Even though

valley of death

“Even though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4

A common misconception of new converts to Christianity is the idea that “I have Jesus, now everything will be better. I am going to have a perfect life now”

This thought is true to an extent. We will eventually have a perfect life, in heaven. Meanwhile, here on earth we will go through “valleys”. We will go through heartaches, death, problems, trials and testings. That does not sound like a “perfect life” does it?

But we have a promise:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

We live in an imperfect world because of sin. Bad things happen to good people ….because of sin. Whether it is sin by the individual or just living in a sinful world.  Arguments, killing, stealing, disease, death, and all the awful stuff in between, is because of sin.

It is true that having the Lord in our life, he will help us have  more patience, be more loving, having mercy and compassion, and forgiveness towards others. But not everyone is at the place in the Lord to show those types of “fruits”. So we have these “valleys” that we walk through. And they can be so difficult.

God said:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

Sometimes He calms the storm, whispers to the storm to be still. But sometimes He calms us through the storm. Either way,“even thought i walk through the valley of the shadow of death I WILL FEAR NO EVIL” . We come out victorious giving all praise to Him who never left us or abandoned us. He stood with us through it all.

But we often lose sight so we think that He has left us. We feel we are walking through the valley alone. David knew this was not true because he wrote “even though i walk through the valley…YOU ARE WITH ME”

jesus walking on the water

A great picture is that of Peter. He stepped out to walk on the water with Jesus, who was already walking on the water. But Peter took his eyes of the Lord and began to fall deep. He began to look at the wind and waves around and not at the lord. His “Valley” was too much for him. He did not keep his eyes on the Lord who was standing on the water right in front of him. Right in front of him. His victory was right in front of him. That is why it is important to know that He(God) is with us no matter what we go through.

Note: If peter, who saw Jesus right in front of him, stumbled, what makes us different? Even more so, we need our Savior

rod and staff

Sometimes our valleys are  brought onto us because of our own sin. When this happens we must repent and turn back to the Lord. That is why David said, “your rod and your staff they comfort me” God disciplines because He cares for us. He does this because He doesn’t want anyone to parish. Our sins will lead us to destruction. But, the Lord sends a “rod and staff” to lead us back to the right path. Just like a Shepard uses the rod to get the unruly sheep back to where it needs to go. The staff is used to rescue those that need …just a little more help. It might hurt to be pulled away from where we thought we should go. But it is for our good.

No matter what we go through in life, God will never leave us. He will help us, He will rescue us, and He will always be there to hold us.

Even though… Come what may…He will always be there for you.

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Young and Crazy

Miss Missionary

I remember it like it was yesterday. Driving down a back road in the dark, I was riding shotgun when I looked over at my dad and spit out the words I had been swallowing for the past half hour…

“Dad,” I said, cautiously, “I think I want to go to El Salvador.” 

15 year old me sunk down in my seat and awaited his response. 


Around the time my peers were choosing sex and alcohol as their drug of choice, I purchased a passport. It wasn’t at all a spur of the moment decision. It was something I mulled over for quite a while.

I remember holding the information in my hand and not being able to get that tiny country in Central America off my mind. Although I was only 15 and ordering my own food in a restaurant was enough to give me anxiety, I simply could…

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The star, the wise men, and the gifts

Image result for the star wisemen

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2 NASB

Every year since childhood I have heard the story of the the three wise men who traveled from the east to worship Baby Jesus. Was there three? What did they see in the sky? Why gold, frankincense and myrrh?

These are things I have wondered over the years. It is safe to say  after studying and research and multiple sermons and documentaries, I believe I can answer these questions to the best of my ability. Though I am not a scholar, I do encourage you to research for truth and prayerfully seek God if you are wanting the answers. I am going to somewhat skim the surface of each of these. I know having to read a huge long blog can be a bit much. But, I hope you can a learn a bit from what I share with you.

Was there three?

Many scholars believe that there were perhaps more than three or less than three. Christians,  claim three magi(or wise men) traveled, from the far east, to worship Jesus at his birth. They have handed this tradition down through the centuries. The thought that it was three was due to the three gifts. The three gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It was the way of the Roman catholic church to set the traditions and thoughts of Christendom, being the main voice of the times. So many took to what was pronounced as truth. However, today, having resources readily available, historians and archeologist can give us a better clue as to information pertaining to scripture and the times during the bible days.

So what do we know? We know that there were three gifts. We know that these wise men came from the east. Perhaps being from the east they were part of a special school or order. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo had been captives of the Persian empire several  years earlier. It is believed, that Daniel stayed and opened a school for the soul purpose to  study of the things of God. So, perhaps, these “wise men” had studied Daniels teachings. They had made themselves aware of the prophetic things that were to come. And knew that this star was important. So important and unique to see in the sky that they had to go and follow it. Perhaps almost in an excitement too. Knowing the prophetic things of Daniel and his teachings about future event.

Typically in a school like this there would have been more than three in attendance. One would think. Most schools we know of that are similar to this (like monasteries) usually have a group of men.  Therefore when they saw this strange sight in the heavens. they knew it was of importance. But, perhaps three volunteered to travel the distance, which ended up being an 800-900 miles journey. Or maybe it was an entourage. Which could have easily consisted of animals, carts, servants as well as several magi. This makes our perspective of the nativity scene a bit different. And of course a side note: the magi did not show up at the birth of Jesus but several months later.

We see that in scripture it does not emphasis the number of the magi. We can only speculate, based on the gifts.  Knowing they had valuable things they had to have had “protection” of a sort. Perhaps a special security force or fighter to ward off any robbers. Not only for the gold, but for the special perfume and spice which were valuable as well. We know this because Joseph and Mary were conveniently given these gift and then fled to Egypt. A trip that would not have been cheap! Having these gifts to sell would have provided food and shelter for their flight.  We could safely assume that there were more than three wise men.

Image result for the star wisemen

 

What did they see in the sky?

The magi were obviously men of education. They knew this Star was of importance. Assuming they were from this “Daniel School” they may have studied to know that in Numbers 24:17 it says,

“I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
    the skulls of all the people of Sheth.

They knew the prophecy and seeing the star rise, they knew it had to be the star that has “come out of Jacob”. According to Rick Larson, ( Bethlehem Star link info ) the Star was actually the joining of three host: Regulus, Jupiter and Venus. The King star, the King planet (named after the King god), and the planet named after a goddess. See how God has things in control. These magi joined together to form a bright “star” in the sky. Its “track” through he sky led the wise men to Jesus.

Matthew 2:2 says:

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

This “Star” was special. They, the wise men, had to go and see why. They set out know the importance of this even and had to find the One who the star would lead to. They knew this was special because they brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

Why the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

This is about the coolest thing I have come across in my study of the Magi (other than the Rick Larson information on the Star) When we hear this part of the story at Christmas time as a kid we think, “see Jesus got gifts!” But there is some great importance to these gifts.

Gold

more-gold

Gold represents: success, achievement and triumph. Exactly what a king would bring to his kingdom or has when we begins his reign.  Jesus IS the King of our hearts. He reigns victorious as we know. But, did the magi know this? Perhaps if they studied old prophecies they did. From our previous mention from above, God knew Mary and Joseph would have to leave quickly. Herod had found out about Jesus, and being jealous made a decree to kill all babies who were born up unto a certain age. Joseph had been warned in a dream by God to leave quickly. See, Mary  and Joseph had not lived there for long and may not have had the means to travel all the way to Egypt so quickly, to escape. But…God provided.He provided before hand with these gifts to pay for any travel expenses. God is amazing to provide the escape and the means to do it. So, what the magi brought to honor the king of kings God used as provision.

Frankincense

250px-Frankincense_2005-12-31

Frankincense is a resin used in perfumes and incense and or oils. In the temple priest would burn incense as they prayed. A smell that would raise to  the heavens as their prayers were lifted up. Incense was given as a symbolism as to things to come. Things that Jesus would do on our behalf to the Father. He is the high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

“24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:24-28

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Myrrh

myrrh

Like frankincense, Myrrh is also from the Persian regions (thus confirming the magi were from this region) Why bring myrrh? Though myrrh can be used as a fragrance or oil it is also used in medicinal purposes. As well as, to dress wounds or injuries. The magi may not have known the significance of what they brought. But, if they had studied prophecy from Daniel they just may have. Knowing that one day the Savior of the world would come, suffer and die. And to honor this special child, the magi brought what would foreshadow the suffering that he would go through.

Maybe the Magi knew just what to bring. I like to believe God put it on their heart. However it happened, the Magi brought gifts to honor this babe, And It was provisions for the holy family as they escaped from the evil king.

Image result for nativity

What does this all mean?

It means, God is in control. He sent His only Son for us to have salvation. The Magi had recorded the significance of this Star. Maybe they never kept a record of who they saw, but there is a record of the Star. We know this because even today in certain museums they have shows on the Bethlehem Star and is track through the sky. In fact, this year the Bethlehem Star made its appearance(2015). Many were interested because the timing of the Star and being around a significant and rare four blood moon cycle.

This season as you hear the story again, listen with a grateful heart. Grateful that we know a God who loves us, who provides for His own, and who is willing to come and save us.

baby jesus

A Consuming Fire – overcoming things that take you away from Christ

wheres our focus?

Renewed By Grace

Sometimes life gets in the way. Our days can become mundane and routine we tend to leave out and neglect the most important thing in our lives, our relationship with God. The busyness of life consumes us. Then in our downtime we find other things that consume our time to escape the reality of a busy life. Some people find solace in reading a book. Some people find comfort in watching mindless hours of television. Some people spend countless hours with their head buried in a smartphone enslaved to social-media. Regardless, we tend to find things other than God to consume our time. It’s not that we don’t have time to fit God into our busy schedule, it’s that we don’t MAKE time to spend time with God. We are bonded to other things that take our time away from God.
What if instead of spending countless, mindless hours in front…

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Silence

Renewed By Grace

To silence a mistake
A life must be erased

A silenced “mistake”
A life is aborted in place

A silent scream
The end of a murderous dream

A generation wiped away in silence
A redistributed decision
Only to be sold in parts in the name of science

A generation that cares more about life outside the womb but not inside the womb
All lives matter except the unborn
The unborn child doesn’t have a choice
The unborn child doesn’t have a voice
Your choice silences another voice

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His Love

Image result for HIS LOVE

Song of Solomon 5:16

“His mouth is most sweet,
    and he is altogether desirable.
This is my beloved and this is my friend,…”

God loves you so much. When you first believed, He meant the world to you. He was your first love. And oh, how you felt his love. He has been faithful to you. He has always been there for you through the tough times. He has been the lover of your soul. And your soul knows this very well.

“His banner of me is Love” Song of Solomon 2:4

We read these words from a woman who is in love with King Solomon. She is “head over heels” in love with him. Though Song of Solomon seems to be, on the surface, written for two lovers, I know that this is also, a love letter from God to us, and from us to Him.

We have all worshiped the Lord to songs that talk about His love. We feel our Almighty’s overwhelming presence, His love, and His joy. And when we have experienced it, it is like being “head over heels” in love. Yes, love is an action..but it is also a feeling and emotion. Not that we should base our relationship on God solely on “how we feel”. But, those moments help us. Because we know nothing can compare to our Father in heaven. His presence is sweet.

No matter what dark hour you are going through, He is there holding you. I know some have sat all alone in the dark crying, needing a friend, a shoulder…and no one was there. If you find yourself in place like that I want to encourage you to run to Him. Remember these words…“His banner over me is love”. Read Gods word. Seek Him. He never leaves.  Just like the prodigal son who came home and the father ran to his son, the Lord also runs to us with arms opened wide.

Song of Solomon 2:6

“His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!”

He will be there for you. No matter what you are going through. No matter how your heart aches or how broken you are, He. Is. There. See how awesome He is to us?!

Song of Solomon 8:6 “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm.”

He wants to lavish His love on us. To bring us in close and give us the best. He wants to shower us with love and peace and joy. Why do we not turn to Him more?

The other day, I asked my dad for some help financially. He not only gave me that but more! If a good earthly father is like this,  “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

He loves us so much! Remember, we were in sin, and He provided a way out for us. Don’t lose sight of what He offers us. He knows we will go through dark times,though we may not get delivered fully from them at times, He does promise to strengthen us through it.