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This morning as I read through Chapter 5 of Luke, I just took some notes and looking over them now it seems best to simply list each thought. 

There are seven which is a perfect number so here we go:

#1

Crowds are pressing into Jesus and so He climbs in a fishing boat on the shore and begins to teach from this rather unusual platform. 

First off, I love this so much.

It speaks to my introvert/extrovert conflict.

Too many people needing too many things and yet the desire to continue to minister…and no, I am not Jesus…but I just felt like maybe He understands when we need some space but we don’t quit doing the thing we are called to do. 

Also I always love how when He is finished speaking He tells Peter to steer the boat out into deep waters. 

The passage is not wordy, but speaks volumes. Peter is respectful and kind and weary. 

Peter tells Him what He already knows…they have been fishing all night and have caught nothing…

And then Peter adds…but because You said so…we will go one more time. 

Have you been there? 

Have you prayed the prayer or done the service or put in all the work to no avail and you feel the Spirit nudge…one more time?

Oh to be like Peter and say…I’m tired, it’s not working…but because You say so…I will do it”

And then do it again…and again…as long as He tells me to, until we bring in the big haul…or He tells me to stop <3

#2

They left everything and followed Him. 

Do you get that? 

They just pulled in a record haul of fish and they were fisherman. They had mouths to feed and bills to pay and a family business. 

But they laid those tools of their livelihood down right there and walked away from it…and followed Him. 

I look around our house right now.

I look at my to do list and my plans for today and this week and Christmas.

And I have to dig deep in my soul and ask…have I laid it all down to follow Him?

That might mean I keep doing what I am doing, but I do it for Him.

It might mean I have to walk away, but I walk away for Him.

That whatever I do, I do because I have laid it ALL down to follow HIM.

#3

A man who needed healing simply asked…Lord, if you are willing. 

That’s surrender, right there.

Lord, I want to be healed. If you are willing, heal me. If you are not, I will not be healed.

How precious and sweet must it have been to hear the Lord answer back…

I am willing. 

He is willing, you know? 

He is willing to bring His Kingdom to earth in answer to our prayers. 

I pray you hear Him say to you today…in that gentle Good Shepherd voice…

I AM and I am willing <3

In His way, in His timing…we ask with surrendered hearts knowing He will always do what is best.

#4

I love this line….Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. 

May we, like Jesus, remember that we will never be able to minister and pour out unless we also spend time away from the people we desire to serve and just pray. 

#5

Those friends who carried their buddy on a stretcher and dug a hole in the roof when they couldn’t get him squeezed through the door get me every time I read this one.

I have carried some brothers and sisters myself and I have been most graciously laid on the roof many a time as those same precious saints dug out the sod to get me to Jesus. 

I love that God’s Word records Jesus as saying…He saw THEIR faith…it was a joint effort that brought the healing. 

I am so thankful that God has allowed one like me to be both on the stretcher and toting it. 

#6

When Jesus asks them which is easier: to make a paralyzed person walk again or to forgive sins.

The answer is…neither. 

They are both impossible unless you happen to be God. 

Which He was. 

And is.

And forever will be. 

#7

Once again we see someone stand up from his place of employment…leave everything….and follow Jesus. 

And I have to ask myself a second time…have I left everything to follow Him or am I trying to follow Him and hold on to something else?

Much to ponder in our hearts today, yes?

Does one of these speak to an area in your life where the Spirit has been trying to get your attention. 

Let’s find a quiet and deserted place today…and for some that is harder than others…and let God’s Spirit guide us to the what He is teaching each one of us today <3

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 4

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My goodness…whose idea was it for me to touch base with you on a chapter a day of Luke in the month of December….so much in each chapter, right?

But we all know I am not a theologian and this little Christmas Countdown is NOT a Bible study. 

This here is where I read in my devotional time and I jot down some thoughts to share and throughout all of it I keep wondering what YOU picked up when you read it. 

So here is the gleaning from this morning of Luke 4.

Right off the bat I had to stop on verses 1 and 2 and take it in again. 

I do this every time I read those two short and sobering passages. 

I have heard wonderful sermons preached on it. 

Because Jesus walked out of the waters of baptism, which He had entered out of obedience to doing things the way that would set our example…even though we know, He knew and John even pointed out…

He didn’t need to repent of sin because…

Basic Christianity 101…

He. Never. Sinned.

Yet, He showed us by example that for Him to die in our place, He had to live in our place and so He was baptized and heaven opened and a dove descended as the voice of God proclaimed Him to be His Son…and after this….fresh out of the Jordan….

Fresh out of a place of complete obedience and, we are told, filled FULL of the Holy Spirit…

He is LED by the Spirit…

into the desert….

for the express purpose of facing 40 days and nights of temptation.

And after facing this by fasting and prayer…in the midst of being tempted day and night…in a weakened condition…mind you…

the Devil does not relent….

but instead ups the ante by suggesting ways He can use His power to satisfy legitimate needs, circumvent and quicken the point of His coming and just take over all the authority of earth….and oh yes, one more….

prove once and for all and rather quickly in a dynamic way that He is who He says He is. 

Whew. 

So I sit there with my Bible open and while there are so many more things I could say, I have to remind myself that God fought a mighty battle of overcoming temptation by leading Jesus into the thick of it. 

Not that Jesus put Himself into situations where He could be tempted…but in being obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He did have to face some pretty rigorous testing. 

And He faced it by denying His flesh and His best efforts and His reasoning and He relied on the power of God’s Word in Him and the Spirit that He had been filled with. 

He basically overcame by faith. 

Which is what God tells us to do. 

Second thought this morning is regarding the rest of the Chapter. 

If you were tempted to skim quickly over the list of miraculous things He did, may I suggest going back and just reading them slowly.

One by one. 

And think about filling in the blanks around each account. 

Remember back to Luke 1 where the author says he has taken it upon himself to use the accounts of actual eye witnesses to tell this story of the life of Jesus. 

Actual people saw and were there when He did each one of these miracles. And there were more that just didn’t have ink nor time to be written down. 

But look at even ONE. 

Can you imagine? 

Can you imagine your mom is sick with a bad fever and you tell Jesus and He walks in where she is miserable and too ill to get up and He speaks to the fever like you would tell your dog to get off the sofa.

He speaks the command to go away. 

And it does. 

She gets up and heads to the kitchen and starts making dinner. 

Now that’s the power that is available for you and me who have received His gift of salvation by  grace. 

Tell me you can read that and just say okay and move along to the next thing on your to do list. 

I will be pondering this all day…and wondering what in the world is holding me back from believing the power of God is alive in me. 

How about you? 

What jumped off the pages and into your spirit and mind today?

Meditate on whatever that was….pray and ask God to give you greater understanding. Ask Him to help you ask the questions that will grow you into a place where His Spirit can you teach more. 

And come back tomorrow…please and thank you <3

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 3

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Only three days in and already I am having a morning with little time to get my post up! Sigh…tis the season. 

In anticipation of a tight schedule this morning I read Luke 3 before going to sleep last night. 

I used The Message because that is what was next to my pillow and this is the thought that jumped out at me. 

This whole passage is focused on Jesus’ cousin, John.

John the Baptizer, who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus’ ministry, preached a gospel.

You know “gospel” means “good news”, right?

Well the good news John preached was, according to Eugene Peterson’s translation a “baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins…”

I also noticed that John did not have a seeker-friendly approach to his ministry. 

When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life you must change, not your skin.”

Luke 3:7-8 The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Wow. 

Seems a bit harsh to our 21st Century approach to making everyone feel comfy in the church.

But repentance IS good news, my friends.

Both of my Advent devotionals this morning focused on Genesis 3 and the devastation of sin in the world. 

I wrote this confession in the margin of one of my studies and will leave this with you to consider today:

Both of the Advent devotions I read today are about Genesis 3.

Oswald Chambers, too, reminded me of the gravity of sin. My own and the sin of others has brought brokenness and pain into my life. 

My sin and the sin of others has caused pain in those around me. 

Our nation suffers the consequences of sinful choices. 

Pride, arrogance, contempt for God’s laws and His ways.

We live with the confusion and oppression because we are unwilling to repent. 

The passage in Luke today tells of how John the Baptizer preached a gospel of repentance to make way for the Gospel of Redemption. 

My own bitterness. My own pride. My own greed. My own selfish ways. 

They are sins that defile me and those I love, but first and foremost they are sins against You, O LORD my God. 

I renounce my sin and seek You alone in this season of waiting and hope. 

Passages today: 

  • Genesis 3: 16-19
  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Psalm 109: 26-31
  • Revelation 22:1-5

Christmas Countdown 2019…. Day 2

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Well, even if we didn’t know who the author of Luke was, I would have guessed it was a man who wrote it. 

Not that all men are brief on words and all women use up theirs and any extra floating about in the atmosphere…but for the most part I would say that we females tend to provide the color commentary on life while the males tend to stick to the basic short version. 

At least that is true in our home. 

As I settled in for the second day of reading through this account of the life of Jesus, it went from birth to adult in 52 succinct verses. 

No visit from the magi.

No flight to Egypt. 

Just a whirlwind of the “decree going out from Caesar Augustus” to “how Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.” 

And I want more. 

I want the details filled in. 

I want the stories and the moments. 

And I find them in a place as familiar to me as my love for words. 

I find the promise of all the treasures in the pondering heart of Mary. 

Glimpses of it are given in verse 19 and again in verse 51.

But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 

Luke 2:19 CSB

His mother kept all these things in her heart. 

Luke 2: 51 CSB
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How good of God in the midst of the passages He allowed for us to hold on to regarding the birth and childhood of our Savior to let us know He understands this mother’s heart. 

How good of God to allow us to see that He knows about that place in us where we keep a collections of thoughts, feelings and musings that are just too big for our words to capture and express.

I do not know that I speak for all people, but pondering and storing up is something that I understand. 

Mary had watched as all these events swirled around her. 

She had given birth, and while the conception was miraculous, we have no reason to believe that the labor and delivery were anything but fully human in less than desirable surroundings for such an event. 

With the baby cleansed and wrapped and her recovering, a band of strange men burst in blabbering about a sky full of angels and kneeling in worship before this infant she had just laid down to sleep. 

In obedience to the Law of Moses, after eight days she and Joseph took the baby to the Temple for circumcision and dedication. They are barely in the gates when a stranger takes the child from her arms and begins praising God and prophesying over him as a light to the Gentiles. 

As he hands the baby back to her, he speaks of the promise of Israel fulfilled and then leaves her with the news that all of this great destiny will pierce her soul. 

Imagine every time you have ever had a bad feeling about something that you knew was God giving you a heads’ up…and no amount of naming and claiming, positive thinking, speaking of things that are not as if they are is going to change to course of it…that’s what this young mom knew that day. 

Next a woman who was definitely over 100 years old approaches and begins to thank God and repeat the same message over this child. As they stand in the midst of the Temple, Anna prophesies that this baby will redeem Israel. 

The passages jump to the family’s return to their hometown of Nazareth and closes with a trip to Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was twelve where somehow they lose Him and have to go back. For three days they search for Him and finally find Him in the temple, apparently asking and answering questions. 

If you have lost a child in a department store, you know the panic that rose deep in this mom.

Fully God and fully man…even His own mother struggled with how to live in relationship with Him. 

I love the line from one of the modern Christmas hymns that asks…

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you?

Mark Lowry 1984, Mary, Did You Know?

Precious isn’t it?

This pondering in the heart is where I can find the Christ of Christmas.

Sorting through the memories and the years, the treasures and piercings of my own heart.

Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future swirl around me as I unpack the decorations and set aside time to meet with friends. Preparing gifts for family and others…addressing cards and all the while knowing there is so much more.

As I invite the Savior to be born in me, the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Counselor enters into the midst of all my pondering to help me find my Redeemer.

It is the pondering and storing up in each of our hearts…men and women who follow Christ…that we ask the questions that are tucked away in the deepest places. 

Advent is this gift of time each year to invite the Christ of Christmas into our questions and to listen and ponder and wait for the answers only He can give <3

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Scriptures and suggested resources today:

Christmas Countdown 2019….Day 1

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The First Sunday of Advent and I am filled up already at 7:09 am with anticipation and hope and joy. 

But I leak. 

My devotions this morning encouraged me as I opened two separate Advent books…one I purchased and one a gift from my sister Sonja. 

I also read the first chapter of Luke, and yes…I will go big or go home this December of 2019. 

I will read every single inspired word I can because if I don’t, I will get sucked big into the vortex of emotions that swirl so strongly around me. 

I am prone to wander…in my heart and in my mind. 

Drawn by shiny things and yet always longing for the quiet places of rest and being still. 

So welcome fellow travelers…to the Christmas Countdown. 

Welcome to the next 25 days of the Journey. 

Let’s meet for coffee and cocoa…let’s talk about Jesus and let’s share the celebrations and the stresses and the coping and the hoping. 

Today I leave you with a thought from the opening passages of the book of Luke. 

How he wanted his reader to know that the account he was about to share was not a fictitious account of some legend but instead was based on eye-witness accounts of men and women who had walked with this Jesus and who knew Him personally and were there when He was crucified and died and rose again and these…plain, ordinary men and women were willing to give their lives for Him. 

He is real. 

He walked this earth just as we have believed. 

And He was born. 

He was born in Bethlehem in Judea…not on some snowy, quiet Christmas night with halos glowing gently over the head of His mother and father…but in a stable because there was no room for them in the inn. 

So let’s make room this year…amongst the decor that we put up and the food we prepare, the gifts we wrap and the ones we receive. Let’s make room each day, throughout the day, to celebrate this incredible gift. 

And let us remember that we live in anticipation that He will come again. 

Welcome Christmas…welcome to our home. 

Welcome Christ of Christmas…welcome to our hearts <3

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This year I will attempt to add some Scriptures I used in my meditations each day for you to explore:

  • Luke 1
  • Psalm 130
  • 1 Peter 4:7-11
  • Psalm 143:5-10