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Posts tagged ‘Manger’

Peace amidst chaos…


By Pastor Fred Gillett

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” 
-Romans 5:1

Throughout this Christmas season, I have been looking around me at the traffic and the crowded stores, and hearing about the doubling of air travel fees, the striking unions leveraging the holidays to get attention, I wondered, “Isn’t this supposed to be a time of peace?” We are celebrating the coming of the Prince of Peace and here we are in the middle of chaos.

As I read in the Bible about a young couple who was forced by a government census to travel from where they lived to the young man’s birthplace, quite a distance, I am reminded that they had no car. They walked about 80 miles with a group, the wife pregnant, riding on a mule. It would take them at least two days on foot. By the time they got to their destination, all the hotels were full. The wife was starting labor, so the husband furiously looked for a place to, at least, get her under cover. They had to use a stable and she gave birth to her baby boy while lying on a dirty stable floor. No midwives available, no sterile birthing table, just the husband and wife with a bunch of animals watching. They then had to wrap the baby in swaddling cloth and lay him in a feeding trough used by the animals. While trying to recover from having just given birth, the visitors arrive – sheepherders, lookie-loos, astronomers, you name it. All came looking for the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father in the flesh.

The bright light shining in the sky all night, a mass of angels singing, people bowing, everyone in awe…and I am complaining?

Prayer: Dear Lord, even amidst all the busyness of Christmastime, please allow me not to complain…but to rejoice…experiencing your peace in everything I do. Amen.

Devotion: How are you experiencing the days leading up to Christmas?

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Peace amidst difficulties…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” 
Luke 1:14

I remember two years ago when we had our second baby, when my wife Hannah went into labor, we arrived at the hospital to find that all the beds were occupied. So, they put Hannah in a bed in the hall, in full labor, with nurses scurrying around. We felt uncomfortable, angry, frustrated. We wanted to be in a private, clean, nice room to give birth to our baby.

I think about how uncomfortable that was – a very scary and painful experience. Then I imagine what it was like for Mary, in labor, no room at the inn. There’s nowhere for her to have this baby, which, especially in those days, was a very dangerous situation. And the best they could come up with was a stable out back.

There, Mary gives birth on a bed of straw. And Jesus is laid in a manger, a feeding trough, where the horses and cows eat. To make it ready for the baby, they had to clear away all of the dirt to make it as clean as possible for the newborn. There’s Mary with all of her injuries from having just given birth to a baby, and yet do you feel, when you read that story, any of the aggravation and anger I experienced when Hannah was giving birth? You don’t see that. You see this peace. You see peace in the midst of a very difficult situation.

Prayer: Father, when I read the Christmas story, every part of it is filled with your peace. No matter what the difficulty or challenge, your peace filled every heart that came close to the Savior. May my heart come close and find your peace in Jesus. Amen.

Devotion: What can rob your peace…and restore your peace…at Christmastime?

Peace amidst difficulties…


“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.”
-Luke 1:14

I remember this last year when we had our second baby, when my wife Hannah went into labor, we arrived at the hospital to find that all the beds were occupied. So, they put Hannah in a bed in the hall, in full labor, with nurses scurrying around. We felt uncomfortable, angry, frustrated. We wanted to be in a private, clean, nice room to give birth to our baby.

I think about how uncomfortable that was – a very scary and painful experience. Then I imagine what it was like for Mary, in labor, no room at the inn. There’s nowhere for her to have this baby, which, especially in those days, was a very dangerous situation. And the best they could come up with was a stable out back.

There, Mary gives birth on a bed of straw. And Jesus is laid in a manger, a feeding trough, where the horses and cows eat. To make it ready for the baby, they had to clear away all of the dirt to make it as clean as possible for the newborn. There’s Mary with all of her injuries from having just given birth to a baby, and yet do you feel, when you read that story, any of the aggravation and anger I experienced when Hannah was giving birth? You don’t see that. You see this peace. You see peace in the midst of a very difficult situation.

Prayer: Father, when I read the Christmas story, every part of it is filled with your peace. No matter what the difficulty or challenge, your peace filled every heart that came close to the Savior. May my heart come close and find your peace in Jesus. Amen.

Devotion: What can rob your peace…and restore your peace…at Christmastime?

By Bobby Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Pastor

Let’s Go Straight to Bethlehem.



Wordle showing key words from the Advent devotional series.

(Tomorrow we start the 25-day journey that leads to Christmas. This year I’m inviting everyone to join us in an Advent devotional series called “Let’s Go Straight to Bethlehem.” We’ll post a new devotional reading each day from December 1 through December 25. We also plan to release it in ebook format. Here’s the introduction to the series.)

First Steps

Advent is first of all a journey.

We start wherever we are in late November, and by December 25 we end up in Bethlehem.

This is an ancient journey, one first taken by the shepherds who upon hearing the angels announce the Good News that Christ had been born, said to each other, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem” (Luke 2:15 HCSB).

I like the way that sounds.

“Let’s go.” I’m going and you’re going, so let’s go together. During the Advent season, Christians of all backgrounds and denominations, Christians from every tribe and tongue, Christians young and old, male and female, rich and poor, we all join together to make this journey once again.

“Straight.” No messing around. No detours. No excuses. “We’re on our way to see the Savior.”

“To Bethlehem.” To the “House of Bread” where the Living Bread has come down from heaven. We’re coming hungry and thirsty because our journey is long and we are tired. We’re coming to worship the Babe in the manger.

This year we will start in Eden and end at Bethlehem, watching as Mary and Joseph put their newborn son to bed in a rough-hewn stone feeding trough.

So if you’re ready, let’s get started. Wherever you are, you can make this journey with us.

Let’s go straight to Bethlehem. Jesus is waiting for us.

By Dr. Ray Pritchard

 

The Perfect Gift in a Manger?.


When you’re a child, Christmas is all about receiving gifts.

 In December, your head is swimming with nothing but images of your favorite toys.

But the true message of Christmas is not the presents we give to one another.

The true meaning is the gift that God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ.

The first thing we want to realize about God’s gift to us is that it came in simple wrapping.

 Some people will go to great lengths to wrap presents beautifully.

 But God’s gift came to us not in beautiful, ornate wrapping, but in a dirty manger found in a cold cave in a little-known town called Bethlehem.

That’s the beauty of the Christmas event.

 Jesus took His place in a manger so that we might have a home in heaven.

The Savior was not wrapped in satin sheets, but in common rags.

 There in a manger rested the greatest gift in the plainest of wrapping.

The second thing I want to point out about God’s gift to us is that we don’t deserve it.

 Consider this: God gave us the ultimate gift of His Son Jesus Christ while we were still sinning against Him (see Romans 5:8).

We did nothing whatsoever to merit or deserve His gift.

That is the amazing truth of Christmas.

Despite who we are, God sent His Son so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Taken from “God’s Gift to Us (Part 1)” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

By Greg Laurie.

How Does the Manger Reveal Who Christ Is?.


Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no room for Him.

How solemnly this brings out the world’s estimate of the Christ of God.

There was no appreciation of His amazing condescension.

He was not wanted.

It is so still.

There is no room for Him in the schools, in society, in the business world, among the great throngs of pleasure seekers, in the political realm, in the newspapers, nor in many of the churches.

It is only history repeating itself.

All that the world gave the Savior was a manger, a cross on which to die, and a borrowed grave to receive His murdered body.

He was laid in a manger to demonstrate the extent of His poverty.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

How “poor” He became, was thus manifested at the beginning.

The One who, afterwards, had nowhere to lay His head, who had to ask for a penny when He would reply to His critics about the question of tribute, and who had to use another man’s house when instituting the Holy Supper, was, from the first, a homeless Stranger here.

And the “manger” was the earliest evidence.

He was laid in a manger to show His contempt for worldly riches and pomp.

We might think it more fitting for the Christ of God to be born in a palace and laid in a cradle of gold, lined with costly silks.

But as He Himself reminds us in this same Gospel, “that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).

And what an exemplification of this truth was given when the infant Saviour was placed, not in a cradle of gold but, in an humble manger.

He was laid in a manger to mark His identification with human suffering and wretchedness.

The One born was “The Son of Man.”

He had left the heights of Heaven’s glory and had descended to our level, and here we behold Him entering the human condition at its lowest point.

Thus did the Man of Sorrows identify Himself with human suffering.

Adapted from Why Four Gospels?, 3. The Gospel of Luke, by A.W. Pink.

By A.W. Pink.

Why A Manger?.


A few years ago my Mom gave me the Nativity scene that was in our house when I was a kid.

It evoked wonder in my early years, and it’s still wonderful, but there’s something not quite right about it.

For one thing, the figure of Jesus looks more like a two-year-old than an infant.

For another, He has blond hair and blue eyes—and from what I know of the Middle East, I have kind of a problem with that.

Obviously, this Nativity set was crafted by a European!

And the manger is made out of wood. Of course, that’s how most of us think of it.

But the word in the Bible translated “manger” could mean either a feeding trough or an enclosure for animals.

In that part of the world animals were kept in caves, and feeding troughs were made out of stone, so Jesus was probably born in a cave around Bethlehem somewhere, and laid in a stone trough.

Now, I know I’ve probably destroyed a lot of your mental pictures of Jesus’ birth.

But the important question is “Why a manger?”

Why wasn’t He born in a palace, and His birth heralded in the Jerusalem Post?

The answer is in two words, humility and accessibility.

His mother wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, like any peasant of the time.

This great gift came in simple wrapping. The one who would be called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6)—the Creator—became an embryo, and then a baby.

It’s amazing, and the more you think about it, the more staggering it becomes.

This humility would depict his entire life and ministry.

And when He died He was buried in a borrowed grave, another cave similar to the one He was born in.

Because He was humble, He was accessible.

Going into a throne room to see a king would be intimidating, but there’s nothing intimidating about going into a cave and approaching a feeding trough.

You don’t need special credentials, you don’t need to have to have an appointment. The shepherds could just come in.

And again, this marked not only his birth but his entire life.

Jesus was always accessible to people.

He said, “Let the little children come to Me” (Matthew 19:14).

He also welcomed the woman with the incurable disease because of her faith (Luke 8:43-48).

So it’s not really important what your Nativity scene looks like.

The important thing is what you think about the Child who was laid in that manger.

In the words of an old Christmas carol, “Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall; oxen lowing, little knowing, Christ the babe is Lord of all.”

Scripture Of The Day: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14 (ESV).

By Skip Heitzig.

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