The Night HOPE Was Born by Janice Gleason

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“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.  And the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said,

‘Greetings, O favored one, the LORD is with you!’ 

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her,

‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor [grace] with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High.  And the LORD God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there will be no end.’

And Mary said to the angel,

‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’

And the angel answered her,

‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [hover over you, brood over you]; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy___the Son of God.  And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God’

And Mary said,

‘Behold, I am the servant of the LORD; let it be to me according to your word.’

And the angel left her.”  Luke 1:26-38

I considered leaving some of these verses out, but if it were you, could you choose just a few?  I certainly couldn’t!!  But I would like to make a few observations.  First, the angel left Mary after this stunning revelation.  But God didn’t.  He is Jehovah-shammah, The LORD Is Here and He never left her or forsook her.  He stayed, supported her and supplied her every need.  He had already sent an angel to Joseph so Mary did not have to try to explain the holy thing that would happen to her.  The desperate desire to be understood never overcame her for her LORD had met that need.  She never felt she must become her own defense lawyer!!  How gracious and loving of God!!  He was to her Jehovah-jireh, The LORD Who Provides and the God Who Sees To It!! 

Second, I was once again struck by Mary’s humble submission.  She chose to take God at His word…I believe that is called faith.  She waited, she was silent and she was still.  But she had hope in God’s promise, confident she had found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Thirdly, this birth of God’s only begotten Son was a onetime event.  Yet He is the same God to those who belong to Him today.  Because of this Holy Child, Who would die for our sins, we too can be filled with hope and assurance we are loved. 

“And this hope does not let us down, because God’s love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.  For while we were still helpless [to save ourselves from our sins] at the right time, the Messiah died on behalf of ungodly people.” Romans 5:5-6

Fourthly, God sent His Son right on time___ on track, on target and on task.  And HOPE was born!  For the Jewish people needed hope.  They were under painful bondage to the Law of God for men had added their own thoughts about how one was to live.  Even Mary and Joseph would have felt this.  The angel’s revelation to Mary must have set hope aflame in her tender heart.  She knew the promise of a Messiah Who would deliver; she didn’t know she would be the mother of God’s choice!

“But when the appointed time arrived, God sent forth His Son.  He was born from a woman, born into a culture in which legalistic perversion of the Law was the norm so that He might redeem those in subjection to this legalism and thus enable us to be made God’s sons.”  Galatians 4:4-5

“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear [of that perverted culture of legalism]; on the contrary, you received the Spirit, Who makes us sons and by whose power we cry out,

‘Abba!  Father [Dear Father]!  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of God and if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah___provided we are suffering with Him in order also to be glorified.” Romans 8:15-17

Yes!  Jesus truly is the God-gift that keeps on giving!  But the story goes on for the Spirit did overshadow Mary and she conceived.

“While they were there [Bethlehem…the appointed place of the Holy Child’s birth] the time came for her to give birth [in a specific year, month, date and time] and she gave birth to her first child, a Son.  She wrapped Him in cloth and laid Him down in a feeding trough, because there was no space for them in the living-quarters.”  Luke 2:6-7

There was no space-available at the inn but Jehovah-jireh provided a place.  God gathered Mary, Joseph and later on some shepherds that night.  And just as Mary wrapped up the Baby, God the Father “wrapped up” all those present in wonder and awe.  Only the Father knew all that His Son would suffer.  Such a tiny Baby; such a heavy load He would one day carry on the Cross.  All would be done out of love for sinful man.

Who is this Holy Child to you?  His name is Jesus.  What have you done with Him?  When did you choose to believe what God has said about His Son as Mary and Joseph and the shepherds did?  Will you accept His most gracious offer to come into your life as Savior and LORD?  Will you confess your helpless condition to save yourself from your sins?  Will you repent and turn to God in Christ Jesus?  And when you do, HOPE will be born in you!!  I pray you will do so now.

Christian, what are you doing with Jesus now?  Do you know Him as the Holy Spirit Who lives in you?  What difficult times are you facing?  Perhaps feelings of abandonment, loneliness, no one understanding you?  Or you could be experiencing a deepening relationship with the LORD and that means HOPE is active in you!!

Just a few more truths for us to cling to…to hope in:

Jesus can free you from the bondage of being your own defense lawyer…let Him  handle it for you.  It is freeing to wait, to be silent and still.

