Pay Attention to the Small Things
Wednesday, 8 December, 2021
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel. (Micah 5:9)
God has given us other examples in Scripture of small, seemingly insignificant things that yield greatness. David was a shepherd boy, overlooked by his father when Samuel came to anoint the new king.
Jesus said of the children, Let the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:16)
Small things must not be overlooked:
An infected cut can result in a life-threatening illness,
A small unreconciled item in the checkbook can result in an overdraft,
From a baby came the Savior!
When we put bits into the mouth of horses to make them obey us, we can guide the whole animal.
Consider ships as well. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot is inclined.
Consider how small a spark sets a great forest ablaze.
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set of fire by hell. (James 3:3-6)
From one small light, darkness is dispelled,
From one word of hope, courage is renewed.
Life Application Questions
What small thing can you do to impact someone’s life?
What has someone done for you, that seemed small at the time, yet changed your course?
What small gift can you give this season that might impact someone for eternity?
December 7, 2021
The Royal family in England has long fascinated those of us on the other side of the pond. Royal weddings and births are avidly followed by Americans. What royal event have you enjoyed following? The royal line in England is decided by heredity, (who’s your daddy?), in Matthew 1 and 2, the author emphasizes Jesus’s human heredity (Matthew 1:1-17) and His divine heredity (Matthew 1:18-25). Why did Matthew establish these royal lines? Now that these details have been established, shouldn’t it be time for a lavish reception to welcome the King of Kings. If you knew that the King of Kings was coming to your town, what kind of reception would you plan for Him? Tim Keller, in his book, Hidden Christmas, says: “Christmas is not simply about a birth but about a coming.”
We find that the Jesus’s royal reception came with a unique lighting design. God gave the Magi a special sign, a miraculous star that announced the birth of the King. Why did the God of the universe choose this method? This royal birth announcement had been made hundreds of years before and the Messiah’s birth should have been anticipated with great hope. “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…” (Micah 5:2) Why did the Jewish people quit watching for the King’s arrival? Why didn’t the priests post a watch for this King in Bethlehem? Why aren’t we watching for the King’s return with eager anticipation? In the last battle, C.S. Lewis says, “All find what they truly seek.” The magi were truly seeking answers to the mysterious star, “…Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2) The Magi caravan’s arrival created quite a stir in Jerusalem. The Magi were seeking the King, but Herod was afraid of the King and wanted to destroy him. Why was Herod afraid? Herod was known to be a ruthless, crafty and cruel leader. He had his own wife and her two brothers killed because he suspected them of treason. He most certainly was not going to be usurped by this child king of the Jews.
The Magi were seeking the King, Herod was opposing the king and the Jewish priests were ignoring the king. The priests knew the scriptures and pointed others (The Magi) to the King, but they would not go themselves for a royal reception. They were five miles from the very Son of God, yet they did not see Him. Why did the priests choose to ignore the King? The very “Bread of Life” (John 6:48) was in Bethlehem,( which also means “House of Bread”), He had come to tabernacle with them, but they preferred the safety of the temple status quo. How often have we ignored the very Son of God, His royal reception dissipated by the distractions around us and our fears that He might change our status quo?
God delights in pointing us to His Son, much like he created a miraculous star for the Magi to follow. How has God pointed you to His Son? God met the Magi exactly where they were and utilized their fascination with the stars by creating one to grab their attention. Are we like the Magi, Herod, or the priests? Do we have a royal reception ready in expectant anticipation of the return of the King of Kings? Who have you invited to the royal reception? “There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion, (man’s search for God!), suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He found us?” (C.S. Lewis, Miracles)
WOULD WE RECOGNIZE HIM?
Monday, December 6, 2021
Have you ever waited at the airport to pick up an arriving passenger you didn't know? You had read about the person and had a description of how he looked. But you had not even seen a picture, so you wondered how you’d recognize him. Then, suddenly, there he was, and something instinctively told you this is the person you've been waiting for.
If this has been your experience, you may be able to understand just a little how it was for Simeon and Anna the day they met Jesus. Today’s Bible reading reveals details about these two that offer clues about how they recognized Jesus.
Simeon was "righteous and devout and eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come." Obviously, he knew of the coming Messiah, but how would he recognize him? Surely, he wasn’t expecting a baby. Like most Israelites they were expecting a prince to come and establish a kingdom. The answer: "The Holy Spirit was upon him” and, Scripture says, "that day, the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord. . . Simeon was there" (vv. 27-28).
Would you or I have been aware of the Spirit's voice, telling us to go meet Jesus? What do you think it's like to be led by the Spirit?
Anna was an 84-year-old widow who evidently lived at the temple. Luke tells us "She never left the Temple, but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer." It's evident that she, too, was waiting for Messiah and recognized that this baby was Jesus. “She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God."
How do you think Anna knew that this baby was Messiah?
We hear reports from time to time about the unusual experience of someone in crisis when an angel showed up to deliver them. It’s one of the mysteries of our time: do angels actually inhabit physical bodies and show up in peoples' lives to help them in a crisis? But an even more important question: "Do you and I recognize that the Holy Spirit is inhabiting us today?" (See 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19.)
How can we tell? Have you ever followed through on a feeling that you should do something and afterwards realized that it must have been the prompting of the Holy Spirit? If you did, it should encourage you to begin listening for his voice every day.
If Jesus showed up today, would your spirit recognize him? How would you know? jbd & gmd
Gloria in excelsis deo
Matthew 1:24-25; Luke 2:1-20
Friday, 3 December 2021
A light, first a flicker
candlelight piercing the nothingness . . . then
beams of wave-particles splintering voids of darkness
rays of sunshine enlightening the limitless universe!
A sound, nearly inaudible
a faint rumbling in the distance . . . then
no longer subsonic, but symphonic
bells, violins, trumpets, percussion—a cosmic orchestra!
Something is happening . . . Someone is happening
Majestic matter of the highest order
escaping the clutches of eternity . . .
descending to the lowest order
incarnating humbly in humanity!
Being in very nature God
not considering equality to be used for his own advantage . . .
making himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant
formed in human likeness! (Phil 2:6-7)
Beyond expectation, a virgin maiden—pregnant
beyond understanding, The Infant—sleeping in a cattle trough . . .
the company of heavenly hosts singing
the brightest star of the east leading!
Exalted to the highest place
a name above every name . . .
every knee bowing—in heaven,
on earth, under the earth! (Phil 2:9-10)
The Sonshine of deity, the Symphony of trinity
the Only-Begotten of nativity, the Alpha and Omega of infinity
the Morning Star of divinity, the God of majesty
the Prince of liberty, the Messiah of limitless possibility!!!
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son of God!
Life Application Questions
December 2, 2021
More Than a Sugar Rush
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel [which means “God with us]” (Matthew 1:23). A disciple’s hope begins and culminates in Christ. While businesses decorate and sell us holiday trappings, our hope cannot be found under a tree.
Disciples celebrate with foods of the holiday, adding spice-laden-flavors for taste and aroma. Many houses are filled with celebration. Some houses are filled with desperately lonely people. As the poets once asked, “…where do they all come from?”
Desserts and candies surround our celebrations like Saturn’s rings circle that planet. Sugar deprived individuals will have no trouble finding resources in our land. Offices and homes are typically filled with sweets. We may suffer from sugar’s rush coursing through our veins and arteries.
Many of us love Christmas, adding mangers with nativity figures to both our outdoor and indoor places. Other disciples avoid the outdoor Santa’s and puffy snowmen, focusing on the people and animals of Christmas night—the time of Christ’s advent.
However, during a late fall-walk through a church graveyard you will not be typically greeted with elves, a shiny-nosed reindeer, special trees or gaily wrapped packages. Instead, you might spy a hand with the upward pointing index finger proclaiming, “Here rests a disciple of Jesus who anticipates not Christmas but Christ’s return. Eyes to the sky!”
How do you internalize Scripture’s statement affirming that Jesus is, “God with us?”
Are you sufficiently strong to share your hope in Christ?
If you discover a person filled with loneliness this Christmas, is there an opportunity to open your life in genuine friendship?
What do you believe about the connection between Christmas and a disciple’s hope?