Heart Treasures

Heart Treasures

By Patricia Knight

Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mary was an ordinary person who accomplished the extraordinary. As a young teenager, a mere twelve to fourteen years of age, Mary possessed a quiet faith, one that conveyed submission, humility, and inner strength of character. The angel assured her, “Do not be afraid. You have found favor with GodYou will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1: 30-32).

Mary was initially overwhelmed and perplexed by the announcement, but she asked only one question of the angel, Gabriel: “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). Once Gabriel responded that the Holy Spirit had overcome her to create her pregnancy, Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Her next response was to sing a song of praise and glory to God, rejoicing in His mercy lavished upon her. Mary’s song ends with conviction that God is faithful to His promises. She felt honored that she had been chosen to participate in a miracle that would fulfill God’s sacred word made centuries ago to bring the prophesied Savior to the world.

Mary didn’t attempt to live in the future, avoiding futile “what if” questions. She relied upon her Lord to meet all of her needs on a daily basis. Whenever she was reminded of a new aspect of Jesus’ future predicted by a prophet or an angel, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). God recognized Mary’s superlative heart value. He chose her as the mother of Jesus by examining her heart and found it overflowing with goodness.  To hold the Son of God in her arms, to cuddle Him, to nurture and instruct Him, must have been a tremendous privilege and responsibility, not so different from the devotion and love all mothers feel toward their children. However, a sense of wonder must have constantly permeated Mary’s emotions.

As Jesus matured, He gradually developed an awareness of His unique relationship to God. He was also perfectly obedient to His earthly parents. Mary and Joseph must have yearned for their firstborn to experience every aspect of life, but Jesus was unable to fall in love, have a family, or experience any permanent status on earth. Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.  He was focused on the work with eternal consequences that He must perform during his brief time on earth.

Jesus’ parents had no forewarning that their adult son would walk on water, cure the blind, or heal the lame. But they believed unreservedly in His mission. At a wedding feast where the wine supply was exhausted much too early in the celebration, Mary asked Jesus to help in some way to prevent embarrassment to the bridegroom. Then she instructed the servants, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Though Jesus had never performed a miracle before, Mary trusted His abilities and judgment explicitly. She was likely as surprised as the servants that Jesus converted gallons of plain water into elegant wine.

Jesus was born on earth not to constantly perform fantastic miracles, as needed as they were, but to bring redemption of sin to the multitudes. 

Soon the prediction the prophet Simeon uttered when Jesus was an infant, was proving true: Mary as well as Jesus would suffer deep anguish in the future. When Jesus claimed to be the son of God, storm clouds of opposition and rejection gathered over His life. Mary must have felt personally attacked when she viewed mob hatred escalating toward her son. Jesus was the subject of intolerance and shame; scorn and disbelief.  Mary paid a tremendous price to bring the Savior into the world; she paid an exorbitant price to stand beneath the cross, witnessing the physical and emotional torment of Jesus’ during his heinous crucifixion. Mary’s heart must have completely shattered, spilling forth all the treasures she’d pondered over the past thirty-three years of her son’s life.

As He hung from the cross, Jesus assigned His beloved disciple, John, to care for His mother for the rest of her earthly life. Then Mary retreated into seclusion with Jesus’ committed followers, where they hid from the Roman authorities, praying for protection and guidance. Three days later, news arrived that Jesus had risen from the dead. How Mary rejoiced!  Her son, the Son of God, was alive!  Thanksgiving filled the air.

Are we willing to cling to our beliefs, as Mary did, even when the rising tide of public opposition threatens to chip away at our spiritual commitment, like granite eroding from the constant battering of surging tides? Just as plans for the incarnation of our Savior were flawlessly choreographed in heaven, God loves us so much that His purposes for each of our lives are also perfect. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas season, let us follow Mary’s example, learning to treasure all the Words of God and ponder them in our hearts.

The Christmas Story … Part 2 (Conclusion)

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Christmas Story … Part 2
(Conclusion)

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. (Luke 2:21)

Long before the Lord ordained the ritual of circumcision for males, He arranged for the coagulating pro-enzyme called prothrombin to be at 130% of normal adult levels on the eighth day of life, and for natural analgesic enzymes in the blood to be at lifetime highs as well.

Circumcision on any other day can be a painful and bloody event, but on the eighth day of life it’s remarkably less so. Of course, this is a fact the medical profession has only learned in the last century. Back then people just knew that everything worked better when they were obedient to God’s commands.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)

It was 33 days after Jesus had been circumcised. Since Joseph and Mary could not afford a lamb for Mary’s purification, the Law permitted them to use the two birds instead. (Lev. 12:8)

Read the rest here.

