The Baby That Changed the World

As we approach this Christmas holiday we may have certain expectations of how everything will turn out—baking cookies, playing Christmas music, sending out cards, wrapping gifts, hanging lights, decorating a tree, etc.  These things set the stage and prepare us for the celebration of Christmas.

Imagine if we didn’t decorate for Christmas, send out cards or bake cookies, would anyone recognize it’s time for Christmas?

Two thousand years ago many were anticipating something great to happen, the arrival of the “Messiah the Prince”  of the “Anointed One, the ruler” (Daniel 9:24-27).  People were expectantly waiting for a new Messiah around 30 AD when Jesus was born, based on the prophecy of Daniel.  Jerusalem had a lot of preparation to do before the arrival of their new king.

Little was known how their new king was going to arrive or what he would look like.  Was he to arrive in a chariot of gold, or on a cloud from heaven?  Was he to be surrounded by royalty and clothed with robes and riches?  A worldly expectation would be for a king to be surrounded by all these things.

The Israelites only had the prophecy of Daniel to prepare their hearts for God’s timing and that their Messiah would be a descendant of David (Matt. 1:6, Luke 3:31).  They were not given a description of what their new king looked like only His titles of what He was to fulfill when He came.

“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 NIV

The Israelites weren’t looking for some lowly figure to be their new king, but someone of great importance such as a great military leader or a mighty politician (MacAruthur p. 130).  They were not expecting a baby to fulfill God’s promises.

The Israelites didn’t know their new king would not meet any of their expectations. Because they put their own worldly expectations on who their new Messiah would be, they didn’t even recognize their Messiah when he arrived.

Luke 2:11-12 NKJV
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you:  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager.”  

Their new king didn’t make a grand entrance announcing his arrival by riding on a horse, being surrounded by royalty, wearing a crown or holding a scepter in his hand.  Instead, He was born of two peasants Mary and Joseph.  His birth was announced by an angel to shepherds and born in a stable amongst barn animals.

God fulfilled His promises of a king, but the only Israelites who recognized and “understood that Jesus was the Messiah at His birth were Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna,” people of no significance (MacArthur p. 130).

Can you imagine waiting for your king to arrive and not even recognizing him?  

God’s plan wasn’t to have Jesus raised up on a pedestal and be brought into this world among royalty (even though he was a king), but be born among the humble and to dwell among us (John 1:14).

God has the most amazing plans ever. He used a baby to change the world. Click To Tweet

God was fulfilling a greater plan for His greater purpose.  Imagine all of the Israelites who missed out on the birth of their Messiah because they were expecting something different. They inserted their own expectations and definitions of a king, not allowing for God’s greater plan to unfold.

Have you ever inserted your own expectations and definitions into God’s plans?

Have you ever been in the presence of Jesus and didn’t recognize Him?

If God can use a baby to become our Savior and change the world he can use you for his almighty plans.Click To Tweet

We can rejoice because our “Savior has been born!” (Luke 2:11).  He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!  Praying your Christmas will be filled with all of God’s greatness and glory of our king, Amen!

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“12 Extraordinary Women,” by John MacArthur.  Thomas Nelson 2002. page 130.

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What Do You Give To The One Who Has It ALL?

Have you ever gone Christmas shopping and had a hard time finding a perfect gift for someone who has everything they could ever want?  They are someone special in your life so you want to find that unique gift, that something special, to let them know how much you care.  What do you give to the one who has it all?

The One whom I’m thinking of is God.  He is the Maker and Creator of all things, has all the riches He could ever need, has the largest house and kingdom anyone could ever imagine, and yet there is something He desires more than anything–YOU.

Why would the One who has it all want anything to do with our undeserving, sinful selves?

Because He loves YOU.

This Christmas as we focus on what the meaning of what Christmas is all about, the birth of Jesus, I’m taken back to one Bible verse that says it all.

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

I am in awe that God could have chosen to live anywhere in the world, but He chose to become one of us and DWELL among us.  Not to sound funny, but if I were God I would have just stayed in heaven.  He doesn’t need us.  There is nothing we can offer Him that He doesn’t already have, yet He wants us.

There is something so amazing about the places God dwells.  God has made his dwelling place in the light (1 John 1:7), in heaven (Psalms 123:1), in his church (Psalm 9:11), on earth (John 1:14), but his permanent residence where He dwells is within our hearts!  (Ephesians 3:17-19).

