Prepare the Way for the LORD!

Isaiah 40 1Isaiah 40:1,3,4 opens the Messiah and that is where our Advent story begins.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”  A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.

It had been 400 years since the prophet Malachi had spoken and the people were hungry and eager to hear from God.  Hundreds of years before Isaiah had prophesied that the people would be comforted by the voice of one crying in the wilderness who will proclaim the arrival of the Messiah.  The one spoken of here is John the Baptist.  His mother Elizabeth was Mary’s Aunt and their babies were due months apart.  Zachariah, John’s father, had received visit from the angel Gabriel foretelling the birth of this forerunner of Jesus.  Luke 1:13-17 “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will luke 1 17bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.   Just as Isaiah had prophesied,  John came and proclaimed a message of repentance and prepared the people for the Lord’s coming.

Isaiah also spoke of leveling the ground in Isaiah 26:7 The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.”   Jesus, Messiah, would come and make way for the righteous.  Jesus indeed smoothed the way for mankind to be made righteous through His coming, His death and His resurrection.  All the mountains of sin that stood between God and man were made low through His sacrifice.  Jesus made “every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain” for those of faith to come to God.  He removed the barrier of sin between us and holy God.  Jesus made the way for us to be saved.

John, the herald of Jesus, came to call Israel to repentance and faith.  Let us answer his call today  as we meditate on the beauty, exactness and completeness of God’s Word and the hope we have in Jesus.

Let our Advent journey begin with repentance,

Linda

Journey through Advent with the ‘Messiah’

Psalm 22In Psalm 22 David wrote words that described the coming Messiah’s work and anguish while here on earth.  When he took the sins of the world upon himself Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, so far for the words of my groaning?” (verse 1)   The Psalmist describes Jesus’ conditions on the cross, “they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (16b) “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (18)  These visions of Messiah and what awaited him were given to David.  By reading them, we can see proof that Jesus fulfilled each and every prophecy made about him and be assured that He is from God.  We catch a glimpse into the Omniscience and Sovereignty of God.

HandelMessiahThis advent season I will be blogging each day using prophecies about Messiah and His coming as highlighted in Handel’s Messiah.  He turned the words of Charles Jennens, his librettist, who created the story from Old and New Testament passages into glorious song.  Handel wrote the Messiah in about 3 weeks in the late summer of 1741.  His divine inspiration has humbled and inspired audiences ever since.  Recently, I got a copy of a handbill that is given out when one attends the Messiah.  It contains all the scriptures that the ‘story’ is based upon and their references.  Each time someone attends a performance of the Messiah, they are presented with these scriptures in both writing and song.  Praise God!  He has used Handel and his work ‘The Messiah’ to tell his story to the world since 1741 in this unique way.

Join me in a journey this Advent Season through the ‘Messiah’ to catch a glimpse of our Savior and His mighty works.

Excited about the journey,

Linda

A Time of Preparation- Getting my mind and heart ready

Since Thanksgiving came earlier this year, we have many days in November left before entering Advent which begins December 1.   This week I want to prepare myself for the coming of Jesus so I can better absorb the Christmas messages.  Hebrews 2:9 speaks of Jesus’ coming and the position it put Him in to come to earth.  “But we do see Jesus, who Hebrews 2-9 Jesus Made A Little Lower Than Angels brownwas made lower than the angels for a little while [by taking on the limitations of humanity], crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering of death, so that by the grace of God [extended to sinners] He might experience death for [the sins of] everyone.” AMP    The author of Hebrews wanted us to see and know how Jesus lowered himself to come to earth.  Being in a human body placed him lower than the heavenly beings He had created in the heavens and with mortal man who He has also created.  The Creator Himself came to earth.   Why?  The verse tells us God’s purpose in coming- to extend grace to us sinners and to save us from the penalty of death.  Because of my sin, Jesus came to save me and restore me.  Psalm 103: 3-5 sums it up perfectly.  Jesus “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit  and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”    

psalm 103 4As we move towards December 1, let us be mindful of why Jesus came and what His coming accomplished for us.  Praise God that He came to forgive, heal, and redeem me from the penalty of eternal death for my sin and crowns me with His abundant love and compassion.  He alone satisfies my soul.

My prayer this week:   Thank you Jesus for coming.  I know it was at great cost to you both spiritually and physically.  There is nothing I can do to repay you for your gift, but I give you my love and devotion praising you for your mercy and grace towards me.  I am restored because you came.  I am forgiven because of your sacrifice.  I am humbled by your love, mercy and devotion to me.  Thank you Jesus for coming.   Amen.

