A love worthy of St. Valentine

Helping Others

Helping OthersIn the Bible, God calls Christians the salt of the earth (see Matthew 5:13). He expects us to “season” the lives of those around us. All of life is tasteless without love. Love is the salt, the energy of life, and the reason to get up every morning. Everyone in the world wants to be loved and accepted. And the love of God—that wonderful gift He freely gives us—satisfies that need. His love flows to us, and then it should flow through us to other people.

Each of us can be a container full of blessings. We should want to be the type of people who can pour out God’s love into the lives of those around us. In fact we will find that we will always be happier when we choose to make others happy.

A Few Simple Ways to Make Others Happy

  • Volunteer at Church
  • Give time to an animal shelter
  • Just be there for someone
  • Take care of the planet
  • Call a charity to volunteer
  • Donate something you don’t use
  • Help someone get active
  • Buy food for a homeless person
  • Show appreciation, publicly
  • Offer to babysit for a friend
  • Hold the door for someone
  • Tutor a child or teenager
  • Buy someone a coffee or lunch
  • Invite someone over for dinner
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Compliment someone today

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Nubian Donkey

Mary and Joseph

As we enter Passion week we read about Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. Many believe that it was a Nubian donkey whose line was domesticated 6000 years ago and commonly used as a burden bearer to carry people and supplies. It was probably that same breed who carried Mary, then pregnant with Jesus, into Bethlehem.

Nubian Donkey Baby
Nubian Donkey with Jack
Donkey Running

The reason this is fascinating is that this breed is often known to carry from birth a mark upon their backs that makes them distinct. It is the sign of the cross that stretches across their shoulders and down their backs. Legends have been written to remind Christians that it was Jesus who said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

Two Nubian Donkies
Cross on Donkey Back
Nubian Donkey Standing Near Cardboard Cutout of Donkey

Below is an example of what has been written regarding the markings of the cross on these humble creatures and the message they truly bear.

The Donkey’s Cross

“Bring me the colt of a donkey.” was the Master’s request.

A young donkey was brought to Jesus
to carry Him into Jerusalem

A week later Jesus was ordered crucified
The little donkey so loved the Lord that
he wanted to help Him carry the cross.

But alas, he was pushed away.

As he turned to leave, the shadow of
the cross fell upon his back and shoulders

And there it has remained, a tribute to
the loyalty and love of the humbles of God’s creatures.

Why Animals Witnessed His Birth

jesus in a manger

jesus in a mangerWhen we think about the story of the birth of Christ we think fondly of the child being born in the city of Bethlehem in a stable laying in a manger wrapped in cloths. He is there because there is no room in the inn and it seems that the underlying reason might have something to do with His coming in humility. I believed that to be the predominant reason until recently I saw a deeper theological implication. In fact, the truth deepened my understanding of God’s faithfulness and thoroughness.

History reveals that Mary and Joseph had to journey to Bethlehem to take part in a census decreed by Caesar Augustus of all the inhabited earth. (Luke 2:1) Behind the earthly command there was heavenly purpose that would have Mary and JosephMary deliver the Child in Bethlehem, the city of David, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. (Micah 5:2) Added to that, I believe there was a greater reason for His birth being in a stable than just the fact of there not being room in the inn. I believe Jesus was born in the stable to fulfill a promise that dates back to the first chapters in Genesis.

In Genesis 1:24-28 it states that the animals were created before Adam and that he would rule over them. It was while he was naming the animals that Adam learned that there was no one corresponding to him and the result was God creating the woman who would be known as Eve. So, animals were present to witness the creation of man and woman who would have dominion over them. But that is not all they witnessed. They were present to witness the fall of Adam and Eve and when the couple used leaves to try to hide their shame (Genesis 3:7). It was an innocent animal that would be the first to feel the penalty of sin.

Adam and Eve Leaves
Adam and Eve sacrifice lamb

“And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). From the beginning plants could never be a sufficient substituionary sacrifice for Adam and Eve’s sin because only a creature with “owr” (Hebrew) or skin, the word used only for the skins of man or and animal, would suffice. From that time on an unblemished animal, lamb of Godprobably a lamb, would represent the temporary solution for sin until the time would come for the Lamb of God to come to earth to once and for all atone for the sins of mankind. Until then a sacrificial animal’s blood would be the covering and the temporary price paid for sin.

To me it’s no wonder that Jesus was born in a stable and rested in a feeding trough. Animals had witnessed the creation of man and woman, were present at the sinful fall of mankind, and became the first to die because of sin. It’s fitting that their representatives should be the first to look upon born in a mangerthe Christ child and behold the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Yes, He was born in Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy, but I believe He was born in a stable to fulfill a promise. God truly is faithful and thorough even when we might not think so.

John 4:13-14

giraffe drinking water

“Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

After Thought

Christ shows that the water of Jacob’s well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul.

~ Pastor Bob

Scripture by Picture

Luke 2:11-12

dog in manger

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in clots and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:11-12

A young, abandoned dog, looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep, wandered into a nativity scene in a small Brazilian town. During the night, the town folk discovered the pup resting with the baby Jesus. Once again an animal gives us a reminder, during the Christmas season, to draw near to the one who truly comforts and protects.

After Thought

As the animals and they will tell you who the Savior and Prince of Peace is.

~ Pastor Leslie

Scripture by Picture