This post was originally published in February, 2021, and was updated in February, 2022.
Who is the author of love? On Valentine’s Day, the world may claim it’s Cupid. But as Christians, we know who is the real author is—Jesus Christ.
What are the characteristics of love?
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB
On Valentine’s Day, most of us have someone special on our minds. The day lends a unique opportunity to express our appreciation in a way that demonstrates devotion to our loved ones.
What about exchanging valentines with Jesus?
God gave us His valentine when He sent Jesus into the world.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
John 3:16-17 NASB
Jesus signed his valentine in red from the Cross.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NASB
How much does He love us?
15 Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.
Isaiah 49:15-16 NASB
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV
Let’s rejoice in His love!
9In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
1 John 4:9 NKJV
I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
Psalm 145:1-3a NKJV
How will you celebrate your love for Jesus during this Valentine’s month?
The Author of Love by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021 All rights reserved
Have you ever had to travel a road to a new destination, not knowing what to expect? God alone held your future, and all you could do was trust Him to take care of you. Mary and Joseph must have felt the same way on their long road to Bethlehem. Let’s imagine together what that journey may have been like.
Mary sat, rocking gently side-to-side on a donkey led by her husband Joseph. As they traveled the ninety long miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, she had several days to ponder about the supernatural events of the last nine months.
Beginning with Gabriel’s angelic visitation, Mary was astounded at the announcement that God had chosen her, a virgin, to be the mother of His promised Messiah.
And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’ ~ Luke 1:35 NKJV.
A poor, fourteen-year-old Jewish girl from a strict, religious family who was betrothed to a carpenter, also devout. But why couldn’t God have waited until after their marriage to avoid the scandal of a child conceived out-of-wedlock?
Joseph had confessed to her that he had been planning to “put her away” quietly so that she wouldn’t be disgraced in their community—not to mention avoiding the penalty of death by stoning.
She shuddered and drew her cloak more tightly around her shoulders, recalling the dream Joseph had shared with her. God had reassured him that her unborn child belonged to the Holy Spirit and not to a man.
‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins’ ~ Matthew 1:20b-21 NKJV.
She bowed her head and silently thanked God for His protection, deliverance, and especially for her husband’s obedience to God’s instruction.
Her thoughts turned to her relative, Elizabeth.
More supernatural signs had appeared before her eyes that revealed she herself wasn’t the only woman who had conceived by a miracle.
Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible ~ Luke 1: 36-37 NKJV.
After Gabriel’s announcement, Mary had risen in haste to visit Elizabeth. Upon her unexpected arrival, Mary’s voice called out a greeting, and Elizabeth returned it with a prophecy.
And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord’~ Luke 1:41-45 NKJV.
What role was Elizabeth’s child going to play in this drama of the ages? As Mary witnessed the miracle of Elizabeth’s swollen belly, she marveled. It was just as Gabriel had announced.
Then Mary’s heart surged with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and words of thankfulness and praise poured from her lips.
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever’~ Luke 1:46-55 NKJV.
For three months Mary had stayed with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth recounted the puzzling story of how her husband Zacharias had been serving in the Temple six months earlier and had experienced some sort of angelic vision. He couldn’t relate what had happened because he was now mute and unable to speak. Right after that, Elizabeth had become pregnant and was rejoicing that the Lord had graciously taken away the shame of barrenness in her old age.
No one understood what had happened to Zacharias, but Mary reasoned that the silent man seemed to be at peace, waiting expectantly for the baby’s birth, no doubt.
After three months, Mary had returned home, and her belly continued to swell.
She hadn’t meant to worry, but what could she and Joseph possibly offer in the way of parenting such a precious, Holy child? People continued to gossip and look down on her as time progressed. She dreaded fighting the rejection and ridicule this Child would likely face in their community. Raising Jesus would not prove easy.
Then the unexpected occurred.
She heard the news of the census, which forced the couple to register in Bethlehem, as Joseph was of the house and lineage of David. She welcomed an escape from the gossip surrounding this Holy Child. Much better to give birth in a strange place where no one would question the parentage of God’s Son. Though difficult and seemingly unending, this trip proved far better than staying in Nazareth.
Joseph paused at the top of a hill, halting the donkey and interrupting Mary’s thoughts. He turned around to her, eyes shining, and he ran his hand through his dusty beard. He pointed. “Look up ahead! Bethlehem. Our journey will be over soon.”
Relief and thankfulness swept through Mary. God had brought them safely to their destination. She joined hands with her husband and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. The baby in her womb kicked, and she cradled her belly. As the first contraction stabbed her, she doubled over.
She searched Joseph’s face anxiously. “Please, let’s hurry. Time is short.”
Dear Father in heaven, may we give birth this season to the heart of heaven that has been growing and swelling in our spirits. May this next year be full of God’s glory, and may the Lord’s light shine upon us with favor and blessing.In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens copyright 2018 All rights reserved
Although Hanukkah has come and gone early in 2021, its truths are still relevant as we enter the season of Christmas.
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 November 28th, 2021, and concluding on December 6th?
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!
Copyright 2020:Finding Jesus in Hanukkah by Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved
Have you ever wondered about the significance of waving palm branches to the Lord? Let’s glean a richer understanding of this Palm Sunday celebration. Come along as I share this nugget from God’s treasure chest with you.
“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna!“ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The King of Israel!’”
John 12:12-13 NKJV
Here’s the story…
As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them ahead to find and untie a colt on which no one had sat. The Lord instructed them to answer anyone who questioned their actions by saying that the Lord had need of it, so they would allow it. As the disciples obeyed, it happened exactly as Jesus had said. They spread their cloaks over the animal’s back where Jesus then sat and led him down the hill into Jerusalem.
When the multitudes who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they ran to meet Him. They laid their cloaks on the ground and cut down leafy branches as a “red carpet” for Jesus’s entrance into the city. The excited crowds consisted of those from Bethany who had witnessed Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead and those in Jerusalem who had heard about this great sign. They congregated joyfully around Him, waving palm branches and chanting Scripture taken from Psalm 118:25-26: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13 NKJV).
The Jews intended to cast off Caesar and his Roman rule and crown Jesus as their king. This uproar, however, distressed the Pharisees because they were losing the fight to suppress His popularity. Caiaphas expressed fear over what would happen to them politically, realizing they had to side with Rome against Jesus in order to save themselves.
What’s the significance?
What is the significance of people waving palm branches? We can trace this practice in both the Old and New Testaments.
In Leviticus 23:39-44 (Click HERE), the Israelites waved beautiful palm branches for seven days during the Feast of Tabernacles (also called the Feast of Booths or Sukkot). This feast memorializes how God brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt. (For more study about the Feast of Tabernacles, click HERE.)
During Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people rejoiced by waving palm branches in His honor. They welcomed the deliverance they believed He was bringing to them—freedom from Roman tyranny and the political occupation of Israel. They honored Him as a king riding victoriously into His kingdom. A worldly king would come riding on a horse—a symbol of war—but He came riding on a donkey’s colt—a symbol of peace. Later the disciples would understand how this act fulfilled Zechariah 9:9:
“‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Lastly, we find a future waving of palm branches during a thrilling time in heaven. Revelation 7:9 describes those who will be saved out of the Great Tribulation wearing white robes and holding palm branches. They will cry out, “‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (v.10). (Click HERE to read more about it.)
Do you understand why waving palm branches is significant to God? It represents people showing thanks for God’s deliverance.
In Leviticus, God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and entrance back into their Promised Land.
The Gospels describe how the Jews expected deliverance from Rome’s political tyranny and the beginning of Messiah’s reign.
Revelation reveals the Lamb of God who will deliver a multitude from the evil rule of the Anti-Christ. They will stand before God’s throne and will serve Him day and night in His temple.
The triumphant entry into Jerusalem will happen one day in the future. At the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus will be riding on a white horse, not a donkey’s colt. He will come to make war on the Anti-Christ and destroy his reign. This is the age when the Messiah’s eternal reign will begin. (Click HERE to read Revelation 19:11-16.)
As we joyfully wave our palm branches on Palm Sunday, let’s remember to be deeply thankful to God for His gift of deliverance. Jesus loosed us from the bondage of sin and death and gave us the right to become God’s sons and daughters through Jesus’s shed blood. We will be joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom forever.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
John 1:12 NKJV
Dear Lord, thank you for becoming our King of kings and Lord of lords. We wave our palm branches to you with hearts full of thanksgiving and praise for Your gift of deliverance. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Happy Purim! Purim takes place this year on February 25-26, 2021. I’m re-posting to again commemorate this blessed season and share Queen Esther’s amazing story. Jerusalem is now the official capital of Israel, and Netanyahu is still Prime Minister of Israel. God had strategically placed President Trump in the White House for this time in history. Let’s remember that God is in control, not a political party or a European secret society. Let’s not fear but rejoice as we look to God and place our trust in Him and His perfect plan.
God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing.
International secret societies may laugh at us common folks. Their ultra-rich members think they’re the ones who clandestinely hide an evil secret—that they control the world’s future, driving it headlong into the coming one-world government.
However, as Christians, we’ve read the end of the Book. Revelation comforts us that Jesus will return, destroying the anti-Christ’s seven-year one-world system at the Battle of Armageddon. Then Jesus will set up His kingdom without end—the Judeo-Christian Kingdom of God.
What about today? God made no mistake about our existence at this time in history. You and I are destined to be here now.
So it was with Hadassah, a beautiful Jewish girl who attained royalty in Persia during the 5th-century BC. She had no idea she had been chosen by God to deliver her Jewish people from annihilation until she was in the thick of a life-and-death battle. Her story began when her cousin, Mordecai, sent word about what wicked Haman, a close adviser to the King, had plotted.
And Mordecai told [Hathach] all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews.He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people ~ Esther 4:6-8 NKJV.
What could Esther do to defend the Jews from Haman’s evil plan? Mordecai had directed her not to breathe a word about her ethnic background. Her husband, King Ahasuerus, had no idea she was a Jew.
Esther communicated with frantic messages back and forth to Mordecai, who was clothed in sackcloth and ashes. In response to her questions, her cousin replied with deep wisdom—words we quote even today:
‘For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knowswhether you have come to the kingdom for sucha time as this?’
Esther 4:14 NKJV
Esther threw herself into her destiny, willing to sacrifice her life for the Jews if necessary—and she broke a law that could have done just that.
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’
Esther 4:15-16 NKJV.
God anointed Esther with great favor in the king’s sight, and he promised to grant her petition up to half his kingdom. In response, Esther extended an invitation for the king and Haman to attend a banquet on the following two days.
Then Queen Esther replied, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated.’ … Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!’
Esther 7:3-4, 5-6a NASB
After the King understood that his top political adviser had devised the plan to annihilate the Jews, he commanded Haman to be hanged on the gallows—ironically, the one on which Haman had constructed to hang Mordecai.
In response to their deliverance, the Jews celebrated, feasting and sending food to one another. This feast is called Purim, named for the lot Haman cast for the day he would annihilate the Jews.
It’s clear that Queen Esther was promoted to the palace to serve God’s purpose, which came to pass through her humility and obedience.
But Esther’s story has recently been repeated in our modern times.
On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United States Congress. He pled his case for protecting Israel from her enemies, today’s Persia. Like Queen Esther, Netanyahu is a Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin. Like her, he pled before the mightiest nation of the world on the afternoon before a very auspicious day: Purim. Coincidence? No, it happenedfor such a time as this.
God answered Netanyahu by placing a pro-Israel President into the Oval Office in 2017. This is a man who not only honors and defends Israel and her rights of existence but also defends the rights of Christians to worship in freedom. Coincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.
God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing. You and I were born for such a time as this.
What is God asking you to do for His kingdom in these days?
For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens copyright 2021. All rights reserved.
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.
Psalm 31:24 NKJV
Christmas Day may be almost a week behind us, but its message of hope to the world still rings strong and true. Let’s enjoy a former post that brings HOPE to the forefront as we ring in 2021.
Do you think Mary dreamed God-given dreams? Perhaps even becoming the Mother of God? From their study of the scriptures, every girl knew of the promise that Messiah would one day be born of a virgin. So, can you imagine her shock when Gabriel appeared, unfolding God’s purpose for her life? Chosen above every other woman, Mary listened as the angel told her she would carry the Promised One, Messiah, in her womb. She even discussed with this heavenly messenger the biological technicality of how this pregnancy were possible, seeing as how she was a virgin. All she had to do was trust God and the Holy Spirit would deposit this immaculate conception inside her—a marvelous mystery of Scripture fulfilled.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel ~ Isaiah 7:14 NASB.
Like Mary’s physical womb, God fills up our spiritual wombs with godly hope and dreams. We must guard them carefully to avoid spiritual abortion. Our enemy, described as a roaring lion, is secretly lurking to devour us and steal our deepest desires.
But sometimes God may give us a dream and then call us to move. And it may seem to make absolutely no sense.
God moved Mary in the last days of her pregnancy due to a census registration in the land. Instead of staying home in her warm bed surrounded by family and friends, Joseph placed her on the back of a donkey and led her to Bethlehem.
