The Child Among His Children (#jammed daily devo, day 362)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 362: His arrival.

Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified! Luke 2:9 (VOICE)

The tickets were paid for long in advance, but I had mentally ducked out of the plans I DECJAM28had spun into existence several times as the date crept up.  What’s the point of standing in worship under bright lights, as opposed to at church on a Sunday or in my ears-buds walking down the pier?

When “God is in this place,” as He promises to be when we gather to worship Him together, He’s omnipotently arranged something. We can pretty much count on that. God calls us to “go,” and walking with Jesus will illuminate the purpose of every chance experience.

For the shepherds in the field that witnessed God’s angels, purpose was layered into the very thread of who God knew they were.  Let’s look at the feelings the shepherds felt.

Suddenly –happening or coming unexpectedly; changing angle or character all at once. (Merriam-Webster)

The shepherds were instantly changed when the sky lit-up. They couldn’t unsee what they saw, un-feel what they felt, or un-hear what they heard. Jesus doesn’t need to prep our hearts for His arrival. In an instant admission of belief, we are changed forever. Suddenly, we see. In fact, we’re blinded. There’s no going back.

front- facing forward; directed forward. (dictionary.com)

The shepherds weren’t startled because the angels crept up behind them. They were right in front of them. Do we know that God faces us? That we can face Him? Christ Jesus, the child among His people. The ones He choose to die for …to look at, face to face.

light- something that makes things visible or affords illumination (dictionary.com)

Light allows us to see where we are going, but the light of the Lord Jesus allows us to see who we are. In a dark world, Christians can be joyful because He allows us to see His light. The light came to us on Christmas, when God’s glory came to earth.

terrified- to fill with terror or alarm; to make greatly afraid.

In order to understand the awe, coupled with the fight-or-flight shock that accompanied the shepherds reaction, here is terror defined:

terror- intense, sharp, overmastering fear

Sometimes our greatest terror is sprung from a fight within us and around us. Knowing and being able to feel and witness God’s glory in that moment in the field announcing Jesus’ birth, the shepherds felt the overwhelming awesomeness of God. Yet, something in them told them to be afraid. When we experience fear, we can determine where to steer it by remembering who God is. The shepherds choose to obey. They headed the angels and went to see Jesus, and told everyone about His birth.

How often do we let our fear fuel our self-doubt? But if we let our awe of God drive us to obedience, we get to experience Jesus.

The shepherds witnessed the Son of God. The very glory that turned the darkness of night into shocking brightness, come to earth.

The Child among His children.

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Father, Praise You for the obedience of the shepherds. Thank You for choosing those of simple stature in society to witness the Savior of the world lying in a manger. Forgive us for overlooking the circle of light that took place on Christmas, as Jesus’ glory came to earth. Bless us to appreciate and obey the awe-striking moments of opportunity You illuminate in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Shimmering,

Megs

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The Brightened Dark. (#jammed daily devo, day 361)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 361: Finally here.

“…the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified…”

Luke 2:9

If we succumb to a fast paced life that isn’t suited to shelving schedules and opinions to DECJAM27stand and welcome God’s presence, we will miss a marvelous piece of the Christmas story.

Chills run down our spine as we worship together. What did the shepherds feel as angels appeared when Christ was born? What was it like to stand in the very presence of God when they visited baby Jesus? What we read about their indescribable experience is only a glimpse of how it affected them.

 

Jesus was born, walked the earth, and died so we could stand in awe of our most holy God.  It’s to be sought after. It’s in us. To be surrounded by the Lord’s glory doesn’t have to come in the form of heavenly angels, but it did for the shepherds.

glory (doxa) – opinion, judgment, view. – Strong’s

At the first glance of glory defined, we can see why they were terrified. What an immense feeling to be immediately taken from the dark and exposed to the light.

doxa- opinion, estimate, whether good or bad concerning someone (in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory)- Strong’s

Always a good opinion. 

Being in God’s presence pulls all of the good that we are to the front of our minds …because that’s how He sees us. He sees the image of Him that He created, suffering for the curse of sin. He knows us apart from and beyond our struggles. A plight we can’t even relate to yet on this earth.

