Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 ESV
With a name like Caligiuri, you can imagine what it was like for me in school when the teachers took attendance the first day of each year. Usually, after a while they would get it right but sometimes, I just gave up and simply smiled and nodded at their mangled attempts. The great thing about Jesus is that He not only knows our name, but He also knows how to pronounce it as well as every other detail of our lives! In this time as we are passing through storms of violence, division and confusion, it is a great comfort to know that if we have given our life to Jesus and repented of our sins then God has our names written in Heaven. There, no one will ever erase it, forget it or replace it. We have an eternal place with Jesus and there is no greater joy than being His! Today’s song – When the Roll is Called Up Yonder reminds us of this time of celebration, in a toe-tapping and upbeat way that has made it one of our favorites at the nursing home. I wish I could show you more of the faces of my friends there, but with usually this is not permitted. But one day we will have the chance to all meet on the other side and the good news is that we will all be younger and better looking there!!
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8 KJV
When I briefly worked from 11pm till 6 am, I found myself suddenly a part of an exclusive group of people who only see the world from mid-night till dawn. On the night that Jesus was born, just above Bethlehem were shepherds who were the third shift workers of their day. The more important shepherds got the first shift jobs. But in the darkness of that night, those unnamed and seemingly unimportant third shift shepherds were about to become the first people on earth to hear the good news of Jesus Christ! That message was that God had remembered His people, He remembered Bethlehem and He even remembered shepherds whom everyone else had forgotten.
Did you ever stop to think that God also remembers you? He is not satisfied to visit only the better homes in the better neighborhoods with the biggest churches with their beautiful appearances. Just as the shepherds were watching their flocks at night so God watches over us when we are going through the darkest moments of our lives. He knows right where we are. He hears us and He still sends angels with His message of good news. There is no better place than right where you are to hear the news; that Jesus Christ came to bring hope and salvation to us all: even to third shift shepherds out in their fields at night!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song: he has become my salvation. Psalms 118:13-14 ESV
“Are you sure you can do this?” Mike yelled over the sound of the rushing stream.
“No problem, I’ve got confidence!” I shouted back as I finished cutting the trunk of the tree that had fallen in the water. But as the saw sliced through the last inch of bark I realized too late that my calculation was terribly wrong. In a moment I was catapulted head over heels with the running chain saw still in my hand. Mercifully, the saw flew away from my body and I landed chest deep in freezing water. I was embarrassed and unhurt but on the other side of the stream my friend Mike was doubled over in laughter. “I’ve got confidence! I’ve got confidence!” he kept repeating, between peals of uncontrollable laughter!
My problem was not lack of confidence, but that I didn’t think I needed any help. There I was catapulting through the air until God caught me. He was a friend standing by that stream ready to rescue and He will not laugh when we mess up. (Though I sometimes wonder if He chuckles). God promises to be our strength when we ask for help – our song when He gives it and our salvation, when we learn to put our confidence only in Him!