Monthly Archives: December 2014

Holding Jesus

joeholdinglivyBy Judy Villanueva

Luke: 2:13
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

What would it be like to hold the baby Jesus? To cradle Him in your arms, your Savior and the King of glory?  Can you imagine looking down at His face and into His eyes knowing what you know…having read the end of the story?  See His little, dimpled hands, His chubby cheeks, and pudgy form!  So small and innocent, the creator of the universe came as a helpless baby and was entrusted to human parents.  Unbelievable!  As I sat in church yesterday I found myself fixed on the nativity scene displayed on the altar and was aware of a gentle hope that emanated from the cradled King.  Everyone gathered stared at Him with wonder and expectation.  What do you need to hear from God?  Are there dusty hopes that you might like to take off the shelf in His presence as you let Him fill your arms and heart with wonder?

Holding the baby Jesus during Christmas connects us to His tender beginnings.  It helps us remember the most remarkable moment in all of history…when the infant-God entered human life one starry, starry night!  Holding Jesus for a day changes the way we live.  Think of it!  What would THAT day be like?

What would be on your mind and how might you act if, as you went about a day full of moments, you held the One who died for you?

Holding Jesus over a lifetime transforms us from the inside out!  Every step, every word, every thought, every deed in the presence and in the service of the baby-King!  Life shifts from “all about us” to “all about Him.”  Cradling the baby who will grow up and give His life on a cross,  who will be spit upon and cursed, beaten and pierced,  and whose last words will blanket us with grace…is staggering, love-filling, grateful-making, and hope inspiring!

Holding Jesus is a Christmas prayer that helps us remember what is most worthy of remembering.

It is the best story ever told, hidden in all good stories.  It helps us hold hope, and live out of the best of who we are because in holding Jesus, we feel his breath and heartbeat, we see His face before us, and are reminded of the best gift we’ve ever received!

“Thank you, Father, for sending us Your Son.   Help me to hold Jesus this Christmas and beyond!   I pray that with arms full of Love, I will be empowered to love more freely.  Amen.”

What about you?

What comes to mind as you imagine holding the baby Jesus?

Have you received His gift of love?

What do you need from Jesus this Christmas?

How might you live this day as a gift to baby King?

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Take Courage

DSC_0167By Judy Villanueva

John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take courage! I have overcome the world.”

“I wonder if cows are glad when the sun comes up, after being in the dark all night.”  My husband’s pondering made me smile as I tried to picture happy cows at dawn!  We had been driving for some time and, as the sun began to rise, I realized that I, too, am glad for the coming of light each morning.  So many faces flashed through my mind of loved ones who are waiting in the dark…worn out, discouraged and eager to be glad again.  A broken heart, a tormented mind, a hope deferred, a dread realized…each one bearing a trial that disrupts peace, troubles the soul and threatens faith in a good and mighty God.

When I think of peace in tribulation, the image of Jesus sound asleep in a violent storm comes to mind. Can you picture that small boat tossed about on the Sea of Galilee and the disciples white with fear?  I often read Scripture as though  looking through a telescope, viewing a familiar story and watching it unfold as a reality.  Coming upon Jesus, with His head on a pillow, fast asleep, helps me touch the peace of God.  Look!

God’s reign over all of life blanketed our Savior with a Shalom that freed Him to let go of worry…and sleep in the middle of a raging storm.

Jesus had no fear for His life because He knew His Father had it covered.  Asleep on a boat or hanging on a cross, Jesus’ life was held in the grip of God.  So is ours.  It’s tempting to tie our peace to circumstances and outcomes that we cannot control.

Only Jesus fully grasps the cosmic triumph that happened when He overcame the world, but He did and because He did, we can take courage!

I suspect that, rather than cursing the storms, we find peace as we join Him on the boat and put our heads on the pillow next to His.  With Jesus, we are helped to bear our pain and trust the One who reigns…for the coming of Light in the morning and the power to make us glad again.

“Father, bring Light to our darkness and peace to our storms.  Give us courage to trust You and reassurance that you are with us.  Be our peace and gladness today  and help us as we wait for the dawn.  Amen.”

What about you?

Are you in a season of loss or trial?

What does it mean to you that Jesus has overcome the world?

Have you experienced peace in Christ?

What is the prayer of your heart today?

The One who overcame is with you.  Take courage!

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Favor

DSC_0237By Judy Villanueva

Luke 1:27-33

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

What does it mean to find favor with God?  It’s a prayer I pray over my friends and family regularly and especially, when I want heaven to pour out its blessings of life, healing, provision and freedom!  “Favor, Lord.  Favor!”  It’s a way of saying, “Look over here!  We need You!  Just say the word and it will be done.”  Sometimes it is a desperate plea and other times a longing for an open door, a ray of light, or a “yes” from God.  It may feel elusive, but His favor remains big, unbeatable and bursting at the seams for each of us!

When Mary met the angel, Gabriel, he quieted her fears with the words, “You have found favor with God.”  He then, opened up Heaven’s heart and disclosed a divine revelation that would turn her life upside-down and change the world forever. It was an invitation to participate in the greatest act of Love, the most profound gift of grace and the best story ever told!  What was the favor of God that found Mary?

She would be the first to receive Christ and would carry in her womb the One who would bring amazing grace to a needy world.

The favor Gabriel proclaimed that day had everything to do with bringing Christ to the world!    It was Mary’s moment to jump into the middle of a Divine invitation, carried to her literally on the wings of an angel.  And, now it is our turn to jump!  We, who have believed and received Christ, are filled with His life and bear the potential of carrying Divine love to each moment, each friend and each invitation given us in the day.

God saw us and said the Word!  He opened the door and became our ray of Light…and we became His favored ones, invited to carry Christ to our world.

“Father, I thank you for the privilege of bearing your Son and for the daily invitations to carry Him into my world.  What a different way of serving and living a day!  Fill me with Your Spirit and help me to follow as you lead me to love.  Amen.”

What about you?

Have you received Christ?  His free gift of  grace is yours for the asking.  “Lord, I need You.  Forgive me.  Come!   Amen.”

Did you bring Christ to your world today?  With whomever you were with and whatever you did…did you carry Christ with you?

Are  you ready to jump with God into the next invitation to bring the love the Christ to your world?

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