Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

As we come into the most wondrous time of the year, Jesus’ birth, I ponder the miraculous place of His birth all orchestrated by the Father.

To Live is Christ

Micah 5:2,5b is the prophesy regarding the place of Christ’s birth, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting…and this One shall be peace.”

How truly amazing is the birth of Jesus in so many respects.  Micah prophesied long ago of the exact town in which Jesus would be born.  Jesus doesn’t come as we would think in grandeur and born in a major city…He comes in insignificance and littleness.   It’s so fitting for God to do this…no human can claim any glory, so that God receives all the glory.  Jesus was placed in an animal trough, so that no craftsman would say “He chose my well-crafted bed.”

Though God chose that Jesus be born in the insignificant and not very…

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Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem

Micah 5:2,5b is the prophesy regarding the place of Christ’s birth, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting…and this One shall be peace.”

How truly amazing is the birth of Jesus in so many respects.  Micah prophesied long ago of the exact town in which Jesus would be born.  Jesus doesn’t come as we would think in grandeur and born in a major city…He comes in insignificance and littleness.   It’s so fitting for God to do this…no human can claim any glory, so that God receives all the glory.  Jesus was placed in an animal trough, so that no craftsman would say “He chose my well-crafted bed.”

Though God chose that Jesus be born in the insignificant and not very populated town of Bethlehem; He chose a town where princes of Judah had been born…King David.  This is where Bethlehem would receive it’s honor, not in the multitude of it’s people, but in the magnificence of the princes born there.

God chose that Jesus, the true manna from heaven, who was given for the life of the world (John 6:51) to be born in Bethlehem, which means the “house of bread”!   In Hebrew Beth-lehem is two words and means “house” (Beth as in Beth-el, “house of God”) and “bread” (lehem). The Hebrew Language is read from right to left, and so Bethlehem is written like this:

  bread           house

Jesus said we are to feed on Him, “by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” the living bread.  Yes, His words reaching deep into your heart and soul become your very life.  His Word is Life, Truth, and Freedom for all who will receive, feast and believe. Jesus was born in the House of Bread.

Note also that God makes His announcement of Jesus’ birth not only to the Jews through the scriptures written so long ago, but also to the Gentiles in their day,  by the star.  The Gentiles know the time of His birth by the star and the Jews know the place of His birth by the scriptures.

So, what about Ephrathah?  Ephrathah, or Ephrath, is the ancient name for the town of Bethlehem, in Judah, in the southern part of the land of Israel.  It is referenced all the way back in Genesis 35.   The name “Bethlehem Ephrathah,” prophesied by Micah was used to distinguish it from another town named Bethlehem in the northern part of Israel. Ephrathah means, “fruitfulness” or “abundance.”  Jesus was born in the House of Fruitfulness.

Jesus, the true manna from heaven, came down from heaven.  His life which is given for the life of the world was born in the House of Bread.  The One who IS the embodiment of the fruits of the Spirit, provides and enables my fruitfulness to God was born in the House of Fruitfulness.

Only God could have planned and orchestrated this.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Made for Him

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are forsaken until they find their love in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are downcast until they find their joy in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are warring until they find their peace in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are anxious until they find their patience in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are hard until they find their kindness in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are selfish until they find their goodness in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are inconstant until they find their faithfulness in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are harsh until they find their gentleness in Him.

We were made for Jesus and our hearts are indulgent until they find their temperance in Him.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” NLT Ephesians 2:10

God sees us in our pitiful state…”O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Psalm 144:3-4

God’s love for us compels Him to act…”God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

Our response to God…”I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:12

He Heals the Brokenhearted

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

The past two years have been challenging in several different areas of my life.  The most emotional challenge has brought about the most painful hurt.  Isn’t that the way it usually is?  My most painful hurt was to be misunderstood by two friends and then subsequently lose their friendships.

When I reflect on the situation, I become sad by the loss and sometimes anger is stirred because of the way it transpired.  The anger stems from the unanswered questions of “why would I be treated this way by a friend?” or  “why weren’t my friends more supportive?”

The story of Job is an example of friends who came to console but ended up causing Job more heartache.   His friends came to him with the right intention, to comfort; but ultimately with the wrong message,  “you’re doing it wrong!”  Job’s hope was in God, but his friends did not agree with the way he was handling the situation and thought he had done something to bring on all of this tragedy and pain.  Oh, I pray that in that situation, I would be quick to listen and slow to speak!

Our perception is so faulty at times because of our sinful nature.  Unfortunately, our flesh has a tendency to raise it’s ugly head when we least expect it.  You may not think that is true, but think about this.  Have you been with an acquaintance or friend and they poured their heart out and you caught yourself tempted to one-up their situation?  Or, have you ever listened to someone pour their heart out and then you presumably had “all” the answers?  In situations where a friend is hurting, with few exceptions, the best friends are usually the quiet and listening friends.  And you know what?  Listening is so often difficult, but most of the time it is what is truly needed.  Sometimes there are no immediate answers.  Sometimes the answers are hidden from us.  Sometimes what seems apparent is not the case at all.  And sometimes the answers are just not what is important, it’s the being there for the friend that is needed.  “Bear one another’s burdens, and therefore fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2 says.  Paul further exhorts us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15.

The modus operandi of my flesh when I am hurt by someone is to initially feel sad, question, and then go back and forth with thoughts of self-pity and feeling sad.  This is where our foot gets caught in the trap and Satan is allowed a foothold.  The enemy of our soul is always looking for opportunities where we “feel” cheated or mistreated because then we are vulnerable to the set up of thinking we deserve more or better.  Isn’t that what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden?  Satan tempted her by appealing to the idea that God was somehow holding out on her.  He then led her down the path of thinking she deserved more or better than God was giving her.  The snare is set.  In this particular case,  Satan turns the tide toward self-pity and despair.  Repeating lies to you until you agree with him.  When we choose to step deeper and deeper into the waters of doubt; which leads us right onto the deserted Isle of self-pity; then before we know it, the hurricane of despair has engulfed us and drowns us in it’s sorrows.

The real question when I am sorrowful is how much time am I spending in His Word and on my knees with the Lord?  The more time on my knees spent with the Lord, the more I fully release my burden to Him and receive His peace.  The more time in His Word, the more I gain His perspective regarding the situation and allow His Word to minister to me.  What is God’s response when we seek Him?  He will reach down into the depths of the sea of despair and grab you by the hand and pull you up and place onto the solid rock.  He is our refuge.  He is our shelter.

Beloved, we will all suffer hurts, pains, and wounds in this life from all different sources; but Jesus is the One we must run to.  He has designed us to seek Him.  When we come to Him in truth and transparency, He will give us His peace and rest.  Let’s not be of those that run to substitute gods; such as:  alcohol, sex, drugs, money and many other forms of idolatry that only provide us with empty promises and ultimately a spiral down the sea of despair.  Jesus will heal your broken heart.  Be persistent.  Don’t give up if you don’t sense  relief right away.  Get on your knees and get in His Word.  He WILL heal your broken heart.  Don’t walk…run to Him, beloved, run to the rock that can’t be moved!  Run to the arms of true love and bask in His peace and rest.  He is the “balm of Gilead” and He will heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds.

The Promises of Spring

Spring is the seasonal reminder that God is always ready to renew ones life from the pit.  He desires to create in you and I a “new heart.”

Spring awakens me to the beauty of His creation after a season of chilly, and sometimes freezing, days and nights with trees stripped of their beauty and brown grass patiently waiting to be renewed.

Spring reminds me that as the seasons of nature run their course so does my life.  I am thankful for the reminder that a season of sorrow will open up to a season of joy as I keep my eyes on Him.

Spring brings in the warmth of air and brightness of day that warms me through body and soul and inspires new possibilities.

Spring serves to remind us that Christ is the creator and that everything has been created by Him, for Him and through Him.

Spring serves to remind us that He is our very life!  We are all walking corpses until God creates that miracle of new birth in us.  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

May the coming of Spring stir in your heart renewal, rebirth and new beginnings!

Do Not Be Afraid!

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”  Romans 8:15

A traumatic incident which occurred on the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was six years old created a fear of heights in me.  It would affect me on occasion, but most poignantly in my 30’s when my husband, Bob, our boys, and I would travel to New Mexico or Colorado to snow ski.   Sitting on the ski lift would stir the butterflies to flight in my stomach because my feet would be dangling out and over, what appeared to be, a huge expanse between me and the snow-covered mountain below.  Once the bottom of my skis met the top of the snow I was fine…until…I was in a clearing amidst the trees on the mountain in which I could see the town below; I would start to perspire and my heart would pound wildly in my chest.

I am reminded when Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus up the mountain top.   All of a sudden before their very eyes, Jesus was transfigured.  His clothes became bright white and His face shone like the sun.  Without time to grasp what had just happened, Elijah and Moses appeared and they discuss with Jesus his impending death.  Then a bright cloud surrounds all of them and the Father speaks from within the cloud and says, “This is my son, whom I love; with Him I am pleased, listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5b)  The Father settled any possible doubts in their minds that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, in their experience and hearing.  The Father also confirmed that when Jesus spoke, He spoke the very words of God.  The disciples did exactly what I think I would have done, they fell face down on the ground.  They had been walking and living with God incarnate, God cloaked in flesh, glory hidden.  Now, they are in the presence of the fully glorified King of Kings and LORD of Lords, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.  Can you even imagine the speed of thoughts that are running through their minds and the intensity of differing emotions that are exploding within them?  These three chosen disciples were honored with a precursor of what was to come in glory.  They traveled up the mountain top with Jesus, their teacher, master, Lord and beheld THE Revelation of revelations and became overwhelmed with fear.  They had encountered the true “mountain top” experience face-to-face with the glorified LORD of Lords.

Realize possibly for the first time in your life, that He is in control of life and death.  He is the beginning of time on earth and the end of time on earth because He is eternity.  There is no life apart from Him. The very air we breathe is but a gift from Him to sustain our life in the physical.  He is the First of everything created, visible and invisible, and He is the Last of everything created, visible and invisible.  He is I AM WHO I AM!  Let this reality overtake you with the majestic wonder that it truly is.

Now then, if you are a child of God, then you, hopefully, not only know Him in all His majestic glory, but you are also privileged to know Him as “daddy.”  Our “Abba” Father is our daddy who loves us more than we can even imagine.  Jesus does what only a loving and caring Father will do to reassure his children, he put out his hand and touched them and said, “Do not be afraid.”  This majestic LORD of all creation, put out His hand as a Father would to comfort a child.

My fear of heights was a faulty perceived fear that ushered me into a feeling of terror and a thought of imminent death.  But, my God and my Father takes me up to the mountain top, puts out his hand to calm my fears and says, “Do not be afraid.”  There is nothing to fear when you are in the very presence of the essence of peace.  He holds eternity in His hands and He set eternity in the hearts of men, so that they would seek Him.  Are you seeking Him?  Do you know Him as LORD of Lords and Abba Father?  When you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him.  You will find Him in the entirety of who He is…I AM WHO I AM.  Beloved, seek Him and find Him.  Then, you will taste and see that the Lord is good.

A New Beginning…2011

A new beginning…isn’t that what God offers His children every day of our lives. You never have to fear God’s rejection when you come to Him.  You never have to fear that He won’t forgive you.   A new year has begun.  A new beginning.  A new year to walk in the abundant life.  “The old has gone,” as Paul stated in 2 Cor. 5:17, “the new has come!”

I may not always know or understand what God is doing in my life.  Even hindsight just gives me a partial view and in that only in some circumstances.  But, what I do know, is that God always works in my life for my best and for His glory.  So, I pray in this new year NOT for more “things” to distract my attention and devotion, NOT for plans of mine to succeed, but for MORE of HIM!  His plans to succeed in my life!  That He attracts all my attention and devotion!  I want more of Him and less of me!

So, my New Year’s constitution is: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13b-14

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

He said it!   Done!   Walk in His truth!   Rest!

In Darkness, Light Dawns!

I don’t know about you, but I love the way God uses His creation to point to and proclaim Jesus.  Not only does God use creation to point to Jesus, but also to reveal that creation was made by Him and for Him and thus to display and give evidence of Jesus’ power over creation.  (Col. 1:16) Continue reading

He Came to Take Our Burdens and Set Us Free

“it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1

One of the many benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection for us is in exchanging our yoke of weighty burden for His easy and light yoke which gives us peace and rest.  I know sometimes this is easy to say and not so easy to do. We think we’re doing fine in our walk with the Lord and then all of a sudden we are thrown for a loop.  If you have a difficult time with this, then this is for you. Continue reading

Which One Are You? Weight or Wait

Let the weight of the world that you put on your own shoulders be put on the shoulders of the only One who can shoulder the responsibility. Continue reading