The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 25: Waiting on the Lord

The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study by Karen Jurgens Week 25 Patience

Welcome to our last week of study about patience. This week we’ll study how to be patient as we wait on the Lord. Waiting is proactive. We should be busy in the Lord’s service and fervent prayer, not only for ourselves but for others in similar circumstances.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Click HERE to read Luke 12:35-48 NKJV.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

“Waiting on the Lord” means…

  1. Pray earnestly and seek God through disciplined prayer.
  2. Listen attentively to His voice by opening our spiritual ears to His leading.
  3. Rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting Him for the ultimate answer.
  4. Serve God while we wait by actively serving others.

And the result for waiting on the Lord? STRENGTH. (Isaiah 40:31)

  1. Inward strength: to persevere
  2. Upward strength: to mount up with eagles’ wings
  3. Outward strength: to run and not get weary
  4. Onward strength: to walk and not faint

Waiting on the Lord means being in a season where–what we’re waiting for–“IT”– hasn’t happened yet. During this time, we don’t sit back and do nothing, like waiting mindlessly in a line at the market. Instead, we proactively pray and seek God, the truest and most correct ways to wait on Him. Psalm 27 sums it up best:

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14 NASB).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Pray, Trust, and Obey…

As we pray and seek the Lord, we must place all our faith in our good heavenly Father. We must trust in His sovereignty, for He alone is God. We are here to serve Him and bring Him all praise, worship, and glory through our obedience to His Word.

Here’s something I learned the hard way: we don’t have to understand everything first in order to obey God. We may still have unanswered questions, but that’s where trust comes into play.

Take Job, for example. Although he had lost everything and had lots of WHYS, he still worshiped in obedience. In the end, Job learned that God is Sovereign and can be trusted through the worst of trials. Remember…God blessed Job double for all he had lost. (Click HERE to read our study about Job during Week 23 if you missed it.)

The Parable of the Faithful Servant…

In this parable, Jesus compares waiting for the second coming of Christ to servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding. What is the parable’s advice?

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them (Luke 12:35-37 NKJV).

As we wait on the Lord, may we faithfully serve one another, praying and showing Christian love…

Are you waiting on physical healing? James instructs us:

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:14-16 NKJV).

Are you waiting on financial provision? Pray for those who are also in material need. Isaiah 37:25 assures us we will have our needs met.

“I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.” (NKJV)

Are you waiting on a godly mate? Pray for others who seek a husband or wife. Following are some encouraging verses from Proverbs:

  • “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22 NKJV).
  • “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 12:4 NKJV).
  • “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.
    The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12 NKJV).

Are you waiting for a life’s situation to change? Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite to cling to:

“‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’, says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.'”

All Christians are waiting on the coming of the Lord. Here are some encouraging Scriptures.

The Ascension of Christ:

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11 NKJV).

The Rapture of the Saints:

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)

The Second Coming of Christ:

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-13, 16 NKJV).

How about you?

What is IT that you’re waiting for? As Christian brothers and sisters, let’s lift up one another in prayer. May you be blessed as you wait patiently on the Lord.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 25 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Dear Father in heaven, we are waiting on You. May we pray with discipline, listen with spiritual ears, rest in your sovereignty, and serve others while we wait. Strengthen us to run and not get weary, to walk and not faint. May we serve You faithfully and work diligently for Your kingdom. Thank you for growing our patience as we wait on You. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Thank you for joining me for our Fruit of the Spirit study. I’ll be taking off the month of July for summer vacation, but I’ll return in August when we’ll continue with KINDNESS. Each Monday in July, I’ll be sharing some of our past posts over Love, Joy, and Peace for you to enjoy in my absence. See you soon!

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 24: Sowing Patience

HeartWings Front Porch Bible Study Series June 17 Week 24

Welcome to our third lesson of study about patience. How do we prepare the soil of our hearts to plant and grow a mature crop of this fruit? Let’s learn from Jesus’s parable of the sower and the seed.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture Memory by Karen Jurgens

“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture to read by Karen Jurgens

Luke 8:4-15 NKJV

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture to examine by Karen Jurgens

Jesus speaks in a parable…

What exactly is a parable? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s an allegory or a short fictitious story that teaches a moral or religious principle.

As an agrarian society, the people in Jesus’s day could easily identify with a story about farming. The sower in this parable scattered identical seed on four different types of soil, each yielding different results.

Same seed, different results…

Some seed fell by the wayside or the side of the road. People trampled over it, and birds devoured it before it had a chance to take root.

