You can’t take the Christ out of Christmas

20 Dec

I love reading Roland S Martin’s articles – this is a fabulous one, which features on CNN today. As usual he has made some great points. Roland never strikes me as someone who is afraid to speak his mind. He also leaves plenty to think about.


Mother And Baby – Jesse Tree Devotion Day Twenty three

20 Dec

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”‘ Luke 1:41-42 (NIV)

Today’s symbol is of a mother and baby to celebrate the motherhood shared by Mary and her older cousin, Elizabeth. Mary traveled to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who had conceived a child in old age, through a miracle. Elizabeth’s child – John the Baptist – leaped for joy in his mothers womb on hearing Mary’s greeting. Here, mothers are meeting, but the account is portrayed as two children meeting. John’s reaction can be seen as anticipating the role he will have prior to, and at the beginning of, Jesus’ ministry.

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to Mary “blessed are you among women …..” Elizabeth is very pleased, she, like her unborn child, is joyful. Mary responds with the joyful Mary’s song. It was a joy to share in events associated with Jesus, and it is a joy to share life with him now. As well as joy, this passage is also full of belief. Mary and Elizabeth’s responses to God were of trusting his word to be true and to live in light of that belief. To be blessed is to be happy because God has touched your life.

Today think about what brings you joy. What joy has God brought into your life? How has he blessed you? Do you trust his word and live in the light of that?

You can read the full story of Mary and Elizabeth’s meeting in Luke 1:39-56.

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White Lily – Jesse Tree Devotion Day Twenty Two

19 Dec

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1: 30-33 (NIV)

Today’s symbol is of a white lily. It symbolizes new life and resurrection – hope for the future. God had a special job for someone – to be the mother of his son. He needed someone who loved and trusted him, someone who was strong and loving, someone who believed in him and worshiped him. God chose Mary. We must recognize though, that Mary was chosen through God’s grace, not from any merit she possessed. To many, Mary was an unlikely “source”; the fulfillment of God’s promise came to earth in an unadorned package of human innocence, without any splendid display, far away from any royal palace. When angel Gabriel visited Mary, she was not so sure she was up for the job, but Gabriel reminded her that God would be with her and guide her. The angel states the basic premise “Nothing is impossible with God.” Mary simply responds in humble acceptance, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Today, think about how Mary must have felt after the angel left her. What sort of emotions would have been going through her mind? How do you think she felt about telling people – her family, Joseph? How would people have reacted to her? What can we learn from Mary?

Has God done what seems like the impossible in your life?

Read the whole passage in Luke 1:26-38

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Scallop Shell – Jesse Tree Devotion Day Twenty One

18 Dec

“John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Luke 3:16 (NIV)

As we are approaching the end of our Jesse Tree devotions we  find ourselves in the New Testament.  John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin.  He paved the way for the Lord. He spent his life telling the people to get prepared, as the Lord, their Saviour, was coming.  He urged them to change their ways.  The preparation for that salvation involves repentance, a heart open and turned to the living God. Forgiveness of sins paves the way for a life lived in honor of God with eyes looking for the One to come. If they did repent then John baptized people with water.  Our symbol today is of a scallop shell, which was a traditional symbol of baptism in addition to pilgrimages and spreading the word of the Gospel.

Today think about what you may need forgiveness for.  Read more about John the Baptist in Luke 1:57-80, 3:1-20; 7:18-30.

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Wall – JT Devotion Day Twenty

17 Dec

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.” Nehemiah 1: 8-9 (NIV)

Today’s Jesse tree symbol is of a wall, to remind us of the wall that was rebuilt around Jerusalem in order to keep the Sabbath day a day of rest.  Nehemiah urges the chosen people to change their ways and return to the true faith.  The book of Nehemiah tells the story of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and the moral protective walls of the Jews. He asks God to forgive him for his sins and to forgive his people.  He acknowledges that God’s chosen people have corrupted the Lord’s commandments and ways. Nehemiah prayed regularly, day and night, for Gods people.  Prayer is a vital part of our communion with God.  We should pray for day to day issues and seek God’s desire.  Outside of our own individual lives we should bring different countries, people groups, social injustice etc to the Lord in prayer. We should also seek God’s thoughts on the state of the church and religion, especially when so many of us are conversing about this in our post modern culture.

Today think about whether your prayers are focused on you and your situation, or do you prayer for others and situations out of concern, and grieve before and with God? What prevents you from praying?  Maybe, as we read about in the prayer synchroblog a few months back, it is to do with the legalism which has been established.  Read through some of the blog posts and see ways in which so many pray – maybe this will help you today.

Read more from Nehemiah in 1:1-2:8; 6:15-16; 13:10-22.

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