Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

I have wanted to share devotionals with you this Christmas to encourage and uplift you. Many of them I’ve written over the years, and some will be new. I ran across the following story on an old flash drive as I was searching for something else. I have no idea where it came from, but this story never ceases to bring tears…

Jesus and the Orphan

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage.

As it neared the holiday season, the orphans heard the traditional Christmas story for the first time. The Americans told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem; and after finding no room in the inn, Mary and Joseph went to a stable, where Jesus was born and placed in the manger.

Throughout the story, the children listened in amazement. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. As a follow-up activity to the story, each child was given three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manager. Each child was also given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins that the children tore into strips, and then carefully laid in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel from a discarded nightgown were used for the baby’s blanket. Pieces of tan felt were used for the doll-like baby.

As they made their way around the room to observe the children, one of the Americans noted, “All went well until I got to one table where 6-year-old Misha sat. He appeared to have finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see, not one, but two, babies in the manger! Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger.”

The observer noted Misha very accurately recalled the story that had been told until he came to the part where Mary put Jesus in the manger. “Misha then started to ad lib his own ending,” recalls the observer.

And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no momma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did.

I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. So I asked Jesus, if I kept Him warm, would that be a good enough gift? And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So, I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and told me I could stay with him — for always!”

As Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table, and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon or abuse him, someone who would stay with him — for always!

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This devotional was written several years ago when our boys were still at home and I still owned my caning business… some of these things have changed – some have not…

At the Beginning

Father, I lift up my heart to You at the “beginning” of this Christmas season. I say “beginning” as in “Church calendar” and not in terms of the marketplace – for in the marketplace, it has already been “Christmas” for a loooong time now…

Being a child of the 60’s, one of the first things that comes to mind is John Lennon’s song of “So this is Christmas, and what have we here…” and I think, “Yeah, what do we have here…?”

We have lists – shopping lists, grocery lists, “to-do” lists and an already “jam-packed to the gills” calendar filled with even more responsibilities.

As a business owner, I have customers depending on me for things on their shopping lists.

As a wife, and mother, I have family depending on me for – well, for being “Honey” and “Mom” and all that entails at any given point in their lives.

And, as a church-member and Sunday School teacher, I have “every time the doors are open” activities, that I’m expected to attend, lessons to prepare, and devotions to give.

But, as a woman, as Your child, I have… peace… yeah, I really do. As I think about it, and all the things I “have” to do in all the other areas of my life, I’m surprised that the word “peace” is what comes to my mind when I think of what I have as Your child…

This hasn’t always been so. And may not always be so, but at this time, in this place, right now I have peace. And I thank You for that, Father.

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What a “time” of the year, Lord! No other season or “holiday” creates the conflict and convolution that Christmas does. No other date on the calendar produces more good will and more animosity all in one, than does this time of so-called “peace on earth”… Why is that Lord?

What is it about Christmas that makes it the most selfless and yet the most selfish time of the year? What makes it the most joyous and yet the most lonely, the most filling and yet the most emptying, the most loving and yet the most hateful time of the whole calendar year? Why Lord?

Is it… You… Lord? I suspect it is that whole “inner conflict” thing – that whole “good verses evil” thing, that “darkness verses light” war that has been raging ever since the garden -“both” gardens…. (Eden and Gethsemane!)

It’s always there, isn’t it, Lord? It just comes to the surface more when mankind is “forced” to look You right in the eye, as they are “when the baby cries” at Christmastime, and You “demand” that we either react, or respond…

God help us to respond.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

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The first Sunday in Advent begins with the candle of “hope” and so, Father, I lift up those who feel they have no hope. You’ve created our bodies to survive for weeks without food, days without water, and minutes without air, but we cannot survive for a moment without hope.

How, Father, can we bring hope to a hopeless world? The song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name…”

When the word “hope” is used in the Bible it doesn’t mean “wishing” it means “a certainty”. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – not the essence of things that we wish would happen, but the very things of which we are certain…

And You Father, are the only One that brings that kind of hope.

And may I, as Your child, reflect that hope this Christmas season.

In my Saviour’s Name – Amen.

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