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Where Do You Keep Your Faith?

This post was very convicting to me.  In my quiet moments with God, parts of my heart reveal my weak flesh and flaws that I can’t hide from.  These moments expose areas of my heart that need tending to and areas I still need to grow.  I am guilty of not always being open and truthful with who I am, trying to keep it all together so others can’t see.  In the end, I am left empty-handed, with the only option to surrender it all to God, allowing him to have every crevice of my heart, burdens and all.

The struggles we go through can seem never-ending in a world filled with evil and deceit.  In my trials, I question, do I really give it all to God and where do I keep my faith?

Where we keep our faith determines how we are going to make it through to the other side of our trials.Click To Tweet

I can honestly say in my walk with God, my faith has been all over the place.  There have been times my faith has wavered, I walked away and I even coward to worldly pressures to follow the crowd.  Looking back I can see standing firm in my faith was the very thing I needed during those times–but yet I chose the other way.

These soul-searching moments are when we ask ourselves if it’s so easy to walk away where are we really keeping our faith?

  1. Do you keep your faith in a Box?  I know this sounds silly, but really there have been times I try to put God in a box.  I limit God’s abilities by putting parameters on His timing or asking for things the way I want them.  Really His divine authority over all things goes way beyond my limited vision.  Faith doesn’t always fit neatly into a box.  Having faith doesn’t make my life easier or even pretty, in fact, my life can look pretty messy at times.  Keeping my faith in a box doesn’t allow for God’s full potential to be working in my life.  Limiting my faith to four walls of a box doesn’t allow me to experience God’s greatest blessings that go way beyond that box.  To experience the awesome and crazy moments I have to step out in faith and allow God to lead me to where He is asking me to go.  Stepping out of my comfort zone takes courageous faith that will always lead me to God’s greatest blessings.
  2. Do you keep your faith in a Corner?  Have you been guilty of only calling upon God when you need Him?  I sure have.   Life is going well then tragedy strikes and we ask God, why did you let this happen?  I then look around and realize the question to ask is why have I been so blessed up until this point?  God isn’t someone we take out when we need Him, but a constant presence and relationship.  He desires to be in our daily lives, not an occasional passing.
  3. Do you put your faith in the evidence you see?  I have also been guilty of not trusting in God and putting my faith in what I see.  Our circumstances can pile up and seem so defeating when our own eyes convince us that our situation is impossible;  there is no hope.  But then God intervenes and shows up in ways we couldn’t even imagine.  I am ashamed that I have doubted that He is able.  I may not always understand God’s plans, but I know when we put our faith in His abilities it drastically changes our situations from hopeless to hopeful.
  4. Do you keep your faith locked up?  Have you been guilty of keeping your faith so tightly locked up you don’t ever let it out for others to see?  I have been one to coward to worldly pressures and persecutions.  I’ve kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken up.  All for what?  At the expense of me possibly feeling embarrassed or not part of the crowd?  I am ashamed of my response because I know Jesus would never turn His back on me and yet I turned my back on God.  Can you relate?  Keeping my faith locked up doesn’t allow others to see the light of Jesus or allow God to have all of my heart.  What’s the point in having faith if we never let it out from being shackled?
  5. Do you keep your faith in your heart?  The only time I have ever been able to stand firm in my faith is when I have kept faith in my heart where it can grow and prosper.  God never intended for us to keep our faith hidden under a rock, but transparent for others to see–all for his glory.  Our faith isn’t just for our own benefit but for others to experience the love of Jesus.  Our faith is no good when we keep it to ourselves, it’s meant to be shared with others.  Keeping our faith at the center of our hearts allows God to grow us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

Faith isn’t faith when we keep it in a box, in a corner or shackled up in chains.  Faith is trusting God in advance. These questions have challenged me, where do I really keep my faith and is my faith evident in my life?  How about you?  Can you relate?

Where do you keep Your faith and is your faith evident in your life?

Have you ever walked away from your faith?

Don’t worry you’re not the only one who has abandoned their faith.  Join me next week as we take a closer look at the disciples who also wavered from their faith.

