Looking Ahead into the New Year…

Biblical Prayer, Essentials, Start Here, Woman of the Word

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Hello again! Here we find ourselves at the close of another year and looking ahead to the next. So much, I am sure, has transpired in your life this past year, whether good or bad, it has been used to get you to this point in your Christian journey. Looking back on my own life, the trials and blessings that took place in 2018 were not something I ever would have chosen for myself or for those around me, but I give all glory to God for His wisdom and foresight into what is necessary in fashioning me after His design.

As we begin our lives in 2019, let’s take a moment to reflect on where we are at in our relationship with the Lord and what we would like to see happen, or be different in our lives. Personally, I would love to know what God’s vision is for my life and what He is calling of me to do at this particular moment before I proceed to make my own “resolutions”.

In church yesterday, our pastor spoke on Revelation 3:14-22 which Jesus addresses the church of Laodicia. He spoke about having the Lord anoint our eyes with His eye salve to give us His vision for the New Year. This was so encouraging to me, and I sure to many of those in attendance. And yet, it left me wondering if, will God truly give us a vision for the future? What happens when it seems like I only have a small task to accomplish, does that mean God is displeased with me? Why doesn’t God give us the complete picture for our lives all at once?

The beautiful thing about our Lord is He is faithfulness to minister to His children and to reveal His will and plan to us if we are, not only willing to hear Him, but to obey Him as well! This morning in my personal devotions (going through a new “read the Bible in a year” plan) I was in the book of Joshua chapters 1-5, where God is leading Joshua to become the new leader of the Israelites. The passage in Chapter 1, where the Lord encourages Joshua to not be afraid and be of good courage three times. He promises to never leave nor forsake him (Joshua 1:5), and that he must meditate on the Word of God day and night that he would be able to observe to do all that is commanded in it (verse 7). This is the same promise we have as the church today, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself 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 13:5-6)  With this incredible promise, we can proceed in our walk with the Lord with such confidence in God’s faithfulness and His promise to be with us as we seek to please Him by reading and obeying His Word.

After this promise was given to Joshua, God commanded him to do some pretty radical things in bring the Israelites into the Promised Land. What the Lord brought to my mind this morning as I was reading and praying, was that God only revealed each subsequent step of His plan to Joshua only after he obeyed the first command given to him. We read in Chapter 1 verses 10 through 16, Joshua making plans to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. He addresses the three tribes who were given the land, the Ruebenites, the Gadites and half the tribe of Manassah,  on that side of the Jordan, to go to battle with their fellow Israelites to help them possess the land on the other side of the river. I love the passage in verse 16 where, after the three tribes agree to go with them and as they do, they remind Joshua to be strong and of good courage, thus repeating God’s command He gave to Joshua in Chapter 1.  He served under Moses as he led the Israelites out of their bondage to Egypt, and saw the many miracles performed through Moses. Now, Joshua is faced with leading these people into the Promised Land, after his leader and mentor had passed on from this life. I am sure Joshua was grieving the loss of his teacher, and wondering what the Lord had in mind for him and his people.

The passing of another year reminds us of where we were, the things we learned and the failings of our flesh, and looking ahead to the unknown. It is important to not get stuck in the past,  but to look on to the future with the assurance of God’s presence in our lives.  Much like Joshua could have been stuck looking to his past and how much better things were when Moses was there. The pressure of performing wasn’t there and he could trust Moses to make the tough decisions. We need to not remain in our current state in our walk with the Lord. Our goal should be growth, to not be the same person we were the year before, and embrace the calling placed on our lives for this season.

Joshua faced many uncertainties, as he looked ahead and saw the insurmountable obstacles that were in his way. Instead of focusing on the things around him, he began his new ministry with obedience and reliance on the Lord, a recipe for success for any believer. He began the preparations for crossing over the Jordan River even though he didn’t know how the Lord would do get them across.  Two spies were sent out to search out the city of Jericho directly on the other side of the river, and were sovereignly protected by the Lord through the harlot, Rahab. While they were there, they heard of the terror that the people of Jericho had towards the Israelites,  and knew of the miracles performed by God on their behalf. (Joshua 2:9-11) When the spies returned to Joshua with their report, I’m sure it bought comfort to him.

The Bible tells us in Chapter 3 verse 1, that Joshua rose early in the morning to prepare the people to cross over the Jordan, no delaying, but acting swiftly and doing all that God commanded him to do. After Joshua prepared to cross, the Lord spoke to him again, promising to exalt him in the sight of Israel as Moses had been, but only after the Levites took up the ark and stood in the Jordan. What would have happened in Joshua complained and questioned God’s method? “God, how are we going to get across? What about the cities on the other side? Aren’t You going to tell me what I need to do?” How often do we question God and fail to take Him at His Word? I know I do more than I’d like to admit.

