Never doubting their guiding God, Jesus and family return

Herod the Great died in about 4 B.C. so an angel appeared to Joseph again and gave them the directions they were waiting in Egypt to hear.  

Return to NazarethMatthew 2:19-23:  But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

History proved Joseph’s fears to be real and God’s direction faithful as Herod Archelaus  was an incredibly cruel and tyrannical.  He was deposed after 10 years and the Roman’s took over with governors appointed by the emperor.

Joseph followed God’s direction and settled in Galilee in the town of Nazareth.   God was an amazing Guide throughout Joseph’s journey’s.  From leaving Nazareth to travel to Bethlehem with pregnant Mary for the census to Egypt and back to Nazareth,  God led the way.  God was their guideGod God-is-our-guide-videoleads us in the way we should go.  His Word teaches us how we are to live and think.  Because God gives His children the Holy spirit, they recognize His voice and follow Him.  We can trust God to lead us in the right way.  Without God’s guidance, we would stumble and fall like people in darkness.  Jesus is our guiding light so we can walk with God where He leads us with confidence and assurance.

Just as God was their Guide, He can be our guide in life too.  We just need to listen for His voice, John 10:3, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”  We can be confident that God will guide and lead us.  Here are a few verses to reassure you can trust Him as your guide:

Psalm 23:2-3 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.   

Psalm 31:3  “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;”

Psalm 32:8  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;  I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Psalm 48:14 “that this is God, our God forever and ever.     He will guide us forever”

ps-23-2-3_origMay you follow His leading each day,  knowing that God is faithful and trustworthy.  He will guide you, just as He did Joseph and Mary.

Linda

Where did Jesus go? Escaped to Egypt, just as God promised

After the visit of the Wise Men to see Herod, it was only a matter of time before Herod discovered Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  The Wise Men did not return to Herod and tell  where they had found Jesus,  but listened to God’s warning and left the country another way.  Matthew 2:13-18  describes what happened next.

egypt“When they had gone (the Wise Men), an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”    God knew the inquiry of the wise men would stir up jealousy and hatred in Herod, so He sent an angel.  Like before when the angel appeared to Joseph, he was obedient and did not question the wisdom of God.   He took his little family south to Egypt and remained there and waited for further direction from God.

Herod, in the meantime, did not wait to act when he discovered the wise men did not return to tell him of the new king.  He knew they had found him and had slipped away.

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,  weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children  and refusing to be comforted,  because they are no more.”  

Leaving a trail of blood, hatred and jealousy is Herod’s legacy.  God knew this would happen and foretold both the fleeing to Egypt and the destruction of innocent lives hundred’s of years beforehand.   Jesus came to fulfill all prophecies concerning Messiah and He did.

Where do you see God in this portion of the story?   Certainly we see God’s foreknowledge of events, His care for Mary, Joseph and Jesus,  His thwarting of Herod, His messaging through an angelic being, His provision of funds for the trip from the Magi’s gifts, His protection…. God showed his fatherly care of this new family and of Jesus’ mission for all mankind.   God is our heavenly Father.  He is the father to all who God-Is-Our-Fatherbelieve in Jesus, His Son.  He gives us His Spirit, adopts us into His family and makes us His children.  He speaks to us through His Word and we can speak to Him through prayer.  God is always good, wise and loving.  He loves and protects, cares, trains and disciplines His children.  As a good Father, God gave us His Word, Sent His Son and then His Holy Spirit to help us live lives pleasing to Him.     John 14:26  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  

May you be blessed today as you realize anew the love of your heavenly Father.  He cares for you as no one else can.

Linda

God’s Power in our Lives!

Our story of Advent began even before Gabriel approached Mary and Joseph as it was in the mind of God from the beginning of time.  The arrival of the Messiah, one who would save mankind from their sins, was told throughout the Old Testament.  Scripture also mentioned one who would come before this Messiah, Savior, and prepare the way for His arrival.   Today in Luke 1:11-17 we find two people, Zechariah and Elizabeth who were consider devout and blameless (verse 6).   This didn’t mean they were sinless, but that God recognized their devotion and love for Him.  They had been married many years and had no children.  Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth his wife was called barren.  They were both considered old, and she was beyond child bearing age.

Zechariah was serving in the temple and an angel appeared to him.  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 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.”  The angel told Zechariah their prayers for a child had been heard and would be answered with a son he was to name John.  Then the angel continued and told him about this unusual child, what he would be like and what purpose God had for him.  “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 bring 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.”

luke 1 13Can you imagine Zechariah and Elizabeth’s surprise at hearing this news?  Their prayers had been heard and the answer was forthcoming.  It was not only their prayers but the prayers of the nation of Israel for a Savior, Messiah, that would to come and save them from their sins.  Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son would go before this coming holy one and prepare the way for Him.  What honor and joy they must have felt!

How do we see God in this portion of our Advent story?  As I began yesterday, knowing that God would hear my cry for understanding through His Word so Zechariah and Elizabeth were assured by Gabriel that their prayers had been heard for a child.  They had prayed for years for a child to raise and love.  God had chosen them to parent this coming one who would proclaim the Messiah.  What joy they must have felt at knowing God heard their prayers and that they would have a child.  On a bigger scale they would have understood that they would all be part of God’s  plan for the redemption of mankind.

This reveals that God is accessible to us in prayer.  He hears us and responds in His own way and in His own time.  All God’s plans are for His glory and our good.  I also see God’s infinite grace in revealing His plan to them, showing them how He was going to use them GodsGraceand their son.  God did not need to tell them all these things but showed them His grace in revealing it to them.  Grace is God showing us kindness or favor we do not deserve.  One does not earn grace, it is freely given by God.   Psalm 84:11 says “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.”  We also see God’s ability to know the future and have all things under His control, Sovereign.  His supernatural power to provide an impossible child for Zechariah and Elizabeth also shows His love and care for us as individuals.  

May you see our Accessible, Gracious, Loving, Caring and Sovereign God at work in your life today.

Linda

Joy, Fear, Surprise, Elation, Defeat…How would you have felt at the empty tomb?

IMG_0462The post resurrection appearances began at the empty tomb.  This fact occurs in each of the 4 gospels and in 3 of the gospels it includes the appearance of a heavenly being interacting with the grieving followers of Jesus.   Since Jesus had been hastily buried due to the need to have him entombed before sundown, as it was the beginning of the Sabbath and no one could be buried on the Sabbath, His body was not properly prepared with spices.  It was wrapped but not treated.  The women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb with spices intending to anoint Jesus’ body.  We are told it was very early in the morning and they talked among themselves about how they were going to get the stone in front of the tomb removed so they could enter to anoint Jesus’ body.

IMG_0470 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “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.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.  Mark 16:4-8

The angel, who appeared to be a young man, told them not to be afraid of him as he had good news about Jesus.  He encouraged them to look and see that he was not there.  He also told them to go and tell the others Jesus had risen and they would see Him again.  Then the women rushed to tell the disciples.  John describes their reactions in John 20:3-8. So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

Can you even imagine their joy, surprise, awe, fear or confusion over experiencing the empty tomb, the angel, the clothes that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body neatly folded?  The disciples saw and believed.  How about you?  Do you see the things God does in your life, the unusual happenings, the providential circumstances that can only be explained as God’s hand?  Do these things register with you that God loves and cares for you?  He has a plan for your life just as He did for these disciples. He wanted them to encounter the living God, the resurrected Jesus, and experience His transforming power in their lives.

he-has-risenMay you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today.

Linda

Angels appear- Oh my! What now?

shepherds fieldsI love the story of the shepherds and the angels.  God’s heavenly beings announcing the biggest event in history to lowly shepherds, the guys out tending the sheep in the lonely hills.  In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened.   Luke 2:8-9

If you had been on guard duty that night, it would have been totally dark in the hills around Bethlehem.  The only light would have been the moon and stars until out of nowhere you are suddenly surrounded by glorious flashing lights.  I think terror would have been the emotion of the evening.  Before we hear from the angels in tomorrow’s passage, let’s stop and consider why would God send holy messengers to announce His Son’s birth to shepherds?  Why not to the powerful kings of the day, or nobles?  Perhaps Jesus said it best, in Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Jesus came as our Savior to touch the lives of those that will seek Him.  He came to save 1 timothy 1 15the world from the penalty of sin which is death.  Timothy wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”  

As you listen and think about the flashing lights on that lonely night in Bethlehem, praise God that Jesus came.  He alone can save.  John 14:6 ” “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

Have a blessed day,

Linda

The Impossible is Possible with God

Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most beautiful prophecy’s about the birth of Jesus.  Isaiah gave this prophecy during the reign of wicked King Ahaz.  He had paid Assyrians to induce them to attack Syria.  King Ahaz had put his faith and trust in men instead of calling upon God for defense.  Isaiah invited Ahaz to request a sign of faith from God, but Ahaz in his stubbornness refused.  God then address the whole house of Israel with this prophecy of the coming Messiah, their true hope, and sign from Almighty God that He God with uswould provide deliverance.  Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  

God is amazing as 400 years later this came to pass just as He said.  Matthew 1:19-25 gives us the account of the angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, and telling him not to fear taking Mary as his wife. The child she is carrying will be called Jesus, Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’ and was conceived by God the Holy Spirit.   “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

An angel also appeared to Mary and told her“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

What amazes you today about this prophecy and drama as it unfolded?  I love the specific details of young Mary and the baby.  Jesus, God with us, truly came to save us from our sins just as the angel said He would.  The odds of this happening just this way in luke-1-37exactly the way God said it would affirms God’s sovereignty, omniscience, wisdom and power.  How can all this be we ask along with Mary?  The angel had it right in verse 37 “ For nothing will be impossible with God.”   

Praise Him and give Him your impossible today!

Linda