“God’s Got You Covered!”

 

Do you ever feel opened and exposed during the trials of life?  Do you ever feel that the enemy has free pickings when it comes to your heartache?  Well, he doesn’t!  The enemies of this life may chase you, hunt you down and all together seek to make your life miserable, but the enemies do not have the last say over anything.  God, in His complete sovereignty, has you covered!

If anybody knew about being constantly chased by enemies seeking to take their life it was David.  Saul, in a jealous pursuit, saw something special in David, the favor of God, and wanted to destroy David.  There were days when David may have felt like giving up.  There were days of hiding in caves and pretending to be a mad-man to seek solitude in other countries.  But, through it all David dealt best with his enemies through prayer.  He declared who his God was and committed his trust to Him.  In Psalm 140:7, “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”

To be covered means to be concealed and to be protected.  The battles of this life may at times make us feel that we are an open target to everyone who can’t stand the favor of God on us, but be of good cheer, God’s got us covered!  “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever,” (Psalm 125:2).  And, if God is like a mountain surrounding us then there is no adversary that can break through the covering He has over us.  It may feel like we are on the run sometimes but God is still that protecting force that “covered my head in the day of battle.”  Commit your heartaches, your battle and your enemies to God and let Him be your covering today.

Sunday School Lesson – “Hosanna to the King!” Mark 11:1-11

VERSE DISCOVERY: Mark 11:1-11 (KJV, Public Domain)

At one point, before his death, John the Baptist sent men to Jesus and asked, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3).  This questioning was spawned because of the mighty “works of Christ” (Matthew 11:2) that were performed and proclaimed throughout the region.

Not only did the works He performed bear witness of who He was (John 10:25), Jesus often identified Himself with the Deity of heaven; as being one with the Father Himself (see John 10:30; John 1:1; John 14:9).

The hope of the people has been in a state of expectation since the days of old.  They have heard of the prophecies, such as the one Zechariah proclaimed, saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” (Zechariah 9:9).

They were waiting for this time of celebration that was prophesied hundreds of years before the actual event took place. A time when God’s people would ring out their worship of their one true King. At His coming joy will go before Him for His proposed reign. People will raise their voices with heartfelt praise and adoration of Him who has come to save them.

Unfortunately, when He came, most were not looking for a Savior from sin, rather one who would free them of the national tyranny of their oppressors. The people at that time were more focused on their present circumstances over their eternal destinies.  This will rob you of seeing Jesus for who He really is every single time.

It was prophesied that this King would be “just.” His rule would be governed by truth. It’s how He lived and how He died; according to God’s truth. He declared in Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” He pressed on to fulfill truth so that His reign would be marked and identified as being “just.” He would do all that is right according to God’s holy Word.

This King would also be known as “having salvation.” He would bear within Himself the means to save mankind from the ravages of sin and disparity brought on by their fleshly stance in this world. The Bible declares, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, all of mankind needed and still needs a Savior; one who can bring them out of the depths of his/her evil state. Acts 4:12 lets us know, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This King comes with our “salvation.”

At His entrance, He comes in a state opposite of most royalty and the elite of society. This King is prophesied to come “lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” A humble creature of burden becomes transportation of Him who would bear all of humanities burdens and sins.

I think it important to reiterate here that our King was “lowly.” We sing songs praising that wonderful characteristic of His, but do we really understand how much He humbled Himself to come and do what He did for us? Do we understand that He could have arrived with all the pomp and circumstance of heaven, but He arrived in an animal’s dwelling, with no proper place to lay His head? Do we understand how many times He could have shut the mouth of those who rose against Him and accused Him, but He took it all on Himself as part of His mission; His ministry to save mankind? Do we really understand how much He took off to put on the dregs of humanity? Do we understand? He was “lowly.”

By entering the town on that day in that way, Jesus was letting all the world know that He was that prophesied King.  That yes, if anybody wants to know, He is the One whom they have been looking for.

This is where we find ourselves studying today: Jesus’ triumphal entry. 

 Lesson Summary

Mark 11:1-3 “And when they came night to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.”