Keeping our faith no matter what our circumstances allow us to experience God’s greater blessings waiting on the other side.  Stay faithful, I promise God always has something better and greater on the other side of our trials.  You are loved!


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It’s All About Love

Have you ever imagined what the world look like if love didn’t exist?  Life wouldn’t be worth living if love didn’t exist.  Love is why we exist and why God created us.

According to 1  Corinthians 13:1-3, If we have faith and not love we are nothing.  If  we give all that we have and not love, we gain nothing.  No matter what we say, what we believe, what we do, if we don’t have love, we are bankrupt.

In the English language, love is a very broadly used term.  We use it to describe food, people, relationships, clothes, etc.  There is not much distinction between what we really like versus what we really love.  For example, I love potato chips and I love my husband.  Even though I used love to describe both a thing and a person, the context of love is different.

So how do we differentiate the different types of love?  

The word love is used all throughout the Bible and has four different translations.  The definition of love is so much better understood when translated according to the type of love being described.  By learning the four different translations from the Greek language, we have a better understanding of what type of love the verses in the Bible are describing.

Agapē– means “love.”  It’s the highest form of love, charity; the selfless love God gives us and we give God. 

Philia– usually translated “brotherly love”, meaning friendship love. Where the city Philadelphia was named the “city of brotherly love”, now is the “city that loves you back.”

Storge– is also called “familial love”, it is the Greek word for natural affection, a love which a parent gives their offspring and vice versa.

Eros–  (erotic) Eros refers to “passionate love” or romantic love. 

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to love each other with Agapē  love, the way God loves us.  

10 Bible Verses That Describe God’s Agape Love For Us-  

1.  God doesn’t merely love, He is love. 1 John 4:8 “God is Love.”

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:8-10

2.  Without love we are nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:3 MSG

“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

3.  Everything God does flows from his love.  1 Cor. 13:4-7,13 NIV  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4.  The epitome of God’s Agapē love, his sacrifice for us.  John 3:16

“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.”

5.  A Father’s love for His son.  John 3:35

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.”

6.  Agapē love makes us united and complete.  John 17:23

“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

7.  How a son loves his father through submission and obedience.  John 14:31

“but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.“Come now; let us leave.”

8.  When we love others the way God loves us, others will know God’s love.  John 13:34-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

9.  We are apart of God’s family, we are his children.  1 John 3:1

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!

10.  When we give Agapē love for one another we are giving love the way God gives us.

“Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  1 John 4:21

To follow Jesus is to love.  We are called to Love.  Let us love one another.

What Bible Verses remind you of God’s Agapē love for you?

How has God’s Agapē love affected you?

Our world could use some love right now.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, What can we do to show others God’s Agapē love?

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.”  1 John 3:18

Go Deeper:  Family Bible Reading Challenge! Nothing grows our love stronger and deeper than when we fill our hearts and homes with God’s words, especially when we read scripture together!

Will you join me over the next 10 days?  Let’s do this together!

Want a way to show others God’s love?  Here are #FREE Valentine Printables for Valentine’s Day!  Click Here. 

Did you like this blog post? 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.

Join me next week as we dig deeper into the love of Jesus!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.  I pray your week is filled with God’s abundant love!  

Wikipedia was used to define the Love terminology definitions.


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10 Ways to Always Be Content

Contentment.  Let’s face it we are human.  Especially in my family, not all of us are content all the time at the same time!  It’s important to be reminded and focused on what is the source of our contentment.  Contentment can be found in a lot of places.  But not all places can provide us with a source of contentment that eternally fulfills and satisfies.  

There will always be someone who has more than us, has a bigger house, nicer car, nicer clothes or who is thinner.  Where does that leave us?  To be constantly trying to keep up, comparing ourselves to an unattainable measure?  Where is the hope and satisfaction in the never-ending race for more?  When is enough, enough?  

Contentment isn’t always about what’s in front of us, or waiting until we have the next best thing, but what’s in our hearts and in God’s plans for us.  Being content is accepting God’s truth in who he says we are and allowing it to be enough.  

