Gentleness NOT Harshness

KindnessThe Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying , Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” Colossians 3:12

Gentleness – Jesus always responded with kindness and compassion, He understood that human beings are valuable and fragile, and need to be handled with care. When we yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and show kindness to others, we are doing it to our Lord. The opposite is a selfish, unkind, insensitive, and rude spirit.

Welcome to the fifth in my series on the fruit of the spirit, June has already gone by, along with Father’s Day, graduations,  and weddings, and I was studying Gentleness, or Kindness.

One of my favorite words in the Old Testament is “lovingkindness” — it always evokes a warm feeling in my heart. It makes me think of God’s love, grace, mercy, favor, compassion, concern, blessings and tender care for His children.

The fruit of the spirit gentleness has that same implication —it means to show kindness, compassion, and forbearance toward another, especially someone who has perhaps not treated you in that manner. Most versions of the Bible other than the King James translate the Greek word chréstotés as “kindness”, I think both words work, so I will use both in this blog post.

First, we have the example of Christ’s kindness. The Lord has shown us such kindness and compassion, He chose to give His life for us to pay the ransom for our sins while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10), so we should extend that kindness to others. I know I find it easy to be kind and gentle to people who are kind to me, if someone is harsh towards me my first reaction is to be rude and harsh back to them. But, as Christians, Jesus calls us to a higher road:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so?” Matthew 5:44, 46, 47

Wow! I stand rebuked! We are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Luke 6:31)— and, don’t we all want to be treated with gentleness? Don’t we all want people to understand that we’ve had a tough day and we just want to be handled gently?  And, the kindest thing we can do for someone is to share the Gospel with them. Jesus was moved with compassion when He looked upon lost, helpless people, and we should have that same attitude of compassion — NOT harsh judgementalism. Aren’t you glad someone shared the Gospel with you when you were still an enemy of God?

Second, we are to be genuine — people can spot a fake! We should be genuinely gentle, and willing to go the extra mile. Kindness will cost you something, it will take some self-sacrifice. But, because of the kindness Jesus showed to us when we were foolish enemies of God, we should gratefully make the effort to pass on that kindness to others, so He is glorified.

For we ourselves also were sometimes [once] foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared…according to his mercy he saved us…through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Titus 3:3-6

Oh how much better this world would be if we would all just show genuine gentleness to one another!  Glen Campbell sang a song back in 1970 called “Try a Little Kindness”, there was a lot of truth to that song:

“You got to try a little kindness, Yes show a little kindness, Just shine your light for everyone to see…”

Now, I don’t know what he meant by it specifically, but when we show kindness to others, it is a shining light for Jesus, as He told us in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Finally, we’re commanded to be kind. When Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25-37), the answer was basically — love God and love your neighbor! Jesus then went on to share the story of the Good Samaritan:

A Samaritan man came upon a Jewish man (his “enemy”) who had been treated harshly, he had been robbed, beaten and wounded and left to die. The Samaritan (unlike a priest and Levite who had already passed by and ignored him) stopped and had compassion on the poor man, treated him with kindness, bound up his wounds, and paid whatever it cost to return him to health and life. Wow! That sounds like what Jesus did for us! And do you know what Jesus said after that?? He said, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

I recently came upon a man who had been beaten down by this harsh world, and had become so overwhelmed by the burdens he carried that he took his own life. I felt such sorrow for him! I still do! I wonder if he could have been restored to health if someone had shown him compassion and kindness?

LORD, help me to shine your gentle light on others so that You will be glorified!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Kindness dispels darkness, lifts loads, speaks peace, and inspires the downhearted.” – Phillip Keller

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Longsuffering NOT Shortsuffering

ImpatiensI therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”(Ephesians 4:1-2)   

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Longsuffering:  When we realize how patient and forgiving our loving Lord has been with us, we can extend the same to others. Patience is accepting a trial in our lives, and waiting for God to work, without giving him a deadline to remove it. The opposite is selfishness, impatience, and an unforgiving, bitter spirit.

Well, May is almost over, so here’s the fourth post in my Fruit of the Spirit series. This month, we are studying “longsuffering”, or patience.

The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “longsuffering” for what most other versions call “patience” – which is a good word, but I think “longsuffering” is more descriptive of what this fruit of the Spirit entails. Remember the nine-fold Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) is the fruit, or evidence, of the Holy Spirit’s residing in our hearts, and as we yield to the Holy Spirit our inner man becomes more like Christ and less like the sinful, fleshy, natural man of our heart. Longsuffering builds on the first three fruits – Love, Joy, and Peace – which are the “inward” fruit, the ones that affect our heart and soul, our inner being. When we are filled with God’s love, joy and peace, then He will enable us to “suffer long” (1 Corinthians 13:4) with difficult people and circumstances. Longsuffering, Gentleness, and Goodness are the three “outward” fruits, the ones that affect our attitudes and behaviors toward the people and situations around us. The Chinese Symbol for patience is this:

Chinese patience

The characters, as you can see, represent a heart with a knife in it, and together are interpreted as “going on with a knife in your heart”, or, patience! Wow! Isn’t that what patience is? Suffering yet continuing on. Afflicted with pain yet perservering. Enduring over a long period of time with overpowering circumstances.

What Patience is NOT:

Longsuffering, or patience is NOT to be confused with “shortsuffering” – we can all do that! We can all suffer for a short period of time, knowing that it will be over soon – “I’ve just got to hang on a little longer!” Patience is NOT resignation either, it’s not “Oh well, I guess that’s life, I just have to put up with it” (think Eeyore!!!); also, Patience is NOT just a personality that doesn’t get ruffled; and Patience is NOT tapping our foot while we wait for something to happen!

What Patience IS:

Patience is “accepting a trial in our lives, and waiting for God to work, without giving him a deadline to remove it.” So, patience is not only the ability to go on with a knife in your heart, patience comes as a result of having gone on with a knife in your heart (James 1:3), and through that suffering have found God to be more than enough to help you endure and see hope (Romans 5:3,4). Longsuffering means that we can continue to go on for a long, long time because we know that God is with us in this, He will strengthen us, help us, and hold us up when we need it. So that HE gets the glory!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”(Isaiah 41:10)

WHY have Patience:

We need to be longsuffering in so many areas of our lives: as parents, and as children; as teachers, and as students; as counselors, and as counselees; as the healer, and as the hurting; as leaders, and as followers; as employers and/or managers, and as employees; I’m sure you can think of others…

Because, others are watching! When they see our patience with situations and people, they will ask us the reason for our calmness in light of such distress –and then we have the opportunity to share the REASON – the Lord Jesus Christ, Who displayed such longsufferingtoward us while we were yet sinners:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (2 Peter 3:15)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:15)

Longsuffering, or patience is something we ALL could use, I know I wish I had more, but I’m not sure that I want to go through the “trying of my faith” (James 1:2) or the “tribulations” (Romans 5:3) that bring it about! Lord – give me patience, but do it quickly!!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

Here’s a link to another blog post I did on Patience: Be Patient

Peace Like a River

Welcome to the third post in my series on the fruit of the Spirit.Peace like a river

Peace – The ‘conscious possession of adequate resources’. Knowing that our loving God is in control, and resting in Him, helps us to worry about nothing, pray about everything and be thankful for anything. The opposite is worry, fear, and anxiety in our soul.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord…” (1 Peter 1:2)

Do you like to be by the water? I do! In the spiritual song that I referred to in my last two posts, the first stanza is “I’ve got Peace like a river…♫”. If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the demands of life, I love to go find a river and sit on the bank and just watch the water flow gently by. It is soooo peaceful! I love how the river seems to just keep on rolling (cue the song “Ole Man River”), it doesn’t matter what “junk” falls into it, or if there are sharp rocks in the bottom, or critters living in it taking advantage of its sweet water, it just stays serene and sublime. We like to go kayaking on a river near us, and it just feels so relaxing and peaceful – all you can hear is the swish of your paddle in the water, the croaking of toads, the rustle of the breeze in the trees, the chirping of birds… I’m feeling relaxed already!

Peace is something we are all searching for, and unfortunately some people never find it. Even though rivers do make me feel peaceful, I know that I cannot find true peace apart from my God Who Created me AND the rivers. There are three areas we need to have peace: Peace with God (upward); Peace of God (inward); and Peace with others (outward). Here’s some Biblical ways to find that peace:

1. Peace with God – Our souls were created to be filled with a loving, dependent relationship with our God. Without Him, our soul is constantly seeking something to fill that void with. When we try to fill it with anything but Him, the result is anxiety, fear, and unrest in our souls. We are sinful creatures, we know that our sin deserves punishment, and if we are honest with ourselves, we feel guilty, and our hearts are not at peace. Romans 15:13 tells us where we find peace with God:

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Peace with God comes from “believing”, believing what?

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:8)

Believing in the Lord Jesus and what He did for us, to pay for our sins! WOW! I’m so thankful that I can KNOW that my sins are forgiven. Because of Jesus, I have PEACE like a river in my soul!

2. Peace of God—Once we are saved, we do not instantly become perfect people with heart and soul content and at peace within ourselves. Sorry to bust your bubble! Without the peace of God, our hearts are still anxious and fearful. Salvation is the first step in the process of “sanctification” – a long word that really means to become a better person, a person who is increasingly more like Jesus Christ, who was perfect and holy. So, how do we do that? God commands us in Colossians 3:15 to let the peace of God rule in our hearts, and in verse 16 to let the Word of Christ dwell in us. Hmmm… maybe that’s a clue!! Philippians 4:6-9 gives us the answer:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true…honest… just…pure…lovely…of good report…virtue…praise, think on these things…and the God of peace shall be with you.”

The peace of God comes from intimately praying to God, with a thankful heart, trusting and turning everything over to Him –because He’s in control of it all anyway!! – and then thinking, or meditating, on God’s Word –and then obeying it! God’s Word is true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely and of good report. When we fill our minds with the truths of God’s Word instead of the lies of this world and its prince (Satan), we will find that we will want to obey His Word, and thus have the peace of God. We will know that we can trust in His goodness and His sovereignty to work all things together for good. We have no need to fear. He will take care of us as He does the sparrows.

3. Peace with Others – If we have peace with God, and the peace of God, then it shouldn’t be difficult to be at peace with others. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit indwells us, and He will give us the grace to forgive, to forbear, and to “hold our peace” when we really want to let someone have it! Romans 12:18 strongly recommends that we try to live at peace with others. It takes two people to make an argument – if another person is angry and red-faced and in-your-face, you can still be at peace within yourself and show love to them, and maybe help them to find peace. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about this, in fact, Proverbs 16:7 tells us:

When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Proverbs 15:1 tells us that “A soft answer turns away wrath”, and it is so true! Peace produces healing, it flows like a river from the presence of Christ in our hearts.

In Heaven a river flows from the throne of Christ (Revelations 22:1), a peaceful river that waters the tree of life in a place where there is no more curse, no tears, no sorrow, no pain, and no darkness – PEACE!!

There are so many other verses about peace, I would encourage you to do a word search with a concordance, or your Bible App, and see all the ways God promises us peace.

Grace and Peace unto you…

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace!

Fruit of the Spirit

fruit-of-the-spirit-KJV-1.jpgBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  (Galatians 5:22,23)

Our Pastor encouraged us to set spiritual goals for 2018, and the only goal I can think of is to be more Christ-like. And, what is more Christ-like than the 9-fold Fruit of the Spirit? So, this year, that will be my focus. Here’s a brief synopsis of what I know right now about the Fruit of the Spirit, and I am going to try to go more in-depth through the year as time permits, and as the LORD leads…

Love – The essential ingredient for all other graces to grow. Not a feeling, but a choice. Self-sacrificing, seeking what’s best for others, expecting nothing in return. The opposite is a selfish, hateful, envious, critical spirit.

Joy –The ‘smile of the soul’ that is unaffected by people or circumstances. It grows from the love of God flowing in and through us. Our relationship with the Lord makes us thankful for everything when we focus on Him and abide in His presence. The opposite is a selfish, ungrateful, complaining spirit.

