Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Inspired Innkeeper

Joseph and Mary were making their way through the streets of Nazareth looking for a place to have the baby. By now, Mary was in labor and her water may have broken. Because the city was packed with people waiting to register their families, a place to stay was hard to come by. But they continued on, praying for a place of refuge. The one they knew God would provide.

There was an inn on the edge of town, one of their last hopes. When they knocked, the door opened to a room already bursting with people. Joseph pleaded with the innkeeper but the innkeeper knew he was already swamped with demanding guests. He wanted to help but he couldn’t. The innkeeper began to shut the door, when he had a thought…the stable outback! So he hollered for the couple to come back. He told them they could use whatever they found in the stable. That was the best he could offer.

Joseph thanked the man for his kindness. His main concern was Mary and the baby. The stable was not what he had wanted but it was shelter and private. Now…to witness the born of the long awaited King.

The quote that got me to thinking.
As I read through the typical quotes about how the Innkeeper was such a jerk for rejecting Jesus this year, I began to pray and ask the Lord if this assessment was accurate. I felt the innkeeper was getting blamed for something that was not his fault. The scriptures simply make a statement: …there was no room or place for him in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

As I pondered, these were some of my thoughts:

The Innkeeper had no idea who the couple was. He hadn’t been informed by a dream or visitation like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. The man was just doing his job the best he could. However, he did give what he had and that was the stable. As they left, Mary and Joseph didn’t feel rejected but blessed with a safe haven to have their child. Did God inspire the innkeeper’s offer?

Jesus had to be born in a place where no one could take credit for or profit from the occasion. God wanted Jesus’s birth alone to be center stage not the cleverness or effort of mankind. Jesus would have no obligation to anyone from the start. Plus, wouldn’t all the noise and confusion from those in the inn spoiled or taken away from the glory God wanted to share with only those He trusted?

Jesus’s birth had to be protected because of those who were out to destroy Him. If Jesus had been born in the inn, the news would have been spread quickly after the confirmation of shepherds and the Wiseman. Caesar was clearly after information leading to the baby’s whereabouts. Would the story have been drastically changed?

It was a place where those whom God chose could come freely. In our view, the stable may not be the most sanitary conditions, but no one was there to shame the shepherds or laugh at and question the wisdom of the men who traveled so far (maybe even steal the gifts). This was God’s moment, God’s way. Peace and praise were the only things that mattered. Was there really a better way?

Today, when we are carrying the King of kings within us, life may not always be what we think it should be. God’s guidance does not always mean it will be the easy way. What it does mean is your faithfulness to find His pathway will always bring the biggest reward of protection, peace and praise. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Boxes Filled With Love

Volunteering during the holidays brings joy to my heart. So…when a friend asked me to join her in going to Charlotte, I thought why not!

“What are we going to be doing?”

“ We are going to process the shoeboxes at Operation Christmas Child.”

Oh goodie! I’ve never done that before. This should be exciting.

And it was…..!

We came through the door and oh what a sight! The huge warehouse was filled with hundreds of volunteers busy at their workstations. The goal for 2014 had been 10 million boxes and we were there on the last shift on the last day to finish it up. What love and excitement filled the air.

The supervising volunteers gathered a group of us into a boxed off room to show us a video of what we would be doing and how to do it. I kept thinking Lord; just give me a job I can do well. None of it was hard but just overwhelming at first. Then we were shuffled all the way to the last workstation #30.

“All right, who can do what?” the tall blonde lady said.

When she came to box inspector, my hand flew up without a thought.

We must have gone through 300-500 boxes. At first I was slow and careful but soon (mainly when I relaxed) the skills began to flow. We were checking for items that can’t be sent like money, chocolate, anything camouflage/military looking (a Si Robertson doll had to be discarded) because the child could be harmed. There were boxes that were well thought out and others not so much. Some were bursting at the seams and others had to have items added. Why? Because Samaritan’s Purse believes every child deserves to receive a full box.

Out of all the boxes I examined, there is one that remains. Inside, were a used hair bush, two worn shirts, and a pair of well-worn flip flops. At first, I thought who would do such a thing.

Then the Lord spoke to my heart and said,

"Jesus Love us even when we mess up.
Put your hand on min."
“She gave the best she had.”

I fought tears from running down my face. Oh, how quick I was to judge. So then I apologized to the Lord and prayed this sweet giver would be bless for her faithful giving. (widow’s mite) Although, we can’t send used items, the original box was repacked, prayed over, and sent along its way.


Operation Christmas Child is not just a few days in December. There are people volunteering all year around because filling, inspecting, and mailing the boxes is only a part of the total scope. Teams of people come together around the country to serve in the specific areas of prayer, church relations, community relations, and media relations.

And if a child receives a box…then they can participate in a discipleship program.

More than 2.8 million children from 150 countries have participated in The Greatest Journey, the 12-lesson discipleship program created by Samaritan’s Purse. The Greatest Journey is one of the largest discipleship programs in the world, implemented through a global church network to help children know and follow Jesus Christ.

So each child not only gets a gift, but an invitation to eternity.

I pray heart-filled blessings on each child 
who is to receive a box and may each one see and 
fulfill their God-given destinies. 

If you have done it unto the least of these,
you have done it unto me....Jesus 
(Matthew 25:40)

Put you hand in mine and
we can pray together.
Become a part of something greater then yourself this season or even in the coming year. You may think it will be too small to matter but it’s not. God can/will multiply the limited results you see. And…what you don’t see, may have eternal value for someone you may never meet. So…Cast those vain imaginations down and see what you can discover to do in your area. The receiver will be eternally grateful.