Thursday, December 15, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Understanding

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.

Understanding (binah) means, "understanding, insight, discernment, i.e., a good sense or wisdom to respond properly to the LORD; to be given a revelation as well as its meaning; and skillfully react to life situations.”

Binah carries strong moral and religious connotations. In Job 28:28, the act of turning away from evil was said to be understanding and was based on a prior proper discernment of what was evil. A lack of this kind of understanding was morally culpable and resulted in sin and even drove away God’s compassion for persons who did not have it. Happily, understanding as a moral or religious entity can be acquired and even increased by seeking after it diligently. The understanding that God desires has a cognitive dimension, therefore, as further illustrated when the author of Proverbs spoke of words of “understanding.” The understanding and discernment that is the object of all knowing is the knowledge of the Holy One. Understanding is to mark God’s people. It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that by means of understanding, God made all His created order. God has graciously endowed human beings with the ability of understanding and comprehension, but this faculty is not infallible, and, therefore, we are to ask God for guidance at all times (Proverbs 3:5-6). Our own ability of understanding should, however, function to give us discernment, for instance, in showing a proper attitude toward seeking the riches of this world. Understanding is the ability to look to the heart of an issue and to discern the differences at stake in the choices being weighed.

Pastor Raymond Ortlund writes: “The NIV translates binah as insight, which can be explained by recalling the difference between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the former having "insight" that far superseded the latter. You know how a client would walk into Holmes’s apartment at 221B Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes could take one look and know nineteen things about him, and it was always “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Dr. Watson saw the same person, but not with the same insight. This word “insight” means that the non-obvious can become obvious to you. The immature might not see what you see. They might even misunderstand you. This happens often between parents and children. But, parents, it is your role to be the Sherlock Holmes of your family. Don’t surrender that to your kids. They don’t have enough insight yet. They need yours.”

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful painting of the world shaped like a heart and wrapped as a gift with the word, “Understanding,” reminds me that God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son on that sleepless night in Bethlehem, that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life. If we can trust Him with our eternity, we can trust Him with our next breath, our next heartbeat. I lean into Proverbs 3:5-6…Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths. These verses from Proverbs can be a continual, lifelong, daily prayer for us to pray for all those we love, because our natural tendency is to lean on our own understanding and do things our way instead of depending on God’s wisdom and ways. The longer I live, the more I realize that all of our responsibilities, all that God has called us to do, are beyond our own human ability. There is nothing I can do apart from God. In everything—whether it is parenting; relationships with my husband, children, grandchildren, and friends; ministry work or writing—I need to depend on God, seek His higher understanding, His wisdom and His will, and then trust in His leading with all my heart. As I do these things, I become the recipient of God’s wonderful promise in Proverbs 3:6—He will direct my path—a promise that is backed by all the honor of His name. Even when it seems that there is no way out, when we’ve hit our own limitations or a dead end, God will guide us and make a way for us.

Lord Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, help me to trust in You with all my heart today. Guard me from depending on my own limited understanding. Instead, help me to rely totally on You. I desire to seek Your will in all I do today. Thank You for the promise that You will direct my paths so that I can walk hand in hand with You, depend on Your higher understanding, and seek Your will in all I do. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on
Proverbs 3:5-6 …pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on
 Proverbs 3:5-6 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps…


  1. Stopping over from LiveFree Thursday! What a beautiful print and inspiring devotionals! So much of our Christmas preparation is centered around shopping, decorating, cooking and cleaning that we miss the true Gift of the season. Thank you for a great reminder to remain focused on the birth of our Savior and King. Blessings to you, Dianna

    1. Dianna, Dianna, Thanks for stopping by my blog this morning and leaving an encouraging comment! I hopped over to your blog this morning too. I love your open, honest, transparent post today! So many of us walk a mile in your shoes from time to time. At a Young Life inner city retreat in 1971, while sitting under an oak tree alone having my quiet time, the Lord sent a ray of sunlight through the tree, highlighting these verses in my original Living Bible…”We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.”—Romans 8:24-25 TLB

      Many Christmas blessings to you!

  2. I love this picture so much! And thank you for sharing your thoughts on understanding. I've been thinking a lot about these verses over the past couple of weeks. Thank you for linking up this post at Booknificent Thursday on!

    1. Tina, Thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging comments. It is a blessing to link up with sweet sisters in Christ at Booknificent Thursday on Many Christmas blessings to you!

  3. I love the way in which these posts invite me to consider all the glory of Jesus coming and living and dying and rising and interceding for us before the throne of God. We are so blessed!

    1. Michele, you are such an inspiration to me! You always encourage me and so many other writers with your positive and insightful comments. Many Christmas blessings to you and your sweet family ❤️

  4. Very interesting, I like the old Basil Rathbone movies as Holmes. I hope we all gain a little insight or understanding in the coming days.

    1. Amen, Rebecca. Thanks so much for stopping by! Many blessings to you ❤️


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