I still can’t believe He chooses US to be His dwelling place! Something happens when we become God’s dwelling place.  He becomes our refuge and our umbrella of protection from the evil one.  He becomes our light, our hope, our joy, and freedom.

Psalm 91:9-10 “Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place–the Most High, who is my refuge–no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now.  Maybe this holiday season doesn’t seem very festive because you lost a loved one, your job or aren’t near family.  Maybe you received a new diagnosis you’re still processing.  Maybe you’ve been distant from God for a long time and don’t know how to get back to Him.

Whatever your circumstance God loves you and cares for you very much. If He didn't He would have never came to earth and dwelled among us. Click To Tweet

Every day God invites us into His presence.  Whether we enter into His presence or not, a door is opened for us to enter.  When we come to Him in prayer we step closer into His presence.  When we praise Him in our storms of life and thank Him despite our struggles we step further through the doorway.  When we open up God’s Word, we allow an opportunity for His Words to dwell richly in us, to plant seeds and grow within us (Colossians 3:16).

So what do you give the ONE who has it ALL?

Your HEART.

God could have anything He every wanted, Lived anywhere he desired, but He chose to live in our hearts. Click To Tweet

Have you given God your heart this Christmas?

What do you give to the One who has it all?

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Mary- A Heart Prepared

 

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Then before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

I Love how God Uses the Unlikely to Carry out His Almighty Plan.

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.  God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.  She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan but how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!  She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her by submitting her heart to God.  How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself.

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.

May we all have a heart like Mary's, a heart that faithfully responds to His promises. Click To Tweet

This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.  There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts and joy will fill our souls when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy.Click To Tweet

Have you allowed God to Prepare your heart to receive His Promises this Christmas?

If God sent an angel to you with a message, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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10 Thanksgiving Bible Verses

I love Thanksgiving time!  It is a time to gather with family, cook together, eat lots of food and celebrate what we are thankful for.  This year may be a tough season for many of us.  Some of us may have experienced job loss, an unexpected illness or have financial struggles.  The list is endless of what makes our seasons tough.

There is one thing we can always count on, even in our rough seasons—God’s promises.  We may experience storms and struggles in life, but there is always something to be thankful for.  We may not want our circumstances or even like them, but God will use them for His glory and will produce the greatest blessings.

This Thanksgiving let’s give thanks to God not just for the good we are thankful for but for everything in between;  the good, the bad and the ugly.  When we do, we receive God’s greatest blessings when we are thankful in all circumstances (Thes. 5:18).   

Here are 10 Bible verse to Remind us of God’s Goodness-

1.  “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” 2 Corinthians 4:15

2.  “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” 2 Corinthians 9:11

3.  “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds”  Psalm 9:1

4.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  Philippians 4:6-7

5.  “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:16-17

6.  “This is the day the Lord has made;  We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  118:24

7. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” 1 Chronicles 16:34

8.  “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High”  Psalm 7:17

9.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

10.  “In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted”  Isaiah 12:4

There is always something to be thankful for.  

What are you thankful for?

What Bible verses remind you of what you are thankful for?

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Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

To Celebrate or not to Celebrate?

With the day of Halloween approaching, many of us who are Christians, have our views about whether to celebrate this holiday or not. Halloween like any other Christ-centered holiday has been turned into a secular holiday. Originally Halloween was a holy holiday for the saints. In fact, the word Halloween comes from the word ‘hallow,’ which means ‘holy.’ Halloween began as ‘Hallows Eve’ meaning holy evening. It was the night before ‘All Saints Day’ which is dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and the faithfully departed.

According to The Free Dictionary, hallowed means “to make or set apart as holy, to respect or honor greatly; revere.” We use the word ‘hallowed’ in the Lord’s prayer “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9

So how does a holy holiday meant to honor the dead, become about worshipping devils and demons?

Halloween is believed to have been derived from a pagan holiday, Samhain, which was celebrated on the same day as Hallows Eve by the Northern Celtic People. Pagan resources will say this holiday was ‘Christianized,’ when really it’s origination is entirely Christian, having originated from the Roman Catholics.

