Angelic Conversations

The Christmas story starts like so many others in the Bible. It’s about the lives of ordinary people affected by divine appointments. Unexpected interventions cause believers to trust in the God of the impossible.

Mary, a young unmarried lady, had an unscheduled meeting with an angel. Gabriel told Mary she was soon to be with child. She inquired. How? Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and you will conceive and bring forth the Son of God.” She replied, “Okay,” and accepted Gabriel’s words by faith.

When Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, realized his future wife was with child, he didn’t know what to do. The legalism of the Old Testament would have her stoned, their method of public execution. As a man of integrity, he wanted to do what the Lord wanted him to do. The only spiritual recourse for him was to pray, and God answered. “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife (Matthew 1:20); the infant inside her is the Son of God. His name shall be Jesus (Matthew 1:21).”

If you were Joseph, what would you do? The groom-to-be had a big decision to make. Wed or not to wed, unite or separate. Raise a child that is not yours, or abandon the love of your life. Instead, Joseph chose to obey God and ignore human reasoning.

Now think about the conversation between Joseph and Mary. Each tried to explain God’s intervention. They both sat in awe as the other explained what the angel said. When their explanation ended, they sat and stared at each other, asking themselves, “Who are we that God should use us?” By faith, they committed themselves to each other and to the will of God. They trusted their Creator to fulfill his purpose through them.

The faith of ordinary people can do marvelous things by simply trusting in God.

Serve Just To Serve

Some people leave a lasting impression, especially those you have only encountered briefly. The Bible has a number of them. Jewels of refreshment. Saints without egos. Examples of encouragement.

Second Timothy mentions a saintly nobody, Onesiphorus, who was an encouragement to Paul. Onesiphorus, a name often mispronounced, sought Paul in Rome. He found him in jail. Would you look for a friend in prison? Onesiphorus knew Paul and knew his preaching was offensive to politicians.

Silent service happens in unusual places and in unique circumstances. Dedication ignores the boundaries and opinions of man. Faithfulness overlooks surroundings and looks to God. True friendship shows itself when others flee. For some, jails, hospitals, nursing homes, and Hospice care are fences. But the few, the ones who stick closer than a brother, are the true friends. They are willing to climb over the walls of life. Fleshly callousness doesn’t exist.

As believers, we have friends—Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They promised never to leave us. Hospitals and Hospice don’t scare them. That’s where they get closest to an individual. Their commitment to each Christian is one of inseparability. No circumstance can drive them away. Jewels like these shine in the darkest times.

Your friend, coworker, or neighbor may be your dearest friend. They help and stick by your side when no one else will. They take the time to be there when no one else will. They are your Onesiphorus. Just serving to serve.

Holy Spirit Enables

What do you do when you lack the ability to do what you want? Hopefully, you will ask for help. However, if you are stubborn, you probably won’t. You would rather fail than lower yourself to ask for assistance. One of those two thoughts describes all of us. Ask for help or struggle is the dilemma.

The Holy Spirit is always accessible because he is always with you (John 14:16).

Christians can be stubborn, but believers have a divine resource, the Holy Spirit, who resides within us. Because he lives inside of you, he can help you in the following ways:

The third person of the Trinity has a way of guiding you like no one else (John 16:13b). No one can teach you as well as He.

The Spirit knows when we need help. So, He prays for us in a way that we cannot pray for ourselves (Romans 8:26, 27).

God’s Spirit shows us what is true in demanding situations (John 16:13a).

Lastly, the abiding Holy Spirit opens our eyes to speak about the Lord Jesus (John 15:26). Jesus promises never to leave us or abandon us (Hebrews13:5).

It’s one thing to know the Bible’s truth. It’s quite another to appropriate it into our lives. Of course, it helps to read our Bible. But, applying scriptures to our lives is entirely different. Practicing biblical principles allows us to enrich others.

Individuals willing to venture out by faith will find the Lord guiding them. The choice is ours to walk into the unknown by faith or hold on to the handrails of experience. There’s a difference between a pat on your back or to hear the words well done by the Savior.

Giving Thanks

People in this world can be greedy, temperamental, and hard to have a good relationship with. Many individuals believe their way is better and everybody else is wrong. Do you know someone who thinks that way? Does that describe anyone you know? Genuine inner joy comes from helping others. But how?

Below are twelve verses describing the giving of thanks for your reflection.

  • When you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, offer it of your own free will (Leviticus 22:29).
  •  Offer to God thanksgiving (Psalms 50:14).
  • I will praise the name of God…and will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalms 69:30).
  • Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving (Psalms 95:2).
  • Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…for the Lord is good (Psalms 100:4,5).
  • Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good (Psalms106:1).

  • Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing (Psalms 107:22).
  • Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving (Psalms 147:7).
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).
  • Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7).
  • Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2).
  • In everything give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18).

