The Son of the Most High

 

To

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.

Advertisements

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.

Angels Around Us

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Exodus 23:20-23, “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. For my angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittities, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, so you may live there. And I will destroy them completely.” (NLT) The Israelites were heading for the Promised Land and God gave them instruction and a promise. If they were obedient and not rebellious, He would guide and protect them, even fight their battles against the many enemies they were to encounter.

I’ve had my nephew on my mind a lot, and my heart is so full to know that God protected him from himself despite his wrong choices. For some reason as I was searching for verses to journal today with this thought in mind, I found this passage in Exodus. It was God directed, I am sure. As I read this passage, what came up almost immediately is that obedience to God brings blessings, and one of those blessings is protection. Now, I know my nephew is far from God as evidenced by the situation he is in right now, but God, in his mercy and love for my nephew, chose to protect him. I am convinced God sent an angel to do battle against the enemy, Satan, who comes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) I’m sure the Devil whispered into his ear at the very beginning of this battle that, “everybody’s doing it, and it will be fun! It will make you feel better.” The Bible says that Satan is the “father of lies.” (John 8:44 NASB)

Obedience to God’s Word and instruction brings blessings. When we listen and are attentive to His direction, He brings us peace of heart, and whether the pathway goes through a rough patch where it seems like nothing is going right or it is smooth sailing, in the end, God’s plans always are for our good, and the peace He brings is more of a blessing than we can ever imagine.

If you look at the Israelites and their wandering in the desert to the Promised Land, they were a rebellious, contentious, complaining lot. Eventually, God had more than He could take…they tried Him to the very end of His patience (which is extremely long) and eventually He had to do the only thing He could, and that was to banish a whole generation of people from entering the Land He had promised them. Because of their disobedience they lost out on a great promise and blessing.

Be assured that with disobedience comes consequences. Yes, God loves us. Yes, He is patient. (The King James Version says “longsuffering.”) But like any good Father, when His children misbehave, He must give discipline. Hopefully, we learn from our sin and mistakes, and walk in obedience from that point on.

When we walk with Him in obedience, we receive His blessings. In situations where it seems like the enemy of our souls is pulling out all the stops and beating us up, God sends His angels to fight for us. When our lives are in danger, God sends His angels to form a hedge of protection around us. When we need healing, ministering angels are sent to help us. These are blessings that, a lot of times, we are not aware of, and yet God, in His love, chooses to bless us. Take time today to lift your voice in praise to the Father and bless His name.

Thanksgiving Reflections

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and this year I am so grateful to God for so many things, not the least is His protection. Our family is currently going through a trial, and I am so grateful for His protection over my nephew. Because of some poor choices, my nephew almost lost his life right before Thanksgiving. God graciously spared his life, giving him a second chance to make things right with the Lord.

In thinking about that I began looking for “Thanksgiving” verses and found Psalm 100. The whole chapter is a praise to God. Because there are five verses and it would take up quite a bit of space, I won’t write them out here, but I encourage you to read the entire chapter. David is encouraging us to “shout joyfully to the Lord” and “serve the Lord with gladness.” (Psalm 100:1 NASB)

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, to look back over our lives and remember the things God has blessed us with. For me, I am grateful that I was raised in a home with Christian parents. They taught us kids about God and His love for us. When I was two years old, I got to see the difference Christ can make in a person’s life, first hand. My Dad came to know Jesus through the ministry of our next-door neighbor, who happened to be the pastor of the church a couple of blocks away from our house. That was a night I will never forget! Daddy had been gone for quite a while. When he came home the first thing he did was walk to the kitchen and took a full, never opened, bottle of wine and poured the whole thing down the sink! From that moment on things were different. We started going to church from that time on. We were in church every time the doors were opened. Through the ministry of that same pastor, I was saved at the age of 11 in youth group on a Sunday night. I never had to experience some of the things that some kids did because of the grounding I had from my parents in the Word and through church. I am so grateful for the salvation that Jesus offered to me. He has walked with me through joy and sorrow, through good times and bad, through sunny days and days of hard trial, and He has been Faithful!

I am thankful that God has directed my life since that time. He directed me in my schooling, where I began nurses training. However, I didn’t have good enough grades to pass the courses. But I learned the skills that would become invaluable to me later in my life in caring for my first husband. At the time, I was so disappointed and felt like a failure, and didn’t understand why He would allow me to go through that training only to fail. It was only when my husband had a stroke and required nursing care that I understood why He allowed me to go through training. I am also grateful that He took care of me while I was a widow and led me to my current husband.

God also has directed me in ministry. My first husband was the chief engineer of radio and television stations. We spent most of our married lives in ministry at Christian stations. He also put us together in music ministry. When I was in high school, if someone would have told me that I would have been on radio and television, I would have told them they were crazy. That was the farthest thing from my mind. But God orchestrated things so that I had an almost 40-year ministry with my husband, and then as a widow.

There are so many more things that I can praise the Lord over. As I have been writing this, Chris Tomlin’s song, “Good, Good Father” came to mind. God is most definitely a Good Father! He loves me more than anyone else could! Take time today and reflect on who God is and how He has watched over your life. As you raise your voice in praise to God, listen to Chris’s song, and rejoice!

Is Your Name Written in Heaven?

Today’s Bible Journaling study is from Luke 10:20, “But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” (NLT) The disciples had gone out witnessing as Jesus told them to do, and He gave them instructions on how to minister. When they returned, they were rejoicing about the great things they were able to do, they had healed the sick, cast demons out of people, and did the same things Jesus did as He ministered to people. Jesus reminded them that the greatest miracle is not being able to make the demons subject to them, but the fact that their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in Heaven…they were redeemed by Jesus’ blood and saved from the penalty of sin.