“splendour, brightness” (Strong’s)

Past the all-consuming and fascinating brightness of the sun, the moon and the stars, is glory. The Glory that the Shepard’s witnessed was the arrival of God’s glory on earth in Christ.

  1. a thing belonging to God
  2. the kingly majesty which belongs to him as supreme ruler, majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of the deity
  3. a thing belonging to Christ  (Strong’s)

“God in this place.” Even in worship with our eyes shut we can feel Him brightening us. Even if we’re only removed from our suffering temporarily …it’s enough. Enough to get us through to the other side, with a glimpse of what we’re to do for the Kingdom in the meantime.

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Father, Praise You for the Christmas angels that terrified the shepherds. Thank You for coming low so that we can know Your presence. Forgive us for wallowing in the heartache and struggle of this world, and help us to let go and just be in Your presence through worship and service. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Squinting,

Megs

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"What Does it Mean?" Christmas Series, Week 4: Merry.

Welcome to Week 4 of the Christmas Series, “What Does It Mean?” This week, we What Does It Mean Study Guide Cover picaregoing to study the word, “Merry.” Download the Free Printable PDF Study Guide, and follow along on this Advent journey to a better understanding of commonly used “Christmas” words. Happy Christmas!

What Does it Mean Study Guide best pdf

 

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The Cast Call (#jammed daily devo, day 357)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 357: Callbacks.

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 

The story of Christ’s birth tells of ordinary people who loved God, and ended up together DECJAM23on what would be the night that changed the face of the earth forever. Humanity …we long for benchmarks, standards, and qualifications. If we were in charge, the people that were picked to be Jesus’ earthly parents would not have been Mary and Joseph. They were ordinary. And Jesus would not have been born in a manger. That’s too simple …and not sanitary.

Humanity would have had Jesus born unto royalty and into a castle …not in a stable under the stars.

Tryouts. Auditions. We’re constantly having to live up to each others’ standards.

Jesus wasn’t worried about any of them. His appearance was common. His birth was common. His parents were common. Yet, the angels still lit the sky on the night He was born.

Someone once told me that no one else can tell my story. Human life is like that. It’s so intricate and unique, one to the next, that no one story is ever duplicated fully. If that’s not a miracle in and of itself …

We like to compare, thinking it will give us a certain amount of stability to know where we stand. But God knows us all. Loves us all. Jesus knew us all before we were born. Perhaps the greatest thing we can learn from Jesus’ arrival on earth is that greatness isn’t packaged the way we think it has to be. That a humble and quiet life is heard at the same volume as the loud and flashy ones.

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Father, Praise You for Christ’s humble birth, and thank You for loving every person the same on this earth. Forgive us for seeking favoritism and elevation among others, and bless our hearts to receive and give Your authentic love. In Jesus ‘ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Lane-Walking,

Megs

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The Yellow Gold (#jammed daily devo, day 356)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 356: True Colors.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2

The light caught my wedding bands and exposed the yellow gold purging through as theDECJAM22 white gold finish began to wear off again. The wear reflects the reality of life that has settled in long after the magical carriage ride and pretty white dress.

There are days that the light exposes more of ourselves than we want to see. Ten years can pass without a long glance in the mirror, and suddenly we don’t recognize the reflection anymore when we linger a little longer. Time has a way of wearing on the human soul in two directions at once. As the fleeting memory reel runs in the back, the hope of the future runs ahead. Life rarely goes as we plan, but God is never surprised.

Christmas is proof of that.

Christmas was always the plan.

Jesus was born at the time, place, and in the care of the people God planned. God is a planner. God is prepared. Today’s verse allows us the freedom to cry out to Him when we are lost. When we don’t recognize who we are anymore, in the mirror’s reflection or inside of our own minds.

“God who fulfills His purpose for me.”

He will fulfill His purpose for us.

When we can feel it happening, we cry out in praise and celebration. When we’re at a frustrating crossroad or in a pit of suffering, we cry out in need of our Healer to pull us through.

Just as sure as that baby boy breathed His first earthly breath right on time in that manger, our lives will fulfill the purpose He places us here for.

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Father, Praise You for lifting us up over and over again. Thank You for brushing off our shiny surfaces and loving us for who we are, all dulled and worn out underneath. Forgive us for wallowing or becoming discouraged as we get older. Bless our hearts to feel Your comfort and Your encouragement. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Re-coating,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

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The Presents (#jammed daily devo, day 355)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 355: Christmas presents …and limits.

“Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11b

“He came! HE CAME!!!”DECJAM21

The piles of presents under the tree and the magical looks on my kids’ faces as they ran down the stairs will be etched into my heart forever. It was a gift to us to be able to give to them more than they needed, expected, or could imagine.

Jesus received gifts from the three kings. Today’s verse tells us that they opened their “treasure chests.” They gave the best they could to the King who would give them more than all of the treasure on the earth could ever compare to.

When I looked up the definition of “treasure,” I found three separate ways to define it. Appropriate, because gifts …treasure …can be defined in so many different ways and at different angles.

treasure- a (1) :wealth (such as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded; (2)wealth of any kind or in any form: riches. b: a store of money in reserve.

In one part of this definition, wealth is defined as “in any form” and/or “money.” How do we measure our treasure? Is it something we can store up, earn, or use as currency? Can we trade it, simply flaunt it for what we (and others) know it’s worth statistically?

treasure- 2:something of great worth or value; also :a person esteemed as rare or precious
A chipped glass that used to have a match from a best friend who’s no longer on this side of heaven … It has a friendship quote etched in the glass. Ironic that one broke, and she’s gone now. Treasure.
“Be a leader,” he instructed me over and over. He’s no longer here, but his words …his life in pursuit of his Savior …are as real as they ever were. Treasure.
treasure- 3:a collection of precious things
Anything with a handprint on it gets tossed in the “save” box. Pieces of wrinkled up paper with stories they wrote about their family, or their Jesus.
Treasure. The refrigerator is littered with artwork, and the office is piled high with memories.
Treasure.
The wise men, as they were called, realized that no treasure they gave the King of Kings would be enough. They were wise, after all. But they still gave their best, brought their best, and before they gave anything at all …they worshipped Him.
Christmas is Christmas. The baby boy who came to earth. Who was the Word and is the Word. The greatest Gift of all time. Humanity is always striving for more …treasure. No matter how much we give, we will never out-give the Giver.
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Father, Praise You for loving us. Thank You for giving to us extravagantly, and forgive us for letting commercialism steal any meaning from that baby in the manger. Bless us to pay the love of Christmas forward, extravagantly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Stepping,

Megs

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The Mom (#jammed daily devo, day 354)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 354: Aim for average.

Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. Luke 2:29 NLT

Motherhood is ridiculous. It completely changes us from the inside out. The outside DECJAM20starts falling a part, and the inside grows more rapidly than our emotions can keep up with. Every concern about what society wants to squeeze the outside of us into disappears when the inside catches a glance of the reason(s) we’re able to claim motherhood to begin with.

Imagine the lessons Mary learned as the mother of the Son of God. She was still just a mom! A very special person, but just a mom. A faithful servant, chosen by God. She just said, “OK” to her God. Few of us know exactly how much children will change us until they get here. I can’t imagine Mary knew the grand scope of the way her heart would be moved by heaven from the manger to the cross.

The most important part of motherhood is being there, and she was. From His birth to His death on the cross …from one pendulum of pain to another, she was there. How was she there for Jesus? Just like we are there for our children. God purposely places our children in our care.

Do we, as mothers, know how much like Mary we are?

By simply saying, “OK” to God, each day of motherhood, we are honoring Him and guiding them to His feet.

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Father, Praise You for Mary, and the wonderful example of Motherhood she gives us. Thank You for motherhood. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to drown in the sheer hardship of if, and embrace the purpose that You laid in us. Bless us to guide our children to Your feet, and to teach them to listen to Your voice over all others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Stepping,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

Stay encouraged!

Joy …What Does it Mean? (Christmas Series, Week 3)

What Does It Mean Study Guide Cover picWelcome to Week 3 of the Christmas Series, “What Does It Mean?” This week, we are going to study the word, “Joy.” Download the Free Printable PDF Study Guide, and follow along on this Advent journey to a better understanding of commonly used “Christmas” words. Happy Christmas!

What Does it Mean Study Guide best pdf

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The Snuggly Strips (#jammed daily devo, day 352)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 352: Blankies.

“She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth, and laid Him in a manger…” Luke 2:7

“Reach,” I encouraged as my two-year old stretched up onto her toes and reached her DECJAM18arms up to the hospital basinet where her new baby sister slept, “you’re almost there!”

Through tears in my eyes, I watched my daughters bond for the very first time as she reached over and placed the blankie that she had picked out for her sissy in that basinet. From that day on, those two were blankie buddies. Fuzzy Wuzzy and Blankie Bear. The sweet softness of those new babies wrapped up in those fresh new blankies is forever etched in my memory.

They have drug their blankets through life with them. Leaned on them for comfort and security. Depended on them to chase midnight scaries away and mend sick bellies. Those blankets have dried a lot of tears and had a lot of nose crusties stuck to them. As they get older, we see them a little less, and I hope their hearts are learning to transfer those blankie securities into Jesus’ loving arms.

Today’s verse is so touching because it’s so leveling. Snuggled in a blanket, just like every other human being that has ever been born. Nothing special about it, except for who He was. The word-age is repeated when Luke quotes the angels:

“And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

Anytime the Bible repeats anything, it’s important. Those strips of cloth communicated so much to the Shepherds. “Just like it was told to us,” they said upon arrival. It says so much to us. Christ came down to our level. He was never of the world, but He existed on our level. Why? God could have freed us from sin without Jesus living out over three decades of life on earth and dying a horrendous death …but it would not have been enough.

The weight of our sin had to be carried by someone worthy enough to sacrifice enough so that we could stand in the presence of our holy God …who requires “enough” for that to happen. He can’t be in the presence of sin.

That baby, cuddled by His momma and loved by His family. I remember those first moments in the hospital with my babies. Everytime they wander around with their blankies I remember those first sweet cuddles. The fullness of Mary’s heart is the model for every mother to come after her. Hold onto those baby cuddles while they can be held.  Blankets don’t last forever, and babies grow up. Our kiddos eventually let go of their blankies, and we let go of them as they grow …but we never have to let go of Jesus. The longer we know Him, the closer He feels.

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Father, Praise you for Jesus’ birth. Thank You for allowing Him to come down to earth and take on our sin so that we can feel His closeness and stand in Your presence for all time. Like the comfort of a blanket worn in with memories, You have trod every second with us lovingly and patiently. Forgive us for failing to remember how much You love us back. Bless us to dedicate our lives to sharing Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Snuggling,

Megs

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The Praise-Proof (#jammed daily devo, day 351)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 351: The “In” Crowd.

 The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen and heard, and they glorified God for the way the experience had unfolded just as the heavenly messenger had predicted.” Luke 2:20 (VOICE)

It’s always interesting to see why God brings a group of people together. More than the DECJAM17“why,” it’s amazing to witness the “what.” What happens is nothing short of a miracle. Lives weave in and out with similar stories and struggles. Things that we don’t account for at face value have a way of touching our hearts. For this girl, wanting to be friends with everybody, a new group coming together is nothing short of Christmas come early.

Today’s verse tells of the shepherds reaction to baby Jesus. What a roller coaster ride of emotion they had been on: “terrified” by the angels that revealed themselves with a message of the Savior’s birth; and witness to scene exactly the way it was the angels foretold.

We always have a little doubt lodged in our hearts before we can attach a visual to audible text. Why did God put that there? The desire for visual affirmation?

God left a trail of proof all throughout history, when He didn’t have to. Faith is believing what we cannot see. But oh, do we long to see!! We strain our necks to see things …quiet our breathing to overhear …we’re constantly searching for evidence. It’s our nature. But, why?

“The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen…”

The proof is in our praise. In each individual life and set of circumstances and experiences, a trail of proof is being laid. No one will ever bear witness to God’s miracles in our lives if we suffer from a lack of praise. When we give our miracles vocal recognition, it allows others to see them.

God reveals miracles to us and to others the same way He moves in and out of His Living Word, touching our hearts a hundred different ways at a hundred different times with the same story.

Miracles.

We are the evidence.

And our praise is the proof.

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Father, Praise you for miracles! For the miracle of Jesus, and the trail of proof you leave for us to discover. Thank You for working in our lives so personally, and forgive us for questioning our miracles! Instead, help us to give our miracles a voice of praise as proof to hurting hearts that You are our Healer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Praising,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

Stay encouraged!