Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. Matthew 4:1 (New Living Translation)
Hello friends: I want you to remember that the authorized “Signature” on the life of authentic Christian service and ministry is not in the public image, number of followers, or in achievements, however impressive. The “Signature” is neither in the number of great deeds done, nor found in religious position or prominence. The “Signature” is simply…”was led by the Spirit.”
Never head into any spiritual endeavor of service or ministry, and certainly not encounter with the enemy because you feel adequate and ready. Even Jesus was not led by self. If you go off on your own into the best arenas you can choose and run into the enemy, though you may possess great spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities; you will be on very dangerous ground. However, If you are “led by the Spirit” into the worst of the wilderness to face the enemy’s taunts and temptations, you can rest assured that it is the enemy who is on dangerous ground. The enemy knows when he is facing the self-led or the Spirit-led. The former is familiar to him for he is filled with it; the latter is frightening because he possesses none of it.
Do not throw terms like “Spirit-filled” or “Spirit-led” around lightly. “Self” may often appear as if it is the “Spirit,” even as counterfeit money or art may appear genuine. The counterfeit of “self-led” has no real value no matter who it impresses because it bears no authorized signature. You can usually identify the “self-led” because they respond to the temptation to demonstrate what they are capable of as opposed to the Spirit-led response of living by every word proceeding from the mouth of God.
There is only one authorized “Signature” for a Christian life of service…”led by the Spirit.” May we find that authenticity increasingly written on the portraits of our lives, for it is the Spirit’s signature that brings immeasurable eternal value to our lives in the heavenly market place. No earthly rewards that “self” can obtain compares with our value to the Father when we are Spirit-led.
From "your father's heart with love"
Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
John the Baptist proclaimed the life changing revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven (Jesus), arriving…in the wildernessof Judea. Revelation is often in the wilderness. That same wilderness is where John’s own life had been shaped and prepared for what God had designed and called him to be. Preparation is often in the wilderness.
In the Greek, (the language of the Scriptures), the meaning of wilderness is desert, lonely or quiet place, or even wasteland. These descriptions seem the most unlikely places for the preparation of a person, and certainly not where one would expect life changing revelations to be announced in. Would not some great university, church hierarchy, or group of elite religious leaders with titles and clothing to match be a greater source and means of preparation and revelation? Yet, was it not in the night fields of Judea where angels met shepherds to reveal the birth of our King? Are you starting to see a pattern here?
Have you found yourself before, or even now in a kind of wilderness…a lonely or quiet place? Friends, I urge, I beg you; do not seek to run from it. Perhaps you need to run to it. Jesus by need and leading of the Spirit went to the wilderness. Perhaps in the wilderness distractions are less and definition of voices more clear. Perhaps most important is that the wilderness may go beyond terrain to your environment or where you position yourself. My older brother has a difficult time hearing so there are two things he needs if he really wants to hear me. First, distractions, (like background noise), have to be lessoned or eliminated, and then he turns his best ear towards me so my voice is more defined…then he can hear. Less distractions and more definition are common in the wilderness.
The way of the wilderness or the lonely place might be just what God can use to break through the “noise” to yourneed.
With love, from "your father's heart" (DWJ)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Before the angel announced the birth of Jesus on that night long ago, He had existed in the heavens with a different name, likeness and appearance, (which I shall call His manifestation). Before we beheld Him He was called the “Word.” He was with God, was God, and the demonstration of God in all creation. Nothing was made without Him and He was Deity (see John 1:1-3). Now He would be made flesh. Now He would be called Jesus, the man from Nazareth. No human mind can grasp, save His perhaps, the depth of the exchange He made when He left the majesty of heaven to plunge into the muddy roads of our existence. The “Word” would come as humanity in the womb of a woman. True, she was a highly favored young woman, yet completely human. There He would be knit together and formed as a flesh and blood child to be born, just as you and I, yet without sin. The “Word” would be made flesh. The word “made” in the original language has to do with created. How amazing, the “Creator” would become the created one so He could really, really know us. The Deity would become a dependent child in need of feeding, diaper changing, parenting, schooling, and learning obedience as a Son (through suffering see Hebrews 5:8), in order to have relationship with us.
