Archives for December 2017

Preparing Room

On this second day of Christmas, I’m still reflecting on the Christmas story. The Inn-keeper in the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth intrigues me. He leaves much to our imagination.

With the census going on for the entire Roman World, you know his inn must have stayed full at 100 percent occupancy. He was truthful to Mary and Joseph.

The Inn-keeper certainly wasn’t a mean man. In fact, I can sympathize with him. Guests checked out, then more guests with reservations checked in.  He was trying his best to be hospitable by offering a stable/cave and manger out back.

Little did he know he was too busy in his life for the Savior of the world’s birth. Ouch. That hits home. During this Christmas season, my quiet time with the Lord has been cut shorter and shorter because of a long to-do list. I’m just like that Inn-Keeper.  I’m guilty.  This message is for me too.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 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.” –Luke 2:7 NIV

Anything of value in our lives requires us to make room.

We make room in our time schedules, our budgets, our hearts for a new relationship we value. Even for Christmas we made room, didn’t we?

To bring in our new wonderful-smelling Christmas tree, we moved over our comfy chairs, reading lamp, plants–whatever it takes. Box after box of Christmas decorations require us to move our year-round décor and replace with our valued Christmas festive decor. In a few days we’ll be moving all the decorations back out and placing our furniture back as it was.

In the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth, since there was no room in the Inn, Mary and Joseph resorted to a hay-filled stable, along with the smelly animals. Our Savior of the World Jesus was born in a tiny manger. The tiny manger was plenty of room for the King of Kings and was truly the first King-Sized Bed.

Even the favorite Christmas carol “Joy to the World” exclaims, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

The big question is: How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my budget for Jesus? He wants our whole heart, my whole heart. So many times I don’t make enough room with my hurried schedule, my shortened quiet time, quick prayers.

Frederick Buechner sums the Inn-Keeper’s perspective up beautifully in “The Birth” from Magnificent Defeat:

“But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come–we all do–our destiny, our joy, our heart’s desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When He came, I missed Him. Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for the Inn-Keeper. Pray for me, and for us all, my own true love.”

The exciting hope and Truth is that we who believe are all “IN-Keepers.” Jesus loves us so much and wants to reside in our hearts for eternity. Jesus is our only Way “IN” to eternal life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.'” –John 14:6.

Please forgive me, Lord, for being too busy. I’m excited to make much more room for You. Take my whole heart, Lord. Lord Jesus, move everything else out to make all the room You want and need in my heart. You are the only way IN to eternal life. I desire to be a true “IN-Keeper.”  In Jesus’ name, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


–“Make room for us in your hearts.” –2 Corinthians 7:2a NIV

–“ ‘Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’” –Mark 14:14-15 NIV

“I’m prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” –Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing


–How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my life for Jesus? Please comment

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God Loves Making Extraordinary Out of the Ordinary

The Bible is full of ordinary people like me. God loves to make extraordinary out of the ordinary–how refreshing.

Two amazing ordinary leaders I had never really noticed are only mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 2 story of Jesus’ birth–Simeon and Anna.

Only days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for His purification. Enter a “nobody” named Simeon…

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’  Luke 2:25-32

Go Simeon! What a courageous, anointed man! The passage goes on to say that Mary and Joseph marveled at what Simeon said about Jesus. These verses are the only time Simeon is mentioned. What an impact he made on God’s Kingdom.

Then another “ordinary” named Anna enters the Luke 2 stage:

“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” –Luke 2: 36-38. 

Wow, Anna! What an amazing example. What a leader. What a somebody.

It’s exciting to look at a few common traits, I believe, between the nobodys God transforms into somebodys–the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and so many others in the Bible. All these “nobodys” wholeheartedly display that they are:

  1. Available to be used by God
  2. Attuned to the Holy Spirit
  3. Agile–Age is not an excuse
  4. Humble

Each one of these traits is a high calling. I pray to embody more of each. It’s a journey. I’m no expert. Here is what I believe to be true about each trait:

  1. Available to be used by God: God wants our availability, not our abilities. Like Simeon and Anna, they were in the temple waiting on baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Even the shepherds “hurried off” and found Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the manger. They were flexible and available. May we be ready for God’s service, saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).
  2. Attuned to the Holy Spirit: Simeon was “righteous and devout.” Three times in slightly more than a verse the Bible mentions how the “Holy Spirit was upon him.” How do we get more attuned with the Holy Spirit? The short answer is to pray and fast, like Anna did; to spend time in God’s Word “listening” to God speak and answer us; worship regularly in a Christ-centered church; and to live a life of integrity. It seems like a tall order. That’s what grace is all about, at least in my life. 🙂
  3. Agile–Age is not an excuse: Whether you are five years old or “very old” like Anna, we can be used by God. Simeon was also older because the passage said the Holy Spirit said he wouldn’t die before seeing the Lord’s Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it talk about spiritual retirement. Whatever your age, whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you. No excuses.
  4. Humble–Each effective person in the Bible and in today’s world who is the most effective leader embodies humility. Simeon prayed “now dismiss your servant in peace” (Luke 2:29b). Anna “gave thanks to God and spoke to all about the child” (Luke 2:38). They decreased as God increased (John 3:30).  Please, Lord, I pray daily to decrease as You increase.

May we be encouraged that God can use each of us for His service. As the old Christian song says, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about the Somebody who can save anybody.”  Merry Christmas, friend.


–Name other “ordinary nobody’s” in the Bible and/or your life who God has transformed into “extraordinary somebody’s” for His glory. Please comment.


–“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” –Ephesians 4:1-2.


–Which of the four common traits will you focus on this week? You are a somebody.

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Nothing is Impossible

During this Christmas season, I get so excited about the Bethlehem scene in Luke 2—the angel, the manger, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, AND sweet baby Jesus’s birth.

This year I am so pumped also about the chapter before—Luke 1. I see a story of struggle and God’s miracle. The kind of story I love. The kind of story I live and can relate to.

Three of my favorite verses are found throughout this Luke 1 chapter. I never realized how much was in that chapter foretelling John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth.

Zechariah was a priest, and his wife Elizabeth had not been able to get pregnant. An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him not to be afraid (if I saw an angel I’d be afraid also), and that his prayer had been heard. I love that.

The angel told him he would have a son, name him John.

“He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” –Luke 1:14, 15.

Zechariah doubted the angel, asking:

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” –Luke 1:18.

Ouch. How many times do I doubt God’s promises, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness? My “soul holes” of doubt speak louder than my faith.

Because Zechariah doubted, he was struck silent for her whole pregnancy. People in the temple could tell he had seen a vision. He made signs with his hands but could not speak.

His sweet wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. Her response was,

“The Lord has done this for me.” Luke 1:25.

Amen. What profound gratitude.

Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visits Elizabeth’s young relative Mary in a little town of Nazareth. The angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a son named Jesus.

“He will be great and will be called Son of the most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David…His Kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32, 33b.

Mary asked the angel how it would happen since she was a virgin. The angel’s response is so encouraging.

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”  Luke 1:36, 37.

AMEN! Mary’s response is one of my favorite in the entire Bible.

“’I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38.

Can you imagine being 13 or 14 years old, as Mary was, and having the kind of Spirit-filled faith to be that obedient?

Then Mary went to visit Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby inside of her leaped, and Elizabeth was filled with the holy Spirit. Elizabeth encouraged Mary, saying in a LOUD voice:

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!….” –Luke 1:42.

Elizabeth declared another one of my favorite verses:

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” –Luke 1:45.

Friend, what can we learn from this passage so full of miracles and wisdom?

1) God hears our prayers. The angel affirmed Zechariah first by saying his prayer had been heard. Every prayer is heard, no matter how short the prayers are and how desperately we cry out to God.

2)Whatever in our life seems “barren,” God provides life in that barren spot. Nothing is impossible with God. For me it’s my singleness. God fills my “barren spot” and heart’s desire for a husband. You may have a “barren” relationship or a yearning for a child. God fills that soul hole, even on days that are hard, especially at Christmas.

3) May we always give God the praise. Like Elizabeth who had prayed for years to be pregnant, “The Lord has done this for me.” All comes from Him.

4) May we have the humility and faith like Mary to be totally obedient. Not only did she say she was the Lord’s servant. She declared her total surrender. “May it be to me as you have said.”

Oh, I pray so for me and you also. Total surrender.

It was for Mary. It will be for us also if we surrender our will. May Thy will, not my will, be done.

Merry Christmas, friend.


–What seems “barren” in your life? What seems impossible? Please comment.

–What prayers do you want God to hear? Keep praying. He hears them all.


“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.” –Luke 1: 46-49.

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