Come to me…

Matthew 11 28Part 1 of the Messiah ends with the following verses from Matthew 11.  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”   The Messiah that Handel has been exclaiming about in song will bring hope, restoration, rest, comfort and wisdom for living our lives with Him.  Following Him provides us with opportunity to bring our heaviest problems, cares, concerns or heartaches to Him.  He promises rest for our weary souls and will teach us to bear up under the strains of living.  Walking with Him will seem easy and it will lighten our burdens by sharing them with Him.  

Does this life with Jesus describe you?  Look at these verses in the Amplified Bible and see if it helps clarify what walking with Him will do in and through you.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”   Are you bogged down by religious rituals that seem meaningless? Have you experienced the refreshment of Salvation in Jesus?  Do you consider yourself His disciple?  Does walking with Him seem no burden at all as He is right there with you?

Look to Jesus today for hope, encouragement, rest and lightness in your burdens.

Linda

Here is a lovely song using these verses.  Music from the Messiah was not available.

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

His LIGHT removes darkness

Isaiah wrote of the darkness in which man existed, the pervasiveness of sin and its oppression.  Jesus came in light and glory to dispel that darkness of sin, show it for what it was and still is, and to point all peoples to God.  In Matthew 24:14 Jesus spoke of this darkness and the coming of all people to the light. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  The time of proclamation will not last forever but has an end when Christ returns.  The time is now to step into His light and follow Him.

LightShining2Isaiah 60:2-3  “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

Jesus quoted these next words from Isaiah 9:2 in Matthew 4:16.   Then Jesus began to preach “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” Matthew 4:17. 

Advent-LightIsaiah 9:2  “The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.”

Jesus was and is the light that shines in the darkness bringing light, hope, and redemption to all who believe.  Jesus confirmed this in John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Jesus is the one who reveals our sins, that darkness around and in us, and brings us into His light for healing and cleansing.

Be encouraged and convicted as you consider the light Jesus brought to the world.

Linda

Good News Then and Now!

The  librettist, Charles Jennens, of Handel’s Messiah put these two prophecy’s of HOPE together.  Both of them tell of the good news of Christ’s coming.   It is seen as prophecy applying to their return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, Christ’s first coming as a babe in the manger to save us from our sins and can be applied to Christ’s second coming where He will return as victor and judge.   All were good news of God’s care and plan to save mankind.

Isaiah 40:9 “Go on up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
    Isaiah-60.1O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
    lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Behold your God!”

Isaiah 60:1  Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Just reading the words of Isaiah 40:9 makes me want to shout the good news of salvation in Jesus from the mountain tops!  The assurance of Isaiah 60:1 is profound- your light has come!  I am so thankful that Jesus came because He loved me and you.  Think back to John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”   Ponder anew the amazing provisions of our God both then, now and in the future.

Golden Bible verse John 3 16 , made hand lettering on watercolor heart.Blessings,

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

Messengers from God

Today’s passage comes from the Old Testament prophet Malachi.  He was a contemporary of Nehemiah who had returned to Jerusalem during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Babylon.  Nehemiah and those with him found the temple in disrepair and faced major opposition as they began the restoration.   Desiring to encourage His people, God gave Malachi a message of Hope to deliver in the midst of their trial.  Malachi was the last prophet to speak from God for 400 years until the announcements of John, the forerunner, and Jesus, the Messiah that are recorded in the gospels.

Messenger JohnMalachi 3:1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.  God wanted the people to be ready and watching for the forerunner that would come preparing the way for Jesus, Messiah.  Luke 1:13-17 tells the story of the angel Gabriel announcing the coming of John to his father Zachariah.  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 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.”   John’s birth and life are a direct fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy in Malachi that was given 400 years prior. 

The second line of Malachi’s prophecy is about Jesus, ‘the Lord who you seek, will come to his temple bringing a message of the covenant’.   God’s covenant was recorded in Genesis 17:7 “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between Genesis 17 7me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”  This covenant or agreement with God was His promise to be their God and they would be His people.  Jesus was God’s messenger of the covenant and the fulfillment of all God’s promises.   He was coming in the flesh to His temple to be with His people bringing a message of love, repentance, restoration and redemption from God.   John was going to come in the spirit of Elijah and prepare the way calling mankind to repent and return to God.  He was to prepare the hearts of the people so they would be ready to listen to Jesus.

This was the glorious message Malachi delivered about the arrival of His messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah, their deliverer.   Their long awaited Messiah would come with a message of hope and righteousness.  Jesus still has that message for us today.  Let this remind you of the Hope and the right standing with God that Jesus brings.

Blessings of Hope as you listen to this instrumental version,

Linda

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

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

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