Jesus Said her Name, He can say yours too!

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One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden.  It is recounted in John 20:14-18.  She was at the tomb, had seen the angels and heard them say that Jesus was not there but risen.  However, she was so overcome with grief it had yet to truly register with her brain.    They (the angels) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 

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This scene touches me as it only took Jesus saying her name for her to recognize Him.  In John 10:27 Jesus told the disciples that the ones who know Him will recognize His voice and follow Him  ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Mary knew immediately that it was her Lord saying her name.  She was instantly comforted and wanted to touch Him.  He cautioned her not to touch him, but to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord!  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Mary needed to have the Savior’s touch.  He touched her with His voice and He gave her the reassurance that all would be well.  Jesus confirmed He had indeed risen, was the Messiah and that He was alive.  Jesus showed her that there is eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of those reassurances from Jesus just saying her name!

Jesus what need

What do you need Jesus to say to you today?  Do you need Him to call you by name, give you a word of encouragement, a word of guidance, or simply a word of Hope?  He can say and do it all- if you just ask Him.   Seek Him today and He will be found!

  Linda 

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Today the garden tomb is a very peaceful spot in Jerusalem.

Advent…God with Us, Immanuel

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. 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 learned in 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

Advent…A Time to Show and Tell

Advent is a time when we need to show our faith to others and then tell them about Jesus by our actions. When I was teaching writing, show don’t tell passages were those that showed what the action was by describing what was going on instead of just telling it. The use of descriptive words was imperative to show the reader what you were trying to say. Advent is a time when churches, religious groups and civic organizations look to meet the needs of the poor, hungry, unemployed and hurting people of all ages. The seek to show the love of Christ to others with deeds and not just with words. This year, 2021, has been particularly difficult as we live with the daily effects of the global pandemic. Yes, the conditions have improved over 2020, but there are still a great number of people who are sick, out of work or lonely. I have an 80 year old friend that faithfully works at her church’s food bank sorting and filling bags of food for the hungry. I am amazed by the long lines seen on the news of people waiting in cars to get bags of food. Many of those seeking help have never had to ask before as they had always been self-sufficiently employed.

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One verse in our Christmas story brought this to mind. Luke 1:56 speaks of Mary staying with Elizabeth for about 3 months then going home to Nazareth. “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” Scripture said that the angel appeared to Mary when Elizabeth was in her sixth month, “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,” Luke 1:26 Doing the math, it would seem that young Mary who was only just pregnant came to visit Elizabeth when Elizabeth was six months along. Staying with Elizabeth in the last months of her pregnancy before John was born, when Zechariah was not able to talk (Luke 1:20), was probably a great comfort, blessing and help to this aged mother and father to be. We are not told in scripture that Mary was present when John was born, but I would imagine Mary stayed until John was born and then returned home. By helping Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary was also blessed and comforted as she shared this time with them.

In this one verse God shows us how we are to be supportive of each other and stay the distance. My friend could go and help out occasionally at the food bank but she has made it a priority to give of herself 3 days a week. Many I know, prior to Covid, went regularly to nursing homes to share, sing and pray with residents or visit those in hospitals. Another friend had a brother that had a severe accident and the family ministered to him and nursed him back to health after being released from the hospital. Ministering to those in need shows godly character as we give, are compassionate, merciful and kind. It also opens the door for you to speak of your motivation for doing acts of kindness, Jesus.

Even with Covid restrictions, find a way to meet someone’s needs this week. It could be a phone call, text, card or letter to a friend you know is lonely or sick. Maybe you can make cookies or bread to leave on their doorstep. Know that things done serving others out of love pleases God. Jesus told us in John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Let the world see your love for Jesus through your actions of service towards one another.

Linda

Advent…Praises Flow towards God

Mary’s song of psalms or praise to God is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. It is called the ‘Magnificat’ in Latin which means ‘glorifies’. Mary pours her heart out to God in praise for his care, love and protection for her people throughout generations. She praises God for being chosen to bear His Son the Messiah, the one who will save her people. Read it today with a heart of praise. Luke 1:46-55.

46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary’s song of praise exclaims God’s favor or grace towards her 48, God’s holiness and providential care 49, God’s mercy towards Israel 50, God’s sovereignty and might 51-52, God’s care for their basic needs in life 53, God’s help in times of trouble 54, God keeps His promises 55.

Which of these do you praise Him for today? Think about His character and praise Him. Think about His grace towards you and praise Him. Think about His Sovereignty over all things and trust Him to complete His good work in you. From the depths of your soul, praise Him today as you follow Mary’s example of proclamation and praises.

Linda

Advent…gives examples of God’s Grace

Mary and Elizabeth were related in some way and since Mary was young and Elizabeth was old, perhaps she viewed her as an elderly aunt. The angel had mentioned Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy when he came to Mary, so going to visit with her would have been a ‘soft’ spot to land, so to speak, while she grappled with her changing life. Elizabeth would have been able to comfort Mary and care for her just as young Mary would have been able to help Elizabeth. Being close in distance was a blessing for both of these godly women, which is evidence of God’s providential care. Read this account from Luke 1:39-45 with ‘grace’ in mind which is God’s unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor or goodness towards us.

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

What grace or favors from God jumped out at you? The the child within Elizabeth ‘jumped’ or moved in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Somehow the presence of the fetus within Mary was recognized by Elizabeth’s unborn baby. The result was confirmation to Elizabeth and Mary that the child she carried was the long awaited Messiah, their Savior. In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit came upon people for an allotted time, and He did not dwell permanently within the body of the believer as he does today. The Holy Spirit was the cause of Elizabeth’s proclamation acknowledging the deity of Mary’s baby and how precious Mary’s faith and trust was in God. I love that God favored Mary and Elizabeth and gave them confirmation in what would have been a difficult social time for both of them. Elizabeth being an old woman and pregnant and Mary being unwed and pregnant. In addition to this, God also gave Mary the gift of grace in her faith. She fully believed, no doubts, that God was able to do what He said He would do. Her faith is amazing as she never wavered in following through with God’s plan or doubted His ability to complete what He had started. Such complete faith and trust in God is a blessing filled with His grace. I am reminded of Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Mary knew what God started He would bring to pass.

When have you experienced God’s favor in your life? Was it during a difficult time? Did it give you encouragement? We live in the age of ‘grace’ as Jesus came, died on the cross and rose from the dead so that we could be forgiven and drawn into a relationship with Him through faith. He has given us His Holy Sprit to indwell us. Living the Christian life takes dependence upon His Holy Spirit each and every day. This age of grace will end when He returns again, and we will be with Him for eternity. Come Lord Jesus, Come again!

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…Expect the Unexpected

Mary enters our Advent story today. She is a young virginal woman who is engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. An angel appears to her with a startling message. Luke 1:26-34

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!””

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” 34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.

God is gracious to us in that we know the time this takes place. It is only 6 months after Zachariah was in the temple and Elizabeth conceived. The angel messenger sudden and miraculous appearance caused Mary to be afraid. That is understandable as the appearance of an angelic heavenly being was most unusual and would have been cause for fear. The angel had a special message just for Mary that was one of hope and wonder. Being a Jewish girl, she knew of the coming Messiah- the anointed holy one to come. But, she was perplexed as to how this could happen as she was pledged but unmarried and had not had relations with Joseph. Her question was one of How can this be? She was not doubting God’s ability to cause this to happen as Zachariah had in the temple. Her doubts were answered by the messenger factually as we’ll see tomorrow.

What lessons can we take away from this portion of Mary’s story? Mary was open and receptive to God’s message. She was willing to listen and desired to know more about God’s will for her life. Are you open minded towards God? Do you look expectantly for His work in your life? Unexpected things can happen to each of us and they are solely dependent upon God’s mercy and grace. We need to trust in God’s providential care just as Mary did to receive the blessings God has in store for us.

Will you look God’s hand of care in your life today and praise Him?

Linda

How can you get what you need today? Know Jesus, He knows you!

One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden.  It is recounted in John 20:14-18.  Mary had been to the tomb and seen and heard the angels say that Jesus was not there. They had said He was risen.  However, she was so overcome with grief that it had yet to truly register with her brain.    They (the angels) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 

This scene touches me as it only took Jesus saying her name for her to recognize Him.  In John 10:27 Jesus told the disciples that the ones who know Him will recognize His voice and follow Him  ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”   Mary knew immediately that it was her Lord saying her name.  She was instantly comforted and wanted to touch Him.  He cautioned her not to touch him, but to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord!  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Mary needed to have the Savior’s touch.  He touched her with His voice and He gave her the reassurance that all would be well.  Jesus confirmed He had indeed risen and that He was alive!  Jesus showed her that there is eternal Hope in Him!  She got all of those reassurances from Jesus just saying her name!

What do you need Jesus to say to you today?  Do you need Him to call you by name, give you a word of encouragement, a word of guidance, or simply a word of Hope?  He can say and do it all- if you just ask Him.   Seek Him today and He will be found!    

  Linda 

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Today the garden tomb is a very peaceful spot in Jerusalem.

Aftermath Continues- Gifts fit for a King!

After the Wise Men met with King Herod and got further directions on where to find this possible child born ‘king of the Jews’, they proceeded to Bethlehem. Matthew 2:9-12 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”

Here we see the provision, protection and love God has for His Son who is now on earth. We know the Magi did not visit on the night of Jesus’ birth as in verse 2 we were told they came to see Herod after Jesus’ birth. Also there is no mention of a stable or animals but a house. (When visiting Bethlehem, guides took us to a house believed to be where Mary and Joseph lived during this time period. It is very near to the stable cave and had several rooms where they could have lived comfortably.) The Magi followed the Star and found where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were living. The gifts they presented to them were very costly and befitting a king. We see God’s Sovereignty in the fact that He warned the kings not to go back to Herod. God knew what was in Herod’s heart and protected His Son.

Have you experienced the provision, protection and love of God during this pandemic year of 2020? I know I have. God has provided comfort and connection that I so desperately crave during these times of isolation. He has protected me from the virus and kept me in good health. I have felt His love through His Word and the kindness of others. God loves each of us and reaches down to touch us in ways we recognize and then some we don’t. Reflect as we end this year on ways God has met your needs and thank Him for His provision.

Linda

Advent Shouts of Humility, Protection and Provision, Are you listening?

During my trip to Israel in 2014, I was privileged to visit Bethlehem and the place thought to be the birthplace of Jesus. The stable was actually in a cave and provided protection from the elements for both man and beast. Whether or not it is the actual place is irrelevant as once there you can visualize the actual happenings that night for Mary, Joseph and the new born baby. The events are recorded in Luke 2:6-7. Let the humbleness of the setting and arrival speak to you as you read the scripture. “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

Here are a few things that jumped out at me: God’s timing is perfect. Mary did not go into labor on the journey to Bethlehem. God protected them as they were not outside with no protection. God provided for them as they had a place to lay Jesus down- in a manger and clothes in which to swaddle the baby. God gave them exactly what they needed at the right time. This speaks to me of God’s providential care. A verse I claim often is Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, ” God took care of Mary, Joseph and Jesus that night and in the days ahead. God will do the same for each of us.

Take some time today and thank God for His perfect timing, His protection and His provision in your life. Trust in Him as He is good and cares for you. God can be your refuge especially in hard times, cling to Him.

Cave setting of Christ’s birth as we sang Silent Night.

Linda