God Lifted Me Up

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God (Psalm 40:1-3).

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Sometime ago I had a rough week.  At one point I felt as if I were drowning.  I was so overwhelmed that I came close to quitting my job but God gave me the strength to carry on.  On my way home from work on Friday afternoon, I felt drained.  My tiredness was like a heavy burden weighing me down.

When I got home, I played some of my favorite Gospel CDs and I felt the heaviness lift.  I sang along, my heart filling with joy.  I was singing praises to the Lord and as I focused on the words I felt my self lifted up.  I became energized.  I was no long tired.  I played several CDs and read a couple of quotes and sayings from “God’s Little Instruction Book for Women”.  It was a wonderful way to usher in the Sabbath.

God lifted me out of the pit of despair and placed my feet on solid ground.  God lifted me up when I lifted Him up.  The best pick me up is singing praises to God.  The next time you feel low, pick up the Bible and read a psalm that praises God, put on your favorite Gospel CD or sing a few hymns.   One that comes to mind is Sing praise to God.

Sing praise to God who reigns above,
the God of all creation,
the God of power, the God of love,
the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul He fills,
and every faithless murmur stills;
To God all praise and glory!

What God’s almighty power hath made
His gracious mercy keepeth;
By morning glow or evening shade,
His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth,
Within the kingdom of his might,
Lo! all is just, and all is right:
To God all praise and glory!

The Lord is never far away,
throughout all grief distressing,
an ever present help and stay,
our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory!

Then all my gladsome way along,
I sing aloud thy praises,
that men may hear the grateful song
my voice unwearied raises:
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart!
both soul and body bear your part!
To God all praise and glory.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14

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The most wonderful event in history occurred one night in the city of David.  Mary gave birth to her first Child, a Son.  She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in the manger because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Prophecy was fulfilled.  “Look!  The virgin will conceive a child.  She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel—‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14) The birth of Jesus was something to celebrate.  An angel, excited about the good news, went and told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.  And this is how you will recognize Him:  You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:10-12).

Excited, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem!  Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (verse 15).  They rushed off and found Mary and Joseph.  And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had told them about this Child.  All those who were present were amazed to hear the shepherds’ testimony.  The shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them and because they had seen the Child just as the angel had said.

Could you imagine being one of those shepherds?  You are sitting there watching your flock and then an angel of the Lord suddenly appears to tell you that the Messiah—the Savior you had waited for so long is born?  Not only that—the angel tells you where you can find Him and how to recognize Him.  You and the other shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and you see the baby.  You see the face of your Savior.  He is a Baby that would grow up into a Man who would touch the lives of many.  Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.  Like her, we should treasure the things we know and learn about Jesus and think about them often.

During this holiday season many people think only about the birth of Jesus but how about thinking about His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection too?  Treasure not just Jesus the newborn babe lying in the manger, but treasure the Man, Messiah, Savior, Lord and King.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone.

The Virgin Mother

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14

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The mere fact that a virgin will give conceive and give birth to a Son, is in of itself a miracle.  This is humanly impossible.  Even Mary marveled.  She exclaimed, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel, Gabriel explains to her how this miraculous birth will be achieved.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”  He reminds her that, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

If the Almighty could have Elizabeth, a barren woman conceive in her old age why couldn’t it be possible for Mary, a young virgin, who found favor with Him conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, and call His name Jesus? (Luke 1:30, 31, 36).  Yes, God can do the impossible and He did.  In Mary, He fulfilled the promise which He made through the prophet, Isaiah and He named the Child Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for leaving the glory of Heaven to come to earth to be with us.

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14, NIV

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God, the Son and the Word who was with the Father in the beginning became flesh.  He came into the world as a newborn Babe to live among men.  He was raised in a Jewish home to Jewish parents in the town of Nazareth.  He became a carpenter like Joseph before going into ministry.  As Man, Jesus experienced the things we experience such as hunger and thirst, tiredness and grief.  He was tempted like us but He didn’t sin.  He prayed daily to the Father.  He had friends and He socialized with different sorts of people, some of whom were treated as outcasts.

The glory John saw was the transfiguration of Jesus when He took Peter, James and him up to the high mountain where He communed with Moses and Elijah.  They were not to mention anything to anyone until He was raised from the dead (Matthew 17:1-3, 9).   Peter later wrote, “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:17, 18).

Jesus came from the Father to bring grace and truth into the world which was steeped in sin and darkness.  His grace was shown in his healing of diseases, the casting out of unclean spirits and in his interaction with tax collectors, sinners, the woman caught in adultery and the Samaritan woman.  He shared moral and religious truth through parables and the Sermon on the Mount.  He taught people how to live in relation to God and to people.  Jesus placed God’s truth which was found in His Word above the traditions of men and the lies of Satan.

As you celebrate this Christmas season, reflect on the amazing reality that Jesus, by Whom all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, set aside His majesty and glory and came in the form of man to tabernacle among the people (Colossians 1:16; Philippians 2:7).

Thank You, Lord Jesus for becoming like us, so that in the flesh You could save us.

Called

Ah, Lord GOD!  Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth – Jeremiah 1:6

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Image by Freepik

When God called me to be a pastor, I was scared.  I felt that at 26, I was too young to be lead the congregation of a megachurch here in Birmingham, Alabama but while I was praying about it, the Holy Spirit brought the calling of prophet Jeremiah to my mind.

He was young too when God called to be a prophet which is a tremendous responsibility and the youth protested because he didn’t feel qualified because of his age.  But God quickly addressed his concerns with these words, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak.  I think what probably cinched it for Jeremiah when the Lord told him him not to be afraid of the people and promised to be with him to deliver him.

I realized that I wasn’t in this alone.  God called me and he was going to be with me just as He was with Jeremiah.  All I had to do was to do whatever He commanded.  I stepped out in faith and showed up at the church I was to pastor and the rest, as they say is history.  I just celebrated my tenth anniversary as pastor and I’m still going strong, thanks to God who not only called me to serve Him but qualified me to do it to His glory.

My experience has taught me that we are never too young of too old to be used by God.  He will equip us for the work He calls us to do and He will be with us every step of the way.  We have nothing to fear or worry about because He promises to be with us.  Like Jeremiah, we don’t have to worry about what to say.  God will give us the words.  He will put the words in our mouths when the time comes for us to teach, share the Gospel or in my case, to preach.  Just trust and obey Him and He will do the rest.

The above is a story of fiction but it was inspired by David Platt, who at the age of 26, was hired to lead the congregation of The Church at Brook Hills, a megachurch in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the youngest megachurch pastor in America at the time.  Like the prophet, Jeremiah, he is a testimony that age isn’t a factor when it comes to serving God.

Source:  Bible Gateway

One o’ These Days/Beyond #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

 

Beyond them trees is freedom.

One o’ these days, I goin’ walk

through them, with ma head held

high.  That bright light will be

the Lord’s glory shinin’ on me

and the rest of us who been

slaves most o’ our lives.

Yes, one o’ these days, we’s

goin’ taste freedom.  Till

then, I goin’ hang on to

ma faith.

 

This photo made me think of the African slaves and how they must have dreamed of being free one day.  Their faith and hope kept them going.  And this post was also written in response to what I heard today on the radio about the song, That’s Why Darkies Were Born performed by Kate Smith.  Many believe the lyrics to be offensive and as a result, NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers announced they would stop playing her famous rendition of “God Bless America” during games and removed her statue from outside the NHL team’s arena.  The Yankees also cut ties with her.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Beyond at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

A Promise Fulfilled

“Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior you have given to all people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:29-32)

These are the words of a man named Simeon who was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue His people. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. He got his wish.

The Holy Spirit led Simeon to the temple the very same day that Jesus was dedicated to the Lord. How wonderful! God had fulfilled His promise to Simeon.

Simeon was overjoyed when he saw the Infant Savior. How his heart must have leapt with joy as he held Jesus in his arms and gazed down into that tiny face. He blessed Joseph and Mary. He said to Mary, “This Child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others.”

For many of us, Jesus is the greatest joy. He brought us hope, love, peace and the promise of eternal life.  Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, proclaimed, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited His people and redeemed them.  He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David, just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago” (Luke 1:68-70).

What a wonderful promise!  During the Christmas season, imagine what it must have been like for Simeon to see the Lord face to face and to realize that the Lord had kept him alive for just that moment.  Simeon had seen salvation.  He had seen the promise of eternal life before he died.  God had promised His people salvation and then He fulfilled that promise through His Son, Jesus.

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