Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘message

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

 

 

James 4:4

spiritual-adultery-editedFriends usually do things together and have similar interests.  Being friends with the world means adopting the ways of the world–accepting or condoning the things of the world.  James refers to those who are friends with the world as adulterers and adulteresses.

Adultery is straying outside of your marriage.  When the Israelites turned to other gods and indulged in idolatry, they were seen as committing adultery.  They were turning away from God to pursue other gods.  When we turn away from God and pursue the things of the world, we are having an adulterous relationship with the world.  It is like we are going outside of our relationship with God to find something else.  It seems we are no longer satisfied with our relationship with God and are searching for something better which we think the world can give us.  We cannot have it both ways.  We either choose one or the other.

John 3:16 states that God loves the world but the key words or message here is that whoever believes in His Son should not perish but have everlasting life.  The key is for those in the world to believe in Jesus and this will lead to eternal life.

God does not want us to be friends with a world which rejects His offer of salvation and lives in rebellion.  These are the people in the world with whom we are to have nothing to do with.  These are people who love the things of the world more than they love God or people who want nothing to do with God.

This is not to say that we should not go out into the world and interact with people.  We can’t avoid people.  However, we are not to forsake our faith or compromise it because we want to maintain new or old friendships or relationships.  Jesus, when He was praying for His disciples, did not ask the Father to take them out of the world.  They had work to do in the world.  He asked the Father to protect them from the Devil.  He said that like Him, the disciples were not of the world.  So, keeping ourselves unspotted  in the world (James 1:27) and not being friends with the world, means that we live in the world but don’t have the mindset of the world.  We cannot allow ourselves to be worldly.  We are to have the mind of Christ who kept Himself unspotted from the world.

In his first letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul wrote, “In the same way, the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).  As Christians and disciples of Christ, we are to practice what we preach.  We are to live our lives in such a way that the world will know that we belong to God and that it is Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:3

humilityThe message seems to contradict itself but God’s way of living is usually at odds with the world’s.  His ways may seem strange to the world.  We must be poor in spirit which means to be humble.  Pride and self-importance have no place in God’s kingdom.  The Bible says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to humble.  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 5:5-6).

People don’t like to submit or be dependent on anyone.  They like to be self-sufficient, idependent.  Jesus is saying  blessed are those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord.  As disciples of Jesus we must submit to God and resist the devil who offers us worldly things.  These traits are the ones Jesus is looking for in His followers.  God blesses those who live out these traits.

It is not easy to do what may seem strange and opposite to the societal norm.  How could a humble person inherit the kingdom of heaven?  The Lord Himself declares, “I will dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.  To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

God dwells with the humble–the poor in spirit–those who for recognize their need for God.  They are lowly in spirit.  Paul describes this kind of attitude best.  “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3, 4).

Jesus was poor in spirit–He was humble and He came to serve, not to be served.  He always puts the needs of others before His own.  And the result is, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).  Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death.  As disciples of Christ we are to humble ourselves and be obedient to God in all things.

Like Jesus, our kingdom is not of this world and that is why the world does not know us just as it did not know Him.  We are God’s peculiar people.  Our way of life is at odds with the ways of the world.  Being poor in spirit brings us God’s riches which are eternal.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I have nourished and brought up children,
And they have rebelled against Me – Isaiah 1:2

week2-largeThe prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 1:2 depicts a courtroom scene charging Israel with covenant unfaithfulness and calls on heaven and earth to testify to the truth of God’s accusation against His people and the rightness of His judgment– since they were witnesses to His covenant.

The message here is that God has taken care of His children all their lives, nourishing them, delivering them, providing for their every need and still, they have rebelled against Him.

God’s faithfulness was rewarded with disobedience and disloyalty so now He is calling to His two witnesses–heaven and earth.  They have seen all that He had done for the nation and how they have behaved so when God punishes them, it is rightly deserved.  His judgment is necessary.

Throughout history we have seen God come through for His people, taking great care of them and all He asked for in return was their obedience and loyalty but they continually rebelled against Him.  Despite His many warnings they continued to rebel so judgment was passed.

Today, we must still expect God’s to act when people continue to rebel against Him.  The only difference is that He has reserved a day for judgment.

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.

Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage” – Joshua 10:25

Insecurity, doubt or fear prevents us from following God’s will.  We see throughout the Bible that God used people to fulfil His plans—His work when He could have easily done it on His own.  God likes to do great things through people.  He used Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egyptand through him He performed great wonders.  However, when God first approached Moses, Moses was insecure and doubted his ability to speak to Pharaoh and do God’s work.  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

God assured Moses that he would not be alone, that He would be with him.  Still, Moses protested.  He argued that he was slow of speech so God said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind?  Have not I, the Lord?  Now therefore go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 11-12)  After much protesting from Moses and persuading from God, Moses finally agreed to do as he was commanded.  And he delivered the Israelites and led them to the Promised Land.  He was known as the great deliverer and lawgiver ofIsrael.  There was never another prophet like Moses.

