Friday, January 20, 2017

The Book of Matthew: Morning Moments with God, Day 5

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Day 5: Jesus is  so Gentle

Matthew 3:13-17
Take time to read the four verses from your Bible so you can fully understand today's insight.

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" I love this moment when John meets up with Jesus. The last time John and Jesus met, according to Scripture, John lept for joy inside Elizabeth's womb as Jesus was inside Mary's womb. John recognized the Son of God as an unborn baby. Now thirty years later John sees Jesus and knows Him. It's his cousin, but he knows that Jesus is the Messiah, come to save the world. No one on earth knew. No one told him. Jesus hadn't performed any miracles yet. There wasn't a buzz around town that there is some guy healing the sick. Jesus shows up and John knows. I'm in awe with John's relationship with the Father and Holy Spirit. His heart, mind, eyes, and ears were on God. Lord, let me see you. Let me know your presence. My heart wants more of you like John did.

Okay, so John knew Him and yet questioned Him! John knows that standing before him is God made flesh, Son of God, Jesus and yet when asked to be baptized John's like, 'I'm sorry you got the memo wrong. You're God, I'm just the messenger. YOU are suppose to baptize ME.' I can see John leaning in close, and almost whispering it in Jesus' ear, from the side of his mouth. And with this, I see myself. How many times have I believed the Lord said or spoke something to me and yet I look up to heaven and question Him. It comforts me that even the greatest disciple of Jesus questioned Him. But Jesus, wonderful, merciful, kind, amazing, Jesus, doesn't rebuke him. He doesn't say, 'John! I know who I am! Now obey me!' He gently states, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3: 15) Basically saying, "John I know, but this is actually what God the Father told me to do-so let's just go ahead and do this." John obeys. Jesus is so gentle and to be honest, that comforts my heart. I grew up in a hostile home. Whenever I asked too many questions, the yelling began. I can ask God questions and know that He is gentle.

Last verse of the morning: "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:16-17) If you have ever doubted, ever wondered, if Jesus is truly our Savior, doubt no more. I can see it plainly. For all those that were there in the river, or on the shores watching, they heard, they saw, they knew. God had really come. If they had missed his birth thirty years before, they knew now. What peace. What joy. GOD is here. And we can have that same joy in us today- God is here. HE is alive! HE is our Savior come into the world, to set us free from sin and death. Be at rest. God is on the throne!

Pray with me:
God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for allowing me to be me - to question you, to doubt, to worry and still you love me. Thank you for being so gentle. Jesus, I confess you are the Son of God, my Savior. I give you my life anew. May I know you as John did. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Book of Matthew: Morning Moments with God, Day 4

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Day 4: Obedience

Matthew 3: 1-12

"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying , "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Please read Matthew 3:1-12 to understand the full 'Morning Insights' for the day =)

John the Baptist has always amazed me. From the announcement, from an angel, of his coming birth, to his death. He was a man who, in the womb, received the Holy Spirit and lived his life following Holy Spirit in full obedience.

Things he did that show his full obedience and death to self:

1. In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea..." Preaching in the desert? If he had his own choice would he have chosen the desert? I've never been to a desert, the best I've done is visited a beach on a really hot day and left after a few hours. But John stood out there, in the heat, and preached. Okay, so that doesn't really talk of his obedience because maybe he liked the desert, but the fact that there is a prophesy about him in the desert assures me that he was living in obedience in order to fulfill the prophesy, "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him." (Matthew 3:3, Isaiah 40:3)

2. "John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey." (Matthew 3:4) I'm sorry, there is no way that he was loving locusts for breakfast, lunch and dinner on his own accord. He grew up with a mom and a dad and traditions with holidays and good food and clothes! He knew what good food was and I'm sure, like the rest of us, he loved it. Wearing those clothes and eating that food was in obedience to his calling. God called him to the desert- he obeyed. Life in the dessert requires those clothes and that food- he accepted it. Obedience has a price- dying to the things we find comfort in, dying to self.

3. "People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, They were baptized by him in the Jordan River." (Matthew 3: 5-6)  First, I am astonished at how many people came out to the desert- "from Jerusalem, all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan." That's alot of people. Was he trained for this? Did he go to college or seminary and get a degree in public speaking or go to Bible college? Probably not. I'm sure his father, Zechariah, taught him the Word of God, but to preach each day to a crowd! and not to mention how intimidating that would be to preach to a large crowd. I know I've said to God, "God, I can't share the Gospel- I don't know enough Scriptures. What will I say? I can't answer all their questions." That's me trusting in me- NOT trusting God and what He has called me to do. God called John. John obeyed. Could we answer the call of God on our lives with the same obedience?

4. "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducee's coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father..' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." If that had been me, and I saw the Pharisees and Sadducee's coming, fear would have gripped my heart. I have struggled for years with the fear of authority- fear of man. I would have been silent. I would have stood there waiting to see what they wanted. I would have been afraid that they were coming to either shut my 'church' down or arrest me. BUT John, being so convicted in his calling that came from God and convicted in what he was called to preach was the Truth, had no fear of man. Fear of God pulsed through his veins. The reverence for God motivated him. The love of the Father and doing His good work kept him at peace. So, not only was he NOT afraid, he was bold! He calls out those pious, religious men as being a 'brood of vipers!' He sees right through them because of Holy Spirit being in him. He spoke the truth without any sugar coating and all those people who John had been preaching to, heard it clear as day. I'm sure it was an eye-opening day for the common people that were there. The common sinners probably thought that the priests had a free ticket into heaven, but John set the record straight that day- REPENT! and you shall be saved!

5. "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in this hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:11-12) I grew up in New York City in a largely Jewish community. I had many Jewish friends that went to synagogue and Hebrew school. In all my years of living side by side with my Jewish friends and babysitting for my neighbors, I never heard one of them say, "I was baptized." I don't think baptism is a Jewish thing, but there he was, standing in the desert, baptizing people. He was radically different from any of the priests from the Temple. I'm sure someone must have asked him, "On whose authority do you baptize these people?" Whether they asked or not, whether they thought it or not, it made no difference to John. God told him to baptize people and get them ready for the Messiah, Jesus, who was coming, and so he did.

It was like John had been to heaven, talked with God, and came back down to earth. He lived like there was only One person to live for- God. He lived like God was GOD.

Pray this prayer with me:

Father, pour over on me your Holy Spirit. Give me your boldness. Break the fear of man. Set me free to go forth and declare the Good News with no shame so that all people can know you and be saved! You have come and according to John, you "will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Baptize me afresh with your Spirit and give me your fire to preach, teach, and bring the lost to repentance. Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Book of Matthew: Morning Moments with God, Day 3

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Day 3: God's Plan Will Not be Thwarted

Matthew 2: 13- 23
" angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream'...Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." (Matthew 2:13)

"After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." (Matthew 2 19- 20)

"So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

Take the time now to open up your very own Bible and read the full Scripture noted above- it will help understand today's insight better.

In today's reading we find that Joseph wasn't just given one dream from the Lord, but three! Joseph was given a total of four dreams from God in his lifetime- 1) A dream to marry Mary, 2) a dream to flee to Egypt, 3) a dream to tell him all is safe and to head to Israel, and 4) a dream to settle in Nazareth. Joseph obeyed it all. But what I noticed this morning is the verse, "But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod he was afraid to go there."

Who was afraid? 
 Joseph was afraid.
He had, had three dreams from God already in his lifetime. They were all proven to be true and yet with this fourth dream he was afraid to obey it. The third dream clearly wasn't enough for Joseph to jump up and obey. So what did God do? He gave him another dream..."Having been warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth." (vs.23)

God is working with mere imperfect humans. Sometimes we become too afraid to obey. We see the 'Archelaus' in our lives and we fret. We withdraw. We pull back. We think, "God, I just can't do this. God, I don't think you see what I see. I see 'Archelaus' and he's worse than anything I've had to face. I just can't go forward." We get too afraid to obey God. The God who sees EVERYTHING and knows EVERYTHING- we fail to trust Him.

So, what did God do for Joseph? He gave Joseph another dream. He told Joseph to settle in Nazareth. Whew! Joseph was good with that and obeyed. They were all safe. Done! But what struck me was Joseph didn't mess up God's plan. God knew Joseph was going to be too afraid to obey. God knew it all along and wasn't surprised by it. How do I know? "So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." Hundreds of years before Joseph was ever born, prophets spoke the words of God, wrote it down, that declared the Messiah, Jesus, was to be called a Nazarene.

God knows what He is working with. He sees and knows it all and in some way He can orchestrate everything and make it all come out perfect. So, you ask, "Well, why isn't my life perfect then?" Well, I'll ask you something in return - Do you obey God perfectly? Do you wait on Him in your fears, as Joseph did, before making decisions and forging ahead? Probably not. I know, -I don't obey perfectly either. So, when we don't obey, and we stay on our own path, and continue to not listen to God, how can we expect to see His perfect plan for our lives show up? We can't. Are we hopeless? NO. NEVER. God is ever forgiving. We can humble ourselves and repent. We can ask Him to bring us back onto His path and He WILL do it. We are never lost to God- ever! He is always searching for ways to speak to us, and bring us back to His heart and His perfect plan for our lives. Why? Because He loves us that much!

Go forth today knowing that the God of the universe, the God who holds the stars in their place, the God who knows the beginning and the end LOVES YOU and He has a perfect plan for your life. Be patient. Wait to hear His voice. Obey Him. Blessings on a great day of freedom!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Testimony is on YouTube!

My testimony is on YouTube! 

It's how I was ready to give up on God, but He wasn't going to let go of me!

Check it out!

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The Book of Matthew: Morning Moments with God, Day 2

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Day 2: Matthew 2: 1-12 - Meet the KING 
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

1) I never noticed this before- "After Jesus was born..." Jesus had been born! The shepherds have had sightings from angels and had gone out to the town as the first missionaries, "Then they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about his child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (Luke 2:17) Mary and Joseph were in the town and Jesus was born. The star was in the sky. It was so bright that these men, the Magi, had seen it as far away as 'in the east' and followed it. How did Herod NOT see it? How did he not know that all this was happening? It had all happened right under his nose and he still hadn't heard about Jesus' birth. The Lord had to bring the Magi all the way from the east to tell him. God wanted Herod to know that His Son was born. The, "King of the Jews" was here. With knowing how evil Herod was, having killed his own wife, three sons, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and many others, WHY would God bring the Magi to Herod's front door step and tell him about Jesus? God, being God, knew that Herod would try and murder the baby Jesus, so why tell him? One word: Love. God loves us all and wants to give each of an opportunity to receive Jesus-even the most horrid of men. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) God even wanted Herod to be saved. God had hope for even an evil man such as Herod. Our God is glorious! He doesn't give up on us! He doesn't loose hope! He is ever trying to bring us to His heart. If you do not see God in your life, please know- He is there. He is bigger than the star in the sky. Bigger than a hundred angels singing in the heavens! He's there- only look for him, as the Magi did, and you will find Him.

2) "We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." (vs 2) "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him." (vs.11)

They saw his star in the east -I have no idea how they knew it was his star, but it was enough for them to travel miles upon miles, by camel-don't forget, to meet Jesus and worship him.  Worship Him. I think the Magi knew something big was happening on earth, enough for them to pack up and travel- something very big, but I don't think they really knew what they were in for. I  do think they really did believe a king was coming and they would worship him, but worship a king, small 'k.' I don't think they really understood it until they saw His precious face. As soon as they came in, "they bowed down and worshipped him." They were in the presence of JESUS! The KING of Kings and the LORD of Lords! The one we will meet in heaven, in all His glory! They were in the presence of Jesus! I think meeting Him was more than they realized. More than they hoped for. And is that not like many of us, isn't it? We know about Jesus and all He has done. We see Christmas lights and know it's His birthday. We see Easter baskets and remember His death and resurrection, but until we take the time, to travel up to our rooms, open the Word, and meet Him do we realize Who He is- Our KING. Our wonderful, loving, patient, forgiving, gracious, joyful, kind, KING. Meet with HIm and know Him- He is more than you think He is!