Then Came The Morning!

Luke 24 1 12

Luke 24:1-12 NLT But very early on Sunday morning the women came to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone covering the entrance had been rolled aside. So they went in, but they couldn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were puzzled, trying to think what could have happened to it. Suddenly, two men appeared to them, clothes in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed low before them. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead! Don’t you remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again the third day?” Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. The women who went to the tomb were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several others. They told the apostles what had happened, but the story sounded like nonsense, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

Jesus had been crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb and the women came to anoint his body with spices to preserve it for it’s final resting place. What did they expect to find when they went to that tomb early that Sunday morning? It certainly wasn’t two heavenly angelic beings; it wasn’t an empty tomb! They had expected to find the body of Jesus in that tomb, cold and lifeless with no sign of hope. But instead the question that faced them early that morning was this: “Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive?” The New King James Version says this: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

This morning that is the question that I want to present to you: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” What is it in your life that needs resurrecting? Don’t camp out at an empty tomb waiting for life that is to be lived elsewhere. Jesus told Martha when Lazarus died that her brother would rise again in the resurrection. He said to her in John 11:25:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Christianity is the only religion that is infused with life! It is because Jesus lives that we can give our hearts to Him and experience His life within us. We serve a risen Savior! He is not dead! He is alive!

The hopes of those who had watched Jesus being crucified were dashed that day when they saw Him die on that old rugged cross! But then came the morning! Their darkness was turned into day when Jesus arose from that tomb early that Sunday morning! Life always seems the darkest just before the dawn. When our hopes have been dashed and we feel that all hope is gone we can turn to the One who gives new life. No other religion offers life after death! Every other religion worships a dead god, but our God is alive! He lives within us! He moves through us! He gives us His very own presence to breath new life into situations within our lives that need resurrecting.

The women that went to that tomb that morning were reminded that Jesus had told them of this happening so they would be prepared for the day of His crucifixion. He told them He would rise again, but they were so overcome with grief that they had forgotten His words of encouragement. How many times have you been discouraged so badly that you have lost sight of the Savior and His words of encouragement that were meant to offer you hope for a new tomorrow? When the ladies told the disciples of what they had seen and heard the disciples said their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. (Luke 24:11) Something is wrong when we believe the circumstances in our lives over the words of the Savior. He is the One who overcame death, hell and the grave and rose to new life! Does their seem to be something wrong with this picture? Day after day I see people who are resigned to life the way that it is and have given up hope in a better tomorrow. And yet, Jesus, our Savior and Lord was raised to new life that we might live; that we might experience the abundant life that He came to give us!

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The thief came to steal Jesus’ life that day. The devil thought he had won and had killed the King of Glory, but he was wrong! Then came the morning! When life seems to have be snuffed out, don’t look for new life in the place of the dead, turn to Jesus, the Life-Giver! He is the Resurrection and the Life! He offers abundance of life!

Abundantly – Greek word perissos – means superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus over and above, more than enough, profuse, extraordinary, above the ordinary, more than sufficient.

The life that Jesus offers His believers is an excessive, overflowing, more than sufficient life; a life filled with superabundance! He offers more than enough to meet your needs! His life is above the ordinary filled with surplus; profusely abundant!

 

He is alive!

Then came the morning!! You may be as the disciples were on that Sunday morning when they heard the news and said, “And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.” You see, you can’t receive Jesus through an intellectual assent. You can’t understand Him with your mind; you must receive Him with your heart, by faith. Faith believes before it sees in the natural. The things of the Spirit must be received by faith. It’s impossible for a person to step inside another person to live within them and yet that’s what happens when a person receives Jesus into their heart to be their own personal Lord and Savior. He comes in by faith in the person of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ and is the one who steps inside your heart when you receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. It’s not a mental knowing that you have when you become born again; it is a spiritual encounter with the Living God; Spirit to spirit; His Spirit within yours. Can these other gods that people seek do that for them? Can they step into your spirit and live within you to offer you new life? No, the only one who can save you is Jesus! He is the One true God who is not dead, but alive within His believers. He is the One who walks and talks with His believers. Those other gods are dead gods, but Jesus is alive! He has risen!

I challenge you today to turn from the dead gods that you have been seeking to the One true God. Won’t you receive Jesus into your heart today? Won’t you invite Him into your life to give you the abundance that He died that you might receive? It’s very simple. If you’ve never asked Him to come and live within you today can be your day of salvation. Just pray this prayer and mean it sincerely within your heart:

Father, I come before you acknowledging that I am a sinner, both by birth and by choice. I have sinned and sought to live my life my own way. I realize that I cannot save myself; neither can the other gods that I may have been seeking. I understand now that Jesus is the only way to the Father; that He is the only Savior that can give me new life. I ask You to forgive me of my sin and that You would save me. I thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying for me. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died to give me new life. Today I ask You, Lord Jesus, to come into my heart to live within me and to save me. Thank You, Lord, for being my Savior and Lord. I promise to live my life for you from this moment on. I will follow You and allow You to lead me by Your Spirit who lives within me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Contentment!

funnel

Philippians 4:11-13 AMP Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

Paul says that being content in every situation is in being satisfied to the point where we are not disturbed or disquieted in the state in which we find ourselves. Life has its ups and downs. There are good times and there are bad and either condition has its challenges. But true contentment is not allowing what is going on around me to disturb me, or knock the peace of God out of my heart. Peace is so important in being able to live successfully in this life and it comes through depending on Jesus. His strength gives us peace in the midst of the difficult days. Paul says that His sufficiency is not in himself but it is through the empowerment that Jesus supplies in him. He uses the word “infuses” in giving us the analogy of what it means to be strengthened with Christ’s sufficiency to meet the condition of our lives.

When I think of infusing something with something else I often think of a piece of meat being injected with a flavoring or seasoning. The meat has one flavor in it original condition but when it is injected or infused with the seasoning it changes the flavor of the meat. A roast is, in its original flavor, bland and not very appealing to the taste buds, but when you infuse it with a certain seasoning that flavor radiates throughout the whole piece of meat and gives it the flavor of the seasoning. When I think of how Jesus infuses us with His strength I often get a picture in my mind of Him standing over me with a funnel and pouring His strength into that funnel which goes into me, filling me with His empowerment to meet whatever challenge I have facing me. It is only through His strength, His sufficiency, that I am able to overcome whatever I am facing.

When I am infused with Christ’s sufficiency my life takes on His flavor. Suddenly things look differently and my perspective about my condition changes. His sufficiency enables me to make choices and decisions based on His perspective about my situation instead of the unstable condition that would normally influence my actions. Life becomes more balanced and stable because the circumstances surrounding my life are no longer disturbing and disquieting to me. I then reach the state of contentment!

Confession for today based on God’s word: I will rely on the strength that Jesus infuses within me to overcome the challenges of my day. I am filled to overflowing with His sufficiency that gives me the victory!

Prayer for today: Father, I thank You for the strength that You have for me that helps me to put my life in proper perspective. I ask You to fill me with Your sufficiency, Lord Jesus, to meet the challenges that I face today. I thank You for delivering me through Your strength and for filling my heart with contentment as I face whatever lies ahead of me today. May I continually focus on You and what You are doing within me to give me the victory! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Snow Like Wool

Psalm 146:12; 15, 16 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. He give snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes;

We awoke this morning to a white blanket on the ground! This is our only visible evidence of winter. We’ve had the cold, damp days but this year this is the only evidence of the season. Now, I am thankful that we have not experienced the heavy snows that have been falling in the Midwest, but if we must have winter then I do like to see a little evidence of it! My hubby says it’s about 1 3/4 inches.

P1050062

Job 37:5, 6 God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow. Fall on the earth; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.

P1050061

God is so awesome! Have you ever done a word study on the word “snow”? Here’s something interesting that I discovered in my study this morning:

Job 24:19 As drought and heat consume the snow waters, So the grave consumes those who have sinned.

Grave — Hebrew word sheol — means hades or the world of the dead; grave, hell, pit.

Consume — Hebrew word gazal — means to pluck off; seize, to flay, strip or rob; catch, consume, exercise [robbery]; rob, spoil, take away by force, violence, tear.

God’s word says that just like drought and heat take away by force the snow that falls on the earth, so Hades or hell takes away by force those who have sinned. Sin robs people of their life and sends them to the place of the dead, the grave, hell, the pit. There is nothing, in and of themselves, that men can do to stop their sin from consuming them. Sin seizes a person, robs them of their destiny, and ultimately sends them to hell.

But wait! There is something that will redeem man, or buy Him back from his sin.

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

There is an antidote to sin; something that will turn it from red to white as snow! What could it be? There is hope for man’s sin found in the sinless blood of the Lamb!

2 Corinthians 5:17; 21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

There is One who paid the price for our sin, that we might not be seized by it, consumed by force and taken to the place of the dead, of hell! His name is Jesus!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin pays a wage; it is death, going to the place of the dead, that place where man is eternally separated from His God; the place of torment, that place called Hades or Hell. But God has given us a gift of eternal life that was purchased by Jesus Christ our Lord. There is an antidote to sin; it is life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

But how can we appropriate this gift into our lives? A gift cannot be given without it being received. We simply receive the free gift of salvation made possible through the blood of Jesus.

Romans 10:8-13 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

How do we call on the Lord to receive this free gift of salvation? We pray. It is what we believe in our hearts about Jesus and confessing Him as Lord and Savior of our lives that we are saved from the sin that consumes us. Have you prayed to receive Jesus into your heart? Have you asked Him to save you from the eternity that without Him will seize you and place your soul in Hell? If not, and you would like to do that, please pray this prayer with me and sincerely mean it in your heart:

Father, I come before You this morning realizing that if I don’t ask Jesus into my heart to be my own personal Lord and Savior that I will spend my eternity separated from You in a place called Hades, or Hell. I do not want to go there. I believe in my heart that Jesus paid the price for my sin; that His blood is the antidote for my sin. I believe that He is Your Son, the One You sent to pay the price for my sin. I believe that He died paying that price for sin, was buried, that You raised Him from the dead and that He lives to ever make intercession for mankind. I ask You, Lord Jesus, to come into my heart and save me. I confess You as my own personal Lord and Savior and I vow to live each day of my life for You. Thank You for saving me. These things I pray believing in the name of Jesus that I will receive what I have asked of You. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer with me this morning and really meant it in your heart, the grave or Sheol, Hades, Hell, will not consume or seize you when you die. You have a place reserved in Heaven with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. You are now a new creation in Christ Jesus! Hell cannot torment you; the grave cannot consume you! You have been given life and that more abundantly. Jesus said He came that we might have life and that we might have it in abundance! Welcome to the family of God!

Father, I thank You for those that have accepted Jesus into their hearts this morning. I thank You for the snow and how we can even see through the visible effects of our weather that You reign supreme and the snow gives us a picture of how You cleanse us from our sins. It is evident that You planned for this weather event to reflect Your goodness and that when we look at the snow we are reminded of how You make us white as snow from the effects of our sin. Thank You, Father, for making it possible that we can be set free from the grip of death! Thank You for giving us life in Christ Jesus. We, as Christians, do not have to face the torment of Hell, but instead have been given a place in Heaven with You for all eternity. Thank You, Lord, for giving us the freedom to choose life over death, blessing over curses, freedom over bondage. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.

Isaiah 55:10, 11 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

P1050063

Thank You, Lord, for not allowing Your word to return to you void! But thank You for causing it to accomplish what You have sent it out to do this morning!

 

He Knows Your Name

Psalm 33 13 15

Psalm 33:13-15 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

This morning has been a little different for me. I usually awake with something on my heart that the Lord has been speaking to me about to share with those who follow my blogs. Today I just had a desire to sit and soak in His presence; to relax not being pressured to get a blog posted or to hear something new and fresh from the Lord to share with you. So I went to one of my favorite soaking prayer websites and enjoyed some nice, quiet background music and just rested for a few minutes in the Lord’s presence.

http://soaking.net/

As I was reading His word and enjoying His presence I read this portion of Scripture in Psalm 33. I get in my mind a picture of how God looks down on all His creation, especially that one group that He so intimately formed in His own likeness and image; that of mankind. He sees all the sons of men. He looks down on us from His place in glory and works individually continuing the work that He so intimately fashioned as we began our lives. He understands our works, our day to day lifestyles. He is still very intimately involved in each of our lives.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

It may seem today as if God is not aware of what you may be going through or what your current status in life is, but God’s word is true. He is working in your life even when you can’t see any changes.

Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

God does not lie and He does not change. What He has said He will do and that is something that we can bank on! If you are discouraged today, take heart, God is working! This, too, shall pass!

Stepping stones to victory

Obstacles in our pathway often try to detour us to take another route, but God will lead you in the way you should go. Do not fear what lies ahead, but trust in the One who has fashioned you and made you in His very own likeness and image. There is a way through the difficult times; there is a God who loves you and cares for you and will not give up on you. Trust Him to take you to the place that He has prepared for you. Give Him permission to live in you and through you. You are His pride and joy.

He knows your name

Isaiah 49:15-16 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

Difficult times come to all of us, but there’s one thing we can be sure of: God has us carved on the palms of His hands. He cannot forget us; He will not turn away from His children, whom He loves and fashions. We are continually in His mind.

If you are experiencing a trial this morning of what seems to be of insurmountable magnitude, turn your eyes to the One who loves you, who fashioned your heart and is aware of your dilemma. He loves you and will show you the way out of the temptation that has come up before you.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

God has an open door for you out of the temptation that has tried to overtake you.

Revelation 3:8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

When God opens a door for you, you can be sure that you can walk through it without interference. Seek the Lord this morning for what He would have you do in the situations in your life that are causing you distress. Sit in His presence and soak up the love that He has for you as His child. And when you find that door that He has opened, walk through it without looking back for He is leading you into a new place in Him. He opens doors that no man can shut!

Father, I thank You for Your presence in my life. I thank You that I can come to You and just enjoy being in Your presence. Thank You for refreshing me through these special times of just resting in You and basking in Your love. Father, I pray for those today who might be anxious in heart and mind. I pray that they will take time to rest in You, to just relax and let go of the cares of this world that are trying to choke the life out of them. Father, I pray that as they seek Your face you will reveal to them the open doors that You have placed before them as the way of escape out of temptation. Father, You are God and there is no one that can shut the doors that You open for us. Thank You for securing our future in You. May You be glorified through the lives of Your children. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering the petitions of my heart this morning. Amen.

Standing In The Authority Of The Name

Matthew 18 5 Jesus and little child

Matthew 18:5 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

We’ve been studying the word “name” as it is used in the New Testament when referring to Christ. As we have learned the Greek word for “name”, “onoma”, has several different meanings depending on it’s use in the verse and context of the scripture. Today we will look at the Biblical definition for “name”, “onoma”, meaning “representing the authority of Christ”. We looked earlier at another definition that is similar to this one, “in recognition of the authority of (sometimes combined with the thought of relying or resting on)”. These are similar in definition, but yet different.

In Matthew 18:5 we see the use of the definition of “representing the authority of Christ”. Jesus said that if we would receive a little child in His name, “onoma”, representing His authority through the little child that we would be receiving Him. This is what happens when one stands before another as an ambassador of Christ, or His representative on the earth. God sees us as His little children. As ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, those who have been called to represent Him when standing before a group presenting Him as Savior and Lord, as the only true God through whom salvation comes to mankind, are to be received as if they are representing the authority of Christ. They are not Jesus, but they are standing in His authority and so are to be received with the respect due them as representatives of God. Jesus said that the ones who receive those ministers are as if they were receiving Him.

Matthew 10:40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

Jesus also gave us a warning about those who stand “falsely” in this authority.

Matthew 24:5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

There is a difference between “representing the authority of Christ” and “claiming to be Christ”. This is what Jesus is referring to in Matthew 24:5. There will be those coming in the last days who will portray themselves as Christ and will deceive many. We must be aware of this and always mindful that this will be a part of the scene in society before the Lord Jesus returns again.

True authority is substantiated by the Father.

When judging the true authority of the Father from the false we can look at the Holy Spirit and how He represents the authority of Christ to us.

John 14 26

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

Anyone who comes representing himself as being “in the authority of Christ”, or in His name, will speak the truth about who He is and testify of who Christ is to you. The words that he speaks will line up with the Word of God. He will speak truth, not lies. He will glorify Jesus, not himself. Anyone who exalts himself and does not give the glory to Jesus is not a true representative of Him.

John 16:13-15 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

You can tell a true representative of Christ who is “standing in His authority”, or in His name, as being one who always speaks the truth about who Jesus is, always turning others away from himself to direct them to the Lord Jesus, and always giving the glory to Jesus! This is how you tell a true representative who is “standing in the authority of Christ”, or in His name, from a false representative. The false will always draw attention to himself, taking credit for what has been done and portraying himself as more than just a vessel that God is flowing through to touch people for Jesus. The glory belongs to Jesus, not a person!

Jesus said when His disciples asked Him to show them the Father that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. (John 14:9) His representation of the Father so closely resembled the Father that you couldn’t tell one from the other. In fact, He said it was because He was in the Father and the Father was in Him and we know that Jesus is the 2nd person in the Trinity, God the Son.

John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

Even Jesus said that He didn’t speak anything on His own authority. We can identify the false by looking at the real. When someone comes representing the “authority of Christ”, or in His name, they will not ever have the desire to take the credit for what only belongs to God. The false can be seen by their works, or the fruit that is born from their lives.

Matthew 6:15-23 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Man will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

False prophets who come to us falsely “standing in the authority of Christ”, or in His name, will bear fruit for themselves, not for Him. Their agenda will be to promote themselves, not God. Jesus said He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father.

John 5:30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

There is a true definition for the Greek word for “name”, “onoma”, which means “standing in the authority of Christ” and there is a false. Our responsibility as believers is to make sure we do not fall for the false one who comes in sheep’s clothing, claiming to be representing the “authority of Christ” but speaking out of their own agenda. I have given you some scriptures showing the true use of the name of Jesus and that of the false. May we all seek to know the Lord Jesus more fully and completely so that when the time comes to make that discernment we will choose properly.

Father, I thank You for the name of Jesus and the definition that it holds of representing the authority of Christ. I know that You have given that authority to true representatives of Yours. May we be clear in our assessment of those who stand before us claiming to be Your representatives. Father, I pray for discernment today for each one of us to be able to identify the false from the true. Father, as we move into the last days before Jesus returns may we not be deceived by those who come identifying themselves as Christ, but may we turn away from deception and embrace the truth that is set forth in Your word and truly lift up those who honestly are Your representatives in this earth! Help us, Father, to identify the false and to encourage and promote the true as they share the way of salvation through Jesus Christ to the lost. Amen.

Children Are Our Heritage!

Children are the heritage of the Lord

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

As I began to awake this morning I realized that this scripture was running through my mind. Anytime the Lord begins to speak to me as I awaken I have learned to recognize that He is trying to get my attention to speak to me about something in particular. One of my children is going through a difficult time and I have been praying for a specific situation in that child’s life that would bring a breakthrough and victory. My heart has always been tender towards my children to the point that when they hurt I hurt.

Heritage – Hebrew word nachalah which means something inherited, occupancy, or an heirloom; an estate, patrimony or portion; to inherit, inheritance, possession.

If you have children, they are a part of your inheritance from the Lord. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, which uses biblical definitions, says that one of the meanings of a “portion” is the part of an estate given to a child or heir, or descending to him by law, and distributed to him in the settlement of the estate. God’s distribution to us as His heirs includes those children that He has given to us. Do we value them as our inheritance from the Lord? The scripture goes on to say that the children that come from our wombs, as mothers, is a reward. Within the covenant that Israel received from the Lord was the understanding that God’s blessing of children was a special gift from Him. They were a reward!

For a woman to be barren and not able to bear children in the Israelite culture was felt to be a terrible curse from God. They remembered that when God created mankind one of the blessings He bestowed upon them was that they would be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. When a woman was unable to bear children she was considered to be cursed by God. The reward of the womb was taken very seriously. Children are a continuation of our own lineage and are to be viewed as a blessing. The future of our nation rests upon the children that we raise up to be godly members of society. Today if you don’t have children it is not viewed as a curse from God, but simply may not be in His plan for your life. His plan might be that you adopt and provide a home for one who does not have a place in their natural parent’s lives. Or His plan might be for you to bear “spiritual children”, those who would come into the family of God through your witness. He has a special plan for your life regardless of whether there are natural born children in your life.

Do you have children? If so, how do you feel about them? Do you see them as your inheritance from the Lord? If they are having difficulty are you praying for them according to the scriptures that they would be your reward and live out the life that God has planned for them? God sees the potential in us instead of our problems. He views us as a special and unique creation made in His likeness and image. He doesn’t view us according to our difficulties or weaknesses but views us as the finished product of His lovingly shaping us into the image of His Son. God sees us complete and whole in Him, not from a stance of children who are flawed from living in a fallen and sinful world. He always sees the best in each of His children.

When Esau met Jacob after being apart from him for such a long time he asked Jacob who the women and children were that came along with him. In Genesis 33:5 we hear Jacob’s answer to Esau:

And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “the children whom God has graciously given your servant.”

Jacob viewed his children as gifts the Lord had graciously given him. They were his reward and he had lots of them!

When God made a covenant with Israel to be His own special people, of which we as New Testament believers are, He promised to bless them and multiply them so they would be blessed above all peoples.

Deuteronomy 7:13, 14 “And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. “You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock.

God intended for all the nations that they would come into contact with to see the goodness of God through them. They were to be representatives of the Most High God and people were to see that they were a blessed people so that they would want to know this God of theirs. God wanted all the nations of the earth to see His goodness through His people so they would be drawn to Him. Children were one of those ways the nations were to see that God was good to His people.

Do you see your children as a blessing from the Lord or do the problems that they have and are experiencing constantly weigh upon your heart bringing a feeling of unrest, failure and disappointment? There are some ways to pray for our children that will help them deal with the difficulties of life and bring success and victory into their situations. Ask the Lord to direct you to the scriptures that pertain to whatever difficulty your children may be facing. I like to take those scriptures and put them into what I call a “covenant prayer” format. I also will make scriptural declarations over my children such as this one based on Isaiah 54:13:

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.

My prayerful declaration for my children based on this scripture is:

Father, I thank You that all my children are taught of the Lord and great is their peace, their undisturbed composure. Nothing causes them to stumble.

Jesus said in reference to this scripture in Isaiah that “they shall all be taught of God [have Him in person for their Teacher]. (John 6:45 Amplified Bible)

If my children are constantly taught of the Lord then they will turn out to be the people that God designed and created them to be. I do not have to worry that they will go astray because He is teaching them the right way to walk through life. Even when it looks like they are not living according to godly principles I can be assured that God is working in their lives and will do what He has promised. I will continue to stand on His word until I see the fulfillment of the scriptures that I am praying and declaring over them.

How about this one? It’s a familiar one to lots of us.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

My prayerful declaration based on this scripture would be: Father, I thank You for my children whom I have raised according to Your principles. I declare that they will not depart from the teachings that I have instilled within them!

When my children were young adults I often prayed Psalm 91 over them for their protection. I find that even though my children are older adults now they still need their mother to pray for their protection and preservation. They are my heritage from the Lord and my reward from Him! I want to protect what He has given me through prayer and godly counsel when they ask. I may not always be able to direct them through what I say but I can always pray God’s word over them to influence them in the way they should be going. A note of caution here: never pray anything for your children that you would not pray for yourself. A controlling prayer based on selfish desires to get them to act in a way that you want is not a godly prayer. Praying that God’s will be done in their lives as it is in heaven is the way to pray. He has a perfect plan for their lives just like He has for yours. That is the outcome that we should desire to see in our children’s lives.

Father, I thank You for the children that You have given as our inheritance from You. Thank You for placing them in our lives. Father, I pray that Your will might be done in each of their lives just as it is in heaven. I ask You to direct them in the way they should go. Show them the godly path they are to walk that will bring them into the good plan that You have for their lives. Father, I pray that all our children will be taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace, their undisturbed composure. I ask You to work in their lives as only You can do, calling them to Yourself and developing within them a hunger and a thirst for righteousness that they might be filled. I thank You for them and ask that You would direct each one of us in how we can pray for our children according to Your will and not the desires that we have for them that may be misdirected by our own unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. May we be willing to let You mold them into the people that You want them to be and not us taking that responsibility upon ourselves. Father, help us to release them into Your care and understand that You are the Potter and they are the clay and You can mold them and make them without our interference. May we offer them words of encouragement and not discouragement! May we be a part of the solution instead of the problem. Father, help us allow You the freedom to move in their lives as You desire. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Go In This Might Of Yours

Courageous

Judges 6:12-14 AMP And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, The Lord is with you, you mighty man of [fearless] courage. And Gideon said to him, O sir, if the Lord is with us, why is all this befallen us? And where are all His wondrous works of which our fathers told us, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian. The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?

Your identity and purpose are directed connected. We were created to accomplish great things for God, and He puts the highest value on our lives. But, as Gideon, we must agree with God in order for His purpose to be fulfilled in each one of us. Gideon was hiding in the wine-press, trying to thresh their harvest of wheat. He couldn’t see past the oppression of the enemy to see the goodness of God. Many times we get caught up in the “why me, Lord” attitude of our lives. We can’t see that bad things do happen to good people and that God is not the author of those things, but that He works through them to establish His plan and purpose for our lives. Gideon’s people were under the oppression of the enemy because they had turned away from God and He had allowed them to live according to their own purpose and plan.

Judges 6:1-2 AMP BUT THE Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the Israelites made themselves the dens which are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.

When we step out from under the protective umbrella of the Lord we open the door for the enemy to come in to steal, kill and destroy our lives. The Israelites had opened that door and were suffering the consequences of their actions. Gideon couldn’t see that the enemy’s oppression was directly tied to their disobedience in not walking in the power and presence of God in their lives. He had taken the “why us” attitude of “if God is with us, why is all of this befallen us?” Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought that God had deserted you because of all the bad things that were happening in your life? And yet, even though Gideon was living under distress and persecution, God still had a plan and purpose for his life. In fact, He told Gideon that he needed to get up and go in his might or strength because He was going to use him to save his people from their enemies. God was sending him out on an assignment! The conditions were not perfect, in fact they were far from perfect, but God had a plan and a purpose for Gideon being right where he was. He was in the perfect place for God to move through him to effect change in the lives of others.

God has a plan and a purpose for your life, my friend. Gideon was afraid, but God offered His presence and power to equip Gideon to do the work that He had called him to do. He will do the same for you. God never sends us out to accomplish His work without His grace and empowerment to do it. His presence and power always goes with us. But He expects us to work with Him in accomplishing the task we are sent to do. The Israelites had been crying out to God for help and He had sent a prophet to tell them why they were in bondage. It was at their own hand. Their own decisions to live in their own ways was what got them into the mess they were in. God reminded them through the prophet of the good things He had done for them in the past. He had brought them out of the house of bondage to establish them as His very own people; to bless them and make them a blessing to the nations around them. They were to be a people that others would fear because they were His people. The surrounding nations would see the mighty power of God as He worked through His people, the Israelites, and they would know that God is real.

God has not changed His plan and purpose for the lives of His people even today. He still wants to exhibit Who He is through His people so others will be drawn into a relationship with Him. God has a plan and purpose for your life just as He did for Gideon. Will you follow His call to go forth and make a difference in the hearts and lives of those around you. Will you be the one that shows the way of salvation to the lost and discouraged?

Gideon questioned the Lord about how he could be the one to save his people when he was the least in his father’s house and his clan was the poorest in Manasseh. He couldn’t see himself of any value in his own sight. He needed to change his perspective to see himself as God saw him. God answered his questions about his inability with this statement:

Judges 6:16 AMP The Lord said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man.

Steering a car

God is all-powerful; He is all-seeing and He is all-knowing! He knows exactly what to do at the right time. He told Gideon that he needed to “go in this might of yours” because He was the one who was sending him. The first thing that we have to do to make changes in our lives is to “go”; to “get up and do something”. It is impossible to guide a car that is not moving. You can’t turn the steering wheel. The car must be running and engaged in drive for you to be able to steer it. God wants us to get up and go in what He has placed within us. Then He will give us the direction and power that we need to accomplish the job. But the first step is always ours. Will we agree with God that He wants to do something through us? When we have taken that first step God will always be right there to empower us to go forward!

Judges 6:34 NKJV But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him.

The phrase in this verse, “But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon”, in the Hebrew, actually says “The Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon”. The Spirit of the Lord lives within you if you have received Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit; the house that He lives within! You are of so much value that He purchased you with the precious blood of Jesus! He goes with you wherever you go.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God has a plan for His body today. It is to spread the gospel; to make disciples of all nations, to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to destroy the works of the enemy. He wants to do those things through you and me!

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “God therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit; “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Mark 16:17-20 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.: So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

God has a plan for His people today. It is the same as it was when He spoke these words to His disciples just before He ascended back into heaven. The plan still applies to His people. We are to go into all nations and preach the gospel; make disciples, baptize new believers, lay hands on the sick so they will recover; speak with new tongues; encounter and disarm demonic spirits…..And the Lord works with us to accomplish all that He has called us to do!

Mark 16:20 NKJV And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

It’s not up to us to go and do the work under our own power. It is our responsibility to go and act as He directs, but He does the work to confirm the word that He wants us to preach, whether it is through actual preaching of the word or however we are ministering to the people. He is the one who works through the believer to accomplish the work!

Will you be the vessel that He will flow through today to effect His kingdom’s work in someone’s life today?

Father, I thank You for the plan and purpose that You have for each one of us. You are the God who lives within us. You go everywhere that we go; and You want to work through us in each individual situation to spread Your word and do Your work in the hearts and lives of people who are lost and hurting. May we be willing vessels that You may flow through to do Your work in our world today. Father, I pray for those who are having difficulty seeing themselves of value to You this morning. I pray that they eyes of their understanding might be enlightened to see that You have a great inheritance in them. I pray that they might see that You love them with an everlasting love and You have a good plan for their lives. Father, restore what the devil has stolen from them through His deceptive work in their lives. Give them a glimpse of the great love that You have for them. Show them that they are worth the blood of Your Son as You gave Him to save them from their sin. Father, cause them to see the extreme value that You have placed on their lives. Grant them deliverance from the enemy of their souls! Thank You, Father, for living within us and for equipping us to do Your work in our world around us. May You receive glory and honor through each one of us as we go about our daily lives today! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Power, Presence and Perspective

Wine press in Biblical times

Judges 6:11, 12 Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the wine-press, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

Threshing wheat in biblical times

Threshing wheat in Biblical times was done on a high hill where, when the grain was thrown up into the air, the chaff or outer casing of the grain, could be caught by the wind and blown away so the grain would fall to the ground where it could be gathered up and stored for later use. Here we see Gideon, because of fear of the enemy, threshing wheat down in a wine-press where he could possibly get it done without being seen. Every time the Israelites would plant and harvest a crop their enemies would come in and make a raid and steal their harvest. The had become very impoverished and had cried out to the LORD for deliverance from the enemy around them. The Angel of the LORD came to Gideon to work through him to bring deliverance to his people.

The first thing the Angel of the LORD spoke to Gideon was, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon was hiding from the enemy down in a wine-press and the Lord wanted him to know that He saw him as a mighty man of valor! God sees each one of us as who we are under His guidance and empowerment. He told Gideon that He was with him. God’s presence goes with us to do the things that He calls us to do. He empowers us by His Spirit within us to do the extraordinary; our natural coupled with His presence and power becomes super-natural! But in order for us to live above the enemies of our lives we must see ourselves as God sees us. That means a change of perspective must happen on the inside that will be reflected on the outside.

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

If you have received Christ Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord, then when He was crucified on that cross to put to death the sin that was holding us in bondage, you died with Him. You are now a new creation in Christ Jesus and the life that He lived now lives in you. Gideon could not see himself as anything but a weak failure. The enemy had so oppressed him and his people that all he could see was fear and discouragement. When Jesus comes into a person’s life new hope is born. The Angel of the LORD came to Gideon to change his perspective and cause him to see that God was for him and he could be a new person if he would receive the presence and power of the Lord to enable him to accomplish the deliverance that his people needed. He needed a change of mind before he could exhibit a change of actions.

In Colossians we see that we have to have a change of thinking in order to attain a change of action. Our perspective must change from seeing only those things that are happening to us to see that God has positioned us on a higher level to effect change in our lives. When we see things from a heavenly perspective our earthly situations will appear different and we will see that with God all things are possible!

Gideon needed to see himself under the power and protection of his God. We are the same way. When our thinking is changed we see ourselves differently. So, how do we make that change?

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Set your mind on heavenly things! To “set your mind” means to change what you are focusing on. Fix your mind on how things are in heaven. There is no lack in heaven! There is no sickness or disease in heaven! There is no failure in heaven! There are no losers in heaven! There is only victory, healing and wholeness, provision for every need, love, joy, peace and protection for those who view life from a heavenly perspective. Our perspective in how we see life is the driving force of success or failure. Gideon only saw himself as a failure. But God saw him as a mighty man of valor.

A mighty man of valor means a champion; an over-coming warrior who possesses valor, dignity and honor. Valor means strength, bravery and courage. Mighty primarily signifies military might and power.

Did Gideon’s attitude reflect that of a mighty man of valor? Not when the Angel of the LORD came on the scene. He needed an attitude adjustment in order to see himself as God saw him. Zig Ziglar would say he needed to get rid of the “stinkin’ thinkin’”! Gideon needed God’s super-natural presence and power to be changed into the person that God had called him and created him to be.

We all need the presence and power of God in our lives to do the things that He wants us to do. We can’t do them on our own, but when the Holy Spirit, who is our Helper, is with us He enables us to see ourselves differently and to win! But the first change has to be in how we see ourselves. That requires a change of mind.

Present your bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice! Have you done that? Do you see yourself as living for the Lord in everything that you do, in every area of your life? Have you given Him complete control in your life? Change comes only as He changes us, but He will not over-ride our will. He will not force Himself on us. We must give Him permission to work within us; to change us. Is your life being lived as if God is in control or you?

Do not be transformed to this world! Don’t think that in order for you to be a valuable human being you must live as everyone around you is living. You are not a citizen of this world, but a citizen of heaven. Your spiritual residence has changed; you no longer are controlled by the world, but the Holy Spirit who lives within you through your spirit has empowered you to live above the natural happenings of this world! You do not have to live as the world any longer. When you present yourself to God for Him to live through you He will give you the victory over the world’s ways. Set your mind, your focus, your attention on what God has in store for you, not the negative viewpoint of the world!

Where are you living today? Do you see yourself as a mighty man/woman of valor? Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit to win in life or do you see yourself as a failure, never able to accomplish your dreams and goals? Your mindset must be changed!

2013 lies before us! The past is behind us and new territory is ahead. I’ve heard many speak this week of the goals and dreams they have for the upcoming year. New Year’s resolutions abound, but will they bring lasting change? Willpower is only so strong and is driven by our own human ability. Change comes from within, not from trying to keep a set of rules and regulations! Lasting change happens when we give control of our lives to God, set our minds on heavenly ways and then live according to His ways and not our own.

Will you allow God to change you? Will you renew your mind to the word of God? These are the changes that need to be made in our lives. These are the changes that will effect the dreams and goals that we have for 2013!

Father, I thank You for creating each one of us in your likeness and image. I thank You for placing Your Spirit within those of us who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. And I thank You for the power within us to change our lives and those around us; Your power and presence to work through us to bring the changes that we desire. Father, I pray for those today who may not know You. I ask that You would draw them by Your Spirit to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus. May today be their day of salvation! Father, I also pray for those who are weak and discouraged. I pray that they would see themselves as You see them, a mighty man or woman of valor. I pray that they would realize that You are the God of all impossibilities and through Your presence and power within them they can be changed to accomplish what they want to do. You have given them the power of Your Spirit to lead, guide and direct them in the way that You would have them to go. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for equipping us for the victory! Thank You, Father, for always leading us to triumph in Christ Jesus! Thank You for giving us victory in every battle that we face in this upcoming year! You are great and greatly to be praised! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Wise Men Still Seek Him!

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Matthew 2:1-12 NLT Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Some have said that the three wise men were actually Eastern astrologers that had studied the Jewish manuscripts that prophesied of the coming of the Messiah. Others have said they were kings from the East that came to bring gifts to the newborn King. Whoever they were, God used a bright star in the night sky to lead them to Bethlehem where they found and worshiped the Christ child. God will speak to us through whatever means we will allow Him. He meets us where we are in our walk of life and shows the reality of His presence in whatever we undertake to do. If we will open our hearts to Him, He will speak to us as He desires. We can’t put Him in a box and expect Him to function in just the way we think He should, but if we will allow Him to reveal Himself in His own way we will find that often there is no limit to the great heights of glory that He will reveal to us. The wise men had the ultimate GPS, God’s positioning service, revealed through the heaven-lies!

King Herod was an evil ruler. He didn’t want anyone to move in on his territory and take over his kingdom’s rule. News had traveled throughout the land that there was a newborn King of the Jews and the wise men had come from afar to worship Him. So King Herod sent the wise me a private message for them to come and see him. After getting some information from them about the exact time when they first saw the star, he told them to go Bethlehem and search carefully for the child and then when they found him, they were to come back and tell him so he could go worship Him, too. He was using them to find the baby Jesus so he could kill Him. He didn’t want a new king competing with His allegiance from the people.

Once the wise men had left their meeting with King Herod the star came out again and led them directly to the baby Jesus. It stopped right over the place where He was. God led them right to the Lord! He will do the same for each of us if we will open our hearts to Him. He wants to lead us into a deep and intimate relationship with Him. He desires our allegiance, our hearts, our lives, our talents, our all in all!

Luke 10:27 So he answered and said, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and your neighbor as yourself.’”

We can learn a lot from these “wise men”. They were wise because they followed God’s directions, they spared no cost to worship the Christ child, they were mindful of the enemy’s strategies in killing the plan of God for their lives, and they listened to the angel’s warning to go back by a different route to avoid revealing to the enemy what God was doing through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Will you be as wise as these “wise men”. Will you follow God’s plan for your life? Will you give your all in worshiping the Lord Jesus? Will you be watchful for the enemy’s plan to destroy what God wants to do with your life?

Jeremiah 29:11 NLT “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

John 4:23 NLT But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way.

1 Peter 5:8, 9 NLT Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Father, I thank You for the wise men who were led by Your star to worship the Christ child. I thank you for the example they have given us in giving their all to worship You. You, alone, Lord Jesus, are worthy of our praise and adoration. You are worthy to receive our worship! Today I pray that we will be mindful of the strategies of the enemy in trying to lure us away and kill the plan that You have for our lives. I pray that all who read this blog will see that the devil has a plan for their lives just as You, Father, have a plan. But the devil’s plan is to steal, kill and destroy and Your plan, Father is to give us a good life with a future full of hope and abundance. Thank You for Your goodness to us, Father, in giving Your Son to die for us to buy us back from the bondage of the evil one. May You be glorified in our lives, Father. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Wise Men Still Seek Him 2

Do Not Be Afraid, Joseph!

Angel appearing to Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25 NLT Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiance`, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All of this happened to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us).” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

God knew who to choose to be the mother and father of His only begotten Son, who would come to save the people from their sins! He chose Mary and Joseph, two who were devoted to Him, determined to do His will and unashamedly determined to moved forward regardless of what might be said of them by their peers and elders in society.

There were three steps in a Jewish marriage. First, the two families agreed to the union. Second, a public announcement was made and the couple was officially “engaged”. This was similar to an engagement today except that in Jewish tradition their relationship could only be broken through death or divorce (even though sexual relations were not yet permitted). Third, the couple was married and began living together. Mary and Joseph were in the second state of that union, the betrothal period. Because they were engaged Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a severe social stigma. According to Jewish civil law, Joseph had a right to divorce her, and the Jewish authorities could have had her stoned to death.

Deuteronomy 22:23, 24 NLT “Suppose a man meets a young woman, a virgin who is engaged to be married, and he has sexual intercourse with her. If this happens within a town, you must take both of them to the gates of the town and stone them to death. The woman is guilty because she did not scream for help. The man must die because he violated another man’s wife. In this way, you will cleanse the land of evil.”

Joseph, being a just man decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace Mary publicly. He was a “just” man. The Greek word for “just” is dikaios and it means “upright, blameless, righteous, conforming to God’s laws and man’s.” Joseph was fair and righteous, not looking to expose Mary by rejecting or casting her off before witnesses. He was compassionate towards her. He did not want to make a public example of her. This concerned him and as he thought about how he would do this he fell asleep. As he was sleeping the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and explained how Mary became pregnant. The angel told Joseph that the father of Mary’s child was the Holy Spirit and that he did not have to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because she had not been unfaithful to him.  Fear, when received, can be a determent to receiving the promises of God. The enemy always speaks fear to us to try to get us off track, to keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. But Joseph, being a godly man, received the message from the angel with faith as Mary had when the angel appeared to her to tell of her upcoming pregnancy.

Matthew 1:24, 25 NKJV Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Joseph knew about the prophecies of which the angel of the Lord had spoken; how Isaiah had prophesied that a virgin would be with child and bear a Son, and that they would call His name Immanuel, meaning “God with us”. He knew the Word of God as recorded in the Old Testament. And he knew that when the angel of the Lord appeared to him with those prophecies that he could believe him and trust that what God had said He would do would happen. Joseph’s faith reached out and grabbed onto the word of God and caused him to step out believing that God would do what He had promised.

Isaiah 7:14 NKJV “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Joseph so honored what God was doing in Mary’s and his lives that even after they were married he refused to have sexual relations with her until after Jesus was born. They did not enter into normal marital relations until after her Son was born. Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born and so the scripture was fulfilled that a virgin would be with child and bear a son!

Jesus

Joseph called His name JESUS. The name means “Yahweh is Salvation”. The angel gave him instructions from the conception to the birth and even what they were to name the child. The scripture records that Joseph called His name JESUS; he followed the commandment of the Lord in every instruction that he was given. He didn’t worry about what the community would think of him; his only concern was that he would do the will of God and care for the wife that God had given him. His full devotion was to doing God’s will.

When we look at the life of Joseph we see a man who was not afraid to follow God. He was a disciplined man doing what needed to be done to work with His heavenly Father in order to see the manifestation of the promise of God in his life. He was focused on what God was doing in his life instead of what people and circumstances might dictate. He was determined to obey regardless of public opinion.

Immanuel, God with us, was the promise that the Christ child would bring to the world. God with us, in a different way, the way of salvation. Jesus was born to save His people from their sin. He was not born as a baby to be worshiped in a manger, but as the Savior of the world, who took on human form that He might face all the trials and temptations that we face and yet overcome and become the payment for our sin, our failures, our brokenness and iniquities.

The question we each need to ask ourselves at this time of the year is would we be willing to give up our lives to usher in the will of God in our world today? What would it take for God to be able to depend on us to work with Him to establish His will in the hearts and lives of those around us?

Matthew 16:24 NKJV Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

Philippians 2:5-11 NLT Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Father, I thank You for the story of Joseph and how he obeyed Your instructions regardless of whether it meant public disapproval or not. I thank You for his resolve to obey You in order to see the fulfillment of the plan that You had to bring Your Gift of salvation into our world. I pray that I will be that kind of person to be able to work with You in effecting change in my world as well. Father, I ask You to give each one of us the determination to obey You regardless of the opinion of those around us. May we be people of integrity that not only speak of You in our lives but act out of what You tell us to do. May we walk the talk and not just talk it. Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus to save us from our sin. Thank You for being with us in the form of humanity in order to identify with the problems that we experience in our lives. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying a criminal’s death to purchase our salvation! To You be all the honor and glory due Your name! Amen.

Thanks be to God for the birth of Jesus

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: