After Advent..Journey Complete-there are lessons for us!

The old saying, “It is good to go but oh so nice to come home”, could be said of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in this last episode of the Christmas Story. God again directed their pathway and protected them from harm. He led them to the place Jesus would call home until His public ministry began some 30 years later. Matthew 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.”

As this portion of Jesus’ life concludes we see the hand of Sovereign God protecting the child and his parents, yet again, from the evil leader who might seek to harm the child. Archelaus was evil and tyrannical like his father Herod. He only remained in power for 10 years but was know as unusually cruel and tyrannical before being deposed. His reign was short and afterwards Judea became a province of Rome. The subsequent rulers were appointed by the emperor. Again, God spoke and Joseph listened and obeyed his dreams. Going back to Nazareth was probably comfortable as that was where they had lived prior to having to go to Bethlehem for the census several years before. Even though people would have known their history, they were returning as a married couple with a small child. Scripture does not indicate there was any animosity towards them or held beliefs or prejudices. Nazareth was a quiet backwater type of town where obscurity could be achieved and the child protected. Again, this protected location is seen in the prophesies that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. These exact words are not found in the Old Testament but their meaning of one who is despised and rejected is referred to in Psalm 22:6 and Isaiah 53:3. Being referred to as a Nazarene in Jesus’ day was synonymous with one who is despised. Surely, nothing good could come from Nazareth was the assumed idea. No one would look for the ‘king of the Jews’ in such a place and no one did!

What can we take away from this story today? We see that God’s will and plan for the redemption of mankind through His Son could not be thwarted by men. God had a plan for our salvation and nothing could disrupt it. Job 42:2 reminds us of this ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” We also see God’s hand of protection in Mary and Joseph’s story and His guidance to Bethlehem, Egypt and back to quiet Nazareth. So many things could have befallen them on their journey, but God protected and guided them home. He can and does this for us in our lives, too. We may not see it, but as God grows our faith and opens our eyes to His goodness we learn to trust more fully in His plans and ways. It is a life long process of growing in the Lord that matures our faith. I’m confident that this ‘journey’ was one of growth and trust in the Lord for both Mary and Joseph.

As we leave this last installment of the Advent Story, let us remember with confidence that God’s plan is sure , Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” , His ways are not our ways, Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord,” His ways are always right ,Psalm 71:19 “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? and He does things for our good and His glory Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Praise God for His blessings and what He teaches us through His Word. The Advent Season is one to be cherished and loved. We can cling to the Hope, Love and Redemption we see throughout the year. Jesus is the reason for Advent Season! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16

Linda

Advent…the 4th Sunday, Peace Good Will Towards men

On this 4th Sunday before Christmas, we light the 4th purple candle in the Advent wreath. The first purple candle was lit on the 1st Sunday- the prophecy candle which symbolized the hope the coming Messiah brings to mankind. The second was the Bethlehem candle which reminded us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. The third candle was pink symbolizing the Shepherd’s joy at the birth of the Messiah. Today we light the Angel’s candle symbolizing the message given to the angels which was one of “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.” The final white center candle will be lit on Christmas Eve which speaks of the arrival of the Messiah, the Christ child.

Rejoice today as you worship and sing carols. Ponder the blessings of hope, joy and peace that come to us because of God’s mercy and grace in sending Jesus as our Savior. Here is Psalm 130 which speaks of our cries to God for mercy as we realize our own sin. The answer rests with the Lord and His mercy towards us in sending Jesus.

From the depths of despair, O Lord,
    I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
    Pay attention to my prayer.

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
    who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
    that we might learn to fear you.

I am counting on the Lord;
    yes, I am counting on him.
    I have put my hope in his word.

I long for the Lord
    more than sentries long for the dawn,
    yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
    for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
    His redemption overflows.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from every kind of sin.

Thank you Lord for your unfailing mercy and love. Thank you for sending Jesus to redeem me from every kind of sin.

Linda

Advent…Joseph’s Example=faith & obedience

Today we shift from Mary and her relatives to Joseph’s encounter with God and his journey of faith and obedience. Matthew 1:18-25

18 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. This portion of the Advent story tells us a lot about Joseph’s character and their customs. Being betrothed in those times was more binding than an engagement today and they were considered husband and wife even though they did not live together or have relations. To end a betrothal it was necessary to sign divorce papers. Joseph knew because he was righteous, meaning he followed the laws of Moses and abided by them in his daily life, that announcing publicly that Mary was with child would lead to her public judgement and stoning. He cared for Mary and decided to do this quietly to save her life.

20 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.

Joseph was given directions from God through a dream. This was not an unusual way for God to speak with someone as he appeared to Jacob, Joseph, Gideon and others in Old Testament times and Joseph would have known these stories. The angel specifically said he was to take Mary as his wife as her son was of the Holy Spirit. She had not been unfaithful but was being used by God for a greater purpose. He would have known of the promised Messiah and that his coming was to be by supernatural means through the line of David. Isaiah who lived hundreds of years before Joseph had prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 of this coming event. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. As the angel spoke these words to Joseph, he knew the truth of Mary’s circumstances and stepped out in faith to do as God commanded. He was immediately obedient.

Joseph’s character was one of shining faith and obedience. He did not question, argue or doubt God and His request. He did not doubt God’s ability to cause Mary to be pregnant though His Holy Spirt. He did not seek help with family problems over marrying an already pregnant fiancée. He stepped out in total faith doing just as God commanded him to do. I thank God for this glimpse into Joseph’s character as it gives a picture of the faith and obedience God desires of me also.

What about you? Will you step out in obedient faith and follow God’s direction this Advent season? Look for those God given opportunities to show your faith in Jesus.

Linda

Advent…An Unexpected Answer

Our Advent journey continues with Mary’s answer from the heavenly angel. He had surprised her, soothed her fears and told her she would give birth to a son whom she would name Jesus. She asked the angel how this was even possible as she was a virgin and had known no man. Here is the angel’s unexpected answer from Luke 1:35-38.

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Talk about a miracle birth! Wow! Imagine Mary’s surprise at those words, “the Holy Spirit of God will come upon you.” She was to bear the Son of God. In her wildest dreams she would not have conceived the idea that she could bear the Messiah. It was the impossible. It was the unthinkable! But God, said it would be so and she knew that would it would be true because God keeps His promises. She knew how God had kept his promises to her people by bringing them out of Egypt, giving them the land of Israel, bringing them back from Babylon and keeping them for generation to generation as a people who called Him Lord. If she was doubting at all, the angel added in the fact of Elizabeth’s pregnancy which would be considered a miracle at her age and something only God could make happen. His final words brought hope to Mary and definitely to me, “with God nothing is impossible.”

What was Mary’s response to the unexpected news? Mary answered in faith. She did not question the angel but accepted his miraculous news by faith, trusting God to work out the details. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” What would you have said? Do you have that kind of trusting faith in God and His plans for your life? Perhaps Mary recalled Jeremiah 29:11 and claimed it for just a time as this, “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.” She trusted her future to the Lord and looked forward with expectation knowing He was going to do great things for her good and His glory. Can you have that same attitude this Advent season? Can you look forward to the way God can and will use you to bless others and show His love? Claim Jeremiah 29:11 in your own life and look expectantly for the ways God will use you for your good and His glory each day.

Linda

Advent…Unbelief or Belief, Your choice

Scripture tells us that Zachariah was a godly man, followed the law and was blameless. He was a man of faith and lived his life devoted to serving God. What happened next surprised me, but when I think of my own faithlessness and doubts it shouldn’t. Zechariah let doubt and unbelief take hold of his thoughts and mind and here is the result. Luke 1:18-22 from The Message translation.

18 Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.” 19-20 But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time.”

21-22 Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary. When he came out and couldn’t speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.

Zachariah heard the message from Gabriel about the son that would be born to he and Elizabeth, and he did not believe God capable of making that happen. He let the fact that he and Elizabeth were old be greater in his mind than the resources and power of God. Gabriel saw and heard his unbelief. Unbelief is sin and sin has consequences before Almighty God. Gabriel did not strike him dead but touched him in a way that Zachariah would know beyond a doubt that God was in control and He is not to be doubted. Later in our story Mary questions Gabriel, but her questions do not come from unbelief or doubt in God’s ability to make it happen like Zachariah. God is okay with questions but not with unbelief. So, Zachariah’s ‘punishment’ would be his inability to speak, since the words of doubt came out of his mouth, until the baby was born. My guess is that immediately Zachariah knew his error in judgement and went from doubt to faith in a heartbeat. Now he had to live with the consequences of his unbelief until the birth of his son.

The crowds were waiting outside the temple for the priest to come out from offering prayers and they immediately knew something had happened to Zachariah. His gesturing showed he could not speak but probably there was a look on his face that revealed his wonder at the encounter with an angelic being as they concluded he had seen a vision from heaven. What outward signs are evident in your countenance that you have been with God after a time of prayer? Does your prayer time give you peace and hope? Do you allow this peace to be expressed towards others?

This real life story of godly Zachariah speaks to my heart as I see my own doubts and fears lived out by him. I am reminded of the scene from Mark 9:23-24 where Jesus helps a mute, demon possessed child brought by his father after the disciples had failed to cure him. He came seeking Jesus’ help and wondered if He could cure him. “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

I am so with the father of this child as I too pray for Jesus to help my unbelief. Prayer changes things and helps us to solidify our faith as God speaks to our hearts and minds and reassures us of who He is. When you find yourself overcome with doubt, be like this father, pray for Jesus to help you overcome your unbelief. He will answer as you seek to know and trust in Him.

Linda

Fallen People and their Faithful God

And the journey continues….Judges. This Old Testament book highlights the time after the death of Joshua, the leader that had led them into Canaan, and the establishment of a monarchy. Their lives became a cycle as they lost sight of God as their ruler and leader. They would fall into idolatry, be oppressed by another nation then call on God to rescue them. God rescued them through a series of Judges who led the people back to God and out of harms way. Some are well known like Deborah, Gideon and Samson. Each led the armies of Israel to a victory miraculously provided by God.

The account of Deborah’s defeat of their attackers along with her commander Barak are given in Judges Chapters 4 and 5. Together with the Lord’s guidance they defeated Sisera and his 100 iron chariots. He fled the battle and was killed as he slept. The victory is recounted with praise to God in ‘The Song of Deborah’ in Chapter 5. We are reminded that victory is the Lord’s and He is worthy of all praises!

“That the leaders took the lead in Israel,
    that the people offered themselves willingly,
    bless the Lord! “Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
    to the Lord I will sing;  I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.” Judges 5:2-3

What victory do you need to give praises to God for today? Where has God rescued you from enemies, your own mistakes, or your own selfishness? Just like the Israelites, we only need to call upon the Lord with a repentant heart and He will stand with us to face the consequences our actions have brought. I cling to the promise of Isaiah 49:16 “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;  your walls are continually before me.” God knows me and is with me 24/7 surrounding me with his love and protection.

Gideon’s story is told in Judges Chapters 6 and 7. The Israelites fell into idolatry again and were under domination by the Midianites for 7 years. The Midianites were oppressive as they stole their crops, livestock and ravaged their land. Many of the Israelites were very afraid and lived in caves hiding from them. The Israelites cried out to the Lord for deliverance. God called Gideon to lead the people and sent an angel to deliver his message. Gideon was doubtful of his ability to do what God asked. He asked God for a sign as proof that He was really calling him to lead the fight against the Midianites. Gideon set out an offering and the angel of the Lord consumed it with fire. (6:19-23) Gideon did as the Lord required and led a fight against the opposing forces. Then more forces came against Israel and Gideon asked for another sign that he should continue. Judges 6:36-40 “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. Gideon was convinced and led the army as God directed. They routed the Midianites in a miraculous way! Read the account in Chapter 7 of Judges.

I love this story of Gideon as it showed Gideon’s human doubts and God’s reassuring love, patience and longsuffering towards His servant Gideon. When Gideon stepped out in faith, God was faithful and gave him the victory. Where are you doubting God today? Take a lesson from Gideon and ask God for reassurance. It can be as simple as praying and asking God for His peace if you are to continue with…. or ask God to close a door/opportunity if He does not want you to proceed. Our answers do not have to be tangible fleeces but God wants to reassure us and resolve our doubts so we can step out with confident boldness. When He gives you the assurance, be bold, trust God and proceed in faith. I am reminded of God’s faithfulness in 2 Timothy 2:11-13

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
God is always faithful even when we are not! Praise God!

If you have some time you might also enjoy reviewing the story of Samson in Chapter 13-15. He was called by God, given extraordinary strength, let his pride cause him to sin and give into his deceitful wife’s pleas, received awful abuse by the Philistines and then God gave him victory over their enemy. Again we see, in spite of our weaknesses, God can and does use us to bring His victory.

Linda

What Do You See in the Empty Tomb?

We have looked at Sunday’s Road to Emmaus appearance and an early the Upper Room appearance where Jesus came to the disciples, but today let’s go back to Resurrection Sunday morning and visit the scene again with fresh eyes. When you look into the tomb, do you see hopelessness and despair or hope and freedom?

The post resurrection appearances began at the empty tomb.  This fact occurs in each of the 4 gospels and 3 of the gospels include the appearance of a heavenly being (an angel) interacting with the grieving followers of Jesus.   Since Jesus had been hastily buried due to the need to have him buried 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 fully treated.  The women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb with spices intending to anoint Jesus’ body.  The gospel accounts say it was very early in the morning as they walked and talked on the way to the garden tomb.   They were concerned about how they were going to get the stone in front of the tomb removed so they could enter to anoint Jesus’ body.  When they arrived this was the scene:

garden tomb-Jerusalem

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 as he had good news about Jesus.  He encouraged them to look and see that Jesus was not there.  He also told them to go and tell the others Jesus had risen and they would see Him again.  The women rushed off 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 empty and the face cloth neatly folded?  The disciples saw and believed.  How about you?  Do you look and see the things God does in your life? How do you explain unusual happenings in your life? Is it the providential care of God? Do these things register with you that God loves and cares about you?  God has a plan for your life just as He did for these disciples. He wanted them to encounter the living God. He wanted them to see and believe! Jesus wants that for us too. Jesus wants us to live with Hope in Him and know He is alive! He wants to dispel our doubts and fears so we may walk each day trusting Him. Open your eyes and see God today. He is alive! He has Risen indeed!

he-has-risen

May you encounter the Living Jesus and His transforming power today.

Linda

Advent Reveals Messages of Power and Hope

Joseph was such an important person in Jesus’ life, I wanted to take another day with the scripture of God’s intervention on Joseph and Mary’s behalf. Matthew 1: 18-25 NLT

“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. 20 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.

The angel’s message to Joseph, in addition to the words he spoke to Mary gave them confirmation that the child she carried and that they would raise was from God. The angel told him his name was to be Jesus and his purpose in coming was to save his people from their sins. The angel did not want any confusion concerning his name, since like Zechariah the friends and family would expect the baby to be named Joseph after his father. The confirmation of the child’s purpose was something only God could do-saving from sin. The reference to the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is one Joseph and Mary would have known and would have been further confirmation that the messages were from God.

The information this new husband and wife had is amazing about their unborn child: He was to be called Jesus, meaning God with us. He was coming as Savior to redeem people from sin. He was be called Son of the Most High and Son of God (Luke 1:32,35). He would reign on the throne of David (Luke 1:32). His kingdom would be eternal (Luke 1:33) and He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). I’m sure Mary and Joseph discussed this miracle and the future effect on their lives. As the story continues to unfold, they would have to draw on their strength of faith and fully trust in the power of God.

Is God asking you to step out in faith and walk with Him in some area of your life today? What evidence can you draw from to gain perspective and hope so you can continue walking in faith? Mary and Joseph had the angel’s messages, confirmation in scripture and the Holy Spirit abiding within Mary to guide them. Where can you look for guidance? We have the whole Bible and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Dive into scripture, pray and ask God to reveal His answers to you. I am confident Mary and Joseph clung to their faith and decided to walk with God in faith even though they did not know all the ins and outs of what lay ahead. God has confirmation, hope and assurance for you just as He provided for Mary and Joseph. Choose faith and walk with Him.

Linda

Advent, A Love Story Unfolding

Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John are all major players in the coming of Christ and are portrayed in Luke. Today we are switching to Matthew to read the story of Joseph who is the betrothed young man to Mary and we will see God’s intervention on his behalf. Matthew 1:18-25

18 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.

I am captivated by the thoughtfulness and concern Joseph had for his fiancé, Mary. Custom dictated that she would be stoned for adultery, Deuteronomy 22:24-25. In their culture the betrothal was much more binding and could only be broken by divorce, thus Mary was referred to as his wife and he her husband. Joseph knew they were not yet married physically and that he had not yet slept with her. Her being with child meant she had committed adultery in the eyes of the Jewish law. Joseph cared for Mary and did not want to see her disgraced and killed. Scripture says “he considered these things.” His heart must have been heavy and troubled as he thought about these grave circumstances. I’m sure he thought about the Mary he knew and could not understand her ‘betrayal’ with another man. In comes the angel bringing answers to his questions and restoration of his hope, love and devotion for Mary. Isn’t that just like God to send an answer just when we need it most? His timing is perfect and no harm was done to Mary, Joseph and the growing child within her. Their faith was increased and their relationship strengthened as they stepped out together in faith.

God’s reassuring message to Joseph led him from doubt to faith, from fear to trust, and from worry to resolve. Being a good Jew, Joseph would have known about the promised Messiah, about His birth by a virgin and the power of God. Joseph was a man of conviction, courage and faith. Look how he responded to the angel’s message in verse 24 “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him”. He took Mary as his wife. His response was obedience. Consider these:

Joseph’s faith, courage and conviction speak to me today. As great as those character qualities are in us without obedience they are lost. 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” God desires that our faith will bring us to obedience. Joseph’s part in this story shows the great blessings instore for him through obedience. God has no less for us. Let your faith bring you to greater obedience as you seek to walk with Him today.

Linda

Advent Teaches about Attitude

Mary’s story has so much to teach us I wanted to spend another day looking at the scripture of the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary and her response. Here is our scripture passage, Luke 1: 26-38 , in the Amplified translation. 26 Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” 35 Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.

Mary was perplexed at the greeting from Gabriel and wondered what God could possibly mean. Isn’t that just like you and me? We are led by God to do something and constantly ask why or why me? What did I do to deserve this? Did I make a mistake or maybe God did by choosing me? All Mary’s questions were answered as the angel explained fully about this child. Gabriel said her conception would be supernatural and that the child would be called the Son of God. Now that is an answer that requires faith to even at attempt to understand it. How much like our own lives and God’s answers to our prayers. We cannot see the forest for the trees, so to speak, when God shows us an answer that seems impossible. I love Mary’s response as God knew that she was a servant at heart. Do you see yourself as a servant of God? Are you willing to do whatever He asks of you? At my age, even knowing the Lord for a long time, I often hesitate. Mary at probably 15, had tremendous faith in God and was willing to serve the Lord without question. What a wonderful heart and attitude she had.

May we not lose the wonder at what God can do in us and through us, and May our hearts be as open and willing as hers.
Linda