Hope in a manger

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The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:2-14

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To Know Jesus as Lord and Savior

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Always be ready

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1 Peter 3:15

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (ESV)

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV)

“But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.” (AMP)

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT)
There is much going on in the world today and it gives much opportunity for believers to share our faith. Let’s remember that we are to do so with gentleness and respect. We do this because we love just as Jesus first loved us. The object is to demonstrate His love, not win arguments. In fact, the Lord gives further instructions:
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
2 Timothy 2:23-25


May this Season of Advent prepare our hearts for a blessed CHRISTmas celebration and a passion to share the hope of Jesus Christ with gentleness and respect. 

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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

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1 O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. Refrain

3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

4 O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain

5 O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode. Refrain

6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. Refrain

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain

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Even creation waits with longing

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For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  Romans 8:19-21 NLT

To me, the above Scriptures so absolutely reveal the glory of our God. The God who created all things…

 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

subjected the all of His creation to frustration (change and decay) when He judged Adam after the fall in the Garden of Eden.

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life. …

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;

    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food
until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The Roman verses above speak of the hope, the eager expectation, that even creation has for the day when the Lord will set things back in order and “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Revelation 21:1-5, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Just like creation, I look forward to that day!

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

“15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:15-27

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Wisdom Wednesday

 

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On yesterday, we shared in regards to waiting on the Lord with eager expectation and longing in our hearts. I pray the following Scriptures and quotes will help us to experience this season of Advent and prepare for a well-blessed, to the glory of God, CHRISTmas celebration! Blessings to you today!

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Expectation 1

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21

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Expectation 2
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Expectation 3
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Expectation 4

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

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Expectation 5

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

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Expectation 6
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Expectation 7

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

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Expectation 8
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Expectation 9

“For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:27

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Expectation 10

 

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Waiting and longing and hoping…

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Okay, okay, okay! I admit it! I don’t necessarily wait well! I mean if I fail to fill the gas tank on my car and out of no where hear the beep and I am on this long stretch of road without any gas stations, you won’t find me driving slow and taking it easy until I reach one. No, I am more likely to speed up! If I am going to run out of gas, I would just as soon as do it now than later. Let’s just deal with it. It is what it is!

Waiting can be hard! I can only imagine the wait of the Israelites for the promised Messiah. The longing in their hearts for His appearance. The hope that one day the Savior would come and set them free from captivity just as God had promised through Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) was real.

God had given them so many great and precious promises regarding the Messiah, the Anointed One:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).”

For to us a child is born, to 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. Of the greatness 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. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).”

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).”

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This the name by which he will be called”The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

The Jews had no choice but to wait as they kept faith trusting God to be faithful to keep His promises and then one day the angel, Gabriel appears to Mary (Luke 6:26-33):

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 3You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 The angel appeared to Joseph as well (Matthew 1: ):

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

God promised to send a Savior and He did, His name is Jesus. Jesus promised that He could come again…and He will. There is no cut to the chase but there is a longing, there is hope. We do wait with eager anticipation and expectation, trusting that our loving God will fulfill every promise. It is said that there are well over 300 references to the return of Christ in the New Testament.

Revelation 1:5-8, “…from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
T
o Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,

and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God
and Father—to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”

    and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 22:20-21, “He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

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Advent – Joy to the World

 

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H O P E !

 

I love Advent because it places me on a deliberate journey on an intentional meditation upon the Word of God. I do this so that I will truly celebrate the One worthy of praise, honor, and glory during this season of CHRISTmas, Jesus the Christ! 

You see, for me this is important! Otherwise, I am likely to get so caught up in all the work and celebration that I leave Him out.

God knows this about me so some years ago He introduced me to the season of Advent. Advent begins each year the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Every day between now and Christmas, the Lord has taught me to meditate on Scriptures that will keep my heart centered on God’s everlasting love, abundant grace, and tender mercy for man despite man’s disobedience, rebellion, and rejection of God’s ways, plans, and purposes. This keeps me ever mindful that CHRISTmas is about Christ!

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All the other thoughts and actions should be reflections of His glory. I give because He gave. I put up a tree because He is everlasting life. I put lights on the tree to reflect that Jesus is the Light of the world! I fellowship with others because God is all about relationship. Our relationship with Him and our relationships with others!

Advent helps me not to reflect on what I will give or get, but on the greatest Gift ever given. God so loving man that He sent His one and only, special, and unique Son into this world to rescue man from the prison of sin and reconcile him back to God. You see, relationship not religion. (John 3:16)

Advent causes me to reflect on man’s great dilemma of disobedience and rejection of the God who created Him (sin) and the penalty of sin being death, separation from God. (Romans 6:23)

Advent causes me to remember that as a result of his sin, man was standing seemingly hopeless before a Holy, Righteous and Perfect God whose eyes are too holy to even look upon sin. (Habakkuk 1:13)

Advent causes my heart to rejoice because God had a plan for what was seemingly hopeless! You see, not even the sin of mankind or the deceit of the enemy can triumph God!
God’s plan is summed up in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9-6

What a loving God of hope! Hope born in a manger!

Hope built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. (Hebrews 9:28)

Hope that does not leave us ashamed for “anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:11)

Advent is also a time that I reflect on other Truths such as this story not being finished. One day this same Jesus will come again and we will experience the full manifestation of His completed, finished work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. (Acts 1:11)

All these truths and more are worth meditating upon and when I do, my heart knows and causes my soul to rejoice with true worship of Jesus the Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords who will come again in His Second Advent for those who have believed and received Him as Lord and Savior! (Revelation 1:7, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 25:1-46, Revelation 22:20)

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20

Advent helps me keep my heart and mind fixed on the real meaning of Christmas. CHRISTmas is for celebrating Jesus the Christ!

Blessed be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.(John 1:29)

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Advent – Preparing my Heart

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Today is the first Day of Advent and I am excited!

I am excited because beginning today, before I can get wrapped up in the busyness of Christmas, I will begin a deliberate journey of being intentional in regards to meditating upon the Word of God. I will do this so that I will truly celebrate the One worthy of praise, honor, and glory during this season of CHRISTmas, Jesus the Christ!

Advent helps me keep my heart and mind fixed on the real meaning of Christmas.
CHRISTmas is for celebrating Jesus the Christ!

Blessed be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
(John 1:29)

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The Lord is my banner

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Exodus 17:15-16 (NIV)
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

When it was all said and done, Moses did not give himself credit for the victory, he did not count Joshua responsible for this great victory, nor did he claim victory in the name of Aaron and Hur. The Lord had given him greater wisdom than to claim God’s victory for himself.

Moses understood that it was the Lord who had fought the battle with the Amalekites and won. He built an altar to praise and remember that Jehovah Nissi was His standard bearer, the One who went before the Israelites and won this war. Moses understood that God was worthy and due this honor and he also knew that this truth needed to be planted upon the hearts of the people.

It should be well planted upon our hearts as well for when the “stuff” of life comes upon us, we need to know how to realize our victory. Psalm 18:2,

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Just a reminder, no matter what you are facing today, the Lord is with you and fights for you. You are not alone. Since God is with you, who or what can be against you and win.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them,
for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

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Praise be to You, Lord, who am I?

1-chronicles-29-11David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to You, Lord , the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord , is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord , is the kingdom;
You are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from You;
You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt
and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your
glorious name.  
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able
to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have
given You only what comes from Your hand.

1 Chronicles 29:10-14

The holiday of Thanksgiving 2016 has come and gone BUT God’s goodness remains.

David prayed the above prayer before the people in regards to the gifts given to build the temple. As I look around me, I can pray the same prayer in regards to my life. Who am I that I would even know the One True and Living God in intimate relationship? Who am I that Jesus would give His life?  Who am I that I would have the bounty of His Word and Spirit? Who am I that the Lord would so generously bless my husband and I with our sons and grands? Who am I that as we have faced the enemy time and time again, I Am That I Am has been our Advocate and Defender? Who am I that when I have absolutely messed up, the Lord looked past my fault and saw my need? Who am I to know God’s amazing grace and tender mercy? Who am I that the Potentate of the Universe would come to my rescue? Who am I that when my body was diseased, Jehovah Rapha brought forth healing? Who am I that my water runs clean and I have a choice of what my meal will be?

I won’t bother you with the rest of my list but do encourage you to spend some Selah time today to make your own…and then follow the example of David and the people in verse 20.

“David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD …”

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