“Make my heart Your Bethlehem.”

Available at amazon.com in paperback or Kindle

Advent continues its countdown to Christmas Day.  The great thing about the season, is that it can be just that… a season. Not just a single day.

The prayer for our family this year is “Be Born in Me.”

I’ve written a little book, based on a song, that is helping us focus this year.  The cry of Chapter 4 is “Make my heart Your Bethlehem.”

Here is an exceprt:

Bethlehem. Do you know what the word means? In Hebrew “Bet” means ‘house’ and “Lechem” means ‘bread.’ So Bethlehem is “the House of Bread.”

We can see that Jesus, the bread of life from John 6, must be born in “the House of Bread.”

Jesus came to give us life, true bread and true sustenance.  Jesus is all we really need isn’t He? He satisfies, gratifies and strengthens us spiritually, just as bread does physically. 

And what happens when you don’t eat for awhile?  You become weak, right?

When our prayer is, “Jesus, be born in me. Give me strength! Give me all I need for life!” 

He says, “I have.”

May I encourage you as you enjoy a meal or two or three with your friends and family this Christmas season, to remember that Jesus is the true bread. He is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, who gives us all we have and all we need.

And may you allow your heart to be His Bethlehem… to be born in you.

 
Be Born in Me is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.
Here’s the link to the amazon web site: http://amzn.to/SNOkND.
And here’s the link to the Kindle site: http://amzn.to/RI7ODe.
(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

“Somehow I believe that You chose me.”

Available at amazon.com in paperback or Kindle.

This is the second week in Advent, a time to celebrate Christmas for a whole month, not just a single day. How are you doing at preparing your heart for the season?

From Chapter Three of Be Born in Me:

God chose Mary for an incredible assignment, didn’t He?  Think about it, this is the biggest assignment of anyone in the Bible!  You think your wife fussed about what to eat and what to do when she was pregnant?  Mary is carrying God’s Son. No pressure there!  Can you imagine what she thought about having to climb up on the back of a donkey and travel for four days to the city of David?  Can you hear her in the cold of the night?  “Joseph, sorry I can’t do that, I AM carrying the Son of God here, you know!”

Looking again at Luke 1 we see that the angel, Gabriel, has told Mary that she has been chosen. Mary asks, “How?” The angel replies,  “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” [1]

Do you know that you have been chosen by God for an assignment today and everyday? How does that make you feel? For some, it is overwhelming. For others it is exciting. For me it is humbling.  Humbling, because most days I feel completely inept at doing something for our great (announcer voice here) GOD, THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.

But that is the point, isn’t it? For the greatest impact, God uses the everyday person to reach the everyday person. You don’t have to have a Bible degree or years of ministry training. You can grab a cup of coffee and walk to the end of the driveway and share His story with your next door neighbor.  You can sit on the floor with a bunch of preschool students and sing simple songs. You can offer a hug to an elderly woman in a nursing home wheelchair.

He has chosen you to carry His message and His love to those around you. And there is no better time to do so than at Christmas. People in our culture are open to hearing about Jesus, and talking about spiritual things, more so during December than any other time of the year. So may He give you the heart of Mary to bring His joy to your world this Advent.

And be encouraged to know that He has chosen you to do so.

Be Born in Me is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.
Here’s the link to the amazon web site: http://amzn.to/SNOkND.
And here’s the link to the Kindle site: http://amzn.to/RI7ODe.
(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

[1] Luke 1:37 (The Message)

 

“Help me see with Heaven’s eyes…”

Available at amazon.com in paperback or Kindle

Advent starts this weekend.  Like the onset of a new season or the New Year, it is a beginning. A time to prepare our hearts for celebrating the birth of the Messiah. It is a time to renew who we are as children of God. A time which allows us to truly celebrate Christmas for four weeks, rather than just a single day.

It is a time to cry out to God with the same prayer as Mary, the mother of Jesus: “Be Born in Me.”

It is every Believer’s cry from the depth of our heart as we ask Jesus to take over our lives.  We need Jesus to be born in us, fully and completely.

This new little book is designed to help you celebrate the joy of Christmas by looking back from Mary’s perspective.  It takes you into the times and culture of her day.

From Chapter Two of the book:

Francesca Battistelli recorded the song: Be Born in Me.  In the first verse there is a lyric that says “Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes.” What does this mean?

For starters, it means seeing the potential and possibilities of someone, who the world sees and rejects, with God’s eyes. It means seeing the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and accepting them. God sees and accepts everyone who comes to Him, no matter our story. Harlot. Beggar. Murderer.  Adulterer. Thief. Pharisee. Sinner. You. Me.  Once we’ve bowed our knee to Jesus, God sees us from Jesus’ point of view. All redeemed. All restored. He sees us the way He created us, like a new born baby, fresh, like a new day with no mistakes in it.

May I encourage you as you go through the day today to look around and ponder what you see. The crowded shopping malls. The crazy traffic. The homeless on the corner. The eyes of hope at your dinner table.  Can you see as God does?

Yes. When He is born in you.

The booklet is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.

Here’s the link to the amazon web site: http://amzn.to/SNOkND.

And here’s the link to the Kindle site: http://amzn.to/RI7ODe.

(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

New Book for Advent (my first!): Be Born in Me.

Available at amazon.com in paperback or Kindle

A little more than a year ago, the worship planning team at Oak Hills Church began planning our Advent season. Worship Minister Jeff Nelson recommended a theme around the song, Be Born in Me (Mary). It was written by Bernie Herms and Nichole Nordeman and beautifully recorded by Francesca Battistelli. It is on the album Music Inspired by The Story from Word Entertainment.

I admit, I was hesistant at first.  “We’re going to preach a song for Advent?” But the more I meditated on the words, the more I let the Holy Spirit work in my heart, the more enthused I became.

Each week the ministers at OHC’s five campuses would unpack a certain line from the song.  I had the honor of preaching all four weeks at the North Central Campus.

This booklet is essentially that sermon series.

Have you ever prayed the prayer: “Be Born in Me!”?

It is every Believer’s cry from the depth of our heart as we ask Jesus to take over our lives.  We need Jesus to be born in us, fully and completely.

From the Preface of the book:

Can you see her? The angel Gabriel had just left this young teenage girl with the news that in today’s language is an announcement that would “rock her world.”  She would become pregnant. The Biblical text says she was “confused” [1] or “shaken.” [2] She was engaged to a man named Joseph, of the lineage of the Tribe of David. She had a deeply devout faith and had found favor with Adonai. 

We can imagine in the moments after the angel’s ascension that she is standing alone, dazed and numb. She looks to the heavens and offers a prayer, a song. She completely gives herself to the Father in heaven and cries “Be Born in Me.”

Let’s take a close up look at four lines from the song, four prayers.  They were cries from Mary’s heart.  Can they be ours?
  1. Be born in me.
  2. Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes.
  3. Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me.
  4. Make my heart your Bethlehem.

My prayer for you this coming Christmas season… that you will be able to embrace these prayers and believe all that they capture. May you let Jesus be born in you!

With great joy,

-rich

The booklet is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.

Here’s the link to the amazon web site: http://amzn.to/SNOkND.

And here’s the link to the Kindle site: http://amzn.to/RI7ODe.


[1] Luke 1:29, CEV.

[2] Luke 1:29, The Message.

Advent Day 22, The Gift of Faith

December 22, 2011

The Gift of Weaponry, the Shield of Faith

This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians.

And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. (Ephesians 6:16, NCV)

What an interesting picture this is!  First of all, when I think of Roman soldiers and their shields, I think of them using the shield to protect against swords and maces, in hand-to-hand combat, not flaming arrows.  Think about flaming arrows… they must be shot at you at quite a distance, right?  I think that is good news, even great news!  If you are child of Christ, if you have any faith in Him — yes, there IS a battle going on — but know that you are ALWAYS closer to Jesus than you are to Satan.   Let me say that again: you are always closer to Jesus than you are to the enemy.  You will supernaturally be protected by the closeness of God. 

What is faith?  Hebrews 11:1 says: Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. (CEV)

Hold up that faith shield.  Believe in what you can’t see, and in doing so, you will see God in a real way.

If you are a new creation in Christ, then you are born of God, you are a child of God.  Look at the reference to “faith” in 1 John:

Everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith. So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4-5 (NCV)

So… our faith… your faith… conquers the world!  What a great gift! 

And that fits right in with Jesus own words: “I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.”  John 16:33 (NCV)

Use this gift this Advent to help you defeat the enemy and the lies he throws at you.  Deflect them with your shield of faith.