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, why are you thankful? Life, salvation, spiritual growth, and good health are areas to give thanks. In addition, grandkids and great-grandkids are rewards for life’s longevity. Whatever your lot in life, if you look, there is something to express your gratitude.

The Lord is good. Good to each of us. Better than we deserve.

All scripture quotations are from the NKJV.

Always a Winner

What makes you tick as a believer? What motivates you to continue on your journey as God’s child? Did you take a pill for your lifelong commitment? Or was it a vaccination? If you nourish yourself daily with the Bible, God will continue to sustain you through the briar patches of life.

Below are five thoughts to strengthen your spiritual walk.

Christians who want answers and solutions will read the book of books. Within its pages, the believer will find examples of individuals with the same type of situations you are experiencing. There’s nothing new under the sun, according to Ecclesiastes. Even though we think so, our solution is one in which God directs our attention. 

As individuals read the Bible, they see themselves in some of the same situations as illustrated. Like being misunderstood, maybe punished for doing right, or getting into trouble because we disobeyed. They’re all in the Bible.

Solutions happen when we trust the Lord. Sometimes, he eliminates the problems. Then, there are times the Lord supplies the extra resources to satisfy the situation. But, challenging times happen when we go through the fire of certain circumstances. After the testing time, we realized God enabled us. Without the difficulty, we would never have matured as we did.

The fourth realization is when we believe in our Lord and trust his sovereign directions. Even though we may not give God credit for doing so, we forget he has promised never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8). Some lessons need experience for our future well-being. 

The last point happens because we believe in the Lord. God provides our daily needs when we look to Him. This foundation encourages us to dive into God’s word by strengthening our faith to be put into action again and again.

One thing is for sure, doing right and trusting God for divine results is always a winner.

It Will Cost You

If you pay careful attention while reading your Bible, you may ask yourself why Christ performed so many miracles. Why did He say certain words? Why didn’t He say what you thought He would? Only one reason, He knew best.

When reflecting on the Lord’s actions, He helped others but not himself. Therefore, it was not advantageous to heal lepers or raise the dead.

Our Lord didn’t use his authority as God’s son for personal gain. An example would be—he rejected the people’s wishes to make him king (John 6:15). Jesus didn’t use his deity to carry his cross. Instead, Simon of Cyrene bore the Lord’s cross (Matthew 27:32). Our Lord could have stopped the soldier’s hand in midair from driving spikes through his hand, but Jesus didn’t. Likewise, he could have refused to pay for my sins, but he didn’t. And I will be eternally grateful for his kindness. And so will you.

Christ’s example of unselfishness can be our example. What can we do to show kindness to others? Open the door for someone. Rake leaves for a neighbor. Help someone find something they lost. Go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor. Visit a friend. The opportunities are endless. The only thing it will cost you is time. Time is the most priceless thing you possess. It’s something that you can give without expecting anything in return .

Christ lived one life on earth in his thirty-plus years; he had you in mind. You needed an example, a good one. He gave you that. 

Someone you meet today may need their faith in humanity restored. Would you, do it? It will cost you. Your time to be kind is what they need.

The choice is yours.

We Can Learn Compassion

Helping someone has its limit. Our patience has a boundary. When we reach it, we know it. Compassion also has its end. That’s where we say to ourselves enough is enough. I’m not going there again.

Those are human thoughts, not divine thoughts. Our wonderful God, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have compassions that fail not (Lamentations 3:22 NKJV). In these three words, “Compassions fail not” speak with authority and have an emphatic meaning.

The Lord’s mercies are new every morning before we get up. They are ready for us. Waiting for us. That’s faithfulness. Only God could be like that all the time.

Our Lord never sleeps or rests, nor does he go on vacation. He’s always full of compassion for His children. His kindness knows no limits. But we humans have our boundaries. When someone crosses us, we tend to think or say, “You made your bed. Now lie in it. You deserve the repercussions for your decision, so don’t expect me to bail you out. Instead, live and learn from it.”

The Lord remembers we are flesh (Psalm 78:38,39). And in our flesh, we mess up. But God is still compassionate toward us. He’s willing to forgive if we are not too stubborn to ask. Why is it so hard to admit we are wrong? Is it because we often sin in our lack of compassion toward others?

Compassion is something that we can expand. With patience and thoughtfulness, we can learn compassion. This attribute will prevent a lot of hurts. Show the world that God can work through us to make our world a better place.

If You Quit

Quitters show up every day, at least for a little while. So, what do you think when you see them going out the door or leaving the playing field? 

Failure is part of life for all kinds of people. It happens to everyone at some point, especially when trying to measure up to someone else’s standards or goals. What makes their goals your goals? 

Christ was willing to change to reach his goals. Change in appearance and location. They were both dramatic. God became man, and earth became his new home. It was certainly not like heaven.

So, why did the Lord make such drastic changes? One word describes his reason—love. Love for you as an individual and for all humanity. 

The Lord subjected himself to temptation like the ones we experience. “Jesus understands every weakness of ours because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 CEV)!

You may say he was God, but what about me? James reminds believers, “God will bless you, if you don’t give up when your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as he rewards everyone who loves him” (1:12 CEV).

Giving up is quitting; as the old saying goes, quitters never win. Quitters accomplish little in life because the going got tough. However, determination is the key ingredient to completion. The result may not please everybody, but it was your best. The experience makes you a better person in the end.

Tribulation brings patience (Romans 5:3); patience gives you benefits for yourself and others. However, if you quit, you will miss a valuable learning experience that will help you and others.

Caleb’s Strong Faith

The spies are returning, and they’re carrying fresh fruit. The grape clusters are so heavy that two men must carry them. The first report brought joy to Moses and Aaron, “It’s a land flowing with milk and honey.” You should agree. Look at the size of the fruit.

Nevertheless, the joy is short-lived. The people in Canaan are giants. They live in walled cities—the hearts of the Israelites melt in despair. Fear overwhelms them.

Forty-year-old Caleb (Joshua 14:7), one of the returning spies, stands to speak. He encourages his beloved nation to go and possess the land that God has for them. Ten spies disagreed, saying, “the inhabitants are bigger and stronger than we.” Fear sweeps through the crowd. Israel chooses to remain in the wilderness rather than obey God.

Picture in your mind the nation disagreeing with God’s leaders to the point where they wanted to kill them. Moses and Aaron bow their faces before God and millions of Israelites. They began to pray. Joshua and Caleb ripped their clothes, saying, “the land is good.” (Numbers 14:7-9).

Israel wanted to stone the four men (Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb). But Moses prayed like no other human. He intervened for the nation, and God consented to his prayer. God stated, “All Israel from twenty years of age and older would die in the desert because of their disobedience; only Joshua and Caleb enter the promised land.”

Forty years later (Numbers 14:33), Joshua, Caleb and a new generation of Israel walk through the Jordan river. Five years later, Caleb approached Joshua (Joshua 14:10) and said, “Give me this mountain” (Numbers 14:12). This is the same land that Caleb, the oldest in all of Israel, spied out two decades before. The land he claimed in his heart to love. He wasn’t afraid of the big inhabitants; he depended on God. The same God who extended his life while others died was the same Almighty God who divided the Red Sea and the Jordan river. The one who promised Abraham the land of Israel to him and his descendants.

Eighty-five-year-olds are supposed to retire, but not this one. God still uses the elderly. They learned a few things in life and appreciated where and how God protected them.

Caleb knew the Canaanites were mighty; he saw the fortified walls were high. But this man remembered seeing God crumbling the walls of Jericho and providing manna and quail in the mornings and evenings for decades. So, finally, he concluded God could defeat every enemy in the promised land. 

By faith, Caleb believes God uses old people to do what youth cannot do. His physical strength may have diminished, but his spiritual muscles were reaching their prime.

Bumps and Bruises

Contrasting different points of view, similar or opposite, can be enlightening. For example, in Matthew nine’s illustration (verses 14-17), Jesus answers a question by John’s disciples. They wanted to know why they and the Pharisees were fasting while the Lord’s disciples were not.

When comparing yourself to others, there can be a problem. Our comparisons do not consider equal talents or resources nor the obedience of one’s heart to the Lord. Instead, our comparison actions usually have their roots in selfishness. 

Jesus answered John’s disciples by relating three examples:

  • The bridegroom’s friends
  • Attaching a new cloth to an old garment
  • Not pouring new wine into old containers

The point being Old Testament teachings are legalistic. In comparison, New Testament examples emphasize grace. The law of the Old Testament and the grace of the New Testament are often incompatible. The Old wants to penalize humanity for wayward steps. The New allows a lifetime for growth and maturity. Yes, progress may be slow for today’s Christians because of our imperfections, but time facilitates spiritual growth, allowing believers to produce more fruit rather than immediate condemnation without future growth. The result, however, is heaven.

Grace facilitates the fulfillment of ongoing maturing life. As you mature physically, you change. You go from youth to physical maturity to deteriorating physical strength and health—the time-lapse permits distinct stages of development. From facts to application and onward to appreciation, how to put them together is another thought.

In prayer, believers grow from the give me prayers to the help me prayers, and then to the let me share prayers. It is everyone’s journey in building your relationship with the Lord Jesus, learning how to relate to life and difficulties while drawing closer to the Lord of Lords.

Spiritual maturity has its bumps and bruises. The route can be challenging, but the destination is worth it. So, preserve your eternal rewards waiting for you beyond your tomorrows.

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