Tuesday, January 26, 2021

"Like"able

 Dr. Mike Murphy

January 26, 2020






Time probably never moves slower than when you are waiting in a doctor’s office.  After checking everything on my phone, and watching whatever generic channel the television is on, I often find myself looking around the waiting area at all the other people who are bored beyond belief also.  But as I sat through an unusually long wait the other day, I found that is was not what I saw around me that drew my interest, but what I heard.
         Sitting a couple of chairs from me were two young girls, both probably in their late teens or early twenties.  Both so caught up in conversation they did not realize how loud they were speaking. And as they spoke, it was the words they were saying that caught my attention.  Let me rephrase that, it was not words they were saying, it was one word they continued to repeat over and over. It seemed like every other word they spoke was “like”!  “Like, she said..”. “Like, I have one of those.”. “Like, anyone would care if...”. In a matter of moments, I had heard the word “like” more times than I had heard the word in total over the past year.  So me, being one of curious mind, looked at my watch and decided I would see how many times they used the word “like” in sixty seconds. And as I watched the time move that minute, the “likes” just keep adding up.  By the time the minute was up, the two girls had used the word “like” forty-two times! They were speaking the word so often it become hard for me to keep count, often both saying the word at the same time. I began to think to myself, if I could get just a quarter each time these two girls used the word in the course of a day, I would gladly pay off this country’s national debt before I immediately retired!
Later that day, as I thought again about the conversation I heard from these two young girls. I began to wonder what words people heard me speak in my conversations.  Were the intent of my words lost in the foolishness of my dialogue? Do my words leave others wondering more about me, than they do about the meaning of the words they hear from me?  And as I thought about what others heard from my words, an even greater question came to my mind. What does the Lord hear each time I open my mouth to speak?
My words, often stand as my witness, as the image I show others of His presence in me.  Words, that often allow me to reflect the difference that only He has made in my life. But words, as I took a moment to think about, made we wonder how much of a reflection of Him others are left seeing and hearing.
Do my words serve as a reliable witness?  Do those words attest to the fact that He, alone, is my Lord and Savior, and all my hopes and dreams rest in His hands?  Do others hear in my words as I seek to share the Gospel, the sacrifice that Christ made for someone as undeserving as me?  Do others hear the strength of the Holy Spirit in my words, or do they just hear the weakness of my own voice? And do my words leave them hearing and seeking a hope that only through Him tomorrow can bring?  Or do my words leave them only focused on the failures they see in me today?
The Word of God tells me, what the perfect, witnessing sound on my words should sound like.  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”(1 Peter 3:15).  In each witnessing word I speak, must be heard the glory that can only be found in Christ.  A glory, that did not end on the Cross, but began as He gave all on that Cross. Witnessing words, that always leave others without a doubt of the power that He holds in His hands.  The power to reshape the heart of the most hardened sinner, as He one day, not so long ago, reshaped the hardest of hearts He found in me. Witnessing words, that are always heard being spoken boldly(Mark 8:35).  Words that always leave others realizing the saving power His Word holds, but never leave anyone thinking, a single one of my words hold even an ounce of power. Witnessing words, that always find me reaching out to others with open hands, never finding me reaching for others with a closed fist. Witnessing words, that find me making the most of all the opportunities He daily gives me. Opportunities, to take His Word to a needing world, as on a past day, that Word was taken to a needing man who carried my name. And witnessing words, that find their greatest joy in hearing others speak the words, “ Christ, I give my life to you”.  Knowing that those words serve as a greater witnessing statement than any words I might ever speak.
Each day, I need to make sure I am doing the job He called me to do, and seeking to perform that job not to the limitations and failures of my own abilities, but to the endless abilities that the Holy Spirit brings to my life.  Making sure that in each of my words, all are pointed toward His direction, not ever left staring in my direction. Words that do not leave others doubting and focused on the foolishness of my words, but leave all, without a doubt, immersed in the wisdom of His words.  Words that leave me standing as a credible witness, not as an “expert consultant” that Satan is happy to see taking the stand.
From the strangest of situations, in listening to two young girls butcher the English language in a doctor’s office waiting room, the Holy Spirit found a way to speak clearly to me.  Showing me that my words are not about how many ‘likes’ they might receive on social media, but by how “likely’ others are to hear His Word when I speak. Words that serve as a witness to His glory, and words that are only concerned with whether He records them as “like”able in His Book, not how others might view them on Facebook.


Praying each of my words are always heard by Him as “like”able.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

I AM.

 Dr. Mike Murphy

January 12, 2021





I thought these eyes had seen everything.  That these ears had heard all they could ever hear.  I heard the words He spoke at the pool of Bethesda, and I watched in amazement as a man who could not walk for thirty-eight years got on his feet.  On a hillside near Capernaum, I listened as the words He spoke took away the pride and deception of so many hearts.  And as I looked in the eyes of the crowd that day, I watched in amazement as those same hearts were filled with a loving faith.  I watched as a man wrecked with leprosy fell at His feet, and I heard his words of praise as he walked away without one sore.  I watched as a Roman officer bowed to my King, and I heard a faith from that officer that was greater than that of any man.  I watched as the tears of a widow in Nain filled the ground for her only son who had just died.  And I heard the shouts of joy as that young boy sat up and talked to his mom again.  I watched as the sea began to rise and as the waves began to pound the boat we found ourselves in.  I saw the fears of those around me, and I heard the desperation in their voice.  I then watched as He calmly stood, and I listened to the storm calm as soon as He spoke.
I watched as He fed thousands with nothing more than a small boy would have to eat.  And I listened to the fullness of that crowd as they ate until they could eat no more.  I watched as His feet stood where no man could stand, and I heard as His voice called to me, bringing me out of the boat to join Him.  I watched as He drove out demons, and I heard their screams at the sound of His voice.  I watched as the blind were made to see, and I heard as the hardest of hearts were made to believe.  I have seen and heard it all, or so I thought.  But with just two words, He proved me wrong.  I watched Him speak those two words, and with all I heard, I knew this world would never be the same.
As Christ taught in the temple courts that day, my mind will only allow me to begin to imagine what the disciples must of heard and seen.  The emotions that filled them and the reality that must have overwhelmed them.  It was a day unlike any other they had been a part of.  As Jesus was teaching that morning, they watched as religious leaders tried to set a trap for Him.  They brought a woman who had been caught in adultery to Jesus, looking to trick Him into saying something they could use against Him.  They brought the woman to His feet, but did not bring the man who was caught in the adultery with her.  And as they threw the woman in front of Him, they knew they had violated the Law of Moses by not bringing forward two innocent witnesses to the adultery, as the law required.  The disciples watched as the religious leaders brought forward the woman to simply gather ammunition they could use against Jesus.  If Jesus refused to condemn the woman to be stoned, they would say He was ignoring the Law.  And if He said to stone the woman, they knew He would be violating Roman law, which did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions. But as the disciples watched, they heard Jesus turn the tables on the religious leaders, telling them that only He who was innocent of sin could judge sin.  They watched as each dropped his stone, and walked away.  They heard Jesus turn to the woman and asked her where those that condemned her now were.  And as He spoke to her, they listened as His words did not end there, telling her to go and sin no more.  They saw One with the authority to forgive sin, and listened as the only One with the power to judge her, told her to turn from her sin and from the destruction sin was bringing to her life.
They then watched as He turned to the crowd, telling everyone who would listen that He was the Light of the world.  The disciples looked into the eyes of many in that crowd, and saw those who thought Jesus was either a lunatic or a liar.  But as their eyes came back to Christ, they heard Him give the crowd a third alternative, that He was telling the truth.  They then watched that day as the hardened hearts of many melted away.
Later that day, they heard Jesus tell the crowd that those who followed Him would know the truth, and the truth would set them free.  He went on to say, those that followed Him would have everlasting life, never would death hold a price over them.  As many heard these words, they called Jesus a devil, possessed by a demon.  The disciples could hear the yells from the crowd, proclaiming that every man would die, even Abraham and the prophets had faced death.  They watched many in the crowd look at Jesus, and mockingly ask Him just who He thought He was.  Christ’ reply left no doubt.  It required no further questions, as it provided the answer to every question they could ever ask.  The disciples watched as Jesus looked to the crowd and proclaimed, “Truly, truly, before Abraham was, I AM.”(John 8:58).  The disciples watched as many in the crowd picked up the same stones they had sought to kill the adulterous woman with earlier that day.  They heard the cries for His death, and they knew that as Christ spoke those two words, their lives would never be the same. 
With just two words, Christ changed the lives of each of the disciples. With just two words, Christ would write every page of history.  With just two words, Christ would forever change this world.  With just two words, Christ demanded an answer from everyone in the crowd that day.  And with just two words, Christ would ask each of us the same question today.  Is Christ who He proclaimed He was?
Prin Abraam genesthai ego eimi”.  These words in Greek literally say, “Before Abraham was existing, I AM”.  The power of these words could never be duplicated, and they are words that could never be mistaken.  These words do not say “I have been”, or “I was”, but carry the power that can only be found in the two words “I AM”.  By using the words “I AM”, Jesus not only stated His timeless existence prior to Abraham, but spoke to His very nature.  As Christ spoke these words, everyone that heard His voice that day knew exactly what He was saying, and they knew exactly what He was proclaiming.
To fully understand just what the crowd heard that day, we need to go back to a day that every Israelite studied and cherished.  A day at the time of the Exodus, when Moses was speaking to God. In Exodus 3:13-15, Moses asked God what name he should tell the Jewish people had sent him to speak to them, basically asking God His name. God responds by saying, “I AM that I AM”.  He told Moses to tell the people, “I AM has sent me to you”.   God then goes on to explain further about His name, by telling Moses, “The Lord,the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation”. In this God is not only proclaiming Himself as “I AM”, but also as “HE IS”.  
It is from these verses that we get the name Yahweh(YHVH), the sacred, unspoken, and eternal name of the Lord.  A name that not only proclaims His existence, but announces His presence. In Hebrew, a name carried meaning, and communicated something about the character of the one who had the name. In Yahweh, God proclaimed His infinite wisdom and sovereignty by revealing to mankind so much about Himself.  The Lord tells us in His name that He has always been there, that He is with us now, and He will be present forever.
When the Israelites asked Jesus who He was that day, they had no doubt who He was proclaiming to be.  He told them He was Yahweh, the One who was there when the world was formed, the One who stood in their presence that day, and the One who would still be here when this world would end.  They knew that the One who stood in front of them, called Himself by a name no man was allowed to use, no man could ever proclaim.  He claimed to be the Lord, standing among the crowd that day, right in their very presence.  He was not a just a prophet, nor was he simply a healer.  He was God!  And when they looked into His eyes, they looked on the face of their Creator!
This was a defining statement, one that left no middle ground.  Either Jesus was exactly who He said He was, or He had committed a sin so great, His own death would be required.  In two words, Christ either brought a man to his knees, or He brought him to reach for the ground to find the nearest stone.  As many of the Jewish leaders looked upon their Savior that day, they reached for the ground instead of falling on their knees.  They looked into the eyes of the Lord, and did not recognize the characteristics of His face.  They knew so little of Him, they no longer remembered Him.  They had so little love for Him, they treated Him as a hated stranger, an enemy that had found His way into their midst.
John tells us just two chapters later, they would look on Him as a stranger again.  John 10:30-33 says, “The Father and I are one.  The Jewish leaders picked up rocks again to stone him to death.  Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good deeds  from the Father.  For which one of them are you going to stone me?  The Jewish leaders replied, “We are not going to stone you for a good deed but for blasphemy, because you, a man, are claiming to be God.”  Both times they choose to pick up stones, after Jesus proclaimed to be our Lord.  Both times they looked in the eyes of our Lord, and did not know Him.  Both times, “I AM” stood in front of them, and they did not know Him by His name. 
With every word He spoke, Jesus defined the words “I AM”.  Several other times He would use those words, and each time He showed us a little more of the characteristics that made up His name.  I AM the bread of life(John 6:35-51).  I AM the Light of the world(John 8:12).  I AM the door of the sheep(John 10:7-10). I AM the good shepherd(John 10:11-18). I AM the resurrection and the life(John 11:25-26).  I AM the way, the truth, and the life(John 14:6).  I AM the vine(John 15:1-11).  With each “I AM”, His name became a little clearer, His voice became a little louder, and His purpose and plan became a lot more obvious.  And as “I AM” walked among us, hope could be seen in His face, and hope could be felt in this world.
I AM.  No more profound statement has ever been spoken.  No more important words have ever been heard.  With two words, Christ erased all doubts. With two words, Christ placed one question into the heart of all who heard His voice that day.  The same question that fills each of our hearts to this very day. Was Christ who He said He was?  And with this question, we have the same two options today that crowd faced so many years ago.  Do we angrily reach to the ground to find the nearest stone?  Or do we fall to our knees as we look into the eyes of our Savior?   With each “I AM” the question is answered. With each “I AM” the lines in His face are defined a little more.  With each “I AM” we realize that we are staring into the eyes of our Lord.  I AM leaves us no doubt that HE IS!


Praying this day no stone is found in your hand.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Last Of The Magi(A Story For The New Year)

Dr. Mike Murphy
December 28,2020




He was not prepared for what the stars had shown him.  The night before had shown a sight he wondered if his eyes would ever truly see.  The stars had revealed a promise, a promise that had been past down for generations.  The night before the sky had opened itself up for the world to see, and revealed a star that showed all the future had to offer.
As he stood on the terrace of his roof, dawn was just beginning to appear. As he looked to the east, he could watch the white haze of the morning clouds forming.  The beauty he saw filled his eyes, and the thoughts of what this day would hold filled his heart.  Today, the world had forever changed.  And today, a future promise had become the glorious promised future.
But this was a day he had prepared for, a day he had so longed for.  He had sold much of the wealth he had known in readying himself for this day.  With it, he had purchased three rare jewels.  A flawless blue sapphire, that shined with the brilliance of the night sky.  A perfect ruby, that glistened like the flames of a fire.  And a treasured, once in a lifetime pearl, that shined like a snow capped mountain. Three perfect gems for a perfect King, that he would place in the hands of a perfect Child.
He prepared that morning to find the child, the promised Messiah who had entered the world the night before.  He had made plans to meet with three of his fellow Magi on this morning, the day after the star had appeared in the sky. He hurriedly got all he needed together, gathered his prized steed, and rode off to meet the other Magi at the destination they had prepared to meet at.  He knew the time was short, and he would be pushed to arrive in the short time he still had to get there.
As he swiftly rode to their predetermined meeting place, his horse slowed and began to react with caution as he neared a large grove of date palms.  Soon his horse froze with fear, and as he looked ahead he could begin to see an image emerge from the shadows of the trees.  He watched as the figure collapsed, and soon found himself dismounting to see if he could help.  From the dress of his clothes and the wear on his face, it did not take him long to determine that the man who had collapsed in front of him was one of the poor Hebrew men that toiled in the area of the groves.  As he reached the man, he found him motionless, clinging to the little life he had left in him.  
His first thought questioned whether he should just leave the man.  He would surely not survive in his condition, and even the slightest of delays might cost him all he had prepared for. But as he looked into the man’s eyes, his heart would not let him leave this man.  He hurriedly lifted up the man, and carried him to a small mound at the base of one of the trees.  He gathered water from one of the nearby canals, and moistened the brow and the mouth of the struggling man. With his knowledge of medicine, he reached into his pouch and mixed a remedy he hoped would help the man, restoring what little strength he might still have left. For hours he labored in healing the man, and soon the man’s strength began to return.
Who are you?”  “To whose hand to I owe so much?”, the Hebrew man asked.  “I am Artaban”, he replied. , “A Magi, and I am on my way to Jerusalem to honor the King that was born this past night.  One who will be more than just the King of the Jews, but the Prince who will deliver this world.  I am sorry, but I can no longer delay, as the caravan I am meeting may have already rode off without me. Here is all the bread, and most of the water I have.  As your strength continues to restore, I am now sure you will be able to make it back to the city.”  
I have no way to repay you for all you have done for me”, the man told Artaban.  “I am poor by all standards, but I can give you information that will help you on your journey.  I remember the words the prophets taught us well, and the Messiah you seek will not be found in Jerusalem, but was foretold to be born in a small, neighboring town called Bethlehem. May the Lord keep you safe on your journey, and may your eyes see what they seek.
