Ginrich's Devotional Blog

December 19, 2010

The Innkeeper

Lk 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

How it must have hurt the innkeeper to see Mary, about to give birth, and have to say they were out of space.  He and/or his wife must have struggled with what to do to help out the couple.  Tradition has it that they were the ones to make room for Mary and Joseph in their animal shelter.  What does this teach us?  Two things.  One: there must always be room in our hearts to give.  Two: no matter what we have or don’t have, we always have something we can give.  One of our daughters learned this on a mission trip to Peru.  They had hiked to a remote, mountain village and were tired.  The villagers were very poor.  The villagers had a long hike just to get water so they conserved it very carefully.  What they had to share with the mission team was shade from their trees and water they had toted to drink.  Not only did they give them water to drink, they also encouraged them to use the precious water to wash their hands and faces.  This had a profound influence on our daughter.

 

We are so much about getting that we tend to forget we have the ability to give.  We may not have money or provisions but we always have a smile, a hand touch and/or a listening ear.  Let us be sure we always look for the opportunity to give to others.

 

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December 18, 2010

Herod

Mt 2:16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

 

Herod.  I feel sorry for the man.  He elevated himself to the King of his country and then confused his identity, thinking he was equal to a god and expecting to be worshiped.  When we elevate ourselves we must continually look over our shoulder.  Herod was so afraid someone would try to put him down and take their place.  He was so afraid of this he was willing to have hundreds of babies killed on the chance one of them might grow up to dethrone him and Herod would no longer be king.

 

Human nature is such that we endeavor to make ourselves look better and be over others, sometimes at the cost of others.  When we humble ourselves before our God and before others, we allow God to lift us up.  It will matter not when man lifts us up or puts us down.  What counts is our standing before our God.  I pray you can stand before Him as His child through His Son, Jesus, who had the authority to adopt you into God’s family.  We are not born a child of God; we are born a child of creation.  Only through Jesus, by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior and asking God’s forgiveness of our sins through the shed blood of Jesus can we become children of God rather than children of a creation.  If this is not true of you today, stop right now and invite Jesus into your life as Lord and Savior.  Confess to God you are a sinner and ask Him to wash you with the sacrificial blood of His Son Jesus.  Then thank Him.  Welcome to God’s family

 

December 17, 2010

Going Home

Mt 2:22-23 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth.  So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Joseph has more dreams.  In one he is told he can return to his home country.  In another he is warned to go to Galilee instead of Judea.  Thus fulfills another prophecy that Jesus would be a Nazarene.  Finally back home with a toddler, the family starts living a normal life.  Jesus learns all the things a young Jewish boy learns and learns the trade of carpentry from his step Dad, Joseph.  We don’t hear anything about his childhood but I expect it was a very normal one for the day.  The next time we hear, Jesus was 12 and learned he was to obey his earthly parents.  The Bible says Jesus experienced all we do.  I can visualize Him as a child, playing and laughing with other children.  I also can visualize Him with His disciples as a young adult laughing and having a good time.  God is the creator of joy and wants us to enjoy ourselves but in a way that brings glory to Him.  So often we look to the wrong places or things for our happiness, confusing happiness with joy.  Joy comes for God in us.  Happiness comes from our enjoying the God in us with those around us.  During this Advent season, enjoy the Joy of God and share it as happiness with those around you.

 

December 16, 2010

Another Dreams

Mt 2:13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

Joseph has yet another dream.  In this dream the angel gave him a warning about Herod’s plan to seek out Jesus and kill him.  The angel told Joseph where to go for safety – to Egypt.  This fulfilled yet more prophecies from the Old Testament.  It was predicted that the babies in Israel would all be killed.  Herod had all male babies under the age of 2 killed.  It is also told that the Messiah would come out of Egypt.  Mary and Joseph fled in the night to Egypt and stayed there a few years waiting further instruction from God.

 

So many times we respond to a direction from God for our lives and become inpatient and don’t wait for further instructions.  We tend, in our impatience, to make things happen and many times miss God’s best for us and settle for just good.  Our lives would be far less stressful if we were consistent in looking to God for directions before we make our decisions rather than look to Him to get us out of trouble when we’ve gone ahead on our own.

 

December 15, 2010

Prophetic Words

Lk 2:22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses h  had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

Mary and Joseph were careful to obey all the commands of God’s word.  When they took Jesus to the temple they received confirmation of His being the Son of God by two people.  The first was Simeon who was told by God he would see the Christ before he died.  The second was Anna who confirmed Jesus would be the redemption of the people.  Imagine being the parents of a baby with strangers saying such things about your child.  Even though they knew their baby’s Father was God through the Holy Spirit, it must have struck awe in them to hear the words spoken by others.  Jesus was not only described as being the redemption of the Jews, He was also spoken as being a light for revelation to the Gentiles.  How wonderful of God to send His only Son not only to His chosen people, the Hebrew Israelites but to all mankind.

 

We, as humans, tend to want to exclude people from our acceptance and God’s love.  We need to remember God sent His Son for all mankind.  God loves all His creation and wants every man, woman and child to come into His family through His Son, Jesus Christ.  We are all born a creation of God.  It is only through belief in Jesus as God’s only Son and acceptance of Him as Lord of our lives that we are adopted into the family of God and become joint heirs with Jesus.  We need to remember the equality of mankind when we relate to others.

 

December 14, 2010

The Wise Men

Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Notice these visitors are called “wise men” not “kings.”  Notice also no number is given.  We tend to romanticize history and change the facts.  Wise men of the time were astronomers  They spent their time studying the stars and planets.  They were very familiar with all the stars visible and also learned in the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel concerning the coming of the Messiah.  So, when they star the new star, the knew where to go.  The prophecies pointed to Bethlehem.  They had to travel past Herod’s palace and were called before Herod.  Notice also, when you read the entire verses in Matthew, they actually found Jesus in a house, not a manger.  By the time the astronomers got there Joseph and Mary were in a house in Bethlehem.

Once again we have wise, learned men listing to their dreams.  They were told in their dream not to return through Herod’s city but to go another way.  I’m not sure why Herod didn’t seek them out; maybe they were already out of range.  Instead, Herod fulfilled another prophecy by having all boy babies 2 years old and under killed.

It is so important for us to be familiar with the entire Bible.  So many Christians think the Old Testament is no longer important.  It is through the combination of the Old and New Testament that God speaks to us.  There are a lot of Bible reading plans available to help us read all sections of the Bible.  Look one up that most appeals to you.  Just be sure it is well balanced between the books of the prophets, the psalms and proverbs, the gospels and the letters.  All of them tie together.

 

December 13, 2010

Mary Ponders

Lk 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Mary’s life changed dramatically.  She was not only a mother but also the mother of God’s Son.  The sudden appearance of the shepherds and their story about the angels must have really made an impression on Mary.  When we treasure something it means we consider it to be very special to us.   What were the things Mary treasured?  Probably her encounter with the angel, her visit with Elizabeth, the birth of John the Baptist, Joseph accepting her as his wife, the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds and their story about the angels.  As she treasured them she also pondered them; she wondered about them and what they meant to her future.

 

We have many encounters with God throughout our life.  We must take the time to not only treasure these encounters as they occur, we must ponder them in our hearts.  We must ask ourselves what they mean to us in the present and for the future.  Each encounter we have with God should have an impact on our lives, our thoughts, our relationship with Him and our character.  With each encounter we have with God we should become more transparent to His love and light shining through us to others.  Let us take time during this season to recount our encounters with God and reflect on them and how they have impacted our lives.

 

December 12, 2010

The Shepherds

Lk 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

The shepherds were living their normal lives, doing their normal thing.  There was nothing out of the ordinary while working at night.  They were probably sitting around a small fire chatting about the events of their day – which sheep gave birth, which sheep died.  Very suddenly an angel appeared surrounded by a lot of bright light.  This was a frightening experienced.  The angel assured them there was no need to fear and then told them about the birth of God’s Son and where to find Him.  This event was so out of the normal that the shepherds decided to leave their sheep alone and check out what the angel said.  They must have had to hunt a good bit in the busy town of Bethlehem, so full of visitors for the census.  Their hunt paid off.  They found Mary and Joseph and the baby just as the angels said.  These shepherds, very ordinary people, were the first to worship God’s Son.  What a privilege.

 

Sometimes we get so involved in our ordinary circumstances we forget to look for God.  We don’t have to hunt hard because Jesus left us His Holy Spirit to stay with us, guide us and comfort us.  We fail to be aware of His Presence because we stay so wrapped up in the things we are about.  God came to seek us out.  All we need to is respond.  Take our minds off of us and turn them to Him.  Let’s practice being aware of His Presence throughout all our ordinary circumstances.

 

December 11, 2010

Then Animal Stall

 

Lk 2:7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 Finally, after all that traveling on a donkey and the frantic search for a place to stay, Mary gives birth to the Son of God in an animal stall.  There is no nice, warm bed so she wraps Him in cloths and lays him in a pile of clean straw in an animal troth.  I remember the joy I had fixing up a special place for my baby.  Mary did not have that joy.  She was in the poorest of surroundings and probably very concerned about the welfare of her newborn baby.  I’m sure Joseph was concerned also.  I’m sure he wanted to provide safe shelter for Mary and for the baby.  They had no choice but to put their trust in God that He would care for His Son, their baby.

 There are many times in our lives we find ourselves in a very insecure place or situation.  We can choose to look at the circumstances and feel very discouraged or afraid or we can choose to look to our Father, God and trust Him to show us His provision for us.  In His infinite wisdom, He provided the animal shelter.  This would be a good place for His Son’s first visitors.  God will always let His glory show when we submit to Him.

December 10, 2010

The Census

Lk 1:80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.

 

Mary and Joseph did not live in a democratic country.  When Caesar decided he wanted something they had to obey.  It didn’t matter if you were poor, sick, lame pregnant or anything else.  Everyone had to obey the command for the census and the tax.  It wasn’t an easy thing like we have in the United States of being sent a short form, filling it out and mailing it.  All had to travel to the birthplace of their family tree.  Mary and Joseph were both from the family tree of David the King and Psalmist so they had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  By this time Mary was close to delivery.  I remember how uncomfortable car trips were when I was close to full term with my babies.  Mary had to ride in the elements of the weather on the back of a donkey on bumpy terrain.  When they got to Bethlehem it was over crowded.  Usually they would stay with family but there must have been no more room.  They looked all around and finally found someone who would make room for them in their animal shelter.  Many of the homes were built around a courtyard, which made a secure place to keep their animals at night.  It would be the equivalent to being born in a garage attached to a house.  There were animals, tools, maybe carts, hay and probably smells to greet the birth of the King.  It seems Mary and Joseph knew how to make the best of a bad situation.  Instead of complaining or feeling sorry for themselves they found clean hay and an empty animal food box (manger) and Mary gave birth to Jesus.

 

How often do we find ourselves in bad or uncomfortable situations and we give way to complaints or feel sorry for ourselves.  We need to learn to look to God for His answers.  We need to ask Him why we are there and what we should learn and do about it rather than seeing the bad, hard or uncomfortable.  Let’s learn to praise God in all situations and through our praise let His Light shine on our surroundings.

 

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