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My Heart, Your Bethlehem

My Heart, Your Bethlehem

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Mary, a young teenager, chosen by God to carry His son… The Redeemer, our Savior, the Light of the world, Lord of lords, King of kings. Reading Mary’s response leaves me speechless, “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Why can’t I trust God like Mary? A prayer emerged, “Help me trust You like Mary. She didn’t have to know all the answers ahead of time. She simply believed.” Tears formed as God reminded me of Carly Jo’s blog. Be blessed as you read…

Make My Heart Your Bethlehem

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This week as I was reading God’s Word, He pierced my heart with two harsh, yet sweet realities.

I am messed up.

Yes, you heard that right. I am a broken, cold-hearted, smelly wreck. There is no good in me (not even a little bit) apart from Christ. I am self-centered, weak, self-righteous, insecure, prideful, and prone to wander. I consciously choose sin over righteousness. I am unworthy to carry even the sandals on Jesus’ feet (Matthew 3:11) much less the Spirit of God in me… It sounds like I am airing dirty laundry but hang on tight because the second reality is unreal.

Jesus was born in a stable.

You’re probably confused… but just wait.

Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, was born in a broken, ugly, cold, nasty shelter for animals. This birthplace was by no means an accident – in fact, I am confident that it was by God’s design that the King of glory made a quiet entrance to earth in this tiny, humble abode in Bethlehem. With farm animals all around, Mary gave birth to our Savior then wrapped Him in strips of rags and laid Him in a manger (a feeding trough for animals). With remnants of animal slobber and moldy food, this repurposed manager was a perfect resting place for baby Jesus.

In my eyes, this scene seems like a mistake. The Lamb of God should have been born into a wealthy, well-known family with servants waiting on them hand and foot. However, in our Father’s eyes, every detail of this holy night is nothing short of perfect.

Everything about the birth of Jesus screams out restoration and redemption. God transformed a detestable stable into a temporary home for Joseph and his tiny family. He took a feeding trough and made it a resting place for Jesus. Finally, He turned an insignificant, “little” town called Bethlehem into the hometown of Yahweh. My God is in the business of bringing order from chaos. He takes shattered pieces and turns them into a beautiful, new creation. God did not ask Mary & Joseph to scrub the floors of the stable, bleach the manager, patch up the gaping holes in the walls, or even warm a fire up before giving birth to Jesus. Nope. All He asked was for them to trust Him.

Moral of the story, God restores hopeless places. He makes all things new in miraculous ways. I am very much a broken person with piles of baggage that display remnants of past failures. Yet, Jesus chose to make my heart (& yours – if you place your trust in Him) His sanctuary. He chose to take this damaged stable and make it his home! He did not ask me to clean up before He entered my life – all He asked was for me to place my trust in Him then He would work on my heart over time. Now, as time goes on, He perfects my heart piece by piece. He scrubs the floors, patches the walls, warms the fire, and searches every nook & cranny to make my heart (& yours) His home – His Bethlehem.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2

~MEMORIAL DAY SALUTE~

~MEMORIAL DAY SALUTE~

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Did you know MEMORIAL DAY was first called DECORATION DAY?

General John L. Logan is credited for naming May 30, 1868, as the first Decoration Day. On this day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

When you hear the words – MEMORIAL DAY – what thoughts come to mind? Maybe you’re thankful for a day off of work or school. If you love to shop, Memorial Day might be a reminder of all the sales taking place at the mall. What about family barbecues and picnics? But, is this all there is to Memorial Day… Relaxing, Shopping, Family, and Friends?

Memorial Day is observed in the United States as a commemoration of those members of the armed forces who died in war defending the United States of America. Those who sacrificed their lives so that we might have the freedoms we have today. Let these quotes wash over you…

They fell, but o’er their glorious grave floats free the banner of the cause they died to save. – Francis Marion Crawford

For love of country, they accepted death…   – James A. Garfield

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. – Joseph Campbell

As we remember these fallen heroes, may we be reminded that America is “One Nation Under God.” What a beautiful quote which stands the test of time. What a blessing knowing God is in charge of all creation, life, history, and the future. These brave men and women are remembered for the sacrifices made to fight for the freedoms and liberties of this great nation.

And, we must not forget the ultimate Freedom Fighter… Jesus.

He died so that we could have eternal freedom from the bondage of sin. He won the battle with Satan at the cross. He conquered the grave. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Read the words from Psalm 77:10-11 with a heartfelt praise to God…

But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord. Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary… Who is so great a God who does wonders. You have declared Your strength among the peoples.

So, this Memorial Day, thank God for the War Heroes who sacrificed their lives for freedom to prevail in America. Thank Him that we are “One Nation Under God” and pray for this motto to live on for years to come.

Please, take a moment and say a prayer for those serving in the United States armed forces. Ask God to protect them physically, spiritually, and mentally. Pray for their marriages to stay strong while they are separated from their families.

Finally, praise God for the Prayer Heroes throughout history who prayed for America. I feel certain a Medal of Honor is reserved for them in heaven.

Let’s keep this Prayer Chain Alive… Pray for America. 

CHRISTMAS PRAYER GIVER

CHRISTMAS PRAYER GIVER

Christmas

Jesus. Savior. Messiah. Over 2000 years ago, His humble entrance into this world changed our future… forever. God, in the flesh, bringing hope to the world – a world filled with corruption, chaos, and moral decay. In the little town of Bethlehem during the utter confusion of the census, Jesus’ birth silently swept in like a new fallen snow.

  • With no phones, television, or the internet how did the word get out about the Messiah’s arrival?
  • Why did God send Jesus at such a chaotic time of year?
  • As a mom, I can’t image giving birth in an unsanitary stable with hay, animals, and GERMS?
  • Why did the wise men bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Why didn’t they bring blankets, baby clothes, and rattlers?

Imagine The Wise Men just doing their thing… being wise. When suddenly, they notice a Star beaming in the East. With all their wisdom and knowledge of scripture, they recall Numbers 24:17, A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab and destroy all the sons of tumult.

These men didn’t sit around contemplating the situation. They moved into action. With little time to waste, they headed East following the star. Imagine their journey. Possibly they were singing songs of praise or contemplating what they would say first. With every step, their hearts beat faster and faster. Keeping their eyes on the Star, their pilgrimage ended at a humble home in the little town of Bethlehem. The excitement pounding in their hearts resembled their knock on the door. As the door opened, they see the toddler who was with his mother. The Wise Men couldn’t contain themselves any longer. The Messiah, their long-awaited Yeshua, humbly standing in the midst them. With arms opened, they ran toward the child and fell on their knees before Him in worship and praise. Immediately, they reached into their bags. One-by-one they laid their treasured gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh at the feet of the young boy – their King! Tears puddled beneath them. Physically weary, yet energized spiritually they left this humble abode to return home. Wow, what a trip home that must have been!

The Wise Men’s gifts had purpose and meaning…

  • Gold symbolized Royalty – Representing Jesus as The King of the Jews.
  • Frankincense was a Fragrance – Used in the Temple – Representing Jesus’ Priesthood.
  • Myrrh was an Ointment of Death – Prophesying Jesus’ Death.

God had it all planned out. He directed The Wise Men perfectly, not only with the Star but with the perfect gifts! Through these three presents, God provided Joseph and Mary the financial resources needed to flee to Egypt, escaping the wrath of Herod. These gifts not only provided physical purpose, but also spiritual significance. God used The Wise Men to be His hands and feet here on earth. Oh, what we can learn from these men of God.

Challenge this Christmas Season… May this Christmas be one you will remember as life changing. Not because of the gifts you receive or places you go, but because of the unseen gifts you give to others. Possibly the most precious present you can give someone is the gift of prayer. I challenge all of us to be Prayer Givers this Christmas season. The most beautiful thing about this gift is… It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal


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