Psalm 9:1-2 (NLT)
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
The Psalmist is in a celebratory mood as he writes these verses. It is obvious that he is grateful for all that God has done in his life and can barely contain his excitement. It is as if he is writing a letter to his dearest love on a moonlit night, the pen gliding over the page with rapid energy.
His love fills him with joy that cannot be contained. Memories of faithfulness elevate his voice to singing. In the words of Buddy the Elf, “I’m in love! I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!”
Luke 8:41-42, 49-56 (NLT)
Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.
…a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”
When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.
Imagine the scene. Learning that his daughter died, Jesus asks him to look past the obvious and into the possible. Faith is the assurance of things not seen and that is exactly what Jesus asks Jairus to do: Just have faith.
Matthew 12:9-13 (NLT)
Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!
A hand is essential to life. With it, we hold those we love. With it, we carry burdens. With it, we earn a living. With it, we feed ourselves.
Without it, we are separated from our community; we cannot shake another’s hand in greeting or wave goodbye. We cannot carry a brick or pick up a hammer. We cannot hold a spoon, break bread or drink from a cup.
Mark 1:29-31 (NLT)
After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.
When we are touched by Jesus, our lives change: We live to serve/touch others. I believe it is because we see people differently. We see them through the eyes of the one who touched us.
Luke 4:16-21 (NLT)
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
It is the official beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Into Jesus’ hands, the synagogue official places the book of Isaiah. The fingers of Jesus unroll the parchment. They hold God’s word, his Father’s Word. These same hands that will heal the lame, the blind, even raise the dead. These same hands that will be pierced by spikes and nailed to a wooden beam. These hands that will wash the disciples’ feet. These hands that will take bread and bless it, lift the cup and prays over it.
The hands of Jesus.
Luke 2:14 (NLT)
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
I pray that you might know peace today; that God’s pleasure might pour from heaven into your hearts and lives, that you may praise God for all his amazing gifts in your life.
Merry Christmas, dear friends.
Luke 2:6-7 (NLT)
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
As a boy, I grew up on a small farm in east-central Indiana, where we had an old barn that was truly the center of our world.
Luke 2:20 (NLT)
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The number of heavenly envoys in the Christmas story is staggering.
Matthew 2:3-7, 12-13 (NLT)
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
There is no greater threat to a King’s rule than the birth of a new potentate. Herod might have been an evil man but he wasn’t stupid. The announcement of Jesus’ birth meant that there would be a challenge to his authority and in his mind that was unacceptable. Are we really any different?
Matthew 2: 1-2, 9b-11 (NLT)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “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.”
And the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The glorious message earlier delivered to shepherds in the field is now revealed to Magi from the east. Wisemen. Kings of their Lands. Royalty and nobility who made their way to this remote location to find a new King, to honor a new Sovereign.
They doggedly pursued the star, leading them to the child. Unlike most men, they were willing to even stop and ask directions along the way! They really were wise!
How persistent are you in the pursuit? How determined are you in discovering the King of all kings? Are you half-hearted or whole-hearted? Are you indifferent or insistent? Are you tepid or tenacious? Are you willing to ask for help along the way or simply walk blindly in the night?
The saying goes, “Wise men still seek him.”
Dear God of Heaven,
Thank you for the star, a star of wonder, a star of night,
A star of royal beauty bright,
Westward leading,still proceeding,
and the Wise men who followed the star.
May we be as wise.