Taking a Break!

Isaiah 28:12- To whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is refreshing,” yet they would not hear. NKJV

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There comes a time when we all need a break! That time has come for me! I’m listening, Lord! I have been blogging with little to no time off for four years because I love sharing God’s words of hope with you. But now, I am in need of a break!

Thank you so much for your faithfulness in reading my blogs. You can still enjoy them by visiting the archives, where over 400 posts are waiting to be read. I am only taking a week and look forward to returning after some time of refreshing!

May God’s favor and love surround you! Wonderful Jesus!

Painful Regrets!

Genesis 34:1- Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. NKJV

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It’s interesting to me how one simple choice or decision can change your life forever! Such was the case with Dinah.

Dinah was the seventh child of Jacob and Leah and their only daughter. As such, she was probably spoiled and sheltered by her family. I won’t stereotype her except to say that she probably didn’t have a lot of female interaction, being surrounded by so many brothers. Living next to Shechem, a city with families, with women, had to be a real draw for her. She decided to go looking for the females in the cities.

This seems like a normal thing for a young woman to do if she lives in today’s culture, but not during Dinah’s lifetime. Maybe she had begged her parents to take her to meet other young ladies, and they had refused to take her. Maybe her brothers were equally as stubborn in their refusal to introduce her to the women of the city. Whatever was the case, she went out on her own.

While she’s scoping out the land and looking for a way to interact with other females, Shechem sees her.

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. 

Genesis 34:2 NKJV

Shechem was a man probably used to getting what he wanted. Dinah was a young woman tired of being smothered by her parents and big brothers. It was a recipe for disaster! Some commentaries make it appear as if it was some type of rendevous, for they had to have known each other prior to this incident. We don’t know! But what we do know is that a visit to the city turned into a disaster for Dinah.

Shechem took Dinah into his bedchambers. The Hebrew rendering of the word suggests that it was by force. I am sure she was surprised at this turn of events, whether she knew him or not. True, he wasn’t a complete stranger to her and her family. Her father had done business with them, purchasing his land from Hamor, Shechem’s father. So she may have felt relatively safe venturing out amongst them. But when Shechem saw her unescorted, he took her. Then he sexually assaults her, as if she is a woman of ill repute and not the cherished daughter and sister he knew her to be. I doubt this was what she had gone looking for. One simple decision that seemed harmless has turned into a life-changing situation.

His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem  spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.”

Genesis 34:3-4 NKJV

The Bible states that Shechem loved the young woman. Maybe he had seen her during transactions and his interest in her developed. Maybe he even began to think that he was in love with her. But his decision to take her into his bedchamber and to have his way with her were not actions of a man in love. If he had thought about all that he was doing, of the potential harm to her or his family, he would have sought another way. But there are times when we are presented with something and we react with no real thoughts to the consequences. Two young people. Two rash decisions. Events are spiraling out of their control and Shechem decided to come up with a plan to fix it.

Word got back to Jacob that Shechem had defiled his daughter. We are told that Jacob held his peace, waiting on his sons to return from the fields. What? No gathering of the troops to get her back? No calling his sons from the fields to deal with this situation immediately? While he is pondering this in his heart, Hamor shows up to ask that Shechem be allowed to keep her as his wife.

“The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.”

Genesis 34:8-10 NKJV

A wrong has been done towards Jacob’s daughter and they want to make a deal with him to cover it up. Give your daughters to us, they suggest, and take our daughters to yourselves. Dwell in our land and trade with us. Acquire possessions for yourselves. In other words, this can work out for all of our benefits!

But Jacob’s sons were furious! As Jacob should have been! This was a disgraceful thing that Shechem had committed to Dinah, and it should not have happened! How did it happen? Why did it happen?

Shechem obviously attended this meeting with Hamor, his father, because he jumps into the negotiations.

“Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.”

