Out of Our “Box”

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)

Although Mary was certainly shaken by the Angel Gabriel’s message and likely fearful of the way her sudden pregnancy would be received by others, she chose to reaffirm her commitment to God’s will and trust.  Some of God’s most powerful works in our lives begin when He calls us to step out of our “box”, and proceed in faith.  As we prepare our hearts to receive God’s Perfect Lamb this Christmas Season, may we do so following Mary’s example of obedience and trust.

That Will Be For All The People

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”” – Luke 2:8-12 (ESV)

To herald the arrival of His Perfect Lamb, God didn’t direct His angels to alert royalty, nor to court the attention of religious leaders; instead they were directed to the company of pious, simple shepherds, alone in a field, tending their flocks.  God’s miracles are not reserved for those of influence or position, but instead are offered freely to all of His beloved children.

Christmas is Messy

Dear Lord; Happy Thursday Father!

“Christmas is messy… Humanity is messy… Family life is messy…  And we get in trouble when we work so hard to make it all perfect.”

As I listened to a recording of Father Jim Clifton delivering a message on Advent yesterday evening, these simple statements found a nerve…

And I realized what a powerful, misunderstood truth it really is Lord.

In this season of Advent we try to focus on hopeful waiting; anxiously preparing to celebrate that moment of perfection so many years ago.  And in that effort, quite often we attempt to put aside, or push down those portions of our lives that remind us of our “messiness”“But it’s Christmas…” we tell ourselves… “We need to approach that stable with thankfulness and joy, not with turmoil and pain in our hearts.”

And yet Lord, our need and our brokenness is why You came to us that night…

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NLT)

You came because you love us Lord;

In our brokenness,

In the midst of our hurt,

And in our frailty.

So Father, as I approach Christmas this year; as I make my intentional journey to kneel at the side of that Holy manger, I bring all of myself to You:

My turmoil,

My struggles,

And my pain…

As well as

My gratefulness,

My wonder,

And my joy.

Help me to embrace the fullness of this season Lord; to make my pilgrimage with an open heart, knowing that You’ve come to receive me…

In all of my messiness.


~Phather Phil

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Division in the Body

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” – Romans 14:1-4 (ESV)

One of the most damaging impediments to Christian fellowship and growing in God’s service is the judgment and condemnation of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Allowing our opinions and perspectives on issues of lesser consequence divide us from one another weakens our effectiveness as the Body of Christ, and only seeks to enhance our own glory, not that of our Heavenly Father.

Approach With Importunity

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” – Luke 11:9-10 (ESV)

In this exposition on prayer, Jesus encourages us to approach God with importunity and the certainty that our prayers will be heard.  As we would come to a close friend in a time of need, our Heavenly Father desires us to lay aside our pride and doubt, and to confidently seek His guidance and aid.

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