Why would YOU travel to see the New Born King?

In yesterday’s passage from Luke 2:8-13 we saw the bucolic scene with shepherds tending their flock by night. Their calm evening was interrupted by an angelic host of angels who arrived with news of the new born king, the Messiah. The angel announced this baby’s birth to the amazed shepherds. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” After this startling announcement, the angelic host burst into praises to the glory of God and proclaimed what this newly arrived king would bring. He was to bring peace if His favor rests upon you. God’s favor is His grace which is undeserved, unearned and a gift from Him. To receive this promised grace, one just needs to believe in His Son, Jesus.

Luke 2:14-15 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Obviously the shepherds’ interest was piqued and they wanted to go and see the baby for themselves. They believed that traversing to Bethlehem would bring them face to face with this marvelous child, their long awaited Messiah. So immediately after the angelic hosts departed they decided to go and see for themselves.

What about God piques your interest? Are you curious and seek to know Him more fully and understand His ways better? Are you just interested in answered prayers or daily comfort? Do you love fellowshipping with believers and want to serve Him with others? Are you looking for answers to the problems of life and relief from worry and pain? Are you looking for promises to claim in your life? There are so many aspects to faith and a daily walk with the Lord. All of the above may be of interest to you but I pray your major motivation towards God is LOVE. He loved you and me enough to send Jesus to die to restore our relationship with Him. He desires that we fellowship with Him for eternity. John 3:16 reveals God’s motivation towards us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He loved us while we were still sinners according to Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What a gracious and loving God!

I pray that you can catch a glimpse of the love God has for you and me in the Christmas story. May it show you God’s love in a new way and motivate you to a renewed faith and commitment now and in the New Year.

Linda

Joseph, A Second Look

Joseph’s encounter with the angel and his stunning message to Joseph is worth a second look. Matthew 1:20-25 is the rich account of how God told Joseph in a dream of His Son that was to be born to Mary, Joseph’s fiancé. Yesterday we looked at Joseph’s character that shone with faith and obedience to God and we looked at the attributes of God revealed to us in this heavenly meeting. Today I want to focus on this Son of God that was to be born of Mary.

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 told by God in a dream that the child conceived within Mary was God’s Son by His Holy Spirit. He would be named Jesus, which means God with us. This Son was coming with a purpose which was to save all mankind from their sins. All men inherited their sinful nature from Adam and Eve when they sinned in the garden. God’s plan was one of restoration and redemption though the coming of His Son Jesus. This was a lot of information for Joseph to process. He was righteous, which meant he was knowledgeable about the scriptures and laws of Moses which he practiced faithfully. Joseph would have known the quote in verse 23 is from Isaiah 7:14. He would have known of God’s promised Messiah who was to save His people. Joseph must have been overwhelmed by the responsibility and privilege God was placing upon him to be the earthly father of His Son. He took all this in and stepped out in obedient faith to follow the command God gave him. He married Mary immediately and did not stop to count the cost. The cost as we will see was significant but the blessings and privileges of serving the Lord would have been immense.

What obstacles are you facing in your service to God? Are they ones you create in your mind, the what ifs? Are they circumstances that you feel are too big for God to overcome? If so, think about Joseph and all he had in front of him, and yet he trusted God and walked in obedience. Jesus is the key- He came to be with us ‘Immanuel’ and to save us from our sins. Take His hand and walk with Him. When things get hard He promises to never leave you nor forsake you, He’s got this!

Linda

Promise Keeping God is Revealed

Today we hear the first half of Zechariah’s prophesy about the coming Savior.

Luke 1:67-75 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73     the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

What do we learn about the coming Messiah from Zechariah’s prophesy? Verse 68 tells us he will be sent by God to redeem or buy back people from the penalty of sin. The Messiah will be the vehicle for that redemption before God. Verse 69, he will be from the house of David, just as God promised to Abraham that though him all people would be blessed. Genesis 12:3 “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” David was a direct descendant of Abraham. Verses 71 and 72 speak of salvation from enemies and haters which they thought meant the foreign oppressors, Rome, but in the long term our greatest enemy is Satan and Jesus will rescue us from our bondage to sin and its power over us. This is further explained in verse 74 which speaks of freedom, rescue so we can serve Him without fear. God is sending the Messiah as promised as He is remembering the Covenant to Abraham to be their God and they would be His people. Verse 75 tells us that the promised one will be holy and righteous and will enable us to serve him in holiness and righteousness.

This was a lot to take in at the time and much was still hidden from their understanding. More was fully revealed though Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection. Lastly, more is revealed to us through His spirit that indwells us, His Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” We have the benefit of God’s Holy Spirit to help us understand in a new way God’s plan of redemption, the message of salvation, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the truth of His complete Word. Just as Zechariah was blessed that day by God’s revelation, we too are blessed by our knowledge of Jesus and our faith in Him.

Let the truth of God’s Word and character be renewed in you today. God is who He says He is and will eternally keep His promises. The whole world is indeed blessed by Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross, His death and resurrection. Stand on His promises with hope and conviction this Christmas season as you experience anew Christ’s work in you.


Linda

God’s Plans can be Unexpected!

In today’s passage, we see Gabriel bringing news to Mary this time, the future mother of Jesus. Just as previously when Gabriel delivered his message, he was aware of Mary and her emotions and feelings. He knew she was afraid because he was a heavenly being and his news was unsettling. She wondered how she could possibly be with child as she was unmarried and had never slept with her betrothed Joseph. Her questions come from fear and concern not unbelief. Gabriel is patient with her and tries to relieve her fears. Mary does not question the fact that God could cause her to be pregnant or that an angelic being is speaking with her or even the validity of the content of his message. Mary accepts these things by faith. Luke 1:26-34

 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.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Yesterday we saw Elizabeth’s response to the miracles God brought into her life. Mary likewise is not fearful of being used by God for this great purpose, only curious. As a young Jewish woman she would know the prophecy’s about the coming Messiah. She would know the implications for both she and Joseph if she were to become pregnant outside of marriage. However, she receives the message from Gabriel with wonder. Zechariah questioned God’s ability to bring a child into their marriage because of their age. Mary does not question God’s ability to do this but is curious as to how this can be. Her response to the coming miracle is one of faith and not a question holding doubt in her heart. What about you? When God provides in an unseen way or does something miraculous in your life, do you question His ability to do it? Do you say why or wait a minute this can’t possibly be? God expects us to respond with faith and then thanksgiving which we will see Mary does as the passage unfolds.

One other observation about this passage, Gabriel calls Mary ‘highly favored’ of God and that the Lord is with her. Do you consider yourself ‘favored’ by God? If you know Jesus as your Savior, you are recipient of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. His Holy Spirit indwells and empowers you to live for Him. You are definitely highly favored and loved by God!

Today take a few minutes to ponder what God has done and is doing in your life. Look at how you have responded to His goodness and provision. If it is with a thankful heart, keep on thanking Him. If it is with hesitancy or doubt, turn to Him and seek His forgiveness. Remember and claim Jeremiah 29:11 for your life and believe it as Mary and Elizabeth have shown us.  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.” They trusted God with the plans for their lives and knew that God’s plans would be for their good and His glory! Can you do the same today, you who are also highly favored by God?

Linda

Give Thanks for Prayer and Friend Jesus

November 4, 2022

Today’s verse features the action words ‘give thanks’. How thankful do you consider yourself to be? Do you live with a continual attitude of gratitude or is it fleeting depending upon your circumstances? If truth be told, the fleeting gratitude is probably more to what really happens in our lives. However, it is God’s desire that we be thankful at all times in all things.

1Thessalonians 5:17-18 “ pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is exhorting the Thessalonian believers and us too, to be prayerful at all times and have words of thanks on our lips as we pray. This combines two actions towards God- prayer, talking with God, and giving Him thanks with our words. What fills your prayers? Do you constantly seek His help with a give, or an I want attitude? This exhortation is focused on talking with God and having thanks be at the forefront of our praying. Being thankful – not just when things are going well but in all times. This is often very hard to do but seeking to see something to be thankful for in your situation gives you hope. It helps alleviate pain and refocuses you on God and the power of His might in Christ Jesus. God knows there is suffering and pain in this world but He wants to keep us focused on Jesus. Jesus will give us peace, hope and endurance as we look to Him in thanksgiving and praise. Seek to live each day with a prayerful thank-filled attitude just as Christ desires.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I have a friend in Jesus. In John 15:14-15 Jesus calls us His friends. “You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Being a friend of Jesus means He is always with you, supporting and caring for you. I pray the desire of your heart is to follow His commands and seek to know Him better. We are not considered servants but friends and we belong to His family. Being a member of God’s forever family is always something you can give praise and thanks for. Knowing Jesus as a friend gives hope and reassurance to us each day. Thank you Jesus.

Linda

A Double Blessing today!

November 2, 2022

Psalm 7:17 “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.’

What a wonderful verse of praise from Psalms. This verse tells us God is due our praise and worship because of His righteousness. Without His righteousness, we would be lost. Scripture is filled with references to the righteousness we receive through faith in Jesus. Romans 3:22 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 4:23-24 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. ” Philippians 1:10-11 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Without the righteousness given to us through faith in Jesus, we would be hopelessly lost. We would be dead in our sins. What a wonderful position we are in as loved ones, as believers in Jesus! We are loved and cared for by Almighty God. Let your praises be heard today. Tell God how grateful you are and tell someone else about your wonderful Savior!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am sanctified. Because of what Christ did on the cross, because of His imputed righteousness to me, I am sanctified. According to the dictionary to be sanctified is to be made holy, consecrated. Left to myself, I am buried in my sin as there is nothing I can do to make myself clean enough before God. However, Jesus has made me clean by faith and washed me by the forgiveness of sin through His blood. Because I still live in a sinful world, this sanctification or transformation takes a lifetime. Here are some verses to encourage you: Hebrews 2:11 “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Philippians 2:12b-13 “—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” and Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

What a double blessing today as we consider our righteousness imparted to us through faith in Jesus and His work within us to conform us to what He knows we can be in Him! Take Paul’s prayer from 1 Thessalonians to heart claiming it over your life today.

Linda

Let’s Begin with His Love and Goodness

I always look forward to the start of November. The weather is cooling and we are headed into the holiday months with Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also begin to panic a bit as I have no ideas right now for Christmas gifts. I also like it because for the last several years I have blogged daily from November 1 to Thanksgiving and then December 1 to Christmas. It is a busy time and causes me to stretch and grow my faith as I depend upon God each day to I write from His Word. I have been in prayer about these blogs and the message God wants me to send out in His name. We will begin each day in November with a scripture highlighting Thanks and then I will add a remainder to you of a spiritual blessing we have in Christ. I am praying that these blogs will encourage your own attitude of gratitude and thankfulness towards God.

Day 1 of November 2022

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 This same praise is found repeatedly in scripture. The basis of all our thanksgiving is based upon the goodness of the Lord. This is not based on something temporal but in the enduring, eternal love of God for us. Let that sink in for a moment! We can give thanks no matter what the circumstances as God’s character, His goodness, never changes. When things are hard and seem to be going wrong, God’s goodness and His love are still there. He is always available to us and turning to Him will give you hope and reassurance. We can cling to His promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God works all things for our good and His glory as we trust and put our faith in Jesus. The part that is continually tested is our enduring faith in His goodness. Claim His promises, lean into and on His goodness and love today! Then, live like you truly believe it!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am sustained by Christ. Is Christ your sustaining power? Claim Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Along with 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” My go to verse for claiming the sustaining power of Christ in my life is 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. In His goodness and love, He promises to sustain, care, support and love each of us. He will always be enough for whatever we are going through, so claim His sustaining promises today!

Linda

How do we win? Christ has us!

It does not take long when walking the Christian walk to encounter opposition. Satan would like nothing more than to discredit us, destroy our witness and bring us down with the temptations that surround us. My friend Marilyn, has chosen as her favorite verse 2 Corinthians 10:5. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” We know that God has equipped us for all good works with His Word and empowered us with His Holy Spirit which indwells every believer. When we immerse ourselves in His Word with study, prayer, meditation, and memorization we begin to think biblically (like God would have us think). When we pray and ask guidance from the Holy Spirit, we are applying His power to our lives. But, What about our minds? This verse speaks of taking every thought captive. What does that mean to you? The goal is to take all your thoughts and run them past God and see if they are good ones leading to His glory and my good or not so good leading to my destruction. Taking every thought captive would only be possible if we walked continually with His Spirit and allowed the Holy Spirit to be active and working in our lives at all times. We have a sin nature that generates those poor thoughts so we need to submit them to Jesus though the power of His Holy Spirit.

As I looked at this verse, I backed up to get a bigger picture of the context and reasons for this need to captivate of our thoughts. Paul explains we are people walking in this world with our sinful nature as a part of us. We need to consider ourselves in a constant spiritual battle with Satan. God assures us that He has given us spiritual tools to use, divine weapons. He has given us words to combat the thoughts and ideas that would discount and seek to destroy our God. They cannot succeed but we need to use our spiritual weapons of the Word and Prayer to align ourselves with God, so that we can overcome through the power of Christ and be obedient to Him. Here is 2 Corinthians 5:3-5 in the Amplified translation to help us see more clearly what this means.

 For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, 

Knowing this is a powerful fight, we must cling to Jesus each day. We must pray diligently and be in His Word so that we can be strong in Him. I find that being aware of the enemy helps me to see the forces I am facing and to better be on guard. Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 6:10-13 “ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Remember Jesus’ words and do not be overwhelmed or discouraged, just be patient and dependent upon Him. John 16:33 ” I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

We serve a mighty Sovereign Savior! With His Spirit within us, we too can overcome and hold those thoughts captive to Him!

Linda

A Promise You Can Count On!!

My friend Mae’s favorite verse comes from Isaiah 41. God is speaking through Isaiah about how He will deal with those who are opposing Israel. Then God makes promises to encourage and assure the nation of Israel and all believers throughout all generations that seek to follow Him. Mae’s favorite verse is 41:10.

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

One of the most comforting promises in the bible that is repeatedly given to us is the truth that God will always be with us, supporting, encouraging, guiding and strengthening His people. Here Isaiah is reminding us to not live in fear as the sovereign God of the universe promises to be with us. He specifically reminds us to not be dismayed. Being dismayed means being thoroughly disheartened by sudden danger or troubles, being disillusioned or disappointed, alarmed or perturbed. The reason we are not to be dismayed is because we know that God is God, He is our God and that He is greater than anything we can ever face in life! Isaiah then goes on to list specific ways God will manifest Himself to us- by giving us strength, help and uplifting. The uplifting comes from His righteous right hand who is Jesus himself. God will keep us and lift us up through the power of Jesus! What a beautiful promise! A few verses later in 13, God confirms again his promises. “For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”

In verses 17-20, God proclaims multiple “I will’s”. When God says He will do something it will come to pass. In verse 20, He gives the reason for His promises. “that they may see and know,
    may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
All God does is for His glory and our good. He wants us to trust Him and see that all things are within His control. He loves and cares for us and we do not need to live fearfully. He desires that we acknowledge Him and recognize His power over all people, places and things in our lives. He is the Sovereign, Almighty, Creator God!

Are you living fearfully because you are not trusting God fully? Do you feel disappointed or dismayed at the circumstances of your life? Seek to look to and lean upon Jesus. He promises to be there for you and lift you up. He will support you in whatever circumstances have come into your life either by your own making and sin or because of our fallen world. God has your back and will keep you for all eternity. You are His and He will not let you go! Thank you Jesus!

Mae, thank you for sharing your verse with me. It is a wonderful reminder of God’s great love and support for me right where I am. May we be lifted up by Jesus today!

Linda

COME! to Him

Today’s favorite comes from Matthew’s gospel and my friend Lee, chose verse 28. I have added the surrounding verses to give a better picture of our Lord’s meaning and scope.

Matthew 11:28-30 28 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.”

Jesus’ words bring comfort to our hearts and minds as He recognizes our humanness and the difficulties of this world in which we live. Consider the Jews Jesus is addressing when His words were spoken. They were harasses and overburdened by the religious leaders of their day. They had constant rules and regulations which they need to abide by be considered faithful. Most of these were man-made rules that were a great burden to the people and caused them great distress. They were also citizens of an occupied country. Rome was a formidable ruler that demanded much from those they enslaved. They were also living in troubled times and families struggled for existence- food, shelter and peace. Jesus’ words of peace and promised rest were music to their weary ears.

Is it not so with us? Do you long to hear words of comfort from your Savior? Jesus promises He is gentle, loving and by coming to Him He will make your burdens lighter. Belonging to Jesus will not add to your burdens, but will free you spiritually to be able to rise above the earthly worries as you cling to Him. Jesus promises belonging to Him means He will walk beside us and help us carry the burdens we have in life. If need be at times, He will carry us. Resting in Jesus is the safest place to be. In 1 Peter 5:10 Peter spoke these words to believers, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Jesus’ rest is a rest that restores, strengthens, confirms and helps establish us in faith. Praise God!

Thank you Lee for pointing us to this verse. May we be reminded of Christ’s command, COME! You cannot receive the blessing of rest and restoration unless you come to Him.

Linda