Walking By Faith

2 Corinthians 5.pngTherefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith and not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that we each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but we have good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father’s house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay, in which our souls now dwell; that are moldering and decaying, whose foundations are in the dust. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan, being burdened with a body of sin, and because of the many corruptions remaining and raging within them. Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as end all our troubles here below. But believing souls shall be clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort. And though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be. Faith is for this world, and sight is for the other world. It is our duty, and it will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we live by sight. This shows clearly the happiness to be enjoyed by the souls of believers when absent from the body, and where Jesus makes known his glorious presence. We are related to the body and to the Lord; each claims a part in us. But how much more powerfully the Lord pleads for having the soul of the believer closely united with himself! Thou art one of the souls I have loved and chosen; one of those given to me. What is death, as an object of fear, compared with being absent from the Lord. We need to continue to focus our eyes on Jesus on a daily basis and yes I know that is not an easy thing to do. This is why it is important for us Christians to continue in being in fellowship with each other, reading scriptures and having a prayer life each and everyday. And by doing so our faith becomes stronger one day at a time.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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A Season to Change

Isaiah 11.pngA shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with the righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give with justice he will give decision for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.        Isaiah 11:1-5                          I will baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, who sandals, I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirt.                                              Matthew 3:11

Once again, we have entered into the season of advent, anticipating the birth of Jesus and hoping that soon very soon that the promise of peace on earth would become true, but can we change our own lives if not the world. As we stop and look into the manager of a tiny little baby perhaps we can say to ourselves what does this all mean. We can pick up a newspaper, watch the television to take notice and to say where is this peace on earth? So much violence in our world and at times so much hate, where is this love that people seems to be talking about especially that we seem to hear it more during this season. As we begin to prepared for this season in many ways such as baking with our children or grandchildren, going shopping in a crowded mall where at times people can be a little crazy, okay you may be thinking they can be nuts at times, the beautiful lights we all see, and the music that is playing on our car radio, and even the movies on television which reminds all of us this season. I personally love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree in my home, which reminds me of the season. Are all the different traditions that we have in our own families does this tell others and also us that we are ready to make a change in our own lives? Are we showing others of what we do or say that we are followers of Jesus, we are his disciples. Even thro this is a beautiful season there are so many people who are hurting this time of year and need to hear about the hope we have in Jesus. Christmas is a profoundly beautiful season, but for some it also highlights the losses, griefs, and heartbreaks in their lives. In Isaiah 11, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a ruler who would be a descendant of Jesse. Jesse was the father of ancient Israel’s great King David. This descendant would rule with true justice and true faith, and he would establish true peace. This peace would be so great that even wild animals would be able to lie down next to one another and even a child will lead them. This descendant would also become a standard for people throughout the world. And, this descendant would be sought by people throughout the world. As Isaiah talks about this future King, he is telling us that he will be able to look into the hearts of people and judge based on the truth. The poor and oppressed will find a champion in him. This ruler to come will stand for justice and will impose punishment of evildoers. This King will not be clothed in royal purple or anything so fancy, his garments will be righteousness and faithfulness. As we heard from the gospel of Matthew we come to learn that John the Baptize was the one to prepared the way of the coming of the Lord. In most households when someone says, “Company’s coming! Everyone works and clean up the entire house in preparation of their guest. The gospel of Matthew has John proclaiming, “Messiah is coming! But do not go and clean up your house. Instead, mend your heart! Clear your lives of any obstacle that would hinder his coming.” Housework requires the right tools to use. The type of tools John has in mind are repentance and baptism. Repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means change of mind, to change one’s life completely. Repentance is like driving down the wrong road, then turning around and going in the opposite direction. Baptism is the symbol that one has repented and been cleansed of sin. This was important to John’s ministry that he became known as John the Baptizer. How do we, as followers of Jesus Christ, return the purpose of Christmas to the focus of Jesus? How do we prepare for his birth and for the second coming, it is not by having parties, decorating our houses, and giving gifts wrapped in fancy paper, but instead by giving ourselves anew over to the way of Christ? I suppose giving ourselves over to Jesus Christ begins with God’s gift of grace to us. It is something we feel inside. Some call it a moment of conversion. Others call it baptism by the Holy Spirit. John Wesley the founder of Methodist called it assurance. Maybe during the season of Advent, we could call it the Spirit of Christ coming into our hearts. But whatever we call it, we will know when it happens to us, because it does cause us to confess our sins and turn ourselves away, over and over, from the trappings of this world so that we can reorient ourselves back toward Christ.

Grace and Peace yo You My Friends

 

The White Christmas Stocking

15326559_1498968713451506_7971938639799325705_n                                        I  came across this article about the White Christmas Stocking that I felt I wanted to share it with others who came across my blog post.

                                       THE WHITE STOCKING (adapted by Carolyn Cox, Canberra)

‘Twas the night before Christmas as I walked through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The presents had been wrapped and placed under the tree

I paused, tired, excited, and then giggled with glee.

The stockings were hanging and were beautifully filled

No one had been forgotten, though the credit card was billed.

As I looked at the scene with the stockings on the ledge.

I noticed one was empty, the one on the edge.

Where’s the Spirit of Christmas – What have I done?

The children’s stockings are all full, except for this one

It was the stocking intended for the child of Bethlehem.

The White stocking for Jesus that was hung up by them.

Of all the people at Christmas, that might be forgotten

How could I not remember the Fathers Only Begotten?

Only He had been left out of the festivities.

As we planned and prepared all, for our families.

As I pondered, I realized this just was not right!

It was His birth that was being celebrated, after this night

I resolved then and there to remember the Lord

And quickly made changes that were easy to afford.

I hung the white stocking in a special place in our home.

And corrected the atmosphere to provide a more spiritual tone.

On Christmas morning I gathered the family together

And each of us wrote on a special piece of paper,

We gave Jesus a gift which we placed in the stocking.

A sincere change of heart, not there for the mocking.

The white stocking hung in our home as a symbol for us

Of the true meaning of Christmas – the Savior, The Lord Jesus

So take your white stocking and hang it with pride

Remember the Savior, put his gift inside

(The White Stocking found at motivatedmamas.net)

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

Matthew 1.pngThis is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”) When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lo0rd had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And He gave him the name Jesus.                                                           Matthew 1:18-25) NIV

I wanted to take a moment to consider the faithfulness of Joseph. We hear a lot about Mary, and rightly so. She was, after all, the mother of Jesus, the only person constant in the life of Jesus from the cradle to the grave. But what do we know about Joseph? In all the New Testament he never utters a word. Yet, he’s one of the principle figures in the Christmas drama. And so, let’s take just a moment to give Joseph his due. Tradition has it that Joseph was a simple man of an honorable trade: A carpenter from Nazareth. Sometimes you see Sunday school pictures showing him in a wood shop making furniture. But “carpenter” in Joseph’s day referred to a wide range of trades. Joseph could have just as easily worked with metal or stone, as with wood. The regional capital, Sepphoris, was under construction during this time, and it was within walking distance of Nazareth. It’s possible that Joseph was one of the stone masons there.
In any case, craftsmen worked with strong shoulders and callused hands. They were educated by apprenticeship. Their place was respectable but not on one of the higher rungs of the social ladder. Remember the flap in the synagogue in Nazareth when Jesus preached his first sermon? The elders raised their eyebrows and asked, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon?” (Mark 6:3).Jesus’ father was neither a rabbi nor a scribe nor one of the civic leaders. He had but two qualifications to play a part in the Christmas drama – he was a descendent of David and, for whatever reason, he was God’s choice. In this regard, I like to think that Joseph is someone with whom we can all identify – a common man who dared to be obedient to God’s will for his life.
His place in the Christmas story, of course, is that of Mary’s husband. According to Matthew, Joseph and Mary were “betrothed,” but not yet married. William Barclay explains that there were three steps in a Jewish marriage: The engagement, which was often arranged by the parents through a matchmaker when the boy and girl were children; the betrothal, which was a formal ratification of the marriage-to-be, usually done a year before the couple was married; and the wedding itself, which lasted a whole week, at which time the marriage was consummated. During the betrothal, the couple was legally bound to each other so that, if the man died before the actual wedding took place, the woman was considered to be a widow. They were actually referred to as husband and wife, though they refrained from having sexual relations. And then, in one further act of faithfulness and obedience to God, Joseph publicly named the child. Matthew says simply, “he named him Jesus.” In so doing, he claimed the child as his own and gave him the benefit of a noble ancestry, making him a descendent of the house of David. Because of the faithfulness of Joseph, Jesus would have a father and Joseph would have a place in the drama of God’s salvation.

Grace and Peace to you My Friends

 

 

 

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Luke 1b.pngAt that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting. the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for hoy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.                                     Luke 1:39:56

When one thinks of the women of the ancient world, our first emotional response is usually pity. This would even be true in the Jewish world of those days when our Lord added humanity to His deity and manifested Himself to men. There was so much that women could not do, or at least were not allowed to do. We might suspect that the limitations of biblical revelation, compounded by those of the culture, would have made womanhood a curse. The men assumed the leadership roles, especially in spiritual matters. The women seemed only fit for fixing meals and bearing children. Perhaps a few women, “blessed” by financial prosperity and social standing, may have been able to enjoy some of the benefits of the male world. Luke is well-known for his high regard for women and for the prominence which he gives them in his two accounts. We find the first instance of his highlighting of women in our text in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, where the spotlight is directed toward two godly women. The two women are Elizabeth, the soon-to-be mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother-to-be of Messiah, were truly great and godly women. Both were humble women of no social or economic standing. Elizabeth was the wife of an obscure priest. Both she and Zacharias were country people, who lived in an unnamed village in the hill country of Judah. The bore the added social stigma of having no children. No doubt in the minds of some they were being punished by God for some sin. Mary, too, was a humble peasant girl. She did not have any social standing due to her parentage or class, nor even the dignity of Elizabeth and Zacharias age. Yet the worship of both of these women is such that they are models for all true disciples of our Lord. By reading these words in the Gospel of Luke I believe that as long as anyone including a woman has a willing heart God will use them to glorified his kingdom.

Grace and Peace to You My Friend

 

John The Baptist Birth Foretold

Luke 1.pngIn the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s  division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not ne afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of their parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Zechariah asked the angel, How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not be able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.               Luke 1:5-20

In Biblical times it was a disappointed for a woman not to have her own children and for others to look down upon Elizabeth because she was barred. However, little did they know of or anyone else know the plan that was in place by God. The child that was to be born to Elizabeth and Zechariah called John was to be the one chosen to prepared God’s people for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even through they had no children they never doubt that somehow or someway that God would bless them, and that God was the one true God, “The Great I Am” that was told by Moses, and by other prophets. Can you even try to imagine the joy that was in Elizabeth’s heart when she came to realize that she was with child even pass the child bearing years. Jesus’ own words to his disciples later in his life would be, “With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)  Because regardless of your situation in your life right now at this very moment, all things are possible with God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Hope

Romans 12.pngLove must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Hope at times we humans have when trouble comes our way, but God wants us to stay hopefully and always in prayer even in the difficult times. When painful circumstances are weighing you down, God wants us to continue to Rejoice in him, “The Great I Am”, to exalt in hope, to leap joyously upward. Although physical jumping is sometimes impossible or inappropriate, your soul can leap upward at any time. As you life your soul up to God in hopeful anticipation. God showers of joy falls upon and within you. The longer and more expectantly you wait in his presence, the more abundantly he can bless you. One way to enhance this transaction is to lift your wide open arms up towards God, as if you were celebrating a triumphant moment in your life. This posture expresses great joy, and God respond by filling your soul with more joy. This puts you on an upward spiral of rejoicing. If you want to verbalize your jubilation, one of the best ways is to speak, sing, or shout, for me I rejoice in singing Praises the Father in Heaven for who he is and for all he has done for me, because everyday is a blessing that comes from him. When some days become difficult for me to move forward I continue to praise him and be in prayer, and the Spirit will speak on my behalf when I cannot find the words.

Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Psalm 86:4

Grace and Peace to You My Friends