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

Letting Go of Our Burdens to a Living Jesus

iamfree

As a woman walked along the seashore, she added shell after shell to her netted bag. Shells of fear, worry, shame, stress, to-do lists, etc. Her shoulders stooped as her bag became heavier and heavier, and finally she was dragging it through the sand.

Then an amazing thing happened. She took the bag and flung it, the shells emptying and scattering. As she faced the ocean, she raised her hands to the heavens and proclaimed, “I am free!”

“Casting the whole of your care
[all your anxieties, all your worries,
all your concerns, once and for all] on Him,
for He cares for you affectionately
and cares about you watchfully.”
~ 1 Peter 5:7 AMP

Are you bowed down with all these things? Do you, like me, too often let these things weigh you down? What a blessing if we can let go and give our burden over to Jesus, to fling away those weights that bow us down, and proclaim freedom in Jesus!

This story was a short and powerful clip before a film I saw that showed Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, the one of whom Jesus cast out seven devils. From then on she desired to follow Him and did until His death.

As Mary Magdalene followed Jesus, she witnessed many miracles. She saw the many women Jesus healed and saved. She experienced how He showed love and compassion to all, including women, even though women were disregarded at that time.

Then something happened that choked the hope and life out of her soul. Jesus was crucified and buried. She was bereft of any comfort without her Jesus.

As the woman in the clip, Mary Magdalene was bowed down under a heavy load. She mourned and wept at Jesus’ grave. She thought He was the Messiah. But now all her hope was gone. All Jesus’ promises seemed to mock her. Will she ever feel joy again?

Wonder of wonders, Jesus revealed Himself to her. Yes! He is alive! Yes! He is the Messiah! Yes! He is the Savior who would free her!

Do you know of times like these when you can’t feel that Jesus is truly alive? I’m afraid I sometimes live too much in a mournful state as if Jesus is still dead. Do you struggle with this, too?

May Jesus break us free from the chains that still sometimes bind us. May we learn to fling all our burdens to the cross. May we remember Jesus IS yet alive today and forever!

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.

She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.

“Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put Him.”

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him.

“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to Him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

~ John 20:11-16 NLT

You can view this movie on youtube,
but it doesn’t have the clip at the beginning.

“I Am Free” 
by Newsboys

May we let go of our burdens
to Jesus who is alive forever!

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Bonnie – Faith Barista’s Beloved Brews