In this month of Thanksgiving, this is the greatest blessing…our salvation. Nothing compares to the peace and joy we receive once we have asked Jesus to be the Lord and Master of our lives. The blessing of knowing our sins are forgiven, we are washed in the blood of Jesus and are looking forward to an eternal life in Heaven with Him, is more than we can comprehend!

As awesome as that is, we are still living on planet earth, and God has given each of us a job to do, and it is up to us to fulfill that mandate. What is that job? Collectively, our job is to reach the lost! That is our primary focus. We aren’t meant to arrive in Heaven without bringing someone we have led to Jesus as well. That is the primary purpose of these posts. My hope is that someone will read these and realize their need of Jesus. The second purpose is to encourage Believers as they walk out their faith in Jesus daily.

Our first response to the question, “What will you do with Jesus?” is to take an account of our life. Have we accepted His sacrifice on the cross for our sins? Have we made a conscious decision to live for Him and allow Him to have total control of our lives? If not, today is a good day to do just that. II Corinthians 6:2 says, “…behold, now is the accepted time behold, now is the day of salvation.” Don’t wait, make your decision now. My first husband used to say, “Put your finger on your wrist and feel your pulse. We are only certain of this very moment that our heart will beat…we don’t know what the next minute will bring, or if we’ll even take our next breath!” Once our life is over, there is no more opportunity to make that decision. When we pray and ask Jesus to save us, come into our hearts and lives, and the ask forgiveness for our sins and promise to live for Him, He takes us into His family. We become a Child of God, and we inherit all that God has to offer us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We become new creatures in Christ, (II Corinthians 5:17), we are changed! The process is so simple even a child can do it!

Once we have decided to follow Christ, then our responsibility is to live for Him, let Him have complete control of our lives, and then witness…tell others about what Jesus has done for us, and offer encouragement to others. God also gives us gifts, talents, avenues of ministry to reach the lost. For me, God has gifted me the ability to play and sing music. He also has directed me to reach out through my posts and my Bible Journaling. For each one, the gift is designed to be specific to what they are the best at doing, to reach others for Jesus. For some it is the gift of hospitality. I know ladies that can put together a bash that would make a White House dinner look dim in comparison! Some are given the gifting of administration…our Pastor’s wife has this gift…she is the ultimate organizer, director, and planner! She keeps our church going on an even keel, everything is planned out and rolls smoothly! She’s a super access to our Pastor! Some are given the gift of teaching. They minister to the Body of Christ through teaching the Scriptures, helping us to understand concepts and principles in the Bible. Once you have found your gifting, pursue it with all diligence.

So, my encouragement to you, my dear readers, is to take stock of your life, is your name written in Heaven? If not, today is a good day to be sure that it is. Then live your life so that others may know that Jesus reigns in your heart and bring others to the foot of the cross to be redeemed.

God is Able

 

Today we’re looking at II Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” (NIV) The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” What jumped out at me is, GOD IS ABLE!

That is such an encouragement for me. No matter what I’m going through, God is able! He is able to bless me above anything I can even dream of, He is able to hold me tight when I am going through a trial, He is able to guide me in wisdom, HE IS ABLE!

What a blessing to know that I don’t walk this walk alone, He is with me! I have Pandora on at the moment, and a little bit ago, it was playing, “Good, Good Father”, and that song just resonated with me. He is able because He loves me, and He is a good Father who desires to give me all that is good for me. When discouragement hits me, He is there to bring encouragement and remind me that I have peace, joy, grace, and salvation through Him and Him alone. When I am burdened, He is there to lighten the load, for He tells me to “take my yoke upon me and learn of me.” (Matthew 11:29 KJV)

As I write this, my heart is heavy. In the middle of working on this post, my sister emailed me to let me know that my nephew is in the hospital after a heroin overdose, and he almost died. How “on time” God is…to remind me that He is able, and then to hear news that could shake my foundation of faith in Him if it weren’t for that reminder that “He is able!” He can take my nephew and turn him 180° in the opposite direction, save his life, physically and spiritually, and set him on a new course. My faith in God is not shaken. I’ve already put my nephew on a couple of prayer boards, and I’ve heard from so many who have said they’ve been there, and sent me encouragement, and are praying for my family. How good God is to surround us with a body of Believers who uphold each other in prayer, give encouragement, and sometimes even wrap their arms around us physically to keep us on our feet.

That is such a great blessing from God! I am so grateful to Him for His care. He knows right where I am. He knows what is heavy on my heart, He knows just what I need, He knows! We do not serve a God who is distant from us, nor unconcerned with our lives and what we experience. He loves us with an everlasting love, He walks with us, His desire is to bless us immeasurably, and He is faithful!

As I just looked at the verse again, I notice it says that He is able to bless us abundantly so that at ALL TIMES we have what we need. Do you need encouragement? He is able. Do you need healing? He is able. Do you need financial freedom? He is able. Do you need peace? He is able. Do you need your marriage restored? He is able. Do you need chains broken? He is able. Whatever your need is…HE IS ABLE!

My friends, even in the depths of despair, GOD IS ABLE! Take courage and gain strength in the knowledge that God is able no matter what your situation. Reach out to Him and give Him whatever it is you need for Him to do for you. Remember, “the God of Angel Armies is always by your side!”

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!