True Relief

When I’m struggling, it’s too easy for me to look for relief in the wrong place, or to assume relief would come if only…….

The Jewish people had been under Roman rule long enough.  Most of their history they’d been under someone’s rule.  If only Messiah (leader/savior in Hebrew) would come!  He would be the kind of ruler that could crush Rome.

There were rumors that a young man from Nazareth was healing the sick all over the region. When he spoke, it was with the authority of God, unlike the daily fare the people were used to from the local religious leaders.  Why, even the demons obeyed and fled at his word!

Also, unlike the religious leaders, he spent time with everyday folk.  He loved even those any good Jew would consider “unclean”.  Tax Collectors, lepers, prostitutes. Why, among his closest followers were local fishermen, former tax collectors, and political zealots!

So much of what he said and did sounded like something the Messiah would say and do. His authority was reminiscent of the prophets of old.  Could this be the Messiah the Torah scriptures had foretold hundreds of years ago?

He’d even fed 5000 hungry men, along with women and children, after teaching them for hours, with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  Thinking he might be “the One”, crowds hounded, wanting to make him king by force.  They could get behind a king who could dole out food like they’d just seen!

However, Jesus told them their priorities were wrong – rather than clamoring for him to feed their bellies, they needed him to feed their souls and spirits, for he himself was the bread that would satisfy their deepest need.

——

The people thronged Jesus, but the religious leaders were more and more antagonistic, the atmosphere becoming volatile.  Jesus  spoke of  life and freedom found only through following him.  He spoke of the opportunity, through him, to actually have an intimate relationship with God; unlike those who passed themselves off as God’s representatives. The religious leaders demanded their converts keep rules and regulations piled deep, meant to keep people in line.  There was, with them, no talk of intimacy with God, nor freedom.

Amazingly, Jesus backed all he said with a power and authority only God could give.  His miracles were more numerous than could be written.  Yet he was humble.  Nothing like the leaders they were accustomed to daily.

He even proclaimed himself to be the Messiah whom they’d waited for.  His converts and their changed lives attested to the truth of his claims.  Why, even his cousin, John, who’d been baptizing people in the Jordan for years said he was given a vision from God stating Jesus was who he claimed.

—–

Jesus knew he’d come for battle, but not one that would win him political contests.  His battle wasn’t with religious leaders or political ideologies.  He’d come to battle the serpent who’d long ago urged Adam and Eve (and all since) to rebel his heavenly Father’s authority.  His very life was part of the battle – as God in human flesh, he exhibited daily, through lavish grace and love, the character of his heavenly Father, dispelling the serpent’s lies spoken long ago in mankind’s ears.  He set captives free from sin and its consequences by speaking truth with healing power, transforming the lives of those who’d been caught in the serpent’s chains.

He was and claimed to be God in flesh, but never acted on his own for his own benefit. His whole earthly life was one act of obedience to his Heavenly Father.  “He learned obedience by the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 NLT) Many times he could have used his authority as God’s Son to destroy his enemies. Rather, he chose to love them.  He could have proclaimed himself king a million times over, with grand gestures of power and might, but rather he humbled himself like a servant.

All to restore a relationship long ago broken by mankind’s rebellion.

Now, he would finish the battle.  Now was time to once and for all crush the serpent’s head.  One last blow.

Yet, it wouldn’t be as anyone would imagine.  Great warriors slay their adversaries and walk away.  Yet, this time, the great warrior would die.  He had to.

Jesus came not to temporarily relieve us but to permanently free us, at the cost of his own life.

Tomorrow, “The Battle”

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

You may also be interested in reading:  One of Us

p.s.  If you are interested in the scriptures used to write today’s entry, please go to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament of the Bible. John is a wonderful book to start with.  Each book was written either by men who witnessed the events personally, or with Luke, a physician who heard eye-witness accounts.

 

 

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The Arrival

There have been times in my life when I just wanted someone to come and restore sanity! Life was hard and I didn’t feel strong enough to continue under the weight.  All of us have felt that way at one time or another.

From the time of God’s intervention in the garden, hundreds of years had passed.  Life was hard. The people of Israel, the nation whom God had chosen to fulfill the promise, and to whom the promise had been passed down, waited.  They often found themselves in a position of slavery, for one reason or another.  Not that God wasn’t with them, but because of their choices.

Throughout those many hundreds of years, God reminded them over and over, at times when they needed it most, he hadn’t forgotten them.  He’d even sent prophets to point them back to him when they’d gone their own way.  These prophets spoke God’s words to the people of Israel, and any other nation who would listen, proclaiming one day, He’d send a great King to rule and reign, restoring peace.  The people of Israel assumed this king would come as most other kings came – with great pomp and ceremony, proclaiming his power and might boldly.

God rarely does anything the way we assume.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

Finally…the time…had come…

All was ready…the right people…the right circumstances…

All was in place…

An elderly couple had long given up hope of ever bearing a child.  As Zechariah, a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, went about his daily duties, an angel appeared and told him his wife Elizabeth would soon conceive and bear a son. They were to name him John.  He would become the one whom God had promised would prepare the people for the coming of the long promised Messiah (a Hebrew word for leader/savior). (Luke 1:5-25 NLT)

Just a short time later, a young woman from the town of Nazareth, named Mary, a virgin, went about her daily tasks as usual, until an angel of God interrupted and gave her the news she would bear the Son of God (the seed from Genesis 3) within the next 9 months. (Luke 1:26-38 NLT)

Not many weeks later, Joseph, Mary’s fiance, learned she was pregnant.  He, being a godly man, became very troubled by her perceived unfaithfulness.  After much thought, he chose to divorce her quietly rather than have her go through public humiliation.  That was the plan until an angel intervened in a dream, letting him know Mary hadn’t been unfaithful, but in fact was carrying the promised Messiah. (Matthew 1:18-24 NLT)

Nine months later, as Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census decreed by the Roman Emperor, Augustus, Mary’s body told her the child would come soon.  No one would give them lodging, but Joseph found a place in a nearby stable. There she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  They named him Jesus (which in Hebrew means Jehovah (one of God’s names) saves, and is generous), as Joseph had been told to do by the angel. (Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 1:20,21 both NLT)

God had long waited the coming of the One who would restore fully his relationship with mankind.  The night had finally arrived, and all heaven sang out the joyous news!

“Don’t be afraid!” he [the angel] said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 

Luke 2:10-14 (NLT)

The same message rings through time to us –

“Don’t be afraid.  The Savior has come!” He may not come to us in the way we expect, but the restorer, the champion of mankind has come.  God didn’t abandon us in our rebellion.  He made a way.  Praise Him!

We will finish out the week with the Battle he waged to win our freedom in the midst of struggle.

With love,

Robin <3

You may also enjoy, “Look For God’s Gifts

The Gift of Choice

Advent, Week 4, Day 4 – The Gift of Choice

God has given us all the gift of choice.

We can choose to accept his gifts, or reject them.

God’s gifts are sometimes discovered within wrappings we may not have chosen for ourselves – but the gift within houses the most enduring, trustworthy, powerful love we could ever imagine – awaiting to be discovered in relationship with the God who made us.

His gifts will sometimes be discovered within wrappings of rejection from people.

Joseph and Mary faced rejection from men, but they knew the approval and love of God as they birthed and raised His Son!

As we face rejection from men, we too can find the most beautiful acceptance, and perfect love from the God who formed and fashioned us.  WHEN we choose to allow him to become our greatest love in the pain. (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT)

His gifts will sometimes be discovered within the wrappings of uncertainty.

Joseph and Mary had no idea what they’d face in Bethlehem, but in the uncertainty – they heard of heralding angels, met worshiping shepherds and foreign wise men who’d followed a star bringing extravagant gifts from the east for their son, and heard from a man who’d waited his whole life to meet their son.

As we face uncertainty, we too can discover a God who is completely trustworthy. He won’t fail. WHEN we choose to believe that he is good, and rewards those who diligently seek him, while we wait for his answers through pain. (Hebrews 11:6 NLT)

His gifts will sometimes be discovered within the wrappings of needing to face evil.

Joseph and Mary had to face the fact that their son had a price on his head, because of a maniacal tyrant, but God protected them by sending the wise men home another way, and warning Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt.

As we face evil, we too can discover there a God who faced evil for us and won, and therefore is able to give us strength and victory over the evil we face.  WHEN we yield to his plan rather than our own. (Matthew 6:5-15 NLT)

With love,

Robin <3