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Worthy is He Who Gives Worth
  
The Christmas song, “O Holy Night” has a phrase that sticks with me.  It sings, “And the soul felt its worth.”  Worth.  It’s a treasure if you have it.

Jacob was an important guy in the Old Testament.  His name was changed to Israel, which is where the nation of Israel got its name.  The twelve tribes of Israel came from this man’s twelve sons.  It really is a big deal!  Jacob had a beloved wife, Rachel.  She was beautiful and the apple of his eye. 

He worked fourteen years to gain her as a wife- now that’s love!  It would have been seven, but his father-in-law tricked him and gave him Rachel’s older sister, Leah, first.  He said it was because the older had to marry before the younger.  Or, maybe it was because Leah was not beautiful and had no prospects of getting married.  It only makes sense that her father would use the cultural norms to his daughter’s advantage to secure her a husband.  Who could blame him?

Poor Leah.  Unloved and unattractive. 

The ways of the earth surely did not bend to her favor.  But, God did.  It was through Leah that six of twelve tribes of Israel sprang.  It was from Leah that God brought the Levitical Priesthood about.  It was through them that He greatly revealed Himself to mankind.  It was also through Leah that the linage of Jesus came, who is the fulfillment of the law given to the priests.  Important?  Yes!  Shake-the-whole-earth-to-its-core important. 

Leah.  Loved and favored by God.  She had worth. 

Jesus gave her worth.  The savior of the world was her descendent.  That’s some claim to fame.

When Jesus was born in a manger in a cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem it was humble even for the people of the time.  They had hotels back then, which is why Joseph and Mary tried there first.  Hotels were the expected place to stay when they traveled, just like now.  I would have chosen to stay in a barn after a long trip as a desperate last resort.  Maybe it was the same for them?

Jesus.  Poor and lowly.

The Savior of the World, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel (God with us) should at least have had a descent place to be welcomed into this world.  The ways of earth surely did not bend to His favor.  But, God did.  It may not have seemed like the perfect plan to have a baby in an animal’s dirty residence, but the shepherds got it.

Shepherds in the biblical times stank; they smelled like sheep.  Not a prestigious job, but someone had to do it. 

Just outside of Bethlehem there were fields where shepherds watched over sheep.  These were not just any sheep.  These sheep were raised for the purpose of being sacrificed to God in observation of the law.  You know the law in connection with the Levitical Priesthood.  The law says that the sheep were to be perfect and without blemish.  In keeping with this, the shepherds would wrap the sheep in cloth to keep them from getting bumped around so they would be fit for sacrificing.  Makes sense.

On the night Jesus was born, God revealed the majesty of His son to none other than the stinky shepherds.  In a play they would be referred as “Shepherd #1” and “Shepherd #2”.  The first to soak up the magnificence of the birth of Jesus were nameless shepherds. 

Shepherds.  Stinky and nameless.

The ways of earth surely did not bend in their favor.  But, God did.

When the shepherds came to see the new born king, what did they see but the perfect sacrificial lamb wrapped in the sacrificial lambs cloth.  Significant?  Yes.  Shake-the-whole-earth-to-its-core important. 

Who else would grasp the significance of these details?  Jesus, the Lamb of God was wrapped in the sacrificial lamb’s cloth.  They knew.  They could tell the story of why Jesus came better than anyone else.  Better than an inn keeper.  Better than a midwife.  Better than a palace servant.  Better than another king. 

Shepherds.  Loved and favored.  Jesus gave them worth.

The bloodline of the Levitical Priesthood was replaced by the blood of Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb.  Those who belong to Jesus are a part of His new and lasting priesthood.  Not a priesthood based on law and animal sacrifices, but on love and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus that took care of sin once and for all.

 Christian woman, you are a priest.  The ways of earth may not bend to our favor but do not mistake your worth.

You.  Loved, forgiven, and favored.

Knowing who you are in Christ is shake-the-whole-earth-to-its-core important.  It will change you to your core.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us worth.

Jesus.  Worthy is the Lamb.  He gives us worth.


By Andrea Simmons
12.20.17
  


  

Revelation 5:12, "In a loud voice they were saying: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'"​

A Mission of Love
 My sweet mother was the one who caught on to my pattern.  Every year in the spring I go through a mild depression.  Now, I count on it like clockwork.  And, I work through it with lots of prayer, trying to eat right, and exercise.  Every year I try to analyze the why of it.  Without too much dwelling I usually come to the realization that everything that has ever happened to me that was truly bad happened in the spring.  I cannot think of any other reasons for it.

As I ponder this Easter holiday I read John 13. 

It floored me.

It was spring time when Judas betrayed Jesus.

 It was at the last supper when Jesus had one opportunity left to teach His disciples while on this earth with them.  So, in a sense, these were His last words which we often consider to be the single most important thing you want to leave behind once you are gone.  What did He teach them but to wash each other's feet.  This is a little bit of a quandary until we consider why the Father sent Him.  Luke 19:10, "The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost," no matter what the cost was to Him.

His mission went beyond comforts and favoring those who favored Him.  Judas was lost.  John 13:2 tells us the evil one entered into Judas meaning he was clearly against Jesus.  A couple of verses later Jesus washed his feet, too.

Jesus had an abuser, Judas, and what did Jesus do but humble Himself to was his feet.

This is why I am floored.  I have had people in my life deeply hurt me and I have forgiven them but it was a new concept to me that I should wash their feet.  I still have boundaries I have to keep and it seems like a very personal and unrealistic thing to do.  This would be extremely uncomfortable, to elevate those who hurt me.  In His spirit, He knew that Judas would soon betray Him, it was as good as done, yet Jesus was always obedient to the Father who sent Him with a mission of love, even for the lost.

John 13:12, "When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them."  Do we understand why this is so significant?  It was through this action of washing feet that Jesus was giving us an example of why He came and how we are to be like Him as His followers.  What a fresh perspective. 

The saved and the lost are very different, one is of heaven and one is of the world.  When the lost of the world abuse us in any which way shape or form, we are to seek them for the glory of God.  We are harassed on this earth because they do not know us or understand us.  Yet, like Jesus, we are commanded to love one another, John 13:34.

This is so very hard. 

It takes a great bridge to get my inner most being from the pain of abusers to loving them through acts of service. 

Jesus is that bridge.

Does this resonate with anyone else?  It's a very honest devotional, one that I'm not sure a writer of devotionals should openly admit.   I'm a work in progress, just like the rest of us, waiting for the day.

Matthew 27:50, "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit."  Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross- willingly, because He loved us.  And, we are commanded to love one another just like Jesus loved Judas even though Judas didn't love Him back.  Just like Jesus loves all of us.
This is one tough command. 

Are we willing to willingly give up our spirit to Jesus and love each other with His love?
I'm still floored.

I'm grateful, thankful, humble, and completely amazed.

Dear LORD, you did a hard thing for us out of your extreme love.  Help our focus to be on you and our days filled with following your strong example.  Deepen our love for you and be glorified.  Amen.
 
By Andrea Simmons

John 13
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Luke 19:10
"The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."