When God’s truth and love are the sources of our Joy and Contentment we will be abundantly filled and eternally satisfied.  May God’s truth and love fill every crevice of your heart, filling you beyond measure so your cup runneth over.  

Here are 10 reminders when discontentment gets the best of you.  I pray you will hold onto these verses when you feel your heart and mind are drifting to a place of discontent.

We will Always Find Contentment when…….

1.  Our Treasures are Stored in our Hearts-  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”   Matthew 6:21

2.  When God Provides for our Needs.  “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”  1 Timothy 6:6-8, Philippians 4:19

3.  When God is the Source of our Riches.  “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, not to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”  1 Timothy 6:17-19.

4.  When God is the Source of our Love.  What gives you love?  Can money love you back?
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He, Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.  So we may boldly say:  The Lord is my helper;  I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:5

4.  We are Thankful in our Circumstances.  There is Contentment in Thankfulness.  A thankful heart is a happy heart (Proverbs 15:13).  “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”  Philippians 4:11

5.  We Trust in God’s Plans.  There is Contentment when you trust in God’s plans.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5, Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the Plans for you).

6.  When God is the Source of our Provision and Peace.  “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink;  nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;  yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 6:25-26

7.  When we Seek Him First.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33

8.  When God is the Source of our Strength.  You can rejoice and be content in trials when God is your source of strength.  “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:10

9.  When our Hearts are Filled with God’s Desires.  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”  1 Timothy 6:10-11, Proverbs 19:21

10.  When we Rejoice in Him and Stand in His Presence.  “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Psalm 118:24).  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  (Psalm 16:11).

I pray these verses will provide encouragement, comfort and be a reminder when discontent starts to settle in.

Prayer-  Dear God, I pray that I will keep my eyes and heart focused on you to keep me within the boundaries of your love.  I pray I will seek you always, trust in your plans for me, be patient for your timing, be content with what I have.  I pray my discontent will be a warning sign to be still with you and present in your presence and trust in you.  I pray these verses will be a reminder of what you have in store for me, your truth will fill me and protect me from the shouts of the world.  You provide for all my needs, You are Enough.  Thank you, Lord, for your provision and for thinking so highly of me to make a plan for me.  I praise you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Did you like this blog post?  Please share with others!  If you would like more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox, Subscribe to my blog to receive a FREE e-book “Esther:  God’s Plan for Victory” or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.

I would love to hear from you and all that God is doing in your hearts!  I pray that you will be filled with God’s truth and love which leads to eternal contentment!  


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5 Ways God Equips Us to Go From Victim to Victor

Most Everyone has seen the movie Hunger Games.  The Most highlighted sentence on Kindle in the Hunger Game series of books is, “How can we expect to go in this world prepared if we are not equipped with what we need?”

Exactly.

It all comes down to, Preparedness;  being equipped with the right tools to be in a position of readiness.  Having the right tools will make us go from not just being a Survivor or a Victim but becoming a Victor.  Nothing Tells the story of Preparedness better than David and Goliath.

In the story of David and Goliath, a war had come upon Israel.  For 4o days a giant named Goliath came out in full armor, to fight the Israelites.  No one would fight him because they were afraid.  One day David came from the fields where he was tending sheep to bring his brothers’ lunch.  David wondered why was no one fighting?  David was just a teenager at the time, the youngest of all his brothers.  He told King Saul he would fight the giant.

Can you imagine what everyone was thinking, how can a boy defeat a giant?

David then went out wearing no armor just his tunic, carrying only his rock sling and a bag of 5 small smooth rocks.  Doesn’t sound like he was very prepared does it?  David swung his sling around with one rock in it and flung it exactly to the only exposed area on Goliath’s forehead.  Goliath fell to the ground and the rest is history.

David didn’t become another Victim he became a Victor.  

Not everyone can slay a giant and become a hero like David did.  The reason David was a Victor and not a Victim, because God Equipped and Prepared him.  He made him ready for battle.  He gave David everything he needed to win.

