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“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”
In Elizabeth’s initial greeting to Mary, we find these words, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
Consider Mary’s feelings as she hears these words. She had been told, in private—by an angel no less!—that she would carry the Son of God. There was no witness to talk it over with; no one heard the angel share his message but Mary. And the Bible tells us she immediately went to Elizabeth’s. It’s possible that Mary was so early in her pregnancy that the whole wonder of it all was straining her commitment to believe. Of course, we don’t know because we aren’t told in Scripture; but whether Mary was unsure or certain of her calling, I believe the older woman’s blessing would have fallen on her ears like a balm from heaven.
You and I are sure to encounter doubtful people as we go about our lives today,
as well as those who are certain of their calling in Christ Jesus. Let’s compose a prayer below, asking the Lord
to give us the “voice of the anointed, and the tongue of the learned” (Isaiah
50:4) to speak truth to those around us. And then let’s look for opportunities where
the Lord provides them!
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a Jesus loving, humor-gathering author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie believes "The whole world stops for a story." She lives in Louisiana and stacks her stories up at All Things Southern.com
More of Shellie Rushing Tomlinson: http://www.allthingssouthern.com/
And the king said, "The one says, 'This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one'; and the other says, 'No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.'" Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other." - 1 Kings 3:23-25
How many times have you come across a new invention and thought, I could have invented that! Recently I walked though an area at work where employees at Back to the Bible are allowed to display items for sale. Someone had come up with a nifty wooden rack for displaying Beanie Babies. Anyone could have invented it, yet it took someone who not only thought of the idea but actually made the product to reap the benefits. Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do and then doing it at the right time.
Solomon demonstrated that kind of practical wisdom. Faced with the need to determine the true mother of a newborn, he resorted to what he knew about motherhood. He applied that knowledge by suggesting the child be cut in two, with half given to each woman who claimed to be the child's mother. As expected, the real mother refused while the false claimant was willing to go along with the suggestion. The writer of 1 Kings says the people heard of this judgment and "feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice" (3:28).
Knowledge is important in a Christian's life (2 Pet. 1:5), but we also need the wisdom to apply it. It's not sufficient to have the know-how--we have to do something with that know-how. Only as God shows us how to apply what we know can we lay claim to the gift of wisdom.
Are you lacking in wisdom? James says, "Ask of God" (James 1:5). Ask God to give you not only knowledge but also the practical wisdom of knowing how to apply it.
Wisdom puts feet to your knowledge.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf
More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions
The Real St. Nicholas -
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. —1 Corinthians 11:1
Many families choose not to include Santa Claus as a part of their Christmas celebrations. The legend of Santa, the North Pole, flying reindeer, keeping naughty and nice lists, and coming down the chimney can seem as just too much distraction from the true meaning of Christmas for many Christian families. But, whatever your family chooses to do with Santa Claus, it may be worthwhile to consider the historical St. Nicholas.
“Nicholas lived long ago, in the third century, in a place called Asia Minor, what is now the country of Turkey. His parents died from an illness while Nicholas was a teenager and left him a large inheritance of money. Nicholas’ parents taught him about Jesus. As he grew older, he followed the teachings of Jesus and sold all his possessions, secretly giving money to those in need.
“Nicholas became well-loved by the people and later became the Bishop of Myra. He died on December 6, 343 A.D. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration in his honor, called St. Nicholas Day. On this day, children would give and receive small gifts of candy, chocolate initial letters, or riddles hidden in baked goods or in elaborate packaging. Children also hung stockings by the fire or placed shoes filled with carrots and hay for the horse, eagerly awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas. Gold balls or oranges were given to represent the gifts of gold once given by St. Nicholas.”1
Influenced by St. Nicholas’ popularity in Europe, immigrants brought his story and tradition to America. Over the years, legend was wedded to historical elements and developed into our modern day Santa Claus.
While we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, we can have an appropriate appreciation for the lives He has touched. This includes those whose lives demonstrated compassion and selflessness out of their love for Jesus. St. Nicholas was such a person.
1. What is your family’s approach on Santa Claus as part of your Christmas celebrations? Why?
2. How might considering the historical St. Nicholas actually add to your family’s Christmas celebration rather than distract from it?
Even if Santa Claus isn’t part of your family’s Christmas celebrations, it’s certain that they will be exposed to images and messages of Santa (television, movies, stores, decorations, family traditions) during the holiday season. At an appropriate point, use the content above to engage your family in a discussion about the historical St. Nicholas and the wonderful example he set as a follower of Jesus. As a family, show some compassion and selflessness by choosing someone (perhaps someone needy) and decide on a meaningful gift you can give this person for Christmas. Together, deliver the gift to this person.
1The Real Santa Claus: The Wonderful Story of St. Nicholas by Jim Burns and Leslie Snyder.
This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.
More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/
BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN
In Streams in the Desert
"If I am in distress, it is in the interests of your comfort, which is effective as it nerves you to endure the same sufferings as I suffered myself. Hence my hope for you is well-founded, since I know that as you share the sufferings you share the comfort also" (2 Cor. 1:6, 7).
Are there not some in your circle to whom you naturally betake yourself in times of trial and sorrow? They always seem to speak the right word, to give the very counsel you are longing for; you do not realize, however, the cost which they had to pay ere they became so skillful in binding up the gaping wounds and drying tears. But if you were to investigate their past history you would find that they have suffered more than most. They have watched the slow untwisting of some silver cord on which the lamp of life hung. They have seen the golden bowl of joy dashed to their feet, and its contents spilt. They have stood by ebbing tides, and drooping gourds, and noon sunsets; but all this has been necessary to make them the nurses, the physicians, the priests of men. The boxes that come from foreign climes are clumsy enough; but they contain spices which scent the air with the fragrance of the Orient. So suffering is rough and hard to bear; but it hides beneath it discipline, education, possibilities, which not only leave us nobler, but perfect us to help others. Do not fret, or set your teeth, or wait doggedly for the suffering to pass; but get out of it all you can, both for yourself and for your service to your generation, according to the will of God. --Selected
Once I heard a song of sweetness,
As it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness,
Like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer,
Whence the wondrous song was borne;
And I found a bird, sore wounded,
Pinioned by a cruel thorn.
I have seen a soul in sadness,
While its wings with pain were furl'd,
Giving hope, and cheer and gladness
That should bless a weeping world;
And I knew that life of sweetness,
Was of pain and sorrow row borne,
And a stricken soul was singing,
With its heart against a thorn.
Ye are told of One who loved you,
Of a Saviour crucified,
Ye are told of nails that pinioned,
And a spear that pierced His side;
Ye are told of cruel scourging,
Of a Saviour bearing scorn,
And He died for your salvation,
With His brow against a thorn.
Ye "are not above the Master."
Will you breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient,
When your heart is pierced with pain.
Will you live to bless His loved ones,
Tho' your life be bruised and torn,
Like the bird that sang so sweetly,
With its heart against a thorn?
The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.
Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website.
More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions