SET FREE or IMPRISONED
"So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free."
John gives an account of Jesus' words of truth to those proclaimed to be the Children of Abraham. These were professors but not possessors of the works of Abraham. He explains that if their father were indeed Abraham, they would love Him and not seek to kill Him.
Take a self-examination. Do your daily-walk characteristics align with a professor or possessor of the truth? Have the words of truth set you free?
A sinner cannot break from his strength, which causes him to be a servant to sin. But the Son who is the truth can remove all chains from one enslaved to make them free. Sound truth spoken by Jesus leads to salvation, which truly makes one FREE; in other words, freedom from the bondage of sin.
Those that believe in Jesus Christ and remain faithful to His teachings are indeed His disciples. His disciples will know the truth, and the truth will set them free. So to be free, a disciple has to make room in their heart to receive the message presented by the Son.
Are you set free or in bondage?
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A TRUE LOVE STORY
"For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son [the unique one] so that everyone
who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life."
LOVE is a four-lettered word with a powerful impact. Some only view it as a spoken word,
but it is a word of action in reality.
God demonstrated love by sending His only begotten son to die for our sins. Jesus displayed His willingness to give His life that all who would accept Him as Lord could have eternal life.
To walk in the example of Christ, His followers must emulate His sacrificial act of love. Yes, we must be willing to die from self-will and yield to God's will.
How is that possible? Once we accept Jesus as Lord, we have the Holy Spirit living within who provides the strength and power needed to live by the Will of God. It's up to us to embrace the power within and move forward in it.
Why should we take on this love quest? For one, God loved us first, and He expresses
His love for us daily at the rising of the sun and close of the day.
Through the selfless act of
Jesus, we have secured the promises of the Father's love from now to eternity. So, move beyond the spoken word of LOVE and choose to act upon it.
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THE SAFEST PLACE
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide
under the shadow of the Almighty."
The Psalmist's words provide assurance; trusting and dwelling in the place of God
affords security and protection.
God is the Supreme Being of all. He is all-knowing, and when acknowledged as such,
one can find comfort in knowing life presents no surprises to Him.
Walking in His way follows His shadow, which ultimately provides light in a tunnel
of darkness, brightening the path traveled.
The safest place is in the Will of God, and in that place abides peace, joy, understanding,
and happiness resting deep within the soul.
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A NEW BEGINNING
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
Every morning we are graced to open our eyes provides hope in knowing that we still
have a purpose in this life. It might be the minor things such as relaying a kind word, illuminating a vibrant smile, or patting one on the back, encouraging them to keep the faith.
As God's loyalties are steadfast to us, we must be faithful to each other.
If we declare Christ as Lord, it is our responsibility to be a light that shines in this dark world to provide hope for those who can't see their way.
Every day is a new beginning to make it count, to stand in the assurance of the mercies of
God. If His faithfulness covers us daily, we ought to take a walk-in commitment to show
Him we are grateful and willing to be used.
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SAFE IN THE STORM
Matthew 14: 28-34
"But when he (Peter) saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted."
We sometimes find ourselves sinking in this sea of life, just as the passage indicates Peter's encounter. Taking his eyes off Jesus and drawing attention to his surroundings resulted in him beginning to sink. But, Jesus is present to rescue him in his moment of despair.
When we cry out to Jesus in our difficult times, recognizing He is our source of power in troubled times, we can find rest in knowing He is in control of all circumstances; our part is to keep our focus on Him and embrace His power. We then can find hope in knowing our storms will subside, and we will be drawn to safety.
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MY GRACE IS ENOUGH
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
"My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you."
Paul expresses an urgent need for deliverance, symbolically speaking, asking God to
remove the thorn from his flesh given to keep him from being elated.
God responded, "My grace is sufficient."
God will allow hardships and difficulties to cross our paths to move us into humility and dependency. He is enabling us to walk in the power of His might and press
through the test to become a testimony and glorify Him.
So when you are faced with adversity and God seems to be distant, know that He
is near and sustaining you with His grace.
CHRISTMAS time, decorated trees with beautiful lights, ornaments, and ribbons. Family gatherings to create memorable moments to pass down throughout generations, feasting around the dinner table and beautifully sorted wrapped gifts to be soon opened and cherished for years to come.
During this season, you hear sweet melodies in the atmosphere and carolers singing Songs of Zion, which portrays the very essence of the true reason for this glorious season; the Birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
The Christmas story is recited and displayed in various forms, but how intriguing it is when you take notice of the symbolic elements made visible in scripture of our Savior’s birth by the foretelling of the Prophet Isaiah and the actual accounts revealed through the Apostles Matthew and Luke.
Described below are a few of the key elements, characters, and symbols that outline this miraculous event, paving the way to the beginning of our Salvation.
KEY CHARACTERS, ELEMENTS, AND SYMBOLS
WISEMEN: These were astrologers, ones who studied the stars in an attempt to foretell the future. In Matthew 2:2, the Wisemen asked King Herod, “Where is the new born king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” This star indicates the foretelling that this baby would rise above all. God would elevate him to the place of highest honor and give him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow (Phil 2:9-10). God reveals to John his written name, LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS (Revelation 19:16-21).
VIRGIN MARY: The Mother of Jesus. Why was it necessary that Jesus Christ was born from a virgin, representing purity? The significance of Jesus Christ’s unique birth is crucial to the Faith and Salvation of all. Mary carried a hope, Savior, king, and son of God to be with man on earth. The sinless Christ gave His life at Calvary to take our sin upon Him; if there were no virgin birth, there would be no sinless Christ. No sinless Christ, no atonement, no atonement, no forgiveness, no hope of eternal life.
ANGEL: A spiritual or heavenly being that God sends as His special messenger or helper to human beings to deliver His message. The angel appears to the Shepherds with a message from God saying, “…Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). As the angel appeared to the Shepherds, so did he appear to the women at the tomb, saying, “…Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen….” The Good news delivered back then still assure hope, peace, and joy to us today (Matthew 28:5-6).
IMMANUEL: The foretold given name to the Christ child by the Prophet Isaiah, “… the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means, God is with us.” As this symbolic name suggests, God incarnate came in the person of Jesus Christ to save the world.
SHEPHERD: One who tends to the sheep; protects, guides, nurtures, and lays down his life. According to John, Jesus uses this illustration about himself in the gospel, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (John 10:11-14). After the shepherds found the baby, they went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Because the love of the good shepherd continues to reign, we can also glorify and praise the Christ child.
STAR: Stars were used symbolically for rulers, princes, angels, and ministers. The Wise Men asked King Herod, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? Then they quoted the Prophet, Isaiah. Saying, “And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel” (Matthew 2:6). John denotes Christ as “the bright and morning star” (Rev 22:16). He continues to be the light that shines through us in this dark world.
MANGER: A feeding trough for livestock; a wooden or stone food box that holds hay for larger farm animals like cattle, horses, and donkeys. The infant Jesus was laid in a manger after His birth to emphasize Jesus’ words according to the gospel of John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again…” He came to give us life.
GIFTS: The Wise Men brought Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh to baby Jesus to worship him; the primary significance of the gifts lay in their great value—they were indeed gifts fit for a king. (Matthew 2:11)
Gold, immense value, gold was particularly associated with royalty and nobility. By bringing a gift of gold, the wise men showed that they did indeed consider Jesus, a king.
Frankincense, when burned as incense, it creates a beautiful and robust aroma. The burning of frankincense was closely associated with ceremonial worship. This gift for Jesus may have indicated that the wise men understood that the prophecy of the newborn king carried with it a claim of divinity.
Myrrh, a key ingredient in the mixture of spices used to prepare bodies for burial; perhaps the wise men intended this gift as an indication of Jesus’ humanity and the manner he would save his people—namely, that he would die for them.
SWADDLING CLOTHES: She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…” (Luke 2:7). The Greek word sparganoo is the root word used in the phrase “swaddling clothes,” and it means “to clothe in strips of cloth.” In Mark’s account, after Jesus had died on the cross, Joseph bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher hewed out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the tomb (Mark 15:46).
EGYPT: The angel told Joseph to take the baby and his mother to Egypt for protection (Matthew 2:13-15), symbolic to God’s chosen people Israel. Fulfillment of what was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet Isaiah; “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15). As an infant nation, Israel went down into Egypt, so the child Jesus went there and as God led Israel out of Egypt, so was Jesus. He came to protect and deliver us from the bondage of slavery.
In conclusion, when we observe all aspects of Jesus’ birth, it reveals His birth is a foreshadowing of His death that whosoever will believe that He is Savior and Lord, The Christ, can experience a life filled with joy and peace. In a nutshell, His birth denotes the beginning of our Salvation and ultimately the path to our Eternal Life; to be with God forever! AMEN!!