Thursday, December 14, 2017

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophet :' The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son. And they will call him Immanuel- which means God with us.' "{Matthew 1:22-23} NIV

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." {Isaiah 7:14} NIV

Isaiah the prophet lived about a thousand years before the coming of the Messiah. His writings are overflowing with prophesies about the coming King. Isaiah had no idea the time frame that God had in mind when he was given these wonderful words. This did not change how amazing or important the truth would be. Time has a way of eroding our faith if we are not careful.

The book of Isaiah can be difficult to read at times because the prophet is given words that describe Jesus in his first and second coming. In his first coming, we see Jesus as the suffering servant. In his second coming we will see Jesus as the victorious King.

Just as the people of Israel waited for the coming of the Messiah in his first coming, so you and I wait for his second coming. We have been given the Holy Spirit to fill us with his presence, and so He is "with us" in the spiritual sense, but will also be in the physical. "The with of God" as  Bible teacher Beth Moore calls Jesus, has left the comforter, to give us peace and grace in times of need.
I don't know about you, but I need his felt presence everyday.

I have a feeling you are saying "amen" to that as you are reading this right now. In this world we will have tribulation, and we need to know that Jesus will never,{No never} leave us. Leaving is not in his DNA. It is so foreign to God that he cannot do this. If we feel distant to him, guess who moved? If you need to, make things right with God right now.

We don't know what a day may bring. Life in God is not about our feelings, but the gift of the Holy Spirit is freely given so that we know we are never alone. Allowing God to move in us brings joy and peace to us and many others that we touch everyday. Say yes to whatever He may be saying to you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"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."  
{Matthew 1:21}

 Joseph must have thought that his ears were not hearing what the angel said. "You mean, this child will be the long awaited Messiah?" I can't imagine the expression on his face! Thousands of years have gone by, and I get to be the one to raise the Savior of the world? He will be thought of as my son? I think he probably thought about this for a minute, and then ran to find Mary.

"Mary needs to know that I believe her now. She must know that I will not divorce her, and that we can be safe because God is with us."Peace must have filled his heart, as well as excitement for the life that would be ahead. What a miracle, he might have thought as joy and exuberance flooded his soul. If anyone but an angel told him this story, he wouldn't have believed. Would you have believed Mary?

I don't see how I could say that I would believe such a thing. This was the first move of God in 400 years. The time between the old and new testament was 400 years of silence. God did not speak through a prophet, or do any miracles. Maybe Mary and Joseph were so hungry to see God, and to know him, that their faith was just in the right place to believe. 

Perhaps anyone else would have shuttered in  fear. I think God prepared Mary and Joseph long before this time and of course God knew before each was born the importance of their lives. These parents were ordinary people like you and I. No one would have pointed to one of them as a future leader. Thankfully God doesn't look on the outside, but at the heart.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"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 as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."       {Matthew 1:20}

I don't know about you, but having an angel visit is not my idea of a relaxing time. Most heavenly visitations are not of little cherebs with cute chubby cheeks.  They do not look like babies in diapers, and are not a friendly sight! Usually an angel comes with a frightening size, and a deafening voice. This is why you hear each one say, "Do not be afraid."

I suppose having an angel speak to you in a dream may take some of the shock away. This angelic creature only tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Hopefully this dispels any sorrow that he may have had from thinking Mary was unfaithful. What a turn of events for our friend Joseph! 

In the beginning of the chapter he is planning on marrying Mary. He is told by her that she is expecting a child by the Holy Spirit, which he doesn't believe. Now, he is planning a divorce. The poor man must have been frazzled, but wait, we don't know that for sure. Maybe the voice of the angel was peaceful, and reassuring and he felt calm. We may never know because scripture doesn't tell us.We know that as a rule an angelic visitation is no laughing matter.

We can guess that Joseph went for an emotional roller coaster ride. I think he may have needed to stop and take a deep breathe before he found Mary to tell her about his dream. I would think she breathed a huge sigh of relief when told by Joseph that he believed her  initial report. 

God is good at turning around the worst circumstances and making them complete. Both of our precious friends are tried to the max with this situation. Mary and Joseph are amazing people, but were also human like you and I. God knew each would need to really lean on Him to get through the situations ahead. Can we lean on Jesus in our circumstances? We surely can, and God wants us to look to Him in every aspect of life. Thank God for His indescribable gift!

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her  to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  {Matthew 1:19}

Joseph was considered Mary's husband. It is a bit confusing but that was the culture of the people. A marriage was a betrothal, and in our thinking that would be an engagement. When researching this I found that it is almost the same. Why was the word husband used here, I cannot figure out, except that it is the original word used.

Sweet Joseph thinks that Mary has betrayed him with another man. This must have been heart breaking for him. Even in his pain, he is a good man and doesn't want to harm her. He truly was a good husband, one that would be able to handle the rigors of raising the Messiah.

 Joseph couldn't think of having Mary stoned for her betrayal. Public disgrace would make her a fornicator, and her family would also live with that label for a long time. If she had done such a thing, would she even be allowed to stay with her family?

I shutter to think what the consequences might have been for this young girl of 15. Her maturity far outweighs what a teen in our culture would be at this age. She was considered an adult, and all of her upbringing prepared her for the life of a wife in Israel at that time.

 I have tried to put myself in her shoes, but I know so little about what life was like in that day. We know that God's grace was upon her, and he held her steady through all that happened. Maybe one day I will ask her to explain it all to me, when I get to heaven. What would you like to ask her?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Watercolor Christmas Floral Set - Illustrations - 7

"Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."   { Matthew 1:18}

There is no story that can match the story of Jesus's life. How he was brought to this earth, how he lived and what he said are unique to him alone. This could be said of any life, but none stand out in the miraculous power of God like Jesus. No life was born of a virgin, one with God, and yet fully man at the same time, but Jesus.

In Mary's pledge to Joseph, it would have been fine if they had sexual relations before the final ceremony. It was acceptable in the culture of the day for this to happen. Joseph knew that it hadn't occurred, and thought that Mary had been unfaithful. Nothing could have bee farther from the truth. Can you blame him for not believing her story?

Who had ever heard of such a thing, except from the lips of those who had been unfaithful. Every girl in Israel wanted to be the mother of Messiah, Savior of Israel. The work of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be understood with our heads. There is no sensible  way to understand what God does by His Spirit. There isn't a book in the world that can teach us how God does what He does. Faith believes beyond what is seen, into what is not.

Faith stands on its own, because it is not based on anything of this world.The spiritual truths of the universe are true whether or not we believe them. Our unity with God is born out of faith in the unseen truths that hold the universe together. The Holy Spirit doesn't need us to believe. We need the Holy Spirit to believe, to have life, that is everlasting. 
Until Christmas, I hope to take a verse relating to this miraculous time in history and expound on it. Please send it to friends, relatives, neighbors or anyone who you think would be blessed by it. If interested, your friends can receive these e-mails in their inbox by going to and adding their e-mail to the list on the right side of the page. Blessings and love during this precious time. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"I will extol the Lord at all times, his praise will always be on my lips."

Some days go along without a problem, and then other days, seem to fall apart.The challenge is to keep my heart from complaining when everything seems to be up side down. God's word is true no matter how I feel or what goes wrong. It is usually "the little foxes that spoil the vine,"as Song of Solomon 2:15 says. These are the things that can get under our skin. 

The grape vines were especially vulnerable  during the harvest, because of their sweetness. Everyone wants grapes that are just right to the taste. Sour grapes ruin our taste for anything else. Unfortunately, the varmints in the land feel the same way.These "little" foxes can run quickly in and out of the vines undetected.They grab here and there, until the vine looks like it has been in a war zone.

We can choose to put aside these small annoyances, or allow each and every little thing chew away at us. Praising God and keeping our focus on Him allows us the pleasure of forsaking every little 
fox easily. Who wants to take their eyes off of heaven to contend with a pesky interference? It happens to me though, when  my guard is down. 

Here I am, writing to you. I'm not paying attention to my little west highland terrier Lena, who has bladder issues. I am not watching her as she urinates at my feet onto my kitchen floor. How is that for timing? I can thank God for a perfect example, or I could get mad. I have chosen not to entertain the "mad" because I enjoy writing to you more than going with that negative. I know I can't always be attentive to my Lena, so I clean the floor, and write some more. You are very precious to me, and I can't get caught up in the foxes. One does not know what a day may bring!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you." {Psalm 33:22}

We had our yearly Christmas Tea last Friday at our church. We transform the school gym into a holiday wonderland, and with the lights down low, you would never know that just a few hours before stinky, sweaty teens were running about with a basketball. Our speaker was Ellie Lofaro, who had been a member of our church 24 years ago, before she "bonded with the blond ladies of Virginia," as she says.

Ellie shared about love, as the world sees it, according to songs that are all familiar to us. The Beatles, "all you need is love", "I love you Babe," by Sonny and Cher, but these fall flat when we realize that this type of love is temporary, and nebulous. Nebulous means cloudy, unclear or vague. If all you need is love,  why did drugs play a major role in their lives? No offense to those of you who are Beatles lovers. My point is, what kind of love did they have, and why was it not enough for them?

It wasn't the unfailing kind of love that only comes from Jesus himself. Today, most of the current music isn't about love, but negative, in the sense of break ups and failed relationships. Where is the happy medium? I guess when it comes to music you have to look at the culture that drives it. Relationships that are based on sexual love only don't last according to statistics, because there is no depth of soul, and lack of true relationship.

The love we long for, every human on the face of this earth, is heavenly in nature. It is unfailing, endures trials, and sin, and comes out on the other side unscathed. It never leaves, never fails, and never falls apart. This love, is given in everlasting waves of goodness when our lives are surrendered to God. The enemy of our souls has blinded many to think that God is all about rules, and that His love and favor is conditional. The only condition he desires is unrelenting surrender, and everything else falls in place.

Monday, December 4, 2017

This fountain is quite different from the one I posted last week. Very formal, as it stands on the grounds of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. There is a wall of fountains just like this one, that travels about a 1,000 feet or more along the front of the property. Larger fountains cover the top of this wall, and dance to music at night, in the summer.

I suppose you could say I like fountains, but what interests me even more is the power of the a Holy Spirit in how he presents water as a healer and liberator. Water brings restoration to weary bodies in times of drought. It sweetly sprinkles on us in the heat of day. It brings pleasure as people for many generations have basked in its waves floated in boats, rafts,  kayaks and what have you.

Water is always associated with washing, but then we can’t wash without soap, unless we are talking about the Holy Spirit. He has never needed soap to make us clean. His style of cleansing meets us in a way that never had to be repeated. Once he gets hold of us, we are never the same. The work that God does with His cleansing, it lasts for eternity. Once he takes our sin, it is washed even if others try to remember them.

No one can forget like God. Does that surprise you, that God forgets? He does. He forgets sin that has been confessed and made clean, from a humble heart. Sorrow over our sin is a godly sorrow, that is never mentioned again.  Can we forgive ourselves? This is sometimes the much harder thing.Ask Jesus to help you, because he has been helping other for many years with the same problems. He knows.