David had

  • A Willing obedient heart from God

  • God’s strength

  • People encouraging him

  • The Plan God gave him

  • Courageous Faith

David didn’t have any military training, he didn’t have a sword, armor or any other battle equipment to defeat Goliath, he just had what God intended him to use;  His sling and His Faith.   The rock sling seemed to be an unlikely choice to slay a giant, but sometimes God’s plans don’t always make sense.

 5 Ways God Equips Us to go From Victim to Victor:
1.  KnowledgeProverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Knowledge is Power.  The More we learn the more we grow.  Seek the Experts for Advice.  There is no one better expert than God.  He has provided us with the most powerful resource in the world;  The Bible.  Staying in the Word, reading our Bible daily, equips and provides for all of our needs.  Ask God, ‘please equip me with the knowledge to have a heart of understanding and wisdom to make good choices for 2018.’

2.  Strength–  2 Corinthians 12:9 “My strength is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Our weakness is God’s opportunity to display his strength.  We grow in our weaknesses.  When we step out in faith, even in our weakness, God will use it to transform it into His strength.  God will use our trials and struggles, to develop more perseverance and endurance.  Ask God, ‘help me to trust in you and step out in faith even in my weakness.’  He will use our struggles for something better, I promise.

3.  Encouragers–  Thessalonians 5:11 “Encourage one another and build each other up.”  Everyone needs someone to motivate them, push them to their upper limits.  No pain no gain.  Ask God to be surrounded with encouragers who can help motivate and help reach your goals.  God is your biggest fan you can always turn to him.

4.  A Plan–  Every adequately prepared person has a plan. Good thing God is in the plan making business.  When we live in the plan God has for our life, we are living in the best plan ever.  How to Make a Successful Plan for 2018

5.  Prayer Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”  Pray for God for help to equip you with the knowledge you need, for strength, encouraging people and to live in the plan God desires for you.

We may feel like we are facing a giant.  For 40 days no one stood up to fight Goliath because they were fearful.  They were fearful of his size, fearful of losing and fearful they may die.  The difference between the Israelites and David is he had Faith.

God will Slay our Giants if we Let Him. He will equip and prepare us for what we needClick To Tweet 

So How does one go from Victim to Victor?

When we allow God to equip us with the right tools so we will be prepared for the plan he has for us.  I promise, when we allow for God’s plans we will always be victorious.  Our goals will never be achieved if we are not prepared.  We wouldn’t jump off a boat in the middle of the ocean without a preserver just like we wouldn’t take a test without studying.

God has designed us to be VICTORIOUS!  For us to be a Victor and not a Victim!

How are you Preparing Yourself for the New Year?

Will you continue to allow your Giants to bully you?

 Or Will You Allow God’s Plan to be your Plan for Your New Year?

We don’t always have to understand God’s plan, we just need faith like David, so God can carry out his plan through us.  You are loved!

“For those who Hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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

May your New Year be Filled Abundantly more with God’s Blessings of Love, Joy, Peace and Freedom! I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.


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The Great Escape

In a few days, Christmas will be over.  Gifts will be given and presents will be opened. Just because Christmas will be over doesn’t mean the story of Jesus ends.

A very important prayer was answered over 2,000 years ago that changed the course of our lives forever.  During the time of the birth of Jesus, King Herod an appointed Roman ruler was king of Jerusalem.  He was a very ruthless and mean man.  He murdered his wife, his 3 sons, his mother-in-law, uncle, babies in Bethlehem and many others.  He was not a person the Jews wanted as their king.  They very much were waiting and praying for a new king, one that would save them from Herod’s rule (Matthew 2:1-2).

It all started with the Magi, the wise men who were following a star that predicted the birth of Jesus, the king of the Jews.  Even though the Magi were Gentiles, they went to seek Him in Jerusalem the Jewish capital city so they could worship Him (Matthew 2:2).  But after meeting with the chief priests and teachers they discovered baby Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem but born in Bethlehem.
When King Herod heard the news of a possible king being born, he was angry.  He called upon the Magi to tell them “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:7).  What the Magi didn’t know was Herod was an evil man and never had any intentions to worship the new king.
The Magi were overjoyed when they finally met baby Jesus and Mary.  They brought them gifts and bowed and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:10-11).  In their rejoicing, Satan was at work behind the scenes, using Herod as his vessel, creating a plan to have baby Jesus killed.
I love how God intervenes to protect His will and plan. 
How was baby Jesus able to escape the evil plan of the devil?

3 Ways God Intervened:

  1. God warned the Maggi about Herod’s evil plan in a dream.  The Magi decided not to return to Herod but back to their country by another route (Matthew 2:12).  Herod learned he had been outwitted by the Magi, that he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under (Matthew 2:16).
  2. God sent an angel to appear to Joseph in a dream.  The angel said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13).  So Joseph and Mary left with baby Jesus to Egypt until the death of Herod.
  3. After Herod died God sent another angel in a dream to Joseph telling him it was safe to head back to Israel (Matthew 2:19).

God was always one step ahead of Satan.  He knew Satan was using Herod for his evil plan, in an attempt to stop one of God’s greatest plans ever—God is bigger.

God heard and answered the prayers of those praying for a new king and saved (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) from the evil hand of Herod. God provided a way to escape from the plans of the evil one.  His merciful hands had it under control the entire time.
Satan will always be at work trying to prevent God’s plans from happening.  Whatever our circumstances are please know, if God is able to provide Mary, Joseph and Jesus an escape from Satan’s evil plans then God is able to do the same for us.  You are loved!
The only temptations that you have are the temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to stand it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 ICB).
God’s timing and plan are perfect in every way.  If God can answer a prayer from 2,000 years ago, He can answer yours as well.
Your Prayers Matter.  Don’t forget to include PRAYER in Your Christmas Story.   You never know what one prayer can do, it might just change your life or someone else’s.
Do you include Prayer in your Christmas Story?
What have you prayed for this Christmas?
Here is a Christmas Prayer for you.  

A Christmas Prayer-

Dear God-  Thank you for your amazing gift of Jesus this Christmas.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and sending us Savior, a Messiah one that will redeem our world.  You are so merciful and gracious.  Thank you for sparing us and delivering us from the hands of the evil one.  May your light shine through us this Christmas to others.  May they see your bright light and know you have sent them a Savior.  May everyone know and witness your love.  May everyone receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas, eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen
Enjoy your families and know you are loved!
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I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

A version of this post was first published on www.alaskachristianwomensministry.com.

Want to know more about the Christmas Story and how you can receive God’s free gift of eternal life?  Please message below, I want more information or privately message me.


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Wise Men Seek Him

 

Have you ever been behind the scenes to a concert or TV/movie set?  Going behind the scenes really gives a different perspective of what actually goes into producing a live performance or show.  You get so much more in-depth information and details about the performance going behind the scenes.

Prophecies in the Bible do the same thing–they give us a behind the scene glimpse of what is to come.  The Christmas story is the fulfillment of many prophecies foretelling the birth of our Savior.  In Micah, we learn Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.  In Isaiah, we learn Jesus would be born a king of the line of David and that a child would be born of a virgin.  One of my favorite prophecies of the Christmas story is in Psalms when we learn Kings would bring him gifts and fall down before him.

Psalm 72:10-11  “The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him;  the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts.  All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”

Over 2,000 years ago there was a lot going on behind the scenes of The Christmas Story.  Baby Jesus had already been born in Bethlehem and the Magi had already set out on their journey following the star that had come from the east (Matthew 2:1-2).

The Magi were a group of wise men probably from the area of Persia, who were some of the most intelligent men that existed during their time.  They studied astrology, maps, and stars things most of us wouldn’t pay attention to.

Have you ever wondered how did the Magi a group of Gentile men, end up in Jerusalem in search of the king of the Jews?

Matthew 2:1-1  “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him”

According to the prophecy in Psalms, the kings were to come out of Tarshish, a land very far from Jerusalem.  They merely had one single star from the east as their beacon to guide them to the location of Jesus.

