Lessons from George Mueller

While I was considering what a life that fully trusted God would look like I thought of George Mueller. If you have never read of the life of George Mueller, or if it has been a long time since you have, I recommend his story to encourage you in your faith and trust in God.

I found a web sight about George Mueller:

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god

that tells about him and includes some quotes that have encouraged me as I consider what it means to trust in the Lord with ALL my heart.

I thought I would share some notes and quotes with you…

“The orphan houses exist to display that God can be trusted and to encourage believers to take him at his word. This was a deep sense of calling with Mueller. He said that God had given him the mercy in “being able to take God by His word and to rely upon it.” He was grieved that “so many believers . . . were harassed and distressed in mind, or brought guilt on their consciences, on account of not trusting in the Lord.” This grace that he had to trust God’s promises, and this grief that so many believers didn’t trust his promises, shaped Mueller’s entire life. This was his supreme passion: to display with open proofs that God could be trusted with the practical affairs of life. This was the higher aim of building the orphan houses and supporting them by asking God, not people, for money.”

I’m fascinated how the grace that caused George to trust God alone created within him a grief for those who didn’t have that same grace. Instead of just living in that grace and wondering why others didn’t trust as he did, or judging others for their doubt and unbelief, he had a desire to live a lifestyle that demonstrated that God is indeed trustworthy. He was motivated to open orphanages and care for thousands of children. This ministry was an opportunity to display to others the faithfulness of God as he trusted in Him alone for every need and every penny required to care for the thousands of children that came to his orphanages.

The most important thing…fellowship with God Himself!

“According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord’s work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. … the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.”

George learned that a life that trusts God completely comes from a joyful soul. This reminds me of my 2017 verse… “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 When we choose to put all else aside so that we are alone with God there comes upon us a love, peace, and a joy that nothing else can ever produce.

Good, Better, Best!

“Self-denial is not so much an impoverishment as a postponement: we make a sacrifice of a present good for the sake of a future and greater good.” Therefore, happiness in God is of “supreme importance” because it is the key to love that sacrifices and takes risks. “Whatever be done . . . in the way of giving up, or self-denial, or deadness to the world, should result from the joy we have in God.”

Every day we are faced with the good, better, and best. Which will we choose? Will we choose what our flesh wants. Will we choose what makes sense to us? Or will we choose to look beyond the desires of the flesh, push past our own understanding, and choose instead to look to God and trust in what He says is best? Self-denial will only be accomplished in the absence of fear. Perfect love is what overcomes fear. When we deny ourselves and choose God’s best we find His perfect love makes us brave and courageous to do things we could never have done on our own. We are willing to take risks that will show the faithfulness, the goodness, and the beauty of God!

Knowing God is the key!

“This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ. Happiness in God comes from seeing God revealed to us in the face of Jesus Christ through the Scriptures. “In them . . . we become acquainted with the character of God. Our eyes are divinely opened to see what a lovely Being God is! And this good, gracious, loving, heavenly Father is ours, our portion for time and for eternity.” Knowing God is the key to being happy in God.”

God wants us to know Him, that is why He created us and why He has preserved His word for thousands of years! The God who spoke and everything that exists came into being. The words that spoke life into nothingness still speak life into every soul that studies, meditates, and applies them. When we learn of God’s character, how good, gracious, loving, and powerful He is, and we study the living and active words of God our thoughts, attitudes, perspectives… everything about us is changed from the inside out. Our bodies, souls, and Spirits become aligned to His truth!

The word of God…food for the inner man!

“I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it. . . . What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and . . . not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

Jesus told the tempter in the wilderness,  “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4 God’s word is as food for us. Just as we need daily food to sustain our physical bodies, we need the food of God’s word to sustain our spiritual bodies!

How foolish it would be to say “I’m too busy to eat today.” “I just can’t fit eating into my busy life right now.” “I really don’t benefit from eating so why bother?”

We may get away with these excuses for a few days, but you can be sure you would soon find the time to eat, and you would soon realize the benefit from food.

So why do we think we can get away with using these excuses for our spiritual eating? So often we aren’t tuned into the subtle affects of not eating the words of God. But, though they are subtle, there are consequences that not only affect our spiritual life, but also our physical life.

Choose a lifestyle that puts the beauty of God on display!

“By this deep satisfaction in God George Mueller was set free from the fears and lusts of the world. And in this freedom of love he chose a strategy of ministry and style of life that put the reality and trustworthiness and beauty of God on display. To use his own words, his life became a “visible proof to the unchangeable faithfulness of the Lord.”

Satisfaction in God is the only thing that sets us free. No self-help book, counselor, or positive thinking can bring true freedom from the things that hold us back from living the destiny we were created for. The freedom God brings strips away all fear, all insecurities, all fleshly desires and replaces them with His love. Filled with His love we become brave and courageous to step out into the ministry, the work, and the purposes that truly fulfill and satisfy us and bring glory to God!

God invites us to trust in Him with ALL our heart!

“Every one is invited and commanded to trust in the Lord, to trust in Him with all his heart, and to cast his burden upon Him, and to call upon Him in the day of trouble. Will you not do this, my dear brethren in Christ? I long that you may do so. I desire that you may taste the sweetness of that state of heart, in which, while surrounded by difficulties and necessities, you can yet be at peace, because you know that the living God, your Father in heaven, cares for you.”

I’m thankful for these notes and quotes from the life of George Mueller. They remind me of the simplicity of trust.

Trust isn’t complicated, but it requires intention…

The intention to make time alone with God first priority in my life.

The intention to choose what is best over what is good, and even what is better.

To intentionally get to know God through reading, meditating, and applying His word in my life.

To intentionally feed on God’s word everyday, recognizing the significance it has in my body, soul, and spirit.

And to intentionally choose a lifestyle that puts God’s beauty on display so others can taste and see that God is good…

All because I know that the Living God, my Father in Heaven, cares for me!

 

Familiar Verses Revisited

This year my New Year verses came to me very loud and clear. They are familiar verses, but God has impressed upon me that it is possible to become so familiar with verses that I think I believe them, that I am living by them, when really, I have much more to learn.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

This is what is so amazing about God’s word…verses that I have known for years all of a sudden take on a deeper meaning.

Words I have memorized I suddenly read differently.

Those little words like “ALL,”and “DO NOT.”

God’s love for me is relentless!

God wants ALL my Trust

God wants ALL my heart

God DOESN’T want me to depend on my own understanding

God wants me to seek Him in ALL my ways

Because then, God will show me what path to take!

God loves us too much to leave us knowing what He says, but not doing what He says.

Knowing what God’s word says is only the beginning.

Doing God’s word, is living the way we were created to live.

When we trust in anything or anyone other than God we won’t give the glory to God. Our story about that situation and the result of how that problem was solved will include whatever or whoever we trusted in to help us. We will give credit to ourselves or to others instead of God. But, because I am God’s child He wants my stories to give Him glory!

When we depend on our own understanding and figure out how to solve our problems according to our knowledge, or look to google or an expert for the answers we limit ourselves to man’s understanding, man’s experiences, and miss out on an opportunity to realize the incredible power and love of God. God’s ways are so much higher than ours and His thoughts are so beyond ours and by depending on our own understanding we won’t experience the specific answers God has designed uniquely for us.

We will miss the very things meant to increase our trust!

When we don’t seek God for the ways we should go we are bound to make some wrong choices. We will reap the consequences of choosing our own way based on our feelings and on what makes sense to us. God has planned a destiny for each one of us before the beginning of time, meant to impact those around us and many generations beyond us, but we won’t discover it if we don’t seek His ways.

The blessing in obedience results in receiving the promises of God. God promises that…

“He will show you which path to take.”

Every day we are faced with situations that demand we make choices; relationship issues, financial issues, health issues, reports from the media…

In this ever-changing world knowing how to respond or what decisions to make is so needed. But that is what makes this promise so amazing! This is a promise from God who never changes, but is the same yesterday, today, and forever! It is a promise that I want to receive, and so I need to do my part.

But, this is my dilemma…

I know what these verses say; I have them memorized since I was a child.

But, do I completely obey them?

Yes, there are times when I respond with full trust in God and allow Him to work out the situation in His time, and in His ways, and I have seen amazing answers to my prayers.

But, there were other times when I reacted out of my flesh and got angry or tried to bring control into situations that only made things worse. I had my reasons and it was easy to blame others, but what was I afraid of that caused me to react the way I did?

Why is my heart divided?

We all have our specific areas that we find difficult to trust God with.

The one I am going through now involves my hopes and expectations I have as a mother.

I was asked the other day, “What are you afraid of?” My disappointment, anger, and control were clear evidences that I had fear.

So, I wrote down my fears…

As I read them over I thought they were very legitimate fears of any good mother. After all, I am called to train up my children in the way they should go.

Well, the Holy Spirit is much calmer than I am and says things a lot better than I do. He reminded me of these verses…

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

I began to add my fears to the list of things that can’t separate us from the love of God. As I did God gently spoke to me and said that to trust Him with ALL my heart is to believe that He loves my child more than I do, that nothing I fear is stronger than His love, and if I place her into His loving hands, He can do in a moment what I could never do, no matter how much I try.

So, I knew I needed to confess my sin of reacting in fear, trusting in myself, and for the hurt it caused others. I asked Him to forgive me for believing I could figure out what to do and for thinking I knew what was best.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

Next, I looked up the word trust – firm belief in the reliability, truth, or strength of someone or something.

In order for me to trust in the Lord with ALL my heart I need to be fully convinced that He is who He says He is, that His word is truth, and that there is nothing He cannot do!

Then God began to show me once again the importance of reading His word…so, this year, 2018, I purpose to choose reading God’s word over other things that seek my attention. I’ve been reminded of the power of my thoughts, and pray that God’s word will give me true thoughts of who He is and give me an undivided heart to trust Him completely, no matter what!

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8

“Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth; unite my heart to fear (trust) Your name.” Psalm 86:11

So, once God highlighted these verses I knew they were to be my 2018 verses. I believe this year He is going to teach me more about trust and I pray I will have many stories that will tell of His great glory!

P.S. And just to let you all know…God confirmed these verses even this morning…

Mark brought me his read-through-the-year Bible and wanted me to read the Proverb verses for the day. His Mom had always written Proverbs 3:5-6 in his birthday cards, but verses 1-4 caught his attention this morning. They are so fitting with what God has been showing me about the importance of reading His word!

Thank You, God, for Your perfect timing!!

January 10 – Proverbs 3:1-6

“My son, do not forget My teaching, but keep My commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

 

Angels Unaware

Writing about the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the angel that was sent by God to “save” George in my blog last week reminded me of a story that Kayla and I experienced in Toronto, Canada many years ago…

Mark and Brian had a trade show up in Toronto, Canada and Kayla (who was four at the time) and I went along for a little vacation of shopping and swimming in the indoor pool. Toronto is also the home of the Airport Church that is known for a great spiritual revival, so when my friend heard I was going to Toronto she said I should visit that church Sunday morning. I appreciated her suggestion, but didn’t think I really would. Mark and Brian had several days at the trade show while Kayla and I spent the mornings in the pool and the afternoons looking for “Canadian” Christmas presents. We stayed at a hotel right in the city, so they could walk to the Convention Center, and we could walk to the stores. I didn’t forget my friend’s suggestion and when Sunday morning came I was curious to know if it was at all possible to go. Mark looked up the address and looked for the options to get there. He wrote down the address and what seemed to me some really confusing directions on a very small piece of paper. “Wow, I can’t figure all that out, there is no way I’m going.” I took the paper and put it in my pocket and the four of us went to breakfast. While eating I noticed some sparrows outside the window busily finding seeds when I “heard” the Lord say, “See those sparrows, just as I watch over them, I watch over you.” I knew in my spirit that I was to go to the church no matter how confusing it seemed or how afraid I was. So after breakfast Mark and Brian went to the trade show and Kayla and I began a journey I never imagined I would have the courage to make. Though I’d lived in New Jersey for many years, I was still a country girl with no city experience whatsoever! So with those sparrows on my mind, pushing past my fear, and expecting to receive something amazing from God at the church, I bundled us up, put Kayla in her stroller, and walked out the hotel door in search of the subway. I found the entrance to the subway and descended the several flights of steps. When I went to pay for our tickets I mentioned where we were going and the clerk told me I was on the wrong side, I needed to go up those flights of stairs and go down the other side. Okay, better to find out now rather than later! I folded up the stroller once again and carried it and Kayla up the stairs, and down the right side. The train traveled awhile underground and then came up outside and after awhile stopped in what seemed the middle of nowhere. There was a bus stop there and I figured I was to take a bus the rest of the way. But what bus? I went to the driver of the only bus there at the time and asked if that bus went to the address of the church. He said it did so I asked him to let me know when we got to that stop and he said he would. But once I sat down in the back of the bus I looked up and that driver walked off the bus and another driver got on. “O Lord, now how will I know where to get off?” Once we were on the road for awhile I had the courage to start some conversation with those around me and I asked if anyone knew where I needed to get off. (Yes, this was before I was set free from my fears of what people thought of me.) They were very helpful and finally we arrived at the stop. Several of us got off and some of them where also going to the church. I followed them because I still didn’t know where the church was. Once we were finally there I expected something incredible. “God, thank You for getting us here, after all I just went through You must have something really important You want me to hear. So here I am, Lord, speak to me.” We were obviously late so we stood in the back which was good because Kayla was ready to stretch her little legs. I really can’t remember much of the service other than that they had a baby dedication that day and there must have been at least 30 babies. One thing that I did notice, there was a woman about five rows in front of me wearing a plaid skirt and I don’t know why, but for some reason I kept looking at her, and her plaid skirt. Then the service was over. It wasn’t anything like I expected. “Lord, don’t You have something for me? I pushed through all my fear just for that?” I put our coats on, Kayla got back in her stroller and we followed the crowd out the door, feeling very let down. Then I realized I needed to reverse everything I did to get there. I hadn’t really thought about that, but I did figure out I needed to get to the bus stop on the other side of the road which was outside the industrial park. Just as I began to walk in that direction a car pulled up beside me. The woman rolled down her window and asked if she could give me a ride. I told her I was going to the bus stop, but that would be a great help. When she got out of her car to help with Kayla and the stroller guess what she was wearing… yup, the plaid skirt I kept looking at all morning! When I was buckling Kayla in the back seat beside her daughter, she asked where we were going and I told her the name of the hotel we were staying at in the city. That’s when she offered to take us there since they “lived right nearby.” “Oh God, this is amazing! I don’t need to reverse it all!” I honestly wish I had recorded our conversation as we drove to the hotel. She talked mostly of what she and her husband did and even as she was talking I couldn’t understand it all. All I remembered was that it had something to do with worship. It was Thanksgiving Day weekend so there was a big parade going on that afternoon which caused her to have to go way around the city to get to our hotel. I felt bad that she needed to drive so far, so when I saw some familiar stores we shopped at the day before I told her to just leave us off there, but she insisted on dropping us off at the hotel. After thanking her over and over again and saying good-by I walked into our hotel completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I may not have received anything during the service, but that miraculous ride back to the hotel was a gift from God I will never forget!

The following year Kayla and I heard a story on the radio of a preacher who had a similar experience, and a miraculous climax that made it clear he was rescued by an angel.

“For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” Psalm 34:7

We heard that story played several more times and each time we heard it we were reminded of our experience in Toronto.

I can’t say for sure, but I believe that woman in the plaid skirt that my eye kept catching even before I knew I needed her help…

That woman whose conversation was so unique I wasn’t able to understand it or remember it…

That woman who said she “lived right nearby” the hotel in the middle of downtown Toronto…

That woman who insisted she drop me off right in front of my hotel…

I believe that woman was an angel sent by God to help me in my time of need.

“Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14

I believe my experience in going to the Airport Church, and God’s gift of sending an angel to bring me back was the very “thing” God used to teach me the importance of pushing through my fear, to fully believe that He cares for me and watches over me, and to listen to and act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, no matter what.

It was an experience that I have never forgotten, it never loses it’s wonder, and it has given me courage to do many things and to go many places since then.

“For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” Psalm 91:11

 

Wonderful Life, forever!

Celebrating Christmas with family and friends finds us tearing open gifts.

Gifts…

Those items that were specifically chosen, carefully wrapped, and lovingly given.

Of all those gifts I’m sure there were many gifts that “worked,”

but I’m sure there were also some gifts that didn’t “work.”

Those gifts that didn’t “work,” hopefully weren’t given with that intention. There could be many reasons why…

The giver may not have been aware of the fact that the gift was actually broken, it may not have been what they expected it to be, or the gift was the wrong size, color, etc…

The movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is about angels in heaven who hear the prayers of many people praying for a man who is ready to end his life. George Bailey himself prays a prayer of desperation before he considers jumping off the bridge on Christmas Eve.

The angels came up with an idea of a gift to give to George that they hoped will “work.”

The head angel then told Clarence, the angel who would be sent to give George this gift, the story of George Bailey’s life.

As the story of George’s life was told it showed all he went through in the seasons of life and how he responded to the different situations he faced.

Then one day when George’s uncle Billy made a mistake at the bank and money from the Bailey Savings and Loan fell into the hands of Mr. Potter, George faced hopelessness.

With nothing he could do to save his business, his family, or himself, George saw his death and the life insurance policy for his family as the only answer.

So, perched on the side of a bridge on a snowy Christmas Eve, George was ready to jump.

That was when the angel came from heaven with the gift that he hoped would “work.”

(I don’t want to be a spoiler by telling the rest of the story…it is a very old movie, but if you haven’t seen it, please stop reading this and go and watch it before you read the rest.)

The angel, Clarence, brought George the gift of seeing his life as if he was never born.

The angel showed George how things would be in the lives of his friends and family if he had never been born. At first George didn’t understand the gift as the angel took him to “see” people and places as they would have been if he wasn’t there, but as his gift continued to unfold George came to the place where he realized the significance of his life and truly wanted to live again.

The gift “worked.”

Though this movie isn’t doctrinally correct, there are so many spiritual lessons I draw from it.

I’m reminded of the significance of my prayers. Heaven hears my prayers and when I pray I believe there are plans of sending gifts to those who I pray for. Gifts sent by God that are intended to “work” for those who need help. They may not be understood at first, but they are intended to “work” by showing what is really important and by providing what is really needed.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1

I’m reminded of the wonderful gift of life I have been given and of the significance of my life. I realize that my choices and decisions don’t only affect me, and I’m reminded of the bigger picture, that I have the choice to live life to the fullest and to make a difference for the good in the lives of those around me.

Like the Proverbs 31 woman…

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”

“Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!” 

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-31

But though there are many lessons to be learned from this movie, it falls short of God’s truth…

No matter how good a life we live, no matter how many good choices we make, no matter how many lives we touch for the good, without Jesus it has no meaning, no true significance, no eternal value.

I’m reminded of the Wonderful Life God intends for us through His greatest Gifts…

That life is a precious gift from God

Life – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:13-16

and, that life is meant to be lived knowing God through His gift of Jesus!

Jesus – “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

We were created with significance for significance!  

God’s Gifts always “work.” His precious gift of life and the gift of His Son, Jesus, are perfectly tailored for you and for the purpose He has for you. His gift of life fully lived – knowing and believing in Jesus – will bring meaning and significance to your life; you will not despair when an evil plan is formed against you, you will find hope to overcome every situation, you will be provided with everything you need, and you will be surrounded with much love and great joy!

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a great movie, it is part of my Christmas traditions, and I’m glad for the lessons I’ve learned from it.

But it falls short of the “Wonderful Life” that is found in the God’s Greatest Gift of Christmas!

The gift of eternal life through believing in Jesus not only “works,” but brings a Wonderful Life, forever!

 

While setting up the Manger Scene…

Although acquiring the “perfect Christmas tree” each year has become a family tradition that has many stories that are repeated year after year, my favorite Christmas “decoration” is the Manger Scene. It is amazing how a simply crafted wooden stable and several painted ceramic figurines can bring such profound thoughts…

When I set the Manger Scene up I’m reminded both of the humility of Jesus, and of His power and Kingship. I usually place the Baby Jesus in the stable first, it seems its easier to know where to position everyone else if He is there in the center…

and that is how my life should be as well…Jesus placed first, in the center of all.

