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

The old saying, “It is good to go but oh so nice to come home”, could be said of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in this last episode of the Christmas Story. God again directed their pathway and protected them from harm. He led them to the place Jesus would call home until His public ministry began some 30 years later. Matthew 2:19-23 “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

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

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

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

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

Linda

After Advent…Epiphany, Wise Men’s Obedience Speaks to Us

Each year Western Christians celebrate January 6 as Epiphany. It commemorates the arrival of the Magi to worship Jesus. For the last several days I have been blogging on the arrival of the Magi and what their story has to say to us today.

The heart of their visit to Jesus’ family was one of worship and obedience. Obedience brought protection for Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Magi against the evil intent that God knew was in Herod’s heart. The Magi were obedient to follow the message in their dream to not return to Herod. Joseph was again visited by an angel and told to take Mary and baby Jesus and go to Egypt. He was obedient and packed them up and left immediately. The Magi returning home and Joseph took his young family to Egypt and eventually to Nazareth after Herod’s death. This shows God’s omniscient power over current threatening events and prophecies given hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 2:12-15 “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Where is God calling you to be obedient? Is He directing you to share, give, comfort, lend a helping hand, provide care or listen with a loving heart? Our obedience is important and loved by God. It is an attribute God desires for our lives and shows our love and respect for Him in a very real and tangible way. When I think on the priority God places on obedience, my thoughts go to 1 Samuel 15:22. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,  and to listen than the fat of rams.” God desires that we are obedient and with that obedience comes blessing. The Magi were blessed with seeing the child and not giving further help to the evil of Herod. Mary and Joseph were blessed by continued protection from harm and provision through the gifts of the Magi. All of their acts of obedience brought glory to God and His plan for mankind.

Have you ever considered how your obedience is a tool for God to use in the lives of others? Your obedience, like that of Joseph, Mary and the Wise Men can and will be used by God to bless others. Meditate today on the effects of your obedience to God and His Word. 1 John 5:3-4 gives us a guide by which we can frame our obedience. It is specific and direct- not always easy but true. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Walk in faithful obedience to God’s Word and His Son and see how God blesses and multiplies your effect upon others for Him.

Linda

Advent…the Unexpected Places God Takes Us

As we enter the last days before Christmas, our focus shifts to the actual birth and arrival of the Christ child. Today’s scripture tells of the birth of our Lord. Luke 2:6-7
“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”

In the stable cave believed to be the birthplace of our Lord, we sang Silent Night.

These 2 verses pack a powerful punch. After the long journey by walking or on the back of a donkey, they arrived in Bethlehem to find the city packed and all the inns filled. The census had drawn many others to Bethlehem as well, which was a small town outside of Jerusalem. As they looked for lodging, they found that all the inns were filled, but the landlord of one inn offered them shelter in the stable attached to the inn. They would be with the animals but in a warm and dry place. The irony of the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one who owns all the cattle on the hills being virtually homeless and humble enough to be brought into this world in such a lowly way leaves me in awe. In addition, scripture reminds us again that the baby being born is Mary’s son, miraculously conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. This was no ordinary child and yet he was born as every other human child is born to a mother. She cared for the child and wrapped him to keep him warm and laid him down in a manger cradle. I’m sure she was exhausted but happy to be safely delivered just as any young mother would have been. Perhaps she had been scared as she only had Joseph to help her deliver the child, worried about his first cries and seeking to be comforted by by his sleeping pose in the manger. Joseph was undoubtedly worried about the delivery and the health of both her child and his young wife. These are possible thoughts that might have been in the minds of both Mary and Joseph that first Christmas Eve. But God, was with them and they both trusted in God’s plan and were walking in faith. Their faith was sufficient to overcome whatever obstacles were in front of them that day. Their faith and obedience to God is evident as no words of panic or despair are present in scripture, just calm hope.

Let us take a lesson from this scene. No matter how bad things look- no room, no place, no how, God is in control and has a plan. Nothing is greater than God and with God ‘nothing is impossible.’ This is hope that required faith on our part as God has got this. We need to walk in trust knowing He has us in the palm of His hand. Isaiah 49:16 is a promise to each of us “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

May the blessed hope shown by Mary and Joseph seep into your soul today as you consider this unusual birth in a very unexpected place. I love the promise in Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good,  a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” Claim God’s promise and know in your heart and mind the truth of His loving care just as Mary and Joseph did that first Christmas Eve.

Linda

Advent…Joseph’s Example=faith & obedience

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

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. This portion of the Advent story tells us a lot about Joseph’s character and their customs. Being betrothed in those times was more binding than an engagement today and they were considered husband and wife even though they did not live together or have relations. To end a betrothal it was necessary to sign divorce papers. Joseph knew because he was righteous, meaning he followed the laws of Moses and abided by them in his daily life, that announcing publicly that Mary was with child would lead to her public judgement and stoning. He cared for Mary and decided to do this quietly to save her life.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

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

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

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

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

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

Linda

Remember Who You Belong to!

Colossians 2:20-23 finished up this chapter and Paul’s final plea to the Colossian Christians to think about their faith and not to follow along just to get along. “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”

Paul starts out – remember who you belong to! Christ has set you free! Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” The power we have in Christ is greater than the power in the world. Jesus told the disciples in 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.” Christ admonished us to be obedient to Him not the world and its desires. John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Trust in His Word and look to Him. I love Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Psalm 119:41-42 “Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,  your salvation according to your promise; 42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.” Paul’s message was remember who you belong to, trust in the power of Jesus to overcome, be obedient to His commandments and rely upon His Word.

When you are feeling bullied or under attack, look to God’s Word. There you will find strength, comfort, mercy and guidance by our Heavenly Father. Pray, Pray, Pray and ask God to show you what is true and right. Ask and you will receive when you ask for wisdom (James 1:5), ask without doubting (James 1:6), and ask with right motives with purity of heart (James 4:2-3).

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I am affirmed in Christ and can ask for His guidance and wisdom from His Word. I know He will answer. Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Linda

Aftermath: Obedience Brought Escape and Blessings

Obedience brought protection for Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Magi against the evil intent that God knew was in Herod’s heart. The Magi were obedient to follow the message in their dream to not return to Herod. Joseph was again visited by an angel and told to take Mary and baby Jesus and go to Egypt. He was obedient and packed them up and left immediately. The Magi returning home and Joseph taking his young family to Egypt and eventually Nazareth shows God’s omniscient power over current threatening events and in fulfilling prophecies given hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 2:12-15 “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Where is God calling you to be obedient? Is He directing you to share, give, comfort, lend a helping hand, provide care or listen with a loving heart? Our obedience is important and loved by God. It is an attribute God desires for our lives and shows our love and respect for Him in a very real and tangible way. When I think on the priority God places on obedience, my thoughts go to 1 Samuel 15:22. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,  and to listen than the fat of rams.” God desires that we are obedient and with that obedience comes blessing. The Magi were blessed with seeing the child and not giving further help to the evil of Herod. Mary and Joseph were blessed by continued protection from harm and provision through the gifts of the Magi. All of their acts of obedience brought glory to God and His plan for mankind.

Have you ever considered how your obedience is a tool for God to use in the lives of others? Your obedience, like that of Joseph, Mary and the Wise Men can and will be used by God to bless others. Meditate today on the effects of your obedience to God and His Word. 1 John 5:3-4 gives us a guide by which frame our obedience. It is specific and direct- not always easy but true. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Walk in faithful obedience to God’s Word and His Son and see how God blesses and multiplies your effect upon others for Him.

Linda

Advent, A Love Story Unfolding

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

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,  and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

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

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

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

Linda

Advent Teaches us Hope and Joy come with Faithfulness

Our story begins during the reign of King Herod who reigned from 37-4 B.C. He comes into the story later but that gives us the time period in history. Elizabeth and Zechariah are the future parents of John the Baptist who was a fore-runner of Jesus. Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were relatives.

Luke 1: 5-7 “When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.”

A couple of things stood out as I read this passage: they were both old and childless and God commended them as righteous and obedient. Since we know in the story Elizabeth becomes the mother of John the Baptist, this being old and childless was an impossible situation. God used the impossible to bring about joy and preparation for Jesus’ arrival. How like God to make the impossible possible. Jesus, speaking of salvation said in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I am reminded of Hebrews 11:6 ” And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Elizabeth and Zechariah were people of faith and were the perfect couple to show the power and might of God in their lives bringing joy to them as parents and servants of God and honor and glory to God. Do you trust God when faced with difficult or impossible situations? Do you believe and seek to please God with your faith in Him?

The second thing I noticed was God’s commendation of them as believers. He called them righteous in His eyes, in right standing with Him, blameless and pure. Their right standing with God came from their faith in Him and obedience to the law. Like Abraham their faith was counted to them as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” They were not sinless but were faithful and sincere about keeping God’s commandments. How sincere are you about walking each day with Jesus? Do you study His Word and seek to know Him better? Would Jesus consider you to have a blameless walk with Him?

Let us take a lesson in Hope from Zechariah and Elizabeth. Faith in God makes all things possible, will please God and bring us joy. Advent means hope and joy though faith in Jesus. Trust God for the impossible and see how He will grow your faith and increase your joy!

Linda

Are you Carefully Obeying God?

The stream of water we had for this week was Deuteronomy 31:39-32:47. This is a long song that God had Moses compose to remind the people of who He is, what He has done, what He has promised to do if they are obedient. Meditate on the words as you read. I have added a question or comment along to way to stimulate your thinking on how this song can apply to us today.

30 So Moses recited this entire song publicly to the assembly of Israel:

32 “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!
    Hear, O earth, the words that I say!
Let my teaching fall on you like rain;
How does God’s Word
    let my speech settle like dew.
affect you?
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,
    like gentle showers on young plants.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    how glorious is our God!
He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
Do you know who God is?
    Everything he does is just and fair.

He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
    how just and upright he is!

“But they have acted corruptly toward him;
    when they act so perversely,
are they really his children?
Do your actions each day
    They are a deceitful and twisted generation.
bring Him glory?
Is this the way you repay the Lord,
    you foolish and senseless people?
Isn’t he your Father who created you?
    Has he not made you and established you?
Remember the days of long ago;
    think about the generations past.
Are you passing on your
Ask your father, and he will inform you.
knowledge of God?
    Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High assigned lands to the nations,
    when he divided up the human race,
he established the boundaries of the peoples
    according to the number in his heavenly court.

“For the people of Israel belong to the Lord;
    Jacob is his special possession.
10 He found them in a desert land,
Remember how God
    in an empty, howling wasteland.
has provided and protected.
He surrounded them and watched over them;
    he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes.
11 Like an eagle that rouses her chicks
    and hovers over her young,
so he spread his wings to take them up
    and carried them safely on his pinions.
12 The Lord alone guided them;
    they followed no foreign gods.
13 He let them ride over the highlands
    and feast on the crops of the fields.
He nourished them with honey from the rock
    and olive oil from the stony ground.
14 He fed them yogurt from the herd
    and milk from the flock,
    together with the fat of lambs.
He gave them choice rams from Bashan, and goats,
    together with the choicest wheat.
You drank the finest wine,
    made from the juice of grapes.

15 “But Israel soon became fat and unruly;
    the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed!
Then they abandoned the God who had made them;
    they made light of the Rock of their salvation.
16 They stirred up his jealousy by worshiping foreign gods;
    they provoked his fury with detestable deeds.
17 They offered sacrifices to demons, which are not God,
    to gods they had not known before,
Remember how you have
to new gods only recently arrived,
failed to follow Him.
    to gods their ancestors had never feared.
18 You neglected the Rock who had fathered you;
    you forgot the God who had given you birth.

19 “The Lord saw this and drew back,
    provoked to anger by his own sons and daughters.
20 He said, ‘I will abandon them;
Has God left you to pursue
    then see what becomes of them.
your own idols? Money,
For they are a twisted generation,
success, greed, knowledge.
    children without integrity.
21 They have roused my jealousy by worshiping things that are not God;
    they have provoked my anger with their useless idols.
Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people;
    I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles.
22 For my anger blazes forth like fire
    and burns to the depths of the grave.
It devours the earth and all its crops
    and ignites the foundations of the mountains.
23 I will heap disasters upon them
    and shoot them down with my arrows.
24 I will weaken them with famine,
Has God allowed calamity
    burning fever, and deadly disease.
to come into your life to
I will send the fangs of wild beasts
cause you to turn back to
    and poisonous snakes that glide in the dust.
Him?
25 Outside, the sword will bring death,
    and inside, terror will strike
both young men and young women,
    both infants and the aged.
26 I would have annihilated them,
    wiping out even the memory of them.
27 But I feared the taunt of Israel’s enemy,
    who might misunderstand and say,
“Our own power has triumphed!
    The Lord had nothing to do with this!”’

