There is always Hope!

I don’t know if this is a late Christmas post or an early New Year’s post – you know, the kind we read as we’re getting our plans and goals set for the new year?  No matter the category, I want to share a huge bunch of encouragement with you as you’re making all the plans and preparations!  Christmas is a few days behind us and while it’s still fresh in our mind, let’s look at the greatest promise ever given in the Bible: please grab your Bible and turn to Isaiah 7.

 

If you know me, we’ve got to start with a bit of history!  We need to know what was going on at the time of this account in Bible history, so we can see everything that is unfolding in proper context.  The nation of Israel had split in two by this time and neither the northern kingdom of Israel nor the southern kingdom of Judah were headed in a good direction.  Both were under the rule of wayward kings and the worship of the One, True God, Jehovah was either just one of many or non-existent all together.  Both nations were nearer captivity than they realized.

 

Isaiah 7:1-14 NLT:

“When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan.

The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!”

 

So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.

 

Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.  Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.

Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying, ‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’ But this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place; for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed. Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah.

 

Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”

 

Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead. ”

But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”

Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin shall be with child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”

 

Did you catch that?

 

Confession: the first time I read this, I was thinking they were about to get it!  God was saying, “You won’t even ask Me for a sign!?  I’ll give you a sign!!!” and I was thinking they were really in trouble.  And then…

 

And then, right there amid their disgusting disobedience, their blatant idolatry, their hatred toward God who loved them so much… He gave the greatest promise humanity has ever known.

 

The Virgin shall be with Child.

And He will be called, “God With Us”, Immanuel.

 

Sweet Friend, did you catch that?  God With You!

 

Don’t let guilt and shame shout that you’re unworthy.  No! The Virgin shall be with Child. God with you.

 

Maybe you’re so far from where you should be that it doesn’t seem like you can ever make it back.  It couldn’t even be a possibility… or could it?  The Virgin shall be with Child.  God WITH you.

 

You’ve walked away.  You’ve messed up one too many times.  How could God ever want anything to do with you again?  The Virgin shall be with Child.  God with YOU!

 

Please hear those Words deep in your heart.

The Virgin was with Child over 2000 years ago and bore our Savior and King, the Christ, Jesus!  He suffered and died to pay a bill we could never pay ourselves.  He made a way for you and for me.  He offers us this gift so that we can be One with Him, no longer separated from The Father, but to live a victorious life and proclaim the Gospel to others who need freedom, too!  Receive this gift today!

 

Jesus wants to be with You!  He is offering you this crazy love – like nothing you’ve ever experienced before – and redemption from sin. No longer will your trespasses hang over your head like a flashing neon sign to your heart and mind.

 

He is offering you LIFE and escape from death!  Just say yes!

 

Think about the king in Isaiah 7.  My gosh!  He couldn’t get much worse!  If amid leading God’s people astray and basically spitting in the face of the LORD, the king of Judah can be given such a great promise, then Friend, God’s got you, too!

 

Stop running, cry out to Jesus, and surrender!  It’s not as hard as you’re imagining, and God loves you and chooses you!  Now, THAT’S the best start to any New Year ever!

 

Happy 2018, Friends!

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Will you follow if there isn’t a shiny, red bow?

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So often one sentence in God’s Word can carry such an impact that I think about it for days.

Matthew 1:20 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 in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

What Holy Spirit conceived in Mary was supernatural.  It didn’t make sense to the human mind.  It didn’t fit into their “culture”.  For Joseph, it brought shame and embarrassment.  It bumped hard up against his pride and perceived identity.  It was the greatest gift ever given, however I wonder if to Mary and Joseph it felt less like a gift and more like a burden, a catastrophe?

This is faith.  This is where we choose to believe that God IS good and He has good and perfect plans for us, plans not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future.  When our “gifts” don’t show up with a shiny red bow and ornate wrapping with promises of wealth, health, and prosperity, do we still choose to believe in God’s goodness?

What about when those gifts show up at a less than opportune time?  Mary and Joseph were going to be married soon.  It was a time in their life where they were looking to the future and planning what would be for them as they began life together.  This was not in their script!  Not only was this not in the plans, but it was unimaginable.  Almost unbelievable.

But they were willing to obey…

Joseph had a choice to make.  Who has ever heard of such a thing?  I’m sure, just because of the period this was in history, that there weren’t a lot of people receiving messages from angels in Joseph’s hometown.  As a matter of fact, God hadn’t spoken to His people in about four hundred years.  Joseph could have attributed this angelic visitation to a pizza dream!  He could have recognized it for what it was, yet still chose to disobey.  He could have chosen fear.

What is God trying to conceive through you?  Remember, what He did thru Mary was not an ideal, perfect situation.  They were possibly looked down upon by everyone, the “talk of the town”, I’m sure.  They probably didn’t understand.  This gift caused them to be in dangerous situations.  BUT OUR SAVIOR was brought forth.

Again, I ask, what is God trying to conceive through you?  What ideas or plans, what gifts and anointing has He placed in your life?

If it doesn’t look or feel easy, will you trust Him and move forward as He faithfully guides?  Can you cleave to Jesus, knowing He will never leave nor forsake you, and rely on Him and the plans that were put in place for you long ago when He knit you together in your mother’s womb?

Prayer:  Father, I trust you always.  I trust your plans and I know that you are always for me.  I give you free-rein in my life; you are my Father, my King, my Savior.  I surrender my will, my whole life to you right now.  Your ways and your thoughts are higher than anything and I will not lean on my own understanding.  I will trust you always.  Thank you my Lord for the blessings in my life, for Your Presence, your guidance, your love.  Amen.

For the joy set before Him…

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I love how our Lord is always there with us, even during a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip!

I woke up a bit sore and stiff. Maybe I AM getting a bit older, ha!  Maybe I was lying in an odd position for too long. Maybe a change in the weather was on the horizon… who knows?!  I got up and did the “my legs and hips hurt” shuffle all the way to the bathroom.

Confession time:  moments like these make me angry!  I could list a myriad of reasons all the way from self-pity to hatred of the devil. I was not about to accept this pain this night!!  I literally wanted to swing my fists at something, as if connecting with a physical enemy might fix a possible spiritual problem.

On my way back to the warmth and comfort of my bed, I asked Jesus how He didn’t get mad as He was carrying the tree He was about to be crucified on up the steep hill of Golgotha.  After all He had recently endured, how did He not lash out and begin swinging His fists and screaming at those watching and those causing Him pain? Continue reading “For the joy set before Him…”