Peace – The ‘conscious possession of adequate resources’. Knowing that our loving God is in control, and resting in Him, helps us to worry about nothing, pray about everything and be thankful for anything. The opposite is worry, fear, and anxiety in our soul.

Longsuffering –When we realize how patient and forgiving our loving Lord has been with us, we can extend the same to others. Patience is accepting a trial in our lives, and waiting for God to work, without giving Him a deadline to remove it. The opposite is selfishness, impatience and an unforgiving, bitter spirit.

Gentleness – Jesus always responded with kindness and compassion, He understood that human beings are valuable and fragile, and need to be handled with care. When we yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and show kindness to others, we are doing it to our Lord. The opposite is a selfish, unkind, insensitive, and rude spirit.

Goodness – Just doing what is right and good, as Jesus “…went about doing good”. God’s indwelling love will help us to sacrifice and do good even to those who are not good to us. It is enough to know that God saw and smiled. The opposite is a selfish, worldly, sinful, and retaliatory spirit.

Faith – Having a firm faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and acting on it! Our faithfulness to Christ and to others will cause us to shine as bright lights in this dark world. The opposite is a doubting, distrustful and untrustworthy spirit.

Meekness – Having a humble servant’s spirit that is more interested in being a servant than in being served. Not insisting on my own rights, rather insisting on putting other’s and God’s will first. The opposite is a prideful, arrogant, and selfish spirit.

Temperance – Strength from the Lord not to give in to indulgences, desires, and passions, and to submit to God’s will. Having a guard on our mouth, and a leash on our temper. The opposite is a selfish, carnal spirit, controlled by self and the flesh.

I look forward to studying these nine visible attributes that grow in us as we yield to the Holy Spirit’s control, and sharing my discoveries with you. I’m already working on “Love” for February, and will post at the end of each month what I learn about each fruit.

~ Graced and Grateful Grammy

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving”

 

 

Little Arrows

Little Arrowsquiver

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed…” (Psalm 127:3-5)

I have been thinking a lot lately about my children, how we raised them, and how thankful I am that they are all such fun people to be around. It must be because I miss them all after having them all home at Christmas.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert, and my children are not all full-grown yet. But, as my husband and I like to say about our five children, “there’s not a throwback in the bunch!” I thought I would share with you some principles we used when raising our children. So, here are some of my thoughts as a mother of five and grandmother of three, on how we raised our children – you will notice that the fruit of the Spirit is woven throughout, which is no surprise, because it takes the fruit of the Spirit in us parents to raise good kids, and our aim is for them to be led by the Spirit.

LOVE them – As a mother, our job is to LOVE our children (Titus 2:4), and loving our children encompasses a lot: Protecting, guiding, nurturing, nursing, saying “NO” when necessary, being there for them, and looking out for their best interests – in a self-sacrificing, unconditional manner, as our Heavenly Father loves us. My husband likes to give our children the “I’m the best friend you’ll ever have speech”, because, really, their friends will come and go, their friends will not put their needs ahead of their own, and their friends may not always be in their lives.

PRAY for them – Someone once challenged me, “If you don’t pray for your children, WHO do you think will?” That struck me to the core! I MUST pray for my kids. Daily. Fervently. (James 5:16). Pray for them to seek and obey God’s will. Pray that they will grow in His grace and knowledge. Pray for their protection from evil. Pray for their future spouses (whenever my children bring home a ‘special someone’, I always think “is this the one I’ve been praying for all these years?”). When we pray, God gives us that PEACE that passes all understanding as we place them in His capable hands, knowing that they belong to Him anyway (Philippians 4:7).

SPEAK to them about God and His Word – Family devotions are so important, especially when children are young. They need to hear their parents talking about God and His Word, and how it applies to every aspect of our lives, and it should be a natural part of our everyday conversations (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). We gave our children Bibles as soon a they were old enough to carry it to Church by themselves. I used to teach them to repeat after me what the Bible says (in a nutshell, at their level of understanding): “Jesus loves me, and obey your Parents!” They would repeat it back, it was funny, but true! They need to learn at an early age that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that their FAITH needs to be in Him for their salvation.

DISCIPLINE them – Children need our help to stay on track, if you’ve spent any time around children you know that their natural bent is to be selfish and foolish. They need help! Don’t be afraid to say “No”, even when it’s hard to (Hebrews 12:11), because you know what’s best for them. They need to learn TEMPERANCE, or SELF-CONTROL. One definition of the word “discipline” is training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves, often in the form of rules, and punishments if these are broken And that’s exactly what we do!

Teach them to WORK HARD – A good work ethic is invaluable! And, there is nothing more satisfying than to sit back and look at a job-well-done! (2 Thesselonians 3:10) That is something you should want your children to experience. Resist the urge to do it all for them! Our job as parents is to ‘work our way out of our job’ – lead our children into adulthood so that they can live independently of their parents. It will take PATIENCE and LONG SUFFERING, but it will be worth it.

LAUGH with them – Don’t forget to have fun with your children. Laugh with them (Proverbs 15:13). Make home a haven where they know they can come and relax, enjoy some family private jokes, and be themselves. It should be a JOY for them to come home, they shouldn’t dread it!

Teach them to be KIND – My husband still teases me about the number of times I would proclaim to my kids, “Be ye KIND one to another!” My mother taught me to ‘kill them with kindness’ when someone was unkind to me, and it is Biblical truth (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Ephesians 4:32).

Teach them to be HONEST – We do this mostly by example. Don’t be a hypocrite! Now, I know we all act a little differently at home than we do at Church, but we have to practice what we preach, or it doesn’t mean anything! We always told our children the importance of telling the truth, and so we must be truthful too. Our “GOODNESS” cannot be skin deep, it must come from a heart that wants to please and serve our Savior (Matthew 12:35), and you know what? Our kids can see right through us!! So, don’t judge them harshly on something that you do (Matthew 7:5, Romans 2:1). Be honest for Goodness’ sake!

Teach them RESPECT for Authority – Children learn respect for authority from how their mother treats their father. The father is the head of the household, and if I am rebellious and disrespectful to him, they will be too! And they will be rebellious and disrespectful to other authority figures in their lives (Ephesians 5:15,33). It takes humility, or MEEKNESS. I have heard meekness described as “velvet over steel”, meekness is not weakness, it is having power but knowing when and how to use it in a kind and loving way that is helpful to everyone.

Our Pastor recently said at a baby dedication that children are like arrows – we place them in our “bow” of training them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, aim them at the “target” of living to please the Lord, and “shoot” them off into the world praying that they hit the mark. I pray that your arrows fly straight and to the “mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

I hope this was helpful, it’s pretty much common sense, but nowadays it seems like common sense isn’t so common! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5)

 

Christmas Thoughts

Creche

 

I have been meditating recently on all the components of the Christmas Story, and here are some of my thoughts…

1. The Ancestors: (Matthew 1:2-16; Luke 3:23-38):

When we start to read the story of Christ in Matthew, we begin with the list of “begats”, and the account in Luke ends with a list of “was the son ofs”. Have you ever wondered why those lists of ancestors are there? I know they are there for a reason – lineage is important! The Messiah was prophesied to come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and from the lineage of David (Isaiah 11:1). These lists of “begats” prove that both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David. To me, it shows that God was orchestrating from the beginning, from Adam, a lineage all the way down to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, and to Mary, His mother. I found it fascinating in Luke 3, when Jesus was baptized, and God the Father said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased”, and then goes on to talk about all the other sons: And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, ich was the son of Heli”. So, Jesus “was supposed” or assumed by most to be the son of Joseph, and Joseph was the son(-in-law) of Heli. Thus proving that both Jesus’ earthly father and mother were from the lineage of David. We know that Joseph really was not His biological father, the Holy Spirit is, so it is important that His mother is from that same lineage, too.

