December 2021 Devotional: A Gift of Significance

By Captain Betzy Hanson
Colorado Springs, CO Corps – Intermountain Division

Read Matthew 2:1-12

What the Wise Men Brought to Jesus
If you ever watched the movie, The Nativity Story, when it was released in 2006, then you would have witnessed the scene when the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus. As the wise men lay their gifts before Jesus they explain the significance of each gift. Here is the quote from the movie. “Gold for the King of kings, Frankincense for the Priest of priests, a gift of myrrh to honor thy sacrifice.” As I watched this scene I was overwhelmed with tears. The writer who developed this scene did a great job of explaining what each gift represents.

Here is a brief explanation of each gift that was given: First, Gold is a precious metal, but it is also a sign of wealth and royalty. Frankincense is an incense that was sprinkled on sacrifices offered to the Lord and was also used in the tabernacle (Leviticus 24:7). The last gift was Myrrh which was used for embalming and has some healing properties as well.

Now, let’s look at the significance of each gift. When we look at Solomon’s Temple in the Bible, we read that his goblets and household items were made of gold. This is because if it was anything less than gold it was considered unworthy for a king (2 Chronicles 9:20). Gold was given to Jesus because He is greater than Solomon. Gold is not a typical gift for a child unless he is a king. So, the wise men knew the child they were visiting was going to rule and shepherd Israel. They knew he was King.

Frankincense is a priestly fragrant oil used throughout the Old Testament for sacrifices. When Jesus was born, he became the High Priest. Hebrews 4:14 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Frankincense was not given by coincidence; it had a significant reason of why it was given to Jesus. Jesus was going to give His life as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Which brings me to the last gift . . .

Myrrh. Through this gift we see the humanity of Jesus. It is shown in this gift because we know that Jesus died on the cross. In the book of John, we read that a mixture of myrrh and aloe was put on him and then his body was wrapped in cloth (John 19:38-40). According to scripture these gifts were chosen through prophecy. “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Micah 5:2-4). The wise men knew that Jesus’ birth was fulfilling prophecy so they prepared their gifts for the Ruler who was born to save the world. These wise men knew that hope was not lost for God’s people. They knew that Jesus’ birth was going to bring change. These three gifts were of great significance, because they show Jesus as King, High Priest, and man.

My Gift of Significance
My life completely changed when I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, Adaline. Because of secondary infertility, and the loss of two babies, my husband and I were not able to grow our family like we wanted, but God had other plans. Adaline came to us as an unexpected but pleasant surprise. This pregnancy was truly a miracle from the Lord. Eden (my first born) was born in October 12, 2004 and Adaline was born on June 20, 2019. Yes, my girls are almost 15 years apart. When time came to get ready for the new baby, I realized I had nothing. I was starting all over.

Thank God my family and friends gathered to throw me an amazing baby shower. Some gifts were typical gifts like clothes, a stroller, a car seat, diapers, and burp cloths. But as the party came to an end, I received a very significant gift. My grandmother slowly walked up to me near the end of the party, hugged me and then handed me a very small pair of pink shoes. As she handed them to me, I immediately recognized them. They were my fist born Eden’s, baby shoes. As I held these little baby shoes, I cried. I cried because I thought all hope of conceiving another child was gone. I cried because the significance of this gift meant that I was going to have a little baby to fill these shoes. I cried tears of joy, rejoicing over what God had done in my life.

Your Significant Gift
God doesn’t want only the gifts of time, money, or your service to others. God wants all that we are. He wants the hidden, the seen, the bad, the sad and the hurt. He wants it all. This may sound cliché, but this is what God wants, our complete life. What significant gift will you bring to Jesus today. Will you surrender all your life? He wants us to bow down and present our lives before him. Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Have you taken the time to prostrate yourself before God to give all your life to him? Sometimes in our busy life we see service to others as more valuable than laying all we are before God. We may not say it, but by our actions, and the way we spend our time to get the job done, we show it. God wants us to know him deeper, and the way we do this, is by spending time with Him. So today I encourage you to lay your gift of significance before Jesus. Take at least five minutes of your day, put some worship music on, and just soak in God’s presence. The wise men bowed down and worshiped Jesus. “Then they opened their treasures and presented him with their gift.” (Matthew 2:11). Let’s bow down and worship the King of kings, the Priest of priests and the hope of all the world that was born to save us so that we can have freedom and eternal life in Him.

