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!

Waiting and Longing, Hoping Against Hope

Joy's poem
Joy Lenton – Shared by Permission

As I gazed at the bare, dead-looking trees, an ache squeezed my heart so hard it hurt. Oh, how I long for spring when new life springs forth embracing my heart with hope again. But I have to wait and let winter play its important role…

Waiting… How difficult it must have been in the Bible days to have to wait for the Hope of salvation to be born. How discouraged people must have felt at times waiting and longing, hoping against hope,

When an angel came to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, there had been 400 years of silence from prophets. The last one who prophesied the Savior was Malachi. And it was 300 years before that when Isaiah prophesied:

“All right then, the Lord Himself will give you the sign.
Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son and will call Him
Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”

Can you imagine the anguish of waiting? Some didn’t even see it happen in this lifetime. What faith they needed to believe He would yet come to be their Savior, too.

Six months after Elizabeth conceived, the angel Gabriel came to Mary to announce the fulfillment of the long-awaited promise of Immanuel – God With Us. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped with joy. The Savior was to be born from Mary!

We are so blessed to already know He has come. But sometimes there can still be longing, aching, waiting times for Christ. Sometimes wondering where He is in our lives. Sometimes aching for His presence – to truly feel Him. Sometimes waiting for unmet longings.

When Jacob was running for his life from his enraged brother Esau, he stopped at Bethel and used a rock as his pillow. He dreamed of a ladder stretching up to heaven with angels ascending and descending it and the Lord Himself at the top. When he woke up, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

Isn’t that what often happens with us? The Lord is ever faithful with His presence. It’s we who are not always aware of it. He was still there when there was 400 years of silence, and He is still here when we feel darkness surrounding us within and without. His fulfillment of His promise is just as steadfast whether it’s night or day. Whether we can “feel” Him or not.

Winters in nature are necessary. Trees look dead without leaves, but the truth is they are alive and growing underneath the surface as long as the ground isn’t too frozen. The nutrients empower the roots in the barren times. The roots grow down deeper and stronger, preparing them for what is to come, more able to suffer times of heat and drought. Longing and waiting for the signs of life again makes us value spring even more.

That’s how it is with spiritual waiting times, too. Our roots need to grow deeper into Christ and His ever-sure promises that He is here even when we can’t “feel” Him. And after the times of longing, waiting, and hoping against hope, we become more alert and aware of the evidences of His presence and the fulfillment to His promises and we appreciate those signs of new life so much more.

“Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” ~ Ephesians 3:17-19

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“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
~ Sung by Barlow Girl

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