Why did God do that to her at a time so close to her delivery date?
When they arrived, Mary was in hard labor. Although imperative that Joseph find a place for her immediately, even that was tenuous. No room at the inn for a mother-to-be, but a smelly stable full of animals and straw was available. I imagine that Mary was grateful for any place she could lie down and give birth to Jesus, even if it meant being surrounded by a chorus of moos, baas, and neighs of animals witnessing this great event.
The blessing of the birth taking place in Bethlehem is also a fulfillment of Scripture.
‘But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity’ ~ Micah 5:2 NASB.
It’s easy to understand from a human perspective how a stable in Bethlehem would be God’s perfect plan. In Nazareth, Mary’s reputation was tarnished by this out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Which of those prejudiced townsfolk would have understood that this was the Savior of the World? This great event had to take place where Mary and Joseph were strangers, as well as apart from crowds registering for the census.
The angels appeared in the skies that night to the shepherds in the fields, who came running to witness the miracle told to them. Could that announcement have been possible in Nazareth? With all the gossip during those nine months, perhaps no one would have believed that Messiah, instead of an illigitimate baby, had been born.
God always brings glory to Himself, and that is what He did the night of Jesus’s birth. He glorified His name through the birth of His Son, who was born both fully God and fully man. The sinless One was born to die thirty-three years later for the sins of every person. The time to worship Him is now as we celebrate His divine entrance into the world.
No matter what trials you face in this life, Jesus brings ultimate hope. Like Mary, may you conceive and carry God-given dreams, and may this Christmas season birth in you the hope of heaven.
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; ”
(Luke 21:25a NKJV)
Did you hear that the Christmas star is reappearing on December 21st? Saturn and Jupiter will once again come together in the night sky and form what is also called the Bethlehem Star. This sign in the heavens hasn’t been witnessed exactly like this since the 13th century. (Read more HERE.)
But what about the star’s appearance in the first century?
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’”
Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV
The birth of Christ occurred during an era of political unrest and upheaval, much like our day.
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”
Matthew 2:3-4 NKJV
The chief priests and scribes knew the prophecy well. They told the magi,
“In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel’” (Matthew 2:5-6 NKJV).
Herod’s heart was black with envy and murder. He pinned down the magi about the exact time the star had first appeared. Then he instructed them to report back to him regarding the Child’s whereabouts, pretending that he also wished to worship Him.
This star led the three magi on until it rested above the place sheltering the holy family.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV
God supplied the material and spiritual needs for His Son’s thirty-three years on earth. The gold represented His kingship; frankincense for His high priesthood; and myrrh for His suffering and burial.
“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”
Matthew 2:12 NKJV
This Christmas season is unlike any the world has experienced. Ever. The political upheaval and worldwide plague we are suffering have led us down a dark path. But on December 21st, great hope will appear in the night’s sky. Look up! We will witness the same star that will lead us, like the magi, to our Lord and Saviour. May we fall on our knees and worship the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, as we enter into His holy presence. May we give Him our gifts–our whole hearts–and rejoice in the true meaning of this Christmas season.
Let’s commemorate this amazing event together with of my favorite carols, We Three Kings. Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., wrote the lyrics and music in 1857. It was published in Carols, Hymns, and Songs in 1863. Below are the lyrics along with a youtube video from King’s College, Cambridge.
We Three Kings (lyrics)
We three kings of Orient are Bearing gifts we traverse afar Field and fountain, moor and mountain Following yonder star
O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to thy Perfect Light
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain Gold I bring to crown Him again King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign
O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to Thy perfect light
Frankincense to offer have I Incense owns a Deity nigh Prayer and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high
O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to Thy perfect light
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes of life of gathering gloom Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying Sealed in the stone-cold tomb
O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to Thy perfect light
Glorious now behold Him arise King and God and Sacrifice Alleluia, Alleluia Earth to heav’n replies
O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to Thy perfect light
Let’s follow the Christmas star, which points the way to peace, hope, and salvation. Wishing you a blessed Christmas season!
The Christmas Star copyright 2020 by Karen Jurgens
What does true thankfulness look like? Let’s delve into the Scriptures for a picture of this deep emotion, that it may inspire us as we thank God for our blessings this year.
“’I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.'”
John 11:25-26 NASB
Have you ever been disappointed if your prayer wasn’t answered in your timing?
We can surmise that Mary and Martha felt intense disappointment when Jesus came too late to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Each sister had a unique emotional reaction to Jesus’s arrival, although each greeted Him with the same words: “‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11: 20-21 NASB). I imagine that in the four days since Lazarus’s death, they had often repeated this wish as they grieved.
The sister of reason and responsibility
As soon as Martha heard that the Lord was approaching, she didn’t wait for Him to call her. She ran to Him first. No tears, no scolding for tarrying. Instead, she professed her deep faith in the Messiah. “Martha then said to Jesus, ‘Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You’” (John 11:22 NASB).
They conversed about the concept of resurrection in relation to her deceased brother, and Jesus announced that Lazarus would live again. Martha acknowledged that Lazarus would be raised at the resurrection, but Jesus took the opportunity to clarify His true identity.
Mary, on the other hand, had chosen not to accompany Martha to the outskirts of town to meet Jesus. Perhaps her heart was too torn with grief. But when her sister raced back and whispered secretly that Jesus was calling for her, Mary ran to Him.
“So when Mary came to the place where Jesus was, she saw Him and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.”
John 11:32-33 NASB
Next, we see Jesus weeping, and we observe the reaction of the crowd to His display of emotion. Not only did they marvel at the Lord’s deep love for Lazarus, but they also wondered. Why hadn’t He come sooner to save this man’s life?
Can’t we imagine the crowd’s shock when Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away? Even Martha cautioned Him about a four-day stench. Jesus, however, commanded: “’Lazarus, come out!’” (John 11:43 NASB).
Although the story ends with the miracle of Lazarus in his graveclothes hobbling to the entrance of the tomb, we aren’t privy to the rest of the story. But we can imagine everyone on their knees, believing in and worshiping the Messiah who had just proved His identity as the resurrection and the life.
The last visit
The next time we find Jesus in Bethany was shortly before His crucifixion. Martha again served the meal as Mary sat at the feet of the Lord.
“Mary then took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
John 12:3 NASB
Her sacrifice of lavishing a year’s wage upon Jesus was an act of deepest gratitude for resurrecting her brother.
How does this story relate to us?
What a valuable lesson! No, Jesus isn’t ignoring our prayers, even when all appears lost. He arrives at the right time and performs a miracle of resurrection in a way we couldn’t have imagined.
Some of us may be rational like Marthaand question God. The Lord will reason with us about our disappointments and help us to understand. He is the resurrection and the life every day, not just on Resurrection Day. Like Martha, may we serve Him with a gift of deep gratitude.
Others may be emotional like Mary and weep at Jesus’s feet. The Lord is kind and compassionate, and He weeps with us. He shares our deepest grief out of His perfect love. Like Mary, may we fall at Jesus’s feet and lavish Him with a sacrificial gift of worship.
Since we are all born in original sin, our spirits are like that dead body stinking in the grave. But Jesus doesn’t turn away from us in our spiritual rottenness. Instead, He calls us to come forth into His marvelous light of salvation, making our spirits alive.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
Are you truly thankful this year? As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables, let’s express deep gratefulness to Jesus, especially for His free gift of salvation and grace.
Dear Father, we thank you out of a grateful heart for all Your blessings in 2020. We bring you our unanswered prayers and lay them at the foot of the cross. We believe in a God of resurrection power who can bring life to what appears to be dead. Most of all, we praise You for Your free gift of salvation and pray that many would believe in You today. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!
Copyright 2020: True Thankfulness: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved
This year has shaken the world to its core. I’m more than ready to return to normal life. How about you? Has your life changed? Regardless of what you may have lost, there is a lighthouse of hope and faith shining in the distance. We may be uncertain about our future, but we can be certain of WHO holds our future. Jesus. He will always be our answer to whatever we face along life’s road.
Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’
Matthew 14: 28-29a NASB
Has Jesus ever extended His hand, called you, and said, Come?” In this topsy-turvy boat of 2020, we yearn to grasp the comforting, outstretched hand of our Savior, but there’s a catch.
Walk on the water?
Jesus had sent his disciples ahead of him to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During that windy night, the Lord appeared in the distance, walking on the water. The disciples initially cried out, thinking they had seen a ghost.
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid’”
Matthew 14:27 NASB
Peter’s boldness tested the veracity of the Lord’s identity. After Jesus called to him, he stepped out of the rocking boat and kept his eyes on Jesus. Miraculously, the water supported his weight. He took one step, then another. Just when he might have grown a bit confident, the wind kicked up, causing a distraction.
