The Empty Manger

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The Empty Manger

As I look down into the manger this Christmas season, I want to remember the simple birth of my Savior.  The manger was empty so that Jesus could fill it with His glory so many years ago.  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:7  As I remember that empty manager, I see my life as the manager and I pray that my advocate, Jesus, will fill my life simply, yet fully as He filled the manger. This simple manger when filled with Christ became a beacon that called many to seek him so long ago just as we continue to seek him today.  His simple beginnings remind me that He has walked my path and knows my struggle.  As I struggle, I pray that God will fill the manger of my life, and He will take root in my heart.

Heart of the Manger

Prior to Christ’s birth the manger was empty and man struggled with his sin and evil heart.  God knew that only the sacrifice of His Son would bring salvation to His people. How can we plant the seed of Christmas in our hearts and weed the evil from within?  During this Christmas season, I hope that we all are reminded that we need Christ in our hearts.  My desire is not for the heart of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” but for the heart that God creates in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Christ in my heart is a promised blessing from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  I pray that blessing for all this Christmas season.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7.

Seeking the Manager

The first Christmas when Christ was born the heavens rejoiced and many sought to find the manger and worship this Miracle Baby.  The shepherds were in the fields with their flock that night so long ago when the heavens opened and the angels brought the great news to them. “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16.

The wise men in Matthew 2:2  saw the star (link), “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” They prepared for the journey to worship the Child in the manager.  “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”  Matthew 2: 9-10.  Following the star the wise men found the child, “and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11.

Gift of the Manger

I often ponder the wise men and their travels to see the Christ child.  I wonder about the gifts they brought.  I have researched and studied the meaning of each, but I guess I have often been drawn to why they brought three.  What does this mean?  The number three can be found throughout scripture, but my curiosity was more interested in why the wisemen brought only three gifts and did these gifts somehow symbolize the gifts Christ’s birth brought to man.  As I searched and read scripture, I found these verses in 1 John 5:6-8 that explain the three gifts Christ birth brought, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” Christ did not come by water only into our lives which is the outward symbol of cleansing, but by blood which is his sacrifice so that His people might be saved.  Christ sacrifice brought the Spirit which is the inward symbol of our cleansing.  These gifts created the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”, and John 15:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

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Closing Verse: Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Challenge:  Fill the Manger of your heart this Christmas with Christ.

Do Something…

Harley Run

Morning Drive

Every morning I spend my ride to work listening to Christian radio.  Starting my day with songs of worship helps me to get started in the right frame of mind!  Many mornings I hear a song that I just have to know who the title and artist is performing the song.  Maybe I should add here that music trivia would not be my speciality, so I don’t always recognize music.  I stop to check who the artist is and the song title so I can share it with my husband, The Music Man, later to add to his collection. Occasionally, I am so touched by a song that I write about it.  Recently, this happened while listening to the song, “Do Something” by Matthew West.  The chaos in our country and world today seems out of control and hard to understand.  As I try to figure out how our country came to this point where we don’t seem to really care about each other, and everyone wants someone else or the government to take care of everyone, I hear this song which reminds of what God’s plan really is for Christian here on earth.

Angry at God

The song begins with a man angry at God for allowing our world to become the way it is and not doing something about it.  He questions God on what he is doing in the world.

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Unexpectedly, God answers with, “He said, “I did, yeah, I created you”.  Hearing this line shocked me at first because I should have known that is what God would say but it was unexpected for me to even hear.  But God did make us to serve others.  Jesus is our role model and Matthew 20:28 reads, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  He gave his life, so what should Christians be giving to God’s world?

Let Someone Else Do The Work

The second line of the song is a typical reaction to any event in our lives or around us.  Many of us just say someone else will do it and become apathetic to the needs of others and how we can truly serve.

I’m so tired of talking about
How we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something

I know that I can turn from such events, but this song is just one reminder that God made me to serve others not for my glory or for others to see, but just to serve and Glorify God as he called me to serve. The ending of the second line echoes this belief.

Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire and
I wanna be the one who stands up and says
“I’m gonna do something

We all as Christian have to see Christ as our role model and just “Do Something”.  Sometimes I get stuck in what should I be doing, but am reminded of the verse in 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” This verse reminds me to focus on the gifts God has given me to go forth and “Do Something”.

Using Our Gifts

The chorus of the song brings some closure to any Christian still stuck in the waiting game of letting others take care of what God has called each of us to do.

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something, yes it is, come on
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
Oh oh, it’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

As you bow on your knees in prayer today, remember to ask the Lord who gave his Son to serve us what gifts do I have that I should be carrying forth into the world to “Do Something”.   God’s word has always taught us that it is better to give than to receive and Acts 20:35 reads, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  We are to work hard to help the weak and give to those who are in need.  If Christians stop and remember these words and turn to the gifts God has provided, he will be faithful and bless our work for his Glory and not ours.

Closing Verse: Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ …”

Challenge: Today I pray that each of us will find the gifts from God and use them as we are called to serve this world that is in need of knowing our Father.

Empowered by God

 

Harley’s Talent – Begging

Never downplay the talents and skills you have.  No matter how large or small they are, you have the right to be proud!

I have this great desk calendar that was gift from a friend and each day I receive some motivation or even a good laugh.  Actually, readers of this blog have seen a few quotes that I read on my calendar.  The not so strange part of this is that God seems to send the message I need on the day I need it.  I stand there sometimes with goosebumps and/or tears.  That is what happened this past week when I read this message.  “Never downplay the talents and skills you have.  No matter how large or small they are, you have the right to be proud!”  (no author was listed). I felt God wrapping his arms around me when I needed a hug from him reminding me of the talents and skills he blessed me with and that my only goals are to work hard, be proud, and glorify HIM.  The timing was perfect in his plan for me.

Glorify God 

God knew I needed this message.  He knew that I needed to stop struggling within myself and I needed to be able to celebrate my talents because these are gifts that God prepared for me according to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  This reminder not only puts a smile on my face but reminds me to always give my best for the glory of God and no one else.  No one else matters because he gave us the greatest gift of eternal life.  Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  This is my reminder that I live for the Lord and share my gifts for his glory.

God’s Gifts

I am blessed that the Lord has given me the perfect gifts, yet I am called to ensure that I use these gifts to glorify God.  Romans 12: 6-8 gives direction to all Christians in using their gifts, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”  As I move through the coming weeks and use my gifts from God, I will be sure to glorify him more and focus on me less.  I know from the past when I look away from myself and toward Christ that I am truly blessed in my work.  I cannot become the like the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 1-3, “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”   My happiness is practicing what I preach and focusing my life on Christ.

Become Empowered

In closing I want to share scripture from 1 Corinthians 12:4 which reads, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”  This scripture is a reminder to us all that God has given us gifts and these gifts should empower us to live lives that give God all the glory.  As I speak to coworkers, family members, or meet a stranger during my day, I  remember that I am living a life for the Lord.  I am Empowered by God!

Closing Verse:  1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Challenge:  Are you using your gifts to glorify God?  Reflect on how you are using your gifts that God has blessed you with.