Saturday, December 24, 2016

At the Bottom of the Ladder

                       "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, 
                         keeping watch over their flocks at night."  (Luke 2:9)

It's Christmas Eve, yet the shepherds there in the Bethlehem field have no clue.  How could they have any clue that in just a few moments everything in their lives is about to change?

Dirty, stinky, rough men - they barely hang onto the lowest rung of the societal ladder. They are just camped out there, doing what they do, night after night, working a job that serves the people.  It's a filthy, lonely, and even dangerous job, but somebody's gotta do it.

They're responsible to tend, feed, and watch for the safety of the sheep, especially those little lambs.  Predators slink nearby, attracted to the possibility of an easy kill and a tender lamb snack.

Many of those unblemished lambs coming from this filthy field will be used as sacrifices just a few miles down the road on Jerusalem's altar. It's a fancy place there where only the spotless lambs will be taken and sold to the more affluent.

These men are considered to be ceremonially unclean, unfit for worship.  Yet what they do enables those on the upper rungs of the societal ladder to go and worship, to make a sacrifice in the temple and to receive forgiveness for their sins.  The perfect little lambs these lonely shepherds raise make that possible for all those people in the city who seem to be live higher up the ladder.

It is the way it is.  It has always been this way.  Nobody expects it to change, either.  These men are outcasts and cannot go up that ladder to worship even if they want to.

In an exceedingly bright moment, the sky there at the top of the ladder opens and an angel tells them that just over there, in that barn right next to them, the SAVIOR of the world has come.

The King at the top has come down to earth as a Babe at the bottom.

To them.

For them.

Yes, them - the lowest of the low.

For all people - the revered, the self-important, the lost.

For everyone, regardless of where they live on the ladder of life.

Suddenly there are many angels, angels having a celebration in the sky!  Angels loving God, praising that Baby next door who has come to earth to save ALL the people from their sins.

Don't miss this, friends.

God came down the ladder, first to the shepherds, the lowest of the low.  He came bringing the greatest news to them first.  Why?  Because he knew they couldn't make it to church, and so He brought it to them.

He came to them.

He cared about them that much.

He loved them that much to come down and come to them.

And He loves you that much.  He comes down to wherever you are.

What does this tell you about the good news of the gospel?

Jesus comes and offers his grace and his salvation to you.

It matters not if you are high and mighty.  He cares not if you are in the lowliest place, either.  He will find you, wherever you are and offer you his loving arms.

He knows where you are.

Open your heart and meet Him, embrace Him, follow Him.

He loves hanging out there with you on the bottom rung.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"I Have You, Jesus"

Here we are
Just four days from Christmas
I have everything
I could need or want
For I have you, Jesus

Outside my home, chaos looms
Shoppers, decorators, salespeople
People driving too fast, intent on their preparations
Not me, though
I have you, Jesus

My heart is full
My mind is at peace
I'm satisfied
I feel no need
For I have you, Jesus

Bells are ringing outside Wal-Mart
Children are singing in holiday concerts
The market is bustling
Grocery stores are re-stocking
I'm good.  I have you, Jesus

Gifts are piled
Trees are decorated
Stockings are hanging
Manger scenes are arranged
And I have you, Jesus

The company will come
The presents will be given
Children will toss the wrappings
Not knowing that you are the Gift
So thankful, for I have you, Jesus

All the chaos settles
The holiday ends
Folks go home
The parties fade
But you are here always, and I have you, Jesus

You are everything, Lord
The beginning and the end
The Gift now and forever
My peace and my joy
So thankful I am, for I have you, Jesus.