Genesis 34:11-12 NKJV

The brothers come up with a plan, with the intent to pay them back for what happened to Dinah. They tell Shechem and his father that they cannot give Dinah’s hand in marriage to someone who is not circumcised. So Hamor and Shechem agree to become circumcised and convince the men in their town that it would be advantageous to them all to do the same. When they are in pain from the circumcision, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, go in and kill all of them! And they take her home. And that’s the last we hear of her.

Dinah’s decision to go and visit the women in the city resulted in her being raped, and her brothers murdering the men in that town. Had she been able to see into the future, she probably would have stayed in the tent that day! Shechem’s decision to take her resulted in his death, and the deaths of his family and countrymen.

How many times have you heard a similar story, or experienced a similar situation? Some spur-of-the-moment decisions can reap blessings, but more often than not, they can wreak havoc on our lives. An innocent conversation at work leads to an affair, and that affair leads to the destruction of a family. A response to a friendly person online can lead to a situation like Dinah’s. An investment that looks like a sure thing can bring a loss of finances, causing financial hardship where there was security. And the list can go on and on.

How do we avoid these devastating moments in life? How can we be sure that we are not making the worst decision possible, even if it looks harmless? Solomon said it like this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

We are not wise enough to see the end results of all of our choices and actions, but God is. He knows how to lead us away from things that can devastate our lives. If we will pray before we make a decision and wait for His guidance, He will provide it. It’s His promise to us!

The Bible has many lessons that others have learned so that we don’t have to learn them. I’m all for learning from others’ mistakes, without having to make them myself! Take time to seek God about all of your decisions, big and small, so that you don’t have to live with regret for the rest of your life. Wonderful Jesus!

In This Thing!

Psalm 27:3 -Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. NKJV

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Have you ever stopped to think about the thing that you really believe about God? David sure did! David decided early on that he would not walk in fear because of His relationship with God; and the Bible records many instances of that truth!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27: NKJV

David wrote that the Lord was his light, salvation, and the strength of his life. Knowing this to be his truth, David wondered who could cause fear to erupt in his heart? When he was a shepherd and predators would come after his sheep, David described how he handled the situation in a conversation with Saul:

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 

1 Samuel 17:34-35 NKJV

Wow! You have to be pretty courageous to go against a wild animal and take your sheep out of its very jaws. Then when it turns on you, grab it by the beard and kill it. David could have easily said, there will always be loss of sheep in the sheepherding business. The lion got what he wanted, the bear got what he wanted, and it is what it is. But that’s not what he said. David had a warrior’s heart! Mess with me and you’ll not mess with anyone else! Neither the lion or the bear got to enjoy their meal of the sheep, and they didn’t live to try again!

When evil men come to destroy me, they will stumble and fall! Yes, though a mighty army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me.

Psalm 27:2-3 TLB

When evil men come to destroy me, they will stumble and fall! Who was David thinking about when he penned these lines? Maybe it was Goliath!

So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 

1 Samuel 17:48-49 NKJV

Goliath thought that he had a sure win against David. He had counted David as an unworthy adversary. But the truth was, David had counted him an unworthy adversary and not only expected a win, but obtained a mighty victory! He rushed towards Goliath in confidence, believing that the end would happen as he saw it! And it did! He even cut off Goliath’s head with his own sword! Pretty bold for a ruddy youth!

Though an army march against me, David declared, I will not fear!

And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

1 Samuel 23:5 NKJV

David was a warrior! He fought many wars and won them. The women of Israel sang songs about David and his many conquests, attributing tens of thousands of soldiers slained by him! But he didn’t do these things in his own strength. He tells us how he was so victorious!

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV

David’s courageous attitude was in God! Even in Psalm 27 David’s focus was in God and not in himself! David said that he was confident in God!

My favorite testimony involving David was Ziklag! The Amalekites had come to his camp while he was out to battle. They burned it with fire and took all of the people who were in the camp. When David and his men saw this, their hearts were broken and they cried until they couldn’t cry anymore. Then the men started talking about stoning David. David was just as heartbroken as they were. Just as stunned about this turn of events as they were. Then David did what he knew best!

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

1 Samuel 30:6 NKJV

David turned to the Strength of his life! He sought the for the Light in the midst of the darkness! He sought salvation in the only place he could find it! Then he asked the Lord what to do?

And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.

1 Samuel 30:8 NKJV

David’s battle against the Amalekites lasted through the night and most of the next day! Nothing was easy about it! But he was victorious!

This got me to thinking! What thing am I absolutely certain about in regards to God? What causes faith to rise big in my heart? What can I look over my life and say I have great confidence in God about? I have several, but for today, I will choose the one that popped in my head, money!

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10 NKJV

I was a teenager when I first heard a message preached from this scripture. But I was a young woman when it made a believer out of me. I began tithing as soon as I started working. It’s never been a struggle for me. But one day, in prayer, I tried God based on the tithe!

I was spending time in prayer when suddenly I had a great desire to cry out to God for a husband. I spoke words similar to these:

Lord! You promised me in your word that if I would tithe and make sure that your house was taken care of, that you would bless me to where I would not have room to receive it. Lord, where is my blessing? I still have room!

August, 1986

About a year before this incident, I had met my husband in an airport in Sicily. We talked for several hours and went our way. I remember thinking that I had just met the man that I could spend the rest of my life with! Several months later he called me on a whim at my base. I just happened to be passing the phone when it rang, and it was him. We talked for a few minutes and he shared with me that he was returning to the states and would be stationed in Florida!

So here I am crying out to God! Where is my blessing, Lord! I still have room to receive, Lord! I heard Him speak to my spirit as he told me to call my husband! We married in Jaunuary of 1987! I don’t have the space to go into all of that right now, but suffice it to say, 35 years later, my cup overflows!

As we have been committed to tithing, we have seen God’s hand on our finances, on our lives, on our children’s lives! David’s confidence in God helped him to be both warrior and king! Our confidence in God regarding money has taught us to trust Him with the 90%! What is it that you absolutely trust God in? It’s something to think about! Wonderful Jesus!

Spiritual Release-God’s Way!

Daniel 10:2-3-In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. NKJV

This is a repost from “How to Bring Spiritual Release”! For some reason, this is my most popular post. At the beginning of the year, in most churches, they call a time of fasting and praying, and since this is read so much throughout the year, I decided to repost it.

I was asked to do a teaching on the rewards of fasting. I can tell you now, I was not thrilled with the topic. Although I have seen some amazing things happen as a result of fasting and praying, lately, I had just lost my focus on this particular discipline.

I know in part it is because we would fast every year for 21 days in January and I celebrate both my birthday and my anniversary during that time. At first, it was not a big deal, but as the years have passed, I lost my inspiration for fasting and it had become something that I did because I was in leadership. Unless of course, I had a situation that I knew would only change with fasting and prayer. (So all hope and inspiration weren’t gone!)

What charged my soul was the revelation that “physical obedience brings spiritual release!” Now I didn’t get this on my own. I heard Jentezen Franklin preach on fasting and praying and he mentioned it in his sermon. Then I studied it out and came away from it charged and delivered from the “bah humbug” of fasting and praying.

Fasting and praying are first physical, then spiritual. When we fast and pray we are physically involved in the activity. My physical body is involved in eating, so it is also involved in not eating. My physical body is needed to pray as I use my mouth to commune with God, or even walk and pray. But the Bible also speaks of the power of physically obeying God and getting spiritual results. In this blog, we’ll briefly look at both!

In the book of Exodus, Moses was told by God to go to a rock, strike it with the rod, and water would come forth!

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”

Exodus 17:5-6 NKJV

Moses obeyed and water came forth! Not just a fountain of water but a spring of water that provided enough water for the people, their animals, cooking, bathing, laundering, and whatever else they needed it for at the time. Now if you don’t agree that was a spiritual release, go and strike a rock and see if you get water! Had Moses failed to believe that striking the rock would bring water, he would not have struck it. And of course, there would have been no spiritual release of the flow of water.

This situation in the Old Testament was a type and shadow of a New Testament event. Jesus’ crucifixion. He was struck on the cross and the living water that flows from Calvary today is truly a spiritual release. In Philippians 2:7-9, Paul wrote,

“But (He) made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.”

Philippians 2:7-9 NKJV

Note: I added the (He) for clarity’s sake.

Jesus’ act of physical obedience of dying on the cross brought spiritual release to mankind; it brought our salvation. But it also caused Him to be highly exalted and given a name that is above every name. That act of obedience changed the course of mankind providing spiritual release even today.

Another example of physical obedience bringing spiritual release is found in Peter’s interaction with Cornelius.

While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Acts 10:19-20 NKJV

Peter was Jewish to the marrow of his bone. In a vision, God told him to eat meat that was unclean, and he refused to eat. Then God told Peter that what He had called clean, Peter was not to call unclean. This was done to prepare Peter to go to Cornelius’ home.

Peter obeyed God and went to see Cornelius. The spiritual release that took place was the salvation of Cornelius and his entire household, and the release of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues.

Not only was this great spiritual release a result of Peter’s obedience, but it was also a result of Cornelius’ fasting and praying.

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and  your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

Acts 10:30-31 NKJV

Cornelius had spent time fasting and praying. As a result, he and his entire family not only received salvation, but they had their personal Pentecost in his Gentile home.

Another example of fasting and praying bringing spiritual release is found in Daniel. In Daniel 10 we learn about what we call the “Daniel Fast”. Daniel fasted for 21 days, eating nothing pleasant.

I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

Daniel 10:3 NKJV

The Hebrew word for pleasant in this verse is “hamad”. In verse 11, the angel calls him “Daniel, a man greatly beloved”.

And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.

Daniel 10:11 NKJV

This word beloved in Hebrew is the same word “hamad” that Daniel used when he said he ate no “pleasant” bread.

Daniel’s physical obedience of fasting, and we infer praying based on his lifestyle, caused a spiritual release in his life. As he gave up that which was pleasant, he became pleasant to the Heavenly Father. For me, this was a powerful eye-opener.

It’s not as if I didn’t know the power of fasting and praying, but for some reason, the connection that Daniel gave up that which was pleasant and was regarded by God as beloved, or pleasant, spoke to my heart. Not only did God call Daniel pleasant, but He sent an angel with a message for him about his prayer concerns. That’s a spiritual release!

One example in my personal life of fasting and praying, that I didn’t mention in my teaching happened several years ago and I have never forgotten it. As I was seeking the Lord because I just wanted more of Him, He manifested Himself to me. I was asleep and I dreamed. In the dream, I was worshipping Him when His Glory filled the place I was in. The cloud was so thick that I could hardly see myself in the midst. In the dream, He said, “I have anointed you.” I woke from the dream and I was truly in the Presence of the Lord. His Presence was so thick I got up from my bed and went to worship Him. This dream impacted my life.

Fasting and prayer can be a religious experience for us. It’s easy to just do it! But when we fast and pray God’s way, we see Him release spiritual power that cannot be denied! Wonderful Jesus!!

Happy New Year!!

Numbers 6:24 -26- “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” NKJV

This is my prayer for you and your family in the year 2022! I look forward to all that He has for us in this new season of our lives! God bless you! Wonderful Jesus!

Stop Grieving the Past!

 Joshua 1:1-2- After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them” NKJV

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When addressing the subject of grief, there has to be a sensitivity involved to not be offensive. I place my disclaimer at the beginning of this blog: My objective in this blog is not to tell you to stop grieving a loved one. My intent is to respond to what God spoke to my spirit today about grieving the past. Please accept my sincere apologies if, for you, they are one and the same. May God’s comfort and love be with you, continue to strengthen you, and bring you hope for today and all your tomorrows!

This morning during my time with the Lord, I heard these words, “Stop grieving the past, and embrace the future!” Since I was seeking the Lord about today’s blog, I felt that it was what I am to write about! Not that it wasn’t a personal message to me, because I received it as such, but in the receiving, I want to share it!

The children of Israel experienced great sorrow over the loss of Moses. For thirty days they mourned his death. Moses was quite the leader of Israel. Deuteronomy concludes with these words:

But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Deuteronomy 34:10-12 NKJV

While they were mourning, the new leader, Joshua, was also mourning. He had been with Moses since they departed Egypt. When the Amalekites attacked Israel, Moses told Joshua to choose some men to take with him to fight against the Amalekites. When God said that He was going to wipe out the Amalekites and that Moses was to write it in the book, He also told Moses to share it with Joshua.

Joshua was Moses’ assistant, and wherever Moses was, Joshua was near. Except for the tabernacle. When Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua remained. Moses sent out 12 spies to check out the promised land and Joshua was one of the spies. Moses relied heavily on Joshua, and Joshua relied heavily on the leadership of Moses. Now God is saying to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead!”

Joshua was now responsible for the children of Israel, because of the fact that Moses was dead. Moses had already transferred the responsibility of leading the children of Israel into the promised land to him.

Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:7-8 NKJV

The problem wasn’t that Joshua didn’t know that Moses was dead, it was that while he was grieving, he was grieving the past. Some people can’t wait for their mentors to get out of their way so that they can lead, but there are others who are content with being in the shadow of their mentors. Joshua appears to be content to work for Moses and with Moses. So Moses death hits him really hard, although he knew it was imminent.

Not only that, Moses had some pretty big shoes to fill. He brought down plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The Red Sea parted before him. Water came gushing out of rocks and a host of other supernatural things happened under Moses’ leadership. What can Joshua possibly do to become the leader God wants him to become when he has to follow Moses?

 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them”

Joshua 1:1-2 NKJV

God told Joshua to get up! Moses is dead and that’s in your past. The Jordan is in your future! Now go over the Jordan into the land that is yours! Doesn’t God know and understand the pressure that Joshua is under? Yes, He does! Doesn’t God realize that Moses was like a father to Joshua and it hurts to know that he is gone? Yes, God knows! But God’s word to Joshua was to get up and embrace his future!

Embracing the unknown of your future when you don’t want to let go of your past is hard to do. When a person gets a divorce, there is a grieving process. It is equated to the loss of your spouse through death! Maybe even worst, because the person isn’t dead, the relationship is dead. And sometimes, it is difficult to get up and embrace a future that is different from the one you had planned. But God is saying that in 2022, it’s time to realize that the marriage is dead, and you need to embrace your future. For the sake of you and your children (if you have children), it’s time to move on!

Once, a young lady asked me to pray with her, that her husband would come back to her. I prayed fervently, only to discover later that he had moved on and remarried. That relationship was dead, and it was time to move on and embrace her future.

Maybe it’s someone you were dating. You thought the relationship would end in marriage, but instead, it ended in heartbreak. That relationship is dead, embrace your future!

Is it a promotion you lost? A job you didn’t get? A raise that never came? An opportunity that keeps eluding you? A failed ministry? A business that dried up and died? Whatever it was, whatever it is, it is time to let go of the grief of the past over that person, situation, or circumstance, and time to embrace your future.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.

Isaiah 40:28-29 NKJV

I love these verses! They remind me that the God we serve is a mighty God! Isaiah speaks of His unsearchable understanding! God has a knack for understanding! He’s skilled in His understanding! So He understands your loss, your pain, your suffering better than anyone else can possibly understand. He even understands you!

And if you are feeling weak, vulnerable, worthless, or devalued, Isaiah says it’s ok because God gives power to the weak, and to those without strength, He increases their strength. God is not asking you to let go of your past in your own ability, any more than He asked Joshua to move forth in his own ability. God is not asking you to embrace your future with your strength, He’s offering you His strength!

Moses told Joshua:

And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV

God hasn’t changed! He isn’t sending you or me into 2022 without assistance. He will be there!

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20 NKJV

These are Jesus’ words! He’s with you! Always and forever! Decide today that you aren’t going to live in the past of “what ifs” and you will embrace the future of all that is possible with Him! Wonderful Jesus!

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

Matthew 2:1-2- Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” NKJV

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The narrative of the birth of Jesus did not end that night in Bethlehem. Nor did the first announcement of His birth occur on that night. Isaiah and others prophesied about the coming Messiah. These writings were not all kept in Israel. Some of these writings were left behind in the places of their captivity.

Recently, I was watching a documentary about Bible Hunters, and I was amazed that the majority of the writings of Scriptures were discovered in Egypt. I am confident that archaeologists can search any area mentioned in the Scriptures and locate evidence of God.

Such, I believe was the case of the magi who were looking for the King. They arrived in Jerusalem after a long journey from the east. We are not told how many magi came, just that they came. Many have adopted that it was three wise men because of the gifts they brought with them, but that is not validated in the Scriptures.

The East is referred to as Persia, Arabia, or even Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is known as the cradle of civilization and could be the place of origin. However, somewhere in Persia seems most likely because of the captivity of Israel by Persia. I believe writings were found by them that told of His birth!

The magi were later given names and countries in Catholic history, but again, this is not grounded in Scriptures. What is biblically sound is that a star appeared in the sky at some point that caught the attention of the magi. (It is believed that they were possibly astronomers). As they wondered about the star, the revelation that the star announced the birth of the King of Jews came to them and they decided to follow the star to see where it would lead them.

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:2 NKJV

Apparently, when they arrived in Jerusalem, the star was no longer in the sky. They had made it close enough that they now felt they could make inquiries as to where the King had been born, for surely the Jews would know where to find their King.

This caused quite a stir in Jerusalem. King Herod was not happy to hear that an entourage had come from the east to worship the newborn King of the Jews, for he was the king of Jews and no heir had been born to him. The Jews in Jerusalem were concerned because they didn’t know what was going on, yet, men from the east had arrived to worship their King.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

Matthew 2:4 NKJV

Did you catch that? Herod understood that the magi had come to see the Messiah. The chief priests and scribes knew he was asking about the birthplace of the Messiah. Yet, none of them hastened to worship Him.

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

Matthew 2:7-8 NKJV

Herod was up to no good when he called the wise men secretly to a meeting. He wanted to know when the star had first appeared to them. He encouraged them to go and learn all they could about the child and then to come back and let him know of His whereabouts so that he could also go and worship Him.

I’m surprised the wise men didn’t think that something was fishy about this. Hindsight may be assisting me right now, but it seems suspicious that the King of the Jews was born and the Jews were unaware of it. It’s also telling that they needed the wise men to come back and to tell them about the King. I’m sure this seemed a little strange to the wise men, also.

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

Matthew 2:9-10 NKJV

Here’s biblical proof that the star had stopped leading when they arrived in Jerusalem, for as they left Jersualem to continue on to Bethlehem, the star reappeared and they rejoiced with great joy! To our knowledge, we are not certain that these men are Jews. We know they came from the east and were magi, astronomers, or wise men; we assume they were Gentiles. Yet, here we see them with great joy over the realization that they have found the King!

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11 NKJV

Tradition has this event taking place at the manger, but here we clearly see that the wise men visited Jesus in a house. Here’s also where tradition gets the idea of the three wise men; they brought three different types of gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Tradition can soon become a sacred cow if we are not careful.

Much ado has been made over the wise men; giving them names, attributing sainthood to them, etc. The significance of their appearance in this narrative is easy to see! They came from afar to worship Him. They were drawn by the star that had appeared possibly two years before His birth, yet, in all that time, their hearts anticipated the moment when they would behold the King of the Jews! And so when they finally see Him, they worship Him!

Being warned in a dream, they did not return to Herod. They went home a different route. Joseph got a similar warning in a dream to move to Egypt. Those gifts were probably a blessing to Joseph and Mary while they were there! Then Herod’s true motive for the whereabouts of the King was unleashed on the children in Bethlehem. Instead of being drawn to worship Him, Herod wanted to destroy Him!

Worship is still expected from those who want to be in His presence. Our praise and adoration is a sweet aroma to the King, and as we worship and adore Him, He inhabits our worship. Take a few moments and enjoy Tasha Cobbs’ rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful!” Wonderful Jesus!

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2: 11- “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” NKJV

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I hope you enjoy this song, “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives, because it is a Christmas tradition, and I listen to it every year!

From my family to yours, “Merry Christmas”! Stay safe and enjoy the holiday! Wonderful Jesus!

Hark, the Herald Angel Sings!

Luke 2:13-14- “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth  peace, goodwill toward men!” NKJV

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Christmas is just a few days away, and there is a lot of excitement in the air. As you walk past people they greet you with a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” and you smile and return the greeting. It’s such a friendly time of the year.

On the night that Jesus was born, the air was filled with excitement. All of the heavens waited with bated breath as Mary went through the normal course of labor and delivery. They couldn’t wait until God had delivered Himself to the world, in the flesh, as a Babe. Nothing like this had ever happened before and because He was so excited, so were they!

An angel was chosen to make the announcement to the shepherds. As instructed, immediately after His birth, the angel stepped out of heaven and the place of invisibility into the land of visibility and appeared to the shepherds. As the angel became visible, the glory of God shone all around, causing great fear and a holy reverence to come upon the scene. Then the angel spoke:

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:10-12 NKJV

Before they could take it all in, before they could breathe, the Bible states that suddenly a multitude of the heavenly hosts appeared on the scene. If they were afraid when one angel appeared, they must have been terrified when a host appeared!

In spite of the fact that this was a lot for the shepherds to take in at one time, the heavenly host couldn’t help itself! What they had just witnessed was so magnificent they had to give God some praise. As they praised Him, God allowed the heavens to part or allowed them to become visible, so the shepherds could witness what was happening:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth  peace,  goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:14 NKJV

They gave glory to God for the birth of Jesus. They knew this was no ordinary birth, no ordinary child. I know each of us understands the absolute miracle of the birth of our child, or the child of someone we love. We know it is special, miraculous! But this birth went beyond that! God had entered the world in flesh and they absolutely could not hold their peace a moment longer! Glory to God in the highest!

Peace! God had sent peace through His Son. An opportunity for mankind to be reconciled to Him, to experience peace. Paul wrote this about the reconciliation of man and God:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Ephesians 2:14-18 NKJV

Sweet wonderful Jesus! Peace and goodwill towards men. God’s will is good, and it has been directed towards men. Can I share another verse that comes to mind? I think I will:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself

Ephesians 1:7-9 NKJV

The angels announced at Jesus’ birth, that it was as a result of God’s will that He extended towards mankind, that Jesus came into the world. It was His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, Paul summed up, that gives us redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Glory be to God! This is shouting material!

Every sacrifice in the Old Testament, every law, every statue was poised to point us to the significance of the Person of Jesus Christ, born to Mary, in Bethlehem. Every situation, every event, every recorded instance in the Old Testament was to prepare man for the purpose of God towards mankind, and the time had finally arrived. Jesus was born!

We look back at this event and we rejoice with the angels. But that night, in that field, the shepherds were probably so shocked by what they saw and heard they needed a moment to grasp it all. After the angels left, as suddenly as they had arrived, the shepherds began talking amongst themselves. They probably asked each other some questions about what they saw and heard, but it didn’t take them long to figure out what they needed to do.

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Luke 2:15 NKJV

Of course, they found things as the angel had said. There was no exaggeration, no wrong directions, nothing to interpret. The angel told them where to go, what they would find, and it was as the angel said it would be.

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:16-18 NKJV

Here’s where it gets to be interesting to me. After the shepherds saw Jesus they went out and made it known to quite a few people that Jesus was born. They told the people what the angel told them about where to find the Savior, and they shared how they had found Him. They told of the multitude of the angelic host that burst onto the scene and gave glory to God! They were so excited that the Messiah, the Christ was born! Here’s what I don’t understand. Luke wrote that those who heard it marveled at what they were told, but he doesn’t say that they rushed to the manger to see Him for themselves!

Isn’t that interesting? They marveled, but they weren’t compelled to go and see the Messiah! Times haven’t changed much. There is truly nothing new under the sun. No matter how much people hear about the Messiah, about how wonderful He is, there will always be those who will marvel but will make no effort to see Him for themselves. Interesting, and sad!

Well, that’s all for now! I have at least one more post I would like to make about the birth of Jesus! Until then, enjoy “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by CeCe Winans! Wonderful Jesus!

Joy to the World!

Luke 2:10-11- Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

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For centuries, the Jewish nation has lived with the promise of a Messiah. The prophecies were as real to them, as the Law which they kept. Every child, male and female, learned of the Messiah. They sat a place for Him Who Was to Come every year during the Passover. They learned of Him from their earliest of days, and now, He is come!

The shepherds are out with their sheep. This is truly another clue that Jesus wasn’t born in December. Shepherds typically stay out with the sheep during the warmer seasons, especially when they are expecting lambs to be born. This is not a hidden fact, it is easily discovered with an internet search. It is suggested that the shepherds would not have been out unless they were expecting lambs; however, I’m still leaning towards the fall because of Elisabeth’s pregnancy. Another reason is that these particular shepherds were not just out watching their flocks, but they lived in the fields, sharing protection and responsibilities of caring for their sheep.

As they recline for the evening, suddenly, an angelic being appears before them. Luke writes that the glory of the Lord was all around the angel, and the shepherds were greatly afraid. Not surprising, since most people were afraid when angels appeared.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

Luke 2:10-11 NKJV

Isaiah spoke of a child being born to us, and here the angel of the Lord tells the shepherds that the Child has been born. Something had to be ringing in their spirits, resonating with what the angel has said in spite of the fear. Maybe their minds went back to that familiar prophecy:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be call Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV

Most of us are familiar with this verse, but let’s go back for a moment to the preceding verses:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

Isaiah 9:2-3 ESV

Did you notice how frequently the word joy, or its synonyms are used in this passage. The people were walking in darkness, as a result of a sin-infested world, but now they have seen a great light! This Light has caused their joy to increase. They are rejoicing with the joy of the harvest. They are glad as those who have conquered and attained a great spoil over their enemy and can now divide the spoil! This is the language of Israel as it prospers!

When Jesus is born, not only is verse six of Isaiah fulfilled, but also the verses before it. The people of Israel has been walking in darkness. Historically, they have had no contact, no encounters with the God who had done so much for them. They are in subjugation to the Roman empire, living beneath their status as the people of God. Maybe the shepherds have been discussing their plight, wondering where the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was in their plight. Maybe they were rehasing stories of the days of glory when David ruled the nation. Maybe they are wishing for the day when the Messiah would come and deliver their people! We don’t know!

But what we do know is that an angel of the Lord appears to them and tells them that he has great news for them. News of joy for all the people! A Child is born! The Messiah is come!

And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:12 NKJV

The angel then tells them how they will find the Babe, and how they will know He is the Christ! Only one baby was born that night in Bethlehem, in a barn. After His birth, Mary wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a feeding trough. If they hurry, and they should, they will find Him as the angel described!

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 

Luke 2:16 NKJV

They found Him! They found the Christ! He had surely come just as the angel had said! They were so excited! They were thrilled! They were told by an angel of the Messiah’s birth and had been given an angelic invitation to go and visit Him while He was only hours new to the world!

Can’t you feel their excitement? What a beautiful experience it must have been for them! As they watched their flocks, they weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen! But they were given a heavenly display of the glory of God and invited to witness the Savior, the Babe that was given to us!

We’ve been given that same invitation! We too can experience the joy that comes with the knowledge of the Savior! What an impact that night had on the shepherds! What an impact He has had on my life, on the lives of so many others who realize that the Babe born in the manger, was the Man who hung on the cross for our sins! The real joy to the world, is that though the darkness may linger, we have experienced the Great Light!

We’ll look at the other event of this glorious night in the next blog! Please enjoy this rendition of Joy to the World by Chris Tomlin! Wonderful Jesus!