Jesus can free you from the perversion of legalism that says you ought to, you must, you should.  He will teach you how to live by His grace!

Jesus as God can be for you Jehovah-jireh the God Who Will See To It, when your needs are beyond your capability of meeting.

Jesus can help you forgive.

Jesus can fill you with hope that He has so much more planned for you – “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

How will Jesus do this for you?  When you begin to be in His Word daily you will realize precious truths about Him.  Open the Scriptures and find the hope you need and so much more.  The Holy Spirit will meet you.  He has never left you but have you left Him out?  God is serious about meeting with you alone every day. 

Open the Christmas story anew and expect His personal attention and revelation.  Those who belong to the LORD can live an expectant life!  Stand in awe and adoration before Him.

“And may God, the source of encouragement and patience give you the same attitude among yourselves as Jesus the Christ had, so that with one accord with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ…may God the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and peace as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may overflow with hope.” Romans 15:5-6. 13

May God’s grace be multiplied to you because one night long ago, the Hope of the World was born.

Janice Gleason

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Look What God Did! by Janice Gleason

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“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the LORD appeared to them and the glory of the LORD shone around them [the Shekinah glory of the LORD], and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ [Messiah] the LORD.  And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’ Luke 2:8-14

I did some research on Jewish shepherds of that day.  The religious establishment considered shepherds unclean not because the job was dirty [the priests had a pretty “dirty” job in sacrificing all those animals] but rather when they sold their sheep they also would sell to Gentiles.  Therefore, they were banned from worshipping in the temple.  So what did God do for these very ordinary shepherds?  As Paul exclaimed,

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!!  How unsearchable are His decisions and His ways past finding out” Romans 11:33

God decided to give these shepherds their very own worship service in their own field!!  And what a service it was!!  It was powerful, passionate, perfect and precious!!  They were given a heavenly messenger with a powerful “sermon” magnifying the LORD because God had kept His promise…the long awaited Messiah had finally come!  The angel even invited them to go visit the Baby, giving exact instructions as to what to find.  For many babies were born that night and wrapped in swaddling cloths but none would be found lying in a manger. 

Then the “choir” sang!!  Oh, what heavenly music with such a powerful message.  The song was not about themselves and their needs but all about God and what He had done…they made much of His name…they made God famous!!  And it was all done just for these shepherds!

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His decisions and His ways past finding out.” Romans 11:33

These Jewish men who were denied worship at the “correct” place, were given a glimpse of what worship is like in heaven!!  The temple had not known the Shekinah glory of the LORD for centuries, yet God chose an ordinary open field to appear in all His glory.  Oh, how the LIGHT of the GLORY of the LORD lit up that field!  These shepherds were simply doing their job, with its hard work, late hours and tedious “same old, same old” and look what God did for them!!  God broke into their late shift and they were terrified.  Wouldn’t you be?  But any direct God-encounter required God’s messenger to say, ‘Do not be afraid!’ 

This was not happening in the established place of worship…not in the Temple…this was happening in their place, their field, their area of responsibility.  God broke His silence of 400 years not to the priests but to men simply doing their job. 

And the shepherds got it!  And they owned it as they “…went with haste [after the angels left] and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it [the sign of a baby lying in a manger], they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.”  Luke 2:16-18. 

And what we truly get, we not only own, we share!!!  The message they heard from angelic lips was far deeper and more significant that what was expected…freedom from the Romans, better wages, less hours and more benefits.  No, this heavenly message was the long time coming answer to their prayers____ Messiah!!  Emmanuel!!  God with us!!!  The One who would reconcile sinful man and Holy God.  The One Who would bridge the gap that separated them from God.  He would be their Savior from their own sins and offer peace with God.

“Therefore, having been justified [made right with God] through faith [by choosing to believe what God says] we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

So, what is God planning to do for you?  Instead of being frantic about what to do and where to be next, could you stay put?  Does this God-magnifying event the shepherds experienced require nothing from you except to just keep on doing your job?  Whether it is at a desk earning money for your family or at home managing the home, in your field, in your place, in your area of responsibility, might God break in?  If you won’t be able to worship at your church or attend all the wonderful events, does the LORD have plans to meet you in a special way?  Open your Bible to the Christmas story and see what God will do…just for you!

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His decisions and His ways past finding out.” Romans 11:33

May His grace be multiplied to you,

Janice Gleason

 

 

 

Only One Song? by Janice Gleason

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“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude o f the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom He is pleased!’” Luke 2:13-14

These heavenly beings came on an ordinary night, to very ordinary shepherds who were living in dark days…desperate days.

It would seem the angels only sang one song of thanksgiving the night the Messiah was born. There was no ‘Hallelujah Chorus” or heavenly choir special.  It would also seem it was “a cappella”…not even one shofar [ram’s horn]!!!  Only God could have held that “multitude of heavenly hosts” back!!

But much later, Paul who acknowledged himself as a servant of Christ Jesus, Yeshua Messiah, could not hold back his songs of thanksgiving about his LORD.  Consider some of these bursts of praise…almost like sighs of relief that he can shout out the glories of God in Christ Jesus.  Some of them came during Paul’s darkest days, desperate days:

“What an unhappy man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death?  Thanks be to God, Who does this through our LORD Jesus Christ!”   Romans 7:24-25

“To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, Who is God over all, blessed forever.  Amen.”   Romans 9:5

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unfathomable [inscrutable, unsearchable] are His judgments [His decisions]!  And how untraceable [mysterious, undiscoverable] are His paths!  For who has known the mind of the LORD and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor?”  Romans 11:33-34

Now,  there are the Roman verses I thought of in the Christmas story but I would be remiss if I did not mention a few other bursts of praise, sighs of release and relief from this man who loved his LORD with all his heart, mind and soul but whose life was very difficult:

“But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our LORD Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57

“Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and [soul] peace from God the Father and our LORD Jesus Christ [the Messiah], Who gave [yielded] Himself up [to atone] for our sins [and to save and sanctify us], in order to rescue and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father_ to Him [be ascribed all] the glory through all the ages of the ages and the eternities of the eternities!  Amen [so be it].”  Galatians 1:5

I don’t know about you but my heart is bursting with these songs of praise from one man!!  But there is more:

“Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible and immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever [to the ages of ages].  Amen [so be it].”  1 Timothy 1:17

And this last one wraps up the song of angels and desperate men, women, young adults, teens, children who believe what God has said and done in Jesus Christ:

“Now thanks be to God for His Gift, [precious] beyond telling [His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift]!  2 Corinthians 9:15

I cannot sing like angels or compose songs of praise like Paul but I love the LORD Jesus Christ with all my heart.  So excuse me while I go burst into song…my song of thanksgiving even in difficult times, for what God did that night in Bethlehem so long ago.  I won’t have a horn either but I can thank Him for His gift of love for me.  And from all I read, my song will please Him too. 

What about your song?  Is this Christmas very difficult…has the light of your life been snuffed out?  Do you want to just endure the season for you can see no reason to celebrate?  But read what God has in store one day:

“Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, ‘See!  The dwelling place of God is with men, and He will live among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:3

All this because one night long ago, God sent His Gift to a dark world:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Will you use Paul’s praises then, and though you don’t feel like it will you express them to your LORD anyway?  He knows your pain and will hear your sacrifice of praise.  Maybe just one song?

May His grace be multiplied to you

Janice Gleason

Can the Christmas Story Be Found In Romans? by Janice Gleason

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“Will you pray about doing 4 blogs for Christmas…could you incorporate Romans into the Christmas story?”  Thus began my personal ‘sojourners overflow’ as I called out, “Help me, dearest Spirit…reveal to me this familiar story in a new light, new way, and new truths.”  I have turned to Him so often for help, expressing my helplessness, weakness, total dependence upon Him to accomplish anything that might reveal my love for Jesus.  How often do you turn to the Holy Spirit for help in expressing your love for your Savior, whether it be at a desk, at a store, at home, a doctor’s office, a fresh responsibility, a new opportunity or simply out and about?

Did the Holy Spirit incorporate Romans into the Christmas Story?  Matthew writes in 1:18-19: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”  Joseph was a just man which means he wanted to do the right thing.   He had the Old Testament to teach Him what God required of a devout man.  From Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and to love mercy [not just show mercy to others but to love to do it] and to walk humbly with your God?” What a husband God had chosen for Mary!! 

But Joseph would need faith to believe what God says next in verses 20-25: “But as he considered these things [men who take time to think through things are a blessing from the LORD], behold, an angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph [astounding that the angel knew his name; I wonder Who told him?], son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’….when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the LORD commanded him:  he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.  AND he called His name Jesus.” Oh, my Mary would carry within her womb for nine months the Gospel of God!!  Don’t be ashamed of her Joseph!

