Thank goodness! Plans and Timing=we see Perfect God!

Since Joseph is such a major character in the story of the birth of Jesus, I wanted to spend another day pondering the scripture in Matthew 1:18-25, , today I used the New Living Translation.

 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

matt 1 2120 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Looking again at our scripture, I was struck by Joseph’s compassion and consideration of Mary.  He knew that divorcing her was what was expected of him, but he wanted to do it quietly so as not to cause Mary further embarrassment.  He also thought about what to do and did not jump into action.  God knew Joseph was struggling with his decision,  so an angel appeared to him in a dream giving him direction on how to move forward.  The principle here is  that God knows the society in which we live and realizes we need His encouragement and reassurance to do His will when in opposition to worldly standards.  Joseph’s encouragement came in an angel dream but we have the Bible today which we can reference, search and rely upon as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit of God for direction and guidance.  Joseph did not have either of these so God took care of his needs in a different way which gave him exactly what he needed.

How do we see God in this appearance?  We see God’s omniscient knowledge of all that was happening, His realization of Joseph’s fear and need for encouragement and reassurance, God’s plan and forethought to bring Messiah into the world at exactly this time in history.  God is perfect.  Everything in this event is perfect.  What God says, does and plans is without fault.  Because God is unchanging and faithful, the measure of what perfection is begins with God.  What God wills is good and perfect.  His ways are flawless and righteous.  All scripture is included in God’s perfection.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 ” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”     

plan and timing GodAs you consider God’s perfection, think about His creation, His plans for our redemption, and the plans He has for your life.  All good things reflect His perfection.  Remember the promise of  Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

perfectGod has all your circumstances handled perfectly, relax and let God work in and through you today.  He can do it for you just as He did for Joseph.

Linda

Sovereign God, see Him today!

Joseph’s story inspires me in several ways.  He was an ordinary carpenter, a working man, righteous in God’s esteem and used by God to complete His plan for bringing His Son to us. He was completely obedient to God’s directions-he did as the Lord commanded.  He was compassionate as he respected Mary and sought to divorce her quietly not bringing further embarrassment because of her situation.  Here is his back story of how this happened to him, Matthew 1:18-25.

 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

history and sovereingty of GodWhere do we see God in this event?  For sure God’s power and might are displayed in the angel and the dream.  The choosing of the ‘right’ man for the job shows the knowledge of God and the exact timing of the events in the course of time-His sovereignty.

Today as I look at this I am struck by the Sovereignty of GodWhat does God’s sovereignty cover?   God controls all things.  There is nothing outside of God’s wise control, even the exact time and place for each person to live.  No one tells God what to do.  What God plans, happens.  No event, not natural disaster, no person, not even Satan can stop God’s plans.  God planned the time for His Son to come and He will return exactly as God plans in the future.   Do you see sovereignty here?  God chose the exact type of earthy father He desired for His Son-the right mother, the right home and time.  He placed him with a compassionate, righteous father giving Him exactly what Jesus needed to grow in wisdom and truth to accomplish His plan for our redemption.

What about you?  Do you trust wholly in God’s sovereignty?  Do you believe that He has the right place, plans and purpose for your life?  Joseph did not question God as He trusted in His wise judgement, plans and purposes for His life.  He was obedient to God-no doubting of God’s plan or power like we saw in Zachariah when the angel appeared to him.   No questioning of the incomprehensibility of the situation like Mary first did when the angel told her she would bear a son even though she was a virgin.  No, Joseph’s obedience and acceptance of God’s plans for his life are impressive and humbling.  He trusted totally in Sovereign God.

Sovereign-LordPray about Joseph’s example today as you seek to make obedience, compassion and integrity a part of your character.  God is sovereign and will lead you to serve Him exactly where He needs you to be.  Trust Him and He will grow and develop your character.

Linda

 

Tender Mercy-what is it, who has it?

Like Mary, Zachariah had a long song of praise to God after his speech was restored.  Luke 1:76-79  “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
luke 1 7878 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us  from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The first part of Zachariah’s song, Luke 1:68-75,  praised God for sending Messiah, as promised.  He speaks of the holiness and righteousness of this Savior to come.   In today’s scripture, Luke 1:76-79, Zachariah is praising merciful God for his own son, John, who will have a part in preparing the way for Messiah. John would be a prophet, prepare the world for the arrival of Messiah and give the people knowledge of coming forgiveness and salvation. Zachariah extols God for being merciful and sending  a Savior to give light in a dark world, provide guidance and would show us the way of peace. Just as Mary praised God for His mercy to her people Israel, so Zachariah praises God for His tender mercy to all mankind for sending John to lead the way and providing a guiding light towards forgiveness and salvation in Jesus.  Here Zachariah calls it the tender mercies of God.  Mercy is not giving us what we do deserve which is death for our sins and total separation from Holy God.  Tender mercy is mercy filled with love for us.   The Message reads, “Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us.”   Love, sincere love from the heart, motivated God to send Jesus to save us.  John 3:16 says it best,  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  God loved us so much He sent Jesus to make a way for us to be made right with Him.  That is mercy- we did not deserve.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “ but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  What a merciful God we have.  He loved us and sent Jesus even knowing of our sinfulness and the great cost to His Son to redeem us.  That is tender mercy from a loving God!

love and mercyMay your day be filled with His mercy and love towards you.  Then give it out like God did by sending Jesus.  You will be blessed.

Linda

Righteousness = God, what about us?

As you read today’s scripture taken from Luke 1:68-75 showing Zachariah’s praise song to God,  be mindful of God’s Righteous character.  Here is the definition of God’s righteousness-see how it fits with all God did and will do.  Righteous God God is right in all He does. He has always been right and always will be right.  All of His words and actions are right.  All of His plans are right.  God has no sin and is positively perfect.  God never lies.  He is fair, just and faithful in all he does.  We never need wonder if God is right, so we can trust God when we do not understand.

Luke-1-68“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.

The people of Israel could count upon God to keep His promises, treat them with mercy, never leave or forsake them to their enemies and guide them in a walk that is good all the days of their lives.  They knew their God was righteous in all ways.

Do you know Zachariah’s Righteous  God?  Through Jesus we can know God more fully and see His Holy Spirit working within us.  Romans 3:10 says, ““None is righteous, no, not one;”  Without Jesus we are lost and doomed to death because of our sinful nature.  We cannot get ourselves clean enough for Holy God.  Paul explains the solution to this dilemma in Philippians 3:8-9 “ Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

Philippians 3-9Give thanks today for our Righteous God who loves and desires the best for us.  He desires we seek Him and walk each day in His ways.  He desires that we grow in righteousness through faith in Jesus.  Blessings as you meditate on the Righteousness of God and your own ‘rightness’ with God through your faith in Christ Jesus.

Linda
 

Have you known the blessings of Obedience?

Luke 1:57-66 tell of the arrival of baby John to his mother Elizabeth and mute Zachariah, his father.  The angel Gabriel had pronounce God’s judgement upon Zachariah for his unbelief in Luke 1:19-20,  when he had questioned God’s ability to create new life within Elizabeth’s aged, barren body.   Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his John namefather, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

obedienceThis story shows how Elizabeth and Zachariah learned obedience and followed through doing exactly as God directed in naming their child.  When they had demonstrated this faith and obedience, the temporary judgment was lifted and Zachariah was able to speak.  Not surprisingly, his first words were words of praise to Almighty God for the miracles God had performed in their lives.

God is present in this very story, from the lifting of the curse of muteness upon Zachariah to the birth of a healthy boy in Elizabeth’s old age.  Even the neighbor’s recognized God’s mercy towards her and the joy she evidently showed at being a mother.  God is always faithful, keeping all His promises.  He is a promise keeping God.  In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings 8:56 we find, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.”   None of God’s promises failed nor will they ever fail.  2 Corinthians 1:20 gives a similar message from our promise keeping God,  For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”  Peter gives the usefulness of all God’s promises to us in 2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”   God has been and always will be a promise keeping faithful God. His promises provide us access to His divine nature and aid us in escaping the corruption of the sinful world we live in. 

GodkeepspromisesThank you God for being 100% faithful and keeping all your promises to us.  We can rely upon your nature and know you will do what you say in your Word forever.

Linda

Mary Praises Merciful God!!

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” Luke 1:50-55

mercy-savesYesterday I wrote about Mary’s praise for God’s preserving character, but today I want to focus on her praise for God’s mercy.  She knew God to be merciful, why?  She had seen Him show mercy on those who love and worship Him.  She had seen God’s mercy in her people’s history and in her own.

What does it mean that God is merciful?   God in His mercy does not give us what our sins deserve.  He limits the extent of pain.  He restrains evil and holds back sin.  He makes His gospel known in places where people have turned their backs on Him.  God seeks those who are lost, alone, hurting and in need.  He forgives and restores those who repent and turn to Him in faith.

grace-mercy

Mary knew that due to their sins in the past- worshiping other gods, idolatry, the people of Israel should have been abandoned by God in the desert, in Babylon, to their enemies, BUT God in His mercy saved them.  She knew that because of their rejection of Him- they should have been overpowered, taken captives and scattered throughout the world, BUT God in His mercy brought them back, kept them as one people returning them from Egypt and Babylon.  Mary knew that God is merciful to the individuals who love and revere Him- David as he fled from King Saul’s persecution, Daniel who survived the Lion’s Den, Joseph who survived being taken captive, imprisoned, wrongfully treated and then elevated to a high position so he could save his brothers, and herself.  She knew God was merciful to her by allowing her to be the mother of the coming Messiah, for choosing her, protecting and keeping her safe in a culture that would have rejected and mistreated her.   Her love for God and her thankfulness for His unending mercies shouts to us today.

How have you experienced God’s mercy?  Has He found you when you were lost spiritually, been with you when you were alone, or come to you when you were hurting from worldly circumstances?  Definitely if you know Jesus as your Savior, you have experienced the mercy of forgiveness and restoration, salvation and the hope it brings.  What mercy can you thank God for this Christmas season?   One of my favorite promises is Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”   I know and trust that God in His mercy will renew me each morning and give me a fresh new day.  God is merciful, loving and faithful to me.  Mary knew this, do you?

Thankful for God’s mercies to me,

Linda

Here is a quote I found that really spoke to me.  This truth gives me great reason to Praise Him along with Mary for His great Mercy.

the-mercy-of-god-will-always-be-greater-than-any-sin

 

Mary Praises Preserver God

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” Luke 1:50-55

I see two different attributes of God that stand out to me in Mary’s continuing song of praise. I’ll highlight one today and one tomorrow.  Today I’d like to talk about God’s as our Protector/Preserver. Mary knew that God had protected and preserved the children of Israel since the time of Abraham when He made a covenant with him.  Genesis 12: 2-3 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”    Mary would have been familiar with the stories of the Exodus from Egypt, the miraculous plagues, the saving of the first born, the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, the feats and battles of Gideon, Deborah, King David and many more.   She would have known of the preservation of Esther and the way God used foreign kings to bring them back from exile in Babylon.  Mary would have been familiar with Daniel and his stay in the lion’s den.  She had seen how God preserved her people generation after generation against all odds.  It is no wonder then that Mary praises and sings of God’s great upholding power with mighty deeds and personal support.

Who is this great preserver that Mary loves?  God preserves His own.  We can trust Him to preserve the good work He has started in us through Christ.  God preserves our lives for His purpose and He preserves our salvation.  Jesus promises that no one can take you out of God’s hand.  No temptation, no failure, no person, not even Satan can make us lose our salvation .  God preserves us, just as He did the children of Israel, so that we can accomplish His purpose.  He is our preserver.  Mary knew this in her heart and sang praises to the her preserver.

psalm-127Is Jesus your preserver?  Do you trust Him to help, defend and protect your faith and salvation against all enemies?  I love the verses in John 10:28-29 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”   Trust God and walk today with assurance that God has got you and will never let you go.  Mary knew this and sang out in praise. Join her in proclaiming praise to our Mighty God who promises to preserve us.

Held in the hand of Almighty God,

Linda

Thank goodness this is true!

john-10-28

Holy is Our God! Mary knew it do you?

my-soulAnd Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me– Holy is his name.”  Luke 1:46-49

This song of Mary’s is known as the Magnificat in Latin as the first word spoken is the word magnificat meaning glorifies.  Mary is praising God for being chosen to be the mother of the coming Savior and all the future honor that will bring.  She says her soul is rejoicing in being able to serve her God and bring glory to His name.  She is reveling in His mercy and grace and calls Him Holy.  Why would Mary choose the word Holy to describe God?  By worldly standards, Mary is in a precarious position.  She is an unwed mother to be in a time when that condition would bring shame upon herself and her family.   Yet, she praises God and extols His holiness.

What do Mary’s praises tell us about who she thinks God is?  Mary calls God HOLY.  God is high and lifted up.  He is set apart from His creation. No one is like God.  God sets apart His children for Himself and commands us to be holy as He is holy.  Being holy makes you whole, what God intended you to be.  Mary knew she had been set apart by God for His work.  She considers herself whole, complete and is thankful and filled with joy that she can be used by God.

Do you feel whole and complete when you are serving God?  Does your service bring honor and glory to God’s Holy name?  Do you rejoice in serving God?  Paul wrote to Timothy is 1 Timothy 3:13 “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.”  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:10-11 “Each one should use what ever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. I anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”   Paul, Peter and Mary recognized that our service can and does bring honor and glory to God when done in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our service also brings joy to our hearts and gives greater assurance in our faith.  God is Holy and desires us to be holy and honor Him in all we say and do.

Striving to serve a Holy God,

Linda

holygod-holypeople

Time to remember with Gratitude

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941.  It began 78 years ago at 7:55 am.  If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice.  War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men.   Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day.  The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers.  A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died.  I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day.   President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.”  Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.

05 Duty, Honor, SacrificeSay a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices of the men who died this day so long ago and for the men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.

Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.

Linda

Amazing- the Invisible God becomes visible!

After Gabriel spoke with Mary, she decided to go and visit her cousin Elizabeth.  She was going to have a child in her old age as the Lord had promised her husband Zachariah.   When Mary arrived Elizabeth and her unborn child greeted her.  Luke 1:39-45 “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary and ElizabethMary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

The baby inside Elizabeth’s womb miraculously recognized the baby Mary carried as the coming long-awaited Messiah.  This whole scene is surreal and gives us a glimpse into the invisible power and spirit of God.  God is invisible.  He is spirit and somehow Elizabeth’s baby sensed God’s spirit within Mary.  The miracle of Mary’s child is that the Invisible God of the universe was going to become visible for all mankind to see.  Even though God is invisible we know He exists.  Romans 1:20 says we are without excuse,  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”   We see evidence of God’s creation and power all around us.   With the coming of Jesus, the invisible God became visible.  colossians 1 15Colossians 1:15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

Let us praise God for his grace and mercy that He sent visible Jesus.   The Invisible became visible, Praise God!   Be encouraged today!

Linda