This is a slightly changed Christmas post from a couple of years ago. Enjoy!
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.—Micah 7:7
What a wonderful example the prophet Micah is to us! As one of the minor prophets, the first few chapters of his short Old Testament book are basically messages of God’s judgment on Samaria and Jerusalem. But toward the end of this book, we see clear evidence of Micah’s faith and confidence that God would send a Savior.
As humans, we think we’ve got all the answers. And even when we don’t, we have the technology to find those answers in an instant by searching the internet for whatever may be baffling or confusing to us.
But because of the huge advancements in technology over the past few years, many people today believe that the Old Testament is irrelevant in this modern world. However, the Old Testament is filled with verses which talk about a Savior or foretell His coming. Here are only a few:
- You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. —Psalm 65:5
- It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. —Isaiah 19:20
- Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me. —Hosea 13:4
Read the longing in these and many other verses. These men yearned for the Savior of the world to come soon, and exhibited great faith that it would happen. They obviously loved God without restraint and absolutely believed that God would send a Savior, someone who would rescue them from themselves and their sins and provide a way for them to live with and worship God forever.
So many people say they believe in God but when it comes to eternal issues, they are floundering in a huge sea of doubt and frustration. It is understandably difficult to believe in a being we cannot see. On top of that uncertainty, we are asked to trust that believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior is the only way to heaven.
Wow. That. Is. Huge.
I love what J. Vernon McGee has to say about this:
You may think you have your way of salvation, but God is the only Savior, and He is the only one who can offer you a plan of salvation.
Absolutely! God’s plan for our salvation was always in the works but was truly fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus was born a human and lived an earthly life so that He could experience and relate to every single thing we humans go through.
The birth of Jesus Christ paved the way for His death on the cross, where He took our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. That death paved the way for Him to be resurrected from the dead on the third day, proving that death and sin have no more eternal hold on us. All this to show how much God loves us and longs for us to live in heaven with Him forever.
But this is where faith and trust come into the picture. We must believe that our only chance for eternal redemption comes from Jesus Christ and has nothing to do with ourselves or what we do or don’t do:
Jesus said to him, ”I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” —John 14:6
Sadly, though, too many of us seem unable to take that giant leap of faith and trust:
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:10-13
Beloved, Christmas is definitely a time of celebration. If you take away all the glitter, packages, decorations, baked goodies and music, we still have the greatest thing for which to be thankful. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the One whom God sent to free us from the bondage of sin.
So if all you have to celebrate Christmas is that certain knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then you have it all and more!
Let’s try to remember that Christmas is more about the Reason and less about the Season.
A very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” —John 1:14-16
… for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:11
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. —Acts 5:30-31
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Today’s Treasure Tuesday post is brought to you thanks to my mentor and friend, Patricia Knight.
God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ —Exodus 3:4
God is able.
God is able to do.
God is able to do great things.
He is able to do great things for us.
Sometimes the simpler we describe God, the more majestic He becomes. Isn’t it with simplicity that He guides us in our faith? It was never His goal to make our walk with Him complicated. “Come as a little child” (Matthew 18:3), He told His disciples long ago. He instructs us the same way today. That is why I love to observe our grandsons and learn truths about God from applying analogies to their activities. We can learn from all people, young and old.
God tells us to “get wisdom, knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23b) and to treasure them. God wants us to learn and grow. Not a static faith, Christianity comes alive in Christ. Worship at the throne of Grace where we can find our Lord, not as a hard-handed authoritarian, but as a loving, merciful, gracious Father.
If we knew we could plug our bodies and minds into a Source of power to gain energy and ability, wouldn’t we rush to do it? We can call on the God of all power who created and sustains the universe. If we knew we could inherit an eternal life of bliss, with no suffering or sadness ever again, wouldn’t we stand in line waiting for an extended period of time to gain access to such a gift?
There is no need to cool our heels in long lines. Come to the Savior personally. With humility and meekness, imitating Jesus, bow down before the Savior of the world, requesting forgiveness and a new life with God as the Lord of your life.
Has God made our faith in Him too simplistic? It was designed so that a child could understand the terms. At times when we struggle with trials, we are convinced the Christian life is complicated. There are adversities to be lived and learned so that we can develop into the best disciples possible. There is predicted persecution from following Jesus, but we have never been told to go it alone.
God is with us and promises
“never to leave us or forsake us” (Joshua 1:5).
What security! What blessedness! What absolute joy! God is in the quietness. Listen carefully for Him. You will hear Him speak through His Word, through other Christians, through your experiences, and in prayer.
We will never hear Him if we are striving and fumbling about with our own goals. Prayer is a two-way conversation. Talk and then—listen. Listen with impunity. Listen with intent. Listen with reverence. Hear with purpose so that once the quietness is past, the goals become manifest. Go forward in faith, knowing what God has spoken is solemn and sovereign.
God is faithful.
He “will meet all your needs” (Philippians 4:19).
That is a promise! God said it and that makes it so. Do not fret. Do not worry. Forsake anxiety and confusion, for God offers peace and comfort. God is immutable. It is impossible for Him to make mistakes or to go back on His Words. It just can’t happen, for it would alter the character of God.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. —Hebrews 13:6
What a firm foundation for our faith!