Some fell on the rock where plants sprang up immediately. But they withered and died just as fast due to a lack of water.

Some fell among thorns, which sprang up and choked out the new plants.

But the seed that fell on the good ground sprang up, producing a crop with a yield hundreds of times over.

“When He [Jesus] had said these things He cried, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” (Luke 8:8b NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Scripture to discuss by Karen Jurgens

Why Jesus taught with parables…

The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the crowds only in parables. “And He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that “Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand”’” (Luke 8:10 NKJV).

Have you ever heard unbelievers remark that if they try to read God’s Word, it makes no sense? The Word springs from a spiritual source, not from the world’s cistern. That may seem counter-productive, but God’s Word is precious, and Jesus warns not to let “your pearls be trampled by swine” (Click HERE to read Matthew 7:6).

God’s Word provides ample explanation about salvation to draw us to the cross. Accepting Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior opens our spiritual eyes and ears to understand His Word. As believers, we cherish, study, and hide His sacred Word in our hearts.

As Jesus explained to His believing disciples, the Word of God produces varied results in different people due to the kind of soil in each person’s heart.

  • Some hear, but Satan comes to immediately steal it away so that it never has a chance to take root.
  • Others hear and receive the Word with joy, but as soon as trials or temptations arise, they fall away.
  • Many bear the cares of the world, along with the pursuit of wealth and pleasures, all which prevent them from bearing mature fruit.
  • But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear much fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15 NKJV).

What prevents us from bearing mature fruit…

  • Cares of the world: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6 NKJV).
  • The pursuit of wealth: “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5 NKJV).
  • Worldly pleasures: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? … Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:1,4 NKJV).

The key to mature fruit…

And the most important ingredient? Patience. As we patiently serve the Lord, we must be steadfast while the fruit in our garden matures. Remember that a real gardener must hoe the soil and pluck weeds around the plants as he waits for the fruit and vegetables to mature to ripeness. So we must also patiently care for the Word as it grows in the good soil of our hearts.

Here are some tips that may help encourage you in your growth:

  • Listen to sermons often, not just once a week. The internet offers a myriad of sites where you can find a specific topic or a special minister. Many have YouTube videos you can watch online. Just type in what you wish in your search bar and see all the possibilities.
  • Listen to praise and worship music. There are many stations to fit your preferences on Pandora, for example, or you can download music from favorite artists to your device. Praise music lifts our spirits and lets us soar!
  • Too busy to sit down and read the Scriptures as often as you’d like? Download apps like BibleGateway. You can choose which translation you prefer and set it to read to you while you work or drive in your car. It’s a great way for your mind and heart to always be full of God’s Word.
  • Pray without ceasing. Talk to Jesus about everything because He cares about you–from your smallest to greatest concerns. He is waiting to have a conversation with you every day.

Are you growing patience in the good soil of your heart?

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 24 Parable of the Sower Let's Pray by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the parable of the sower. May the soil of our hearts be tilled and ready to receive your seeds of patience today. Let us flourish with the sweet rain of the Holy Spirit and let us bask in Your light as we grow mature fruit. We give You all the praise and the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens James 5:16

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 23: The Patience of Job

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Welcome to our second lesson of study about patience. This week we’re focusing on the Book of Job. Of all stories involving patience shown through the worst trials imaginable, this man’s story takes first place. Let’s learn from his experience and apply that wisdom to our lives.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens
Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:12 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Job 1-2 (Click HERE) / Job 42 (Click HERE)

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Probably no person on earth is as famous for enduring trials as Job. Job 1:1 tells us he was blameless, upright, feared God, and shunned evil. A godly man, he worshipped and sacrificed for the sins of his family on a regular basis. If anyone had favor with God, it would have been Job. On the surface, it appeared that Job was doing everything right.

Round One…

But in one day’s time, calamity struck out of the blue. He lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, many of his servants, and all ten children. One by one, servants who had escaped each calamity came to him to report their master’s loss.

Why God allowed this to happen…

Why did God allow this to happen to an innocent, righteous man? God pulls back heaven’s curtain and allows us to witness something amazing–His conversation with Satan.

“‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’” (Job 1:8-11 NKJV).

God took Satan up on his challenge by allowing him to take Job’s possessions, but not to touch his body. Would Job curse God or not? Satan bet that Job would.

Job’s reaction…

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.’

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-21 NKJV).

Round Two…

“So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life’” (Job 2:4-6).

In this second round, Satan tried to use Job to discredit God by inflicting Job’s body with boils from head to foot. As Job sat in ashes and patiently scraped himself with a piece of broken pottery, his wife criticized him in exasperation. “‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10-11 NKJV).

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite…

When Job’s three friends heard about his adversity, they came to be with him and bring him comfort. For three days, they sat with their friend whom they hadn’t even recognized from a distance. For seven days and nights, they remained by his side, silent, witnessing his enormous grief.

From Chapters 3 through 37… (Click HERE to read)

To briefly summarize, the next thirty-five chapters involve the conversations of these four men. When they broke their silence, Job’s friends questioned his heart’s motives, declaring that God must be repaying him for sinful thoughts or actions. They defined God’s power and character with their limited understanding. Instead of bestowing comfort and grace to their suffering friend, they brought criticism and condemnation.

Job continually rebutted their arguments by defending his actions and motives. He argued that he had done nothing wrong to deserve such treatment by God, thus making his self-righteousness come into focus. He kept reiterating that he wanted a chance to sit down with God to argue his case.

Can you imagine his shock when God showed up and spoke to him out of the whirlwind?

From Chapters 38 through 42… (Click HERE to read)

Job got his wish—perhaps one just like our own–to debate God about his unjust trials. These four chapters are very much worth the read. Through them, we learn so much about our amazing God, His creative powers, and His sovereignty. They begin:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me'”(Job 38:1-3 NKJV). (Click HERE to keep reading).

Throughout those chapters, God certainly dressed Job down. He quickly realized the debates with his friends had been utter nonsense. After God finished revealing His glory, majesty, and power, Job meekly responded.

“‘I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?”
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, “I will question you, and you shall answer Me.”

‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes’” (Job 42:2-6 NKJV).

The rest of the story…

True to His character, God was merciful and gracious. After Job prayed for his friends, God restored Job’s fortune two-fold. Here is the happy ending after the end of Job’s trials:

“Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

  Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

After this Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days” (Job 42:11-16 NKJV).

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Does God exempt us, His children, from trials?

Wouldn’t we assume that a person like Job, of such sterling character and strong integrity, would be untouchable to Satan’s plans of destruction? Perhaps Job’s story assures every descending generation that God doesn’t play favorites, and that obedience and godliness of character aren’t an insurance policy of protection against facing life’s trials. On the contrary, God exempts no one—not even His Son, who willingly died on the cross for our sins.

All humans have faults, and Job’s was his self-righteousness. But before we jump on the same bandwagon of criticism like his friends, let’s be honest…are we not also like Job? If while we’re living a righteous, obedient life to God and a trial suddenly manifests for no good reason, don’t we beg the same questions?

  • God, why do I cry out and You don’t answer?
  • What have I done to deserve this?
  • Why are the wicked allowed to get away with tormenting the righteous?
  • How can a holy God look on evil and do nothing?

What have you lost?

Like Job, you may have lost material possessions, loved ones, or your health. People close to you may criticize you for being a Christian and trusting God when you’ve lost so much. Wouldn’t we love to have a sit-down discussion with God so we could ask what the reason behind all our suffering is? We all have questions that may or may not be answered until we get to heaven, but we have to patiently wait until that day.

How to take heart in trials…

Whenever you feel discouraged, reread the Book of Job, for in it are God’s answers to the WHY’S. The fact that He is Sovereign God is a good start to understanding WHY. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, and nothing can happen to us that He doesn’t allow. We are protected by His godly hedge, and our names are inscribed on the palm of His hand. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

All trials are for a purpose. I’ve personally learned that they are tests of faith that, once passed, will lead us to promotion to the next level. The patience we grow through them will be like steel—the kind Job possessed.

As we wait, take heart. In the end, the Lord is merciful and full of compassion. Every trial has an ending, and God is faithful to bring it to pass. God has a plan, and we must trust it.

How does Job’s story of faith help you grow patience in your life?

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Study Series Week 23 Patience by Karen Jurgens

Dear Father God, Thank you for teaching us about patience through the story of Job. May we trust you as You lead us through the trials of life. May we praise and worship You as we walk through those hard valleys, for You are always by our side. We pray in Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens Praying woman

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year by Karen Jurgens
Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, and blessed New Year.

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?

Merry Christmas from Touched By Him Ministries


6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And 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.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

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.

12 And 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.

15 And 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.

16 And 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.

Road to Bethlehem

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

 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.

Why her? 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 they were married 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.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

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 Hispeople 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.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

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 Hisname.
And His mercy is onthose who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proudin 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, who 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 had been struck 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.

Road to Bethlehem by Karen Jurgens

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.” 

How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus

How Hanukkah Celebrates Jesus by Karen Jurgens

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.

Final Thoughts…

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!

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit

Feasting on the Fruit of the Spirit by Karen Jurgens

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Some people will enjoy a meal out, while others will be guests at another’s table. Perhaps some will prepare a dish to take, while others may be hosting the entire family, like me.

Wherever we take our places at the table this year, it’s always a special time to pause and reflect on our blessings over the past year.

As we feast on traditional or not-so-traditional dishes, let’s also feast on some “delicious” scriptures—specifically, the nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here is a list of my favorite Bible verses, from both the Old and New Testament—one for each spiritual fruit (all taken from the New American Standard Version).

LOVE: 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 (John 3:16).

 JOY: These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).

 PEACE: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

 PATIENCE: And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:15).

 KINDNESS: Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).

 GOODNESS: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6).

 FAITHFULNESS: They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).

 GENTLENESS: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS (Matthew 11:29).

 SELF-CONTROL: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Now it’s your turn … what are your favorite verses we can feast on today?

 

Unjustly Accused: The Story of Joseph

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Joseph’s story, although thousands of years old, could be a headline in today’s news: Powerful government official accused of sexual assault.

When Pharaoh ruled Egypt, laws didn’t defend the innocent until proven guilty. (In fact, countries whose laws do defend the innocent aren’t plentiful, even today.)  So, no surprise about the instant condemnation that swiftly followed when Potiphar’s wife held up Joseph’s garment and screamed, “Guilty!”  That innocent man landed in prison for years due to her lie of revenge, all because he refused her advances of seduction.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

However, God was weaving a plan for Joseph’s life, and this unjust accusation was only one of many threads. Not only did God intend to deliver Joseph from prison and reunite him with his family, but He also planned to use him to deliver the nations from a coming famine.

How did God work this out?

 

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Although doomed to serve out an unjust sentence, Joseph found favor with the keeper of the prison and immediately was given charge of all the prisoners. After a passage of time, Joseph met Pharaoh’s baker and butler, who had both been thrown into jail for insulting their master.

One night they each had a troubling dream and asked Joseph to interpret its meaning. Three days later the baker was hanged, but the butler was reinstated into Pharaoh’s service, just as Joseph had prophesied. As the butler was released, Joseph pleaded with him to ask Pharaoh to free him from his own unjust prison sentence.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Time passed. The butler forgot all about Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh dreamed two strange dreams on the same night. As no one in Egypt had the wisdom to interpret it, the butler finally remembered Joseph and advised his master.  Immediately Joseph shaved, donned clean clothes, and came into Pharaoh’s presence.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’  So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace’ ~ Genesis 41:15-16 NKJV.

After hearing the dreams, Joseph declared that both had the same meaning and gave the following interpretation:

 God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.  Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land so the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.  And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass ~ Genesis 41: 28-32 NKJV.

 Not only did God give wisdom to Joseph to correctly interpret those dreams, but He also gave him a plan for how to avert the coming disaster. When Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was discerning and wise, he set him over the land of Egypt as the second-in-command. Joseph saved one-fifth of all the bountiful Egyptian grain for seven years to offset the future years of famine.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. After his brothers happened to come to Egypt from Canaan to buy grain, God brought Joseph’s dreams to pass when his brothers bowed before him—the very dreams from his youth that had turned his jealous brothers against him.

Unjustly Accused by Karen Jurgens

Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.  So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:  There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’

 And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me’ ~ Genesis 37:5-9 NKJV.

Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth…Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them… ~ Genesis 42: 6, 9a NKJV.

The Takeaway

Joseph had a blessed ending in spite of his trial of unjust accusation. In addition to saving Egypt from starvation, he lived as an Egyptian ruler with a wife and children. His brothers and father moved to Goshen where Pharaoh gave them land for herding sheep.

God blessed Joseph and his family with rich abundance. But doesn’t it also make you wonder whatever happened to Potiphar’s wife? We’ll never know.

If we’re ever falsely accused, let’s remember Joseph’s story and be encouraged. God is always working to deliver us from our enemies and their lies. Let’s live by our faith and in obedience to God. At the perfect time, Almighty God will deliver us from our situation of suffering and promote us to live a blessed and peaceful life.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever ~ Psalm 23: 5-6.

Have you experienced God’s blessings through an unjust accusation?