The Christmas Story … Part 1

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

The Christmas Story … Part 1

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:1-2)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).

Some commentators try to cast doubt on the validity of Isaiah’s virgin birth prophecy, saying the clearest Hebrew word for virgin is bethulah.  In Isaiah 7:14a different word, almah, is used. It means virgin too, but can also describe any woman of marriageable age. They contend that Isaiah’s failure to use the most specific word for virgin could mean that he wasn’t really prophesying a virgin birth. As if anticipating this, Isaiah included a rebuttal to their claims.  It’s simple and appears in Isaiah 8, but first some perspective.

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: He Shall Reign Forevermore

SundayPraiseAndWorship--AMP

What a glorious occasion we recently celebrated: the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. He Shall Reign Forevermore, by Chris Tomlin, is a wonderful way to sing and declare the truth that Jesus shall reign forever! Please join me in continuing the celebration by singing these praises of worship to our awesome King of kings and Lord of lords!

And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

BlogSL2-smallest

Mary’s Christmas Story … Part 2 (Conclusion)

The rest of this study, shared from GraceThruFaith.

Mary’s Christmas Story … Part 2

The angel said to me, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Stand Up and Be Counted

he next few months flew by and before I knew it, my time to deliver had nearly come. Then the Roman governor really threw a wrench into the works by deciding to conduct a census. Every family in Israel had to travel to their ancestral home to be counted. For Joseph and me that meant Bethlehem since we were both of the tribe of Judah and the house of David. Joseph was a descendant of King Solomon while I came from his brother Nathan’s family. Yes, that means we were actually distant cousins many times removed, but before you get all concerned let me explain that this was proper for two reasons.

First, my father Heli had no sons so as his oldest daughter I was his rightful heir. But the law required I marry someone from the tribe of Judah so my family’s land wouldn’t be lost from the tribal inheritance given to our ancestors in Joshua’s time (Numbers 36:6-9). Joseph was a proper choice under the law.

And second, the angel Gabriel had promised that my son would rule on David’s throne. The problem was that just before the Babylonian captivity, Israel’s kings had become so corrupt that the Lord had put a blood curse on Solomon’s line of David’s family, the royal line of succession, swearing that no biological descendant of Solomon’s after Jehoiachin (aka Jeconiah) would ever again rule over Israel as King (Jere. 22:28-30), and indeed, none ever has; Jehoiachin was Israel’s last legitimate king. This even though the Lord had promised David that Solomon’s descendants would always be Israel’s kings (1 Chron 17:10-14). Since Joseph was from Solomon’s line, he carried this blood curse as did every other living descendant of King Solomon’s.

Read the rest here.

BlogSL2-smallest

Mary’s Christmas Story … Part 1

Shared from GraceThruFaith.

Mary’s Christmas Story … Part 1

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

The angel said to me, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

Note: As you know I’m not one of the Bible’s writers, although my story appears in several of the Gospels. What follows is a re-telling of my experience with some extra tidbits thrown in that, while historically accurate, may be new to you. Merry Christmas.

There was an expectancy you could almost feel in Israel in those days, and sometimes it exploded into the streets as one itinerant preacher after another toured the country delivering his Messianic messages. Some actually claimed to be the Messiah, while others loudly hailed His coming, warning everyone to get ready. Usually it got them in trouble with the law, since the thing the Romans hated most of all was civil unrest. Some were beaten and run out of various towns and a few were put to death. But the people caught the messianic fever, hoping, dreaming and even praying that the Lord would raise up a leader to defeat the Romans and restore our country to its glorious days of the past.

History Written in Advance

There was an expectancy you could almost feel in Israel in those days, and sometimes it exploded into the streets as one itinerant preacher after another toured the country delivering his Messianic messages. Some actually claimed to be the Messiah, while others loudly hailed His coming, warning everyone to get ready. Usually it got them in trouble with the law, since the thing the Romans hated most of all was civil unrest. Some were beaten and run out of various towns and a few were put to death. But the people caught the messianic fever, hoping, dreaming and even praying that the Lord would raise up a leader to defeat the Romans and restore our country to its glorious days of the past.

Read the rest here.

BlogSL2-smallest

Sunday Praise and Worship: Mary, Did You Know? (Pentatonix)

SundayPraiseAndWorship--AMP

I love the Pentatonix version of one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Mary, Did You Know?” It often plays through my mind this time of year. 

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

BlogSL2-smallest