Artaban mounted his horse, and rode his prized steed that night with the greatest of speed.  But as he arrived at the place they were all to meet, not a sight of his fellow Magi could be found.  As he searched the area, he found a note they had left for him.  The note simply read that they had waited for him as long as they could, asking him to ride on into the desert and catch up with them.  But without food, and limited in the supply of water he now had, Artaban knew what they asked would be impossible.  He decided that night that he would now have to take this journey alone, and must return to the city to gather all he would need. And with the reality of the moment, he was now faced with an even more troubling thought. He would have to sell one of his gems in order to pay for the trip he would now face.  As he neared the city, he reached into his pouch, and pulled out the sapphire he had purchased for the King.
As the days turned into weeks, Artaban made his way across the vast desert, seeking the face of the child who he knew was his King.  As he wearily arrived in Bethlehem, he could feel his heart again fill with hope.  At last he had found the place he sought, and at last he would look into the face of the One who would change the world.  But as he sought the house where the child would be, he soon became eerily aware of the desolation and quiet of the streets.  No one was present, isolation was all he saw.  
Suddenly, he saw a light from the door of a small cottage.  As he approached, he could hear the voice of a mother softly singing to her infant child. As he entered, he introduced himself to the woman, and asked about the child he sought, and about his fellow Magi that had come before him.  The mother told him of three Magi who had appeared in the village days before.  She told Artaban of the story they had told all in the village, and how the star had directed them to the place where Mary and Joseph were lodging with their child.  She went on to tell him that as quickly as they had appeared, they had also disappeared.  And soon after they left, Mary, Joseph, and the child had left also.  Rumor had spread through the village that they had left for Egypt.
The mother graciously offered all she had to Artaban  She placed the baby in a cradle, and prepared a meal for her guest.  Suddenly, the sounds of panic and chaos could be heard from the streets.  They could hear soldiers yelling and woman crying throughout the village.  As one woman came running by, Artaban caught her by the arm, asking her what was happening. “The soldiers of Herod, they are killing the children!”  
With hearing this, the mother reached for her child, and caressed him in her arms. She did all she could to quiet the young. infant boy, holding him close. As she held him, Artaban could see her begin to pray, and watched as the tears ran from her eyes with every word. Artaban made his way to the door. and closed it behind him.  He stood statuesque in front of the cottage, standing out in his royal attire.  As the soldiers approached the cottage, their captain came near him.  Steadily, and with a low voice, Artaban spoke to the captain.  “I am alone here, waiting to speak to the captain who will leave me in peace.”  As he spoke, Artaban reached into his pouch and showed the captain the ruby.  He effortlessly placed the ruby into the hand of the captain, and looked into his eyes.  Quickly the captain turned to his soldiers and said, “There is no child here, move on.
Artaban watched as the soldiers made their way down the street, then raised his hands in prayer.  “I have failed you Lord!  I have spoke words that are not true in order to save the life of this child, and I have now lost two of the gems that I have brought as gifts for You.  I ask your forgiveness Lord, and I now wonder if i will ever be worthy enough to look upon the face of this Child!?
Behind him he could her the woman praising God, and she reached for Artaban with the gentlest of touches.  “You have saved the life of my child, may the Lord always be with you, may He always bless you, and may He keep you in peace!
The words the mother spoke were hardly heard by Artaban that night, and for over thirty years Artaban wandered the countryside of Egypt in search of the child he sought.  As Artaban searched through the years, he only found many in need.  Often he would stop and do all he could to help, feeding those who hungered, helping clothe those who were naked. Soon Artaban found all his money gone, and made his way back to Jerusalem, fearing his years of searching had gone in vain.
As he entered Jerusalem, he noticed the crowds that filled the streets, and soon discovered that it was the Passover season.  As he listened to the crowd, he could hear they were all talking about one particular man, one who was being crucified on the hill that overlooked the city.  As Artaban asked about this man, the details he received shocked him. “They call him Jesus of Nazareth”. one of the people told him.  “He was loved by many of the people, but the Sanhedrin ruled he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God. Pilate has also tried him, and has sent him to be crucified this day.
Quickly Artaban thought to himself, questioning if this could be the One he had come to see, and wondered if the remaining pearl could be used to seek His ransom.  He quickly made his way with the crowds to see if this was his Savior. But as he followed them on the streets, several soldiers cleared the path and brought with them a young girl in chains.  As she neared Artaban, she broke away from the guards and fell at his feet.  She looked at Artaban and pleaded, “May the Lord God lead you to help me!  May you have pity on me!  I am the daughter of a Jewish merchant from Parthia.  My father has died, and I am to be sold as a slave to pay for his debts.
Once again the old, familiar conflict found its way to Artaban.  Would he help the girl, or make his way to his King?  As he looked into the eyes of the young girl, his heart was no longer divided.  One last time he reached into his pouch, and placed the pearl that remained in the hands of the young girl.  “Here is you ransom. It is all that I have left, and I had brought it with me for my King.
As Artaban finished the words, the sky suddenly turned dark, and the earth began to tremble.  Stones began to fall from the buildings around them, and soon the crowds and the soldiers started to flee.  But Artaban and the young girl remained still, beside the building she had ran to him at.  Artaban felt no reason to flee, he had given away all he had purchased for the King, and now knew he would never see Him.  But even knowing what he now knew, there was a peace in the heart of Artaban.  As the earth made its’ last tremble, the building that was beside them began to give way.  Instinctively, Artaban covered the young girl with his body, and a stone from the structure struck Artaban in the temple of his head. As the girl pushed the stones away from her, she felt the collapsed body of Artaban beside her.  She could see the blood trickling from his head, and she placed his head in her lap.
As she stroked the head of the man who had just rescued her, she could her a faint voice somewhere near the building that had just fell on them.  She could see no one, but she could hear Artaban trying to answer.  “I have searched for years, but when did I ever see you my Lord?”  Again the girl could hear the faint voice, and this time she could make out the words that were being spoken. “Many times you saw Me Artaban, many times.  Each time you helped one of My children you saw Me. For each time I have been there with you.”  As the words ended, the young girl saw a calm came over the face of Artaban.  And as his last breath exited his body, she could see just how much he was at peace.  Artaban had completed his journey. Each of his precious gems had been given to the One he had purchased them for. The last of the Magi had found his King.
Many times over the past years this story has been told in different versions. Often times as the Christmas season ends, and the New Year begins, I have preached my version of this little known tale.  A story that shows us just how much each day we seek to serve Christ can matter.  A story of hope, and a story that shows us just how valuable each opportunity is that Christ gives to us. Each time I have spoke the words, I have prayed the words will do more than just warm the hearts of those who hear them.  That the words will call into action the hands and feet of all those who have ears to hear in the coming year.
The words of Christ that drives this story tells us, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’   The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”(Matthew 25:35-40). These words do not lead us by what we feel, or by what we say, but by what we do.  It is in our actions that our words take on meaning, and an example can be found.  An example this world so needs to witness, that those around us so need to see.  For it is in the actions that He calls us to do that His reflection can be found.
As you sing Auld Lang Syne to bring in this coming year, I pray that each resolution you set will be more than just words.  That each resolution will carry with it a reflection of Him.  I pray that His Will drives each day of your life in the coming year.  I pray that each of your days will not just be viewed in the eyes of those around you by what you say about Christ, but by all you will do this year for Christ. I pray that each of your days will be like those of Artaban, that all of your gems will be used in serving Him. And as you finalize your list for the New Year, I pray above all that you will come to realize, the answer is not found in the life that we see so many choose to lead, but we can always find life in the Answer!  May all of your examples reflect Christ this coming year!


May each of your days be blessed!


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Pennies From Heaven(A Little Christmas Hope)

 Dr. Mike Murphy

December 22, 2020





As she watched the rain fall, she wished she could see each day of the past year washed away with every drop.  To say this year had been trying, would be an understatement.  She still found herself praying to God, but she could not deny that her faith had been shaken.  With each day, she was only left with more questions, finding herself in so many of these quiet moments asking the Lord, “why”.
She never thought her life was perfect, but is was a life she could not imagine living a day without.  A faithful, and devoted husband, that had been the love of her life since high school.  Twin, five year old daughters, that left her exhausted every night, but always falling to sleep smiling.  A loving mother, who had always been there for her since her dad had died in her youth.  And a church family, that she felt as close to as if they were her own blood.
But in a single moment, in a split second, she watched her world shatter. She could still remember the call she received that February day, but still could not tell you the words that were spoken to her.  All she heard was that Ryan, her husband, had been in a wreck, and she needed to get to the hospital immediately.  She barely knew how she had gotten there, but as she rushed into the emergency room, he was already in surgery.  He had lost control of his truck on the icy road heading to work that morning.  She would later learn that the truck had rolled as it hit the ditch, collapsing the cab of the truck onto his head. The doctors did not know the extent of the damage, but their immediate concern was to stop the bleeding.  She sat in the waiting room that morning for what seemed like hours before the surgeon approached her with news. And as she glanced into the surgeon’s eyes, she already knew what his words were going to be.
The funeral was a blur, she just went through the motions as she made the arrangements.  She did her best to explain what had happened to the girls, but she would still see their glances, looking for their father to come home.  As the funeral ended, the tragedies did not.  She soon learned that the company her husband worked for had changed their life insurance benefits, leaving her with little more than enough to pay the cost of his funeral.  It had been all the two of them could do to keep up with the bills together, so she did not have a clue how she was going to manage this with just her income.  But she rolled up her sleeves, and with her mother’s help in watching the girls, she worked every overtime hour she could get.  And as winter turned to spring, and spring turned to summer, she began to see a little shining hope again at the end of the dark tunnel.
Just as hope seemed to pop back up its’ head, hope soon found itself buried deep again.  Her mother’s arthritis had become so painful, it was all she could do just to watch after the girls.  Each day she watched as the pain grew, and the disease crippled her a little more.  As summer turned to fall, she watched as her mom was now in greater need of help herself, than of any help she could offer in watching the girls.  Every overtime hour she could get now went to child care, and with any extra dime she might find, she did what she could to help her mother.
As Christmas approached, she found her checking account with more zeros than other numbers.  No matter how hard she seemed to try, no matter how many extra hours she seemed to work, she could never get ahead.  And with each extra hour of work, she also watched as it cost her in other areas.  She found herself with little time to spend with her girls, missing memories from events in their life she would never be able to get back. And as she spent what little time she did have with the girls, she watched as her other relationships grew distant.  She was at church so sparsely, she had lost contact with so many she cared for there.  Often they had called to check on her, hoping to get by to see her.  But her hours were so filled each day with the demands placed on her, that she could find no time to get with those around her.  Soon their calls became less frequent, and soon she found that the only thing left in her life besides the girls, was the struggle.
She had decided that for Christmas this year, she was going to get the girls the one thing their husband had planned on getting for them.  That from Santa this year, her husband's memory would remain alive in each of their lives. He had planned to get each a bike, as when he was six, he had gotten a bike for Christmas.  Both girls held on tightly to the stories of his first bike, and each time they saw Santa, a bike was always the one thing they wanted most.  With this in mind, she decided that no matter how many hours she had to work, no matter what she had to do without herself, her two girls were somehow going to have bikes this Christmas.
As December 23rd arrived, she still found herself a little over forty dollars short of being able to buy the bikes.  As she thought of Christmas morning, her heart sank.  Her last hope for this year was now gone, and she found herself crying tears she could never allow her precious girls to ever see.  As she made her way into the house that night to figure out what she would be able to now get the girls, she ran into her neighbor, Bill.  Trying to clear her eyes of the tears, as the rain began to fall that night, she told Bill of her situation. “Unless the Lord turns these raindrops into pennies, I will just never have enough to give my girls their wish this Christmas”, was all she could find the words to say.
Entering his house, those words weighed heavy with Bill.  Bill lived on a fixed income, retired for some years now.  If he had an extra forty dollars, he would have given it to her before she could have said another word.  His heart sank as he thought of those two girls, and all they had been through.  As he entered his door, he spoke out loud to the Lord. “If You would just show me a way, I so wish I could help”.  No more than Bill had gotten through the door, he saw the two five gallon jugs of pennies sitting on his floor.  Each day for several years, he would throw his extra pennies in those jars, hoping one day to have enough to do something special with them.  It was at that very moment, the Lord showed him just what that “special” would be.
In the early morning hours, Bill pulled the hood of his coat over his head, grabbed each of the jars, and made his way to his young neighbors lawn.  In the dark of the early morning rain, he found himself pouring out each jar, covering the grass in pennies as the rain continued to fall.  He then quietly snuck back to his house, and waited for the sun to rise.  
As dawn found its’ way to that day, Bill heard a scream.  Not a scream of terror, but one of joy.  Bill watched his young neighbor in disbelief as she found her way to her lawn, surrounding herself in the gleam of copper as the sun rose. Bill watched through tears that morning, as the young mother praised God with each penny she picked up.  He watched as for over an hour she picked up those pennies.  Each time she reached down to pick another penny up, Bill could not help but smile, as he saw a little hope returning to her face.  Enough pennies to not only get the girls both a bike, but matching helmets.  And just enough extra to make sure they got to share with their mom a Christmas dinner.  As Bill watched that morning from his kitchen window, he realized just how much the Lord had heard every word he had spoken to Him that night before.  And as Bill continued to watch, he could not help but tell the Lord a very “special thank you”, for giving him the greatest Christmas present he could ever have.
This Christmas, if you want to see a miracle, be a miracle.  Allow the Lord to use you in the most amazing of ways, and watch the miracles flow.  And with each amazing way, watch as the hope the Lord brought to the world that first Christmas night will fall on those around you like pennies from Heaven.


Praying you never forget, God is always with us this Christmas!  And the greatest of hope is found in His name!

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Innkeeper( Do You Have Time For God This Christmas?)

 Dr. Mike Murphy

December 18,2020







“I just do not have time for all this!  With all the people pouring into this town, I have to make the most of each minute.  I have to strike while the iron is hot.  It would just not be good business to do otherwise.  This census has brought me an opportunity that I may never see again.  Every inch of space in this town is needed right now, and I can get whatever price I want for the space I have.  Now is not the time for me to be giving out free rooms!  Not even to a couple with a wife who is pregnant.  They do not realize just how lucky they are to have met me.  Most others would not have even given them the time of day, but at least I let them stay in my stables.  They should be thanking me they do not have to spend the night in the street with the rest of this useless crowd.  At least they have a roof over their head and some straw to sleep on, unlike most of these ungrateful peasants.  Why me Lord?  Why, with all that is going on, do I have to deal with this?  You know I just do not have the time!”
As we find ourselves in the middle of the Christmas Season, nothing becomes more valuable than our time.  We often find ourselves with more to do than we have time to do it. We soon come to realize that the one thing we count more than our dollars is the minutes of the day.  Time becomes our currency, and we find ourselves being far more frugal with our time than we do with our credit cards.  Time that is consumer driven, and finds us unwilling to wait as we rush from store to store.  Time that is God-given, but not God focused.  And as you stand in line at Walmart, wondering how much time you will still have to shop at Best Buys, ask yourself one question.  How much time do I have for God this Christmas Season?
As history has progressed, our connection to time has not changed.  And as we glance back on history, we soon see that it was time that we were always the most concerned about.  And if we take the time to look back at that miraculous night our Savior came into this world, we see the struggles many were having with time.  
Many look at the innkeeper, and think it was room he did not have for Christ.  But room was just a byproduct of the real problem, the real struggle being time.  If the innkeeper found himself spending time with God, he would have remembered the promise that Micah had proclaimed of his town.  “"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity."(Micah 5:2).  The promise that from his small town, Bethlehem, the Messiah would be born.  If he had time for God, he would have remembered the words of Daniel, proclaiming the years in which he then lived would be the time for His people to be looking for the Messiah(Daniel 9).  And if he had spent time with the Lord, he would have felt the Holy Spirit reach for him, as a needy, pregnant, young wife and husband found their way to his door.
Although we are never told his name, we can all look in the mirror and see the innkeeper's face.  He turned away a man and his pregnant wife that night, not because he did not have the room, but because he did not have the time.  He was busy.  He was swamped by the crowds in the middle of a census. His lodge was probably the only one in that tiny town.  He had rooms that needed to be cleaned, food that had to be made, and the needs of people that he had to meet.  He was being so pulled in a millions directions, he did not have time to look in the One direction his eyes were most needed.
But the innkeeper was not alone in his struggle with time, Israel was a nation filled with people just like him.  The Romans had a rebellious nation they needed to keep in order, they did not have time for the One who could have brought them true peace.  Herod, was a king of old age, whose death was growing near.  A dying man, who found himself propped up on an unstable throne.  Time was precious to Herod, and he did not have time for a “child” who might be born as his people’s King.  There was the people of Israel, who grew tired of living under the Roman oppression.  With each day, they found that oppression grow, and felt time was not on their side.  They only had time for a Deliverer, one who would break them from the yoke that Rome had placed on them, and would set up an earthly kingdom where they would rule.  They did not have time for a Suffering Servant, who would establish for them an eternal kingdom.  And then there was the priests and scribes, who each day had time to read the promised prophecies, but never found time to take a single word to heart.  Theological experts, and the “defenders” of spiritual truth, who never took the time to travel the few miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to find out for themselves if the promised Messiah had indeed been born.  Religious leaders, who did not have time for a Savior, because nowhere could they see how they would ever be in need of one.  Christ came into a world that had been created by His hands, to a people that had long proclaimed His arrival, but to an earth that did not have time for Him.
Time.  What if God has said He did not have time to come to this earth so He could offer hope and a future to the lives of such a rebellious and sin-filled people?  What if He had said, “These people do not have time for Me, so why would I even think of making time for them?”.  But praise the Lord, Christmas is not about the Lord not having time, but about the Lord making time, and coming to this world at the precise time.
A verse from Galatians explains it better than I ever could.  Galatians 4:4 tells us, "But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son”.  For all of us, God made time, and at the exact right moment of history, God came to this earth on time.. God did not say He did not have time, but because of His endless love for us, He gave us far more than time ever could.
As I think about it, I realize the innkeeper, the Romans, Herod, the people of Israel, and the religious leaders, are not that much different from each of us. On that first Christmas, they were so consumed with the commotion, that they forget what time it was. They got so caught up in the world around them, that they found themselves too busy for God.  They found it easier to make God an afterthought that first Christmas, instead of making Him the forethought that time requires for Him to be.
This Christmas, as you find yourself in the hustle and bustle of the Season, stop and ask yourself a couple of questions.  How much time have I made for God?  If God has so lovingly made time for me that first Christmas, how much time can I make for Him this Christmas?  Let us not forget, God came on time that first Christmas.  And one day soon, whether we have the time or not, He will be coming on time again.
Give your family, your friends, and yourself the greatest present you can give this Christmas.  Give time for Christ.  Set aside precious moments each day when you can spend time with God.  Cherish each moment as you read His Word, and hold tight to each word you speak to Him in prayer.  Treasure and adore each of these moments, knowing that each minute you spend with Him is time that you can never place a dollar value on.  Watch as not only your life, but the lives of those around you, are changed in ways no credit card could ever pay for.  And with each moment of time you spend with our Lord, look into your heart. You will see all the room you have for a needy husband and his pregnant wife with Child as they knock on your door.


Give the Lord the greatest of gifts, give Him your time this Christmas!