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”
Matthew 14:30 NASB
When we take our eyes of faith off the Lord, fear causes us to sink into a sea of doubt.
Twenty-twenty has been a year of immense change.
In some ways, our lives may never be the same. Regardless, we mustn’t be fearful of the windy, unfamiliar days on which we now tread. Jesus will always keep us safe. We can trust Him with all our hearts.
“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
Matthew 14:31 NASB
How did the story end? Here is the best part.
“When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind stopped. And the rest of the disciples who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’”
Matthew 14:32-33 NASB
As Jesus calms the storms in our lives, our hearts will burst with gratitude. We will fall on our knees and worship Him. Like the disciples, we have proof of His identity—He is indeed the Son of God.
Jesus is extending His hand and saying, Come!” Are you ready to step out of your boat and walk on the water?
Dear Jesus, when we’re in a storm, may our eyes stay focused on You. Give us courageous faith to walk on the water to Your outstretched hand. We praise You for keeping us safe in Your loving arms. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Copyright 2020: Walking on the Water: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved
I scrolled through social media posts and fell to my knees.
“The fires are getting closer and we have been ordered to evacuate. We don’t know what to take with us or if our house will even be here when we can return. Please pray!”
“Our business has been ransacked and our building is on fire. We’ve lost everything. Please pray!”
“We’re at the hospital after we were attacked at a restaurant. My husband may not survive his injuries. Please pray!”
These messages of despair–just a few of many others– bring tears to my eyes, and I pray for God’s merciful hand of protection and deliverance for each one.
When have there ever been such upheavals in our land? The United States has been blessed not to have fought a war on our soil until September 11, 2001. But today we have an internal war raging unlike anything since the Civil War. It is still hard to make sense of this conflict, although many theories abound.
In addition to our present circumstances, Friday marked the nineteenth anniversary of 9-11. We need to pause and remember what our nation suffered on that fateful day so it will never be repeated. Despite the horrors, we see its heroes—the police and firefighters who rescued so many trapped in burning buildings before the towers collapsed in a nightmarish heap of steel and dust. Those who lived to tell their story will be forever in debt to those brave people who sacrificed everything to save innocent lives. And let’s not forget the brave souls on flight 93 who sacrificed their lives. We will forever remember those who lost their lives that tragic day.
Where is God?
Through the current rioting, plagues, floods, and fires, where is comfort? Hope? Answers? Where is God?
The prophet Habakkuk shows us the answer. He takes us into his time of terror and destruction about 2,500 years ago when he also cried out to God:
How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.
Habakkuk 1:2-4 NKJV
How does this apply to us?
What applies to our lives from the study of the Babylonians’ (a.k.a. Chaldeans’) ancient invasion of Judah? When Habakkuk cried out to God to save the temple and God’s people, how did God respond?
Instead of stopping the overthrow of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, God assured Habakkuk that He, God, was in total control, and the Babylonians would be accountable for their evil actions. The prophet realized that God’s knowledge and wisdom was far above Man’s when God said, “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you (Habakkuk 1:5 NKJV).
But the prophet continued to question God, much like we do.
How can a holy God look on evil and allow the wicked to swallow up the righteous? Why doesn’t God stop this injustice?
God had an answer that we must hear, for it is as relevant today as it was in 588 B.C.
Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.
Habakkuk 2:2-4 NASB
Timing, patience, and faith
We must understand that God has a much bigger plan than we can imagine, and it has its own timetable. We must wait patiently for the answer to arrive, which is neither early nor late. God’s timing is perfect.
And most importantly…we, the just, must live by our faith, and, at the same time, understand that the lawless ones cannot due to the evil in their souls.
The rest of the book describes God’s greatness, strength, and goodness, which encourages Habakkuk. He prays an emotional prayer, asking God to show mercy through His coming wrath.
Can we praise God through our pain? Our suffering? Our fears? Habakkuk began with frantic desperation but ended with confident trust. His prayer inspires us to praise God, live in faith, and trust Him to guide us along narrow, rocky paths. Here are his words:
I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.
Like Habakkuk, are you willing to trust God through devastating circumstances?
Dear Lord, help us who are suffering through these painful days. Even when we can’t understand why, we know you have a good plan to save us. Deliver us from evil, plagues, and natural disasters, and let us place all our trust in You. You are a good, good Father. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Copyright 2020: Trusting God Through Devastating Circumstances: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved