Thursday, December 4, 2014

Changing the Heart

"He will turn the hearts the of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept Godly wisdom." Luke 1:17


 The Christmas season can be busy, sometimes even lived in a flurry of holiday activity.  It's easy to forget to stop, slow down, and live out Christian values during this time of year. Our hearts should be resting in Christ, the one born for us in a small, humble manger. A sweet baby, coming to bring peace to the hearts of God's children. Born to a world that was desperate for peace and forgiveness, hearts that needed to be softened and turned back to God. Isn't it a wonder that Christmas is turned into exhaustion, frenzy, shopping rushes and anything but peace? During this season, keeping our peace, our rest, not being harried, hurried, and being Christ-like is our witness to the peace He was born for.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:13-14

Before John was born, an angel appeared to Zechariah. The angel told him, "He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom." (Luke 1:17)  The truth is, we all need a heart change, a softening, a transplant. We need the gentle babe born in manger. The human heart can grow stony, sin hardens it, and we turn away from the path of gentleness and love. Notice that John was sent to "turn the hearts of the father's back to their children." Hearts can so easily be led astray from home, from the ones God wants us to love. During the Christmas season are our hearts turned to our children, to Jesus--- have they turned back from the way of sadness and bitterness to be changed and renewed into pure hearts? A business as usual attitude, a busyness, a forgetting what is truly important, a focus on material things does not reflect a change of heart.

"This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ."
- Frank McKibben

When hearts are turned back again to our children,---to the people who truly matter--- we begin to learn more the way of Jesus. Focused on relationships, on people, rather than the hardness of the world that begins to grate and wear on us. God, in His mercy and perfect wisdom, sent a baby to be born to grow into a man and save us. He knew we needed this miracle. A sweet, innocent baby born to save us, a baby to warm cold hearts and make them new again. To change our disobedient minds to understand that God's wisdom is above ours, that His ways are always infinitely better. A heart turned outward to the world, trying to fit in and find peace and life becomes hard and calloused. A heart that is turned to God, looking upward towards His ways---one that is willing to look inside and see the need for change is a heart that is turning back again.

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Believe it or not, it is difficult, but not impossible, to follow Jesus and His way of peace during Christmas. After all, this is what He came to give us. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." John 14:27     

Peace for this season takes making wise decisions, planning and deciding beforehand what this season will look like. It also involves saying no. No to frenzied shopping and hurry, no to things that don't contribute to peace, and saying yes to Jesus and His peace. Focusing on our hearts, examining them and praying that He will turn them back to Him, mold them, shape them and renew them again. We can all be like the hardened fathers, who need to turn our hearts back again. This season, may we have a surrendered heart, a healed heart, a softened heart to those He wants us to love and focus on. To focus on people, we rarely can be in a hurried frenzy. We must stop our harried hearts, focus on others hearts, and in doing so we grow closer to the humble One born in a manger.

"And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." Luke 2:18-20

The shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks at night, heard from the angels that a savior had been born.
"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." Luke 2:15-16

The Lord has made known to us "this thing that has come to pass" but like the shepherds do we come with haste to Him? With pure hearts, believing hearts, they made haste to go see Jesus. It seems in our culture we "live in haste" for all the wrong reasons. The most important things that matter to make haste for, Jesus, peace, salvation---are often forgotten. So He came, born in a manger, so that like the shepherds and the wise men, we might hurry to Him.

 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

 "God's gifts
put man's best dreams
to shame."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

"How many observe
Christ's birthday!
How few, his precepts!
O!  'tis easier to keep
Holidays than

-Benjamin Franklin





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