As you go forward with new plans for each day, “cast your cares and worries on God, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He will free you from questions and doubts to accomplish the work for which He has chosen you. Keep your faith strong by remaining locked in God’s Word. He will steer your life and your plans. Stay the course. As you leave your home bay for a destination on the other side of the waters, keep your eyes on the Light in the distance, for God will lead you home. Allow God to be your pilot, your oarsman, your guide. He promises to provide you with His strength for the journey, though it may occasionally be long and treacherous.
Dare to think big. Dare to trust in a God who is big, who is strong and mighty, and who controls the elements of nature with complete authority. Become one with God so that His goals are yours; His power and strength are transferred to your life. God lavishes His children richly with His gifts. In return, give yourself obediently to the Lord; all of your body, mind, and soul.
He will never fail you. On that you can depend, for He is simply, but elegantly,
the Great I Am.
Thank you, dear Pat, for sharing your heart with us here again.
~This is the fourth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~
Last Thursday Donna left us with this:
Each time we fall short of God’s standard for us, all we need to do is confess those sins to Him and we are immediately washed clean.
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” — John 13:7
The disciples seemed obtuse to us, but they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. We do, and we still fall so short of understanding. It is sad how little I know of His Word.
Jesus told them not all of them were clean. This is true for us as well. Not all in our midst are saved. It is like the parable of the wheat and tares.
Tares Among Wheat
24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
— Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Tares are a weed resembling wheat.
We are not called on to pull up the tares because we don’t know who they are…just like the apostles didn’t know that Judas was a devil in their midst.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. —1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Here again we are told there are those among us who are not clean. The unlined verses say some of us were, but we are now washed clean.
“…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
We are to serve others, we are to preach the Word, because it is the power of God unto salvation.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16
Dr.J. Vernon McGee defines salvation as the all-inclusive term of the gospel, and it simply means “deliverance.”
It embraces everything from justification [the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin] to glorification [the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever].
Dr. McGee describes salvation as both an act and a process, and goes on to say that it is equally true that “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.“
I ask myself:
- Am I teaching others His Word?
- Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?
- Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?
- Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?
Beloved, how about you?
Reblogged from last year’s September 19th post which makes it 1 year old but always applicable…
JOY IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
“Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.”"
—Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”—Job 2:10b,c
Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Doesn’t it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything—and I do mean everything—was taken away from him?
Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very general and loving man. He indeed had it all… until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.
Oh, did I say “hopeless”? Hardly.
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” —C. S. Lewis
I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me but rest assured that God has been very much at work in my life. I have been heard to say that I’d like to wipe the year 2010 from my calendar, but as I have reflected on this, I have to say now that’s not really true.
Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” is daily migraines. Last year I tried yet another medication I hoped would help but the greatest side effect was to increase the intensity and duration of my migraines plus cause me to sleep for a good portion of the day as well as at night. It wasn’t unusual for me to get 12 hours of sleep during the night and then sleep again for 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I found myself unable to do the simplest tasks and the year went by in a blur of pain.
Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the new medication had caused a host of reactions, the least of which was the increased migraine activity. Once I was completely weaned off this medication, I started feeling almost human again. Living in a haze of pain medications is no picnic!
So many times last year I felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days–when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, eating and some light household chores. I spent lots of time talking to God, wondering why this was happening to me and if it would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality God was doing a work in me that I finally understand.
Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I can now see that God has shown me how to be thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through that tough time in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are… bad!
God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the “why” of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” —Hebrews 11:1
Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith: “a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.
When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us—in spite of what our circumstances appear to be. We are ultimately acknowledging what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!
In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives—good or bad—are there to make us stronger? What if—bear with me here—we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” —George Seaton
Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?
Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m thinking that life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to life joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” —Psalm 57:7
Still singing those praises, Beloved, even through the pain. NO one can steal my Joy!
I hope you’ve enjoyed all the colorfully illustrated Scripture passage images I’ve shared here for the past couple of weeks while I have enjoyed a self-imposed and much-needed break from my blog. It is really nice to be able to write posts ahead of time and schedule them for a future date.
While I was resting from all the blogging activity, I prayerfully realized I have been devoting too much time to my blog which translates to tons of time on my computer. I have learned not to take it lightly when God is trying to teach me something through several different means. In this case, God showed me in various ways that although I am sharing from my heart for the Lord’s purposes, all this computer time means sacrificing time in other areas: my quiet time with the Lord spent in prayer, meditation, Bible reading and devotions; time with my sweet and understanding hubby Rick; taking care of the home God has blessed and entrusted to Rick and me; fulfilling other writing obligations; and finally … just plain rest, which I sorely need because of ongoing chronic illnesses.
In other words, I have been so much into the work of the Lord that I have been neglecting the Lord of the work.
Not to worry, though. I’m not deserting my blog, just praying about how to reduce my computer time. I have a few ideas I want to mull over and pray about and I’ll share these with you a bit at a time.
For now, I won’t be writing every day but only as the Lord leads me. From past experience, I have learned that God always has a better plan than anything I could ever think up on my own, so I can’t wait to see what He has planned for the future of this blog.
Beloved, God’s love and faithfulness never changes. Because I know He wants the best for me, I also trust and know He will lead me to that best as long as I first and foremost truly seek to know Him better. And that will lead to my understanding His perfect will for my writing and bloggy life.
Leaning hard on the Lord with faith and trust,
The Lord gave this verse to me years ago during a particularly troubling time in my life. I was using the New King James Version of the Bible then and to this day I still love that version of Isaiah 26:3 best because the word “stayed” speaks to my heart: