This month: 183 - The Place of Obedience
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If you’re doing the December Reading Plan in Luke with me this month, then today you found yourself in Luke 19. One of my favorite stories is here. Zacchaeus the dreaded tax collector. If you were to ask the local church people, you would have been told he was he a crook, stole from the less fortunate, and used Roman guard to strong arm his own people. He was known as a trader and nuisance to the good Jewish people. And our Savior, who should have gone straight to the local synagogue to make the religious feel good about themselves, instead spent the day with the Chief Tax Collector.  

I love the Christmas story. I love the baby in the manger, the shepherds in the fields, the caravan of the wise, the animals, the weary, excited parents, and the star overhead. I love the joy, hope, and story of the Nativity. But I am in awe of the Savior who grew to love the unloveable, see the unseen, and defend the weak, hated, and oppressed.

This Christmas season as you’re beholding the baby in the manger, don’t forget who he grew up to be. Take hope and joy to those that most people refuse to see. Befriend the poor and marginalized. Call them by name, share a table with them, and let them know how loved they are. And don’t get too upset when you’re faced with opposition. Following Jesus has a tendency to upset the comfortable.

Continue to love, serve, and encourage those whom others refuse to see. That’s the true story of Christmas. Not a baby in the manger but a King who left the splendor of Heaven to walk our broken streets.  


hot-300414_1280     I don’t know how many times I have spoken of it. Or written about it either. But over the years I have talked often about the hymn I’ll Fly Away.

There is something quite compelling about the lyrics:

Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.
 
When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away.
 
Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away.
 
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory I’ll fly away;
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away!

It’s probably not the most theologically correct song. Certainly the words are not the most erudite you will ever find. But it resonates. Oh, how it resonates.

I have no death wish.
I have no desire to leave my family.
Immeasurably more than I could ever explain, I love my wife, my family, my work, and you.

It’s just that simple.

But still the song resonates.

In a world where death stalks the living, in a world where evil seems to thrive, in a world where life can be so fragile, we can look forward to the day when the final victory is ours. And because there will be a day, we can live now! We can find meaning in the darkest hour, hard though it might be.

So, while we wait, I want to live life to the fullest. I want to know joy. I want to spread sunshine. I want to be at peace and happy no matter what this world brings.

How about you?

I haven’t always done the best at that. My faith has not always been as strong. I have faced challenges that cut my sea legs right out from under me. I have been angry and bitter toward God and others. But I have come to understand and experience peace in the valley.

Philippians 4:4-7, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That’s how I want to live today, tomorrow, and every day…

Let’s learn to really live, together, you and I! Even better, let’s learn how to live together in unity–because there will be a day!

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
 
There will be a day he will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
There will be a day
(Jeremy Camp)

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Les, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS

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