2. The Angels: (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:11, 1:26, 2:13)

Angels have appeared as messengers singly, and sometimes in pairs throughout the Bible. A single angel (Gabriel) told Zaccharias about his son, John. A single angel (Gabriel) told Mary the news that she would give birth to God’s Son! A single angel told Joseph the truth about his espoused wife’s pregnancy. BUT, when the greatest event to happen on earth was being proclaimed, the WHOLE SKY was filled with “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Christ the LORD was born in the City of David!!

3. The Town: Bethlehem: (Micah 5:2: Luke 2:4,11)

The name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”, it is the town where the first king of Israel, David, was born and raised, and where he was anointed to be king. Thus, its being referred to as “The City of David”. It is in the land of Judea. The prophet Micah said that the Messiah would be born in the little town of Bethlehem. And, Jacob (Israel) buried his beloved wife, Rachel in Bethlehem. It is also where the passover lambs were raised, the first-born, perfect males who would be sacrificed at the Temple at Passover – to remember when God passed over the homes of those Israelites who had the blood of the Lamb on their doorposts. (Kinda gives you the glory bumps, doesn’t it?). Bethlehem is a little town with BIG meaning.

4. The Virgin Mary: (Luke 1:28, 38, 47, 48)

Mary does not say much, but what is said about her speaks volumes. “Highly favored…the Lord is with thee…blessed among women…” She was espoused to Joseph, sort of an engagement period where the marriage had not yet been consummated, but they were in a binding contract that could only be ended by divorce (“putting away” which Joseph considered in Matthew 1:19) usually for sexual immorality (“fornication”). This special young lady is told that she will be impregnated by the Holy Ghost and that the child she would bear is the Son of God. She responds humbly, reverently, and obediently – I think that every devoted young Jewish girl in those days wondered if they would be the virgin spoken of in Isaiah 7:14 who would bear the Son of God – Immanuel! I wonder if Jewish girls today still wonder the same?? Mary was the chosen vessel, although she herself was still a sinner in need of a Savior, she said, “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. When Elizabeth confirmed what the angel had told her about the baby, Mary said, “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” I don’t think she fully understood what was going on, but the Bible tells us that Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” – She was thinking hard on all of this! She was a wise young woman.

5. The Cousin, Elisabeth: (Luke 1:6, 7, 18, 41-45)

Mary’s cousin Elisabeth also experienced a miraculous conception, she was “well stricken in years” when God placed John the Baptist in her previously barren womb. The Bible speaks highly of this godly lady righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. At first, she may have been curious, she may have heard rumors that Mary was with child, and was waiting for Mary to arrive so she could find out the truth. But she was filled with the Holy spirit when she met with Mary face-to-face, because He revealed to her that Mary’s baby was the Lord. She learned from her husband’s mistakes and said to Mary, “…blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Elisabeth was a wise older woman.

6. The Husband, Joseph: (Matthew 1:19-25;

Joseph was also a very special man. He was just, kind, humble, and obedient to the Lord. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what transpired when Mary broke the news to Joseph that she was with child, but you can just imagine the thoughts that went through his mind – she said it was the Holy Ghost, but, really?! He could have had her stoned, but the scripture says, “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily”. What a guy!! And to add to this – imagine a young groom looking forward to his wedding night as any man would – an angel came to him and told him that he could not know her as his wife until after the child is born. But Joseph, being a godly man, obeyed, he went through with the marriage, and “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son”. Joseph was a wise man.

7. The Shepherds: (Luke 2:8-18)

I LOVE that the amazing announcement was not made at the Temple, or at the Palace, but to shepherds, ordinary people, just going about their ordinary lives. Now, these shepherds did have a special job, they took care of the Passover lambs – those perfect first-born males who would be sacrificed at the Temple at Passover – and THAT gives me the glory bumps too! The angel came and told them that they had good tidings of great joy for ALL people. And those shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see what the angels had described. Imagine! The very first people to hear the news that Christ the Savior is born – they who went and worshiped Him in that humble stable – they saw the Bread of Life, in the House of Bread, laying in a feed trough (a server of bread)! I don’t think that is a coincidence! Then those Shepherds couldn’t wait to run out and around the town telling everyone they saw that Christ the Savior is born!! They were some wise shepherds.

