Tag Archives: oneness

God Is Sovereign

 

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Protocol

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. —James 1:6

If you were invited to a meeting at the White House with the President of the United States, regardless of your opinion of him or her, you would probably go. Upon entering the White House, a protocol officer would meet you and outline the proper procedures for meeting the President. Suffice it to say, it would be unacceptable to let loose with a burst of undignified familiarity or negative criticism as you shook hands.

So it should come as no surprise that God’s Word makes it clear that there is a protocol for entering the presence of God. Hebrews 11:6outlines one aspect of appropriate interaction: “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” God wants us to be fully devoted to Him—and He takes it personally when our hearts are filled with criticism, unbelief, and doubt.

James tells us that when we ask God for wisdom, the key to His response is whether or not we are asking “in faith” (1:6). God is pleased when we approach Him with unwavering faith.

So leave your doubt at the door and follow the protocol: Approach God with a heart of faith, and He will be pleased to provide all the wisdom you need.

God, give me the faith of a little child!
A faith that will look to Thee—
That never will falter and never fail,
But follow Thee trustingly. —Showerman

Exchange the dissatisfaction of doubt for the fulfillment of faith in God.

The important things in life

 

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

Author Unknown

Live and Work

 

Father was a hardworking man who delivered bread as a living to support his wife and three children. He spent all his evenings after work attending classes, hoping to improve himself so that he could one day find a better paying job. Except for Sundays, Father hardly ate a meal together with his family. He worked and studied very hard because he wanted to provide his family with the best money could buy.

Whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

The day came when the examination results were announced. To his joy, Father passed, and with distinctions too! Soon after, he was offered a good job as a senior supervisor which paid handsomely.

Like a dream come true, Father could now afford to provide his family with life’s little luxuries like nice clothing, fine food and vacation abroad.

However, the family still did not get to see father for most of the week. He continued to work very hard, hoping to be promoted to the position of manager. In fact, to make himself a worthily candidate for the promotion, he enrolled for another course in the open university.

Again, whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

Father’s hard work paid off and he was promoted. Jubilantly, he decided to hire a maid to relieve his wife from her domestic tasks. He also felt that their three-room flat was no longer big enough, it would be nice for his family to be able to enjoy the facilities and comfort of a condominium. Having experienced the rewards of his hard work many times before, Father resolved to further his studies and work at being promoted again. The family still did not get to see much of him. In fact, sometimes Father had to work on Sundays entertaining clients. Again, whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

As expected, Father’s hard work paid off again and he bought a beautiful condominium overlooking the coast of Singapore. On the first Sunday evening at their new home, Father declared to his family that he decided not to take anymore courses or pursue any more promotions. From then on he was going to devote more time to his family.

Father did not wake up the next day.

 

Give time to our family

 

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

From: Academictips.org.

undeserved grace

From: ourdailyjourney.org.

Ephesians 2:1-10
The result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin (Romans 5:16).

Read Hebrews 4:16 and note what it says we can do and experience because of our “gracious God.”

How has your understanding of grace changed over time? Why can a better understanding of God’s grace lead us to do even more good works?

Early in my walk with the Lord, a friend told me that as I came to understand more fully how undeserving I was of Jesus’ grace, I’d embrace it all the more. Many years later, I still think about her exhortation when—on occasion—I move from acknowledging my sins and desperate need of a Savior to wondering if perhaps I’m entitled to special treatment based on my “good works.”

When pride sets in and our thinking grows faulty, Scripture reminds us:

• “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

• “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

• ”God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The apostle Paul described a “thorn in his flesh” that helped him deeply experience the sufficiency of God’s grace. He wrote, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

As we participate in the work of the Lord, we aren’t earning our way to heaven but, rather, are reflecting His saving grace and work in our lives by doing “the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

That’s Awesome

 

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Simposious says, “You are awesome with God.”

That’s Awesome!

From: GetMoreStrength.com

[Written by Joe Stowell for Our Daily Bread.]

Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. —Psalm 66:5

The word awesome is tossed around a lot these days. Talk about cars, movies, songs, or food—and somebody will say, “That’s awesome!”

But if we call earth-side stuff awesome and then call God awesome, we diminish how truly awesome He is. A friend of mine has a rule in her house—the word awesome is reserved only for God.

Trivializing God is no trivial matter. He is far more than a companion who will fit into our “buddy system” or a divine ATM responding to our impulses. Until we are stunned by the awesomeness of God, we will be way too impressed with ourselves and lose the joy of the privilege of belonging to an awesome God.

A look at the Psalms puts it all in perspective. One psalmist declares, “For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth” (Ps. 47:2). And another psalm commands: “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!’ . . . Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men” (Ps. 66:3,5).

What could be more awesome than the love that compelled Jesus to go to the cross for us? Put Him in His proper place as the only One who is truly awesome, and praise God for His awesome work in your life!

Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be. —Heber

If you’re too impressed with yourself, take a closer look at God’s awesomeness.

 

Dead Ducks Don’t Flutter

Stories below from: heavensinspirations.com

Many years ago, a wealthy man went duck hunting with a hired hand named Sam.They took a horse and carriage, and along the way a rim came off one of the wheels. As Sam hammered it back on, he accidentally hit his finger. Instantly he let go with some bad words. He quickly fell to his knees, asking God’s forgiveness. “Lord, it’s difficult at times to live the Christian life”, he prayed. “Sam” said the man, “I know you’re a Christian, but tell me why you struggle so, I’m an atheist, and I don’t have problems like that.”



Sam didn’t know what to say. Just then two ducks flew overhead. The man raised his gun and two shots rang out. “Leave the dead one and go after that wounded bird!” he shouted. Sam pointed at the duck that was fluttering desperately to escape and said, “I’ve got an answer for you now, Boss. You said my Christianity isn’t any good because I have to struggle so. Well, I’m the wounded duck, and struggle to get away from the devil. But you Boss, you’re the dead duck!”



That insight fits Paul’s description of his Christian experience in Romans 7: 14-25. Struggle is one evidence of God’s work in our lives Forgiveness of sin is available, so don’t despair. Remember, dead ducks don’t flutter.

–Dennis De Hann



Struggle, yes, it’s part of living
Nothing’s gained on beds of ease;
But when our heart is set on Jesus,
Struggle drives us to our knees.

–D. De Hann

If Jesus lives within us,
Sin need not overwhelm us.


From Our Daily Bread

Dusting

*Do not use or direct link to the images on this page ~ Read why here*

“A house becomes a home when you can write
“I love you” on the furniture.”


I can’t tell you how many countless hours
that I have spent CLEANING!



I used to spend at least 8 hours every weekend
making sure things were just perfect – “in case
someone came over”. Then I realized one day
that no one came over; they were all out living
life and having fun!



Now, when people visit, I find no need to explain
the “condition” of my home. They are more in-
terested in hearing about the things I’ve been
doing while I was away living life and having fun.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, please
heed this advice.



Life is short. Enjoy it! Dust if you must, but
wouldn’t it be better to paint a picture or
write a letter, bake a cake or plant a seed,
ponder the difference between want and need?



Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
with rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
music to hear and books to read,!
friends to cherish and life to lead.



Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your
hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come around again.



Dust if you must, but bear in mind, old age
will come, and it’s not kind. And when you
go – and go you must – you, yourself
will make more dust!


-Author Unknown

Excuse This House


*Do not use or direct link to the images on this page ~ Read why here*

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there
Our boasts it quite openly
The signs are everywhere

 

 

For smears are on the windows
Little smudges on the door
I should apologize I guess
For the toys strewn on the floor

 

 

But I sat down with the children
And played, laughed and read
And if the door bell doesn’t shine
Their eyes will shine instead

 

 

For when I’m forced to choose
One job or the other
It’s good to be a house wife
But I’d rather be a Mother

 

-Author unknown

Stories above from: Heavensiinspirations.com.

Numbers 32:1-27
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you (John 17:21).

What does Jesus’ prayer inJohn 17:20-26 reveal about the depth of unity He sought?

Why do you sometimes avoid conflict? How can you honor God and live a healthier life in Christ by the way you face it?

Many Christians are masters at conflict-avoidance. Perhaps we confuse “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) with “blessed are those who avoid unpleasant situations.” But conflict and confrontation weave their way throughout the fabric of the Bible.

As the children of Israel prepared to cross the Jordan River for the first time, they faced literal warfare. But first they had to fight a figurative battle that threatened the nation in a different way. The tribes of Gad and Reuben owned “vast numbers of livestock” and wanted to stay in the pastures on the east side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:1).

Moses immediately questioned their motives. “Do you intend to stay here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?” he asked. “Why do you want to discourage the rest of the people?” (Numbers 32:6-7).

The leaders of Gad and Reuben could have wilted in the face of a powerful man’s anger. Or they could have reacted spitefully. Instead, they replied, “We simply want to build pens for our livestock and fortified towns for our wives and children. Then we will arm ourselves and lead our fellow Israelites into battle” (Numbers 32:16-17).

Moses then laid out the specifics for how the tribes would move forward. They responded, “We, your servants, will follow your instructions exactly” (Numbers 32:25). And they did.

When confronted with disagreements, we tend to vacillate between dishonest niceness and sinful anger. Both extremes are wrong. Jesus never shrank from confrontation. He did, however, pray for our unity even as His crucifixion loomed.

Conflict is inevitable. When it comes, may it point us to the selfless honesty of Jesus and His path that leads to lasting peace.

From: Our Daily Journey

 

 

 

God’s Word

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Intimate With Jesus

From: My Utmost for His Highest

Jesus said to him, ’Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?’ —John 14:9

These words were not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus was encouraging Philip to draw closer. Yet the last person we get intimate with is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18-20). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come: “. . . I have called you friends . . .” (John 15:15). True friendship is rare on earth. It means identifying with someone in thought, heart, and spirit. The whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His Word, but do we really know Him?

Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away . . .” (John 16:7). He left that relationship to lead them even closer. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to walk more intimately with Him. The bearing of fruit is always shown in Scripture to be the visible result of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ (see John 15:1-4).

Once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely and we never lack for understanding or compassion. We can continually pour out our hearts to Him without being perceived as overly emotional or pitiful. The Christian who is truly intimate with Jesus will never draw attention to himself but will only show the evidence of a life where Jesus is completely in control. This is the outcome of allowing Jesus to satisfy every area of life to its depth. The picture resulting from such a life is that of the strong, calm balance that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

GOD WAS THERE!

From: GatewaytoJesus

Last December 20th I had a experience that changed my life and nearly ended it. I had personal questions that were answered also that I had in my mind for a while. I had been feeling a little under the weather on the 16th of December and decided not to work that following Monday or Tuesday. I thought since I had a lot of sick days built up I may as well take advantage of them since I didnt really feel well. I had very little appetite and was just not energetic at all. That Tuesday night at 11:30 I decided to go to bed and get some sleep. I stood up and with the remote in my hand I turned the television off and at that point the world stopped and life ended. The next thing I knew I was in Barnes hospital in an ICU unit. I thought I was in a dream because everything looked wrong to me. I could not see very well or very clearly. I could see maybe ten feet and it was very very murky and cloudy looking. Giving it a dreamlike appearance. I saw people that I worked with and thought “hmmm I Ive never dreamed of them before! After about a few times of going in and out of consciousness, I came to my senses and realized that I was not dreaming! I really was here in the hospital! “How did I get here?” I thought. I wondered did I have wreck or what. I noticed that the television had the date as the 23rd of December on it. I was completely baffled about the whole thing. I noticed I was hooked to all kinds of electronic things. There was a red light on my finger and a wire that went into my chest to my heart. My legs were attached to a massage machine and my arm to a blood pressure machine that took readings every 15 minutes it seemed. “What happened to me?” My legs hurt really bad and I was weak.

When I realized that I was REALLY in a hospital I thought “How did I get here? Did I have a wreck? I was lost. About 15 minutes after I had regained consciousness, a doctor came in and explained to me how I had been in a coma and how a lucky young man I was to be here. His words were very serious words, but the only thing I thought was what I was going to do when I get out. Later on during my hospital stay I learned from friends what had happened the four days that I was missing in my mind. I thought about God. God, in my view, did not let me die. He did an amazing thing in my book by saving my life. Here is what I am thnkful for. Life? Of course! But I am glad that God saw me when I was dying in my bed and before anyone had prayed a prayer about me, He acted! God, I now know, really loves me a lot! I didnt know that I was about to die that Tuesday night, but He did! He did NOT allow it. For whatever reason. Maybe He was just being Himself…nice! I loved Him and admired Him long before any of this thing happended to me. What a Great Person He is! He defies logic to me. A Person Who can not only be smart and ever in control of things but He can be, and is, NICE!! He has been my Friend Who I have talked to for years and this is not the only time He has saved my life but that is for another time. I may not know who the beast is or false prophet or whatever. But I will go to my grave knowing that the God that I know really is a friend and that I am crazy about Him. By the way…He does love you deeply too. He will do for you what He has done for anyone. He really is No respecter of persons or any of the stuff we hold is high esteem. Thank Him that He is not. God…You are amazing!

THE HAND

Author Unknown

God’s Word

Matthew 2:13-23 (Good News Translation)

From: Dailybible.com

God’s Word: Guiding Us to Follow Jesus

Introduction

Matthew 2:13-23: An angel appears to Joseph in a dream telling him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt. Joseph follows this command just in time; Herod orders that all boys under two years of age living in or near Bethlehem must be killed. Mothers around the region mourn. After Herod dies, an angel tells Joseph that the family can return, this time to Nazareth in Galilee.

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 2:14

Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt.

Today’s Reading

13 After they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” 14 Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, “I called my Son out of Egypt.” 16 When Herod realized that the visitors from the East had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old and younger—this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared. 17 In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true:18 “A sound is heard in Ramah,the sound of bitter weeping.Rachel is crying for her children;she refuses to be comforted, for they are dead.” 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead.” 21 So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went back to Israel. 22 But when Joseph heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. He was given more instructions in a dream, so he went to the province of Galilee 23 and made his home in a town named Nazareth. And so what the prophets had said came true: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

Reflect

Why is Joseph told to go to Egypt? According to Matthew, what Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled (verse 15)? Joseph was warned to flee from Herod’s wrath. Where in the world do people live in fear today?

Pray

Jesus, you come to us as a child, innocent, fragile and in need of care, and also as a king for all people. Through your life, I know God’s grace. I praise your holy name. Amen.

Adoption Into God’s Family

 

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Adoption

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
He chose us in Him . . . having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. —Ephesians 1:4-5

My wife, Marlene, and I have been married for over 35 years. When we were first dating, we had a conversation I have never forgotten. She told me that at 6 months old she had been adopted. When I asked her if she ever wondered about who her real parents were, she responded, “My mom and dad could have selected any of a number of other babies that day, but they chose me. They adopted me. They are my real parents.”

That strong sense of identification and gratitude she has for her adoptive parents should also mark our relationship with God. As followers of Christ, we have been born from above through faith in Him and have been adopted into the family of God. Paul wrote, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:4-5).

Notice the nature of this transaction. We have been chosen by God and adopted as His sons and daughters. Through adoption, we have a radically new relationship with God. He is our beloved Father!

May this relationship stir our hearts to worship Him—our Father—with gratitude.

Loving Father, thank You for making me
Your child and giving me a place in
Your family. With a grateful heart, I
thank You for making me Yours.
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. —Augustine

 

The Life of Power to Follow

My Utmost for His Highest

Jesus answered him, ’Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward’ —John 13:36

“And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ’Follow Me’ ” (John 21:19). Three years earlier Jesus had said, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19), and Peter followed with no hesitation. The irresistible attraction of Jesus was upon him and he did not need the Holy Spirit to help him do it. Later he came to the place where he denied Jesus, and his heart broke. Then he received the Holy Spirit and Jesus said again, “Follow Me” (John 21:19). Now no one is in front of Peter except the Lord Jesus Christ. The first “Follow Me” was nothing mysterious; it was an external following. Jesus is now asking for an internal sacrifice and yielding (see John 21:18).

Between these two times Peter denied Jesus with oaths and curses (see Matthew 26:69-75). But then he came completely to the end of himself and all of his self-sufficiency. There was no part of himself he would ever rely on again. In his state of destitution, he was finally ready to receive all that the risen Lord had for him. “. . . He breathed on them, and said to them, ’Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” (John 20:22). No matter what changes God has performed in you, never rely on them. Build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives.

All our promises and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to accomplish them. When we come to the end of ourselves, not just mentally but completely, we are able to “receive the Holy Spirit.” “Receive the Holy Spirit “— the idea is that of invasion. There is now only One who directs the course of your life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 1:18-25 (Good News Translation)

God’s Word: Guiding Us to Follow Jesus

Introduction

Matthew 1:18-25: Matthew recounts how the birth of Jesus took place. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that Mary, to whom he is engaged, has conceived a child by the Holy Spirit, and that the child is to be named Jesus.

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 1:23b

“He will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).

Today’s Reading

18 This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. 20 While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. 21 She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins. ” 22 Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, 23 “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”). 24 So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to. 25 But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Reflect

Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth has been described as being written from the perspective of Joseph. You may wish to compare this account with the one recorded in Luke’s Gospel (1:26-38; 2:1-20) which records the story from Mary’s perspective. According to Mosaic Law, Joseph knew that Mary could be put to death by stoning (see Deuteronomy 22:21) because she became pregnant before she was married. Do you sense that he was reluctant to marry her? Based on today’s reading, how would you describe Joseph?

Pray

Lord God, you sent your Son Jesus into the world to save people from their sins. Thank you, God, for your loving gift and for your mercy and grace. I praise you, “Immanuel,” for being “God with us.” In your holy name I pray, Amen.

Prayer Concern

Couples preparing for the birth of a child

Stories to Consider

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Helpless love

Once upon a time all feelings and emotions went to a coastal island for a vacation. According to their nature, each was having a good time. Suddenly, a warning of an impending storm was announced and everyone was advised to evacuate the island.

The announcement caused sudden panic. All rushed to their boats. Even damaged boats were quickly repaired and commissioned for duty.

Yet, Love did not wish to flee quickly. There was so much to do. But as the clouds darkened, Love realised it was time to leave. Alas, there were no boats to spare. Love looked around with hope.

Just then Prosperity passed by in a luxurious boat. Love shouted, “Prosperity, could you please take me in your boat?”

“No,” replied Prosperity, “my boat is full of precious possessions, gold and silver. There is no place for you.”

A little later Vanity came by in a beautiful boat. Again Love shouted, “Could you help me, Vanity? I am stranded and need a lift. Please take me with you.”

Vanity responded haughtily, “No, I cannot take you with me. My boat will get soiled with your muddy feet.”

Sorrow passed by after some time. Again, Love asked for help. But it was to no avail. “No, I cannot take you with me. I am so sad. I want to be by myself.”

When Happiness passed by a few minutes later, Love again called for help. But Happiness was so happy that it did not look around, hardly concerned about anyone.

Love was growing restless and dejected. Just then somebody called out, “Come Love, I will take you with me.” Love did not know who was being so magnanimous, but jumped on to the boat, greatly relieved that she would reach a safe place.

On getting off the boat, Love met Knowledge. Puzzled, Love inquired, “Knowledge, do you know who so generously gave me a lift just when no one else wished to help?”

Knowledge smiled, “Oh, that was Time.”

“And why would Time stop to pick me and take me to safety?” Love wondered.

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and replied, “Because only Time knows your true greatness and what you are capable of. Only Love can bring peace and great happiness in this world.”

“The important message is that when we are prosperous, we overlook love. When we feel important, we forget love. Even in happiness and sorrow we forget love. Only with time do we realize the importance of love. Why wait that long? Why not make love a part of your life today?”

Author Unknown

Planting Potatoes

When I was a boy growing up we had several gardens around our old house. The largest one of all was used just for growing potatoes.

I can still remember those potato planting days. The whole family helped. After my Dad had tilled the soil, my Mom, brothers, and I went to work. It was my job to drop the little seed potatoes in the rows while my Mom dropped handfuls of fertilizer beside them. My brothers then covered them all with the freshly turned earth.

For months afterward I would glance over at the garden while I played outside and wonder what was going on underneath the ground. When the harvest time came I was amazed at the huge size of the potatoes my Dad pulled out of the soil. Those little seedlings had grown into bushels and bushels of sweet sustenance. They would be turned into meal after meal of baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, and my personal favorite: potatoes slowed cooked in spaghetti sauce. They would keep the entire family well fed throughout the whole year. It truly was a miracle to behold.

Thinking back on those special times makes me wonder how many other seeds I have planted in this life that have grown unseen in the hearts and minds of others. How many times has God used some little thing that I said or did to grow something beautiful? How many times has Heaven used these little seedlings to provide another’s soul with sweet sustenance?

Every single day of our lives we step out into the garden of this world. Every single day we plant seeds that can grow into something wonderful. We may never see the growth that comes from the kind words or loving acts we share but God does. I hope then that you always tend the garden around you with care. I hope that you plant only goodness, peace, and compassion in the lives of everyone you meet. I hope that everyday you help miracles to grow.

By Joe Mazzella

Two Traveling Angels

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family.

The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement.

As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.”

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife.

After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, “How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him.” – she accused. “The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die.”

“Things aren’t always what they seem.” – the older angel replied.

“When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem.”

Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not know it until some time later…

Should you find it hard to get to sleep tonight,
remember the homeless family who has no bed to lie in.

Should you find yourself stuck in traffic, don’t despair,
there are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard-of privilege.

Should you have a bad day at work,
think of the man who has been out of work for many months struggling to feed his family.

Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror,
think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.

Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking, “What is my purpose?”, be thankful,
there are those who didn’t live long enough to get the opportunity.

Author Unknown

Thoughtful and Inspirational

 

The Japanese master

A great Japanese master received a university professor who came to enquire about wisdom. The master served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’ ‘Like this cup,’ the master said, ‘you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?’

Stories to make you Think, by: Roger Darlington


 

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The secret of happiness

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours.

“Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something”, said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. “As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill”.

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

“Well”, asked the wise man, “Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“Then go back and observe the marvels of my world”, said the wise man. “You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house”.

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

“But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you”, said the wisest of wise men. “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon”.

Stories to Make you Think, By: Roger Darlington

Author: Paul Coelho in “The Alchemist”