Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Week 4 Love

Luke 1:26-38

God sends his messenger Gabriel to see a young Jewish girl who was engaged to be married and to bring her extraordinary news.  When the verses begin with Elizabeth and end with Elizabeth.  There is connection because they are relatives and because of these pregnancies are beyond human doing or ability.  Elizabeth because of her advanced age and Mary because she was a virgin.

Gabriel tells Mary who this child will be.  Mary then asks a similar question to that of Zechariah, which is how is the possible?  Gabriel’s reaction to the young Mary is different from the reaction to the experienced Zechariah.  Gabriel explains that it will be the work of the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Most High will overshadow her.  I am sure this was a lot for Mary to take in, being engaged, this was certainly complicated at best and scandalous if word gets out.

Gabriel also shares about Elizabeth, her relative who was six months pregnant.  Elizabeth remained secluded for five months!  I believe Gabriel’s sharing about Elizabeth allows Mary to understand, “nothing is impossible with God.”  She could then go and find out that God was faithful from Elizabeth.  She acknowledges that she is a willing servant of God.

It is important to share what God is doing in so we can give him glory, encourage others, and show our faithfulness to the one who is faithful for us.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Week 4 Love

Luke 1:5-25

Have you ever heard something that seemed too good to be true?  That deal that you find advertised on the internet.  The car dealership on the television.  The promise of lifelong love and friendship.  The promise of new life.  The life of Christ for my sins.

Some things may be advertised at so good as to not be believed, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less true.  We should all be aware of deals that seem too good, but things that are gifts of God we should believe to be true.  Gifts like friendship, love, new life, and new life in Christ are evidence of God at work in the world today.

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were older and while serving in the temple God sent him a message.  Gabriel tells Zechariah that he and his wife will have a son and he will be an extraordinary man.  You will not call him Junior, but John.  In the face of God’s messenger Zechariah has a very human response, “How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Gabriel tells him that he stands in God’s presence and have been sent to bring this good news.  Now you will be unable to speak until you say his name, John, at his birth.  Elizabeth does become pregnant and for five months remains in seclusion.  They were in a time of waiting, hoping, and anticipating.  Zechariah was given news too good to be true and rather than sharing it he questioned it initially.  What will you do with the good news of Christ Jesus?  Is it too good to be true, or will you share it with all the world?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week 4 Love

Revelation 21:1-7

It is a wonderful thing to belong.  I feel the most loved where I feel like I belong.  Maybe you are different from me but my suspicion is that most want to feel love and that they belong.  Belonging is not just about a place but also about people.  I belong here and I belong to.  When I think about home, I find that my belonging is tied more to my family than a place.  How does this help us as we think about God?

The scripture begins with, then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth.”  The place or landscape will change.  The comfort comes later in the verses, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people and God himself will be their God.”  The place does not seem to matter it is that our belonging is not found in a place but in our relationship to him, our Father.

When we are with him there will be no more sorrow, crying, pain, or death, and he will wipe away all our tears.  He is a loving Father.

He is making everything new.  Things are changing but he will be with us and he is the agent of that change.  “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

The children will inherit from their Father, because they belong to him.  Do you know the loving Father?  Do you belong to him?  Your belonging is not to a place but in our relationship to the Father.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week 4 Love

John 3:16-21

God loved the world that includes you and me, that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  It is God’s love for us that gives us life.  Jesus makes it clear that his coming into the world was not for condemning the world but salvation.

There are many people who cannot see that we are already condemned in our sin and have a penalty, death.  The one that doesn’t believe in him remains in the condition they are in.

The scripture tells us about God’s love for us, sending his Son.  The scripture also tells us many people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  They wanted their own way.  Rather than trusting in Christ for salvation, they chose their own way, leaving them separated from the one who loves them.

Whoever loves and lives by the truth of God will come to him and embrace the light and receive salvation.

God loves you and sent his Son to save you.

Some people love darkness and their own way.

Whoever loves and lives by the truth will come to him and be saved.

Do you love the one who loves you?  He came to save and died that you may live.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Week 3 Joy

James 1:2-5

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

When I think of the trials of life, those little things that test us I don’t often associated the word joy with it.  Trials in life are things that push us to our limits and we may crack up or hold up under the strain.  Many believe it is the ability to hold up that make us a better or stronger person.  What if it is not about us?

Trials may have little to do with our ability to overcome the strain, and more to do with our level of trust.  Trials will happen in all our lives but when we begin to think that we must overcome them all by our own power it only proves that we desire to live by our merit and not his grace.

When the trials come, we consider it joy, because it is an opportunity to see God at work in our lives.  He delivers us through the trial.  We may breakdown on our own, but God will not abandon us in the trial.  It is in the trial that we persevere, and mature in our trusting of God for all of life.

It is not how we pull ourselves up or push through.  The trials of life are opportunities for us to trust the one who will overcome, Jesus Christ.  Consider it pure joy then, whenever you face trials, because it is not our resolve that is being tested but our faith in the one who has overcome.  Do find joy in trusting in the trials?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Week 3 Joy

Luke 1:44

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

The scripture for today is when Mary goes to see her cousin Elizabeth.  Mary and Elizabeth were blessed, in different, but extraordinary ways.  Elizabeth was older and unable to have children and yet God shared with her husband that they would have a child.  Not only a child but this child would grow to be the forerunner of Jesus.  He would be the one preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry and mission in the world.

Mary was a young woman pledged to be married to Joseph.  She was still a virgin and yet the Lord through his wonderful ways allowed her to bring forth his Son into the world.  Mary and Elizabeth were cousins.  This family was experiencing unique and extraordinary working of God in their lives.

Mary goes to stay with her cousin Elizabeth and at the sound of Mary’s voice the John, still in his mother’s womb, jumped for joy.  Joy seems to be a physical expression most of the times, leaping, jumping, skipping, and singing.  John, not yet born, responded in joy to being near to Jesus.  How do we respond to the extraordinary presence of Jesus in the world today?  Does joy fill your heart and move your feet?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Week 3 Joy

Isaiah 51:11

I have through the years seen many people cry for many different reasons.  Some have cried from physical pain of being hurt or a medical problem.  Others have cried out from emotional strain or stress.  Even a few times I have seen people cry for joy.

The cry for joy could be a long-awaited response to the relief of one of these other reasons why people may cry.  It is amazing to me, crying is very much like the overflowing of the heart.  When cup is full it begins to overflow.  It is this overflow our outflow that seems to be part of how we deal with things in this world.

Hear the words of Isaiah, “Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”  It is wonderful to know that in the Lord gladness and joy will overtake us.  Sorrow and sighing will not take over us, but gladness and joy will overtake us.  Sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Have you even been overwhelmed by gladness and joy?  Dear friend, do not let sorrow and sighing take over your lives.  Trust the Lord and allow the gladness and joy of the Lord to overtake your life.   Do not be overwhelmed by the world, but amazed at the joy of the Lord.