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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Baby Jesus is God's Gift to Us

The Baby Jesus is God’s Gift to Us

God has given us many gifts, but the most precious gift He gives us is Jesus Christ.  Along with the gift of Jesus comes the gift of God’s presence.  The gift that God is with us.  That we are never alone! The gift of God’s presence is a gift that we really must open.  It is too valuable to leave  on the shelf.   The baby Jesus was given many names.  And names have meaning.  One of the names Jesus was given was the name, “Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) And the name Emmanuel means “God with us.”

All through the Bible we see God’s presence with His people.  We see His presence with Abraham and Sarah as He led to their new promised land and protected them from harm.  We see God’s presence with the Israelites as He led them across the wilderness and fed them manna in the desert.  And if we want Him we can feel God’s presence with us too.

Sometimes we wrestle with God’s presence.  We wonder where He is when things go wrong.  But He is still there taking care of us in ways we do not yet see.  Our call now is to trust Him even when we don’t understand. When we pass from death to eternal life we may see the whole picture then. God helps us cope.  He gives us strength.  Scripture promises: “Fear not for I am with you, be not afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

Jesus ‘Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is also the Spirit of peace.  The dove, which represents peace, is one of the signs of the Holy Spirit.  And one of Jesus ’names is the “Prince of Peace.”  When we open our lives to Jesus, God’s gift to us, we will soon find ourselves being led in the paths that lead to peace because His Spirit leads us into peace.

  Jesus tells us, his followers, to love our enemies.  To do good to the people that are doing us harm.  Here is what Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven. “(Matthew 5:44) We need His supernatural power to obey this command.

I have someone in my life who tells lies about me and I feel I must stand up for my reputation and put this person down.  But the Lord speaks to my heart and tells me to love this person and let Him take care of my reputation.  He, with His love, can do this difficult job so much better than I could with my hate.  I fall down and get up and fall down again. You may have similar problems along your way.  But the Lord always leads us in the ways of peace and love.    

Jesus also tells us not to judge others.  Here is what He says: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 7:1-2)

And Jesus tells us to forgive. Again, here are His words: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15)

These commands are difficult to follow, but the Holy Spirit will help us and forgive us when we mess up.  You can see that when we get serious and open ourselves to Jesus and His Spirit, we are opening ourselves to a radical change.     

We have God’s presence with us through the Holy Spirit living in us.  When we believe in Jesus He gives us His Spirit.  And Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of our eternal life.  “The Spirit is the guarantee or (down payment) of our inheritance in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”  (Ephesians 1:14)  When we feel the still small Voice guiding or teaching or comforting us, this Voice inside our heart is the Holy Spirit.  He comes along side of us.  What a great blessing we have! 

This truth is so precious that we need to guard and keep our faith strong and not let it slip away or be watered down. (2 Timothy 1:14) There are heresies and false teachings everywhere.  Satan will try to undermine your faith in Jesus - the Truth that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

 Stay true to Jesus and don’t listen to false teachings. Build up your precious faith by studying the Bible, the Word of God.  Pray and listen for the Lord’s Voice and fellowship with other Christians. The Holy Spirit is in you to help you maintain your faith in Jesus as Son of God and Savior.  Welcome the Spirit into every facet of your life.  Let Him be the divine Helper to you that He wants to be and you will experience abundant blessings, peace and joy, and a greater closeness with God. 

Some of this blog was taken from Joyce Meyer’s book “Knowing God Intimately” Chapter 17, “The Wonder of It All!”        

Saturday, December 17, 2016

For unto Us a Child is Born

For unto Us a Child is Born 

God spoke through Isaiah, the prophet many hundreds of years before Jesus was born, telling the Jewish people that He would send them a Child.  But this wouldn’t be just any child.  God promised a very special Child!  He spoke these words through Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord will give you a sign: a virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call his name Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’.”  (Isaiah 7:14)   

This promised child’s name means “God with us”!  God continues describing this child through his prophet Isaiah.  Let’s listen: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.  And the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace.  And of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness.  From that time on and forever more.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.  (Isaiah 9:6-7)

The people of Israel were looking for this promised Child, this Messiah, this Emmanuel or ‘God with us’.  God promised a Child to be born, but also a Lamb to be slain (killed) (Revelations 13:8)  We can also see Him in his humiliation when we read Isaiah’s prophecies and other Scriptures.

God’s prophecies through Isaiah tell us that this Child will be called Wonderful, Counselor and Mighty God.  He is able to save to the uttermost.  Another name for this Child is “Everlasting Father” He was born into our world and He is God, one with the Father, who is from everlasting to everlasting.

  And He is the “Prince of Peace”.  He is our peace.  As King, He preserves, commands and creates peace in his kingdom.  When He governs it shall be a peaceable government.  He will settle it with justice and judgment.  There shall be no end to the increase of his governing.    

God speaks through Isaiah describing what this promised Child will bring to the world.  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light: those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them the Light has shined.  You have multiplied the nation, You have increased its joy:  They rejoice before You as with joy at the harvest.”  Isaiah 9:2-3)

 One of Jesus’ many names is “Light” or “the Light of the world”.  That great Light which should visit those who sat in darkness would bring deliverance to the captives.  The design of the gospel is to break the yoke of sin and Satan.  And to remove the burden of sin and corruption.  And Jesus’ coming also brings his followers great joy along with liberty and victory.

The same Child that is called the “mighty God” is also the “Child who is born”.  Jesus is born for us, given for us. This holy Child humbled and emptied himself, to exalt and fill us. Billions of Christians down through the ages have worshiped Him and celebrated the Gift of this Child and Savior. 

 We celebrate at Christmastime.  We gather together with family and sing carols, give gifts and rejoice all because a Child is born and a Son is given.  Given to us and given for us. He is God’s gift to us.   


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lessons from the Hospital Bed

Lessons from the Hospital Bed

It was five o clock in the morning when we arrived at the hospital last week.  A cold Artic wind blew down on us as we made our way across the parking lot in the darkness. My surgery was scheduled for seven o clock and I was numb with fear.  My husband tried to be cheerful but nothing could calm my nerves.  

Inside the hospital, we sat silently in a cold waiting room with other nervous patients who also were waiting for their surgeries.  The nurse who came for me was friendly and helpful.  My spirits rose a bit.  It’s amazing how just a smile and a kind word can make a difference.  Soon I was being wheeled into surgery.  It was seven in the morning and as the anesthesiologist administered my anesthesia, he assured me that they would be watching my monitor. That was the last thing I remembered. 

I was having shoulder replacement surgery.  My old shoulder was worn out with no more cartilage between the bones.  The surgeon had to cut the old shoulder off and replace it with a new ball and socket, along with a rod down my arm to hold the new shoulder in place.  My doctor is a specialist in this surgery so I trusted him to do the job well.

When I woke up in the recovery ward I was in pain and gasping for breath. A doctor appeared and told me that he would be back to put my shoulder to sleep so I wouldn’t feel the pain.  Soon he was back with a shot that numbed my shoulder for the next twenty-four hours.  A caring nurse checked my vital signs and moved around to other patients.  I could see that it was eleven thirty by a clock on the wall. I drifted in and out of sleep. 

Soon someone came for me and pushed my bed down the hall and into the elevator.  Then down another hall and into my new hospital room.  My husband was waiting there in my hospital room and it was good to see him.  I was so glad that the operation was over and I felt all right.  I was hooked up to an IV and many wires and tubes as well as oxygen.  I felt Christ’s love through the caring nurses that were around me for the rest of the day. 

Late that night after my husband had gone home and my room was dark, I looked out my hospital window and thanked God for getting me through the surgery.  As I lay there in the silent darkness praying it seemed that God spoke directly to my heart.
 I have a friend who I had decided to give up on.  Our relationship had become toxic and I was tired of caring about this one who is always rude to me and is constantly putting down Jesus Christ.  It seemed that the Lord was telling me that this person was in pain.  That I should pray for this one, not run away.  I argued that this one had gone too far and been too mean.  But the Lord seemed to be telling me that He had died for people who had gone too far and been too mean.  That I was to follow His example.  To forgive and forgive again. 

The next day the sun was shining and I started therapy.  I walked the halls with my physical therapist and laughed with my husband.  Friends and relatives called and wished me well and I was happy to be feeling better.  But as I settled in to sleep that second night in the hospital, an uneasiness seemed to come over me.  Fear crept into my soul for no reason and I wondered why I often feel so vulnerable.

 I looked out my hospital window again and asked God why I felt so fearful and so unsettled.  And then I opened the Bible and started reading.  Right away my eyes fell on this verse: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong and firm and He will settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)  As I read this verse it seemed the Lord spoke to my soul once again and said that this verse was for me.  Of course, this verse is for all of God’s children. But this promise was just the right comfort for me that night in the hospital. I went to sleep with God’s comfort wrapped around me. 

God had spoken to my heart there in the hospital through the Holy Spirit.  Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit, along with being our Teacher and Guide and Divine Helper is also our Comforter.   One of my favorite verses describing Him as our Comforter is this one.  “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My (Jesus) Name, He will teach you all things.” (John 14:26) His comfort will be different for you than for me since your needs will be different from mine. 

Two nights in the hospital and two times I felt my heavenly Father whispering directly to my heart.  He has so much to say to us but do I listen?  Too much noise and busyness in my life.  I need to make more room for quiet times of prayer.  That is another lesson I learned from my hospital stay.