Father God, thank you for the gift of faith.  Would you please increase my faith in you?  Would you help me use this gift to defeat the enemy?  And thank you that you are always closer to me than Satan.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

© 2011. Rich Ronald

Advent Day 21, The Gift of Boots of Readiness to Share the Gospel

December 21, 2011

The gift of weaponry, the boots of readiness to share the Gospel

This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians.

“I have good news and bad news… which do you want to hear first?”  When faced with that question, which do you choose? 

Today’s gift is the gift of good news… and that gift is strong and powerful and will defeat the enemy in your life.  It’s a key piece of the full armor of God.  “On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.” (Ephesians 6:15, NCV)

Like the previous two, Paul is actually quoting from the Old Testament text in describing these weapons of warfare.  This is a reference from a famous passage in Isaiah:  How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7, NASB)

Did you know that in ancient days there were messengers who delivered news after battles of war.  Some were messengers of good news.  Some were messengers of bad news. [1]  The commanders at the back of battle actually knew, from a distance, by who was coming, whether the news was good or bad.  

Paul says “be a messenger of good news… bring peace.  Bring happiness.   Bring salvation.” When you enter a room, do you bring peace and blessing?  Or do you add anxiety and stress into your conversations?

I’m reminded of Peter’s words  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  Do this with gentleness and respect.”  (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

Or from Paul in his letter to the Romans: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”   (Romans 12:18, NASB)

 

Avoid conflict.  Be at peace.  Don’t major in the minor stuff.  Be quick to forgive.  Be a messenger of peace.  Will your boots get muddy sometimes?  Yes, most certainly.  Jesus was born in a dirty cave.  He came to get messy because our lives are messy.  But we can still bring peace even with mud on our boots… especially with mud on our boots.

Peacefulness.  It’s a joyous gift to give and receive this Advent.

Father God, help me to be one who brings peace into a room, not anxiety or bad news about others.  Make me a messenger of Your perfect peace and Your good news. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

(c) 2011. Rich Ronald

Advent Day 20, the Gift of the weaponry, the Breastplate of Righteousness

December 20, 2011

The Gift of weaponry, the Breastplate of Righteousness

This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians.

There is a new song by Francesca Bastestelli called “Be Born in Me.” It has been the cry of the heart of our family this Advent.  There is a line in the chorus that says “I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end, Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem.”

What does it mean to “make my heart your Bethlehem?”  Well, if we say that Bethlehem is the place where Jesus was born, we are saying to God “make my heart a place where Jesus is born, where he lives.”

If we dig into the story of Bethlehem, we learn that Bethlehem was also the City of David.  The place where the young shepherd boy tended his flock, and where he later downed a giant named Goliath with a single stone.  It is here where David was anointed by Samuel. 

It was also here where Ruth gleaned wheat from nearby fields and met her husband Boaz.  Ruth was David’s grandmother.

Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  It makes sense then, that Jesus was born here for he later fed thousands with a few loaves of bread.  And he also said that He is “the true bread from heaven” and  “the bread of life” (John, Chapter 6).

Does Jesus live in your heart?  He came from the House of Bread to give us life, true bread, true sustenance.  Jesus is all we really need.  He satisfies our greatest hunger and strengthens us spiritually, just as bread does physically.   What happens when you don’t eat for a few days?  You become weak, right?  What happens when you don’t feast on the Bread of Life daily?  You become spiritually weak, and you give the enemy an opportunity to break into your spirit and your heart.

So how do you protect your heart?  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place (Ephesians 6:14, NIV).

Where do we get our righteousness?  Only from affirming the grace-saving love of Jesus. By dying for us, Jesus’ sacrifice is our covering of righteousness, like when the Old Testament priests offered sacrifices for sin.

Paul is actually saying that accepting Jesus into our heart is one of the weapons of spiritual warfare that will keep us spiritually strong and well fed. 

It’s also the reason that Satan hates you.  Cover your heart, protect your heart, with the righteousness of Christ.  Protect your heart… don’t let the enemy use your heart… don’t give the enemy your heart.  He will use worldly “love” to get to you.   He will use fleshly “love,” or more appropriately lust, to get to you.  It’s one of his most successful schemes. 

Your heart belongs to Christ.  He bought it with His sacrifice. 

Receive this great gift and may it protect your heart.

Father God, my prayer is that Jesus will be born in my heart.  And may His sacrifice be my righteousness.  And may it cover and protect me from the enemy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 

© 2011.  Rich Ronald