Note: Check out this month’s craft, Wise Men Seashell Ornament, and this month’s Bible study, Seeking the King that coordinates with this devotional.

December 2021 Bible Study: Seeking the King

By Mistie Lamb
Intermountain Division

Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We know that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th of course, but this is the time we set aside to celebrate His birth, his first physical appearance on earth. The miraculous birth of this small baby is the introduction to world of the one true King. His birth and the reaction of those we see in this bible passage are important reminders to us of how we should continue to seek Him even still. While there are many distractions especially in this special season, we are reminded in this passage of scripture that we can get back on track and that we will be rewarded by His very presence when we do. Let this season be an opportunity to seek Jesus, our King, above all else.

Matthew is the first of four gospels which opens the New Testament. Written by Matthew (Levi) shortly after Jesus walked the earth. Matthew was called by Jesus to be one of His disciples as he was busy collecting taxes (not the most honorable or favored career). Matthew wrote this account of Jesus’ time on earth in hopes of confirming to the Jewish Church that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah by showing the fulfillment of many, though not all, of the Old Testament prophecies. Chapter one begins with the lineage of Jesus and ends with His birth. Our study, Chapter 2, verses 1 – 12 leads us into the visit of the Magi and King Herod’s plot to destroy Jesus. This portion of Scripture speaks to us about two kings. The earthy ruler of the time, Herod, and the King of Kings, Jesus. Let’s follow along as these men, seek their King.

Read Matthew Chapter 2:1-12

Verses 1-6
The Magi, or wise men, arrive in Jerusalem and inquire as to where they can find the Messiah since they saw His star, and followed it to worship Him. However, when King Herod hears this news, we see he is troubled and asks where he, too, can find the Messiah.

Many people seek the Messiah, but not everyone has good intentions. King Herod knows of the prophesy and understands that Jesus is the rightful ruler. He is undoubtedly concerned. The Bible says he is “troubled” at the birth of the Messiah, and he is sure that Jesus will one day want to take possession of the throne while either he himself sits on it or his offspring. However, we also see these three wise men, travel a long distance, from the east, to find the Messiah. They have come to worship Him. One looks to destroy the Messiah and the others look to worship Him.

  1. What is your motive in seeking the King?
  2. What is the benefit of checking our motive? (see Proverbs 21:2, 1 Corinthians 16:14)
  3. What are some ways we can help others to seek Him?

Verses 7-12
In the second half of our study, we see that Herod is determined to find the Messiah. He calls the Magi to him to get more information about when exactly they first saw the star, then he sends them to go find Jesus and then report back to him, under the guise that he, too, wants to worship the Messiah. After leaving Herod, the wise men continue to follow the star, which brings them to the exact spot where Jesus is. When they come into the house, they fall to the ground to worship the true King and offer their gifts. God then warns them in a dream not to return to Herod but to go home via a different route.

I’m struck in this last passage by the Magi’s interaction with King Herod. It was not in their plans to take this detour on the way to seek the Messiah, yet they find themselves rerouted. Distracted by this earthly king, whose motive we know is not actually to worship Jesus, but to destroy Him. Nonetheless, they get back on track and eventually make it to Jesus. Their journey to seek the King does indeed end successfully. How many times in our own journey have we been re-routed, distracted, or waylaid by the enemy?

I often find that when I intentionally set aside time to worship or study or seek Jesus, that the distractions are at their strongest. However, we can be encouraged by the steadiness of the Magi, that if we get back on track, despite the detours, that we, too, will have our time to worship. God is not hiding from us. He put a large, bright star in the night sky pointing the wise men straight to Jesus. The second half of Hebrews 11:6 tells us that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Just as the Magi were rewarded by being in the very presence of the Messiah so, too, can we find this same reward.

  1. What are some distractions or detours that try to keep you from worshiping?
  2. What can you do to get quickly back on track after a distraction or detour, however long?
  3. What are the rewards of remaining faithful in our journey to seek the King? (See Matthew 6:31-33, Psalm 34:4)

There can be many distractions through the Christmas season. Parties to attend, gifts to buy and wrap, volunteering to be done, memories to be made, but we can see that even in the midst of distractions and detours, God is not hiding. In fact, we read in Luke 19:10 that Jesus came to seek and save the lost! Us!! So, as we go about celebrating this season of Jesus’ birth, let’s remember to be intentional seekers of Him. Let’s be reminded to check our motives as we do all the wonderful things that make this season so beautiful.

And finally, if we do find ourselves distracted, or re-routed, we can easily get back on track and find that our journey to seek Him will eventually lead to Him, and we can enjoy His goodness and presence.

Prayer
Lord, as we read these verses today, I ask that You speak to our hearts. Teach us the importance of seeking You and of doing so with a right heart. Help us to set aside the things that try to distract us and route us away from You and to focus on the true meaning of this season. We are so thankful, Jesus, that You willingly came as a baby and made the way for our redemption. We give You all the glory and honor as we worship You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Download the printable version of this Bible study

Note: Check out this month’s craft, Wise Men Seashell Ornament and this month’s devotional, A Gift of Significance that coordinates with this Bible study.

December 2021 Craft: Wise Men Seashell Ornament

Submitted by the Intermountain Division

This craft is incredibly versatile in that it can be adapted for any age and as simple or complex as you would like it to be and adapted to fit any budget.

Some variations include Cardstock with sticker shapes for the Wise Men, Felt and felt pieces, instead of shell for older groups use a piece of stained wood.

Supplies Needed:

  • Half of a large, scalloped seashell (purchase on Amazon or from a local hobby store)
  • Decorative small seashells (purchase on Amazon or from a local hobby story)
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • 2-inch-think Twine to hang ornament; cut into 5-inch lengths.
  • Strips of fabric or ribbon
  • Materials for floor such as sand, twine, branches, etc.
  • Foam or bead star

Directions:

Step 1: Wipe out large seashell with water and dry thoroughly.

Step 2: Select and sort into groups for Wise Men which small shells you would like to use.

Step 3: Glue down flooring. This can be glitter glue, sand, yarn, etc. I dried corn husks.

Step 4: Glue down Wise Men. Make sure to loop ribbon, fabric etc. around the body before gluing the head and crown. This can be any color or type that you want.

Step 5: Glue down presents. These can be small boxes like I used, square pieces of other material, etc.

Step 6: Glue star to the top of the shell.

Step 7: Wrap twine three times around to create a stronger loop. Put a dab of glue on the side that is being glued to the- shell to hold the pieces together.

Step 8: Glue twine to the back of the shell. To hide the glue on the back of the ornament, choose another shell to place over the area where the twin is affixed.

Allow craft to dry flat for at least 24 hours.

Download printable directions of this craft.

Note: Check out this month’s devotional, A Gift of Significance and the Wise Men Seashell Ornament craft that coordinates with this Bible study.

Happy Hopeful Fall

By Commissioner Colleen Riley

Happy Fall!! For some of us the colors of the trees are starting to change, and the mornings bring a fresh crispness as we take in the air outside. School is beginning again for our kids, a new program year is ahead of us, and the excitement is mounting! Or is it a little fear and trepidation mixed with the excitement?

I used to just want things to stay the same and predictable. Change was hard and I didn’t care for going out of my comfort zone. And then, for all of us, these past 18 or so months have happened; and we have all had everything become different and unpredictable, taking us far out of our comfortability in every way possible. Fear of today and for the future as well, has been foremost on our minds.

However, there is hope! Hope for today and for tomorrow. Hope for healing and well-being and that hope is found in our relationship with Jesus. I truly believe that God has something amazing right in front of us. He has used this time for a reset if you will. In speaking with others, they are seeing a new perspective on life and in how they relate to their family and friends. They are no longer taking advantage of the opportunities to spend time together and to tell each other that they love and care for one another.

For me, I see it is a new opportunity to grow in our relationship with Jesus. It is a chance for us to take that relationship, grow it and then help others to see the beauty in connecting with the Savior. And then out of all of that comes the ministry and discipleship opportunities in our Corps and in our communities.

Isaiah 43:19 says: “Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. For I am about to do something new.”

Do you see it? He is doing a new thing in our lives and in our Church. He is making a way in and through the wilderness that we have been through and will give us Living Water! I believe that there is far more in front of us than what we are leaving behind. A hope, a future, and a life of fullness with Him.

As we head into a new season of the year, let’s go forward together in the promise of His unfailing love, that He will continue to raise us out of darkness and into His Holy light! He is doing a new and beautiful thing for us, if we can only see it and embrace it! He has already done it for us. And when we get nervous or anxious, be reminded of the promise in Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself, goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Book Review: “2 Chairs: The Secret That Changes Everything”

By Major Iva West
Helena, MT Corps – Northwest Division

Bob Beaudine’s book, 2 Chairs: The Secret That Changes Everything, invites the reader to explore who God is in a very personal way. Beaudine challenges and encourages the reader to sit awhile at the feet of Jesus and to be present. The writer conveys the significance of being present with God and how that can positively impact their decision-making in their daily life.

Beaudine outlines seven practical steps for the reader to learn how to walk boldly, courageously, and faithfully through life’s challenges with God daily. Beaudine has a message for anyone who is struggling to understand the full scope of God’s promises and their self-worth. Each step reminds the reader of their value, self-worth and that God’s love can change their lives in a very practical real way. If you are struggling with life’s challenges and finding your purpose in life this book will remind you of God’s faithfulness on a daily basis.


2 Chairs was very meaningful to me especially now in the midst of the ongoing crisis around us. The book illustrates to the reader about God’s desire for us to slow down and spend quality time with Him. Beaudine employs us to trust and lean on God for everything regardless of our circumstances. I loved 2 Chairs because of how the writer used real illustrations that were applicable to me. Some of the concepts in the book might be challenging to consider but Beaudine substantiates all his principles with scripture. The concept of the two chairs was easily understood and brief.

It is my opinion this book would be very beneficial to all Christians, especially new believers. This book had a lot of diverse information and I was excited to read it. This book talks about an individual’s self-value, self-worth, and God’s unfailing love. I plan to utilize the two chairs analogy daily so that I can hear and feel God’s presence in my life more and more.


Book Review: “Christian Warrior Women: A Guide to Taking Back Your Faith, Family and Future”

By Major Monica Covert
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – California South Division

“Women are the bearers of the gift that defeats the enemy according to Genesis. The enemy fights back by stealing our faith, joy, and happiness through low self-esteem, loneliness, worry, finances, doubt, fears, single parenting, generational patterns and regrets of the past.” (author unknown)

Christian Warrior Women: A Guide to Taking Back Your Faith, Family and Future is the first in a series beautifully written by Lisa Hawkins, Founder of Christian Warrior Women. Lisa delivers a powerful message from God and shares from her own personal struggles.

There were many things I loved about this book. First, it was very easy to read and although it could have been a quick read, I took my time and took in every good word from a fellow sister warrior. It was also easy to relate to as many of her life challenges were quite common. I also loved how Lisa provided the opportunity for engagement by having us answer and reflect on questions and advice provided after sharing her real-life scenarios.

Women face many challenges in this world. We experience tragedy, betrayal, hurts and disappointments that keep us from moving forward in our journey and often leads us to forgetting God’s calling for us. Now more than ever, God is calling us into a deeper relationship with Him and to become warriors of the Kingdom. This world is our battleground, but without God, the battle cannot be won. We must break free from the bondage of our past and take up the warrior mantle God has given us to live and fight for Jesus.

Regardless of where you are on your spiritual and life journey, Christian Warrior Women is a good source for Christian women to learn what it means to fight back against the enemy and reclaim God’s plan for us.