It is amazing to me that the Deity would extend itself so much, would drop so far down, even walk through hell itself, to bring us up. Much of religious activity puts the pressure on us to do more, get better, prove our worthiness with the hope of somehow, someday, someway obtaining a better place and position. He gave up a perfect place and position, a heavenly life, for an earthly one, so you could go beyond simple religious effort to an intimate relationship with Him. We did not have to get to Him; He came to us, and of all things, as one of us. This becoming flesh was not a temporary deal Jesus would slip in and out of, for we are told “this same Jesus” shall one day appear again.
The above may in some fashion explain how He came to us, but why He had to come, and what was on His mind in doing so still needs some clarification. The short answer as to why He came is simply put, love; love that was far beyond His own comfort or circumstances. As to what was on His mind…you were. Love and you is what drove Him into a whole new mode of existence. He wanted to know you, but He also really wanted you to know Him, and God, His Father.
Can I ask you to consider that if He was willing to have His whole world change in order to get to you; are you willing to have your life reordered to better know Him? And I don’t mean know about Him, I mean know Him.
From your Father's heart, Dances with Jesus
When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. Luke 2:15-16 (HCSB)
There are precious few more exciting events than when we experience personally the revealing presence of God calling. Multiple emotions of awe, exhilaration, humility and even fear may be felt simultaneously. Yet, we may experience this presence and not respond. We may have a flow of overwhelming excitement and still be unresponsive and unchanged. Experience and excitement are never enough to change us unless they drive us to embrace beyond the revelation to the Revealer.
I remember with some amusement now, opening Christmas presents when I was a child. I would rip and tear though the wrappings, tags, and bows as fast as I could to see the gift, and then suddenly hear my mother say: “Who was it from Sammy?” Oops! Ouch! I knew the “what” but not the “Who.” I desire to operate far beyond that with heaven’s gift…don’t’ you?
The shepherds on that night long ago embraced the message and at least two things resulted. The first result was a new determination. They said (v.15), “let’s go straight, (immediately, now)...and see what has happened.” There would be no delays, no distractions, no detours and no doubts. They did not go to see IF it happened they went to see what HAD happened. They were embracing truth, they were after Him…they were determined.
There was another far reaching and eternal result that night; they found a new deliverance. Their response to heaven touching them brought them face to face with their Savior (deliverer), Christ the Lord…lying in a feeding trough. They viewed a baby where cattle food had been. He needed changing and feeding…BUT…down the road this “baby” would be feeding and changing others here and for eternity. No, the stable that night did not have the appearance of an earth shaking, life saving event like the skies displayed earlier. Still, the shepherds found exactly what they had seen, heard, and embraced the night that heaven kissed earth…and them…and changed them forever. What love! Have you embraced this Jesus?
Jesus, help me to move beyond experience and excitement to embracing you as my deliverer, Savior, and Lord. I give you not only my sins but I surrender myself to you this day. I rejoice in your forgiveness, grace and love…amen.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." Luke 2: 9-10 (ESV) Context-Luke 2:8-15
When Divine messengers appeared in the shepherd's field that night long ago, it was not to show off, it was to show forth, (a heads up it seems for our personal and church activity). Nevertheless, it is an overwhelming experience when revelation comes down from the celestial of heaven to the common of earth. The shepherds, suddenly face to face with an angel, and surrounded by the glory of God, were terrified. Thankfully, heavens mission was to transform not to terrify; and so immediately the gentle, soothing words "fear not" were spoken. Yes, an invitation to the Divine life was taking place and was the greater miracle that night, not the intensity of the display.
To picture the merging of heaven and earth that the shepherds witnessed is beyond imagination. How long the angels had yearned for this moment when they would be sent and burst forth from heaven onto our soil announcing the rescue taking place by Immanuel, "God with us." While the presentation was spectacular that night, the revelation was sublime! The majestic words "A Savior was born for you... and you will find Him" rang in the shepherds ears as it penetrated the previously quiet atmosphere...and the ringing continues 2000 years later, right now, in this moment. Can you hear it?
In the amazement and excitement of heaven on earth before the shepherds eyes, it would have been understandable for them to worship their "experience" and miss the "emphasis." It is not uncommon to exalt personal experience and build shrines to the excitement of revelations we witness. What a place to start a church or erect a monument or statue to the angels! Why people would come for miles and would even pay perhaps. NO!...that was not on the shepherds minds, for after the angels left the scene, the language in Luke 2:15 implies the shepherds excitedly repeated to one another, "let's go." They understood the heavenly experience was never meant to center on the method of delivery or the messengers who delivered the news...it was to be about the Message, the Deliverer, Jesus! So off they went to seek Jesus the Savior, who is still saving today...do you have that?
Prayer: Jesus, keep me focused on the truth that your Father's desire is for you to be the center of excitement and message in my life. May I never be caught up in activity...even religious activity for or about you, more than I am caught up in you. May I be a channel and not simply a container of your glory...amen.
From the pen and heart of Samuel Burch
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (ESV)
Over 2000 years ago the Divine due date of LIFE in the womb of a very blessed young woman arrived…and she delivered a Son. Formal birth announcements were not available in the stable that day. There existed no television, computers, cell phones or tablets, yet the greatest announcement from the beginning of time penetrated the night sky in nearby hills as heaven kissed earth in the presence of simple, but available common laborers.
The message and messengers that night resounded in the “heavenlies” with a force that shook the earth in dimensions reverberating still this day in unfathomable ways. Fears were diminished and hope flowed in the announcement of “good news” of “great joy” that night...but there was more, much more. You see, the child delivered in the stable that night was born to me, for you, and unto “all” people. You see, this was not just Mary’s child, he was ours; yours and mine, for the “announcer” on that special night did not proclaim simply that a son was born, but that a Savior, (Deliverer), had come. The crib in the stable was holding The Christ…The Savior!!
The common folk, (who were really uncommon in God’s eyes), “got it!”… And they left all that night to come face to face with their future. That night they knelt because there was One who was willing to lower Himself, so that we could be forever lifted…and this my friend is Christmas…only please remember that leaving some things behind and kneeling will always precede being lifted.
Prayer: Jesus, deliver me from self and sin, and deliver me to the safety, security, and splendor of life that can only come when the desperate meet a Deliverer…because Heaven kissed earth on a night long ago.
When they saw the star they were overjoyed beyond measure...they saw the child ...falling to their knees they worshiped him." Matthew 2:10-11 (HCSB)
I hear the word "wow" a lot these days. It is used, maybe too frequently, seemingly as a concise way of describing something great, magnificent, or at a minimum surprising. The language of Matthew's narrative uses words like "mega," "exceedingly," "large," and even vehement to describe the emotions of the wise men when they saw the signs and star of the Savior. Yet, when they saw not only the star, but the Savior Himself, they moved from the exhilarating "wows" to face down worship. It was then that gifts followed.
Since my childhood the Christmas season has been one filled with my own "wow" moments. Bright lights, colorful decorations, music in the air, smells of fresh baking, and fancy wrappings were everywhere. The events were impressive on the senses and the spirit. Yet, all of these special wow moments were designed to be "stars" leading to something more, really Someone more...God in a feeding trough.
I confess that my coming to Christmas as a "mega" or "vehement" worshiper has been and is a progressive journey. When I was a toddler, I thought and acted like a toddler and found more excitement in the wrappings at times than in the gift, which was normal. When I became a child, I thought and acted like a child and quite often had thrown the wrappings and "giver's" name away to delight only in the toy, which was pretty normal. When I became a young man I learned to appreciate the gifts, the monetary cost, and the sacrifice of the givers, which should be normal.
One treasure of my youth at Christmas time was a heritage of worship. On Christmas morning, before gifts were opened, the Matthew and Luke narratives of Christ's birth were read. This was followed by kneeling and lifting prayers of thankfulness to the One who had come down. All of the "wows" before hand had now come down to this one thing...a Savior was right here, right now, for me!
So as I age bodily and spiritually from those youthful days, I am coming to understand more the Supreme Love that spared no cost and no sacrifice to give me much more than the "wow" of a star's splendor. I have been given the gift of worship for my Savior Jesus. Will you bow with me and move on from the "wows" of the season, however good, to the Worship of the Savior...right here, right now?
From Your Father's Heart
17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
Some intrinsic needs of almost all humanity are to know love of a heavenly kind, to have a unique and “forever” relationship, and to have the assurance that our lives bring delight to someone who knows perfectly what makes us priceless. Imagine the moving confirmation in the mind and heart of Jesus when the heavens opened and He heard that He was loved, in unique relationship (My beloved Son), and a delight (well pleasing), to the most important Person in His life, His Father God. This kind of experience would cause us to love back almost uncontrollably, which is another need placed in us…not only to be loved but to love. There is no real relationship of the heavenly kind without both.Your heavenly Father wants you to have a real affirmation in your life, even now, of real love, real relationship, and real delight in your life. The irony is that our secular world gives us the exact wrong prescription for achieving the things above. The advice of the day is to live for ourselves, seek our own pleasure, and use relationships for our own comfort and purposes. On this road, at journey’s end we will still be searching for something higher or we will have given up in bitter hopelessness…used and using, or both.
Did you know that God “so loves” you and desires to open an announcement from the heavens along the lines of what Jesus heard that day long ago? That announcement did not come to Jesus by self-seeking, but by self-surrender to the love and purposes of the One He was “one” with. Losing the wrong kind of life and love, which is temporary anyway, in order to win the right kind of life and love, which is eternal, seems to be most sensible. The difficulty is the truth that there are times we indeed will be giving up the “seen” for the “unseen…” but remember, that the unseen is not really unseen it is just not yet seen.
From your father's heart, DWJ
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 NKJV
He came to save us not to smash us. The name Jesus was not uncommon in His day, and yet this birth and this name changed all of history as well as destiny. His name meant “the Lord saves,” and that was His mission in coming; a mission driven by His great love for us. That mission will mean nothing to the one who has either no view or an improper view of salvation and sin. I humbly present a major provision of salvation to be that which creates, restores and grows a right relationship and resulting intimate fellowship with the Father through Jesus. Sin, at a minimum then, would be that which diminishes, damages, or destroys that relationship. To enjoy the relationship God intended with us it is imperative to know that Jesus came to save us “to” new and higher things, which requires saving us “from” old and lower things. The former is not possible without the latter.
So why would all not immediately respond to this love that saves and makes brand new? Some may not want to change their lifestyle and consequently will bow only to the God of their own control or pleasure. Others feel that they can do a better job of being God than God can. There are many others who simply cannot comprehend the depths to which the love of God goes in transforming their hearts, minds, and everyday life. They hesitate to take the plunge of surrendering their lives to the Lord due to fears of being vulnerable, weak, and ultimately condemned if they face, admit, and confess their sin. They view God as standing over them with a big hammer waiting to smash them as soon as they confess. How sad of a lie that is, for God did not send His Son to condemn but to SAVE…and Jesus came to smash your sin not you…if you receive Him as Savior.
From your father’s heart with love
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21; “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 NKJV (emphasis mine)
Yes, on that amazing night some 2000 years ago perfect “Love” came wrapped in the simple flesh of a new born baby. His appearance was like any other baby boy who needed to be fed and changed, BUT as He grew into a man He would be feeding and changing lives on a whole new level. This Jesus came to seek and save for love does both.
His seeking was relentless and His love reached even the most unlovable. He kept changing the hearts and lives of all who received Him…all the way to the cross; and even on the cross He did not stop. While on the cross He still came to a criminal hanging beside Him, and to a Roman soldier there to facilitate a successful execution of Him. Love changed both that day. He is still loving and still coming, even in this moment to whoever calls on Him, for He came to save from sin and He is still relentless about that. His love never gives up you know…and it saves.
Even the most intense religious activities, programs and rituals will not and cannot do what this Jesus does. No self-help program, clever sounding spiritual fad, or new age philosophy can replace the need for why this Jesus came. There are only two real choices of spiritual operation. One is the draining work of determining to be your own lord and living out of your “self,” and the other is the ease and peace of allowing Jesus to be your Lord living in your “self.”Simply put, salvation is found only in a Person; the authentic, historical and still present Jesus; and the good, good news is… He seeks and saves. Mission Accomplished!
Jesus, I desire this day for your presence to not only surround but to fill me. I declare you not only my Savior but my Lord. I turn not just my sins but my “self” over to you. Create in me a deeper desire for relationship with You that will transform me into your image in my world. I seek to know you more through prayer and Your Word as revealed in the Scriptures. Thanks for seeking, loving, and saving me. Amen
I have a desire to be the physical demonstration of the person of Jesus through all the ordinary activity of my life, and on this site through my "devotionals." My deep desire is to have intimacy with Jesus and the heart of my heavenly Father beating in my heart and impacting my wife and family, and then whoever and wherever God places me.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8