A Revelation of God’s Love…From Outside a Bathroom

I firmly believe that if we have our ears attuned to God’s voice and our eyes fixed upon Him, we will understand that God can reveal Himself to us in every situation in our lives. The circumstances themselves may not be entirely pleasurable—as in the case of His revelation to me last weekend—but I rejoice that no matter the circumstances-- God is able to reveal the depth of His love for me, and for you.

So, how did He speak to my heart last weekend? My husband and I were watching our 2½ year- old grandson and almost one -year old granddaughter while my son and daughter-in-law are away on a much deserved weekend retreat. We thoroughly enjoy our time with them, and yet-- as most if not all grandparents will attest—we understand why God had us bear children in our younger years! (Except for biblical characters like Sarah and Abraham, and they had lots of servants to help them out!) After a wonderful, packed day with our grandchildren, my husband and I were exhausted, so following a couple of hours of respite, we ‘hit the hay’. I had just fallen asleep when our grandson let out a cry of terror. I rushed to his crib and found that he had thrown up all over his crib. I immediately took him to the bathroom, he threw up once more, and then I sat with him on the floor for some time to see if he was going to have another bout. He didn’t seem feverish and said his tummy felt fine, so after getting the soiled sheets off the bed and putting fresh linens on it, I laid him back down. No sooner had I put him down and gone to my room to go back to sleep, I heard him cry out again. He had gotten sick again.  We went back to our vigil on the floor by the toilet.

After quite some time, I thought it was safe to put him back down again—after of course changing out the bed linens—but regrettably, it was not; he got sick again. I finally decided the only way he’d be fine is if he lay on me and near the toilet, but not on the bathroom tile floor again because it was too cold. So I moved the rocking chair from his bedroom to outside of the bathroom. He snuggled next to me, and assumed a position where he slept fitfully, and I slept not at all.  He became more restless and I was uncomfortable, so I thought it would be a better idea for us to both lay down outside of the bathroom on the carpeted floor together. By this time, he was thoroughly exhausted, had eliminated everything from his tummy, and fell right to sleep.

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Once he was asleep, I knew I could go into the bedroom right around the corner from him and go to sleep—which I desperately needed at this point—but I also knew it was important to him that I lay right next to him in case he awoke again feeling sick or just needing my comfort. So that, along with the fact I’d already gone through several sets of sheets, ruled out putting him back into his crib. I thought about taking him to the bed where my husband and I had been sleeping, but I was concerned that my grandson could awaken and get sick again in the bed and I didn’t want to risk his giving the virus to my husband. So I remained right by his side on the floor. And, as I lay there, gladly choosing to forfeit my comfort and restful sleep for the remainder of the night in order to be by his side, I felt Jesus speak to my heart:

“Like John (my grandson) you were sick—sick with sin—and you needed me to come to your rescue. I didn’t leave all of the glories of Heaven to come down to earth to take care of you and then to leave you on your own. I came to be Immanuel—’God with you’— to remain with you in order to provide for your every need. I have given you the Holy Spirit to dwell within you, to guide and teach you, to encourage and comfort you, and to remind you of my constant Presence and unfailing love. Just as you were gladly willing to give up your sleep and comfort for John’s sake and to do all you could for him throughout the night, remember that I am always by your side, always at work on your behalf, and I will never leave or forsake you. If you ever doubt how much I love you and what I am willing to do for you, remember what you were willing to do for John, and know that my love for you is far, far greater than your love for him could ever be. You will grow weary and eventually fall asleep, but I neither slumber nor sleep; I am continually by your side, watching over you, ready at an instant to do what is best for you. As John trusts you, how much more should you trust Me?! I know that you would do all in your power for John, but you cannot provide for his every need. Only I can. And only I can provide for all of your needs. And I will. As you delight in having John by your side and watching over him, I delight in being by your side and continually keeping watch over you; I rejoice over you with singing!

As I lay there next to my grandson who had finally fallen peacefully asleep by my side, my heart was bursting with joy! Joy because my Heavenly Father had used this unforeseen circumstance— one that I would not have chosen— to reveal to me the depth of His love for me, the constancy of His presence, protection, and provision in my life, and He gave me a keener awareness of the joy that He experiences watching over me and caring for my every need. How great is our Father’s love for us, His beloved children! How blessed we are to have such a good, caring, loving Lord and Heavenly Father!

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121 ESV

 If you ever doubt your Heavenly Father’s love for you, I encourage you to think of the love you have for someone on earth and what you have done-- or would be wiling to do for them-- and then contemplate how much greater your Heavenly Father’s love is for you! And just as I didn’t take my grandson into bed with my husband due to my love for my husband and concern for his well-being, keep in mind that at the same time that God is watching over you, He is also watching over others and doing what is best for them too. He alone is able to provide for everyone’s need and in a way that is best for everyone. God is always at work on your behalf, and on behalf of all of those He loves and who love Him!

Written by Julie

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How to Extinguish Fear and Feed Your Faith While Waiting for A Miracle

When I was a young girl and heard Bibles stories like God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites; David slaying the giant Goliath; Daniel surviving the lions’ den; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego coming out unscathed from the fiery furnace; Jesus healing lepers, paralytics, the blind, deaf, and dumb and raising the dead, I was enthralled by those stories of God’s miraculous power. I didn’t doubt for a minute God’s ability to work such miracles, and I vividly remember thinking, “How amazing it would be to be a part of such a story!” “I’d love to experience such a miracle in my own life!” 

Have you had similar thoughts? Maybe you’ve had friends or family who’ve experienced the miraculous power of God through something like healing from a life-threatening illness, deliverance from a drug addition, surviving a horrific car wreck, or a totally unexpected and positive overturn of their financial situation. Did you ever think, “Wow! I’d love to be a part of a miracle story too!” Or, maybe you’ve been the subject of one of God’s miraculous stories.

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What I didn’t take into consideration when I heard the Bible stories—and what you also might not have considered when you’ve heard stories of God’s power-- is that before a miracle can occur, the recipients of the miracles first must face a time of great trial, a testing of their faith, and the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt. For instance, the Israelites were fleeing a huge, well-trained army when they came upon the Red Sea where there was no apparent way forward. David had to overcome the mocking of his brothers and the entire Israeli army who wanted to undermine his belief that he would defeat the giant. Daniel had to contend with the continual envy of his peers who plotted against him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to decide whether they’d disobey and dishonor God by worshipping an earthly king, or obey God and face the real possibility of dying a horrible death in a blazing hot fire. Everyone whom Jesus healed beforehand had experienced the suffering of physical pain or the emotional pain of being an outcast. We all would like to be a part of a miracle; however, we usually don’t want to sign up for the circumstances that must necessarily precede the working of that miracle! 

I am waiting on the Lord to show Himself faithful in a situation in my life right now where a miracle is needed. I fully believe God is capable of working the miracle. But I am also keenly aware of the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt; I feel that I am living in a crucible where my faith is being tested and refined. I know that if I focus on the circumstances of my situation--the ‘what ifs’—I will be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or His miracle-working power. So as I wait upon Him, I have a choice: I can feed my faith, or I can feed my fears. I cannot feed them both as fear and faith cannot co-exist. You have the same choice. What will you choose?

·    I am choosing: To keep my focus upon God Who is the ‘Author and Perfecter of my faith’, and over and above my every circumstance. (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:12) I am praising Him for orchestrating the circumstances of my life so that my faith— which is more precious than gold— will be strengthened, and so that the stage is set for a miracle to occur! (1 Peter 1:7)

·    I am choosing: To rejoice in knowing that the trial I am going through is an instrument of God’s grace, and thank Him for this trial which was designed to test my faith, produce steadfastness in me, and cause me to grow more and more into His image, complete and lacking nothing. (James 4:2-4)

·    I am choosing: To praise Him for His faithfulness and love, and to thank Him for interceding for me, that my faith would not fail. (Hebrews 7:25; Luke 22:32)

·    I am choosing: To praise God for His perfect timing; He is never ahead or behind, but ALWAYS comes through in the ‘fullness of time’! (Galatians 4:4; Romans 5:6; 1 Timothy 2:6)

·    I am choosing: To praise God that His thoughts and ways are not my thoughts and ways, His are infinitely greater because He is infinitely wiser than I! (Isaiah 55:9)

·    I am choosing: To commit my will to God’s will, pray and pour out my heart to  Him, and listen to His Spirit speak to me! (Psalm 37:5; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 25:14; Daniel 2:22)

·    I am choosing: To trust in the Lord and not lean upon my own understanding, to look for every path God may open before me--and as doors open—make sure to inquire of Him whether that is the way He would have me to go. ( Proverbs 3:5-7; 1 Chronicles 10:14; 2 Samuel 5:19, 23)

·    I am choosing: To immediately renew my mind in the truth of Who God is and what He is able to do every time a fearful thought or doubt about God’s faithfulness arises! (2 Corinthians 10:5) Truth such as that God is with me at ALL times, that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that He is ‘mighty to save’! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:2; Zephaniah 3:17)

·    I am choosing: To trust in Jehovah Jireh, the God Who will provide for ALL of my needs according to His glorious riches (Genesis 22:14; Philippians 4:19) and Who knows me best, loves me most, and is ‘always at work for my good and His glory’! (Romans 8:28)

·    I am choosing: To feed my faith by reading the Bible daily, by reading devotionals like Streams in the Desert and My Utmost for His Highest, as well as biographies of heroes of faith to remind me that God is ALWAYS trustworthy and ALWAYS unfailing in His love. (Psalm 52:8; 85:7; 119:41; Revelation 3:7; 19:11)

·    I am choosing: To not listen to grumblers, complainers, faith and joy ‘robbers’. (Psalm 28:7; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2)

·    I am choosing: To share my need for a miracle with others whom I know will join with me in prayer and lift me and my need up to the Lord. (Exodus 17:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:1; James 5:16; Galatians 6:2)

Faith means taking God at His Word. As you feed your faith by reading the Bible -- the Word of One Who cannot lie and that is filled with accounts of His miracle working power—you will be convinced that NOTHING is impossible for God! (Numbers 23:19; Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26) And I’m confident that your faith will result in you seeing the miraculous hand of God at work on your behalf, and you’ll find yourself at the center of your own miraculous story that will in turn build up the faith of others in the Body of Christ! 

What about you? Are you waiting upon God to act on your behalf in some situation in your life, or in the life of a loved one? How are you choosing to spend your time as you wait upon Him? Are you feeding your fears, or feeding your faith? Was there a particular choice (or choices) that I am choosing to make that God convicted that you need to be making as well?

Written by Julie

 

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Could this Fear Be Affecting Your Witness?

It can be easy to identify the fear of flying, or of spiders, or of heights, or other fears that seem tangible. As prevalent as those fears may be, I think most people struggle with a fear that they’re often unaware of, and that can have a major impact upon their daily life. And it most definitely is a fear that can impact our Christian witness; especially in these days of ‘political correctness’ when being a Christian is highly unpopular. It is a fear that must be overcome if we are going to obey God and live for His glory. That fear is the ‘fear of man’.The ‘fear of man’ is rooted in our pride and desire for others—especially those we like, or those we fear due to what they could do to us-- to approve of us. It is a fear that often leads us to remain silent when we should speak; to skirt telling the truth or lie; to engage in behavior we might not otherwise so that others will accept us; and it can lead to sleepless nights or daytime anxiety due to our fear that we may have offended someone who will no longer like us and may in fact cause us harm. Can you identify with this fear? I certainly can! 


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 The Bible is replete with stories of those who also had this fear. Abraham, the ‘Father of Faith’, instructed Sarah, his half sister but also his wife, to tell Pharaoh that she was his sister rather than his wife due to his fear that Pharaoh might kill him (Genesis 12:12). Isaac followed his father Abraham’s example and lied to the men of Gerar by saying his wife Rebekah was his sister because of his fear that those men would kill him to gain her (Genesis 26:6-10). Saul disobeyed God’s instruction given to him through the prophet Samuel to kill Agag, as well as all of the Amalekites and their animals, because  (1 Samuel 15:24) he ‘feared the people and obeyed their voice’. 

 One of the saddest—and most convicting-- passages in the Bible to me is found in John 12:42-43:

 Nevertheless, even many of the leading men believed in Him [as Savior and Messiah], but because of the Pharisees they would not confess it, for fear that [if they acknowledged Him openly] they would be put out of the synagogue (excommunicated); for they loved the approval of men more than the approval of God. John 12:42-43 AMP (Boldness added)

 You may think, “But they believed that Jesus was the Savior and Messiah, so what was the problem? Isn’t salvation all about faith?” True, saving faith will be proven by our words and actions, for God’s Word also states: 

 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lordand believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10 ESV (Boldness added)

 Regrettably, our fear of man can cause us to remain silent rather than confess to others our belief that Jesus is Lord. Our silence is an indication that we, like the leaders in Jesus’ day, love the approval of men and women more than we love the approval of God. God warns us not to fear those who may be able to kill our body, but who cannot kill our soul. (Luke 12:4) We are to fear—to honor, to hold in awe and reverence-- only God Who has the power to destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). 

 The world was turned ‘upside down’, the gospel of Christ spread throughout the world, and you and I are believers today only because the disciples overcame their fear of man and were instead filled with a holy fear of God. Following Jesus’ ascension into Heaven and the outpouring of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus’ apostles Peter and John were willing to boldly confess that Jesus was the ‘Holy and Righteous One’ (Acts 3:14). Not only did they proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, they also courageously accused their audience of delivering Jesus over to Pilate, and that it was they who had ‘killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead’ (Acts 3:15). They went on to call the people to repentance in order that their sins might be blotted out and so that they would experience refreshing from the Lord (Acts: 3:18). Talk about being willing to be an offense to others for the sake of truth and the glory of God! Talk about being released from the snare of the fear of man! (Proverbs 29:5) 

 Even though they knew that they could be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their faith, they did not allow that to stand in the way of their sharing the life-transforming news of the gospel. In fact, because they overcome their fear of man, “…many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” Think of how many people they will spend eternity in heaven with because they were willing to offend them for the sake of the gospel! How many people will be in heaven because of you boldly declaring the gospel?

 Shortly after this incident, Peter and John were jailed, and then released and commanded by the Jewish leaders—the very ones who were behind Jesus’ crucifixion—‘not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.’ What was their response? Did they cower in fear and defer to men-- men they knew had the power to destroy their bodies? No! Instead they declared: 

 Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 ESV

 When we know God through His written Word, have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Living Word, and are willing to fully surrender our lives to His authority in every aspect of our life, we too will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and compelled to speak to others of Jesus, the One and Only Person Who can deliver us from all of our fears and keep us truly secure… for all eternity!

 The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. Proverbs 29:5 AMP

 Have you ever found yourself telling a ‘white lie’ so that you don’t hurt others’ feelings rather than accurately representing Jesus by speaking the truth in love and trusting Him with the outcome? Do you remain silent in the face of those whom you suspect will be offended if you share your faith in Jesus? Do you care more about what others think of you than you do about pleasing God? Ask the Holy Spirit to release you from all ‘fear of man’, to empower you to be bold like Peter and John and the other disciples, and be willing to confess before everyone without regard to personal cost that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God! 

 Lord, forgive me for succumbing to my fear of man. I ask you to release me from all fear of men and to fill me with a holy fear of You! Empower me by the Holy Spirit at work in me to be bold like Peter, John, and the other disciples and willing to declare my belief in and love for Jesus, and call others to repent and turn to You so that they too can have the Truth that will set them free and bring about true and lasting refreshing to their souls, for now and all eternity! 

Written by Julie

 

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Be a 'Believer' in 2019!

What do you believe?  Do you believe you are protecting someone when you tell them that what they are attempting to accomplish will not work or is impossible?  Do you warn and educate others in the ‘reality’ of a situation to keep them from being disappointed? 


Pastor Rick Renner shares how fellow Christians tried to keep him from being disappointed and obeying what he felt God was asking him to do.  “When God called us to start our church in the heart of Moscow, people came crawling out of the woodwork to tell us, ‘Moscow is the seat of demonic principalities and powers.  This heavily concentrated demonic influence is so strong that no one has been able to break through and establish a powerful church in the heart of Moscow.  We want to prepare you so you won’t be too disappointed, because you probably won’t be able to do it either!’” Thankfully, this pastor did not allow others to influence his decisions and chose to trust God. His faith in God allowed him to plant and grow a thriving church in the heart of Moscow! When we believe and trust God, He is glorified!

Faith


Jesus says in Mark 9:23 “…if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”  “The word ‘believeth’ is the Greek word pisteuonti, from the word pistes, the Greek word for faith.  However, when pistes becomes pisteuonti, as in this verse, it pictures a person who is believing.  This is not someone that once had an experience of faith in the past; rather,  this is a person who is presently believing right now.  He didn’t just believe in the past; his is a believer.  His faith is actively reaching forward right now to grab hold of what God has promised.  His faith is habitually, constantly, consistently, unwaveringly straining forward to take hold of that desired goal he sees before him!” (Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)


If God asks you to do something, or gives you the desire to accomplish a particular goal in your heart then act in faith and do it.  As fellow Christians what right do we have to tell another that his goals will not succeed?  In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV God asks us to build one another up.  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” God never tells us to remind people of the slim statistical chances and likely impossibility of what they are setting out to accomplish, praying or believing God for.  Our God specializes in ‘small chances!’  As 2019 approaches and your friends and family share resolutions with you choose to encourage them and build them up in faith and remember that with God ‘all things are possible!’


Written by Jamie Shaver







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How Does God Make His Plans for Your Life Known? Tips From the Christmas Story

Recently when talking with a friend who has a big decision to make regarding where her son will attend school, she asked me “How do you know what God’s plan is?  How can you hear God speak?”  

I like to use the acronym P.E.W.S. to remember the most common ways that God speaks to us.  God can speak to us in any way He chooses, He is God, but below are some of the most common ways God speaks to us as revealed in Scripture:

P - Through other PEOPLE

E - Through EVENTS

W - Through His WORD

S - Through His SPIRIT living in us

Using part of the Christmas story I would like to show examples of these methods in action:

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God first chose to speak to Mary through His angel Gabriel, and this EVENT began a new chapter in Mary’s life.  He clearly told Mary what was going to happen, answered questions she had and provided additional information regarding Elizabeth’s pregnancy as well. 

EVENT: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be borne will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:26-38 ESV

God then confirms what had been told to Mary in secret by another PERSON, her relative Elizabeth who had no knowledge of Mary’s revelation until she saw her and was given insight from the Holy Spirit.

PEOPLE: In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would beg a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45 ESV

Other people that brought confirmation that all was as the angel Gabriel proclaimed were the shepherds that came to see Jesus in the manger after they were visited by the angels. Luke 2:8-21 ESV

God’s WORD also confirmed these events.  God will never ask us to do something that goes against His written Word to us, for example God wouldn’t tell you to steal something when His Word tells us to not steal.  In Mary’s situation, God’s Word also confirmed what she was told by the angel and was happening:  These prophesies were given hundreds of years before Mary was visited by an angel.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2 

Born of a virgin: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

God’s SPIRIT lives in each of us that believe in His Son Jesus and can guide, direct and teach us many things.  We see God’s Spirit at work in Elizabeth when she sees Mary and proclaims truth that she would not have otherwise known.  Today in our lives, the Spirit of God can warn us, or speak to our Spirits to help us discern God’s plan for our lives of the lives of our children.  

While Mary was being prepared to bring the Savior of mankind into the world, and God made His plans for her clear.  God also has a plan for you and I.  God promises us that He does not have favorites, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever…God still speaks and makes His plan known to His children.  This Christmas it is my prayer that you would thank God for the gift of purpose in your life, and always be willing to respond to the plan God has for you by using the words Mary spoke, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”


Written by Jamie

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What Was Necessary for Jesus to Dwell on Earth Is Also Necessary for Him to Dwell in You!

 God has many wonderful character attributes for which we should be thankful, and which we should seek to emulate. But the Lord has laid on my heart one attribute that was vital in order for Him to leave the glories of Heaven; to come to earth where He took on the form and restrictions of man and knowingly subjected Himself to suffer humiliation, rejection, and tremendous physical suffering at the hands of mankind; and temporary abandonment from God His Father because He took upon Himself the sin of the world. It is also the character quality that we must possess if we are to receive Him as our Savior and the King of our heart. That quality-- which is greatly undervalued in our culture but of inestimable value in God’s eye-- is humility. 

Have you ever considered where you’d be if God, the One Who created the universe and sustains it by the power of His Word, had not chosen to humble Himself and become ‘flesh and blood’? You—and I—would forever be condemned to death, hell and damnation due to our sin that only Jesus, a sinless, righteous man could remove from us.

 Human reason would say that if God were to humble Himself and choose to come to earth that He at least should have been born into the family of earthly royalty and lived in a palace-- or at least born to wealthy, influential parents. Instead, God chose to humble Himself even further by being born in an obscure town to a young virgin and her betrothed who were of lowly status and of no repute in the world’s eyes. He chose to humble Himself and be born to an ordinary couple in an ordinary city so that all people would know that He is approachable, those who are ‘down and out’ as well as those who are ‘rich and famous’ by the world’s standards. He is the only Living God Who came to save ALL people who choose to believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Out of all of the character attributes that Jesus could have chosen to describe Himself when He walked on earth, He emphasized His humility:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NIV

It is when we are willing to humble ourselves that we will find not only the rest that our souls desire, but we will also discover the joy of our life’s purpose, which is found in humbling ourselves, living in submission to His Word and His will, and having a relationship with Jesus at the center of our lives— worshipping Him and making His name known.

As we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth, have you ever considered that each of the focal characters in the Christmas story were willing to humble themselves; they were willing to risk being considered fools by others; and that in doing so they lived out the very purpose for which they were created? It takes humility to believe in and submit to the word of someone else when that ‘word’ seems to defy our logic, reasoning, and understanding, and when believing that word and acting upon it will likely result in others thinking we are foolish.

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 Mary, a virgin, had to be willing to humble herself and surrender her ‘understanding’ in order to believe the angel Gabriel’s word to her that she would bear a child who would be the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. She had to be willing to suffer the consequences of telling her family and Joseph about her pregnancy, as well as the humiliation of having the local gossips’ tongues wagging about her becoming pregnant during her betrothal period. Joseph also had to be willing to submit to the word of the angel Gabriel, and to risk having his family and the community think he was guilty of sexual sin, or just plain foolish to go ahead and marry Mary since she was pregnant by someone other than him. (Luke 1:26-55; Matthew 1:18-25) How different their lives would have been and what they would have missed out on if they had refused to humble themselves and obey God, His word, and His instructions to them!

 The shepherds who were in their fields tending to their sheep when all of a sudden they heard an angel joined by a heavenly host declare that a Savior had been born in a manger in Bethlehem had to humble themselves in order to believe the angel’s ‘far-fetched’ declaration. They had to humble themselves, risk rejection and being considered delusional as they left their flocks and went into Bethlehem to find the newborn King, along the way sharing with others the news they’d been told by a host of angels who had appeared to them, mere shepherds who weren’t considered to be a respectable profession. (Luke 2:8-20)

 The magi, highly revered in their eastern country, also had to be willing to humble themselves and subject themselves to criticism as many people in their country and along the way likely considered them foolish for choosing to travel such a great distance in pursuit of a shining star they believed was the sign of a newborn king.  And, especially given their worldly status, once they found Jesus they had to be willing to humble themselves to bow down before an worship a mere baby who was born to lowly parents. (Matthew 2:1-12)

 The devout and righteous Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) and the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) also had to be willing to humble themselves as they acknowledged that Jesus, although a mere infant born to a couple lowly in status, was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Simeon may have wondered if Mary and Joseph would think he was crazy, but instead of focusing upon himself, he humbled himself before God and obeyed Him by speaking the very prophetic words about Jesus that God gave him to share with Mary and Joseph. Anna was willing to risk others’ rejection of her as she went about sharing her joy of seeing Jesus, whom she claimed to be the Messiah. 

 Do you think that those mentioned above who are such an integral part of the Christmas story had some fears about what others might think of them? I would imagine that it at least crossed their minds that others might think they were fabricating a tale and would not be believed…HOWEVER… they were ALL willing to humble themselves and risk being considered ‘fools’ for Jesus’ sake! How did they overcome their fear of what others would think of them—a fear that is always rooted in pride? By humbling themselves and getting their focus off of themselves and instead fixing their eyes and thoughts upon pleasing God! The very God Who had humbled Himself for their sakes to come to earth in human form so that He could give His life as a ransom for them so that they could be reconciled to their holy, Heavenly Father! 

Jesus had to be willing to humble Himself to come to earth to be born a man, and we have to be willing to humble ourselves if we are to come to Jesus. The ONLY way that we can receive Jesus as our Savior is if we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that we need a Savior. We must be willing to humble ourselves and admit our need, and also to humble ourselves and believe what others may consider a ‘foolish word’—that God so loved the world that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to take on human flesh so that whoever would believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior would have eternal life and become children of God. (John 3:16; John 1:12) 

 Jesus’ focus on earth was never on Himself and doing His own will. He was always focused on doing the will of His Heavenly Father. He trusted that whatever His Father asked Him to do was always for His good and out of love for His Son.  Jesus has left us an example of humility and obedient submission for us to follow. (Philippians 2:1-11) When we humble ourselves, put our faith and trust in God, and walk in obedience to Him--like Jesus and those who were part of the ‘first Christmas’ did—we will receive the blessing of playing an integral role in God’s great plan of drawing people to Himself to save them. And like them, we will realize that the value of our life is not to be found in doing our own will, but in walking in humility before God and even being considered a ‘fool’ by others so that the King of Kings will be magnified and made known to others. We will also have the privilege of sharing in the glory that God has prepared for all who love Him and demonstrate that love by humbly submitting to His will— and His will is that we believe in Him, receive Him as our Savior, and obey His commands that He gave to us for our good (2 Thessalonians 2:14; John 6:29; John 14: 15). Like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna, we will realize that the value and joy of our life is found in centering it upon Jesus, the One Who is the center of all of history—better known as ‘His story’— because Jesus willingly humbled Himself for our sakes, so that we might be reconciled to God, have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, and be glorified with Jesus, the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, Who alone is worthy of all praise, honor and glory! 

 

What about you? How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very humble and 10 being very prideful? How do you think those who know you best would rate you? Is your life focused upon making a name for yourself, or upon making Jesus’ name known? Is pride standing in your way of coming to Jesus and acknowledging that you need a Savior? I encourage you to ask Jesus to give you a heart like His that is humble and gentle, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He longs to have you come to Him, and He will never turn you away!  

Lord, help me to get my focus off of myself and help me to fix my thoughts, emotions, and actions upon living for You and your glory. Give me a humble heart that is always obedient to the will of my Heavenly Father. And may I be willing to risk being humiliated, rejected, and abandoned by others as I go forth and share with them the good news of Who You are, why you chose to come to the earth to take on the form of a man, and that salvation is found in Jesus, and in Jesus alone! In your Name I pray. Amen.  

Written by Julie

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3 Ways to Positively...Get Rid of Negativity

Have you ever found yourself in the presence of a person that regularly focuses on the problems in their life with negative statements like:

  • This is just my luck (don’t expect positive things)

  • Go figure, of course this would happen to me (expects bad things)

  • I have bad news, imagine that… (sarcasm)

  • _______ (fill in the blank) will never change (making negative assumptions)

  • I’m not as talented as ___________ (negative comparisons)

  • This ________(person, situation, event) makes me scream (the desire to blame others and be a victim)

negative person

I often tell my kids that their friends will be like elevators in their lives; they will either bring you up or take you down.  Negative people are like elevators that can take you down into the pits of life. Recently I was with a person like this and she was complaining about an upcoming medical procedure. She asked me for help to overcome her fear about the procedure.  Here’s a few bullet points on what I shared with her:

  • Change the phrase ‘I have to’ about the procedure to ‘I get to’, and thank God that you live in a country that has wonderful medical facilities and that you are able to get help there.

  • Praise God that there are tests that can be done for your condition, and that there is likely a cure for it.

  • Focus on being thankful in all circumstances throughout the process.  It was at this point that she said, “I try to be thankful all the time, but it doesn’t work. Like I’ve been very intentional that whenever I start thinking about my procedure I start to look around and be thankful for the sunshine, things in nature, and things like that.”

When God commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV, to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”, He does not mean for us to give thanks for other things that are worthy of praise, like His providing us with sunshine— if you’re facing a scary medical procedure.  Being thankful for nature is a good thing and it blesses God when we give Him thanks for sunshine or nature. However, God wants us to learn to be thankful for the very things that we may not realize to be thankful for in the midst of all of our circumstances, including the trials we face in life. He wants us to give thanks in ALL circumstances! So, for example, what could a person be thankful for in the midst of a scary medical procedure? God asks us to find the one thing if that’s all there is to be thankful for within the situation you are facing and focus on that with your thoughts, words and actions.  If you struggle to find even one thing to be thankful for in your situation, you can always begin by thanking God that you have Him and that He will never leave you or forsake you. I personally would like to lovingly challenge you if you are struggling to be thankful in any area of your life to write down 5 specific things that you can be thankful about regarding that very situation.  Need help?  Contact us and we will help you to create a list to focus on for your particular situation.

In His Love,

Jamie

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