Despised Ones Are Invited and Welcomed by Jesus

They were unwanted, unappreciated, and unnoticed by society. Despised, disapproved, dirty. Yet God knew them by name. He wanted them. He appreciated them. He noticed each and every one. He even chose them to be the first ones to hear the awesome news of our Savior’s birth.

Shepherds lovingly kept their flocks safe from thieves and wild animals and guarded them from straying and getting lost. Yet society regarded them with contempt. Their occupation was despised. They were denied civil rights of holding a judicial office or being a witness in court. Jewish leaders even commanded no one should buy by-products of their sheep or goats directly from them. (“Shepherd Status” by Randy Alcorn)

They were continually reminded of their insignificance. They must have felt so worthless at times. Yet the King of all kings regarded them from on high. He gave the message of HOPE first to them, not to the high-ranking officials, the rich, or the famous.

The darkness of night robbed them of light, and yet God knew exactly where the shepherds were. He sent an angel and the sunshine of His glory. So glorious that it terrified them. The angel said:

“Don’t be afraid, for look,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people:
Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord,
was born for you in the city of David.
This will be the sign for you:
You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth
and lying in a feeding trough.”
Luke 2:10-12 HCSB

Then suddenly, a vast heavenly choir joined the angel in praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!”
Luke 2:14 HCSB 

What an exciting message! The shepherds hurried to see their Savior with their own eyes. Where? Not in a castle or a palace, but in a stinky stable. Not wrapped in royal robes, but swaddled in tattered cloths.  Not lying on sheets of silk, but in an animal’s feed trough. But by faith, the shepherds saw their Savior, their Rescuer, their Peace-Giver.

Do you feel unwanted?

Jesus says, “Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me.” (Song of Solomon 2:8-10) We are beautiful in His sight. He was born for us and invites us to hope in Him.

Do you feel unappreciated?

Jesus recognizes our worth. He was born because He values us so highly. We are precious and honored in His sight, and He loves us so deeply. (Isaiah 43:4)

Do you feel unnoticed?

Jesus notices us! We are wonderfully created by Him. His thoughts towards us are precious and can’t even be counted. He sees us, no matter where we are, even in the darkest of nights. He knows the innermost pain in our hearts. (Psalm 139)

Praying the Greatest Gift May Fill
Your Hearts This Christmas and Always!

“Unto Us”
by J.J. Heller

“Love wrapped in swaddling clothes
Born to bind up our wounds
All
Weary souls will rejoice
When they hear the good news…”

Thank you all for visiting this year. I appreciate each of you, whether or not you comment. You remain in my heart and prayers. God knows who you are, each and every one. He cares about every little detail of your lives. He invites you into the hope, healing, and freedom that is only possible in Christ Jesus.
I hope to post again on January 2, 2018! Meanwhile, never forget how special you are in Jesus’ eyes!

When Hope Came Down

Weighted down by the heavy yoke of oppression from Assyria, God’s chosen people lost hope. The royal family, once a mighty tree with its branches spreading far and wide, was cut down. Only  a stump remained, its roots decaying to nothingness.

It was from this hopeless stump that a tiny shoot sprouted forth. Unnoticed, ignored, and despised by many. Jesus, fully God, was born on the humbled ground of broken humanity. He became like us to suffer with us and for us.

“God became like us so that we might become like Him.
He came to this dung-filled dungeon we call earth and sat with us,
touched us, loved us, and called us to Him.
He also enters into the dungeons of our hearts
and transforms them.”
Diane Langberg

Is your heart deeply troubled? Does it seem like everything is crashing in on you and around you? Does the enemy of our souls pummel you with lies that there will never be any hope for you? That Jesus didn’t come for you, because you are too dirty and worthless?

God has sent His hope for each of us. Not one of us, no matter how badly we have sinned or how dirty and shamed we feel because of sin against us, is too hopeless for God to rescue and redeem. It is His delight to touch us with His love and grace. His arms are open wide to receive us. His passion for our deliverance seeks after us and draws us.

But sometimes our hearts can feel so dark and despairing that we have a hard time believing it, right? The devil works hard to keep our eyes and hearts closed to the hope Jesus has brought to this world. We look within us and are overwhelmed by our brokenness. We look around us and think there is no peace on earth.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the history of Israel, God proved He reigns and His hope will prevail. Though His people suffered yet many more years of oppression at the hands of enemies, God showed that His sprout of Hope gained the victory. The enemies fell away and decayed while the Sprout grew and flourished. The King over all laid down His crown and was born in a stinky stable. Messiah, our promised Deliverer, came to pile on His love and mercy. To pull us up out of the pit. To invite our starving souls to His rich banquet of unconditional love and bottomless grace.

“He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced His chosen child, Israel;
He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what He promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.”
Luke 1:52-55 The Message

“When Hope Came Down”
by Kari Jobe

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy,
fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives,
filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit,
will brim over with hope!”
Romans 15:13 The Message

Beyond Blind Faith

© Jack Dawson Painting – used by permission

Do you see the man walking across the log? Do you see his white cane? More importantly, do you see Jesus watching over him? How about the cross on the rock?

I live in one of 14 condo units, placed on either side of a hallway with a Commons area at the end. Some residents almost always have a puzzle in progress there. Many of these puzzles are framed and displayed on the hallway walls. Most of them relate to U.S. or state history, but there are occasional exceptions.

Earlier this year, Nathalie had a puzzle she wanted put together, framed, and hung up across from her door. One had to look carefully to see Jesus in it, but once I found Him, I was awed. Yes, He is with us even when we can’t always “see” Him. Not long after the puzzle was hung up, Jesus took Nathalie to Himself. Her family graciously left the puzzle there. Every time I see it when I take a walk in the hallway, it reminds me of Jesus’ promise to be with us always. We may not always see Him, but He’s there, faithfully watching over us, His loving heart channeling His sufficient grace into our hearts and lives.

“And be sure of this:
I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b NLT
“For God has said,
‘I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.'”
Hebrews 13:5b NLT

Recently, I looked up the author’s name in the corner and found out it was titled “Beyond Blind Faith.” Finding out more about it has deepened the meaning. I hadn’t noticed the man using a white cane. I just figured it was a man balancing himself and walking across the log, taking it as meaning we sometimes have to go through risky trials, but we need to trust Jesus is watching out for us. When I realized the man was actually blind… Wow! Isn’t that how it is? Blind faith. Uncertain. Afraid of taking the wrong step, because we can’t see it. Depending on Jesus to guide us in the right way.

The website for this painting describes it:

“It would be almost impossible for this blind man to walk across safely to the other side.  Many times we feel like we are walking in uncertainty and confusion, without hope.  But just as Christ is seen watching over the blind man in the painting, He watches over us as we walk “Beyond Blind Faith,” in confident hope and faith in Him.”

The following 1-minute video about this painting is inspiring:

“Beyond Blind Faith”
by Jack E. Dawson

Sometimes in the midst of loss and troubles, we don’t see that Jesus is with us. We don’t feel Him warming our hearts with hope. But He truly is with us, no matter what situation we are in, because He is faithful to His promises. He is never going to leave us or abandon us! We may flounder in our trust and faith and may even fall and feel like we’re drowning, but He will always pick us up again!

“God Is With Us”
by Casting Crowns

“Love is raining down on the world tonight
There’s a presence here I can tell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
He’s the Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts He will dwell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel”