The Son of the Most High

 

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day’s Bible Journaling comes from Luke 1:26-33. I’m sure many have heard the Christmas Story. If not, I encourage you to read this passage. Jesus was God in human flesh, born of a virgin, and was the Son of the Most High God. God, the Father, loved us so much that He wanted to redeem us from the penalty of sin. The only way that He could do that was to offer His Son as a sacrifice. Jesus was, and is, a part of the God-head, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are One God, in three persons. No, we don’t worship three different Gods, He is One God but there are three different aspects to Him. Much like a chair…it has a seat, a back, and legs…all different parts but still a chair.

What popped out at me from this passage is that Jesus is the Son of the Most High God. (verse 32) Jesus was to be CALLED the Son of the Most High, because He is God’s Son. Can you imagine how Mary felt? She was going to give birth to God’s Son! The responsibility must have been overwhelming! No wonder she was troubled! The angel, Gabriel, had to tell her not to be afraid when he told her that she had gained favor with God and that He had a special assignment for her.

Not only is Jesus God’s Son, but He is also God at the same time! This is a concept that is so difficult for humans to understand. Our minds just cannot wrap itself around the thought that Jesus can be both. But as such, He could experience what we experience, he could walk as we walk, and He was the perfect One to be our help, our confidant, our Savior, our strength, and to give us eternal life!

He came as a baby, born in a manger, not in a castle. He lived life here on earth to share in the trials, joys, sorrows, and conflicts we experience. Have you been homeless? So was He. The Bible says He had no place to lay His head. (Matthew 8:20) Have you been ridiculed and beaten? Jesus was mocked (Matthew 27:29) and scourged (Matthew 27:26). Have you ever been rejected? So was Jesus. (Luke 9:22) In fact, all the things Jesus experienced were prophesied by Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed Him not.” (KJV) He was born to die! He was born to experience life as we live it on earth, to suffer and die for us. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” He went through everything we do and did not sin. That is something we cannot say, for we are born in sin.

The Christmas story and the Easter story are tied together! Because He is the Son of the Most High, He is the only one qualified to be our Redeemer, our Savior, and our Lord. Without the Easter story there would be no need of the Christmas story. Without the Christmas story, there would be no Easter story. Jesus’ whole purpose on earth was to bring us to Himself, to be our sacrificial lamb, and be our Redeemer.

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Why a Virgin Birth?

As we enter the Christmas Season, our thoughts usually are consumed by all the hustle and bustle of this time of year. Shopping and parties, baking and planning cause us to become hurried and we end up losing our focus of what the Season is all about. Today’s Bible Journaling is from Luke 1:31, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.” Many people tend to not believe the Virgin birth of Jesus. But, as the devotional for this journal observed, without Jesus being born of a virgin, the story would be about “a sinful girl, who got pregnant, was fortunate enough to avoid being stoned to death, who raised her son, and then watched him get slaughtered.” If that was truly the case, we would have nothing to rejoice about. Jesus would have been born as a sinful human and would not have been a worthy sacrifice for our sins. The truth of the matter is, Mary was a virgin, overcome by the Holy Spirit of God, and she became pregnant by God’s overshadowing of her. Therefore, Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, became the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

I am so grateful to God for His plan! His plan of salvation is perfect. No one born in the conventional manner would have been able to take the punishment for our sins. As humans, we are all born in sin. Adam’s sin has been passed down over the generations, and our sins must be paid for with a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was the only perfect sacrifice to die a horrible, cruel, death as punishment for our sins. God chose a chaste, Godly young woman to be the mother of His Son. Mary was such an honorable woman and she loved God with all her heart. She was the perfect choice!

As I read this Bible verse, my thoughts were drawn to the fact that because of the virgin birth, Jesus is my Savior! True, it was my choice to invite Him to be my Lord and Savior, but even before I accepted Jesus as my Savior, was already my Savior and my Salvation!
No one else could take His place as my sacrifice…heaven knows, I sure couldn’t! Jesus lived a completely sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice.

I can’t begin to imagine what Mary went through. In those days, being pregnant out of wedlock was a crime punishable by death. The law required that she should be stoned. However, Joseph, to whom she was engaged, decided not to humiliate her publicly, but was going to divorce her quietly. In those days, an engagement was almost the same as marriage without the benefit of living together. I’m sure the town gossips had a field day! Mary had to endure the gossip and the ridicule, the scorn, and the shame of being pregnant without being married. But she believed that God would see her through. She trusted His plan and did not turn away but remained steadfast in her faith that God knew what He was doing, and she was honored to be part of His plan. Joseph was warned by an angel sent from God not to divorce her, but to go ahead and marry her. I wonder what the town gossips thought about that? They must have either felt sorry for Joseph, or thought he was some kind of fool. But, little did they know that this was all part of God’s plan.

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, it is a good thing to think of what that virgin birth means. It means salvation for all mankind, it means we have a God who loves us so much that He planned a way to redeem our souls from sin. It means we can have joy, peace, and a life filled with God’s love, and strength to live every day for Him.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, this is the perfect time! You will have a new life, be born again, and you can experience a love that mere human’s can not give. Ask Jesus to come into your heart, for He stands at your heart’s door knocking, asking if you will let Him in. (Revelation 3:20) He will replace the emptiness inside and give you peace.

Take Account of His Blessings – Part 4

The final part of our series on “Take Account of His Blessings” deals with the church of Ephesus. Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB) gives Jesus’ praise, admonition, and warning to the church. Jesus says, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for my name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus tells the church how proud He is of them, and yet there was something with which He had to fault them. They had lost their First Love. I remember when I first was saved. I couldn’t help but tell others about what Jesus had done. I loved Him so much, and I was filled with this incredible joy! Everything was new! I was looking at the world through different eyes. Bible reading was fun! I couldn’t wait to get to church so that I could learn more about Jesus. Then when I tried witnessing to my classmates, I ran against resistance. I tried witnessing to my grandmother who wasn’t saved, and I met resistance. Suddenly, I found out that not everyone is wanting to hear about how great it was that Jesus saved me. I still loved Jesus, but my enthusiasm waned…a lot!

I imagine that is what happened with the church at Ephesus. They were very good at doing the right things, they stood up against persecution and persevered, and they were diligent at weeding out the false teachers that had managed to weasel their way into the church, but all that they did was more out of duty, not because they loved Jesus. They had lost the blessing of their First Love!

Baby Christians are so excited when they first come to know Jesus, and then they meet up with older Christians who are just holding on to the end. The more “mature” Believers will see how excited the Baby Christians are and say, “That won’t last long.” But it doesn’t have to be like that. For me, it took a good long while to get to the point where sharing my testimony, talking to people about accepting Jesus as their Savior, Bible Reading, and praying were not so much something I had to check of my list of things to do, but I truly wanted to do it.

My pastor says when there is no love, there’s no life. So, in essence, the church at Ephesus had become dead. They had forgotten what it was like at the very beginning of their walk with the Lord, how reading the Scriptures, praying, and witnessing, was a joy, it was as if they could do nothing else. But Jesus gives them an admonition…repent, remember, go back to your first love, do the deeds you did before. I believe they may have been doing some of the things they did at first, but not out of love, more out of duty. There was no joy, kind of doing “the same ole, same ole” and not realizing that they were becoming a dead church.

It can be so easy for us to fall into that trap ourselves. It’s a good thing to go back and remember what it was like when we first came to Jesus. Remember the joy in our hearts, remember the thrill of reading His Word and learning all we could, and marveling at the truths found in Scripture, remember the joy we had of leading someone to know Jesus, and how excited we were about getting to church so that we could learn more about the One who held our heart in His hands.

We need to take account of our lives…have we ever had a closer relationship with God than we are in right now? If so, then we are in a back-slidden condition. There is a solution to that condition… repentance. When I was in a singing group in my 20s, we sang a song that said, “Repentance is turning around my friend”, and that is exactly what repentance is, turning around and going in the opposite direction…a 180-degree position from where we are right now. Taking account of our lives is needed every so often. It helps us to know where we stand with Jesus.

Many will reject the Good News that Jesus loves them and wants to save them from eternal darkness, they will lose their souls to eternal darkness. If you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, now is the time. Jesus made the process so simple, a small child can do it. Simply, ask Him to come into your life and heart, forgive you of your sins, tell Him you are sorry, and promise and endeavor to live your life for Him the rest of your days. Revelation 3:20 (KJV) says, “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” That’s His invitation to us!

Abundant Blessings

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Isaiah 58:8, “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.” (NLT) The very first thought that struck me was, “My salvation will come like the dawn.” Dawn is a very special time. I’m not an early riser, but I have seen a few sunrises, and they have been spectacular! I’m always amazed at the artistry of God! They are so special when you see them. Our salvation is like that, special, precious even!

As I said yesterday, our salvation is the greatest blessing that God could ever bestow upon us. God loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him and be part of His family. He is concerned with every part of our lives. Once we have become His children, He sets us on a journey with Him. Sometimes He smooths out rough places in our walk with Him, and in the times when He doesn’t, He walks with us, sometimes carrying us, through those difficulties.

Today has been a little difficult because I’ve been easily distracted, and it’s taken me a long time to get my thoughts together. I had a hard time figuring out how to display this thought of salvation coming like dawn. I asked my husband for his input, and he saw this verse from a totally different perspective. For Him what stood out was the end of the verse, “the Lord will protect you from behind.” I had already done the background of my page, a scene with a sunrise, meadow, creek, and a lamb. He said, “What about the Shepherd? He protects the sheep.” Another blessing from God! I looked at the verse again and I saw another blessing…healing!

In this one verse I see three blessings from God! His salvation, His healing, and His protection. These are all evidence of God’s love for us and that also is a blessing! God is so amazing! He overwhelms us with His blessings. There are so many that it is hard to count them all. What more can we do but to lift our voices in praise to Him!

Even in times of discouragement, God blesses us. He gives us fellow Believers to walk along with us and encourage us. He is our rock, our fortress, and yes, He is our Shepherd! When we don’t know what to do or where to go, He guides us. He brings joy, peace, and strength during times when we are despondent, in turmoil and feel weak.

He blesses us with family who love us, He provides for our needs financially, physically, and Spiritually, and if it is good for us, He will even bless us with our wants. He brings healing – physical, emotional, and Spiritual, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

My heart is full of thankfulness for His overwhelming mercy and grace to me. I don’t deserve all the things He does for me, but He does it all because of His love for me. Many times, I fail Him, but He is always quick to forgive and set me back on the right path to continue my journey with Him, and even to witness some of those amazing sunrises He creates!

We must have hearts full of gratitude for our loving Father as we think of His lovingkindness to us. I’m so glad there is a whole month designated to being thankful, because often we don’t realize just how blessed we truly are, and this is a good time to take stock of all God has done for us. Thank you, Jesus, for your blessings!

God Supplies

 

Today we are looking at Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” This is a verse that is so familiar to Believers, that I think we sometimes just rattle it off without really thinking about what it says. When I first look at this verse, I notice something that I think most people either skip right over or don’t really consider. Notice that the Apostle Paul says that God will supply all our NEEDS, not necessarily our WANTS. I may want a lot of things, but they may not be good for me, so therefore; God will not supply anything that would do me harm.

When I look at my life, I see that God has indeed supplied every need I have. I have food on my table, I have a house to live in, my finances are in good shape, He gave me a husband to share my life with, a family that loves me, and He has directed me to a church family that surrounds me and upholds me in times of distress and in times of victory and joy. All these things are things that I NEED. My wants can get out of hand and will bring joy for only a short time, and then they are quickly forgotten and possibly even discarded.

God supplies Spiritual gifts also. He gives me salvation, peace, joy, strength, courage, and a friendship that goes beyond anything I can experience. As I stated yesterday, the gift of salvation is the greatest blessing we can receive. Because of that blessing we can then walk in victory, joy, peace, and have a relationship with Him that is everlasting.

The second thing I notice in the verse is, He gives according to HIS riches. He has riches far above anything we can even imagine. So, the best thing that we can imagine for ourselves is nothing compared to what He has for us. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We sometimes find ourselves in a period where we are discouraged, nothing seems to be going our way, life is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at us, and we come to a point of only looking at our circumstances and not looking at the Savior, who can help us overcome those circumstances. We don’t see the blessings He has already provided, and we become mired down in the pit of discontentment, complaining that nothing is going our way, and throw a 2-year old’s temper tantrum, shaking our fists at God, stomping our feet on the floor saying, “I want it MY way!”

It is then that we need to stop, take account of ourselves, count our blessings, ask for forgiveness, and thank Him for all He has done for us, then lift our voices in praise to God for His unsurpassable riches and blessings!

Being thankful for what we have has added benefits. Our spirits are made lighter, we find joy in everything around us, the sun seems to shine a little brighter, friendships are a little dearer, physically, we seem to enjoy better health, and we find a contentment that settles into peace in our hearts. God has given us more than we can ever desire. Today is a good day to thank Him for all He has done, all He is, and all He has given.

Producing Fruit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 1:3, “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water; which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (NASB) As I was considering this passage, the phrases “firmly planted” and “yields its fruit” seemed to pop out at me.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Galatians 5:22 KJV) The New American Standard Bible says, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are the fruits that we, as Christians, are to exhibit. So, how do we go about incorporating these into our lives? Well, Psalm 1:3 tells us. We are to be firmly planted in God’s Word! Once we have these fruits imbedded into our lives, we find that joy is a result.

For some, like me, it is very difficult, to get these things deep into my heart. Love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness…for me, these are easy. The hard ones are patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. I’ve been thinking about last month’s devotion series I studied on “Being Content”, and that goes right along with having a joyful heart. If I’m not content, there is no joy. On top of these devotions, my Pastor has been preaching on “What Were You Thinking?” All these combined have given me a lot to digest, and let me tell you, the struggle is real! Have I conquered my anger issues? No, but I’m working on it. Have I overcome my impatience? No, but I’m working on it.

I am most definitely a work in progress. These are things that have plagued me my entire life. It took a life-time for me to develop these behaviors and it will take a life-time for me to overcome them, unless God delivers a miracle!

The first key that I see in today’s Scripture is that as Believers, we are to be “firmly planted” in God’s Word. If I don’t take the time every day to read and study His Word, I have no clue what I am to do, how I am to act, and worse, I have no relationship with Jesus! If I don’t spend that time with Him, I’m out here on my own trying to do my own thing, and when that happens, it always ends up a disaster. The Psalmist gives us the picture of a tree planted by the water. Trees need lots of water! Their source of nourishment comes from the water and the soil for their roots. The tap root of a tree seeks out that good source of water to keep it alive and bearing fruit.

Secondly, when I am trying to do things on my own, I am vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. He knows what my faults are, and he takes full advantage of that by putting me in situations where it is easy for me to fail. Additionally, if a tree doesn’t have a good source for nourishment, it will fall because its roots haven’t found a good source to sink into to keep it stable.

The second key I see is that we are to produce fruit. When we are deeply rooted in Jesus, it gives us the ability to produce the correct type of fruit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Left to our own devices, we can produce hatred, discontentment, turmoil, impatience, and other unhealthy attitudes. The latter group is just what the enemy wants to see in our lives because then we become ineffective in our witness for the Lord. Our actions and attitudes don’t match up with our words. You know the adage, “actions speak louder than words”. It’s true! When our lives don’t match what we say, others tend not to want to listen or become a follower of God.

I will be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy. It is a definite war going on inside of me. I try so hard, and I will do well for a while, but then, something will happen, and I fall back into my old ways and I completely erase any progress I have made and I’m back asking for forgiveness from God and asking for His help once again.

If I keep my mind fixed on Him, study His Word, listen to His voice, and put what I hear and learn into practice, I can move forward and bear the fruit that draws people to Jesus. I hope that this has been an encouragement to you and that you will find something in todays devotion time that will help you in your walk with the Lord.

Great Are You Lord

Once in a while God wakes me with a song. This morning He woke me up with a song our church has been singing for a little while now. The song is called “Great are You Lord”. I did some background checking on the Internet to see what Scripture it was based on and I found an article of an interview with the writers of the song. They talked about the passage in Ezekiel 37 where God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones in the field and God breathed life into them and they rose up to be a great army. The part of the song that keeps running through my mind is, “All the earth will shout Your praise, our hearts are stirred, these bones will sing, Great are You Lord.”

This song has been running through my head all week, and when I got to this part of the song, I wasn’t sure I was singing it right, because bones singing just didn’t make sense to me and I thought I was remembering it incorrectly. Then as I actually looked at the words of the song and found that the song says that, that’s what caused me to look into what the composers were thinking when they wrote that lyric.

As I read the article, the composers spoke about a message they heard where the pastor stated that, “Worship is when we give God His breath back.” The song says, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only.” Then as I read Ezekiel 37, it says that God breathed into the bones. Can you imagine being a great army that had been killed in battle, and then all of a sudden being made flesh and blood and breathing! I bet those bones were praising God with all their might!

Then I began to think about our Spiritual life…. sometimes we need a little breath breathed into us! Sometimes we become like dead men walking, there is no life in our walk with the Lord, for whatever reason. Worship and praise to God helps revive that life, we are giving God His breath back and He in turn breathes back into us to revive us.

Worship is our love song to Jesus. It has many benefits. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of His people. (Psalm 22:3 KJV) When we lift our voices in praise to God, He is present, right there with us! So, as we lift our voices He draws near to us, we can feel His presence, and especially in dark times, His presence gives us strength. We find that we are more able to fight the battles, and we are encouraged. Life begins to swell in us and grow, making us stronger in the Lord.

I love how the song begins. It says, “You are life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness!” We are given life when He breathes into us physically, and Spiritually! He is the source of life! We praise Him for giving us life, love, and light to our spirit!

The past few weeks our church has gone to a whole new level in worship! God has really made His presence known. As I stand on the platform with the Worship Team, I look out over the congregation, and I see people praising God with tears streaming down their faces, there are shouts of praise, people walking the aisle with their hands raised, it’s the most phenomenal thing to see! There have been times when, while I’m playing my flute, I find it difficult to play because I’m on the verge of tears. God’s presence is so heavy on the platform, that it’s almost hard to breathe. It’s His breath in our lungs that gives us life, and we praise Him clear to our bones!