When Jesus is first in my life, when He is in the center of all I do, and of all I say it will determine how others things are positioned around me. It will affect my relationships, my desires, my activities…

Then I place Mary and Joseph looking down at their new born son. Their Son that the angel came and told them about. Their Son that was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Their Son, Jesus, born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloths, who they laid in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the Inn.

What was it like to be alone in that dark stable, surrounded with the sounds and scents of animals, looking upon the one who Mary just gave birth to, a baby, yet God in flesh! Was this humble birth confusing to this young couple? Was that what they expected after being told by the angel…

“He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:32-33

I’m reminded that often what I see happening, what I’m going through at the moment doesn’t always look like what I heard God say, what He promised in His word, or what I had prayed for. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t what God intends. There is a bigger picture that will some day come together, I need to just ponder it in my heart and trust God.

So humble, yet so profound!

No other birth has been celebrated for two thousand years!

This same humility is what God wants from us…

“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God.” Philippians 2:3-8

For when we are humble our lives are profoundly different! 

Next I place the shepherd, and his sheep, to the left of Mary and Joseph, I think of the lowly shepherds that were out watching their sheep that night. Why shepherds? Shepherds, the first ones chosen to go and see what God had done! The first ones tell others the Good News of the Good Shepherd! As I look at the shepherd I wish I could have been on the hill that dark night when the sky flooded with Light and the Glory of the Lord shone all around! What did the shepherds think as they were told by the angel…

“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem!” Luke 2:10-11

Though I have only one angel, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be surrounded by the light and the trumpeting sound of a heavenly host of angels proclaiming,

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14

After that amazingly awesome, and exceedingly holy encounter, the shepherds were compelled to go and to find the Babe, lying in a manger. They weren’t content to just revel in the glory on the mountain side. They weren’t willing to just hear the Good News from the angels, they wanted to go see for themselves, to go and experience this thing the angels told them about.

So for me, I shouldn’t be content to just listen to others worshipping and praising God. I can’t know all there is to know about Jesus from the stories of others. I must get up and go find Jesus for myself. To see Him, encounter Him, and learn for myself who Jesus is. Once I see Him, experience Him, and find Him to be who God says He is, my life will be changed and as the shepherds, I will want to go and tell others all about Him and all who hear will see how great God is!

Though the wise men didn’t come to the stable, but came several months later to the house where Jesus was, they bring balance to the manger scene as I place them to the right of Mary and Joseph.

The wise men studied the stars, and one night there was an extra star! God, the One who sends out the stars each night and calls each one by name, chose to put an extra star in the sky to point the wise men to Jesus.

“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

God spoke through His prophets hundreds of years before…

“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.” Matthew 2:6

The wise men believed the prophecy of a new King of the Jews that was to be born and though they weren’t Jewish they left everything, traveled for months following a star, so they could worship the new King and offer Him gifts.

I have a wooden sign that says, “Wise men still seek Him.” I leave it up all year round because I believe to seek Jesus is the wisest thing anyone can ever do.

Wisdom is found only in God.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” Psalms 111:10

The wise men left much and they gave much.

May I too, as I study God’s word, when challenged with the truth about Him, be willing to leave the things that aren’t pleasing to Him, be willing to leave behind all that distracts me from finding Him and from bowing down in worship of Him. May I also bring Jesus my everything; my talents, gifts, desires, dreams, yes, my whole heart, and lay them before Him in worship. For they were given to me by God, as I humbly lay them before His feet He will raise me up to be used for His honor and glory.

The last thing I do is to turn on the light over the manger scene.

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2

God saw the darkness of the world He created and knew how desperately it needed the Light of Heaven to shine. He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to bring the Light of Heaven into our darkness.

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

While Jesus was here on earth He shone the Light of Heaven as He preached the truth of the Good News, showed compassion and healed the sick. And when He went back to heaven He imparted His Light to all who believe in Him.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden… In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14,16

Lord, may I be as the light on my manger scene, shining out Your Light wherever I go so that others may see the good things I do in obedience to You and praise Your holy name!