To celebrate All Hallows Eve, the Church held a vigil, where they worshiped, prayed and fasted (in honor of the dead) prior to the day of the feast. Even though both holidays may have similarities in celebration of the dead, the pagan and Christian holidays are separate, not associated with one another.

Is it true Halloween is on the same day as a pagan holiday? Yes.

Is it true the origination of Halloween was in fact intended to be a holy holiday? Yes.

Halloween, just like any Christian holiday has been altered to conform to secularism. Christmas has become about Santa Claus, Easter has become about the Easter bunny and Halloween has become about the devil.

Does it mean that Christians should not celebrate these holidays just because they have been secularized? Of course not! Otherwise, we would not celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas or the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Just because the world changes the definition of something doesn’t mean Christians should conform to it.

Romans 12:2 ESV
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As Christians should we participate in this holiday?

If we participate, does that mean we are conforming to the pattern of this world?

Our decision to celebrate or not celebrate should be based on the truth and God’s desire for us. Whatever we decide, I don’t think there is a wrong or right answer. How we choose to celebrate or not to celebrate, can shine Jesus’ light to others.

As Christians, when we allow our children to participate in Halloween it doesn’t mean they are worshipping the devil. Halloween is an opportunity to open the doors of the church for those who normally don’t attend. That is why we see churches inviting the community in by hosting trunk or treats or fall festivals. It is a chance to expose Jesus to non-believers.

Even though the world has made this holiday about evil and darkness, it is an opportunity for Christians to shine the light of Jesus.

What better way to shine the light of Jesus than in the dark?Click To Tweet

As Christians, we can make choices in how we celebrate this holiday. We can choose not to allow our children to dress up as vampires, murderers, demons or devils. We can carve jack-o-lanterns with a cross and put a candle in it. We can hand out candy that has a Bible verse on it. We can pray for the boys and girls who come to our door that may not know Jesus.

How we choose to celebrate or not to celebrate this holiday can be a light to others. If you choose not to celebrate, share why and allow it to be a light to others during this dark holiday. If you choose to celebrate, let it be for the glory of God. Let His light shine through your family for others to see.

How do you celebrate or not celebrate Halloween?  Please Share! 

What are your thoughts on Halloween?

Happy Halloween!

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIVClick To Tweet

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Christian Dyslexia

Sometimes as Christians I think we get it a little backward.  We start out on a journey to get to know God and then somewhere along the way we get off track.  I’ve been so far off track in my journey at times, when I looked around wondered how did I even get here?

One way to describe my detoured journey as a Christian is to take a peek into the mind of a dyslexic.  I’ve shared in the past of our daughter’s journey with dyslexia.  In her tutoring sessions, I’ve learned a lot of how dyslexic mind works.

A dyslexic’s mind flips around and substitutes letters in words.  They have an inability to interpret text, discern phonemes and distinct sounds represented by certain letters.  Teaching a dyslexic how to read can be a difficult task.  English in itself doesn’t make sense, for example, words like laugh, cough and tough.  The average American is taught these words make an ‘f’ sound.  When sounded out they are pronounced coff, laff, and tuff.  We are taught, just ‘memorize’ these words make these sounds, just accept it.  A dyslexic looks at these words and says this is a bunch tomfoolery, show me where the ‘f’ is, this is a nonsense word.

As Christians, we do the same in our own spiritual lives.  We are taught something our whole lives and just accept it as true and never question if what was taught was actually true.  Over time we’ve substituted and exchanged what we’ve been taught with our own formed beliefs without ever opening up the Bible to see for ourselves.

Sometimes We Get it Backwards

Our Salvation-  Somehow along the way we’ve complicated salvation and made it something it’s not.  We’ve made salvation about us, in how much good we do, not that Jesus died for us.  There would have been no point in sending Jesus if salvation were up to us.  Salvation isn’t, works + grace= salvation.  It’s salvation + grace= works.  No amount of good works could get us to heaven it would never be enough, God’s grace is what saved us which was paid for by the blood of Jesus.   Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Judgment-  Dyslexics also have the inability to determine the difference between words such as live and live–same word different pronunciation.  Without putting these words into a sentence, the context of their meaning is lost.  The same way dyslexics interpret text, we do the same, as Christians.  We interpret one piece of the Bible, without putting it into the entire context of God’s purpose.  We judge those who sin pointing our finger to tell them ‘the wages of sin is death,’ when we are sinners ourself, leaving out ‘but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).  There is only one judge and that is God.

'So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.' Romans 8:1Click To Tweet

Love-  Ironically love in the English language is an exception word, meaning when a word has a silent ‘e’ the ‘e’ makes the vowel long like in the word cōve.  Love is pronounced ‘luv’ making the vowel short, not following the silent ‘e’ rule.  Love is not an exception, it’s our existence.  Love may not follow all the rules but it’s our purpose.  God is the creator of love.  Love is God.  “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love”  (1 John 4:8).   Love has become distorted, less about relationships more about stuff.  Our world has distorted what love is veering far from God’s design, seeking to fulfill love in places where love will never be found.  A life without love isn’t living life at all.  If love was about being fulfilled with everything in this world, there would have been no point in sending Jesus.

'We love because he first loved us.' 1 John 4:19Click To Tweet

English is a language that has exceptions and doesn’t follow the rules.  When teaching my daughter to read I have to explain to her words ending with ‘k’ and ‘ck’ make a ‘k’ sound except for the word stomach–another exception word.  But that’s just it, there’s always going to be an ever-evolving world that asks us to make an exception. That asks us to compromise our beliefs.  That asks us to take the JES out of JESUS and just leave the US part, making it about US.

We may have good intentions of doing something FOR God and along the way lose sight we were supposed to be doing it WITH God. This life was never meant to be lived just for US but with JESUS. Click To Tweet

So how do we break out of the dyslexia pattern?

By being equipped with God’s truth.  By staying in His Word in prayer. The more we educate ourselves and spend time with God’s words the better able we can decipher what’s backward and what’s not.  Even the godliest people don’t get it right.  We can be encouraged, we might not always get it right, but God makes up for our shortcomings.  He will set our paths straight when we trust in Him.

Can you relate?

Have you ever had a case of Christian Dyslexia?

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The Last Prayers of Jesus

How encouraging is it when you know someone is praying for you?  Today I hope this post encourages you to know that in Jesus’ last hours on earth He spent His time not teaching another message, but in prayer for US!

How Jesus spent His time on earth is so telling of His character and His heart for us.  Even when Jesus knew He only had hours left to live, He spent His last precious moments in prayer in the presence of God our Father and the disciples.

The last three prayers Jesus spoke on this earth teach us so much about what God desired for us.

John 17:  The Overcomer Prayer:

One of the holiest of prayers in the entire Bible is a prayer Jesus prays in John 17, which was prayed sometime after The Last Supper.  Throughout this whole prayer, Jesus is praying for our security, our joy, our unity and our future.  He prays on our behalf so we know what He’s done for us, given to us and all that he will do for us when we get to heaven.

In the first part of John 17, Jesus first turns to His Father and prays for Himself.  Jesus knew after He left we would still experience trouble in this world but prayed that we would know we are overcomers in Christ and share in His victory.

In John 17:6-19, Jesus then prays for His disciples.  Here Jesus is praying for our protection against the enemy, that we would know the fullness of joy and we would be molded according to His holiness.  In John 17:13-26, Jesus prays for our unity, for us to carry out His mission of spreading God’s love and our future.  The prayer in John 17 shows us how much Jesus cares for us and how He desires the best for us.  He knew we were going to have struggles and prayed for us on our behalf before He left this earth.

A Prayer in the Garden– Mark 14:35-36:

I don’t know if you have ever sat and read the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but it is filled with lots of sorrow and suffering.  Jesus knew the time was coming before he was going to be arrested.  He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, a quiet place to pray and sit with God.  He took His disciples Peter, John, and James with Him to keep watch while He prayed.

Jesus was very troubled and distressed and told His disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”  (Mark 14:34).  Jesus knew it was only hours before he was going to be arrested and persecuted.  His soul was heavy with the burden of what God was asking Him to do on behalf of everyone else–to bear the penalty for all our sins.

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  Mark 14:35-36

Jesus knew His Father was capable of all things.  He turned to Him in His sorrow asking Him to please take this cup from me.  A cup’s symbolism is of deep sorrow and suffering.  Jesus felt as though God was leaving Him behind and turning away from Him when He who had no sin was made to be the sin offering for us.

A Prayer From the Cross–Luke 23:34:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)

This prayer that Jesus prays on the cross is one of the most powerful prayers I believe Jesus prays.  Even in death, Jesus cared about our salvation.  He takes His last dying moments to pray for us on the cross and still had the power to make people right with God. It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified He still prayed for those who crucified Him. He even forgave one of the criminals on the cross whom He was sentenced with.  These last moments show how much Jesus cares about our hearts and what they are filled with.  He knew unforgiveness would be the death of us and spent every last moment showing us He is the way to our salvation and the path to our freedom.

The last prayers of Jesus are so telling of how much He loves us.  He spent every last moment praying for us up until His last moments of death.  The prayers Jesus prayed didn’t die that day on the cross.  His prayers continue on from heaven.

We can learn so much from the last prayers of Jesus.  He didn’t allow persecution, being arrested or suffering to keep Him from praying.  He prayed all throughout His suffering and turned to God for His every need, leaving His mark in our lives.

There may be so much suffering and evil in this world, but we can be encouraged that God is praying for us and loves us very much.

There is power in the prayers of Jesus.Click To Tweet

How have the prayers of Jesus marked your life?

How can our prayers leave a mark in others or in this world?

If Jesus was standing before you and asked, “How can I pray for you?”  What would you say?

Praying this Easter Holiday is filled with the prayers of Jesus, his abundant joy, and love in your life!  Happy Easter!

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Words from the Cross

 

How powerful are the last dying words from a person; especially when those words are from Jesus? Do you know that even in Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross he prayed for us? His last words are so telling of his undying love for us. These are the last words Jesus spoke before he died on the cross.

The 7 Last Words Jesus Spoke on the Cross:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified he still prayed for those who were killing him. He even forgave one of the men on the cross who was sentenced with him. Even in Jesus death he prayed for us and still had the power to make people right with God and cared about their salvation.

2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). These are the words Jesus said to one of the criminals sentenced with him after the criminal said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Can you even imagine hanging on the cross suffering and Jesus says these words to you, promising you will be in paradise today and you will be with Jesus? This signifies that this paradise is something that Jesus brings not the world.

3. “Dear Woman, here is your son” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27 NIV). Jesus was saying this to his mother Mary, even in Jesus’ last hours of life he honored his mother by asking John, his disciple to take care of her. Could you even imagine being in Mary’s shoes watching her child suffer, hanging on the cross, knowing he was going to die? Jesus wanted to make sure his mother would be taken care of and entrusted his beloved disciple John to do this.

4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is the fourth saying Jesus says in both Aramaic and Hebrew, from the cross. Prior to this, Jesus had fallen silent for 3 hours after the darkness came. This is the first thing he said after the darkness left. In the 3 hours of darkness is where Jesus felt the wrath and separation from God for the first time. This statement shows his vulnerability as a human and reveals his feeling of abandonment from God. I think this saying shows how heavy bearing the sins of all of mankind was and therefore cries out to God for help. This shows us we should cry out to God also when we too bear much suffering.

5. “I am thirsty” (John 19:28 NIV). This is so interesting how Jesus asks for water considering he taught his disciples and followers many times that he was the living water, that whoever drinks of the water will never thirst again and have eternal life (John 4:14). It is striking how the one who is the water of life is dying in thirst. I think this shows Jesus craving for his physical comfort to be refreshed with a drink of water. Jesus not only desired for his physical thirst to be satisfied but his spiritual thirst as well. In scorn, the soldiers dipped a sponge filled with vinegar on the end of a hyssop plant to give Jesus a bitter taste in his mouth. You and I today can ‘give Jesus a drink’ by sharing what we have with those in need by feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 383). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

6. “It is finished” (John 19:30 NIV). This statement marks one of the last things Jesus says before he dies. It signifies he completed what he came to this earth to do, to die for our sins. He says the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which means ‘paid in full.’ Jesus didn’t say ‘I am finished,’ he said ‘It is finished,’ meaning his redemptive work was complete. “It is finished,” is a declaration of Victory! Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered the penalty we deserved. Even up to the moment of his death, Jesus remained the one who gave his life for us (John 10:11, 14,17-18). Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 340). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). This is the seventh and last statement Jesus says before he bowed his head and took his last breath. Jesus died for us. He offered his body and soul, not for himself, but for us. Jesus did not die as a martyr, but as a Victor, because he completed what he came to do. All of the suffering Jesus went through, his death was not for nothing. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” is actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children. It tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly and victoriously (John 10:17-18). It is a prayer of commitment to God before taking his last breath. Those who know Jesus as their Saviour may also die with the same confidence and assurance, that Jesus did (2 Cor. 5:1–8; Phil. 1:20–23). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 276). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Wow! I can’t even believe all that Jesus was teaching us even in his suffering on the cross and very last hours of his life. It shows me how important prayer is in our lives. Praying is what Jesus was doing up until the last breath he took. He not only was showing us his love by enduring suffering and death in which we deserved, but praying on our behalf asking for our forgiveness. He comforted the criminal who was suffering telling him about God’s promise of paradise. He honored his mother. He cried out to God for help. He showed his desire to have his thirst quenched both physically and spiritually. Jesus remained faithful even in his suffering. He showed us that God is always with us, he never leaves or forsakes us.

This Easter, we can partake and participate in the victory of Jesus as his gift to us.

What do Jesus’ last words mean to you?

We don’t have to be perfect to accept this gift, have it all together or be someone great. God’s gift of eternal life he offers to everyone, no matter who we are, who we were or who we will be. Opening and receiving God’s gift of eternal life, is the best gift anyone could ever receive this Easter.

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below. Have a blessed and Happy Easter!

In Him,

Heather

 

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I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.  Happy Easter!


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Set Me Free

Are you getting ready for Easter?  I love this time of year, for what it represents and the rich gifts that God gives us even when we don’t deserve them.

Have you ever been a given a gift, so valuable money couldn’t buy?  Or have you ever been given a second chance at something that you should have never been given in the first place?

One man in the Bible reminds me of the valuable gift of freedom he received that should have never been given.  His name was Barabbas and he was a criminal convicted of committing murder in a rebellion (Mark 15:7).

It was during the time of Passover and every year the Roman governor would release a prisoner to the people of their choice (Matt. 27:15).  Jesus had been arrested and was in custody of Roman authorities.  Barabbas was a well-known prisoner among the people.  When Pilate asked, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas or Jesus, the people knew exactly who each one was.

Pilate was convicted that he was persecuting an innocent man because Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime under Roman law.  Jesus couldn’t be prosecuted under Jewish law during Passover because the Jews couldn’t crucify anyone during that time.  So Jesus was to be prosecuted under Roman Law.

When both men were in the judgment seat, Pilate’s wife tells her husband “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man (Jesus) for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  (Matt. 27:19).

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matt. 27:20).  When Pilate asked, which one do you want me to release?  The crowd shouted, Barabbas! Then Pilate asked, what should I do with Jesus?  The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Pilate then questions their decision and asks, why, what crime has he committed?  They shouted even louder, Crucify Him!  (Matt.21-23).

Pilate felt so guilty about the outcome he took water and washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt 27:24).  “Then he released Barabbas to them” (Matt. 27:26).

Can you even imagine this scene?  A prisoner who committed murder being set free!  And Jesus a man who committed no crime under Roman law sent to be crucified!?!?!

I can’t imagine what Barabbas was thinking, I was just set free!  He merely received his freedom by default all because the crowd wanted to persecute Jesus.  I can’t help to think of the parallels in Barabbas’ story.  He was a man guilty of a crime and set free.  He was given a second chance at freedom something he didn’t even deserve!

Barabbas being set free and Jesus taking his place on the cross was a foreshadowing of our future story of what Jesus was going to accomplish for us.  Barabbas’ name actually means “Son of Abba” or father.  How coincidental the meaning of the criminal’s name who was released is the very thing that Jesus is to us, “Son of God,” our Father.

I wonder what Barabbas’s life was like after he was released.  I wonder if he was thankful for his second chance at freedom or if he just reverted back to his old criminal habits?  If I were Barabbas I would have been convicted of the new freedom granted to me.

Jesus someone who was innocent and didn't deserve to die took our place for us instead. Click To Tweet

I wonder if Barabbas was at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing at the cross thinking, this man saved my life and set me free (in more ways than we could ever imagine).  I wonder if Barabbas looked at Jesus on the cross and thought, he took my place, that could have been me.  

This whole scene sounds barbaric with the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”  In the end, we can point fingers about who was to blame for the death of Jesus.  In reality, it was all apart of God’s plan for us to be set free and forgiven. The only way for us to receive this amazing gift, was for God to sacrifice His only Son for us.

'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 3:16Click To Tweet

Barabbas’s story is a physical representation of what God does for us every day.  How he extends us His mercy and grace, even when we don’t deserve it.  We are all criminals (sinners)  just like Barabbas.

We are all given a second chance at freedom, just like Barabbas.  

Can you relate to Barabbas’s story?

How have you been set free by God’s love?

What will you do with your second chance at freedom?

Jesus didn’t have to take our place but He did because He loves us.  You have been set free.  What an amazing and wonderful gift!  Happy Easter!

Lord, Set me Free from my burdens and the things I cannot control.  Set me free from anything weighing me down not allowing me to live how you designed me to live, in freedom.  I love you and praise you, God.  I thank you, God, for sending Jesus to take my place even when I didn’t deserve it.  Thank you for giving second chances. Forgive me of my sins.  You have set me free, Lord.  Thank you, in Jesus name.  Amen

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Developing a Prayer Plan for the New Year

Welcome back!  Last week’s post Making a Successful Plan for Your Upcoming New Year we discussed–What were some of your goals?  Did you pick a word for your year?  I hope some of you will share what your goals are and what word you picked.  Picking a word will help give our year more purpose and vision.  

How did it go when writing your goals?  Was it fun or painful!?!?  Goal setting can be tough because it asks tough questions about ourselves.  Was I successful?  What did I accomplish or haven’t accomplished?

The word I picked for 2018 is Difference. in 2018, I want to make a difference in all areas of my life–with my time, my finances, my family, friends and with my faith.

Others have shared their word with me;  Presence, Hope, Believe, Freedom, Intentional and Restored.  Whatever your word is, apply it to all areas of your life to live fully in God’s design for you.

Goal Writing Tips:
Write goals with meaning and purpose instead of performance.  For example, we may write, I want to make more money in 2018.  That is a good goal, but there is not a measurable outcome.  When is it enough money?  Instead, write– I want to make enough money to provide for my family’s needs.  It is not realistic for all of us to be millionaires but it is realistic for us to be happy with what we have and enjoy the process.  Goals are not meant to suck the joy out of us, but to put purpose and direction back in.

Coming up with a Strategic Plan for Prayer over our goals is just as important as writing your goals.  Keep the goal lists handy to be constantly praying over the goals.  

Be Specific in Prayer in these 5 areas:

1.  Roadblocks–  Ask God to take away anything that is hindering us from accomplishing our goals.  Taking away roadblocks, can help move us forward, go farther in reaching our goals and see so much clearly when accomplishing our goals. “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way” (Isaiah 57:14).  

2.  Time–  Give God our time that he has already given us.  There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week.  The time God has given us is all we have.  Give God your time and he will give you all the time you need.  Ask God–‘help me keep the scheduled time I have with you.’  “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand”  (Psalm 31:14).

3.  Desires of your heart–  Ask God for Him to place the desires of your heart when setting goals.  When we live in the design that God has created us to live, we experience His abundant joy, hope, love, and freedom.  “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”  (Proverbs 4:23).  

4.  Wisdom–  Ask God to help you be realistic but not sell yourself short.  When setting goals it is important to be intentional with your time.  Asking for wisdom will help you make better choices that will set you up for success in the future.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

5.  Strength–  To accomplish our goals we need perseverance and endurance.  There will be times we want to quit and feel as though we can’t go on.  Anyone can quit, but it takes courage, drive and passion to make it to the end.   Never underestimate what you can learn in the process, these will be some of the most valuable lessons we learn.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippine 4:13

What Prayers will make an impact in your upcoming year?  

When making your goals ask yourself these two important questions.

1.  Are these goals adding value to my life or taking away value?
2.  Am I living in the Plan God has for my life?

Prayer-  Dear God, I pray this year we will be more purposeful and intent full with our time and money you have given us and use them the way you have designed us to use them.  Please guide our steps to teach us, show us how you want us to accomplish and achieve our goals as we start our New Year.  We love you, God.  Amen.

 

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Keep Praying for your Goals!  Praying for a Successful New Year that will be Filled Abundantly with God’s blessings in your life!  Happy New Year!  

I would love to hear from you.  Leave Your Comments Below.


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