Christmas Week – The Cast: Mary

My mind could barely grasp

the words I was hearing

 

An angel of God, Gabriel,

stood before me!

 

his presence overwhelming

bold

and beautiful

 

His words were like liquid gold

flowing,

 

“Greetings, you who are highly favored!

The Lord is with you.”

 

I struggled with his declaration

and I was troubled deep

 

But the heavenly being assured me

and calmed my fears

 

And then

the words I will never forget,

 

“You will conceive

and give birth

to a son

and you are to call Him

Jesus…”

 

Such confusion filled my head

but I knew in my inmost being

that this was from God

 

“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 Jacob’s descendants

forever;

His kingdom will never

end.”

 

So many thoughts

but only one question,

simple and to the point

 

“How will this be

since I am a virgin?”

 

Without hesitation

the angel replied,

 

“The Holy Spirit will come on 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.”

 

My Son

would be God’s Son?

 

I did not understand

but I knew God could be trusted

 

and I trusted

 

Gabriel’s parting words were,

“No word from God will ever fail.”

 

And with a heart full of joy

and a womb blessed,

I replied,

 

“May your word to me be fulfilled.”

 

I rushed to my cousin’s home

in the hill country of Judea

 

for the angel told me my aged relative

had conceived as well!

 

As I greeted Elizabeth

we both felt pure joy

and a knowing

 

that this moment

was profound

 

Baby John leaped in his mother’s womb

as the presence my Jesus was felt

 

And Elizabeth, too, was filled

with Holy Spirit fire!

 

The first of many

to worship my Divine

God-conceived

Son

 

My heart and mind

treasured the moment

 

Elizabeth shouted these words,

“Blessed are you among women,

and blessed is the child

you will bear!”

 

She knew!

Without a word from me

 

and I was humbled

by the exclamation

 

Elizabeth told me

I was blessed

 

for I had believed the Lord would fulfill

His promises to me

 

and I pondered what was said

and hoped

 

that all women would believe

the Lord’s promises

 

My spirit soared

and I spoke these words,

 

“My soul glorifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices

in God my Savior,

for He has been mindful

of the humble state

of His servant.

From now on all generations

will call me blessed,

for the Mighty One

has done great things for me –

holy is His Name.

His mercy extends

to those who fear Him,

from generation

to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds

with His arm;

He has scattered

those who are proud

in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers

from their thrones,

but has lifted up

the humble.

He has filled the hungry

with good things

but has sent the rich away

empty.

He has helped His servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and His descendants

forever,

just as He promised

our ancestors.”

 

I was at peace

with God’s plan for me

 

and I stayed with my sweet cousin

for three months

 

for that support of my relative

would help strengthen my heart

 

for what was to come

when I returned home…

 

the ridicule

the scorn

the gossip

the pain…

 

My betrothed,

so loving and kind,

couldn’t bear the news

that I was with child

 

without him…

 

He planned to cut ties with me privately

so as not to disgrace me publicly

 

But the Lord’s eye never left me

and an angel visited Joseph as well

 

to confirm the promises made to me

 

and we became man and wife,

my beloved and I

 

I treasured the days

of my Son growing inside me

 

singing lullabies

to God

 

I rejoiced at my cousin giving birth

to John, my Son’s forerunner and prophet

 

A census was required

and so

Joseph and I traveled to Bethlehem

 

the journey long and difficult

 

While we were there

it came time for our boy to be born

 

We searched everywhere

for just one room

 

but there was none

 

We were ushered into a place

meant for animals

 

It was unfathomable to me

that God’s Son might be born

in these circumstances

 

but there was no room

for us anywhere but here

 

So there,

in humble surroundings,

my child

and God’s child

was born

 

The pain

the blood spilt

the miracle

 

I had never seen anyone

so beautiful

 

I wrapped Him tightly

in clothes

 

and because there was no bed

I laid Him in an trough for animals

 

He, nonetheless, radiated light

and joy and glory

 

yet humility….

 

I could scarce take it all in

 

My mother’s heart treasured every moment

even as I lay exhausted from labor

 

My first experience

with the miracle of birth

was a holy moment

 

and I looked to the future with my God-Child,

unknowing of what that might look like

 

yet trusting God knew,

and I was His

 

– Susie Stewart

 

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants 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 on 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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women,and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for He has been mindful
    of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
    from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
    He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as He promised our ancestors.”

 

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

…In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

– Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-17 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Week – The Cast: Joseph

We were pledged to one other,

Mary and I

 

and we longed for the day

when we would be man and wife

 

I loved her,

this young girl with dark eyes

 

and a heart full of God

 

Mary was my faithful betrothed,

she was the one I could trust

 

until one day…

 

She came to me

and, with trembling voice,

told me she was with child

 

and my heart broke in two

 

It was beyond my comprehension

that she would make this choice

 

this choice with so many consequences…

 

but my love for her

eclipsed my anger and disappointment

 

I planned to break our engagement,

a divorce of sorts,

 

so as not to embarrass

or shame the woman I loved

 

But God has a way

of stopping us just in time,

sometimes

 

and I heard from Him

in an unimaginable way!

 

One of God’s magnificent angels

visited me in a dream!

 

He told me not to be afraid

to take Mary as my wife

 

and that the baby growing in her

was placed there by the Holy Spirit!

 

The angel said that it would be a boy

and that I was to name Him Jesus!

 

because He would save His people

from their sins

 

As soon as I awoke

I was on my way

 

I ran immediately to my betrothed

and shared with her my love

 

and the beautiful message

she already knew in her heart

 

We would endure

the ridicule

the scorn

the gossip

the accusations

 

TOGETHER

 

for we knew that no matter what,

God was for us

 

I committed to her, and to God,

that we would not truly become husband and wife

 

in every sense of the word

until our son was born

 

But to everyone else

she became my wife

 

We traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem,

for I was of the house of David

 

and there our son was born,

ours and God’s

 

I wanted so much more for my small family

but because of the census, so many people flocked to this town

 

and my precious son was born

and laid in an animal’s trough

 

for there was no space for us

in a decent room

 

Surroundings aside,

I could not take my eyes off of this miracle child

 

and I could not have been more joyful

or more proud of this boy

 

who was not of my seed,

for God was with us

 

And I would dedicate myself

to raise this Divine Son along with His siblings

 

in a way honoring

the deity He was

and is

and is to come

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement  quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through His prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

 

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

 
– Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

– Luke 2:1-7 (NLT)

 

 

Christmas Week – The Cast: Magi

I am considered wise

and knowledgeable

 

My life has been spent learning,

and handing out advice

 

I am one of many wise men

who traveled from the east

 

to see the One born

King of the Jews

 

We were compelled to see Him,

to worship Him

 

for a star rose in the sky

and we knew we must follow it

 

We traveled far,

the weightiness of our mission spurring us on

 

In time, we were intercepted

by a jealous king

 

Herod and his people

were afraid and disturbed because of the unkown

 

We, on the other hand, were filled with joy

and discovery curiosity

 

King Herod brought together

Jewish priests and teachers

 

and asked them where

this Messiah was to be born

 

Bethlehem of course

for that is prophecy’s place

 

for Messiah’s birth

 

Summoned then, by this jealous king,

we were asked when the star appeared in the sky

 

and he sent us on our way

to find this one-of-a-kind child

 

We did not believe Herod when he said

he wanted to also worship this Messiah

 

for we could see it in his eyes

that he did not believe in the child’s purpose

 

My joy grew as I saw the star once again in the sky

and we all knew to follow it

 

each step anticipating

Immanuel

 

And there He was in His home

with His mother Mary

 

I, and the other magi, lay prostrate

before the King of Kings so small

 

We worshiped Him

 

And we laid our treasures

at His feet

 

Gold

Frankincense

Myrrh

 

Earthly riches

Heavenly child

 

And we returned to our homes in the east

filled and satisfied

with having witnessed

 

the Son of God

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find Him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship Him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

– Matthew 2:1-12 (NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post by Nicole Rowell

For Unto us a Child is Born

Not wanting to show any disrespect to Thanksgiving, our family waited until Friday morning to “joyfully” carry dusty, overstuffed bins of questionable greenery and a formerly pre-lit Christmas tree (about which no one is bitter) from the basement to the family room. It wasn’t quite the same as Pa chopping down an evergreen and hoisting it over his shoulder for a snowy walk back to the little cabin in the woods, but by day’s end, Christmas merriment had exploded in our home.

In early evening, after the plastic bins were dragged back downstairs, I finally cozied up on the couch, my face aglow from the warm haze of my laptop. Not about to brave the Black Friday crowds in person, click by click my Christmas shopping was basically done. (Insert heartfelt poem about the glory of Amazon Prime).

“Christmas Vacation” silently played on the TV and I scrolled through a few Christmas-y Spotify playlists to brighten the air while dinner took shape. The duo nominated to hang the outdoor Christmas lights (requiring the 40-foot ladder) weren’t overly thrilled about their very special holiday task, so I tried to lessen the pain with food. Clark and Russ responded with glee.

By day’s end, even the dog proudly displayed her plaid Christmas collar.

Honestly, I went to bed ecstatic over the day’s accomplishments. The Checklist to Celebrating Christmas was more or less complete.

And yet, over the next few days, something unsettling nagged at my heart. My favorite morning ritual is to sit with God’s Word while it’s still dark and offer my heart and steps to Jesus for the day. This peaceful time is beautified every December by trees full of lights and memories, beautifully joining me in the stillness. A gentle, inaudible voice whispered to me as I gripped my coffee cup. “What about me?

Where do I come in your preparation? Do you even remember what all this is about?”

Now listen, I wanted to protest, I KNOW Jesus is the reason for the season. I’m not confused about why we’re doing all this decorating and shopping. I’m simply being efficient.

But in that moment, I realized I hadn’t given more than passing thought to Jesus himself.

The preparation of my home overshadowed the preparation of my heart.

Every year during advent, I ask God what glimpse of His character or aspect of this familiar Bible story He wants me to hold close. Having skipped that step in the rush to get ‘er done, I took a moment to ask and consider what God might have for me this season.

Immediately, my heart was drawn to images of Almighty God descending to earth wearing soft skin and a gummy smile.

A few days later, I found myself snuggling a friend’s infant baby boy. After his bottle, he slept peacefully in my arms and his details captivated my attention. I examined every feature: the tiny curled eyelashes, perfectly shaped miniature lips, fuzzy hair unsure of it’s color and cheeks destined for kissing. (He was also wearing a bowtie, as a teeny baby does.)

The fragility and helplessness that Jesus intentionally, humbly chose sank deep in my soul. The Savior that would later suffer and die a gruesome death entered the world exactly like this tiny boy in my arms. Jesus, with delicate eyelashes and tiny hands. Jesus, unable to feed himself or speak.

Overwhelmed with awe, my heart couldn’t make sense of such a collision of heaven and earth. It still can’t. But holding this sweet baby reminded me that this is not just a Bible story. Jesus, as a newborn, sent to miraculously bring hope and freedom to the world, was incredibly, touchably, real. He was held and cried and loved.

My heart re-oriented itself to preparation, to spending time this December in awe of Jesus. My eyes are fixed on noticing and gratefully responding to the Rescuer God sent packaged as a newborn.

Let every heart prepare Him room.
What will your heart preparation look like?

Have you intentionally made space to wonder with God what He might show you this Christmas season?

The angels said it best:
“I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:11-12 (The Message)

 

~ Nicole Rowell

Joy In The Middle Of It

There is joy
in Your presence, God

 

but not always
with people…

 

And I don’t want
my joy stolen

 

by difficult people
I come into contact with

 

when Divine joy
is mine for the taking

 

So I choose this day
to find joy in YOUR presence

 

while in the presence
of unpleasantness
hostility
rudeness
unkindness
hatred
obnoxiousness…

 

And I choose to set my focus
on the beauty
and the joy
and the gift

 

of Your presence,

 

my always-there
and undeniably loving
God

 

Thank You
for never leaving me

 

to fend for myself

 

And by the way,
God

 

please help me not be the one
whose presence steals another’s joy

 

-Susie Stewart

 

 

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.

-Psalm 16:11 (NLT)

 

You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life.
    As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending,
    and I know true joy and contentment.
– Psalm 16:11 (NOICE)

 

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
– Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

 

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from Your Spirit!
    I can never get away from Your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, You are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there Your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
     but even in darkness I cannot hide from You.
To You the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to You.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!
– Psalm 139:7 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Refreshed

How refreshing

is Your forgiveness

 

How sweet

Your grace

 

How fierce

Your resolve

 

to save

and redeem

 

And how blessed am I

to receive this gift

 

of Light inside

my very being

 

where darkness

once ruled

 

And how blessed am I

to know

 

I am truly forgiven

by Perfection

 

and that I’m known

for the dust that I am

 

Yet loved beyond reason

 

Forgiveness takes the weight

from the accused

 

and Your forgiveness, Jesus,

took that burden hard

and painfully

 

on Your flesh back

 

so that I

could be refreshed

 

with redemption

 

~ Susie Stewart

 

 

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

– Acts 3:19,20 (NIV)

 

 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will He harbor His anger forever;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is His love for those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on His children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
for He knows how we are formed,
    He remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him,
    and His righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep His covenant
    and remember to obey His precepts.

– Psalm 103:7-18 (NIV)

 

Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, who grants us every spiritual blessing in these heavenly realms where we live in the Anointed—not because of anything we have done, but because of what He has done for us. God chose us to be in a relationship with Him even before He laid out plans for this world; He wanted us to live holy lives characterized by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him.  He destined us to be adopted as His children through the covenant Jesus the Anointed inaugurated in His sacrificial life. This was His pleasure and His will for us.  Ultimately God is the one worthy of praise for showing us His grace; He is merciful and marvelous, freely giving us these gifts in His Beloved.  Visualize this: His blood freely flowing down the cross, setting us free! We are forgiven for our sinful ways by the richness of His grace, which He has poured all over us.

– Ephesians 1:3-8 (VOICE)

 

 

Photo by Nicole Stewart

 

 

More and More and More…

The MORE of You

is beyond

and infinitely above

my grasp

 

The MORE of what You can

and will do

is immeasurable

and unimaginable

 

The MORE of what I

don’t expect

or don’t ask

of You

is unbelievable

 

To YOU

my unfathomable

beyond

and more

God,

 

I commit myself

to imagine

and ask

and believe

MORE

 

even though it is not

a speck

of enough vision

of You

and Your ways

 

I lean in to witness

the power of You

in me

and outside of me

for Your Divine glory

 

and MORE

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20,21 (NIV)

 

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

– Ephesians 3:20,21 (MSG)

 

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20,21 (AMP)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

That Name

Love has a Name

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know Him if you don’t love. This is how God showed His love for us: God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  ~ 1 John 4:8-10 (MSG)

It’s Jesus

 

 

Hope has a Name

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  ~ Romans 15:13 (NLT)

It’s Jesus

 

 

Joy has a Name

You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life.
    As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending,
    and I know true joy and contentment.  ~ Psalm 16:11 (VOICE)

It’s Jesus

 

 

Peace has a Name

And now, dear friends, may the Lord of peace Himself grace you with peace always and in everything. May the Lord be present with all of you.  ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (VOICE)

It’s Jesus

 

 

Faithfulness has a Name

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.  ~ 2 Timothy 2:13 (NLT)

It’s Jesus

 

 

And at that Name,

above all names,

every knee will bow

 

So you should know this Name

 

or never truly know

love

hope

joy

peace

or faithfulness

 

~ Susie Stewart

 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

– Galatians 5:22,23 (NLT)

 

So when His name is called, every knee will bow, in heaven, on earth, and below.

– Philippians 2:10 (VOICE)

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After

When you were young

did you dream

of your Happily Ever After?

 

Did you imagine your life

would look different

than the reality that has unfolded?

 

Your road has been

so much bumpier

than you wanted, hasn’t it?

 

And happily ever after

seems only a dream…

 

It is true

that in this life

you will have many troubles

 

You are a survivor

in a broken world

wrought with battles unseen

 

But, friend, your joy in between

is unmistakeable

 

For the beautiful parts of your life

are attributed to Him

who created that beauty

 

And you walk in His presence

in the midst of the turmoil

and the disappointment

 

You trust His promises

and you cling to His robe

for dear life

 

He is the Rock

the Fortress

the Shelter you need

 

And you know

without a shred of doubt

 

that your happily ever after

is coming

 

and it will be eternally yours

forever

and

ever

 

– Susie Stewart

 

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

– Ephesians 1:11-14 (MSG)

 

 It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, He saved us from all that. It was all His doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with Him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

– Titus 3:3-8 (MSG)

 

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

– 1 Peter 1:3-7 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

High Hopes

Having hope is good

 

Having hope in the Lord

is best

 

And we NEED

His hope

 

We need Him

 

Those who hope in Jesus

are renewed over and over

in their situation

 

Focus is re-established

when it starts to wane

 

And sights are set on things above

on sovereign God

 

not on earthly circumstances

 

For His strength,

mighty and unwavering,

is yours

 

And not only that

but You will soar high with Him

 

From the sky you are given a bird’s eye perspective,

an overall look

 

at each small slice

and circumstance

of life here

 

knowing this season

is woven with care

 

in the tapestry,

the landscape,

of your existence

 

Your hope

does not walk tired

 

And you may run

but it is not away from God

 

You run toward Him!

 

The Author and the Finisher

of your faith

 

The One who establishes

and solidifies

 

your hope

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

-Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
– Hebrews 12;2 (KJV)
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
-Psalm 25:5 (NIV)