28 “But Israel is a senseless nation;
    the people are foolish, without understanding.
29 Oh, that they were wise and could understand this!
    Oh, that they might know their fate!
30 How could one person chase a thousand of them,
    and two people put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
Do not be lured away
    unless the Lord had given them up?
by false worthless gods.
31 But the rock of our enemies is not like our Rock,
    as even they recognize.
32 Their vine grows from the vine of Sodom,
    from the vineyards of Gomorrah.
Their grapes are poison,
    and their clusters are bitter.
33 Their wine is the venom of serpents,
    the deadly poison of cobras.

34 “The Lord says, ‘Am I not storing up these things,
    sealing them away in my treasury?
God knows those who oppose
35 I will take revenge; I will pay them back.
us and will take care
    In due time their feet will slip.
of them in due time.
Their day of disaster will arrive,
    and their destiny will overtake them.’

36 “Indeed, the Lord will give justice to his people,
    and he will change his mind about his servants,
when he sees their strength is gone
God is just.
    and no one is left, slave or free.
37 Then he will ask, ‘Where are their gods,
    the rocks they fled to for refuge?

38 Where now are those gods,
    who ate the fat of their sacrifices
    and drank the wine of their offerings?
Let those gods arise and help you!
    Let them provide you with shelter!
39 Look now; I myself am he!
Do you know and
    There is no other god but me
!
believe this truth?
I am the one who kills and gives life;
    I am the one who wounds and heals;
    no one can be rescued from my powerful hand!
40 Now I raise my hand to heaven
    and declare, “As surely as I live,
41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
    and begin to carry out justice,
I will take revenge on my enemies
    and repay those who reject me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
    and my sword will devour flesh—
the blood of the slaughtered and the captives,
    and the heads of the enemy leaders.”’

43 “Rejoice with him, you heavens,
    and let all of God’s angels worship him.
Rejoice with his people, you Gentiles,
    and let all the angels be strengthened in him.
For he will avenge the blood of his children;
    he will take revenge against his enemies.
He will repay those who hate him
Rejoice in Him and
    and cleanse his people’s land.”
trust Him.

44 So Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and recited all the words of this song to the people. 45 When Moses had finished reciting all these words to the people of Israel, 46 he added: “Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. 47 These instructions are not empty words—they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River.”

I pray that you and I will heed words of Moses’ song as they are words of life and prosperity, hope and regeneration and because they are centered on God’s promises to us as believers. God is a promise keeper and we can trust Him.

Blessings,

Linda

Jesus, a name that brings Joy for Eternity!

Today’s passage is amazingly beautiful, descriptive of our Savior and presents us with a challenge and hope for the future.  Philippians 2:5-11 is a well known and often quoted portion of scripture.  I like the New Living Translation of this passage,

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had(our challenge as believers)

Though he was God,                                      
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;    
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God      
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

jesus-names-2Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,      
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,                                            11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.     

What was Jesus’ attitude?   He was not filled with self-pride.  He could have been as He was God and possessed power and might beyond measure.  But,  He acted with sacrificial humility and came to earth in human form with the purpose of saving us though His death on the cross.  He was obedient to God’s plan of redemption.  The result was God honored His obedience forever and made us all be subject to Jesus.  What a challenge to live each day with an attitude like Christ’s  with humility, a servant’s heart, a willingness to put others first and with pure devotion and love for God.   Only through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit is it possible.  Jesus promised in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Live life each day, trusting in the power of Jesus, the name above all names!

As I read this passage, I am awestruck by Jesus’ humility and sacrifice.  He gave up His position in heaven to come to earth to save and to serve.  How much He must love us!

My joy is increased today:

  • as I consider how much God loves me.
  • as I see that obedience brings blessings.
  • as I see that no matter how things look right now, God has a plan for eternity and is in His control.
  • jesus key to joyas I realize that Jesus in King now and forever!

Have a blessed day and may there be joy in your heart and on your lips!

Linda