A Christian Journey

Archive for December, 2014

A New Gate

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“Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow, contracted by pressure, and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14 Amplified

As we look toward the new year are some of us looking for a different path? They say doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Look back at the last year and review it for the things that happened to you. Be honest and see the times you made a bad decision, or you caused a problem that you had. It’s tough, but that’s the first step to a new life, admitting you are wrong sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up to bad about it, we all make mistakes, but determine that you’re not going to let that happen again, you will learn from your past.

As Jesus tells us in today’s verse, many take the easy way and go through the wide gate, because, well, it’s easy! He also warns us that this leads to destruction. If you see your life as a lot of heartache and hurt, then it might be because you’ve taken the easy way. The easy way doesn’t take much effort, you just float along with everyone else, doing what they do, acting like they do. Then further down the river you come upon the rapids and they bang you around, sometimes keeping you from ever making any further progress.

In contrast, the narrow gate presents us with the strait and compressed issues right off the bat. No time to feel sorry for yourself or collapse in a pile of mush. The narrow gate is hard at first because it causes you to press through issues and problems to a resolution so that then you are able to take the path that leads to life. A life of peace and joy, no matter what floats across your path. In going through the narrow gate you aren’t alone, Jesus is on the trip with you. It’s not that your journey won’t encounter some obstacles, but He will see you through them.

In concluding His sermon on the mount, where today’s verse comes from, Jesus said, “So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them, obeying them, will be like a sensible, prudent, practical, wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

Jesus is that rock, build your life on Him today.

Magnify The Lord

“And Mary said, My soul magnifies and extols the Lord.” Luke 1:46

In the book of Luke we are told of the conversation between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, both women pregnant miraculously. Now Elizabeth was not pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but she was beyond child-bearing age, similar to Sarah of the old testament, yet she was pregnant. She knew that God had smiled on her by giving her a child and now her young cousin joined in her anticipation. It’s wonderful that the Lord would give young Mary a companion to build her faith and help anchor her soul. Our verse today comes after she has visited with Elizabeth.

This is a great example for me, that my sisters and brothers in Christ encourage me to magnify and extol the Lord in my life.

God Meant It For Good

“Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her to his side as his wife.” Matthew 1:24   Amplified

What a man Joseph was, what a wonderful father he must have been to Jesus, and a caring husband to Mary. When she first told him that she was pregnant but it was not by another man surely he began to doubt Mary’s integrity. How could a woman be pregnant and it NOT be from another man? I believe because he didn’t mistreat her by having her stoned, which was his legal right, the Lord sent his angel to Joseph to confirm for him what was happening, just as Mary had said.

It reminds me of the Joseph in the old testament whose brothers betrayed him. Later when he was second under Pharoah and in a position to save his brothers he told them, you meant it for evil but God meant it for good. The new testament Joseph must have initially thought of the wrong done to him by Mary in sleeping with another man. Once he heard from the angels he realized God meant it for good. For the salvation of the world.

Not much is known about Joseph, he had a good blood line, coming from the tribe of Judah and we see Boaz, King David, and King Solomon there. He was humble and he worked with his hands as a carpenter; cutting, shaping and creating things.

When we think of Joseph in the Christmas story may it remind us to be humble and seek the good God provides, not the evil men do.

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No Room In The Inn

“And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:7   Amplified

The town was busy, everyone had come to Bethlehem to be registered according to the law. By the time the couple had fulfilled that requirement there were no more places available for them to stay. Joseph knew he had to find some place for Mary, she was very pregnant and had just ridden over 93 miles on a donkey. Finally, they were offered the lowliest of places for a baby to be born, a stable. Historians say it was a cave and not the typical barn we think of, though animals were kept there. It’s interesting if you think about it, this was no man-made place, God carved this spot out, it was natural. How fitting that Mary had Jesus, God with us, among His other creations.

I’ve heard it said that the inn of this story is likened to your heart. Jesus needed to be born somewhere, He still does. He needs to dwell in our hearts, but some people have no room for Him. Just like during that time when things were busy in the town, we get busy with our life. We have places to go, people to see and things to do, we can’t stop. If we don’t stop and make room for Jesus, though, and give Him our heart to sit on the throne of our life, then we will be the ones left out in the cold.

This Christmas season open the inn of your heart and let the Savior dwell there.

Disturbed And Troubled

“When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him.”  Matthew 2:3

There’s always a villain in every story and Herod is it for this one. All the devil could do to try to stop God from coming down to earth was use people, just like he does today. In this case his primary target would be a Jewish man of influence, Herod. Most don’t know that King Herod was a Jew, but in name only. He was put in power by Rome as they knew he could be manipulated. All he really cared about was the power he had and the benefits that came along with it. When confronted with any challenge to that he turned to the Roman way of responding, get rid of it.

Through the wise men he found out as much as he could about the birth of Jesus, then he told them to let him know when they found Him so he could worship Him too. All of that was a lie, and when Herod found out the wise men weren’t coming back he sent his men to Bethlehem to put any male child under the age of two to death. Of course we know that Jesus wasn’t killed, Joseph was warned of this so he left Bethlehem and went to Egypt until Herod died.

One of the reasons people don’t accept Jesus as their Savior is they like the power and control they have over their lives. At least they think they have power and control, the enemy is good at convincing us of that. If we’re not careful we can become as evil as Herod was in doing everything to rid ourselves of Jesus. When we remove Him from every aspect of our life, then we are left with a vacuum and the devil is glad to fill it.

The Open Sky

“And in that vicinity there were shepherds living out under the open sky in the field, watching in shifts over their flock by night.” Luke 2:8  Amplified

The shepherds in the story of the birth of Jesus always seem to appear very ragged and poor. Some associate that with them being stupid and dull as well. Idiots who will believe anything they’re told. Of course those same people believe a big explosion started everything we now know, how gullible is that?

If we look back on shepherds in Jesus time they had to be very smart as sheep are very dumb. They had to battle predators when far away from town, know the right places to go to feed and water the sheep, and be aware of the seasons to take proper care of their flock. King David was a shepherd as a boy. In his battle with Goliath, he tells King Saul that the Lord helped him defeat the lion and the bear, why not a big loudmouth oaf?

Though shepherds were intelligent they also were able to spend a lot of time communing with the environment and think on spiritual things, like the wise men. Maybe that’s why those two groups were chosen.

Oftentimes we hurry too much in life, going here and there, only to then go on to another here and there. Let’s stop, especially at this time of year and get out under the open sky. Let’s ponder what God has for us and where He is leading us.

Wise Men And Women Still Seek Him

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east at its rising and have come to worship Him.”  Matthew 2:1-2    Amplified

We all know the story of the three wise men who come looking for Jesus, but did you know there may have been more than three. Most agree the only reason we say three is because of the three gifts they brought to Jesus. These men are called wise because they were not only educated and wealthy, but they sought to know more than man can know. They studied the stars, the prophecies, and the writings of many. In the two verses of our scripture today they have quoted three prophecies about the Messiah. They were also wise enough to know that King Herod didn’t want to worship the new king, but wanted him dead so they didn’t return to him once they found the babe.

We can learn much from the trio of travelers. Let us always be seeking, learning, studying. Let us keep companions that are doing the same. Let us be open to worship a king even if He is a baby. Let us be wise men and women who still seek Him.