Before we arrive at today’s lesson, Matthew 20 tells us that Jesus once again tried to prepare His disciples for the reality of what was soon to take place:

“Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,

And deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again,” (Matthew 20:17-19; see also Mark 10:32:34).

Here, in the above verses, with what I believe was still clueless disciples, Jesus is drawing “nigh to Jerusalem.” The King is about to make His entrance but before doing so He gives His disciples very explicit details to follow to make sure when He comes in there is no mistake to the reign He claims.

As a matter of fact, fulfilling every prophecy that was spoken of Him was so imperative that later He wouldn’t die until He could finally say, “It is finished,” (John 19:30).

God’s prophets such as Zechariah were His spokesmen. They have been used down through Israel’s history to pass onto the people the word of God. To warn, exhort and exalt them to draw closer to Him through their prophecies. When God used a prophet as His mouthpiece, the words that come from them are as valid as if they heard it from His own being, thundering upon the mountains. Since what they spoke was on His behalf, He had to make sure everything: past, present, and future would be fulfilled as it was told to the people down through the years.

They were told exactly how their King would arrive and Jesus was careful to make sure there would be no mistaking who He claimed to be when He arrived in Jerusalem in such a fashion. His arrival mounted on that beast would offer them visual evidence. Any Jew would have known that when they see Him on a “colt the foal of an ass,” as Zechariah stated; or just using the word “colt” as this lesson states, He was claiming His Kingship; He was claiming His Lordship; He was claiming His Messiahship.

With that, the instructions He gives is for them to, “Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.” It is supposed by many Bible students that Jesus had a prearranged agreement with the owners of the animals that He sent them for. With that supposition, He knew (which He could have known because of His Sovereignty if He wanted to) exactly where to send them and how to instruct them on searching out what He already planned. When they arrived and found the ones He said, His command was “loose him, and bring him.” The reason is stated for us, and for the owner’s is in the next verse.

If anyone dared to question what the disciples were doing and what was their intent and purposes of loosing the animal, Jesus gave them a simple reply to relay: “The Lord hath need of him.” He was set aside for the Master’s use. He was needed by Jesus. How privileged was this little guy that would carry the “Lord;” the Savior of the world, on his back. Awesome!

Never had anyone rode him before this day.  Jesus’ specific instructions included that he be one that “never a man sat.”  It amazes me what our Christ can do with the unused; what He can do with the unskilled and rough around the edges. This donkey is not known by name to us, but we know him as part of the Messiah’s royal parade forever in history.  Even more awesome!

Mark 11:4-6 “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.  And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?  And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.”

“And they went their way, and found the colt… and they loose him.”  They may have not understood everything right away, nor did they fully grasp that Jesus was fully preparing Himself to die that He might reign (though He often tried to get that point across to them), but they didn’t question Him. They didn’t try to dissuade Him from His task; rather they obeyed.

Their obedience is a key component. Let’s put this in full perspective.  They knew the authorities of the day were plotting against Him to seek to take His life. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus is also found in the Book of John chapter 12. In chapter 11 of that same book, before this moment in time, when Jesus was determined to go to Bethany (about 1½ miles outside of Jerusalem) to raise Lazarus from the dead, seeing that He couldn’t be dissuaded, Thomas, one of the disciples, said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” So, when He instructed them in the matter of the “colt” they are noted as doing what Jesus told them to do despite any fears on misgivings they may have felt at that moment.

Following His orders did indeed get them questioned by others, but they once again followed the path of obedience and “they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded.” 

Mark 11:7 “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.”

I don’t know about you, but I have ridden a horse bareback before. The experience was not pleasant, to say the least. Here, the disciples provide comfort for the Lord as He mounts the beast set aside for His use. In lieu of a saddle, they pad the back of the beast with “their garments.”

We often hear people use expressions of love and service to another by saying things like, “I will give them the clothes off my back.” Jesus’ disciples didn’t talk about it, they did it. They literally gave Him the “clothes” off their backs to comfort the ride of the King. Oh, how much this must have meant to the Lord who would soon come before angry faces and hearts filled with hatred.  But, at this moment, He gets to feel and experience support from those closest to Him.

Mark 11:8-10 “And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”

Can we picture this scene really quick? As Jesus was entering in Jerusalem on that colt, word had to have rapidly spread for not just the disciples were celebrating the King, “many” and “others” joined in. Matthew 21:8 referred to them as “multitudes.”

Did they recognize the symbolism? Did they associate His entrance as the long-awaited promised One; of He that was prophesied of? We are working under the assumption that those questions can be answered with a very real, “Yes!”

Again, His reign to free men from sin instead of tyranny may not be what they had imagined at the time, but they understood who He claimed to be by how He rode into Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, they willingly and with great rejoicing (as was also prophesied) wanted to be a part of the celebration. The King was coming and they “spread their garments in the way” and “cut down branches off the trees” to cover the path He would travel. What a small service for such a great King!

They honored Him with their “Hosanna” shout. They rallied and proclaimed the praises of Him who would save them, for that’s the meaning behind the word “Hosanna;” to “save now.”

“Hosanna” was the shout of triumph. In Him, they saw a victorious King. In Him, they had an expectancy of deliverance. In Him they rejoiced, proclaiming that He is the one who would fulfill the promise of “the kingdom of our father David,” (see 2 Samuel 7:12-14).

So, they rejoiced and shouted that He was, “Blessed.”  His “kingdom” is “blessed.” He is the one that “cometh in the name of the Lord!” They were getting their praise on as we say it today! The King has arrived! The King has come! “Blessed is he!”

In Matthew 21:10 it says of that day that “all the city was moved.”  Often when Jesus performed miracles crowds would gather around Him to witness the power of God at work through Him. Here, there is no miracle performed; rather prophecy, long-awaited prophecy being fulfilled. Emotions were running high and people gathered and were excited to see it coming to pass right before their eyes; right in their time of living. When was the last time you were so stirred up about Jesus?  They had a reason to be shaken with excitement saying, “Hosanna in the highest!”

Mark 11:11 “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”

An anti-climactic end to such a triumphal entry?  Oh, no!  After identifying Himself as King by riding in the way that He did, Jesus “entered… into the temple,” and soon some things were going to change!  It was about to get real up in that place, as some would say.

If you would read further past our lesson, Mark 11:15-17 shows us the second cleansing of the temple Jesus performed (this is also support by Matthew 21:12-13).  There He turned over tables and proclaimed, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves,” (Mark 11:17).

This King wasn’t playing with His ministry!  He was triumphant at the beginning, middle and end of His parade, and He still commands the victory as He is cleaning out His Father’s house.  Only the true King, with true authority, can command and operate the way He does.

Conclusion

Jesus is He that was to come; the King to reign for all eternity.  Let us shout his praises: “Hosanna in the highest!”  There’s no need to look for another.  He’s the One!

Lesson PDF: Sunday School Lesson – Hosanna to the King

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Hosanna to the King

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Hosanna to the King

Draw the Scene: Hosanna to the King Draw the Scene

(Use the PDF link above for accurate printing) Want to jazz up this memory verse?  Try printing on cardstock and using glue with glitter to fill in the words, colored chalk, paints and more.  You’re only limited by your imagination.  Enjoy!

HOSANNA PALM LEAF CRAFT: Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)  Have students decorate and color their free palm leaf (printing on cardstock is best) and tape or glue to a craft stick (makes a great church fan 🙂 ) or dowel rod or twigs from outside for a natural element so they too can wave them before the Lord with rejoicing.  I wanted mine to be colorful, not just all green.  Jazz it up! After all, it is a celebration.  Enjoy!

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Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday-001

 

Leaf Lace Up Craft:   Use PDF: Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft to put together this simple, yet fun activity.  Print out on cardstock and use a hole punch to put holes around the free leaf template.  Use any materials you have laying around for lacing: yarn, string, pipe cleaners, etc.  I used crumbled up party streamers.  Go figure!  Enjoy! (Similar project shown below)

My Project 320-001

Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft-001

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“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

Photo: Pixabay/raincarnation40

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“Joy to the World – He Came!”

 

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.” (Isaac Watts)

Christmastime, as they say, is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmastime often brings with it sweet thoughts and times of reminiscing with loved ones over the years past.  There’s a celebration of joy in the atmosphere that isn’t felt as prominently during other times of the year.

But, I’m here to tell you that Christmastime is so much more than an emotional response to a holiday and family.  It’s more than the gathering of sweet fellowship and food.

Christmastime is a declaration of all God has wanted to do for mankind since the time He created him.  It’s the time we celebrate God’s love on display in holy determination to have that relationship with man that He so desired.

Christmastime is a celebration of the healing.  There was a rift that was torn by sin between God and man – now it comes together in an era of reconciliation and peace.

Isaiah prophesies of the means by which God ushers this in.  He said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).  This is the very foundation of the Christmas story.  Matthew picks it up and tells us in the New Testament,” And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (1:21). Mankind had fallen short of the glory of God, but this little baby had an assignment on His life to save people from their sins!

The Christmas story tells us that He is the fulfilled prophesy that states, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14). We see that come to pass in Matthew 1:23 which states He shall be called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Down forty-two generations He traveled (Matthew 1:1-17) to be with us. That’s why the carols ring out, “Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel,” (Hark! The Harold Angels Sing – Charles Wesley). He was that “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).

That’s why Luke lets us know, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).

This is what the Christmas story is all about. Joy to the world – He came!

The Bible declares, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7). He was shunned by the world with no one to care other than Mary and Joseph. Nonetheless, He came!

The angels proclaimed that night, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11). The deliverance of all mankind made His way into the world. God’s plan of salvation broke through the flesh of humanity to rescue in the Spirit.

Joy to the world – He came!

God incarnate manifested Himself in the humility of man. He stepped off His throne in glory to dwell with a sinner like me. He pulled off His royal attire to associate with the filthy dregs of this life.

Joy to the world – He came!

Christmastime we celebrate His birth; we rejoice in His coming. But, that’s not the end of the Christmas story.

He came once so that He could come back again.  The first time He came He was encapsulated in His mother’s womb, riding on a donkey toward Bethlehem to be born. But, the true end of the Christmas story is the next time you see Him, He won’t be that same baby from the womb riding with His mama on a donkey.  He’ll be standing in the air riding the clouds of heaven.

The first time He came He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. The next time you see Him, He will stand before you as the King who broke free from the grave clothes that tried to bind Him, gaining the victory over the grave; gaining the victory over sin and death.

The first time He came only a few lowly shepherds and a few little wise men came to honor Him and pay tribute to the miracle that occurred on that night. The next time you see Him, “Every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11).  That same baby they ignored.  That same baby they refused to find room for, their mouths are going to open and declare that HE IS LORD!

We celebrate the Christmas story as the ultimate gift of God’s love toward humanity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

But, the Christmas story is more than the celebration that He came. It stands as a reminder every year that if He came once as He said He would, then He’s coming back – just like He said He would!

We love this time of year. There’s no greater feeling than the fellowship and gifts of love shared.  But, once the gifts are unwrapped and once the food is eaten and people return to their homes; let the Christmas story remind you, the King came once, and the King will return once again.

Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”

In preparation of His return, I must ask, “Have you received His gift?”

Joy to the World – He came. And, He’s coming back again. That’s the true end of the Christmas story.

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

Photo: Pixabay/Annalise1988

“Don’t Count People Out!”

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“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15

We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and we feel like throwing up our hands in exasperation.  Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs.  Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out.  It doesn’t.

I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another.  In our humanness, we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause.  Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.

When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was home base.  Jerusalem was where everything started.  He wanted the people “at home” to have the first shot of this powerful, saving message.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred.  Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing.  It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you.  You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.

It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19), then to make disciples out of those closest to us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them.  But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?

Your love, patience, and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor.  “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  What if God had given up on us?  Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”  We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best.  He did not give up on us!

I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was not all peaches and cream, nor was I sugar and spice and everything nice.  I was a sinner.  My life was not right.  I was not born a Christian, and neither were you.  God has been very patient with me, with us, and we should return that same grace to others.

It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either.  Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.”  People need you today, don’t count them out.  Exhort one another in love.  We need each other so badly to make it through.  Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Prosperity Belongs to God”

Text Free Photo: Pixabay/skeeze

“The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build,”
Nehemiah 2:20

You have felt that burden in your heart or that niggling of the mind.  The pull or the call to step out in faith to take on a new project, yet the enemy has thrown disturbing thoughts your way thinking to frustrate what God is pulling you to do.

Nehemiah felt such a burden from God.  He received word that the people in Jerusalem were in distress and the walls were broken and the gates burned, (Neh. 1:3).  What could he possibly do all the way in Shushan?  The Bible tells us he fasted and prayed and confessed the wrongs of his people before God, (Neh. 1:4).  Then, God gave an opportunity for King Artaxerxes to take notice of his plight and support the project that had burdened his heart.

Arriving in the area of Jerusalem with letters from the king should have made things easy for Nehemiah.  But, the plain and simple truth is there are those who don’t want to see God’s people blessed.  There are those who don’t want to see God’s people prosper and favored.  This is what Nehemiah faced.  Nehemiah 2:10 tells us this of his enemies, “They were deeply disturbed that a man came to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”

As soon as the work began and they took steps toward the goal of their heart, their enemies laughed at them and despised them and put accusations against them, (Neh. 2:19).  But, Nehemiah’s response was one of total faith and reliance upon God.  He said, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build,” (Neh. 2:20).

Know this, anytime God lays a burden on your heart to do something for Him, there will always be enemies that try to stop the plan of God in you.  Sometimes it could even be just our own doubts and insecurities about our own ability to get the job done.  But, if God called you to it, He will see you through it.  Prosperity belongs to God!  All He has ever asked us to do is to step out in faith and do the work and depend on Him to increase it and cause it to grow.  No human on this earth has any say so about what God is doing in your life!

Be blessed, my friends, as you move where God is leading you!

“Joy to the World – He Came!”

My Project 486-001

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.”

Read more: Traditional – Joy To The World Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Christmastime, as they say, is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmastime often brings with it sweet thoughts and times of reminiscing with loved ones over the years past.  There’s a celebration of joy in the atmosphere that isn’t felt as prominently during other times of the year.

But, I’m here to tell you that Christmastime is so much more than an emotional response to a holiday and family.  It’s more than the gathering of sweet fellowship and food.

Christmastime is a declaration of all God has wanted to do for mankind since the time He created him.  It’s the time we celebrate God’s love on display in holy determination to have that relationship with man that He so desired.

Christmastime is a celebration of the healing.  There was a rift that was torn by sin between God and man – now it comes together in an era of reconciliation and peace.

Isaiah prophesies of the means by which God ushers this in.  He said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).  This is the very foundation of the Christmas story.  Matthew picks it up and tells us in the New Testament,” And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (1:21). Mankind had fallen short of the glory of God, but this little baby had an assignment on His life to save people from their sins!

The Christmas story tells us that He is the fulfilled prophesy that states, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14). We see that come to pass in Matthew 1:23 which states He shall be called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Down forty-two generations He traveled (Matthew 1:1-17) to be with us. That’s why the carols ring out, “Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel,” (Hark! The Harold Angels Sing – Charles Wesley). He was that “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).

That’s why Luke lets us know, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).

This is what the Christmas story is all about. Joy to the world – He came!

The Bible declares, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7). He was shunned by the world with no one to care other than Mary and Joseph. Nonetheless, He came!

The angels proclaimed that night, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11). The deliverance of all mankind made His way into the world. God’s plan of salvation broke through the flesh of humanity to rescue in the Spirit.

Joy to the world – He came!

God incarnate manifested Himself in the humility of man. He stepped off His throne in glory to dwell with a sinner like me. He pulled off His royal attire to associate with the filthy dregs of this life.

Joy to the world – He came!

Christmastime we celebrate His birth; we rejoice in His coming. But, that’s not the end of the Christmas story.

He came once so that He could come back again.

“Living he Loved Me

Dying he saved me

Buried He carried my

My sins far away

Rising he justified me

Freed me forever

One day he’s coming back Glorious day.” (Lyrics from <a href=”http://www.elyrics.net&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>eLyrics.net</a>)

He came, and He’s coming back once again!

The first time He came He was encapsulated in His mother’s womb, riding on a donkey toward Bethlehem to be born. But, the true end of the Christmas story is the next time you see Him, He won’t be that same baby from the womb riding with His mama on a donkey.  He’ll be standing in the air riding the clouds of heaven.

The first time He came He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. The next time you see Him, He will stand before you as the King who broke free from the grave clothes that tried to bind Him, gaining the victory over the grave; gaining the victory over sin and death.

The first time He came only a few lowly shepherds and a few little wise men came to honor Him and pay tribute to the miracle that occurred on that night. The next time you see Him, “Every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11).  That same baby they ignored.  That same baby they refused to find room for, their mouths are going to open and declare that HE IS LORD!

We celebrate the Christmas story as the ultimate gift of God’s love toward humanity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

But, the Christmas story is more than the celebration that He came. It stands as a reminder every year that if He came once as He said He would, then He’s coming back – just like He said He would!

We love this time of year. There’s no greater feeling than the fellowship and gifts of love shared.  But, once the gifts are unwrapped and once the food is eaten and people return to their homes; let the Christmas story remind you, the King came once, and the King will return once again.

Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.” (Quote Source: Brainyquote.com).

In preparation of His return I must ask, “Have you received His gift?”

Joy to the World – He came. And, He’s coming back again. That’s the true end of the Christmas story.

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

Photo: Pixabay/raincarnation40

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“Prosperity Belongs to God”

My Project 449-001

“The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build,”
Nehemiah 2:20

You have felt that burden in your heart or that niggling of the mind.  The pull or the call to step out in faith to take on a new project, yet the enemy has thrown disturbing thoughts your way thinking to frustrate what God is pulling you to do.

Nehemiah felt such a burden from God.  He received word that the people in Jerusalem were in distress and the walls were broken and the gates burned, (Neh. 1:3).  What could he possibly do all the way in Shushan?  The Bible tells us he fasted and prayed and confessed the wrongs of his people before God, (Neh. 1:4).  Then, God gave an opportunity for King Artaxerxes to take notice of his plight and support the project that had burdened his heart.

Arriving in the area of Jerusalem with letters from the king should have made things easy for Nehemiah.  But, the plain and simple truth is there are those who don’t want to see God’s people blessed.  There are those who don’t want to see God’s people prosper and favored.  This is what Nehemiah faced.  Nehemiah 2:10 tells us this of his enemies, “They were deeply disturbed that a man came to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”

As soon as the work began and they took steps toward the goal of their heart, their enemies laughed at them and despised them and put accusations against them, (Neh. 2:19).  But, Nehemiah’s response was one of total faith and reliance upon God.  He said, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build,” (Neh. 2:20).

Know this, anytime God lays a burden on your heart to do something for Him, there will always be enemies that try to stop the plan of God in you.  Sometimes it could even be just our own doubts and insecurities about our own ability to get the job done.  But, if God called you to it, He will see you through it.  Prosperity belongs to God!  All He has ever asked us to do is to step out in faith and do the work and depend on Him to increase it and cause it to grow.  No human on this earth has any say so about what God is doing in your life!

Be Blessed 🙂

“Don’t Count People Out!”

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“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15, KJV

We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and oh, do we feel like walking out on them, never to return again.  Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs.  Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out.  It doesn’t.

I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another.  In our humanness we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause.  Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.

When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was home base.  Jerusalem was where everything started.  He wanted the people “at home” to have first shot of this powerful saving message.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost, and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred.  Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing.  It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (KJV).

That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you.  You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.

It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19, KJV), then to make disciples out of those closest to us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (KJV).  You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them.  But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?

Your patience and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor.  “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  What if God had given up on us?  Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities,” (KJV).  We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best.  He did not give up on us!

I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was as the young people say, “A hot mess!”  I was “tore up from the floor up,” and any other thing that can be applied.  I was a sinner.  My life was not right.  I was not born a Christian and neither were you.  God has been very patient with us and we should return the favor.

It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either.  Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.”  People need you today, don’t count them out.  Exhort one another in love.  We need each other so badly to make it through.  Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.

Photo Credit: Pixabay