And in Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith.’”

From the beginning, taking God at His Word, believing it and acting upon it has required faith.  The only way to be saved has always been by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  And the only way to live out our lives as Christians is by faith…every day.  Joseph believed what God said about Mary’s baby being conceived from the Holy Spirit.  He took it by faith that she would bear a son and the evidence of his faith?  Well, he did name the Baby Jesus which means ‘God with us’, for Joseph too needed Someone to save him from his sins. 

We will forever live by faith until our faith is made sight!!!  Today, if you desire to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God, is faith required?  And if you are having difficulties will you stop and simply ask the Holy Spirit for help to express your love for Jesus in a tangible way?  If not, why not? 

I challenge you to read through the Christmas Story again in Matthew and Luke and it may surprise you in a new way, what the LORD hath done, not only 2000 years ago but for you today!!!  He might give you 4 blogs for Sojourners Overflow!!!

May His grace be multiplied to you,

Janice Gleason

Unexpected Joy

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Over Thanksgiving I found unexpected joy in listening to two of my son’s passion for the purity of God’s Word…oh, my and these were the little boys I mothered!!!  They have such a heart for God’s glory in all they do that it caused me to consider my own walk with the LORD right now.  Am I as passionate about the purity of His Word when I teach?  Am I guilty of adding to or subtracting from God’s Word?  I began to fervently pray the LORD help me uphold His Word in its entirety.  I feel a keener sense of His Presence working on me but imagine my chagrin this morning as I had to stop awhile in my personal time alone with the LORD.  I simply want to share my time with Him and the unexpected joy I found at the end. 

“Good morning, my LORD!  Though I have already been in Your Word and praying, I realize I have yet to acknowledge your Presence in a respectful way.  I haven’t even greeted you or taken notice of You.  Please forgive me.  How can I have an alone time with You if I don’t pay attention to Your Presence…acknowledge You, admire You, adore You?  I have actually been alone with my own thoughts, assuming they were Your thoughts.  That is scary, silly and downright foolish!  For what are my thoughts but very human, unless I ask You to align them in Your Word…ground them, establish them, set them right, and uphold the purity of Your Word, not my thoughts.  So I come now asking You to do that.  Thank you for this quote that goes along with what I was thinking.

“Don’t assume the voices in your head are God’s; assume they are yours.  To hear God, take up the Scriptures and to the degree that your own thoughts align with what God has revealed in His Word, then take them as a gift from God and take them to heart. “David Matthis

Quickly then His Word came to me and I found unexpected joy!

“…come back to our God, Who is lavish with forgiveness.  I don’t think the way you think.  The way you work isn’t the way I work.  For as the sky soars high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way you think.  Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they have watered the earth…so the words that come out of My mouth do not come back empty-handed.  They will do the work I sent them to do; they will complete the assignment I gave them.  So you will go out in joy and you will be led into a whole and complete life…”  Isaiah 55:9-13

Did you notice the promise?  The truth to claim?  The blessing for being in God’s Word is the joy of being led into a whole and complete life!!!  When I hunger and thirst for His Word, He gives unexpected joy!  When I confess my thoughts are not His thoughts, when I admit they do not have the power God’s do, I will be able to go out into my day with joy because His Word will lead me into a whole and complete life.

I wonder if we extolled the benefits of God’s Word, would others begin to have an appetite for it.  Perhaps some have no use for being in God’s Word daily because they don’t know the blessings.  Perhaps some just don’t want to be in God’s Word on a daily basis because they see no need.  Perhaps they have never been taught to keep His Word pure…in all its entirety. But how will they know if some of us don’t tell them.  So I pray in being real about my alone time it will help someone wonder if there could be unexpected joy for them tomorrow morning? 

What will you share of the personal blessings you receive?  And how passionate are you about upholding the purity of God’s Word?  There is unexpected joy up ahead when we do!!

May His grace be multiplied to you,

Janice Gleason

Simple Truths TRANSFORMED

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Last weekend I went on a fall retreat with my college ministry. I had never been on a ‘retreat’ before and didn’t really know what to expect, whether it would be a strictly spiritual event where we just get away from our busy lives of classes and work and stress, or if it would just be a fun weekend where we got to relax and have fun and form stronger community bond. I was delightfully surprised to find that it was a wonderful combination of both. We’ve been studying Romans in our college worship service, and recently we’ve been in Romans 12. We’ve all heard Romans 12:2 a million times:

“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.”

