Are you excited about all the new things the Lord will do in 2019? For many, 2018 has been a difficult year, and they are anxious to leave it behind.
Several challenges have faced my own family, including my mother’s two eye surgeries and each of my daughters relocating to a new apartment unexpectedly. We have prayed and sought the Lord together like never before, and He always saw us through our trials. We are so thankful!
For such a time as this, let me share one of my favorite Scriptures:
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19, NKJV
Remember to look forward, not behind. Let’s experience His blessings and rejoice together this year. What are you anticipating in 2019?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control ~ Galatians
As 2018 backs off the stage, 2019 is taking her place behind the curtain, waiting for her cue. Soon the draperies will part, and she’ll shyly curtsy in her full-length gown, glittering gold and silver. Her crown will dazzle in the footlights: 2-0-1-9. Confetti will dance in the air like feathers, and she’ll laugh as they tickle her nose. A line of dancing partners will meander endlessly, each eagerly awaiting a turn. The band will strike up, and she’ll twirl through the night, passing from one set of arms to the next. A perfect start for 2019.
The New Year is arriving. As we prepare for her grand entrance, what new expectations swirl in our minds and hearts for this New Year? Many people still engage in the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions, dreaming of fresh goals or new accomplishments.
I’ve been doing some dreaming myself about something new in 2019. After much prayer, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be partnering with Heart“wings” – a women’s fellowship to lead their first Bible study called The “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. The Lord has been leading me to teach on the Fruit of the Spirit, so that will be the topic for this 52-week study. I’ll be posting a new edition every Monday morning beginning January 7th on my blog, Touched By Him, which will be linked to A Women’s Fellowship/Ministry Community Page.
Everyone is invited to participate, whether you’re a member of Heart”wings” or not. However, all Christian women have an open invitation to become a member of Heart”wings” by sending a friend request to Joyce Graves on Facebook. Here is the link to Joyce’s Timeline.
For this study, all you need is five minutes (or as long as you like), your Bible, and some java or a cuppa. Pull up a chair on the “Front Porch” and read with us. Chat and ask questions in the comments section on the community page or right here on the blog. Join in some prayer to bless your day. I’ll be visiting at different times throughout each day to comment, too.
I’m looking forward to digging deeply into the Word of
God and planting seeds in the good soil of our hearts. By this time next year,
we should have a bumper crop of ripe, mature fruit in our spirits! Let’s grow abundantly
in His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
Blessed are those who keep His
testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!
~ Psalm 119:2
See you January 7th on the “Front Porch!” Blessings for the happiest of New Years,
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them (Luke 2:6-20).
Wishing everyone a blessed and a very Merry Christmas! May you make room for Jesus to be born in your hearts this day. Praying that peace, love, and joy abound in your lives this Christmas season.
The Hanukkah celebration isn’t just for Jews. If we look closely, we’ll find Jesus Christ, both the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world, at its very core.
First, some history…
The significance of Hanukkah is embedded in a miracle. The second Temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem following the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greco-Seleucid Empire. The Jews expelled these pagans, after which the Jews purified the Temple. During this Feast of Dedication, eight menorah candles were lighted, one for each day. The flames required sacred olive oil, but there was only enough oil to last one day. In spite of the impossible circumstances, the flames miraculously burned all eight days.
Today, Jews celebrate this minor religious holiday not only to remember this miracle but also to commemorate the victory God gave to Jewish freedom fighters, the Maccabees, in 139 B.C.
Jesus celebrated Hanukkah…
The gospel of John gives us the only account of Jesus during Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication. In John 10, we find Jesus walking in the Temple along Solomon’s porch.
Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly’ ~ John 10:24 NKJV.
This group of unbelievers (much like a lynching mob) didn’t want the truth—they had already decided Jesus was a blasphemer, and they only wanted His words to legally condemn Him. But Jesus responded with a clever answer.
Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one’ ~ John 10:25-30.
Then the Jews took up stones to kill Jesus, claiming their right to do so since He had made Himself equal with God, a sin in Jewish law punishable by death. But Jesus proved His deity another way.
If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him ~ John 10:37-38.
This mob refused to believe Jesus’s miraculous works, which proved His supernatural identity. Instead of waiting for them to cast their stones, Jesus slipped away and withdrew to the region of the Jordan.
But isn’t it ironic that just as the Maccabees had driven unbelievers out of the Jewish Temple, now unbelievers were driving out the Son of God from that very Temple?
Jesus’s true identity…
Jesus claimed to be the light of the world.
He [John] was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world ~ John 1:8-9.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life’ ~ John 8:12.
‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ ~ John 9:5.
What does Jesus, the light of the world, have in common with this Festival of Lights, beginning at sundown on December 2, 2018, and concluding December 10th?
The symbol of lights comes from the lighted menorah candles, which burn for eight days and nights. As Hanukkah’s candles light Jewish homes, so Jesus lights the lives of believers.
God created our spirits with a God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. When we’re born again, the war against unbelief is won, expelled from our hearts. Then our spirit’s “temple” is purified by the blood of the Lamb shed at the cross. The Holy Spirit fills our spiritual “menorah” with His sacred oil and ignites our hearts with the flame of belief. We shine with the eternal light of Jesus living within us, as a lighted lamp for the world to see.
The lamp of the body…
‘The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light’ ~ Matthew 6:22.
‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ ~ Matthew 5:14-16.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light ~ Ephesians 5:8.
God provides several prototypes of the miraculous advent of Messiah in the Old Testament. Jewish believers will understand how Jesus shines through the eight candles of the Hanukkah miracle, but now it’s time that Christians also discover this truth. Judaism and Christianity fit together like a hand in a glove.
As we come into this season of Christmas, let’s remember that the light of God came into the world through the birth of His Son, Jesus. May we rejoice, as did the shepherds that Holy Night, in the salvation message the angels brought to earth, announcing that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14.
May our eternal spiritual menorahs burn brightly. May all the world see the light of Jesus, our Messiah, shine through our lives.
Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!