An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Luke 2:9
I wonder why God chose to announce Jesus’s birth to the shepherds. The angels could have appeared to the priests in the temple a couple miles from Bethlehem. Or to some townsfolk who were devout Jews. Instead he chose the open field where a group of bottom dwelling sheep herders huddled by a fire. The angel appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them…not just the angel and choirs but God’s own glory shines in brilliant light. God’s glory is present with these outcasts, these low-lifes, these men sleeping under the stars outside of town. God’s message---good news for ALL people…our Savior is born! These lonely, isolated, rough shepherds get to be a part of Jesus’s humble beginning. They get to share this experience for the rest of their lives. They go from terrified men to praising testimonies of the good news! God with them changed them as well! Let’s ask God to shine his glory on our hearts and build courage and purpose in us just as he did with the shepherds.
Father, thank you for choosing the least of these through out your life and ministry. It’s encouraging to know that it’s not only the perfect and put together who get to experience your glory. The everyday people, the obscure, ordinary. Us. Lord, we need a Savior as much today as the nation of Israel needed back then. We ask that you’d shine your glory light into our souls and that we’d shine your love and compassion in this world.
Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:3
Near the end of the book of Revelation, John sees the new heaven and the new earth. The old order of things has passed away and God is making all things new. From his throne, God calls out the words of our verse today. I hear echoes of our past devotion in this verse. God first dwelt with the people in the tabernacle, meeting with Moses there. The next sentence reminds me of our belonging to God and his belonging to us. Throughout this month, when I’ve turned my mind to “God and I belong to each other,” peace and calm and confidence wash over me. Our worth lies in that belonging no matter how poorly or well we perform in our daily tasks. The last two sentences of this verse take my thoughts back to Jesus with the shamed and forgotten. His compassion pours out to us. Oh, how I long for God to wipe every tear from our eyes and end death and grief and broken hearts. This season is yet to come. We are in still in what C.S. Lewis referred to as the Shadowlands, a valley mixed with painful grief and great joy. I am thankful that as we continue in this valley, we are not alone. Emmanuel understands our pain. He lived it. He offers us his compassion and love and grace and power. His presence is our peace and sure foundation.
Emmanuel, thank you for a glimpse at the new order of life! And thank you that while we wait in our tears and suffering, that you are with us. Thank you for understanding our pain and grief. We pray that you’d fill us with your joy and peace despite the circumstances that surround us.
So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. John 4: 40
For the next few days I want to focus on Jesus being with people throughout his life. He is our Emmanuel. God became human and fully understood the human struggle, our cares, our joys, our battles, our grief and pain. Next week, we’ll focus on the nativity, but now, I want us to see Emmanuel in action!
Jesus and the disciples journey from a feast in Jerusalem back to Galilee. Most Jews avoided the route they took since it passed through Samaria, their “enemy”. In John 4, we get a clear view into Jesus choosing to be with people who others didn’t see as worthy. When they first arrive in Samaria, the disciples leave Jesus at a well to go into town for food. Meanwhile Jesus talks with a lonely woman who came to draw water at the heat of the day. She is clearly choosing to avoid the towns women in her shame. We find out that she has had five husbands and in currently living with a man. Jesus doesn’t rebuke her or shame her. Instead he offers her eternal life and declares to this foreign, shame-filled woman that he is the Messiah, for the first time. She brings out the town to see him and they beg him to stay. Not only is the one conversation against cultural and religious regulations, he has compassion on this village and stays with them for two full days. Ladies, Jesus is not just for the seemingly perfect church ladies. He is with us in our messes, in our shame and regrets. He lifts our faces and joins with us in our loneliness. He seeks out those who others cast off. Let us open our broken places to him and allow him to fill us with his living water!
Lord Jesus, thank you for seeing us completely and still loving us immensely. You know all the messes of our lives just as you did the Samaritan woman and you love us anyway. Help us today to loosen our fears and let you heal our most broken places. I pray we’d find freedom from shame and hope for the path and purpose you have for each of us. Thank you for being with us today, no matter what!
Hi. I'm Maggie. Current hats: Wife, mom, artist and starting this week, a devotional writer! Enthusiastic, creative, focused. I love chai tea lattes, and authentic conversations.