A Ransom

I haven’t written lately from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, but today I’d like to share a particularly appropriate name for Our Lord during this time before Easter.

And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”  

—Revelation 5:9-10

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A Ransom

The son of man came . . .
to give his life a ransom for many. 
—Mark 10:45

“A Ransom for many!” Here Christ is set forth as the penalty paid for the sins of the world. As sinners under the judgment wrath of God, He took our place and paid the penalty and the price of our deliverance with His own blood. Listen to the drops of blood as they fall from hands and feet and wounded side! They voice the words, “The ransom price for my sins and for the sins of the whole world.Would that men everywhere would believe it and receive it. How dear, how precious is He to us, washed clean in His blood and freed forever from the punishment due us.

Lord, may our ransomed souls  well up in praise to Thy glorious Name! Amen.

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.
—Psalm 49:7-9

If you’re anything like me, the thought of what Jesus went through on the cross—just for us sinners—boggles the mind. He who was without sin, came to earth in human form to illustrate for us the right way to live. And not only that, He sacrificed Himself—just for us sinners—so that we could have the chance to live with Him in heaven forever!

Doesn’t that amaze you? And doesn’t it make you want to share this Good News with others?

Beloved, let me ask you:

how can we not share our JOY about what Jesus has done in our lives?

If it wasn’t for Jesus Christ dying for our sake, there would be no way we could get to heaven on our own. We would therefore be doomed to an existence in hell, where we would agonizingly suffer for eternity.

So, let me ask you again: how can we not share our JOY about what Jesus has done in our lives? Yes, I agree with the author of this piece from The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, who said so well that we need to believe it and receive it, but there is also the challenge to share it with those who need to hear it!

Jesus is our Ransom. Nothing we can do in our own strength can ever repay Jesus for what He did for us on the cross at Calvary . . . nothing except to believe that He alone paved the way for us to live in heaven forever:

  • ADMIT that you are a sinner.
  • BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you.
  • CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life.

And then share your HOPE and JOY with others!

A friend recently shared this video with me of Eric Ludy’s The Gospel. It is about 11-1/2 minutes long, but so worth it to watch it in its entirety!

The Gospel is an Ellerslie Mission Society film.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I first published this here on February 14, 2014. And here it is again because I believe it is so appropriate for this day that’s all about love.

The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about  love … God’s immense love … for us.

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The Dimensions of God’s Love

We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19

We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.

Breadth

When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.

That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can “hug” the whole world. And I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture:

ByGrace…because of his great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by faith [we] have been saved.
—Ephesians 2:4-5

He loved us “even when we were dead in transgressions.” What a truly astonishing thing!

Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:

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For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
—John 3:16

The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!

I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that:

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“…to all who received him,
to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God.
—John 1:12

Depth

The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.

We read in Romans that:

Romans5-8

…God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we now have been justified by his blood,
how much more shall we be saved
from God’s wrath through him!
For if, when we were God’s enemies,
we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son,
how much more, having been reconciled,
shall we be saved through his life!
—Romans 5:8-10

The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.

We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.

Height

Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.

I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven:

Eph2-6

And God raised us up with Christ
and seated us with him
in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
—Ephesians 2:6

There is no way we could ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”

I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!

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Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
—Colossians 3:1-3

Length

It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.

The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.

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There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever.
—Revelation 22:5

No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.

Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:

  • recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
  • believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
  • acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
  • and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.

1Tim1-15-17

Paul related this aspect to Timothy:

But for that very reason
I was shown mercy so that
in me, the worst of sinners,
Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience
as an example for those
who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
—1 Timothy 1:16

His “unlimited patience.” How I love those words! They remind me that even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and myself—God never loses patience with me. His patience is eternal!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17

Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves! How amazing is that?

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What Must I Do to be Saved?

Reblogged from As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

My bloggy friend, Raymond Gary Candy, has a wonderful blog called As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith. He shared this great post there a couple of weeks ago, a good reminder for those of us who already know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. However, this would be a good tool to use if you’re unsure about sharing your faith with unbelieving family and friends.

Thank you so much, Raymond, for the granting me the privilege of sharing this with my readers.

What must I do to be Saved?