Jonah ran away instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded him because he was afraid.  As a result, a large fish swallowed him where he spent three days and three nights.  From the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed.  The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.  God spoke to Jonah again, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you.”  This time Jonah obeyed.  The message was, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  The people of Nineveh repented and God in His mercy did not bring disaster on them.

Jonah was not happy about this.  It is as if he felt that he had wasted his time going toNineveh, telling them that they would be destroyed for their wickedness yet, because they had repented, they were saved.  He wondered why God had bothered to send him in the first place when He could have delivered His own message and shown mercy to the people when they turned from their evil ways.

To prove to Jonah how irrational his anger was, God prepared a plant and had it come up over Jonah to shade his head.  Then, He prepared a worm and it damaged the plant and it withered.  Then, He prepared a heavy east wind and the sun beat on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.  Jonah wished for death.  Then, God asked him if it was right for him to be angry about the plant.  Jonah’s reply was that it right for him to be angry, even to death.  God’s response was, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not laboured, nor made it grow, which came up in the night and perished in a night.  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” (Jonah 1:2-3, 17, 2:1-10, 3:1-11)

What we learn from these two examples is that when God wants you to do something don’t argue or run away, just do it.  God uses people to do His will when He could easily do it on His own.  Once people repent of their sins, God shows His mercy and saves them.  We should praise God and rejoice when He is gracious to those who sin against Him and repent instead of getting angry.  God’s love is not reserved for some people but for ALL people.  Jonah failed to recognise God’s love for all people—Jews and Gentiles alike because of the animosity between the two.  The story of Jonah teaches, much like Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, that we should put aside our differences and help those who are hurt spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at a time when Jews did not associated with Samaritans.  He wanted her to know that there would come a time when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth instead of on the mountain where the Samaritans worshipped or in Jerusalemwhere the Jews worshipped.  We can worship Him anywhere and anytime.  God wants all people to know him.  As Paul points out, “Or is He the God of the Jews only?  Is He not also the god of the Gentiles also?  Yes, of The Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” (Romans 3:29-30)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” – John 10:27

When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was Peter said that He was the Son of the Living God.  Jesus blessed Peter and told him that this revelation came from God.  Peter recognised God’s voice in the midst of all the voices who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets.

Then, when Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen—His persecution and trials and His death and resurrection, Peter rebuked Him.  Jesus recognised that the devil was trying to contradict Him.  This is an example of how the devil tries to prevent us from following God’s plan for each of our lives and how he uses those close to us. 

Peter heard God’s voice telling that Jesus was the Christ, His son.  And Christ means “anointed” or “chosen one” in Greek.  Christ in Hebrew means “Messiah.”  Jesus was God’s chosen one to bring salvation to His people and the only way this could happen was for Jesus to die on the cross.  Then, He would be raised to life.  This was God’s plan.  But, then, Peter heard a conflicting message—one that was a direct contradiction to God’s word.  It was contradicting what the prophets wrote.

Everything Jesus said about what would be become of Him was written in the scriptures.  He said that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  He was flogged, spat on, mocked and rejected by the people who did not believe that He was the Messiah. (John 12:37-50)  To rebuke Jesus, is to rebuke the scriptures—the word of God.  This is an example of how to discern God’s voice from the devil’s.  God would never contradict Himself.  Everything Jesus said came from God. (John 8:25-30, John 12:49-50).

Basically, what the devil was saying through Peter was, “Your plan will not work.  You’re wasting Your time.”  This speaks of our failure to see the big picture—things from God’s perspective rather than our limited one.  In that instant, Peter was thinking like man instead of like God and forgetting that with God, all things are possible.  God’s desire was to have His son come to earth and live among us, teach us what we need to know about Him and how to live spiritually.  Then, Jesus would take on our sins, die on the cross, which is a symbol of God’s love for us and our salvation and then rise from the dead.

God’s plan was to forgive us our sins and show us that there is life after death.  He wanted us to know that we were saved and no longer enslaved by sin.  Jesus was sent into the world to defeat sin and remove the punishment of sin.  When we sin and confess our sins, God forgives us.  This is what the devil was trying to prevent.  He tried to tempt Jesus who came into the world to restore what the devil had destroyed.

Jesus came to teach us the truth—that there is a God who loves us and wants us to trust and believe in Him and who would save us from our sins and protect us from evil.  Satan deceives and destroys while God saves and protects.  God wants us to know that we can resist the devil through His strength, His power.  He knows that we would be tempted as Jesus was and lied to as Peter was when he told Jesus that He would not fulfil God’s plan.  Satan wants to give the impression that God doesn’t love us enough to willingly sacrifice His Son’s life to pay for our sins once and for all.  But the Cross says differently.



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