Every time we hear that we think “yes, we shouldn’t conform and we should be transformed, I want to be transformed.” We probably even pray asking God to transform us. Then we leave it there, not thinking, “Well how do I transform?” or “What does being transformed even look like?” We just leave it expecting God to transform us without us ever coming back to the rest of the verse where God calls us to renew our mind; but not just renew, the word used is renewing which is a continual process. This was our focus for our retreat weekend: How to be transformed.

This weekend we discussed that to renew our minds and have a transformed way of thinking we have to go back to some of the most basic beliefs of our faith. We weren’t going to have some new idea that none of us had ever heard; we were going to renew our beliefs starting at the basics. Too often we know something without believing it, for example I know if I’m in the sun without sunscreen I’m going to get a sunburn, but I don’t believe it. And most of this summer I was outside without sunscreen and what do you know, I got burned. This is the concept we looked at this weekend, what Biblical truths do we know but don’t actually believe. The first of these simple truths is that God’s plan is better for my life than mine, we all know that, but very few, if any, of us actually live that way? We go about our day constantly focused on us and our plans and when God throws us a curve ball in our daily plans we get upset. It’s easier to trust God with the overall plan for your life, to tell him you want His will to be done with your future, and then live without giving him control over your everyday. If we are truly living a life in belief that God’s plans are better than ours, we wouldn’t get so upset when we’re running late somewhere, or when He closes a door where we had planned our whole life to go. Proverbs 3:5-6 drives this concept home

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”

The next basic truth we discussed was that God is with you. How often do we hear people pray “God please be with us” or “God be with them today”? He already IS with them. He is inside of them if they are a believer, and if we’re meeting in two or more He is already there with us. If we were truly living as if the almighty God of this universe was with us every minute of every day, our lives would look completely different, transformed even. How could you fear sharing the gospel of Christ if you truly believe the same God you’re telling someone about is inside of you and right by your side the whole time?

Transformation does not look the same for everybody. Everyone has their own struggles and doubts, but it takes asking God what He wants to transform in you in order to be transformed. Transformation is an intimidating idea; you have to admit you’re not perfect where you are, and you have to be willing to give up your comfort to be transformed. Romans 12:2 makes it pretty clear how to be transformed. It’s by the renewing of your mind, but the difficult part is finding what parts of your mind need renewed and being willing to allow God to work in you. Our pastor said that renewing your mind is kind of like renovating a house. I have never renovated a house before but I watch a lot of HGTV and usually when they are renovating they run into several unexpected problems that they have to fix and it ends up costing more than expected. Renewing your mind is going to be very similar, it’s going to be  messy and scary process where you discover things that God has been wanting to change in you for a long time and you haven’t allowed him to.

Some extra verses I challenge you to look up and see what else Paul says about being transformed.

Colossians 3: 1-17

Ephesians 4: 17-24

Don’t just read these verses, but seriously meditate on them and see how they can be applied to your everyday life.

The Confidence of Jesus

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It’s been a really long time since I have had a sentimental moment about my married daughter no longer being a part of our household. I remember when she first went away to college 5 1/2 years ago. I would buy a pound of ground beef and divide it into 4 burgers…that one remaining burger was a reminder someone was missing. Tonight, I had that familiar “someone is missing” feeling when for a treat we had a pop can of cinnamon rolls and after we each ate two (they were the low fat ones), there were two left in the pan. Emily has been married over a year and away at college for four years before that, but tonight her absence was very real to me.

I started thinking of some of the ways God takes note of those who are not yet a part of the fold…those who have not yet come into the family of God through the blood of Jesus…those who have been called but have not yet responded to the call. The good Shepherd who would leave the ninety-nine and go after the one lost sheep has to be very aware of where his chosen are all the time. “Lost,” we say, but not “lost” according to Him. He is waiting for them…patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He remembers the names written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. He knows the exact count for those we will attend the marriage supper of the Lamb. From John 6:35-40,

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Let the words of Jesus comfort you…comfort you as you pray for your lost loved one or friend…comfort you as you pray for your prodigal to come back to Him. He is aware of all those the Father has given to Him. He will never reject them. He waits arms wide open. Blood spilled out…price already paid. Their place is saved at the table.