Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘hope

Luke 2:8-20

Angel&Shepherds

When was the last time you received good news? What did you do?  Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with others?

Imagine you were one of those shepherds watching over your sheep.  It was a night like any other or so you thought…

Suddenly an angel appears out of nowhere and a bright light shines around you. You’re scared.  You wonder what is going on.  The angel assures you and the other shepherds that there is nothing to be afraid of.  He has come to share good news.  Then he makes the big announcement, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The Savior whom you and others have been waiting for is born.  He’s in Bethlehem in a manger.  While you are still trying to digest this incredible news, other angels join the first one and the air is filled with their glory as they raise their voices in a song of praise to God. What a glorious sight. You can hardly believe what you are seeing.  After the angelic host leaves, you and the other shepherds are filled with excitement.  You can’t wait to go and see the Child for yourselves. You are anxious to go and see what the Lord has made known to you. You hurry off to the manger where you see Mary, Joseph and the Child.

The shepherds “made widely known the word which was told them concerning this Child” and those who heard it couldn’t help but marvel but Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered over them.  I can’t imagine what must have been going through her mind.  First, an angel visited her and told her that she was going to have a Son who would be called Jesus and that He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. Then, on the night after she gives birth, shepherds show up at the manger to see Him because they too were visited by an angel.  This is a lot to grasp.

The shepherds left the manger and returned to their sheep, praising and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen.  It was a night they would never forget.

What can we learn from this wonderful story?

  • After hearing about Jesus, seek Him out for yourself
  • After you have seen Jesus and have been in His presence, go and tell others
  • Glorify and praise God for sending His Son into the world so that through Him we can be saved

This Christmas, take time to reflect on God’s greatest Gift to mankind.  Celebrate Jesus and thank Him for leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth to dwell among us.  Thank Him for the gift of eternal life which we can receive only through Him.  Share the message of love and hope of the season with others.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men – Luke 2:14

 

 

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250px-Isaiah_(Bible_Card)Isaiah has a disturbing vision of the Judah.  The people are laden with iniquity;  they are evildoers, sinners, corrupt. They have forsaken the Lord.  They have provoked Him to anger.  They have backslidden and refused to know and understand their God who had nourished and brought them up.  As a result of these sins their country is desolate, the cities are destroyed, burned and invaded by foreigners.  God used foreign nations to bring judgment on His people but in His mercy and goodness, He left a small remnant.  He did not completely destroy the nation as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah.

So we see that God is a righteous God who requires justice and metes out judgment when we sin but He is also a merciful God.  We are assured of His love and eternal redemption.  He is a God who judges but also saves.  He punishes but also redeems.  He destroys but also restores.

As David rightly puts it, “For His anger is but for a moment” (Psalm 30:5).  This tells us that every problem and every experience of suffering has a life span.  No problem is permanent.  Suffering, problems–they will pass.  In allowing some of the people to live, God gave Isaiah and the Israelites a ray of hope.  They will survive to take possession of the land.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away – 1 Corinthians 13:8

god_is_with_you__by_1illustratinglady-d4wedzmGod’s love never fails.  You can always count on it to see you through any trials or tribulations.  When Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into jail. God was with him.  He granted Joseph favor with the chief jailer.  Not long after Joseph was put in charge of all the other prisoners and everything that concerned the prison.  The Lord was with him, making everything run smoothly and successfully.

Leah was married to Jacob but he loved her younger sister, Rachel and because Leah was unloved, God allowed her to have children while Rachel was barren.  Leah named her firstborn son, Reuben because “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:31, 32).

God’s love is unfailing .  It is what sustains us when we are hurting, wronged or disappointed.  It is what brings us hope in the midst of despair and joy during sad times.  We will always have God’s love.  It is everlasting.

 

John 1:1 - The word became flesh. Popular New Testament passageA couple of years ago I watched the movie “The Tomb of Jesus”.  It was disturbing but informative.  As I watched it, I realized that it is dangerous for people who are not grounded in their faith.  The filmmakers make outrageous statements.  One example is when Jesus was on the Cross and He said, “Woman, behold your son,” They stated that the woman He was talking to was not His mother, Mary but Mary Magdalene.  And when He said, “Son, behold your mother,” He was not talking to the disciple, John but to the son He had with Mary Magdalene.  This is what is written in the Bible regarding that scene, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:25-27).

Two days after I watched the movie, I decided to spend some time in devotion.  After praying, I stretched out on the sofa and closed my eyes.  I prayed, asking God to speak to me as He had done in the past when I took the time to fellowship with Him.  As I lay there, I kept hearing the words, “Say the name of Jesus.”

At first I couldn’t understand why I was hearing the lyrics of a song that we sing at Kanisa Church when what I wanted to hear was God’s voice.  Then, it dawned on me that I was being told to say Jesus’ name.  I called out to Him in my head, “Lord Jesus”.  Immediately after saying that I started to cry, it was one of those gut-wrenching cries.  This happened for a little while and then just as I suddenly started crying, I stopped and became completely calm and still. Then, I heard Jesus say, “Believe I AM that I AM.”  I asked Him if this message was just for someone close to me but He said that it was for everyone.

That same morning I shared this testimony with my co-workers.  I stressed that “Jesus IS NOT the husband of Mary Magdalene or the father of her son or just a good teacher, preacher, prophet or man.  He is God the Son.  He is not in a tomb He is in Heaven where He belongs.  We have two choices, we can believe the Word of God, which says that Jesus is alive, or we can believe that He was buried in a tomb with a wife, son and other family members.  I hope God can show you that He’s alive and that He’s working in each of your lives.

214EmptyTombPaintLuke24_63Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished – 1 Corinthians 15:12-18

Paul is not saying that the dead are in Heaven with Jesus.  What he is saying is if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead then we are doomed because it would also mean that Jesus Himself was not raised from the dead either.  This means that when we die, that ‘s it.  It’s all over.  We will remain in our graves and those who are alive have no hope because if Jesus was not raised from the dead that means that there will be no second coming.  It is at the second coming that those who fell asleep in Christ will rise and be gathered to Him and then those who are still alive will join them.  Our friends and loved ones who died in Christ will not be with Him before He comes again.  Like King David, they are asleep in their graves.

We can rest assured that Jesus was raised from the dead.  We have the empty tomb to prove this.  He is now in Heaven with the Father fulfilling His role as our High Priest until the day comes when He will descend with the angels to gather His elect.  Until then, let us watch and wait in faith.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” – Psalm 31:24

Is there any hope?  Yes.  Jesus is our hope for a better life, a life not marred by sin.  Jesus’ death on the Cross gave us hope of having our sins forgiven and having a relationship with God.  Hope for everlasting life—eternal life made possible by Jesus shed blood.  I have hope in the Lord who is faithful and keeps His promises.  I have hope in the Lord because nothing is impossible for Him.  I have hope in the Lord who has plans for my life and who promised that He will guide me.

I have hope in the Lord who never forsakes His children.  I have hope in the Lord who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for my sins.  God has said and done many things to make us hope and when we hope for something it means that we believe they can happen—that they are possible.  God has taught us that anything is possible and that we can do all things through Him.

  • To hope is to have faith that the thing we hope for is not out of our reach.
  • To hope is to be confident that we can achieve anything we set our hearts on.
  • To hope is to believe that we can have what God means for us to have.
  • To hope is to be assured that we can get what God plans to give us.
  • To hope is to be encouraged because it seems that what we dream of is possible, promising.
  • To hope is to trust that it can and will happen.
  • To hope is to expect it to happen.

Hope springs eternal.  To hope is to trust in the Lord, to look on the bright side, to be optimistic.  As Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Hope is the same as faith.  Faith is to believe in that which we cannot see and so is hope.  We don’t know what our futures hold but we can each hope for a bright one.  God promised that He has plans for us so we have those to look forward to and what makes this more exciting is that what God’s plans for us are always beyond our wildest dreams.  Look at how blessed Abraham was after Isaac was born.  He became the father of nations as God promised.  Hannah prayed for a son and was blessed with Samuel and other children.  Leah was blessed with six sons and a daughter and God’s favour.  Ordinary men became great apostles whose gospels and letters we read to give us inspiration and a better insight to who Jesus is.

It is exciting to hope when you read how the lives of these people and others in the Bible changed when they came to know Jesus.  As Paul rightly says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:25)  Hope makes us steadfast and more focused on God.

Knowing who God is and what He has done makes it easy for us to hope in Him.  He is loving, kind, merciful, faithful and compassionate.  In Psalm 145:9, David says that the Lord has compassion on all that He has made.  This is true.  He had compassion on Leah who was unloved by her husband.  He had compassion for Hannah who was barren.  He had compassion for the woman who would have been stoned for committing adultery had He not been there.  God does indeed take care of His children and as long as we hold on to that fact, we will always have something to hope for.

O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust” – Psalm 7:1

 

The more we know someone the more likely we are to trust that person.  The more we spend time with God in meditation and reading the Bible, the more we will know about Him.  I have learned that He listens to me, He answers my prayers and He helps me when we ask Him and He keeps His promises and He disciplines me when I need it. 

I trust Him with my life because I know that he wants only the best for me.  He Himself declared, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I trust God because of what He has done.  He has demonstrated His love for us through Jesus’ death on the cross.  Jesus died for our sins and reconciled us to God and now we don’t have to worry about anything.  God will take care of us just as He took care of His Son while He was here on earth.  Peter encourages us to, “therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) 

When we let go and let God, we are releasing ourselves from constantly worrying about the future and things we have no control over.  By letting go and letting God, we are showing Him that we trust Him to do what He has promised to do and that is to take care of us.  “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)

So when it comes to faith we need to walk the walk. To walk with God is to follow His ways, to surrender to Him, to do as He commands and to follow His example.  As Christians, it is expected of us.  “And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)  It means that we should give Him lordship over our lives and that we should move forward in faith.  Abraham walked with God and when God told him to pack up his belongings and move to a strange land, Abraham went forward in faith.  Noah was a righteous man who walked with God.  Enoch walked with God.  By faith the disciples followed Jesus when He called them and by faith they stayed with Him when the others no longer walked with him.  Their reason for staying with Him was, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (John 6:68-69)

By faith they continued to walk in Him—sharing the importance of Jesus death on the cross, the promise of salvation and the good news of His resurrection.  By faith they trusted God to see them through the many tribulations they faced during their ministry.  They were steadfast despite adversity because they were walking in faith and had dedicated their lives to Jesus.  “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.  For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21)

Jesus had warned them that they would be persecuted, put in prisons, brought before kings and rulers for His name’s sake.  He warned that parents, brothers, relatives and friends would betray them and that some of them would be put to death.  “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” (Luke 21:12-17) But, Jesus also had this assurance for His disciples, “But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21:18-19)  As long as we walk by faith we will never be lost or alone.  God is with us.


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