Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Again I share with you my devotional blessing and testimony as written by Wangerin.

LUKE 2: 28–33 “Simeon took up the child Jesus in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, According thy word; For mine eyes have seen thy salivation Which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, A light for revelation to the Gentiles, And for glory to thy people Israel.” The father and the mother marveled at what was said about the child.”

“WHEN I COME TO DIE—Oh, let me die like Simeon. I, too, have been a watchman, waiting for your coming. I knew the promise of your word. In your word was all my hope. But I sought to see you with my own eyes; so I stayed awake, watching, watching for your coming. O Lord, my soul waited for you more than they that watch for the morning; more, I say, than they that watch for the morning. 

“I heard it said among the disciples: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see”—and I wanted so to be blessed! It was your voice among the disciples, saying: “For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it”( Luke 10: 23–24). 

“I myself, I had heard. Sermons and personal declarations and the assurances of many believers, I had heard. But I had not seen. And I yearned, O Lord, to see your salvation. 

“I prayed, ‘Come!’

“With the Spirit and the Bride I prayed, ‘Come!’

“Since I was him who hears, I thundered, ‘Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.’

“Such was my Advent thirst and all my hunger: ‘Come.’

“And then you did, O Lord! You came! 

“My Advent has been fulfilled in Christmas, and I see you! 

“Again this year that great and mighty wonder—a Virgin bearing an Infant—has seized my heart with its glorious love. You came into the world. You’ve come into my world! You came once, surely: two thousand years ago. But that has caused your coming still, daily, daily, morning by morning, for people like me. 

“And so I celebrated the feast of your Nativity this year with the softer passion of gratitude, and that—the gratitude itself—was proof of your presence” (Wangerin, Preparing for Jesus).

Almighty God, my Heavenly Father, “Thank You for the way You answered my prayers for Your guidance and courage. I’m amazed at the thoughts You placed in my mind, the desires You planted in my heart, and the willingness You produced in my will. You have given me what I asked: wisdom beyond my understanding; standing; knowledge greater than my learning; discernment ment more penetrating than my analysis; vision that outstretches my fondest expectation. 

“Now I’m ready to face a new year without fear. I press on with Your assurance for the future, ‘Fear not! I am with you.’ That’s all I need to know!” (Lloyd John Ogilvie)

First Day of Christmas

I love the writings of Walter Wangerin and have been enjoying his book during this advent season, Preparing for Jesus. And today I feel led to share this day’s reading. Prepare to enjoy and be blest!

LUKE 2: 16 “And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger.”

WE ARE THE SHEPHERDS who run: from the fields to the stable, from the night to the morning, from our labors to the Lord. 

We are the ones who run this year, too, as in every year past: 

From toil and our daily chores, we run to the comfort in Bethlehem. 

From our obligations and responsibilities, we run to the strength of Immanuel: God’s strong arm among us. 

From our fears of loss and instability, from the anguish of troubled finances, from poverty we run to the treasure that will not tarnish nor ever diminish, the baby’s eyes like coins in our purse, the baby’s eyes eternal. 

From our obscurity; from the darkness in which we live our lives, unacknowledged, inglorious; from our truer condition as “no one, people that are not” we run to the Son of God, who knows each of our names, and who will call us by our names, and whose very call will empower us to follow. 

From sorrow we run to joy.                                                                                                                     From hatreds we run to love.                                                                                                                 From antagonisms we run to peace.                                                                                                   From sin we run to the Savior.                                                                                                              From death we run to life.                                                                                                                       From sickness we run to the healer. 

O child, we kneel before you. We have no gifts, neither the gold of riches nor the frankincense of holy aroma, nor the myrrh of salve and embalmment. We must ourselves be the gifts we bring to you. Jesus, we offer our bodies as living sacrifices; let them be holy and acceptable to you. 

Son of Mary and Son of God, we worship you. There is no one more worthy than you. In you we see the mercies of God. 

O Word by which the whole Creation came to be, we come to you in rags and tags and unembarrassed, because you, too, have chosen not royalty nor wealth nor power but the lowly existence of shepherds. Swaddled and laid in a manger, you are like us. We yearn to be like you. 

O little Jesus, sleep. Sleep while we kneel and watch over you in a dim light this Christmas too. We honor the woman that bore you. We admire the man that adopted you. We maintain sweet memories of those who brought us, like Mary and Joseph, into the stable to worship you during our own Christmases past. But you are the one we praise. You are the one whom we trust. In you we rest. In you we place our faith. Forever and forever, you are the Christ—and you are our Lord forever. 

Hush, mother Mary; we’ll watch for you.                                                                                                           Sleep while your baby is sleeping too.     

He is a lamb both tender and young,                                                                                                                     We will be shepherds to shepherd your son.                                                                                                                                                 

Christmas Prayer

Please join me in sharing this prayer on this special day that was written for us by Lloyd John Ogilvie:

Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. -LUKE 2:10 

Dear Father, I don’t want to miss the true joy of Christmas. I long for the authentic quality of joy that’s an outward expression of an inner experience of Your grace. Today, on Christmas Eve, help me to receive the full measure sure of Your unqualified love that will result in a day bursting with joy. I hear the words of the angel translated with the true meaning: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, among men in whom He is well pleased.” 

“Now I can repeat the familiar words from John 3:16-17 using the personal pronouns: ‘You so loved me that You gave Your only begotten Son, that believing in Him, I should not perish but have everlasting life. For You did not send Your Son into the world to condemn me, but that through Him I might be saved.’

“My heart leaps. Joy is the ecstasy of heaven for those who know they are loved and forgiven. It’s so much more than happiness that’s dependent on circumstances. Real joy cannot be dampened; it lasts regardless of whatever has happened. 

“Thank You for giving me down-to-earth joy in Jesus. I don’t want to leave Your Christmas gift unwrapped. I hear His whisper in my heart: ‘I came for you, lived for you, died for you, defeated death for you, and am here for you now.’ Joy! Sheer joy!”

May this day be truly blessed for you as you revel in the knowledge of the depth of God’s great love for each of us!

Listening 

My oldest son, David is a Navy Chaplin who is stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  I enjoy reading his weekly messages in the news bulletin that he sends me and today i was especially blessed and wanted to share it with you.
A recruit training company was marching from the chow hall back to their barracks. Only a week or two from graduation they were a sharp looking bunch of Marines, marching with pride in themselves and their accomplishments, snapping off column movements with a precision and skill that presented a model for junior recruits to emulate. That is, until a passing Drill Instructor called out, “To the rear, MARCH!” Half of the recruits knew the order did not come from their DI so they ignored it, but the other half tried to execute it. Chaos ensued. With recruits colliding into each other and a complete breakdown of the column the only thing for the DI to do was to call a halt and have them start exercising.
After weeks of training the recruits should have known better the sound of their DI’s voice. Hours spent in training and drilling will leave an imprint of its pitch and timbre on the hearers’ ears. But in a moment of relaxed self-confidence they answered the first voice they heard, rather than discern from whom the order came.
The recruits’ lesson here should be ours too, and it can be recognized in Jesus’ words from the Gospel of St. John, “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Like recruits we have to train our ear to hear the voice of God, and be able to do it especially as distractions become ever more pervasive and persistent.
To train our ear for God’s voice we have to be someplace where we will hear it. We have to go to Church, and in the midst of the prayers and the scripture readings we will train our minds to think and hear the world in the context of the Lord’s teaching. When you catch yourself in a quiet moment humming one of the hymns of the Church, or a litany of prayer, or reciting in your mind a passage of scripture you will begin to understand the value of immersing yourself in Church.
We don’t learn God’s voice just from reading books—even Scripture. We have to encounter God. St. Spyridon, whose feast we celebrated this past Monday, was an illiterate shepherd who became one of the greatest luminaries of the Church. He couldn’t read, but he could hear, and he memorized long passages of scripture simply by listening. Because he loved God and wanted to hear His voice, Spyridon spent enough time where he could hear the Scriptures that they became part of him. He then became part of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea where he was instrumental in settling disputes, thus contributing significantly to the Council’s successful conclusion.
Jesus’ words carry a subtle warning, too: “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” How familiar are we with the voices of strangers to God? How much more time do we spend listening to them than listening to God? For example, I recently decided that I will henceforward refuse to read profanity. If I click on an interesting title and begin reading, the first four-letter word I encounter will be last I read there, no matter how otherwise intelligent and well-reasoned the argument. If it’s word saying at all, it’s worth saying politely, and I was spending too much time polluting my mind with ugly words—strangers’ voices—because an author couldn’t be bothered to avoid them.
We all need to seek and to pray for discernment, because if all of us can learn how to focus on God’s voice, and limit strangers’ voices, maybe then we can know how to respond not to the first voice we hear, but to God’s voice only. Maybe then we can avoid running into each other and causing chaos. Maybe then we can become more like Christ.

Moving On…

Some people are not able to enjoy the present or prepare for tomorrow because they are still living in the past. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe has put it like this: “Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?’ You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you down. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.” Or as Thomas Holdcroft once put it, “The past is a guide post, not a hitching post.”

It has been some time since I’ve written anything on this blog. I could give many good excuses but the real reason is that I found myself at a crossroad and was unsure as to the path I wanted to take.  It was the situation that all paths were equally good; there was no wrong direction in front of me. The Lord had presented me with options and essentially said, “Have at it my child, your choice.” As a result I have taken some time to try and think things through to decide on the path that I would take.  Choice made and I’m moving on!

As Holdcroft advised, I used the past as my guide post in making my choices and decision. And even when I do glimpse into the rearview mirror, I am encouraged because I can see how God has guided me over the years which in turn gives me the encouragement I need to hold the rudder steady and unwavering into the future.

Taking up this blog once again is part of the path that I am taking.  I want to thank those of you who have been such an encouragement to me in so many ways these days but especially those of you who have encouraged me to continue with this blog. You asked for it, you got it!  smiley-face

What gives me the most assurance in my decision of which path I wanted to take is best articulated by A.W. Tozer as he writes: “Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there” (The Pursuit of God).