It makes me wonder, how did the Magi end up in Jerusalem?  Did they have copies of Old Testament Manuscripts and closely followed the prophecies that a star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17)?  Or did they have a revelation from God Himself?

It amazes me the far distance these non-Jewish men traveled, to worship the newborn King of the Jews and how they recognized the star as the announcement of Jesus’s birth.

The Magi’s question, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?”  caused the priests and Jewish scholars to provide the answer they were looking for.  They referred to the prophecy in Micah, that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:9-10 “….After they went on their way, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star they were overjoyed.”

This star from the east was quite the miracle, now leading them to the actual house where Jesus lived!  Contrary to what modern day nativity scenes display, the Magi did not visit baby Jesus in the manger the night he was born.  Because of the distance of their travels, they did not arrive until months later.

Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

In Matthew we see the prophecy in Psalms being fulfilled–kings will present him gifts, bow down to him and all nations will serve him.   Can you even imagine traveling for months, carrying the weight of these treasures, not really knowing where you’re going and depending on a star for directions?  
The Magi went far lengths to not just offer these gifts to Jesus, but to open them in His presence.  These gifts were worthy of a king depicting the picture of what one day will be given to the Messiah.  The Magi give us a wonderful example of what distance are we willing to go to worship and give God gifts the way He has given us.  
Even the wisest men were seeking Jesus the new king.Click To Tweet

Have you opened God’s abundant gift this Christmas?

What is you’re favorite part of The Christmas Story?

Even wise men need Jesus.  I hope you enjoyed behind the scenes of The Christmas Story!  May you open the abundant gift God has given you this Christmas, the gift of Jesus!  Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

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 Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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.

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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Would you like to know more about the Christmas story and what it means to you?  Message me below, “I want more information,”  or message me privately.  Merry Christmas!

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

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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.  God knew Mary would be obedient and willing to accept God’s message.

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.

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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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3 Strategies Satan Uses Against Us

When you look at this picture what do you see?  The game of chess is an interesting game where one tries to capture the king to become the victor.  I love how the game of chess provides an opportunity for the underdog to win.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Even if all the major playing pieces are taken, it’s possible to still win.  In this game, the pawn can become a queen.  The pawn is merely an underdog until it makes its way to the other side and changes the trajectory of the game.

The game of chess requires perseverance and patience.  How many of us give up before the end of the game? Is it because we are weary and tired?  Or have we lost the confidence to believe that we can win?  In life, Satan can play us like pawns in his game of evil.  He throws temptations in our path trying to lure us away, he whispers lies in our ears to make us doubt and seduces us to believe life is better in the green grass.  He waits until we are at our weakest, most desperate moments to make his move.  He is evil and uses sneaky strategies to make us move where he wants us.  We don’t have to fall victim to Satan’s evil schemes.

3 Strategies Satan Uses Against

  1.  Unforgiveness-  Satan’s role in our lives will always be to tempt us.  When there is unforgiveness in our lives, Satan will always use this against us to tantalize us to the point of destruction.   Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to cause division and chaos in our lives.  Satan seduces us into believing holding onto unforgiveness is a better solution than forgiving others.  Forgiveness provides an open door for unity, harmony and peace in our world.  Forgiving others allows an opportunity for the underdog to win.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

2.  Making Fear greater than God.  Satan will do anything he can to elevate our fears, trying to make them greater than God.  One of his primary purposes is to instill fear in our lives and take our focus off of God.  The other day we were at the park and my daughter said, “I’m thirsty.”  I said, “There is a water fountain over there, go get a drink of water.”  My daughter said, “I want a drink of water, but there is a wasp over there.”  I went over to inspect the situation to find the wasp had already left.  I told my daughter the wasp was gone, but she would not go near the water fountain because she was still afraid she would get stung.  How many times has the enemy done this in our lives?  He instills fear in us so we can’t go where God is trying to lead us.  Even though the wasp wasn’t there anymore she still wouldn’t go near where it was.  Allowing fear to dictate and control our responses and actions will always keep us from God’s greater plans.  When Fear > God, we will always live defeated life that is stuck.  When God > Fear, we will always live a life that is filled with God’s abundance and victory.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

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What I am Most Thankful For……

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s a season for giving thanks, fellowship, serving one another and sharing a meal with each other.  It’s a time we can enjoy each other and share what we are thankful for.

Or maybe it’s not.  Maybe Thanksgiving reveals everything we don’t have and haven’t accomplished.  Thanksgiving may be like a magnifying glass examining the little details of our lives that expose everything we are not.

To cover up our flaws, we assemble the perfect table and meal, making it seem like we have it all together, but really we’re falling apart on the inside.

Can you relate?

Of course, I am thankful for my family, our health and how abundantly blessed we are.  It’s so easy to thank God when things are going well in our lives.  It’s not so easy when they are not.

When things are falling apart and I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread, I am most thankful for Jesus.  I am thankful that even in my messes, I am complete in Jesus.  Even in my suffering, I am blessed.

It’s amazing when Jesus meets us in our messes, our storms, and flaws–He turns them into life’s greatest blessings.  

If I never experienced failure, I would never know the deeper meaning of perseverance–How God makes the impossible, possible.

If I never trained for a marathon, I would never have known the power of God’s strength.

If I never went through the loss of our son, I would never experience the deeper meaning of God’s love and His glorious plan that one day we will see him again.

If I never had trials in my marriage or as a parent, I would never have realized the value in growing my patience and building a stronger foundation in Jesus.  

To remove our messes, our struggles and flaws are to remove God’s glorious blessings.  


What am I Most Thankful For?  Jesus.  

I am not thankful for my trials but am thankful to have Jesus to walk with me in my trials.

When I struggle, I think of Job.  When his cattle was destroyed he still gave thanks.  When his family was killed he still gave thanks to God.  When his crops were destroyed he gave thanks.  When his health was at stake, he gave thanks.  When everything was taken away from him, he never stopped thanking God.  His thankfulness in his devastation produced a greater blessing he could have ever received than if he focused on everything he didn’t have.

No Jesus + Everything = Nothing.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

Even when I have nothing, I have everything in Jesus.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I am nothing without Jesus.
  
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”  (1 Thes. 5:18)

Behind every trial, there is a greater blessing.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks not just for what we are grateful for.  Thank God for everything in between–the struggle, the trial and our flaws and you will be blessed beyond measure.

When we GIVE THANKS in our trials, it helps us focus on God’s GOODNESS and that His LOVE endures FOREVER.  

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1)

A Thanksgiving Prayer-  

THANK YOU, Lord Jesus, not only for our family, our health and the food we will eat this THANKSGIVING But also for our TRIALS we have endured this year.  We are not thankful for our suffering, but thankful that you are good and know what is BEST for US!

THANK YOU for giving us what we NEED not what we WANT.  You Always have the best plans ever!  THANK YOU for going AHEAD of us and PREPARING  a place for us, even in our STRUGGLES we know this is only our TEMPORARY HOME.

THANK YOU for our circumstances that are beyond our control, they TEACH US to depend and lean on you making us closer to YOU.  THANK YOU for unanswered PRAYERS, they help us to TRUST in you, in your PERFECT PLAN.

THANK YOU for WALKING with US in the fiery furnace.  If you we didn’t have your hand to hold onto we would never know you are ALWAYS with us and will NEVER leave US.  THANK YOU for your FORGIVENESS when we fail and make bad choices.  THANK YOU for your LOVE and ALWAYS being there even in our MESSES.

THANK YOU for our DESPERATE Moments when we feel like we have nothing left, we can always depend on YOUR STRENGTH.  THANK YOU for our roadblocks and detours, they show us that when we follow Jesus, He knows the WAY!

THANK YOU for our failures and losses, they show us there is no greater reward than Jesus.  THANK YOU for your perfect gift of ETERNAL LIFE!  No matter what we go through it does not compare to the glorious reward of HEAVEN when we accept Jesus as our Savior!  THANK YOU for your PERFECT LOVE AND PLAN!  AMEN

What are you Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving?

What will you give Thanks for?

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