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“In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.”
In Isaiah’s prophetic writing about our Savior Jesus, he refers to Him as “the branch of the Lord.” This reminds us Jesus is in fact deity and from the direct lineage of God the Father. Romans 3:23-26 discusses how all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and how Jesus came as the “propitiation” of sin. He takes our place so God forgets and forgives all our past sins. I’ve mentioned it before, but many non-Christians say they just can’t believe because why would God…king and ruler of all…do that? Or put in another way..they wouldn’t do that if they were God. Well..that’s just it..we are not God..thankfully!
Just this last week yet another scandal in major league baseball was revealed, with one very outspoken Christ follower being accused of some very serious cheating showing once again that even as Christians we can be tempted to win at all costs wanting the praise and the glory. This also proves once again that it’s hard for us to fathom what God did through Jesus in humbly submitting and bearing the burden for sin that should have been ours.
Yet, these verses tell us, “the branch of the Lord” will take his rightful place on the throne and receive all the glory and praise for His sacrifice at the end of days when He comes again. This past Sunday at Eastview Christian Church, Pastor Mike Baker discussed how scientists estimate there are over 100 billion stars and galaxies. Today’s verse and Revelation 5:13 tell us He will get the glory in the end.
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.”
If those 100 billion stars and galaxies and everything in them will ultimately bow down to Him some day, then “So Will I”….
Today’s reading is Rev 21:6 “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.”
Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created…
John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed…
1John 1:1 The One who existed from the beginning…
Rev 22:13 The beginning and the end…
In the beginning God already existed. This statement is equally comforting and mind blowing to me. Before the oceans and the land, before the sun and the stars, before people, He already existed. Any and every marker of time you choose, He was there before. I cannot understand and I can drive myself crazy trying to, so I move to sitting with the comfort that comes from knowing He was there for everything I can think of. He created, He witnessed, He knows, He designed, and He had a plan that included you and me. Our world is not spinning randomly. There is purpose, a plan. We are known intimately by our maker and His greatest joy comes when we want to know Him. “To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of life.” He wants to share Himself with us. He wants us to desire relationship with Him.
I am sitting on a beach writing this post. There is a family with three little girls playing near me. The parents are sitting in chairs seeking some rest and relaxation while keeping eyes on their children. The oldest girl (5 or 6) is a swimmer. She is out in the water jumping waves and testing her skills and bravery in this new environment. She wants desperately for someone she loves to experience this new world with her. She knows instinctively that she will have more fun if she is not alone. Her sisters are too little. They don’t have the maturity to handle what she can in those waves. Her parents are tired and wishing the kids would entertain themselves. So “little girl” is alone in her “fun”. She is so desperate for camaraderie, she is swimming over to another family whose grandparents are playing with the kids. “Little girl” is trying to weasel her way into another family so she can fully enjoy this new ocean experience. God built us this way. He knows how much richer and fuller life is when shared in relationship with Him and others. He is this way. (Remember we are made in His image) He wants us to share our lives with Him. He wants to be included in our joys and accomplishments. He wants to be with us in the boring and mundane and He wants to walk beside us through the hurts, pain and frustration of life. He wants to share all of life with us. For Him, what else is there? He can create anything He wants. He has the power to make every being adore and praise Him. If everyone and everything is created and commanded to worship and praise Him, what fulfillment does that bring Him? This is why our choosing Him brings Him so much joy. We are relating to Him because we WANT relationship with Him. One of His created beings, with a free will choosing to relate to Him is meaningful. It brings Him joy to be noticed, understood, known, and chosen. Does he need us for anything? Not at all…He is able to do anything, but He delights in our choices to include Him and grow in relationship with Him. He created us for this purpose. He is hoping we will all choose Him. From the beginning this has been His plan. The Beginning…
By the way, before I finished writing these words, “little girl” talked her tall, strong, daddy out of his restful chair and into her ocean adventure with her. Her laughter and excitement feel like a gift to me after pondering this topic today!
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecc. 3:11-13
Good morning friends 🙂 Most of you know I am a parent, as my illustrations tend to focus around my younger children. Actually, I have four children. The oldest just turned 16 this past weekend. We also have an 11 year old daughter, a 6 year old son, and the youngest, Andrew, who will be 5 in about a month. You may not know that the two older children are actually my step-children. They live equally in both this home and their mother’s home. My husband and I both work full-time jobs, and when we’re not at work we’re trying our best to just keep our heads above water with laundry, basketball and volleyball practices and games, and everything else that comes our way on a daily basis.
None of what I’ve said is that unusual of a story. The thing is, though, that I have realized that I have over-committed to things outside of my family. My evenings and weekends are as busy with commitments as are the days. My children are spending more time with teachers, sitters and other care providers than they are with me. Thankfully, the people that they are with are good people, and are having a positive impact in the kid’s lives. But I am the person God chose to be their mom. And things have gotten to a point where even when I am home, I am too distracted with the “stuff” I need to do to actually spend time being a mom.
I’ve really wrestled with this because there are many things that I want to do, be involved in, and participate in. A very good friend of mine gave me this advice: “When you are in the young motherhood season, be careful not to commit to too many activities outside your home. It is more difficult to disciple and teach your children if you are running around all the time. Don’t feel guilty for not being involved in a lot of activities, or even ministries.”
Seasons end. This time with in my life, a time with little boys who beg for my attention and still want snuggles at the end of the day, will not be here forever. And these children – all four of them – are who God has put in my life and in my home to be a mother to. As much as I love being in the Bible Journal family, I am going to step down for a while. There are other commitments I have been stepping back from, and it’s not an easy thing for me to do.
I challenge you to this: In every season, choose joy and embrace the season you are in. And recognize that the roles we are in now, our relationships, mistakes, or even our failures and sins don’t define us. Focus on Christ and why we are here, and let your eyes be opened to see the incredible opportunities He has given each one of us in whatever season we may be in. For now, mine is to nurture and the four of His children for the plans He has made for them.
Today’s reading: Isaiah 11
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious (Isaiah 11:10).
When I was growing up in children’s church, we used to sing a song called “His Banner Over Me is Love”. The first verse went like this –
The Lord is mine and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
The Lord is mine and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
The Lord is mine and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!
Like many worship songs, this one had a thousand verses where the first line changed but the second line (His banner over me is love) stayed the same. The song went on and on as we used to sing through many verses like – He brought me to his banqueting table (His banner over me is love), He lifted me up in heavenly places (His banner over me is love), He is the vine and we are the branches (His banner over me is love).
I must admit, when we used to sing this song in children’s church, I had no idea what the song meant. I hadn’t thought about this song in years until I was preparing for today’s post about the attribute of God – A Banner for his people. Honestly, I still had no idea what this really meant until I went digging into the scripture this week.
The first time this attribute of God shows up is in Exodus 17. Moses had just led God’s people out of Egypt. They were free, but in the desert they were grumbling because they didn’t have enough to eat. God solved their problem by providing manna and quail for them to eat every day. Then – they grumbled about being thirsty. God solved their problem again by providing water from a rock for them to drink. Then – the Amalekites came to fight against the Israelites. God solved their problem again – as long as Moses held up the staff of God in his hand, God’s people had the advantage. Whenever he lowered his hands, however, the Amalekites took over. Remember the story? Moses’ arms eventually got so tired that Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him until the battle was eventually won.
When the battle was over, Moses built an alter to God and called it “The Lord is My Banner”.
In Biblical times, armies and/or tribes had flags or banners that identified who they were. They often had images of idols on them. In Exodus 17, Moses’ altar declared that God was the identifying symbol for the Israelite army. His presence and protection were the source of their power.
In our scripture for today, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah was describing Jesus, the promised Messiah. Verses 10-12 describe him as a banner of salvation for all the world, a flag among the nations for Israel to rally around when he comes again to triumph over sin and death at the end of the world.
Ok, so now I had a better idea about what the word “banner” meant in the Bible. I understood that Jesus was, and is, a banner of salvation for God’s people. But I still didn’t really understand the song “His Banner Over Me is Love”. So I kept digging until I connected the dots.
Consider Jesus words –
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
The Banner, or identifying symbol, of Christfollowers is love. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to save us from our sins. Because God loves us, we then can love others. In most circumstances today, we don’t carry around flags or banners to identify who we are. But showing love to others is not common in this world. If we consistently love and serve others, people will recognize we are different. Because we have Jesus in our hearts, our banner is love.
My question for you today is this – do you consistently show love to others? Would those you come into contact with every day describe you as loving? Is it your banner?
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8).
Three weeks after Christmas, on a day we were putting away some Christmas decorations, our family was studying Hebrews 8. As I was listening to the verses being read, I was overcome with joy of the Good News being described. At the conclusion of the chapter, I shouted HALLELUJAH!, leading to a surprised and puzzled six year old.
This chapter describes Jesus as the new, better, eternal covenant for God’s people! Hallelujah – to God be praised!! As best I could, I explained to my son why this is amazing news for us. God is so merciful!
When we look at Luke 2, our passage for today’s journal entry focuses on Jesus as a baby. He’s born in Bethlehem and the very next thing is the angel and heavenly hosts appear to the shepherds, share the news, and proclaim Glory to God! The shepherds went and found baby Jesus and then they shared this with others and praised God!
Christmas is a season that draws our hearts to the Lord and closer to one another, and is an opportunity to celebrate the Good News of who Jesus is, and how he came to save us. In general, babies represent hope for the future, newness and freshness, the miracle of life. And Jesus as a baby brings us so much more than that. Each year I’m challenged to keep Christmas in our hearts a bit longer, and not let the excitement of the good news be put away when the nativity is carefully packaged back up, when we take down the tree, and all the celebrations are over.
I love the example that the angels and shepherds gave us at the birth of Jesus – they wasted no time in telling others and praising the Lord! In a few months we will celebrate and remember this perfect and complete gift from God, as Jesus becomes our sacrifice and then defeats the grave. Between now and then, will you join me in keeping the excitement and gratitude of this gift alive? What are some practical ways we can continue to share and worship like the angels and shepherds did? I’d love some ideas from others!
No one wants to get sick, especially while traveling far from home. Recently I was traveling for work and came down with a cold at the start of the journey. The next morning not only did I have a cold, I had done something which caused severe pain in my lower back. Sitting, standing, sleeping, all had punishing consequences and I still had a job to do.
Two days later at the airport the journey home began with continued effects of a cold and back pain. During the security check, the officer informed me my carry-on toiletries would not fit into the required plastic bag for liquids. She then took the liberty of tossing my hair product into the trash. Very few times in my life have I ever felt “someone has it in for me”, but this was one of those times. She was mean-spirited, seemingly taking pleasure in giving people a hard time.
With a deep breath, I calmly explained that it was for me to decide which item should be thrown out, and kindly (in my best effort) asked for her to please remove the product from the trash and allow me to try to fit the items into the bag. She hesitated but then realized it was the right thing to do.
Moments later all of my stuff (barely) fit into the bag and I was on my way with shoes and belt off, passing through the scanner. Freedom, the other side!
Then an announcement: “Mr. Jon Harris please report to the security desk… Mr. Jon Harris please report to the security desk…”
Security then informed me that I left my credit card on the other side of the security control, and if I wanted the card I needed to go back with all of my belongings, retrieve the card and then go back through security again. Embarrassed with my mistake, and a little frustrated they couldn’t just pass the card through, I made my way back to the outside world.
This particular airport has a vending machine where all passengers pay a fee of 10 GBP (about $14) to use the airport. I left my card in this machine and unfortunately three other people used the machine after me and received “free” passes at my expense.
With card and luggage in hand, still embarrassed, it was time to go back through security. This time fortunately it was much easier and I was glad to give everyone a laugh at my expense.
In-flight due to my cold my ears had extreme pressure which caused pain as well as an inability to hear from one ear that evening. Upon arrival, a border patrol representative asked me a question and I had no idea what he was saying, partly because I couldn’t hear and partly because he was speaking Italian and wouldn’t speak English. After some back and forth, I realized he was asking my profession and I said “information systems” (in Italian) and he said, “ok go”, and that was it.
All of these stories are true and as I look back, I find it humorous and great to reflect on. First, the truth from Jesus:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
And the experiences of that trip brought some insights:
- I probably don’t need to travel with two bottles of cologne, and I probably care too much about my hair product.
- I make mistakes, daily.
- My body is prone to failure and as we age it seems to get worse.
- Mean behavior is hurtful and senseless. And I’m not any better than the mean security officer because in my heart, I had anger, judgement, and mean thoughts against her.
Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I am not awesome, BUT GOD IS!
““Who is like you among the gods, O Lord — glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?” (Exodus 15:11 NLT)
“Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,” (Nehemiah 1:5 NLT)
“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.” (Daniel 9:4 NLT)
Today and every day let us be grateful for our awesome God and his son Jesus. In our failures and non-awesomeness, our sins are forgiven and we are cleansed when we repent in the name of Jesus Christ.
Who would offer me vengeance against my enemies? Who would set me free? There are a few conditions for someone to avenge me. First, the avenger must be more powerful than the opposition. Second, the avenger must love the oppressed. Third, the oppressed must be deserving. Did you know that God is our avenger?
To be avenged, we must be loved. God’s love for us is well documented. It is described as unconditional, everlasting and powerful. 1 John 3:1 explains that God calls us his children. Who among us does not love our child so much that we would avenge them?
If someone is to avenge me they must be powerful. God is powerful. So powerful, he handily establishes his own worlds. He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. Job 26:7-10 (ESV)
If I expect to be avenged, I need to be deserving. This is a problem. I am not deserving. I am not innocent. None of us are. Its been that way since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The Lord doesn’t avenge the guilty, he eliminates them. Remember Noah? Genesis 6:5 (ESV) The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. That same fate would await us if not for Jesus Christ. You know the story. He died for us. In his death, he took all of our sins upon himself. He is our avenger. We have been set free. We are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:24-25
When we finally recognize the love that God has for us and we get a glimpse of his unimaginable power and we realize that we are now worthy to be called his children, there is only one response. Worship.
Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out. Psalm 94:16-23
I started a new job recently and there are a lot of things that are new to me. Thankfully I have a binder with protocols that I can use for reference. Without the protocols I would be lost and potentially figuring things out wrong. The protocols save me from making mistakes that would cost me and others in the end. They also help me navigate emergency situations where my head may not be in a place to make quick decisions. I can quickly go to the protocol and trust that it will lead me in the right direction. I’m so thankful to have this at my fingertips! I keep it very close to me so I can reference it often. Over time, I know the protocols will become a part of my everyday thinking because I’m spending so much time reading them. I feel an urgency about learning all I can so I am prepared for that moment when I need the information quickly. Obviously the author of the protocols found themselves in the same situation when they sat down and decided to write them all out for the benefit of others. As I become more familiar with the protocols I’m feeling more confident and better equipped to handle these new situations and I’m becoming better at my job.
Today’s reading is from Hebrews 2:12 – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus is the “author and perfecter of our faith”. He is the creator, developer, and pioneer of the ultimate protocol – The Bible. It provides a framework for our lives to be lived according to our creator. If followed it keeps us in relationship with our Heavenly Father and helps us maintain an eternal perspective. By faith I accept that Jesus is the son of the living God and He died on the cross for my sins in order to save me so I can spend eternity with Him. I received all that on the day I said Yes to Jesus! Seems like enough right? No! He didn’t want to leave us in the first stage of our faith. He wants us to spend time and get to know him better through our everyday lives. He shows up in mighty ways when we are looking for Him. This daily decision to spend time with Him and read the Bible is part of perfecting our faith that only happens through Jesus. We get better at it the more time we spend on it. Some days are better than others but over time I have seen great growth as I have allowed him to work in my life. When I struggled with worry I spent a lot time memorizing verses to fight those feelings and now those verses come to mind very quickly when I recognize the worry creeping back in. He is perfecting my faith as I continue to allow him to mold and shape my life. My faith will not be completely perfected this side of heaven but I am continually learning more about who He is while living my life through faith here on this Earth.
Continue to look to Jesus as the “author and perfecter of your faith”. He holds the answers if we are faithful to ask and trust His plan.
He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
For all our offenses, Jesus came. Our debt has been covered. As I reflect on this verse I can think about the guilt many can have from past sin. Thankfully our advocate we have is Jesus who tells us He came and suffered for the sins of our past, present, and future. The debt he paid was for you, me, and everyone. One day when we come face to face with him we can wrap our arms around Him and thank Him as he welcomes us home.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins 1 John 4:10
Jesus ever lives to make intercession for those that come to believe in God through him. We are all sinners in need of a savior. The price has already been paid. It can be hard to forgive yourself, it can even be harder to forgive others at times. Still, all the sins of all the people paid in full by Jesus, our atoning sacrifice. No one is beyond forgiveness.
Thank you for sending your son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for us. The sacrifice he made for all of us we didn’t deserve, still, he submitted himself for us paying off all our debts. God, I pray for those who don’t know you and understand the forgiveness promised we help share this truth. Help us to continue to turn from sin and when we do fall short turn to you for forgiveness. God help us to commit our heart to you and not to ourselves or this world.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Today’s Reading: Hebrews 11:10
A couple days ago, while running errands with my children, I received a phone call that was answered into the car speakers. On the other line there was a gentleman who was trying to solicit something from me and my son asks “ Dad was that Martin Luther King you were talking to?” This made me laugh but it also prompted him to ask about the different speeches that Dr. King delivered while he was still alive. We Googled a particular speech which is titled “What’s Your Life’ s Blueprint?” This speech outlined some amazing and very important parts in the lives of middle school and high school students. Highlights from Dr. King’s speech: 1.) Everyone has to a have a deep belief in their own dignity, worth, and “somebodiness” 2.) You must have a determination to achieve excellence 3.) Commitment to the eternal principle of beauty, love, and justice. And as we listen to the speech I was inspired and had it for a renewing of what is the blueprint of my life.
In Hebrews 11: 10 (MSG) we see that God is the builder and the architect of our life.
8-10 By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
But what does having God as your builder and architect really mean? To understand it fully we have to look at three different distinct Phases of a builder and an architect. 1.) The blueprint, 2.) The supplies 3.) The finished product: the building.
As God as our architect and builder, he has a blueprint for each of our lives. Jeremiah 29: 11 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Before the foundation of the earth and before the foundation of our body God has already designed us to for fill a certain purpose in his grand design.
Psalms 139: 1-6, 13-14
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Daily we reminisce in the past, worry about the present and question the future. In doing so, we are trying to figure out how to better meet others needs but not inquiring what God has already determined in his plan. Sometimes our brief view cannot incorporate all of what God has in store for us because his view is so vast. The blueprints he has designed are not for our complete benefit, but to bring him glory.
The next item is Supplies. In the construction of the temple of God, David is prepared everything for God’s house. David had the designs, the supplies, the people, the ornaments. Because of some of the choices that David committed, he was not able to complete the temple. Solomon, David’s son, was granted the chance to build the temple. The father provided in advance the necessary supplies for the son.
I Kings 5: 3-6
“You know that David my father could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. 4 But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune. 5 And so I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.’ 6 Now therefore command that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. And my servants will join your servants, and I will pay you for your servants such wages as you set, for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.”
Sometimes the supplies that God uses are not the ones that we can see physically. Sometimes the ones that have gone before us prepare the supplies for us. This could be from our parents, grandparents, pastors, friends, or neighbors. The supplies that He is using to build us are specific to each person. The supplies can be tangible, but a lot of the supplies are spiritual and we have to be mature enough to be able to understand how to use these at how God is using the supplies in our life.
Finally, the end product is the Building. Many times the builder and architect can see the finished product. But most the time the finished product for that builder is another project and once completed they go to the next project. Many times the builder does not revisit the building. But with God the end product which is us, we cannot see the full effects of the finished product. This past week, I had many dear friends and love ones started their eternal journey. The buildings I’ve witnessed by their lives are beautiful cathedrals of faith, love, and hope. These buildings of beauty are so evident by the legacy of that person is reflected in the loved ones.
Allow us to be patient with you as you are building us for your Glory. Allow us to understand that the finished product is where we are with you. Amen