Is there a “river” that you need to cross in your walk as a believer?  Are struggling to obey Him? Are there fortified cities of depression, fear, or anger standing in your way even after you cross over that prevents you from proceeding? I challenge you dear sister or brother, to step out into the unknown, into that river, and only then will you be given the next set of directions from the Lord. Once the Levites, with the ark of the Lord, stepped into the Jordan, the waters were cut off from their source and the people were able to cross over on dry ground (Joshua 3:15-17), a truly amazing feat made possible only by our Lord.

After this, we find God speaking to Joshua again. He commanded him to gather 12 leaders from the tribes to collect 12 stones, and set them up as a memorial for future generations of God’s faithfulness. They were to tell their children of how the waters of the Jordan stood still and the people crossed on dry ground (Joshua 4:1-7).  Let’s think of a way we can apply this to our lives today.  Let’s think of these 12 stones as the 12 months of the year and that you could write down the blessings in your own life and set them us as a reminder. These 12 stones, or months in our case, served a great purpose in not only the lives of those setting them up but also for the generation’s to come.  These memorials are also called “Ebenezer stones” referenced in 1 Samuel 7:12, “And Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Jehovah has helped us now.”.  It is essential for us, who know the Lord, to have reminders for ourselves of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Let’s be laying the groundwork for spiritual success for this next generation through encouragement and prayer. Otherwise, they will be getting their purpose and vision from the world and the enemy of our faith.

For this coming year, my friend,  I pray that you would be obedient to the task or tasks the Lord is calling you to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to you, to trust the natur eand goodness of our Heavenly Father (Proverbs 3:5-6)  It is often only after we step out in faith that the Lord reveals the next part of His plan to us! Let us also pray that the Lord would show us the Ebenezer stones He would have us set up in our lives as a memorial of God’s love and faithfulness to us each month of this coming year.

God bless you in this new year and in your relationship with the Lord. Let us make sure we fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith and not be pulled to the right or to the left, for when we do, we will find rest for our souls and success in our lives.

 

 

Salvation: God’s Incredible Gift

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Before we can even dive into topics of faith, the Bible, and the like, we need to deal with one very important topic. If you were to pass from this life this very momen,t where would you spend eternity? Do you know for a fact where your destiny lies? Or is it a topic you try to avoid like the plague?

The current state of the world, and things in it, are trending towards decay and sin. Sin is willful disobedience of God and going against His commands. We are born sinful beings.

The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10 “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no not one.'”  The result of this sin is a separation from God. We can no longer speak with/for God, for He can have no sin before Him.

Romans 3:23 ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Furthermore, the penalty for this sin in our lives is death. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”  But our story doesn’t stop there! Even while in this state of sinfulness and separation, God, realizing that we could never be holy as He is holy and would never be able to cleanse ourselves of the stench of sin, sent His Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to be made right with God. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”

In order for us to accept this gift we need to understand and confess that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” 

It’s that simple!! Remember it is a child-like faith that the Lord calls us to have. Romans 10:13, “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  

  1. Realize that we are sinners separated from God.
  2. Confess these sins to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness.
  3. Ask Jesus to come and live in their heart and make us to be like Him 

If you prayed and asked Jesus to forgive you and to come live in your heart, you are now saved! Welcome to the family of God. I am so happy to have you as a sister or brother in Christ. Please let me know if you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior,  so I can now pray for you and for your growth in your new life.

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Who is Jesus?

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The crux on which our life begins or ends in lies in one person: Jesus Christ. Who is this Jesus that is written about in the Bible? Why do I need to know about Him?

According to Flavius Josephus, a famous Jewish historian, in his Antiquities he refers to James, “The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”  One particular version reads, “At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” Josephus was not a believer in Jesus as Savior of the world, but he does help support the truth of Jesus actually being here on earth and confirming passages in the Bible pertaining to Him.

Who is Jesus according to the Bible?

  1. He has always existed, having no beginning; John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
  2. He was fully man: 1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes ,which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life”; John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
  3. He is fully God: Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ “; Matthew 28: 18, “And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given in heaven and on earth.”
  4. Jesus is the Son of God, one part of the Triune God: 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen,,” Matthew 3:16-17″ As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'” 
  5. Jesus is the only way to be saved from our sins and be guaranteed a place in Heaven: John 14:6, “Jesus said to him [Thomas], ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” , Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We now have an overview of who the Bible claims Jesus to be. It is difficult to deny that He did some wonderful acts while He was here on earth by healing the sick, raising the dead, and teaching us about the kingdom of God. If we are honest with ourselves, hearing someone declaring themselves to be God can be disarming. It would be didfficult to label Jesus just a good teacher for He on many occasions in the Bible referred to Himself as God. That would either make Him a liar, or just plain crazy!

I would challenge you dear one to search out these verses for yourself. Your very life depends on who you think Jesus is.  In the words of C.S. Lewis in regards to the person of Jesus in his book “Mere Christianity”, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Please continue onto my next blog post on “Salvation: God’s Incredible gift.”  Thank you again for taking time out of your busy lives to dive deeper into the truths in God’s Word and to learn more about the Lord we serve, Jesus Christ.