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“And brought them out, and said, Sirs,what must I do to be saved?
(Acts 16:30)

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi,we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:1-2)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4)

Read the rest here.

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Read the Word of God

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Reading the Word of God for yourselves,
reading it rather than notes upon it,
is the surest way of growing in grace.
Drink of the unadulterated milk of the Word of God,
and not of the skim milk.
—Charles Spurgeon

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FAITH for God’s Promises

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God has never promised to solve our problems.
He has not promised to answer our questions …
He has promised to go with us.”
—Elisabeth Elliot

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Happy Happy JOY JOY

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Have you ever noticed how many Scripture passages there are about being happy and full of joy? Today I’d like to share some of those with you to remind all of us of the immense happiness and JOY we have in Jesus Christ.

Happy

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  • Psalm 63:7You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings.
  • Psalm 81:1Be happy and shout to God who makes us strong! Shout praises to the God of Jacob.
  • Psalm 89:16We are happy all day because of you, and your saving power brings honor to us.
  • Psalm 98:3-5God has been faithful in his love for Israel, and his saving power is seen everywhere on earth. Tell everyone on this earth to sing happy songs in praise of the LORD. Make music for him on harps. Play beautiful melodies!

Joy

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  •  Psalm 5:11But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.
  • Psalm 16:11You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Psalm 32:11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
  • Psalm 47:1Clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy.

This is the praise song that I often sing to the Lord at night just before I go to sleep. It is based on Psalm 5:11:

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I Love You, Lord

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship You, O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what You hear;  
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in Your ear.

…..

How about you, Beloved? What songs of praise for our Savior and Lord Jesus fill your heart to overflowing?.

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Joy Inexpressible

As I wrote in JOY and FAITH earlier this week, I will be writing about JOY and FAITH during 2015. I am purposely capitalizing those two words, and if you want to think of it as my shouting them, that’s exactly right! How can we feel true JOY or FAITH without thinking of them in such a huge way that we want to shout it out to the world?

Today I’d like to share with you another of Pat Knight’s devotionals. She has written about JOY many times in her writing career, and I always appreciate what the Holy Spirit has given her to share about this important subject.

Joy Inexpressible

By Patricia Knight

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 Joy!

What a small word for such a giant effect it creates in others and us. “Joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) is how our Guidebook, the Bible, assumes is the attitude and method of every Christian. Joy is dynamic and ready to do its work. Joy can flow out from one person to another or it can rush in to fill a life.

The exchange of wedding vows, the birth of a child, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s life are times when joy knows no bounds. It overflows, gushes, whirls, either causing an action or a reaction. We cannot ignore joy. And, who would want to disregard such an important emotion?

The times we remember best in our lives are the joyous occasions, those that offer us great delight and gladness of heart.

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“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalms 126:3). “Filled with joy” is not a phrase I hear used often, but it sure does sound like a good idea to be infused, saturated, slathered with a good dose of joy. Imagine the result if we were all living joy-filled lives. I rarely hear about it, though I have heard of the opposite—”to be filled with anger.” I can even envision that anger at work, as a person’s face reddens and his voice and actions become irrational. As Christians, we are commanded to have joy. There’s no preference of when to have or when to share it. Joy must be an integral part of our being, with instant preparedness for sharing.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:4-7). Notice how joy, thanksgiving, and prayer have all been interlocked in this command. For us to have joy, we need to be thankful. If we follow God’s command to give thanks in all things, we will be joyful people. If we have joy in our own lives, then we yearn to give it away. Living in perpetual communication with our Lord, our supply will never be depleted.

“Let your gentleness be known to all.” God means all-inclusive, no matter to whom, in whatever conditions and circumstances we find ourselves, and for all reasons. The word “all” can be a little tricky. It is a small, three-letter word that can easily be ignored. It isn’t a difficult word to understand, but applying its meaning to our everyday life presents a challenge. In my personal life, I have struggled with expressing joy and thanks for constant pain. There doesn’t seem to be a purpose to it. That’s when God asks me to be thankful and trust Him enough to be joyful regardless of my life’s circumstances. I have to acknowledge that before the pain enters my body, God has approved it and because it is part of His plan for my life, I can thank Him that His will is being done and be joyful in His decisions for my life.

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“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).  To be “overtaken by joy”? That is what God says. What would result if all of us took a new approach to joy? I suggest that we all begin a new day with an abundant, heaped-to-the-top-and-running-over package of joy.

Perhaps that sounds a little fantastic, not really credible. If God is in charge, and He tells us that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), then being overtaken with joy is possible. I want to be overtaken with joy so that there is no room for conflicting negative emotions. Nothing can quench the joy. If it were God’s wish that we be completely consumed with joy, then why do we find ourselves moping about at times, bemoaning our situation? God may wonder too. If He has given the instruction, He will also give the strength and power to accomplish what He has commanded.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”

(2 Timothy 1:7).

God not only fills us with joy but also adds a sweet fragrance to that joy.

“But thanks be to God,
who also leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing”

(2 Corinthians 2: 14,15).

“The fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Now, that should cause us to smile. So much revenue is spent on cosmetics, many for the purpose of erasing deep frown lines that have formed over the years. Smiling takes substantially fewer muscles than frowning. Did you ever practice smiling in front of a mirror? It provides a light-hearted experience, putting a smile on your face, and one in your heart.

There are some extremely expensive fragrances on the market for which both women and men pay lofty amounts. As aromatic as these may be, there is no sweeter fragrance than that emitted by Jesus. We “are to God the aroma of Christ” among people being won to Him. What a privilege and a responsibility! We need not think we have to spread His joy alone. God manufactures it and gives it to us, the most expensive fragrance in the world, bought with the highest sacrifice in heaven and on earth. Then, God will help us distribute it to the destitute in heart. The source is readily available, renewable, and inexhaustible.

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Joy is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). In a long line of attributes, joy is second in line, snuggling right up close with love. We are told to have joy, ALWAYS! Have we been neglecting something important in our lives? We need possession of the immediate joy that sparks a flame of excitement plus the persistent joy that produces a daily expression of happiness and thanksgiving.

Worship flows naturally out of a thankful, joyful heart.

Praise, song and love all emerge from a heart previously primed with joy.

When we are consumed with joy, there is no room for negativism. As we are caught up in serving God and men with a happy heart, we are celebrating God and the joy He places there for us. When we share with others, our joy multiplies and carries with it a sweet aroma. People are encouraged.

Phil2-14-sm--AMPWe are commanded to do everything without complaining or grumbling (Philippians 2:14). I have never learned how to express joy while complaining, nor do I believe God intends for us to combine the two.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:12). Choices are made from the attitudes we form. No matter how negative our lives appear, no one can force us to match it with a negative attitude. Even though we tend to blame others for our problems, we as Christians are to rise above our circumstances. We choose our responses. We also choose joy. Though joy is free flowing and available, we have to embrace it for our personal life style for it to become an effective tool for us. An outpouring of our inner joyfulness is our gift to others.

In my earlier career, I worked at a medical facility where a friend of mine was later hired in the social services department. Martha was the most effervescent, enthusiastic and happy woman I had ever met. She possessed a beautiful smile and used it unsparingly, with a deep, engaging laugh. Other workers were aloof toward her and later shared with me that they didn’t trust Martha and were suspicious of her. They reasoned that she was too happy and smiled too much. I am still shocked by their logic. The unhappy, insecure workers were not going to befriend a newcomer who embodied joy and confidence. Studies have proven the power of a positive attitude in achieving the healing and recovery process. Martha understood the benefit of permeating her life and profession with joy.

Each day we have a predetermined amount of energy. When our supply of energy is used positively and creatively, we contribute to the joy in our lives and in the lives of others. If we look for laughter and sunshine wherever we go, we are able to increase the joy that we discover. Joy shared is multiplied. Joy restrained is limited. God commands that we prioritize joy. Look for the brilliance in the early morning sunrise, the diamonds bouncing off the rippling water, and the crystals radiating from newly fallen snow. Then, store those scenes in your mental imagery and share that beautiful joy with someone else when the opportunity arises.


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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name”
(Psalm 100: 1, 2, 4).

That same compelling joy will gladden your own heart and travel far and wide to affect the lives of others.

…..

Pat, you are one of the most joyful people I have ever met and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this wonderful and joyful devotional! 

 

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JOY and FAITH

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For the past few weeks, I have been pondering the word JOY. Such a small word for such a huge and amazing emotion.

How can I describe JOY?

How can we feel any JOY at all while in those valley places?

And why do we feel JOY in the first place?

Stay tuned, beloved!

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So the natural progression—in my mind at least—led me to next think about the word FAITH. Hebrews 11:1 (above) was given to me years ago during a particularly stressful time in my life when God showed me that FAITH in Him can carry me through any situation.

FaithBraceletsCollage--AMPI have always tried to live by that kind of faith, and this Christmas I received two special bracelets from my Rick that were faith themed. As you can see in this photo, one of them says “Keep the Faith.” The other reads “Faith Hope Love.” They look really nice worn together, and are serving to remind me that my FAITH is found only in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

…..

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said,
“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,
even as You gave Him authority over all flesh,
that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
This is eternal life, that they may know You,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
I glorified You on the earth,
having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself,
with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
—John 17:1-5

This year I hope you’ll join me in exploring JOY and FAITH, especially as it pertains to each of us individually. I don’t think this subject can ever be exhausted because God fills us up with unending amounts of JOY and FAITH. It’s up to us to grab hold of both of those and never let go!

Heavenly Father, we need You more than we can ever imagine. We so need Your JOY and Your FAITH. JOY that You think of us as the apple of Your eye. JOY in and through every single circumstance in our lives. FAITH in the mercy and saving grace of Your Son, Jesus Christ. FAITH that we can always count on You—and only You—to see us through those inevitable valleys in our lives. Oh, Abba Father, we are so utterly thankful for how much You lavish Your JOY and FAITH upon us!

…..

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A Child is Born [Repost]

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

I’m sure most of us have been the recipients of birth announcements from friends and family. We get excited when we read the good news, but have any of those been as exciting or answered such a deep need as this one from Isaiah?

We announce the birth of our sweet, cuddly and cute newborns with clever sayings amid pastel colors and pictures of bunnies, kittens, teddy bears, and the like. But just look at how Jesus’ birth is described by the prophet Isaiah:

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Wonderful Counselor … Mighty God … Everlasting Father … Prince of Peace

Beloved, this is not a mere birth announcement. It is a heavenly proclamation!

I cannot think of any other gift that means more to us than God’s special gift to mankind: His Son, Jesus Christ. All over the world, people exchange presents in commemoration of this ultimate gift, which is the only means of rescue from our sins.

Before we realize the need for Jesus in our lives, we are in a deep darkness of doubt and anxiety. After we ask Jesus to come into our hearts as our Savior, we leap from that lonely, dark void into a glorious and joyful anticipation of eternal life with Him at our side.

Just as Jesus’ death on the cross changes our darkness into the radiant light of eternal joy, a close relationship with Him is the only thing that can help us find joy and thankfulness amidst our daily struggles and pain. Jesus understands what we’re going through and wants us to lean on Him for comfort, support and spiritual nourishment. His birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophetic message of hope and in the same way, we can look forward to this realization:

our ultimate hope is a perfect heaven in which there will be no pain or suffering

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Beloved, I’m thinking that after going through this earthly time of pain and anguish, we will be dancing with joy and delight as we step into that glorious heavenly light! This is what we should be celebrating as Christmas approaches!

.

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Immanuel: God With Us

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PROPHECY:

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

FULFILLMENT:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord   had said through the prophet: “The virgin   will conceive and give birth to a son, and   they will call him Immanuel”   (which means “God with us”).
—Matthew 1:22-23

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I read this recently at PreceptAustin:

Have you ever wondered if you should spell Immanuel with an “I” or an “E?” The answer is that both are correct! Immanuel with an “I” is a transliteration of the original Hebrew word composed of ‘Immanu (with us) and El (God), while Emmanuel with an “E” is a transliteration of the Greek “Emmanouel.” The NET Bible is one of the few translations that maintains this distinction, translating Isa 7:14-note as Immanueland Mt 1:23-note as Emmanuel.

Read the rest here.

 

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