Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.' Luke 1:38, NAB

In my Advent devotional today, the referenced Gospel reading comes from Luke 1:26-38.  We're told the angel Gabriel comes to Mary with a somewhat troubling greeting – “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you” – as well as an overwhelmingly stunning announcement: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:28; 30-32;35, NAB)

Can you even imagine? Being visited by an angel is jaw-dropping enough of an experience. But to be given a message such as the one which Gabriel delivered to this young, already betrothed virgin from Nazareth? Well, it’s hard to fathom. Especially considering the consequences for birthing a child sans the benefit of marriage back in those days and in that locale were, at the very least, to be shunned by fiancĂ©, family and friends, or worse: to be stoned to death.

Yet Mary doesn’t run and try to hide from the angel Gabriel’s presence (that would probably be my initial reaction); she doesn’t try to deflect and tell him that he’s got the wrong gal (me, again!), nor does she ask him to wait or to come back after she’s had time to consult with her parents, with Joseph or with her friends. No, after asking only one (one!!) question out of her youthful innocence, Mary’s humble, courageous response is this: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38, ERV)

Today, where is God calling you to go? How is He calling you to be His conduit, His ambassador, His instrument and to be present in the lives of others? What is He calling you to carry, to birth, to nurture? To whom is God calling you to serve, to encourage, to console, to love, to forgive?

Dear ones, as this season of preparation winds down, and the celebration of our Savior's birth draws near, keep your eyes, ears and heart open for what God is looking to do in and with your life, and consider what YOUR response might be, no matter how troubling or astonishing His calling may sound. And don’t be afraid.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Cross

'For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God's power.' ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18, The Voice

If we believe that Heaven is merely a default destination for all, then are we not, in essence, making a mockery of Jesus’s death? Are we not, albeit unwittingly, with our ‘all dogs go to Heaven’ mentality, counting Jesus’s death as meaningless, and turning the Cross into nothing more than a Hollywood movie prop, an air-brushed car and truck decal or a common fashion accessory?

Today -- this solemn day we’ve come to know as Good Friday -- take some time to gaze upon the Cross of Christ, and when you do, consider these thoughts:

  • How do you view the Cross? What does it mean to you personally?
  • Are you thankful for the Cross, or offended by it?
  • Are you awestruck by just how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is…for you?
  • Are you humbled by the fact that the Son of God gave up the privileges of His Heavenly kingdom and set aside His rights of deity to come here to Earth to dwell among us, to love us, to serve us, and to give His life as a ransom for many?
  • Are you deeply moved by the fact that Christ gave up His body to be brutally beaten, broken and pierced…for you? For me?
  • Are you astounded by the fact that WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Jesus Christ died for us to demonstrate and to prove God’s incredible, amazing, unfailing love for us?

How do you view the Cross now? Do you still see it as a blinged-out trinket in your jewelry box; a piece of decor hanging on the wall in your home, office or an emblem stuck to your vehicle; a horrifying, offensive instrument of death to be avoided?

Or do you see it now, transformed by Christ, as a symbol of love, of life, of hope, of victory? Will you turn from it in fear and disgust? Or run towards it..and Him...with joy and abandon?


Because Jesus didn’t remain in the grave, friends. It may be Friday, but Sunday’s coming. And with it, resurrection, salvation and new life!

"Men of Israel, listen to these words:This Jesus the Nazarene was a Man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. Though He was delivered up according to God's determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it." ~ Acts 2:22-24, HCSB
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