Blessings as we anticipate His arrival,

Linda

Glorious Profit on the Blackest of Friday’s

black fridayI was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’.  It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’.  It began as a term to describe the crowds,  like the street was black with pedestrians.  It then became a day  to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased.   In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land.  “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.  Luke 23:44-46   The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me.  His death was the darkest day that brought the greatest profit for us.  John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath.  Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they rushed to get Jesus down from the cross, hastily buried and settled in a borrowed tomb.  Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste.  After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday.  “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.”  Mark 16:1  Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death.  An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”  What joyous news they had to share!

That blackest of Friday bringing death to Jesus and a hasty burial brought the greatest profit to you and me.  Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it.  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”    That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history.  Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be colossians 1 ;21in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven.   We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin.  That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.

As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ.  Praise Him as you do.

Blessings,

Linda

God is Worthy of All our Praises!

give thanksGive thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8

This is a great way to view the opportunities we have a Thanksgiving time to share with our family and friends the many things God has done for us during the year.  Going around the table and naming our thanks, putting words to what our hearts know gives glory to God as we praise Him.

Here is another verse to stimulate your thankfulness- Hebrews 12:28  “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by unshakableworshiping him with holy fear and awe.”   Spend time thinking about the unshakable kingdom we have access to through Jesus.  His kingdom is without end, holy and pure, a place of hope and security, a place of worship and love, unchanging and permanently held in place by God, ordered and governed by righteousness and presided over by Jesus.   Having head and heart knowledge of God’s glorious kingdom leads us to praise and worship that is filled with reverence and amazement.  I am always brought to my knees when I consider the power and greatness of my Savior.  His sacrifice was great so that I may know and experience His kingdom during my life now and into the future.  

640x1136 mobile phone wallpapers download - www.wallpaper-mobile.comAs we approach this wonderful holiday time, take time to put words and thoughts to your thanks both to your family and to God.  Thank Him for all He has done, is doing and will do for you.  He is an awesome God worthy of all our praises!

Blessings,

Linda

Always Having a Grateful Heart Through Him

ThankfulnessIn Colossians Paul talks about specific areas in our lives that should create thankfulness within us.  15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:15-17 NLT

Paul teaches that we are to be thankful always for the peaceful living that is possible for us as brothers and sisters in Christ as we work together for the cause of Christ.  Next,  he reminds us that our worship should reflect our thankfulness to God.  Lastly, Paul explains that we need to be thankful to God as we are able to speak as a peace of christrepresentative of Christ because of His sacrifice for us.

One of the key elements in our thankfulness is the peaceful living in Christ we experience towards one another causing us to be thankful always.  Singing praises to God creates in us a state of worshipful living in the presence of God causing us to have grateful hearts and because of Christ we can be His representatives living in and with Him causing us to give thanks through Him.

May the peace you experience this season of Thanksgiving with your brothers and sisters in Christ make you always thankful.  May your times of worship be rich and fill your heart of jesusheart with gratefulness and may your times of sharing about Christ remind you that you speak for Him to others and cause you to give thanks though Him.

Thankful always for you -my brothers and sisters in Christ,

Linda

Be on the Thankfulness Track!

Thankfulness

This week as we draw nearer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to focus my thoughts on being thankful.  It is a state of mind and being that pours out of us because of who we are in Christ and what He did for us on the cross.  In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he wrote, Col 2 7 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Look at the key steps Paul gives in these verses that result in thankfulness.   1- You accepted Jesus as your Savior,   2-You are committed to following Him, 3- You are growing in the knowledge of who He is and what purposes He has for your life 4- You are striving to live for Him and build your life on Him, 5- Your faith is growing and you are learning more and more about His truth.   All of these steps lead to *** overflowing thankfulness in your life!   The result of having Jesus in our lives will be thankfulness.  If you are not experiencing thankfulness- at which step above are you faltering?  Do you know Jesus as your Savior?  Are you committed to Him or is your faith just a Sunday thing?  Are you taking time to get to know Him-through Bible Study, prayer and fellowship with other Christians?  Are you trying to apply God’s truths to your life by letting the power of the Holy Spirit work in and through you?   Jesus knew commitment was hard and spoke of our need to be single minded and focused on His kingdom in Matthew 6:20-21. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.”  AMP  

What does your heart reveal?  When you look inside yourself, do you see thankfulness?  If not, turn to Jesus today and get back on the thankfulness track.  It is never to late to step back into the steps Paul outlines and head towards overflowing thankfulness!

thankful peopleBlessings of thanks,

Linda

Veteran’s Day- Remembering

I am currently reading All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque with a student.  It graphically describes the horrors of WWI as seen through the eyes of a young German soldier.  Most of us read this in High School and could not relate to what the author was saying.  We were too young and inexperienced to realize the truth of the characters experiences.  Nothing adequately describes the horrors of war and its aftermath in the mind and soul of the individual.  November 11th is set aside for the specific remembrance -the 11th month, 11th day at the 11th hour the armistice was signed ending WWI, named the war to end all wars, and yet it did not.  Scripture tells us there will we wars and rumors of wars until the end of time.  Today we remember those who served and those who died in any war or conflict with grateful hearts.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are some pictures of the beaches and cemetery at Normandy.  This was place of great sacrifice during World War II.  Thank you to each Veteran on this Veteran’s Day for your service and the sacrifice of all those who have died to preserve our freedoms.  I am most grateful.

In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. (NIV)  These brave men and women paid the ultimate price and they did not even know me.  I am humbled by their patriotism and sacrifice on my behalf.

Gratefully,

Linda

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I AM the Shield

God is our shieldIn Deuteronomy 33:29 the LORD gave 2 names by which God is known- the Glorious Sword and the Shield.  Previously I wrote about the Glorious Sword but today my focus is on God’s name-the Shield.  Blessed are you, Israel!  Who is like you,  a people saved by the Lord?  He is your shield and helper  and your glorious sword.  Your enemies will cower before you, and you will tread on their heights.”  God was the shield for His people in Old Testament times and today He is a shield for all believers.  Through faith in Jesus we can claim God as our Shield and helper.    I looked up the word shield and found several definitions – armor held to ward off blows or missiles, a person or thing that guards, protects or defends and a shape in various forms that protects in tunnels from cave-ins, a heavy metal screen like a heat shield, insulating wire that shields against electrocution, or a protective screen against radiation.  As you look at the verses below-see how God is the perfect shield in all circumstances!

ephesians 6 16Ephesians 6:16 “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”    God is a Shield against Satan’s arrows or missiles.

Psalm 3:3 ” But you, Lord, are a shield around me,  my glory, the One who lifts my head high.  God is the person who shield and defends. 

Psalm 5:12  “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;  you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”   

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield;  my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy,  and with my song I praise him.”    

Is God your all around shield that protects you in all circumstances against the world that seeks to destroy your witness and lead you away from Him?  Consider these verses:

Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect:  The Lord’s word is flawless;  he shields all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield;  the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold  from those whose walk is blameless.

Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers,  and under his wings you will find refuge;  his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalm 119:114 “You are my refuge and my shield;  I have put my hope in your word.”

Proverbs 30:5 ““Every word of God is flawless;  he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

God's protective careAs a believer, God promises to be the Shield in your life.  American Civil war hero, Stonewall Jackson, claimed God as his shield and was so thankful.  How about you?  Be encouraged today!

Linda

 

 

I AM the Glorious Sword

Lord swordTwo new names of God appear in Deuteronomy 33:29, Glorious Sword and Shield.             “Blessed are you, Israel!
    Who is like you,
    a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper
    and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
    and you will tread on their heights.”   Moses concludes his blessings to each tribe with this overall statement of the blessed position the children of Israel had since the Lord was with them, fighting for them and protecting them.  As believers, we belong in God’s family today and have God as our protector, defender and shield.  

The image of God having or wielding as sword is seen throughout scripture.  David refers to God’s sword in Psalm 17:13 “Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
    with your sword rescue me from the wicked.”  David knew that God would defend him and calls upon God to use His sword in action.  In Isaiah 66:16 God is shown to be the avenger and judge at the end of time. For with fire and with his sword  the Lord will execute judgment on all people,  and many will be those slain by the Lord.”    Jesus himself adds to this image as he explains his mission was one that would result in divisiveness between those that believe and those that do not.  Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  Later, the apostles described the power of God’s Word to be like a sword.  Ephesians 6:17 “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”   We are to Holy spirit swordgo into battle with God’s sword-the Word of God as our offensive weapon.  Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”   God’s sword can cut through anything physically or spiritually.  Lastly, in the book of Revelation the image of God’s glorious sword is in the mouth of Jesus combining both images of a physical sword and a sword of the Words of God. Revelation 1:16 “In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”   Revelation 19:15 describes Jesus as an avenger and judge for Holy God’s honor and hatred of sin,  “Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

How can God’s glorious sword help or comfort us today?  God promises to listen and hear our prayers.  We can call upon God to be our protector and defender just like David.  We can rest in the knowledge that God will avenge wrongs done to us and will judge all evil in the future.  We can take God’s glorious sword ourselves and use the power of His Word to conquer unbelief in those around us.  God’s Sword will divide, discern and always be victorious.  We can hope in a future where God, the glorious sword,  will reign bringing justice and peace to all who believe.  Great images to take with you today that can bring peace, hope, restoration and victory to our lives.

Linda