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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linda

Mary and Me too, God knows our NAMES!

Gabriel next appeared to Mary,  the young virgin betrothed to Joseph, and told her she was going to be the mother of the Son of God.  Mary was fearful and concerned about what this would mean for her future.  The angel calmed her fears and pointed her to God.  Luke 1:26-33

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to 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.”

There is so much to see about God in this portion of the Christmas Story.  God is all powerful and can do all things, Omnipotent.  God has a plan for the redemption of mankind and has had it since the beginning of time and He is using a young girl to move god-is-personal (1)His plan forward, Sovereign, Eternal.  But today, I see a personal God.  The angel told Mary not to fear and called her by name.  God knew her personally.  She was not just some girl but one God had specifically chosen for the task of being the mother of Jesus, His Son.  God is a person who knows us, desires a relationship with us and communicates with us.  Here He spoke to Mary by name through the angel Gabriel, but He also speaks to us today through His Word and in prayer.

knows my nameJesus assured us in John 10:3-4 “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”   Jesus as our good shepherd knows each one who believes in Him by name.  We are also assured that as believers we can and will recognize Him when He speaks or calls to us.  

Mary as a young girl knew this too and trusted her future to God.  God knows you personally; He knows your name.   Call out to Him today with assurance that He will answer because He knows you and knows exactly what you need even before you ask.  Be greatly encouraged, the God of the universe knows you by name.

Linda

Friends in Christ are a priceless gift from God.

friend push After yesterday’s post in 1 Corinthians I was drawn to Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul often opened his letters with thanks towards the people he was addressing.  I particularly love this passage in Philippians 1:3-6.  “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” 

Paul was thankful for his Christian friends who worked alongside him in preaching, teaching, praying and witnessing.  They had been together in spreading the Good News about Christ for a long time.  They had a bond of friendship that was sealed by their love for their Savior, Christ Jesus.   Look at verse 6, Paul is saying that he knows Jesus will continue to work in their lives, no matter what.  He knows the faith they have will grow in Jesus until their death or Christ returns.

The friends I have that are believers are bonded to me in a very special way.  No matter how long we are apart, when we get together again it is like we never parted.  We share the spirit of Christ that lives within us.   I am so thankful for the  brothers and sisters I have in Christ that work alongside me in ministry.  I know that the good work that Christ is doing in their lives and mine- molding and shaping us to be more and more like Jesus will continue into eternity.

Phil 1 3Do you have special friends that come along side you and support you day in and day out?  If so, let them know how you appreciate them this week.  Send an email, call, send a card or go for a visit and tell them how much they mean to you.  Give thanks this week for friends and pray for them.

Eternally thankful for friends,

Linda

I AM…the Resurrection and the Life

“I AM the Resurrection and the Life..”  This profound statement was made to grieving Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus.  The sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus that their brother, who Jesus loved, was ill.  Jesus knew he would die before he arrived so he delayed his return 2 more days.   By the time Jesus returned, Lazarus was already laid in the tomb and his body wrapped and spiced.    When they heard that Jesus had arrived, Martha went out to meet him and said,  Lazarus would not have died if you had been here.  Jesus replied, “Your brother will rise again.”   Martha being a good Jew believed in the resurrection of all dead at the end of time and said, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection JOhn 11 25at the last day.” Jesus’ reply to her is life changing. 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  Her reply reveals her true belief and knowledge of  Jesus27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  John 11:21-27   

Martha believed that Jesus was God and could have saved Lazarus had He been there.  However, Jesus’ meaning goes further when He says He is resurrection and faith in Him will lead to eternal life.  To show Martha this truth, He had her take him to the tomb where they had laid Lazarus.  Then Jesus had them roll the stone away and He called to Lazarus to come out of the tomb.   Lazarus rose and staggered out of the tomb as he was bound in his burial clothes.  Jesus commanded them to take off the grave clothes and let him go.  The raising of Lazarus  brought glory to God,  showed Jesus’ power over life and death and foreshadowed His own ability to rise from the dead.  His power was real and He truly was the resurrection and life to Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

resurrection hopeThis I AM statement by Jesus gives the believer hope in the future as we know our eternity will be with Jesus. It also gives assurance that belief in Jesus and His resurrection power will one day bring us to Him.   Do you  believe, like Martha, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the Son of God?  That belief was life changing for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and is for us too.   Today, ponder the hope you have in the resurrected Christ and the assurance you have of eternity with Him.   Be encouraged.

Linda

Where does your strength come from?

god is my strength 1We know that God is mighty in strength as scripture is filled with references to God’s strength.  David praised God’s strength in his song of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16:10-11 when he had the ark brought to Jerusalem. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.11 Look to the Lord and his strength;  seek his face always.”   David knew seeking God was the correct action to receive strength at all times. Later in Psalms he writes how God strengthen his heart in Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail,  but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” , equips and brings righteousness with His strength Psalm 18:32 “the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”, and His strength brings blessing Psalm 84:5 “Blessed are those whose strength is in you,  in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” 

There are so many others who wrote about God’s strength.   Isaiah proclaimed God’s strength for those in need in Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength“. Habakkuk proclaimed God’s strength and ability to lift him above his circumstances in Habakkuk 3:19 “God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;  he makes me tread on my high places.” 

god is my strengthIn the New Testament we are encouraged to seek God’s strength through prayer. Luke 21:36 Jesus exhorts the disciples to pray for the strength to combat the temptations of the world that would lead us astray,  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Paul reminds us in Ephesians to pray for strength that comes through faith and trust in Christ, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,”  Ephesians 3:14-18  In Philippians Paul pens one of my favorite verses about God’s strength, I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

GodismystrengthWhat do you know and feel about God’s strength?  Is His strength accessible to you in prayer? Do you ask for His strength daily in your life or only when you are in times of great need?  Scripture shows us that God’s strength is available to us so that we may be strong of heart, filled with love and conviction for Christ, equipped to do His work and to be able to stand in adversity.  Philippians 4:13 would even go so far as to say God can make the impossible possible through His strength.  Do not be lacking in strength because you neglected to pray and ask for strength.  Jesus said in John 16:24 “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  James 4:2 “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”   We know God desires us to Philippians-413be strong and living in His strength daily, so ask Him for  strength whenever you need it.

Be comforted and encouraged by His strength in your life today!

Linda

I AM your Peace

This name for God comes out of Gideon’s mouth after his encounter with Sovereign God.  The Midianites had been ravaging the land and the Israelites were living in fear.  They had been worshiping other gods and God was not pleased.  God appeared to Gideon and called him to lead the people.  Gideon asked for a sign that the LORD was really calling him.  So the angel said he would wait while Gideon prepared a meal offering for him.  When Gideon brought the food, the angel instructed him to take the meat and unleavened bread and place it on a rock and pour out the broth.  Gideon did as the LORD asked.  Then the angel touched the food with his staff and fire flared from the rock and consumed the food.  22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And shalomGideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is  Peace Judges 6:22-24

Is the Lord your peace?  Gideon discovered that God could bring him peace in the oppressed and fearful situation in which he found himself.  God could replace his fear with peace.  God encouraged Gideon  to trust him for life and turn away from fear.  God did it for Gideon those centuries ago and He can do it for you and me today.  Claim God peaceas your peace.  Jesus promised in John 14:27 “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  Take Him at His Word and step out in faith today leaving your fears at His feet.

Courage comes from knowing Jesus,

Linda

 

What is your resolve in hard times?

As I meditate upon Psalm 119:121-128, I am reminded of how often we get ‘stuck’ in a place in life and feel it will never end.  When we pass through that time and look back it does not seem that it was that long.  Yet, while we are in the midst of the struggle it seems forever.  In these verses the psalmist is struggling with oppressors that are closing in upon him and pleads with God “do not leave me to my oppressors.”  He asks for help, “Ensure your servant’s well-being and let not the arrogant oppress me.”  He feels that apart from the salvation of the Lord, “My eyes fail, looking for your salvation , looking for your righteous promise.”  But he rallies and asks God to show him love. “Deal with me according to your love.”  He then asks for understanding and discernment so he can understand God’s plan.  “I am your servant give me discernment that I may understand your statues.”   He concludes with his own resolve about God, “Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong.”  

ResolveHow do you recover your resolve when you struggle with hard people, difficult circumstances or your own unbelief?  The psalmist resolved to trust God and stand on His Word.  Even when we do not understand we can make up our minds to believe God for who He is and what He says.  This will give us hope and bring us through those hard times.  Resolve today to stand with God and believe His Word.  He always proves Himself faithful.

Endeavoring to walk in Trust,

Linda

Need Encouragement? Look into His Word.

Psalm 119:25-37 (Section 4)   Daleth   

I have read this section in various translations and the New Living seems to speak to me the most.  It would seem the writer of this psalm has been hit by the trials and tribulations of the world and has been knocked down, verse 25.  He is pleading with the Lord to revive him through His Word.  Have you ever felt that way?  When you seem at your wits end, you open the Word of God and He speaks to your needs right at that moment.  It is so uplifting and reviving to your spirit.

25 I lie in the dust;
    revive me by your word.                             

He told God his plans, verses 26-28, and is now asking for help, encouragement, teaching and time to meditate.
26 I told you my plans, and you answered.
    Now teach me your decrees.
27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
    and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 I weep with sorrow;
    encourage me by your word.

He asks God to keep him from lying to himself.  This describes our real life struggle with the world and keeping faithful to our walk with God.
29 Keep me from lying to myself;
    give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.

In the last 3 verses, the author resolves to preserve, choose God and pursue God’s commands.  Is that your resolve today?
30 I have chosen to be faithful;
    I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
    Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands,
    for you expand my understanding.

 Is the world beating you up and you need some refreshment and rest?  Come to God’s Word and He will restore, encourage, teach and revive your spirit so you can move boldly forward in your walk with Him.

psalm-119-2930Praise God for His faithfulness and the power of His Word,

Linda

 

I am sustained by Christ.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am sustained by Christ. This assurance of faith is one of my favorite promises stated in Philippians 4:19.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  God knows what I need and Jesus reminded us that He will provide for us in even greater measure than the sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 “Are not five sparrows sold for two phil 4 19pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”   We are valued by God and He will take care of our needs.  Jesus said this in Matthew 6:28-30 “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So it would seem that God will take care of us because he loves and values us.  Why do we worry over our needs?  Being human it is difficult to set aside worry and replace it with trust in God.  God desires to take care of us and He loves us.  1 Peter 5:7 says loves and cares“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  Jesus said in John 16:27 “for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”   How will you show your trust in Jesus today?  Prayerfully present your needs to God and then leave them with Him.   Let Him do the heavy lifting and care for you.  Be encouraged today- He will provide!

Learning to trust in Jesus more and more each day,

Linda