Partial Obedience is not Obedience

Now that I have my word for the year, I need to delve into the scriptures I’ve chosen. There were 4 scriptures that resonated with me and 2 I chose for my focus verses.

The first of my 4 verses that I chose is from 1 Samuel 15:22. King Saul was anointed by Samuel, the priest, as King and blessed by God. The Lord gave him instructions on how to deal with the evil Amalekites. He was to completely destroy them and not take any plunder at all. Saul mustered his army and went to battle with the Amalekite King. He won the battle but took King Agag prisoner and took his flocks as his own. Here is the story after Saul returns from battle, 1 Samuel 15:13-29

 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”

14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.

“Tell me,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

Did you notice that King Saul did not obey the Lord’s commands but says he did in verse 20. He thought that partial obedience was obedience. Does that sound familiar? When God requires us to not murder or covet, yet we hold murderous or covetous thought in our minds that is only partially obeying the Lord. When God requires us to keep the Sabbath holy, yet we feel it is okay to miss church or not ever go because we don’t feel like it or it interferes with our rest time that is partial obedience. When we believe in God and desire to follow Him but only do it half way that is partial obedience. King Saul only partially obeyed the Lord and choose what he wanted to do instead. He kept King Agag as a trophy to parade before the people as a symbol of their victory and they only kept the best of the sheep and cattle and killed the rest. To compound this sin of disobedience, Saul tries to put the blame on his men. He said his soldiers brought back the best sheep to use as sacrifices. God tells King Saul what he thought of his partial obedience in verse 22. You thought to bring the best sheep as sacrifices to me, said the Lord, but I’d rather have total obedience. Don’t try to cover your disobedience with an excuse. As a result, God removed the throne from King Saul and his descendants. Later Samuel anointed David king but he had to wait 14 years before Saul to died in battle. During those 14 years, Saul tried to kill David repeatedly and remove him as the future king. His plans always failed as God protected David and his kingship was established.

What do we learn about obedience in this story? God requires that we totally, wholeheartedly follow Him. He wants our total surrender to His ways and plans. Partial obedience = disobedience. This concept is hard to see sometimes as we like to rationalize how our doing part of what God wants and see that as okay with Him. Looking at this story, God wants it all. The glory for the battle victory belonged to the Lord and was not Saul’s to take as his own. They were ridding the land of an evil group of people. By partially obeying the command, we see later in 2 Samuel 1 that David was still fighting the Amalekites and one actually came to him and reported Saul’s death. God knew the Amalekites would continue to be a thorn in the side of Israel, influencing them with their evil ways and God wanted that influence gone. The parallel for us is that God knows the evil or worldly influences He desires eliminated from our lives. He desires our wholehearted devotion. By only being partially obedient to Him, we are allowing those influences to remain in our lives and leaving ourselves open to temptations and sin.

Where do you need to be obedient wholeheartedly, not partially? Are you only partially committed to Bible Study or daily reading of the Bible? Do you only go to church when you feel like it or do you make it a priority to worship God each week? Where do you choose the majority of your friends? Are they from the world around you or from others believers? Friends can be a powerful influence on you as well as those you can influence. Ask yourself, where is most of my influence coming from? Who do I need to influence for the Lord?

Ponder this verse and examine your own obedience and ask God to show you where you are only partially obeying Him. He will reveal this to you as you seek Him, then repent and seek to be totally obedient. God desires obedience as it pleases Him. “To obey is better than sacrifice,  and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Linda

Here are a couple of quotes on this subject- old and new.

Keep Seeking Your Word, God will Provide!

It has been a slow start to 2023 for me. After giving the challenge on January 2, I have been silent on my choice of a Word for the year. I have been in prayer and the Word God has given me is Obedience. There are lots of good connotations that are connected to this word as well as hard one too. So I went in search of related words that would help me refine and define more fully obedience. I took the words and placed them in a graphic to give me a visual representation to post in my office. My related words of heart and soul, love, keeping commandments, fear of God, blessings, heart, service, love others and love Him have really helped me see a broader aspect of Obedience. The related words came from verses I referenced on obedience.

The scriptures I found that spoke to my heart were:

Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” I personalized this verse and put my name in the place of Israel so it reads for me: “And now, Linda, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,”

Psalm 128:1 “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.”

1 Samuel 15:22  But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

2 John 1:6 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

As you can see the words in my graphic came from scripture and helped me see a direction for my obedience. The Lord will define more fully what He means for me this year in the way of obedience first to Him, then my obedience to love and serve others as I am serving Him. I am looking forward to what God will show me this year, 2023, and how He will use my obedience to Him to bring blessings into my life.

I pray you have found the Word God has given you for the year already or are still pursuing it. God promises if we ask he will answer, and if we seek Him and we will find Him. Keep on knocking.

Linda

The graphic can be done on a free website, http://www.wordart.com Enjoy!

The Magi’s View of Jesus, Is it yours too?

Many Christians celebrate ‘Epiphany’ on January 6. It is a celebration of the arrival of the 3 Kings, the Magi, the Wise Men in the Christmas Story. This is a celebration of Christ’s birth, his childhood experiences and marks the end of the Christmas season for many by removing their Christmas decorations. Here is the scripture of this event from Matthew.

Matthew 2:9-12 “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

The Wise Men heard directions from local king Herod, saw the star begin to move again and followed it. It was important that Mary and Joseph were still in Bethlehem so that prophecy would be confirmed that Jesus was indeed born there. However, they could have been anywhere and the star would have led them to Jesus. When they saw this ‘king’ they sought, their first reaction was one of worship and praise. They must have realized that Jesus was god incarnate. There must have been something about him that showed his Sonship even then as a babe. They knew that this was the child they had been seeking. Their gifts were lavish and worthy of a king. Gold was fitting a king, frankincense was used in worship and myrrh in burial. These costly gifts were undoubtedly used by God to save His Son in the days ahead. God intervened in the Wise Men’s journey as He warned them not to return to Herod. God knew the evil intent in Herod’s heart and mind and thwarted him so that he would not find out where Jesus was. God providentially brought the Magi at just the right time to just the right place for His Son and his earthly family.

What are you looking for this New Year? Are you seeking to find God more fully? We are promised in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” That is a promise every seeker can claim with assurance. Open His Word, join a Bible Study, fellowship with other believers and God will show Himself to you just as He promises.

What would be your reaction to Jesus? If you were with the Magi, would your be overwhelmed with a desire to worship and praise Him? Would you know Jesus? In John 10 Jesus assures us that we would know Him. John 10:14 ““I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” No matter where we are we will know Jesus as He lives within us and His Spirit testifies with our spirt. Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.’ Being a believer in Jesus, we can be assured and claim these promise. No worries- He knows us and we know Him!

What gifts would you bring that would be fitting for our king? Romans 5:17 speaks of the gift given to us through Christ, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Do you seek to bring your faith as a gift to God? It is His gift to us by His grace and is worthy to be brought back to Him and presented with all thankfulness.

Do you want to be in the right place at the right time like the Magi? If so, begin anew in 2023 to seek Jesus, listen for His voice and make worship a matter of priority. You will be blessed with increased faith and a peace that comes only from knowing Him.

Linda

Are You a Curious Seeker too?

While you are pondering and praying over what your word will be from God’s Word for this year, let us continue the Christmas Story. Matthew 2:1-8 recounts the story of the Wise Men who came in search of Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘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.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

Herod was an evil king who was appointed ‘king of the Jews’ by Rome. He was remembered for his cruelty, greed for power and his great building projects. He was a Jew but as we can see by the text, he did not know scriptures well. He greeted these foreign Wise Men and found the answer for them as to where the child might be. However, in requesting them to return and tell him where the child was so he could go and worship him, we know this to be a power motivated request so he could eliminate his competition. Herod wanted no one to be more powerful, have his title or live to tell about it.

Since the Wise Men would have seen the Star of Bethlehem in the sky when Jesus was born and it would have taken months for them to travel to Jerusalem, most scholars put their arrival about 1-2 years after Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph had decided to stay in Bethlehem after the census. We do not know if it was required that they stay or that they were reluctant to travel again with a young child. The providential hand of God was at work in their staying as they were right where they needed to be when the Magi appeared. It was a fulfillment of scripture and confirmed for history that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. The gifts provided by the Wise Men allowed Mary, Joseph and Jesus to escape the evil king Herod’s grasp, as we will see.

What can we learn about the Wise Men and God from this portion of the story? The Wise Men were seekers from the east. They had to have been men of means as they had the funds to undertake this lengthy journey in search of the child. They wanted to find this child of God to worship him. That speaks to me of their profound curiosity and conviction that the child they sought was ‘special’ and to be used of God. They must have had faith in Almighty God and have known His power in their lives. God is an integral part of this story as He caused the Wise Men to see the star in their studies. He put curiosity into their minds to discover who the child was and a desire to go and worship Him. The Wise Men acted upon their curiosity and traveled months to find Jesus. God allowed them to come before Herod and protected them from harm. God’s guiding hand can be seen in the coming and going of the traveling Wise Men.

Where is God leading you? Are you interested in pursuing things of God? Are you willing to ‘put things on the line’ to pursue what God has presented to you? What motivates you to go in search of Jesus? Each of us are seekers like the Wise Men. We need to be sure we are going to the right place for our directions and listen to God daily as we seek to live in this world filled with Herods who would seek to destroy us and our faith. Be sure to check God’s manual for living, the Word of God, the Bible for the best directions for living and then pray and listen to God. Just as He guided the Wise Men, He will provide and guide you as you focus upon Him.

Linda

Looking to God for A Word from His Word in 2023

As we enter this New Year of 2023, it is time to think about what God has in store for you. One way to do this is to have a Word from His Word to be your focus. I have done this for several years now and have found it to be uplifting for my faith and walk with God. God amazes me how the Word He gives me is repeated continually thought-out the year. Many times it is encouraging to my walk, sometimes instructive but always guiding.

I would challenge you to pray about this as you read and study this week. Ask God what Word He would give you from His Word for this new year. He may give you more than one word to pursue so do that and see where He leads you. The Word you have for your focus has others that are or will be related to it. Make a list of your main word and then 5-10 related words. God will guide you to hone and zero in on the Word He has for you. Now that you have your list, look to scripture for verses that use your word or words and see how God guides in choosing focus verse for the year. I generally end up with 1-2 verses.

Here are some verses and words to get you started:

Joy- Psalm 16:11, Psalm 63:7, Habakkuk 3:18 or James 1:2

Hope–  Psalm 62:5, Psalm 147:11, Jeremiah 29:11, Lamentations 3:21-22, Romans 5:4-5 or 1 Timothy 4:10

Trust- Psalm 28:7, Psalm 31:14, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 3:5-6 or  Jeremiah 17:7

Grace– John 1:16-17, Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 12:9, or Ephesians 1:7

Peace- Isaiah 26:3, Matthew 5:9, John 14:27 or Philippians 4:7

Or you may choose to examine words like: unity, compassion, mercy, steadfastness, stability, generosity, service or enough. When examining words like these you need your list of 10 related words to aid you in your search. Have fun with this and make it an adventure in listening to God and hearing what He has to say to you about your New Year!

May God encourage you as you seek His face this week and look to Him for your Word from His Word.

Linda

Assurance in the New Year, 2023

I know I do not know what the New Year will bring into my life, but I do know the one who knows and faithfully cares for me. Here are some scriptures to encourage you as you look into the New Year: (be sure to read the note to self at the bottom)

God is faithful and His mercies are new each and every morning. Lamentations 3:21-23 “But this I call to mind  and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;  his mercies never come to an end;23 they are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.” I can cling to God’s character as I traverse this year being assured of His unending love for me and His faithfulness to those who believe in Him.

God cares for me. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” I can depend upon the goodness of God, His protective nature and His care for me.

God a plan for my life that is good. 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.” Whatever this year may hold, I can trust in God’s plans for my life as they are good and filled with hope. My future is secure in Him.

God’s salvation plan is secure because of my faith in Jesus. John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

God’s promises are true and He is always with me. 2 Peter 1:4 “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” I know God has given me His promises so I can live rightly for Him without fear. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I do not need to live in fear of them- the world, enemies, bad economic and difficult times, because God is always with me. I can depend upon His faithful character.

May you look to the New Year with hope and anticipation of what God will do in and through your life in 2023! The world is constantly changing and often not in a good way. But we can remain steadfast and plugged into God as He is constant and will not change on us. Hebrews 13:8 is a promise to hold onto, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. Praise God we have a faithful, immutable God to lead us in 2023!

Happy New Year!

Linda

Christmas story…continued, Anna

Luke indicated in 2:22-23 that Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus went to the temple to offer a sacrifice for their new born son and for Mary’s purification. Law required that she wait 40 days after giving birth to a son to enter the temple and had to offer a sacrifice for her purification. This was an important event as they were consecrating, dedicating their new born son to God. All firstborn be it animals or people were to be dedicated to the Lord. During this event, they first met Simeon who had been told by the Lord that before he died he would see his Lord and Savior. He trusted God and believed God’s Words that he would indeed see his savior. He knew God to be a promise keeping God.

After their encounter with Simeon and hearing his prophesy, they encountered Anna a prophetess.

Luke 2:36-38  “There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Doing the math, she was over 91 years old and since the temple was very large, she lived their daily spending her time worshipping and praying. Being a prophetess, she would have received prophesies from the Lord. Other such women in the Bible were Miriam, Moses’ sister, Deborah the fearless leader during the time of the Judges, Huldah, Hannah and the daughters of Philip. Anna’s encounter with Jesus, Mary and Joseph was brief but revealing as God showed her the one who would redeem the Jews.

What can we learn from Anna and her encounter with Jesus? God knew the exact time in history that His Son would be revealed to the world. He placed Simeon and Anna there at that moment to confirm for us that Jesus was His Son and had a divine purpose. He was not a random child of Jewish parents but God’s Son. He was the one through whom God would redeem all mankind. God chose devoted followers to speak of Jesus’ coming work in the world. They were elders, revered and respected for their lifestyle, devotion to God and their ability to speak prophetic words from God. Their appearance in the life Jesus was confirming for Mary and Joseph and showed how much God loved them. God wanted them to know, along with Anna and Simeon, that Jesus was His Son and they were a part of His story. God graciously included them in His work to save mankind.

How is God including you in His work? Has He given you people to tell of His wonders and grace? I like to think of these as God opportunities or God moments. Has He given you people to serve and help so that they may see Him in and through what you are doing? Has God called you to stand firmly for Him and wait patiently like He did Anna and Simeon? What ever God has for you in the New Year, embrace it, claim His promises, and cling to Jesus daily so that His work may be accomplished through you. You will be blessed. Remember, Obedience brings blessing. 2 John 1:16 “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

Make 2023 a year of obedience and love as you seek to walk with Him daily.

Linda

Christmas story…continued, Simeon

Most of us think of the Christmas story being over after the shepherd’s visited the new born king. However, there were several significant events within the first few months and years of Christ’s birth that scripture deems important enough to include. The first occurred just 40 days after Jesus’ birth. As was Jewish custom they went to the temple to offer sacrifices for their first born son, as was required by the Law of Moses. Women were not able to present themselves at the temple until 40 days after giving birth to a son and were then expected to offer a sacrifice for their purification. Bethlehem is near to Jerusalem so they journeyed there for the ceremony.

Luke 2: 22-35  When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

This portion of the story tells of Simeon’s faith and belief that he would indeed see the Messiah before his death. He had waited patiently for years but believed God’s promises to him. This portion of the story was a confirmation, yet again, to Mary and Joseph that their child would be special and do great things. Also, this portion of the story shows us God’s power, Sovereignty and Omniscience. God had the power to come upon Simeon and reveal future events and purposes He had for His Son. It shows God’s Sovereignty over time and people in causing the future to be exactly as He says. Lastly, it shows God Omniscience. He knew what the future would hold, He knew what Jesus was sent to do to redeem Israel and He knew who was involved.

What does this portion of the story have for us? Like Simeon we can trust God to fulfill His promises. The Bible is filled with His promises to us. Claim them for your own. Need and idea or two, see my book Promises for Dynamic Living. It is available from my publisher, Certa Publishing, or from Amazon. It is filled with Promises you can claim in your life. Knowing God’s promises increases your faith and will lead you to trust God more fully. Like Mary and Joseph, we can read what Simeon prophesied about Jesus and see what His future would be. We can compare that to His actual life recorded into the gospels and see the truth of His redemption. We can also see God’ power in the events, His promises kept to Simeon and His Omniscience. Knowing those we can walk trusting God more fully each day. God’s knowledge of the future and sovereignty over events did not stop with Jesus, but is true for us in our time too. God knows the things that will impact our lives and we need to walk daily trusting Him to know the future and fulfill His promise to us.

Linda

A Reminder of What Christmas Brings…

This blessing shows us what having Christ in Christmas does for you and me.

His Spirit brings us peace. John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” His peace dispels all fears, removes our heart troubles and calms us in a chaotic world.

His arrival brings us hope for forgiveness, mercy and redemption. Colossians 1:13-14  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead“. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

He brings warmth into our lives with His love. 1 John 4:7-9 speaks of God’s love for us. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” God is love and He sent Jesus as proof of that great love. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

May the Peace, Hope and Love of God fill you day.

Merry Christmas,

Linda

A Journey towards Freedom and Joy!

My journey though the Christmas scriptures has brought me to Christmas Eve with a humble and open heart. I know I did not get to the Wise men or aged Anna and Simon yet, but the Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not meet them until after his birth. Anna and Simon were encountered in the temple when Jesus was circumsized after 8 days, as was their custom. The wise men saw the star when Jesus was born and followed it, arriving in Bethlehem about 2 years after his birth. The gifts they brought provided monies for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they had to flee in the night to Egypt to avoid Herod’s executioners. I’ll continue with their parts in this story next week. However, the journey thus far has given me renewed hope in the Sovereignty of God. He was then and is now in control of all things. God has a plan which is to bring as many people to himself as are willing to come. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” All the details before, during and after the birth of Jesus shout of His sovereign power to bring about the impossible.

This Christmas Eve, meditate on the delivery of all mankind from the power of sin and the freedom revealed in Jesus’ birth. Power over sin- Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Romans 5:9 “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.Freedom- 2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Lastly, take time to rejoice in the Savior. He is worthy of all our praises and brings joy for you and me. Romans 5:11 “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Have a blessed day remembering how God led us in the journey, delivered His promises and provided unending joy for all mankind through the birth of His Son.

Linda