“A heart to hear the Hope…”

“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 

He shall be great, and he shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

And he shall reign over  the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man (am a virgin)?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing (one) which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:31-35

Nothing, nothing like the story of the conception and birth of Jesus Christ! Nothing like reading how the angels appeared and praised God as the proclaimed the greatest message ever delivered on this earth!

Remember that message? Luke 2:8-15: ” And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks 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 so afraid (terrified).

And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, and good will toward men.

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.”

I know we go over that and over that but we should! It is worth remembering every single day! Especially on those days when you may not feel like there is anyone  knows your heart or what you may be going through! God sent his best, his SON, Himself to this earth and he came in the sweetest, most humble way because that is who he is.

As Herod sought to have all the baby boys slaughtered in hope of destroying this one child, a child that could not be destroyed because his time “had not yet come” and hell knew, the devil knew what that child meant to this world, which is exactly why they wanted him killed. It wasn’t Herod’s insane jealously over what he felt was a threat to his throne, that may have been the seed that satan planted in his mind to have him go to such atrocious and heart breaking lengths, but it was the greater plan to destroy one of the greatest gifts (among the innumerable) that Christ brought to this earth.

So what was really born on that night as the world carried on, all gathered to be taxed, all having a place to stay with warmth and as Mary gave birth and laid her baby in of all places a manger, the world did not notice and had they known who this child was there would have been those that would have gladly given her their room and their bed, bed like so many of us now no one had a clue as to what was really being born that night.

We can sometime fail to GO and to SEE what God wants us to too, once the “angels” have gone away, meaning, it can be so easy when we are new, fresh, and just washed in the blood of the Lamb, but time and life being life can make us jaded and we can quickly forget the very truths that we were once so grateful to find.

Hope, hope was born that day into this world, hope, not like the world had knew but living, breathing, and crying in the still of the night. Hope whose hand,if we will faithfully hold,  and give it the proper place and respect in our lives can never be truly stolen away because the hope that came into this world with the Birth of Christ is hope, as himself,  is not of this world,  as is not subject to any thing in this world.

Not emotion, not death, not powers, politics, not anyone “hating on ya” nothing can steal that, if you don’t let it!

Christ came to save us through his teachings, his example, his miraculous, birth, his horrific death, and above all his magnificent, glorious resurrection from that death. He lived out his very teaching that we “are in the world but not of the world” and that for his believers that not a hair on our head would perish EVEN through death and that was the hope he gave us.

Hope that this life is not it, it is nothing, this mortal bodies are nothing compared to the glorious resurrection to come, a resurrection into the world without end, a world where he will be fully known as who he is and he will reign forever.

FOREVER. PERIOD. He gives us hope in this life but the hope his birth brought was a much greater hope, it is the hope in him for eternity, this is one of the ways the Bible puts it:

1 Corinthians 15:17-22 “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins.Then they which are fallen asleep in Christ (have died believing salvation) are perished.  If in THIS life ONLY we have hope in Christ, we of all men are most miserable (pitiable). But now Christ IS risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept (have died). For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made ALIVE.”

Is there any greater hope? I think not!

Have a blessed holiday, full of love to him, mercy and truth and the hope that he brought and that hope is not in this world, it is not in yesterday, tomorrow, or even today, that hope is IN him and him alone and in the promise of the world after this world, the world which is yet to come and all the yesterday and tomorrows and today’s it will bring.

That is your hope, just as Paul said, if we have hope in Christ just in our present time, we are pitiful, and would be truly hopeless! Our hope is to be in him now and for the future, so far into that future that we may be among those resurrected from the graves and that changes the perspective about the true importance of today or any day.

Don’t get me wrong with that our days are important to God and how we live is very important to him, but don’t let your hope “rest” in these temporal days, let your hope SHINE, let the hope of eternity which Jesus let your life be as that star was for us and for the wise men, shine for him, there are yet greater things to come!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Thanks for reading!  Reverend Nina Brown Johnson/Φλογιζω NBJ 2019

 

Just kinda like… MESSED UP…

I love funky terms, always endearing, always fun and one of my favorites is “messed up”, I love the fact that the slang phrase can mean virtually ANYTHING. 

According to dictionary.com it is adjective slang and “messed up” CAN literally mean ANY or ALL of the following: 

“Beaten up, looking disarrayed”

“Confused and unhappy”

“Intoxicated with alcohol or drugs”

We can be emotionally messed up, life can be messed up, or circumstances can just be messed up making you want to say, “Man, that is just messed up!”

And people often get “messed up” through the third meaning in hope of dulling the feeling of the first two.

And sometimes those who are seeking Jesus and a change in their life can be very easily swayed back out into sin and fall so easily into the trap of self-condemnation of feeling that they have “messed up”.

And you know, it is not even just falling into sin, it can be sometimes that we have turned left when we should have turned right, missed a truly golden opportunity by too hastily reaching out for plated brass that we mistook for twenty-four carat.

So many things in life can lead most of us to question, just how bad did we mess up.

But got some good news on that front, IF you are willing to ACCEPT it, BELIEVE it, and pick up your cross and try it again.

God IS faithful. God IS merciful. God wants nothing more than to dust us off when we have stumbled, give us a hug and tell us to try it again! 

Classic scripture here that everyone probably knows by heart but it is good to be reminded every now and again.

Jesus speaking, Luke 18:10-14: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am NOT as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, OR EVEN AS THIS PUBLICAN 

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 

And the publican standing afar off,  would NOT lift so much as his eyes unto heaven, but SMOTE UPON HIS BREAST (beat on his chest)  SAYING, GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER. 

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified  rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; AND HIM THAT HUMBLETH HIMSELF SHALL BE EXALTED.”  

Ponder that, the Pharisee, in ear shot of the tax collector is telling God what all he has done and even taking pot shots at the moral character of the other man, in his “gratitude” speech, “thanking” God that he was so much BETTER than all those he named and EVEN better than the one who could not even look toward heaven because he was repentant.

He just asked for mercy and referred to himself as a sinner.He didn’t give a list of what GOD ALREADY KNEW, he just asked for mercy instead of judgment.

We are never given a list of his failures, mistakes, or how much he “messed up” but we are given all we need to hear in his own words the Pharisee spoke of  just how “messed up” the Pharisee was through pride and self-seeking, and self-righteousness expressed in his OWN words.

So there is a background to set up my main scriptures I really want to concentrate this post on.

Psalm 86:1-17: “Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul (life); for I am holy: O thou my God, SAVE thy servant that trusteth in thee.

Be merciful unto me, O Lord; For I cry unto thee DAILY (all day long). 

Rejoice (make glad) the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 

For thou, Lord, art (are) good, AND READY TO FORGIVE; AND PLENTEOUS IN MERCY TO ALL THEM THAT CALL UPON THEE.

Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. 

IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE I WILL CALL UPON THEE: FOR THOU WILT (will) ANSWER ME.

Among the gods there is none like unto thee. O lord, neither are there any works like unto thy works. 

All the nations whom thou hast made SHALL come and worship before thee, O Lord, and SHALL glorify thy name. 

For thou art great, and doest (you do) wondrous things: thou art God alone.  

Teach me thy way, O Lord,: I will walk in thy truth: UNITE  my heart (give me singleness of heart) to fear (have a reverence and awe for) thy name. 

I will praise thee, O Lord, my God, with all my heart; and I will glorify thy name for evermore. 

FOR GREAT IS THY MERCY TOWARD ME: AND THOU HAST DELIVERED MY SOUL FROM THE LOWEST HELL.

O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. 

BUT THOU, O LORD, ART (are)  A GOD FULL OF COMPASSION, AND GRACIOUS, LONGSUFFERING, AND PLENTEOUS IN MERCY AND TRUTH. 

O TURN UNTO ME, AND HAVE MERCY UPON ME, give strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.

Shew (show) me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it. and be ashamed; BECAUSE THOU, LORD, HAST HOLPEN  (has helped) ME,AND COMFORTED ME.”

That was a prayer written by David, and you can really “hear” his desperation in that twice he asks the Lord, to HEAR, the first verse, “BOW down thine ear”, showing his humility by asking the Lord to come down to hear him.

The poor and needy reference spiritual state, David FELT pretty messed up, hurt and unhappy, fighting against his enemies, the word “assemblies” in verse fourteen, referencing those who hated him, literally meaning MOBS, mobs of angry, violent men who DID not know God and wanted David dead.

I love David and love reading about his life because he was so passionate. Everything he did he did wide open, all or nothing. When he soared, he soared and when he “messed up” it was crashing rock bottom.

And of course, the ONE thing he never swayed for one moment about was his absolute passion in his pursuit of the Lord.

He never once doubted the mercy and kindness of the Lord EVEN when he was painfully aware through his OWN  failings, his own shortcomings, and life altering lusts that HE WAS NEVER WORTHY OF THAT MERCY. Nor would he ever be. Neither are we, nor we will be.

So that’s the deal, we ARE messed up, life is messed up, and no matter how bad you may have messed up or how confused, unhappy, beaten down life has TEMPORARILY left you, keep holding on… knowing that no matter how messed up you may feel there is NO ONE so messed up that the mercy of God that cannot heal.

1 John 1:9: “If we confess (admit to God) our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”

Find your peace in that. 

Have a beautiful week! Wishing you love & peace until next time! Thanks for reading!

Φλογιζω Σαλπιζω NB 2018

LOVE this song!

If you’d like a little more food for thought on overcoming our flesh, check out “Trip Junkie”   and “Prophets,Prodigals, & Puttin’ it off”

“In the den”

“Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion (reason to accuse) against this Daniel, except (unless) we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Then these presidents (overseers) and princes assembled together to the king, and said unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statue, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save (except) of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.

Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not (does not change). Wherefore king Darius signed the writing (written decree) and the decree. Now when Daniel knew the writing had been signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber (room) toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime ( as he had been doing before this). Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.

Then they came near and spake before (spoke to) the king concerning the king’s decree. Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee (except you), O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?  

The king answered and said, This thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth (changes) not.

Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore (greatly) displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured (strived) till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statue which the king established may be changed.

Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast (tossed) him into the den of lions, Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou serve continually, HE WILL DELIVER THEE.

And a stone was brought and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet (signet ring), and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel (that they could not accuse the king of changing the order).

Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of  musick (musical instruments) brought before him: and his sleep went (fled) from him. 

Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable (pained) voice unto Daniel: and the king spake, and said unto Daniel, O Daniel, O Daniel, SERVANT OF THE LIVING GOD, IS THY GOD whom thou servest continually, ABLE TO DELIVER THEE FROM THE LIONS?

Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.  My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency (innocence) was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt (wrong).

Then the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up OUT of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him (he was completely unharmed)  BECAUSE HE BELIEVED IN HIS GOD.

And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them (overpowered them) and brake all their bones in pieces, or ever they came at the bottom of the den (before they ever hit the bottom of the den).

Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree. That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for HE IS THE LIVING GOD, AND STEADFAST FOR EVER, AND HIS KINGDOM THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE DESTROYED, AND HIS DOMINION SHALL BE EVEN UNTO THE END. HE DELIVERETH (delivers) AND RESCUETH (rescues), AND HE WORKETH SIGNS AND WONDERS IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH, who hath DELIVERED Daniel FROM THE POWER OF THE LIONS.” Daniel 6:5-27

Love this story, how could anyone not? I especially love the terms of his enemies referring to him as “this” Daniel and “that” Daniel. We are all at some point a “this” Daniel or a “that” Daniel. The this that the enemy desperately wants out of the way and the that that the enemy thinks he has out of the way.

We are all faced with those lions of life and we are all faced with circumstances we just really do not want to be in. And those roaring lions which Jesus so described the devil as are quite intimidating sometimes as they seek to devour us because those roars that we hear in the distance proves to warn us of impending doom and certain destruction can be more horrifying than the final bone crushing bite.

 Those are the times that we need a friend to be outside that den, Darius could NOT go back on his own decree and he could NOT find any way of getting around the fact that Daniel had no choice other than go into that den, He could NOT actually go inside the den and face the lions with Daniel but what he COULD do is SPEAK and REASSURE Daniel that His God WOULD DELIVER HIM.

He COULD fast and pray all night on behalf of Daniel. Everyone needs a friend but we all especially need a friend when you are in a lion’s den and you know that even though you must hear those roars and face the fear of them head on, face to face, knowing someone else is outside the den having faith and keeping vigil can give courage and hope even in the most hopeless of circumstances.

I snagged a verse from the sermon at church Sunday night to carry my family through a little something…. it is just part of the verse but so powerful when you let it sink in…  and I want to share it for anyone who is facing uncertainty:

Romans 4:18: ” Who AGAINST HOPE (contrary to) BELIEVED IN HOPE…..”

That is even the face of hopelessness, with absolutely NO REASON to hope, to STILL BELIEVE IN HOPE. And Daniel BELIEVED in that hope, even though he was already slated for slaughter, HE BELIEVED IN THE HOPE OF DELIVERANCE BY HIS GOD.

Daniel believed God would deliver him and his friend king Darius believed God would deliver him and we need to also to BELIEVE that today more than ever.

Know that if you are in the den God has someone ALREADY positioned outside on your behalf having faith on your behalf, keeping vigil through that night and if you are outside don’t forget to keep vigil for another whose faith my be wavering for fear that those lions could devour at a moments notice.  Darius made the new decree that ALL should tremble before the LIVING GOD. 

Darius also twice referred to Daniel as having served the Lord continually, continually striving to that standard of God, as we lift our lives up into the hands of God and into His care and the standard He has established, He will in turn lift up a defense, his war banner, on our behalf against our enemies, whether spiritual, physical sickness, or emotional or financial burdens, that we are His and He does fight on our behalf, as in that verse, He will work wonders in heaven and in earth.

Isaiah 59:19: “So shall they FEAR the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun, WHEN THE ENEMY SHALL COME IN LIKE A FLOOD, THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD SHALL LIFT UP A STANDARD (banner) AGAINST HIM.

 Peace and love till next time! Φλογιζω Σαλπιζω NBJ 2017 

This song is really too peppy for this post.. but I do love it and it is really upbeat and I don’t know what the deal is with the name but the lyrics say it all!