Thursday, January 03, 2013
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 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.
Romans 12:1, 2 I beseech your therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God; which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
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.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Matthew 24:36-44 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
We have just crossed over into a New Year. There have been some prophecies regarding this new year and many are concerned about the state of our nation as well as our world. The uncertainty of the future has people in turmoil, fearful of what lies ahead. We clearly are moving according to God's timetable through the last days before the return of the Lord!
Jesus, when approached by His disciples in answer to their questions about the end of the times, stated several different things that they could use to measure when that would occur. In this portion of Scripture He indicates that no one, not even He, knows the exact date and time of His arrival because that knowledge is reserved for the Father only. He is the One who decides when He will send His Son back to reclaim those who are His. But there are some signs that we can use to determine the nearness of His appearing. One of the signs that give us an indication of the timetable used to determine His return is the condition of the world; the condition of the hearts of people. He said the time of Jesus' return would be like that of Noah in the days before the flood. He specifically mentions the lifestyle of those living at the time of that great flood. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. In other words, life was lived to their own liking regardless of the fact that Noah had been warned of the flood and was building an ark for safety for all who would believe and enter into it with him. We can understand more about the lifestyle of the people of that day by looking at the record of Noah and the flood found in Genesis, chapter 6.
Genesis 6:5-8 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart,. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”
The lifestyle portrayed by this portion of scripture leads us to believe that wickedness and evil, or lawlessness abounded in the hearts and lives of the people of Noah's day. Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 that lawlessness would be a sign of His return.
Matthew 24:12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
What is lawlessness? It is willfully disregarding the righteousness of God and choosing sin above His ways.
1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
Hebrews 1:9 says that Jesus loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, so lawlessness is the complete opposite of God's righteousness and is a practice of willful disobedience to His ways. Sin, or falling short of the glory of God through willful disobedience, choosing your own way over His, is considered lawlessness. That was the picture of life in Noah's day before God destroyed the life of man and beast through that great flood. Jesus said life in the last days would be like that. Can you see the similarities in the lifestyles of those in our world today?
There are many prophecies going around regarding the day and age in which we live. There are those who prophesy doom and gloom and others who are claiming to have a word from the Lord regarding God's grace and favor being manifested in this upcoming year. Who are we to believe? Are the warnings valid and the great grace invalid, or vice verse, do we listen to the prophecies of God's grace being manifested and fore-go the warnings of the day of the Lord's return growing near? I don't see it as an either or choice that we must make. Revelation 19:10 tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Clearly He has shared with us the ultimate prophecies regarding the end of the age and His approaching return.
Hebrews 1:1-4 GOD, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Jesus has warned us that the time is near. The signposts all point to His return! We must be ready! We must warn those around us that the end is near! Salvation must be appropriated in this life, before Jesus returns or we die a physical death. That decision to receive His payment for the penalty for our sin must be chosen before we are caught up to meet Him in the air at His return or we die and leave this body to spend eternity either in the presence of the Lord or eternally separated from Him in outer darkness.
There is one thing that I want to point out to you about the great flood in the day of Noah....it is found in Genesis 6:8:
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Noah lived at the same time as the others who perished in the flood and yet he found grace in the eyes of the LORD. What was different about Noah that caused God to extend His grace to him?
Genesis 6:9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
We see three things that exemplify the lifestyle of Noah: 1) He was a just man; 2) he was perfect in his generations; and 3) he walked with God.
Noah found grace in the eyes of God because of his relationship with God. It affected his lifestyle and granted him salvation when others around him were perishing. God's grace was greater than the lure of the world to eat, drink and be merry. Noah was a righteousness man; he listened when God spoke and obeyed His command to build an ark in preparation for a great flood!
Genesis 6:22 Thus Noah did, according to all that God commanded him, so he did.
Even though we don't see specifically in scripture where the people questioned him about what he was doing and the ridicule he must have received for telling them that God had told him to build an ark in preparation for an upcoming flood, we know that it would only be human nature for him to have experienced those questions from the community around him. So it has been throughout the ages that those who follow Jesus have suffered persecution and always will. And yet Noah chose God over the ways of the world around him. And so he found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Will you choose God over the ways of the world and thus find grace in God's eyes. God's grace was given through the sacrifice for sin offered on the cross when Jesus was nailed to that tree.
Romans 5:17 For if by one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign through the One, Jesus Christ.
Those who receive the gift of righteousness that Jesus purchased for them will also receive an abundance of God's grace. Righteousness comes through receiving Jesus Christ as the payment for your sin. Grace is God's unmerited favor towards us given through the blood of His Son. Jesus is God's gift of salvation.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:12, 13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Yes, there is a need for warning mankind of the eminent return of Jesus Christ. That will happen in God's timing and we must be ready for His appearing. But we, who have received Him have been given the right to be children of God and thus have entered into that ARK of safety which is only found in the relationship that we have with Jesus Christ. We have been given great grace! We reign with Him in life through that abundance of grace; the favor of God resting upon those who have chosen Him over the wicked ways of the world.
Will you be ready for His return? Will you be busy about the Father's business telling others and warning them of the impending danger of not entering into covenant relationship with Jesus? There are only two classes of people in God's eyes; the saved and the unsaved; those who know Jesus and those who don't. Which class will you be in?
If you have not made the choice to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord I must warn you that the time is drawing near for His return. If you have not made the decision to choose Him over the world, you must do that in this day before it is too late. God's gift of salvation is free to all who will receive it. He gave His all that you might have life eternal; life spent eternally in the presence of God.
If you have never received Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord and would like to do that, please pray with me this prayer and mean it sincerely in your heart:
Father, I come before you this morning with the understanding that I am a sinner, both by birth and by choice. I admit that I have lived my life for me and me alone, disregarding Your will and ways. Father, I thank You for giving Jesus to die for my sin. I believe that He is the Son of God, was crucified for my sin and was raised to new life and lives today seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. I ask You to forgive me for my sin and to come into my heart and be my Savior and Lord. I ask You, Lord Jesus, to come into my heart and save me! Thank You, for Your salvation. I receive it today and I confess Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I promise to live every day of my life from this day forward for You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Father, I bring those before You this morning who may be fearful about what lies ahead in these uncertain times. Father, Your word says that we are not to be overcome with fear for Your grace is greater than anything the enemy could have planned for us. You are the greater One who lives within the hearts of Your children and You are greater than he who lives and rules in this world system. To You be the glory due Your name! May You be exalted in these last days, Lord Jesus, over all the evil that is taking place in the world. Please forgive us of our sins, Father, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness that we might be fit to rule and reign with Christ Jesus in the days ahead. Establish Your kingdom in the hearts of believers that we might take back what is rightfully ours that You have given to us as our inheritance here on earth. I declare that no weapon formed against us shall prosper but we shall rise up as Your people, the army of God and pray and speak out at Your direction to effect change in our world. Give us courage and boldness through Your Spirit to live as You direct and be about Your business until the day of the Lord's appearing! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
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 system, 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.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Luke 2:8-20 NLT That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don't be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
Can you imagine how quiet it must have been in that dark night after the sheep had been bedded down and the shepherds were relaxing from a day of caring for their flocks? When SUDDENLY.....an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the night sky lit up with the radiance of God's glory! In just a twinkling of an eye their whole world changed from dark to light! That's what happens in a person's life when God's glory shows up! Jesus is the glory of God in human form. His message of hope was shared with a group of shepherds. This was the greatest birth announcement ever made and it wasn't given to kings or priests; it was given to lowly shepherds; those who, as an occupation, cared for sheep.
The first thing the angel said to the shepherds was “don't be afraid”! In every visitation that we've seen from an angel that came to give a message to someone from God regarding the birth of Jesus we've heard “don't be afraid”, or “do not fear”. God's love casts out all fear. Fear is not from God, it comes as a message from the evil one who is the instigator of all negative forms of fear. The reverential fear of God is what comes from God; it is a respect, a reverence for who God is to us that causes us to love what He loves and hate what He hates. But fear that causes terror within the heart of a person comes from our enemy, the devil. The angel was instructed to tell the shepherds to not fear because God is the God of love.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
1 John 4:16-18 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. We love each other as a result of his loving us first.
It has been said that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Word of God; one for each day of the year. God does not want His children to be afraid and especially not when they are encountering Him, or communing with His Spirit or having a visit from an angelic messenger. If fear is present when you are having a spiritual encounter with the Lord, it may be another spirit other than God's Spirit. We are instructed in 1 John 4:1 to test the spirits to make sure they are of God.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Immediately after the angel gave the shepherds the message from God the night sky became aglow with the heavenly host singing praises to our God! “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Christmas is not about giving and receiving presents, although we celebrate His birth through giving gifts to others. But Christmas is about Jesus! He is the Center of Christmas! He is the reason that we celebrate! Glory to God for sending Jesus to save mankind from their sin! Jesus came to bring peace on earth; peace between God and man and relationally to men with each other. When the Prince of Peace comes to live in the hearts of men we will see the ultimate peace on earth that Jesus came to give us. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord we experience peace with God that dispels all fear and gives us the hope for a bright future filled with His goodness!
Know Jesus—know peace! No Jesus—no peace!
The next thing that we see happening in the life of the shepherds on that night when an angel of the Lord came to tell them of the birth of the King was that they acted on His word. We can hear the word of God spoken to us through His messenger but it's not really ours or appropriated into our lives until we act on it. They could have heard what the angel said and rejoiced in what they heard but it was made more real to them when they acted on it by going to see the baby of which the angel had spoken. When we act on His word we are stepping out in faith saying, “I believe it and I receive it as God's word for me in my life right now”! James calls that action as being a person who is not just hearing the word of God but doing it!
James 1:22-24 NLT And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
The Word of God is exponentially multiplied in your life when you hear AND do it. When you read or hear it you receive one level of power from it, but when you add to it the doing then the reality of it is multiplied to you and change comes into your life. We are changed by what God says to us. His word changes our hearts and lives. We are changed from the ways of the world to know the way God thinks through the renewing of our minds to His word. (Romans 12:2) The shepherds lives were changed that night by what the angel of the Lord said to them and through their obedience to go see the baby for themselves.
When the shepherds heard the word from the angel and went to see the baby Jesus they couldn't contain their excitement and had to go tell what they had heard and seen! When we have an encounter with the living God we are compelled to tell others about Him. We want to share what He has placed in our hearts; we want to give away the salvation that He has given us so others can know Him as well. The shepherds told everyone what had happened to them and what the angel had said to them about his child.
Luke 2:18, 19 And all who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.
They had to tell others about Jesus! When you've had a great experience in your life you want to share it with others. It is natural to let what is on the inside of you flow out to those around you. The greatest story ever told is the story of Jesus!
And the last thing that we see taking place in the lives of these shepherds is that they went back to their flocks praising God for what the angel had told them and having seen the child, just as the angel had said. The outflow of an encounter with the Lord Jesus is praise! When we draw close to Him through a living and vital relationship with Him the natural thing to do is praise Him! Our spirit connects with the Holy Spirit within us and the automatic outflow is that of praise! God fills your life with praise for Him!
Have you had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, or do you simply know Jesus as the baby in the manger? Have you seen Him as Savior and Lord or just a little baby, helpless and defenseless? If you want to see Him as Your own personal Savior and Lord, just ask Him into your heart today and He will come in and save you and give you a new life, filled with His presence.
Father, I pray for those today who may want to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. I pray that they will open their hearts to You and ask You into their lives to change them and give them a reason to continue living. For those who are depressed I pray that they will allow the Prince of Peace to come into their lives and bring peace in the midst of their sorrow. I pray that they will ask You to save them and give them new life. I pray that the eyes of the blind will be opened today to see Jesus in all His glory! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Won't you invite Jesus into your heart today? If you want to do that please pray this prayer with me and sincerely mean it in your heart,
Father, I come before You this morning to receive Your gift that You gave through Jesus Christ. I believe that He was born into this earth to live a sinless life and die for me that I might have life. I believe that He is the Son of God and that You gave Him to the world as the sacrifice to pay the price for the sin of mankind. I confess to You that I am a sinner, both by birth and by choice. I ask You for forgive me of my sin and to come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and save me. I receive Your gift of salvation today and I confess Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for saving me. I promise I will live this day forward for you! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
What a wonderful day to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is His birthday! He gave His life for you and now you've given your life to Him. His gift is completely free for you to receive, but it cost Him everything; his deity and His life. Now will you give your all to live for Him? Will you live your life to show the world that He lives within you? From this day forward I vow to live my life for Him. What more could I do? He gave His life for me so I will give mine for Him! Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus!
Monday, December 24, 2012
Luke 2:1-7 NKJV And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and lad Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Tomorrow is the day that we celebrate the birth-day of Jesus! So, in the next few days we will look at the events surrounding His birth.
As the scripture reads it was time in Galilee for all who lived there to be taxed. A decree went out from the Governor that a census needed to be taken for the purpose of taxation. It was customary for the head of the house to go to where their ancestral records were kept to register for the taxation. Joseph, being of the lineage of David, had to make the trip back to Bethlehem, which was known as the city of David, to register. This would have been a difficult trip for Mary as it was nearing the time of her baby's birth. But Joseph, being a just man who obeyed both God's rules and those of man, needed to register to be in compliance with the laws of the land. Romans 13:1 tells us that we are to obey the government, for God is the one who put it in place. In going back to Bethlehem to register for the census Joseph was being obedient to God through obeying the government. The second verse in Romans 13 says: So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
It is interesting to see how God orchestrated the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. In order to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2, Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, which meant that instead of Joseph going alone to register for the census, Mary would need to go with him.
Micah 5:2-5 NAS “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” Therefore, He will give them up until the time When she who is in labor has borne a child, Then the remainder of His brethren Will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. And this One will be our peace.”
When God divided up the Promised Land He gave a portion of land to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah was the tribe in which the city of Bethlehem was established. In Biblical times the names of people and places were significant to the upbringing of a child. A child would grow up in character as a fulfillment of what his name meant. So, let's look at the significance of the names surrounding the birth of Jesus.
Judah – the name means “praise”. In Luke 3:23-38 Jesus' lineage is traced back to God through the tribe of Judah. One of the names of Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. (Revelation 5:5) Judah was the tribe that led the Israelites through the wilderness; the praise-rs went before the Israelites into battle in 2 Chronicles 20 to confuse their enemies and God used them to set up the ambush of their enemies and secure their victory. We are told that Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to give us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness in Isaiah 61:3. Psalm 8:2 says that praise silences the enemy in our lives and strengthens us. Jesus referred to that scripture in Matthew 21:16 when He said “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise”. Praise is an important part of our relationship with the Lord Jesus. When we praise Him for who He is the devil can't stay in our presence; his voice of condemnation and fear is silenced and we give Jesus the glory that is due His name! We better learn to praise Jesus here on earth because in heaven He is worshiped 24/7.
Revelation 4:8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
We will be joining in with that heavenly group proclaiming His praises!
Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Bethlehem – the name means “house of bread”. Jesus called Himself the bread of life in John 6:48-51:
“I am the bread of life. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever' and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Jesus is the bread of life. When we partake of His salvation that was purchased by Him giving His flesh and blood to pay the payment for our sin, we will live forever, eternally in His presence. We appropriate what He has done for us personally by exercising our faith to receive His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for our sins. It is through receiving Him into our hearts that we become born again. Jesus is the Savior of the world, the bread of life, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and worthy of all our praise!
Luke 2:6, 7 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
“the days were completed”.....Galatians 4:4, 5: But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Jesus was born at just the right time; God's appointed time. It was no accident that Mary had Jesus in Bethlehem at the time of the census when there would be so many people that there would be no room for them in the Inn. It was the right time, the appointed time for Him to be born. God knew there would be no room for them in the Inn. Nothing takes God by surprise. It may seem to you that the timing of what you are experiencing is the wrong time, but God orchestrates things in our lives to be for our good, not our harm. Mary had Jesus in Bethlehem in a stable at the “right” time! It was in the “fullness” of the time for His birth. The meaning of the word “fullness” is “that which has been completed”. The happenings of the world had come to completion for the birth of Jesus Christ. It was “time” for His birth.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger....” Mary wrapped the first Christmas present in swaddling cloths. Strips of cloth were used to keep a baby warm and to give him a sense of security. Jesus was born of humble means because He laid His deity aside and came to earth as a human to submit to the obedience of His Father.
Philippians 2:5-8 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.
Hebrews 2:14, 15 Because God's children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
Jesus was born as a baby and laid in a manger to show His humble beginning in the purpose that God had for His life. He had to be born a human being in order to die on the cross to secure our salvation. He had to live a sinless life in order to qualify to be the Savior of the world. All these things that happened at the birth of Jesus were perfectly orchestrated so that He could fulfill the requirement of the law to redeem mankind from their sin. Nothing was left out of God's perfect plan to secure our salvation. Everything happened just as God planned in the “fullness” of His time!
Galatians 3:13, 14 NLT But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
Friends, Jesus was born into this earth for the supreme purpose of dying on a cross to redeem us from the curse of the law; to purchase our redemption and make us acceptable to God as if we'd never sinned. At this time of the year when we celebrate His birth it is important that we do not get caught up in the “baby in the manger” and see Him as only a little baby. He is the Savior of the world; He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; the risen Christ! His birth was just the beginning of His purpose and mission as the Savior and Lord of all who would receive Him.
If you have not received Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord, He is waiting for you to make that decision. What better time would it be than now when we are celebrating the birth of our King? Won't you pray this prayer with me and sincerely mean it in your heart?
Father, I come before You this morning recognizing my need for Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I see Him as You gave Him to us to be the payment for my sin, my own personal wrongdoing and weaknesses in not being able to save myself. I know that You sent Him to be my Savior. I confess my sin to You today, the sin of being born as a sinner and the sin of my own willful choices. I believe that Jesus died for me, that He was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and that if I ask Him to come into my heart He will save me from my sins. I ask You to forgive me and save me right now and I thank You for doing that. Thank You for saving me; for making Your home within my heart and for changing my life. From this day forward I will live for You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer with sincerity of heart, you are now a Child of the King, a born again believer in Christ Jesus and your place of residence is now with Him from this day forward throughout eternity! You have made the best decision of your life. Welcome to the family of God!
And now, Father, I bring before You those who are hurting and lonely today. I ask that You would fill their hearts with a new sense of Your presence; that Your arms of love would wrap around them and carry them through this difficult time in their lives. Father, You are the God of all comfort so I pray that You will comfort them and give them peace. Thank You for being close to the brokenhearted and for healing the hurts that they are experiencing today. Thank You for giving us another Christmas to celebrate the birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ. May He be given the pre-eminence that is due Him at this Christmas time and throughout each upcoming day. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Get An Email Alert Each Time AVANELL Posts