Nobody Special

2“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5 And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders, Micah 5:2-5

When we look at others and make an instant judgement because of some outward appearance, action, or circumstance it is hard to back up give and them a chance.  When we look at ourselves and children and measure with the reference of the world we often feel inadequate or lacking. We make the call that someone does not have value or won’t amount to much, we question and worry over our children's abilities and aptitudes.

This passage reminds us that God doesn’t always choose the most likely candidate.  He carries out his plans through the most surprising and unremarkable people. It reminds us that He often chooses, by the world’s standard, the weakest, youngest, or smallest like Jacob, Joseph, and David to do great things.  The Lord of all chose an unknown girl, a simple carpenter, and a little town called Bethlehem to welcome and care for the Prince of Peace. He sent his son to us as a newborn in lowly human form to deliver his message of love and salvation.  

How encouraging to know that the Lord knows and loves us for who we are on the inside.  Our value is not based on stature or beauty, our IQ or bank account. What JOY knowing the pressure is off!  Then in joy, we can look others, ourselves and our children in the same way.

Father of All, thank you for sending Christ, our savior in such a humble way; a helpless little baby.

Forgive us when we make judgements of ourselves and others with our eyes and not our hearts.  Help us when we feel unimportant or inadequate. Help us to see ourselves, our children, and others as you see them: wonderfully made with a purpose and place in your plan and kingdom.

 Thank you for showing us a higher standard of seeing as you do. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen

How can I be sure? Embrace Peace!

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.  When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. Luke 1:18-21

Zechariah and Elizabeth, were people who loved the Lord, people who followed His commandments and laws, as we have read earlier in Luke’s Gospel. They were chosen to raise a child that would would carry out a special assignment, preparing the way for Christ, initiating God’s rescue plan for the world.  The Lord of All intentionally sent Zechariah a messenger, the angel Gabriel, when he could have simply let His will be done.

Not only did Gabriel give Zechariah good news but the he gave God’s instructions and details: What the baby's name would be, guidelines about wine and fermented drink (v 15).  John would be a joy and delight (v 14), he would be great in the sight of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit before birth, and he would prepare people for the Lord. (V 15 & 17)

Then, after all that, Zechariah questions the validity of the message!  A man who lived to please the Lord, a priest, a man of God, is questioning an angel, standing in the middle of the temple, “How can I be sure…?”

We do the same thing don’t we?  We pray and pray for a thing to happen and then when it does we can’t believe it.  We busy ourselves with all the “How in the world and How can I be sure?” that we like Zechariah, miss an immediate opportunity to fall on our knees and simply say THANK YOU.  And like Zechariah we deny giving God the immediate glory, our lips are sealed, and we miss the immediate embrace of PEACE we are offered through the answer. That is why Jesus did all he did for you. He opened his arms on the cross so that you could be embraced with peace every day, not only when you have an answered prayer. Give up your doubts and questions, embrace His peace and give all the glory to God.

Father, thank you for hearing our prayers. Thank you for answering them.  Holy Spirit help us, grant us faith to recognize your answer, embrace your peace every day and give you all the glory.  In Christ Jesus we pray, Amen.

There is Hope, You Have the Tools.

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.  This is the name by which it[a] will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior." Jeremiah 33:14-16

How wonderful it is to be part of God's family, to claim this lineage, to be called sons and daughters. What hope it gives as we work to raise our families, especially for those of us with parental roots and role models that don't fit the descriptions on greeting cards. Mamas and Papas, you have been given great tools to help you. You have roots that run deep and right to the heart of Christ's righteousness, seek Him and call on Him he will always show you what is just and right.  You have the Bible an instruction manual for your lives to be the best role models, an instruction manual for each of your children, a manual for every relationship you have. When you read it, meditate on it, pray it, and memorize it it will prepare and instruct you in any situation. And you have God's amazing grace, which covers you when all all else fails. When you drop the ball personally, goof up with your children, or in any relationship, your Heavenly Father is there to forgive you, pick you up, and carry you if necessary.

We thank you Father for hope by giving us all we need and allowing us to live in safety.  Forgive us when we forget our strength comes from the roots we have in you not our earthly ones.

Help us Father to live to honor you and our royal heritage.  Help us to do what is right within our own homes and families.  Help us throughout the year, not just in this season, to do what is right to everyone we encounter.  Thank you for an instruction manual. Guide us in righteousness and to love as Christ loves. In Jesus's name we ask all these things.  Amen

Advent Begins- Hurry Up and Wait!

The Advent Season begins today, December 2nd. The count down begins with many ways to anticipate the coming of Christmas Day: Advent Wreaths, Advent Calendars, and Advent Readings to name a few. How can we make these things meaningful and more that a ticking off of days until we open gifts. The first thing we can do as families in one of the busiest times of the year is to SLOW DOWN. Yes, slow down. Instead of going to every event available in town sit down and intentionally make choices about which ones are the most meaningful and tied directly to the purpose of the season for your family.

Advent means ‘arrival, appearance, coming” and is about waiting. Waiting is hard for a lot of folks but it can be unbearable for little ones. All the hustle of the season, the extra activities at school, home, and church on top of the anticipation of decorations, gifts, and what is under the tree can be just too much. Take the little ones into account when making choices for when and what to do as we begin the season of waiting. Make time for them and yourself, make family time happen.

We have provided some daily readings in both a calendar and a paper chain form your children may enjoy if you haven’t gotten one yet they will be available for everyone in the workroom. Daily prayers based on the readings will be posted on the church’s Facebook and other social media.

I hope you all find just this right things to experience together this Advent Season, experiences to make the most of this season of waiting.