8. Roman Rulers: Caesar Augustus and Herod: (Luke 2:1, Matt. 2:1-8, 12-15)

God even used heathen, evil men to bring His plan to fruition. Caesar Augustus got them to Bethlehem to fulfill Micah’s prophesy (Micah 5:2), and Herod got them to Egypt to fulfill Hosea’s prophesy (Hosea 11:1). This gives me comfort in this world to know that even evil rulers are under God’s control. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1).

The wisdom of man is foolishness to God.

9. The Magi, the Wise Men: (Matthew 2:1-13)

These wise men from the East had studied many things, they knew enough about the Hebrew scriptures to know that when the special star appeared that the King of the Jews was born! They hurried to Jerusalem with their entourage and asked the current King of the Jews – Herod – where the baby was?! Herod didn’t know – What star?? What baby?? The Wise men went on, led by the star to Bethlehem, and worshiped the young child, the Lord Jesus. They brought Him gifts fit for a King – Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. They were truly wise men who sought out the Lord Jesus, and wise men still seek Him.

10. The Baby Jesus – Immanuel:

And then there is our Lord Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us. It still blows my mind that God Himself, the Helper of the helpless, laid aside His glory in Heaven, and took on the form of one of the most helpless creatures on the earth – a baby human being. Not only did He become a helpless human, but instead of being born in a palace or temple, where we would expect the King of Glory to be born, He chose to be born in a humble stable, in a humble feed trough, to humble people, and His first visitors were humble shepherds. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:8). The baby in the manger did not stay a baby, though, He is the Savior, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

This Christmas I am filled anew with the wonder of it all. Jesus came down from Heaven to live a short, perfect, life on earth so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was born to die for us. Hallelujah, What a Savior!

Merry Christmas, and blessings for the New Year!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

I wonder as I wander out under the sky, How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I; I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

All One Body We

All one bodyFor as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

My husband and I like to tease each other that we are both “missing parts” 🙂 I have had my gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy), and he had his thyroid removed (thyroidectomy) – the suffix “-ectomy” is from the Greek word for the “act of cutting out”. Now, our bodies still function, but not as well as they would if we still had all our parts. There are some things that our head (or our mind) might want to do, but we just can’t (at least not without taking medication!)…

I find it fascinating that the Lord refers to His Church as the “Body of Christ”, and that every born-again believer is a “member” of that Body. The word “member” means “a part belonging to a whole”! Isn’t that wonderful?! Christ is the Head, and we are the Body – we are to work together in harmony to accomplish whatever our Head asks us to do. Every member has their specific job as it pleased the Lord to determine – just like the human body has hands, feet, eyes, ears, noses (1 Corinthians 15-18). So, when one member is not working properly, or has “cut out” entirely, the Body of Christ will still function, but not to its fullest potential.

This makes me think that I don’t want to be the one that causes the body to be dysfunctional. But, I know that when I am in sin, and am ignoring the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life and going my own way – someone else has to fill in where I “cut out”. Or, I may have to fill in sometimes where others have “cut out”, and then I get overwhelmed because I can’t keep up with it all. (I know, sometimes we take on unnecessary stuff in our lives and then we can’t accomplish the necessary!)

However, when the Body of Christ works together and everyone is doing what God has called them to do, it is a beautiful thing!! I know – I’ve seen it happen many times at my own Church!

You know how, when you stub your toe, your whole body reacts – your mouth yells, your hand grabs your toe, your body jumps up and down?? Or, when you hear some beautiful music and your eyes fill with tears, you may get goosebumps all over your body, and you feel warm and fuzzy inside?? Well, as a Body, we weep when other member weep, and we rejoice with them when they rejoice.

And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

So, as you go to Church, as you pray for other believers, as you go about serving and ministering – remember, we are all one body, and we are doing it all for our Head, the LORD Jesus Christ, that He may be glorified through us.

Let’s remember Whose body we belong to, and let’s take care of that body

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

 Like a mighty army moves the Church of God;

Brothers, we are treading where the Saints have trod.

We are not divided; All one body we:

One in hope and doctrine, One in charity.”