Seeking Consolation and JOY? Join Anna & Simeon at the Presentation – A JOY-Filled Advent & Christmas #7

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
A Joy-Filled Advent and Christmas with Anna & Simeon

The Presentation in the Temple, Philippe de Champaigne. 1648; Join Simeon & Anna at the Presentation of Jesus

Seeking Consolation and JOY? Ann and Simeon Show Us the Way.

Are you seeking consolation or more joy? Join us today at the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, where Anna and Simeon show us JOY. They offer us ten ways the Holy Spirit can help YOU.

Off to the Temple

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #7, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we travel with Mary and Joseph to the Temple and the Presentation of the Lord. There Anna and Simeon will join us at this very special event as we cover the following points:

Circumcised, Redeemed, and Purified (Luke 2: 21-23)

  • At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Old Testament Mosaic Law required every firstborn Jewish male to be circumcised at 8 days after birth
  • The naming of the baby took place at the same time as the circumcision.
  • Mary and Joseph by divine appointment knew what the Child was to be called. And so “He was named Jesus” which means the Lord saves- the name told to both Mary and Joseph via an angel (Luke 1: 30 and Matthew 1: 20).

Jesus Came to Fulfill All the Law (Luke 2: 23-24)

  • Now, forty days after Jesus’ birth,  Joseph and Mary again follow the Mosaic Law for the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and Mary’s Purification. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said He came to “fulfill the law,” which begins at His birth.
  • For Mary’s Purification, the sweet Blessed Mother of humble means offers “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” which Leviticus 12: 8 prescribed for a new mother who could not afford a sheep to offer.

The Presentation or Redemption of Jesus (Luke 2: 25-38)

  • This “redemption of the firstborn” meant that the parents redeemed Jesus or bought Him back from God. Isn’t it amazing that almost 33 years later, it would be Jesus who would pay the price for our redemption by dying on the cross?
  • The Catholic Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 every year.

Simeon & Anna

Although their lives differed, Simeon and Anna had much in common.

  1. Both Simeon and Anna were described as deeply spiritual people. They loved the Lord, practiced their faith, and did not allow themselves to become bitter or decrepit with the times.
  2. Both were “senior citizens” active in serving God. Pope Francis says of the Presentation:  It is a meeting between the young, who are full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord, and the elderly who are full of joy in the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a unique encounter between observance and prophecy, where young people are the observers and the elderly are prophets! (The Feast of the Presentation, Vatican, 2-2-2014).  
  3. Both knew the Scriptures.
  4. Both believed in the Scriptures and were looking for the Messiah. Bible scholars and theologians say Jesus has fulfilled at least 300 Old Testament prophecies.
  5. Both were looking forward with HOPE. The words looking for indicate they were actively waiting for the Savior with hope.
  6. Both worshiped, prayed, and adored God. Their eyes went more to God than to the news of the day. That brought consolation.
  7. The Spirit of God guided both.
  8. Both Simeon and Anna recognized the Messiah.
  9. Both received Jesus and were changed.
  10. Both Simeon and Anna received a message about Jesus from the Holy Spirit, and they shared it.

Simeon’s Prayer – The Nunc Dimittis Reflects Isaiah’s Prophecies (Luke 2: 29-32)

  • Simeon’s prayer is one of the Church’s great prayers, or canticles (little songs). It is called the Nunc Dimittis because v. 29 in the Latin translation of the Bible begins with the words “Nunc Dimittis,” which means “now dismiss your servant.” In other words, Simeon was saying to the Lord, “Now I am ready to die; you can dismiss me, Lord; I have seen the Savior.”
  • Every evening, all priests, religious, and laypeople who pray the Liturgy of the Hours pray the Nunc Dimittis prayer.
  • Today and every day, you can pray the Nunc Dimittis from Luke 2: 29-30.

Our Response

  • Why not spend some time with these verses? Using your holy imagination, see yourself receiving Jesus from Mary’s arms as Simeon did.
    • Look into the face of Jesus and give Him your shame and sadness.
    • In exchange, receive His Love and JOY. He has come for YOU. You can’t help but be consoled.
    • Then like Anna, praise God because you have seen the Savior of the World. He has come to give You peace, as John 15 says, Peace I give you, but not as the world gives. He has come to give the world peace as Luke 2: 14 says, Peace on earth, good will toward to men.  He has come to give you His love.

Remember Lamentations 3:22-25. (ESV) … His mercies are fresh every morning. Great is His faithfulness 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

Links

Join me for my next podcast series, starting in February: Esther for this time: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies each podcast series, especially this next one: Esther for this Time: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  It’s free, and I will send you the materials you need for the one-hour discussion and study. For questions, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

 

Perplexed? Exchange Your Plans for God’s Plans! – A Joy-Filled Advent #5

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Perplexed? Exchange Your Plans for God’s Plans!

Do you find changing plans perplexing? Mary and Joseph changed their plans often as they listened to God. Why not ask God to help you lean into change? God can help you most when you are willing to exchange your plans for God’s plans!

Advent JOY

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #5, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we travel with Matthew’s Gospel, meet some unexpected members of Jesus’ ancestry, and hear of Joseph’s dream and his faithfulness to Mary. Matthew fills us in on details of Mary’s return home to her betrothed Joseph after she visits Elizabeth.

The Family Record (Mathew  1: 1-7, 16-17)

  • So, we start with Matthew 1. At the time of Jesus, families kept a genealogical record (or family tree) to distribute inherited property and other rights under Jewish laws.
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI points out that Matthew 1 is not a perfect historical account that includes every single member of the ancestry of Jesus Christ, saying: ”This was not Matthew’s goal.“ (Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, 2012, p. 8).
  • Matthew wrote to appeal to the Jews by placing Jesus first and foremost as the Son of Abraham—the Patriarch and Father of Israel promised as part of an everlasting covenant with God (Genesis 17: 6-7), and as the Son of David—the priestly King of Israel, whose ancestors were prophesied to reign forever (2 Samuel: 7:13).

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba in the Lineage of Jesus

  • Jewish lineages, at the time of Christ, usually did not contain names of women. Christ’s ancestry lists five women in Matthew 1. Of course, we would expect the  Blessed Virgin Mary to be named. But there were four others listed—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba who came from foreign ancestry or had a reputation for immorality that could have disqualified them from inclusion in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  All were Gentile women who turned away from immoralities or idolatries to become faithful to God in their circumstances.
  • Even if your past life or “family tree” seems dishonorable, Jesus offers you forgiveness, grace, mercy, and a new beginning when you turn to Him. You are part of the family of God, and every day you can have a new life in Christ. Hebrews 2: 11: G”od is not ashamed to call them [or you] brothers and sisters.”
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote on the deeper meaning of the genealogies of Jesus and said:“[T]hose who believe in Jesus enter through faith into Jesus’ unique new origin, and they receive this origin as their own…Joseph did not beget Jesus but was truly born of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, so it can now be said of us that our true ‘genealogy’ is faith in Jesus who gives us a new origin and …to birth ‘from God” (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 12-13).

Found with Child (Matthew 1: 18-25)

  • Dreams were a common way God communicated with His people in the Old Testament. Joseph did not hesitate in his response to the angel in the dream. He trusted God to work everything out. He willingly exchanged his plans for God’s plans. We could say he leaned into God’s plans.
  • Joseph, from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, a carpenter by trade, became the legal head of this precious family (Abbott Ricciotti, The Life of Christ, 1947).  Joseph is a role model to families—looking for God’s plans and leaning into them. This was the beginning of Joseph’s mission for life. Some have said it this way, Joseph was born for this vocation — to be the father of Jesus and Mary’s most chaste spouse. Like Mary, Joseph said “yes” to his vocation. His entire happiness was in knowing what God wanted him to do and carrying it out to the end ( Fernandez, Conversation with God, Vol. 1, 1997). He was devoted to God and his family.

Our Response

  1. Lean into God’s Plans. Can you picture Joseph’s perplexity when his plans suddenly changed? He was likely building the house, planning the wedding, or earning extra money for the marriage, but he was unprepared to hear Mary’s announcement.  Then God gave him more direction through an angel in a dream.  He leaned in the changes. You can ask yourself: Am I open to changing my plans to fit God’s plan? Talk to Jesus about how you can stay open to God’s plans. What changes can you lean into?
  2. Accept Your Place in God’s Family. If you feel unworthy or unqualified to be part of God’s family, remember Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. These women changed direction to follow God, joined God’s family, and are part of the lineage of Jesus. It is not too late for your family to come to God.  Ask Jesus to forgive you and your family. Ask him to help you change directions.  Then do what he tells you.

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies each podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For more information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Needing more JOY or Peace? Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds! – A JOY-Filled Advent & Christmas #6

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Jesus Christ is Born -Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds!

Jesus Christ is Born – Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds!

Needing More JOY and Peace?

Do you need a message that brings MORE JOY and Peace? Join us today for the birth of Jesus and meet the Angels and the Shepherds who have a lot to share. Uniting your heart with the Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherd’s praises will help you know more JOY and peace.

Traveling to Bethlehem

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #6, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events And Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we return to the book of Luke. There we join Blessed Mary and Joseph on their 80-mile journey to Bethlehem. When they arrive, they find it crowded with people, who like Mary and Joseph, had come at the command of Caesar Augustus.

Join us today for these points:

No Home for the Creator of Creation (Luke 2: 1-7)

  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, in the City of David, as prophesied by the Old Testament prophet Micah over 700 years earlier and recorded in Micah 5: 1-3.
  • Emperor Caesar Augustus, a master bookkeeper and statistician, likely wanted to keep track of his subjects and kingdom by public enrollment.
  • Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, as he was a descendant of King David. Mary went along too – she may have been required to register, or Joseph wanted her with him.
  • Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains: Joseph “searched in vain for a place where He, to Whom heaven and earth belonged, might be born. Could the Creator not find a home in creation? …  A stable would be the last place in the world where one would have looked for Him. Divinity is always where one least expects to find it. (Life of Christ, 1958, p. 13-24.
  • Jesus, God Incarnate and the Savior of the World was born and then tightly wrapped in bands of cloth by his mother, Mary, and laid in a manger where animals ate.

The Good News (Luke 2: 8-11)

  • The angel’s message of “Good News” is summarized (v. 10-11): “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the
  • We can say with assurance that Jesus is our Savior, who delivers us from sin and makes us right with God. He is our Messiah, the anointed one who will reign as KING forever.

The Fields Outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2: 12-20)

  • Amazingly, God chooses shepherds—the little, the lowly, the less important of the world (1 Corinthians 1: 28), but also calls himself a shepherd (e.g., “I am the Good Shepherd,” John 10:11). In Ezekiel 34:12-16, God describes himself as one who “shepherds right.” He tends sheep, rescues them, leads them, gives them rest, brings back the lost, binds up the injured, and heals the sick.
  • Jesus is our Shepherd: If at times you feel “lowly,” please know that Christ is YOUR Savior and Shepherd. He came for you! You are His little lamb, and He loves you.
  • Some shepherds around Jerusalem took care of the temple lambs used in the temple sacrifices. Shepherds would wrap lambs born without blemish in swaddling cloths and place them away from the others  (e.g., Leviticus 4-5). Amazingly, the shepherds caring for the temple lambs used for sin offerings would be the first to recognize Jesus Christ, who came as our sin offering forever!

The Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherds Praises (Luke 2: 14-20)

  • We find two beautiful choruses in Luke 2:14-20. First, there’s the Angel’s “Gloria” (v. 14), which is so-called because the first word in  St. Jerome’s Latin translation is “Gloria.”
  • This song of the angels proclaims peace to a world that needs peace as we do now. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; the peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27, NABRE). The only place of true peace is in Jesus; today, we must remind ourselves of this. We can join the angels in praise: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward all.”
  • The second chorus includes the shepherds’ praises (v. 20). They praised God for the good news from the angel and the song of the heavenly host of angels. From them, we learn that praising God for His goodness is a wonderful way to evangelize and get other’s attention on our Savior.

Mary Treasured and Pondered God’s Words (Luke 2: 19)

  • Mary “treasured and pondered” these things in her heart.
  • She gives an example for us in treasuring, pondering, and delighting in the things God has revealed, especially because we have God’s Word in Scripture.

Our Response

Try to put yourself in the scenes with Mary, Jesus, the angels, and the shepherds. Then prayerfully ask:

  1. Am I praising God for sending Jesus, like the angels and shepherds did?
  2. Am I making a “manger” for Jesus in my heart, allowing Him to be my Savior and Lord?
  3. Am I receiving the true joy and peace that Jesus offers?
  4. Am I treasuring God’s Word in my heart as Mary did?

Links

Please consider hosting a weekly one-hour CUP of JOY Women’s small group. Karen provides studies and discussion questions to accompany each podcast and each series.   In February and for Lent, we will start the new series: Esther for This Time: Prayers, Reversals, and JOY.  It is an exciting podcast series about how God answered prayer and sent mighty reversals for a family, people, and nation. Click here to read about hosting a CUP of JOY Women’s small group.  For more information, email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com.

Free Bookmarks: You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

More Podcasts: Check out more podcasts here!

Advent book: Click here to get a copy: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Needing Calm? Seek Stillness with God! – A JOY-Filled Advent #4

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Need Calm. Seek Stillness with God!

Zechariah writes, His Name is John!

Needing Calm? Seek Stillness with God!

 Do you need more calm in your life? Today, Zechariah teaches us to seek God in stillness and shows us the joyous blessings. Stillness with God will do the same for you this Advent, giving you more joy and peace!

Advent JOY & the Celebration at Zechariah’s Home

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #4, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.

Today, we are going to a celebration at Zechariah’s home. It’s the circumcision and naming of his newborn boy. Can’t you picture yourself as one of the neighbors who has come to help name the baby born to the old priest Zechariah and his aged wife, Elizabeth? Can you hear yourself say:

“This must be some child—a miracle baby! What a blessing from the Lord for Elizabeth! Zechariah is mute since the last time he went up to serve in the temple.” Join the podcast as we cover these exciting points:

The Circumcision and the Sacrament of Baptism (Luke 1: 56-59)

  • The neighbors come to celebrate the birth and help with the circumcision.
  • Circumcision is a rite by God under the Old Covenant, usually performed on the 8th day after birth. It was a mark on a male and a sign that he was in covenant with God, sanctified for divine service, and a member of the Jewish people.
  • Under the New Covenant, circumcision is not a religious ritual for us (Galatians 5: 6).
  • The circumcision ritual is similar to the Sacrament of Baptism, celebrated with family, friends, and godparents.
  • For the Christian, baptism is a sign one belongs to Christ, is united with Him in His death, and is incorporated into the Church (Hahn, Catholic Bible Dictionary).

The Neighbors Want to Name the Baby Zechariah (Luke 1: 60-66)

  • Zechariah confirms that His name is JOHN.
  • Immediately, Zechariah’s mouth was open, and his tongue was freed.

 Zechariah’s Silent Retreat Results in Joyous Benedictus Blessings (Luke 1: 67-79)

  • Zechariah grew in faith, peace, and trust in stillness with God.
  • Benedictus means Blessed be..the Lord.
  • Zechariah’s prophecy is called a canticle, which means “little song”- a liturgical song from a Biblical text.
  • Zechariah thanks God for the promises to be fulfilled in the Messiah and for His Son John, who would go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiving their sins.

Responding to the Scripture

  • Seek God in stillness. Choose a quiet morning or evening during Advent. Turn off all media and be present with the Lord in adoration, prayer, and Scripture. Sit with God and LISTEN. You may find a new vision, peace, and a deeper relationship with God – the one He wants with you.
  • Let God redeem you. If you are living in any darkness or carrying baggage, Jesus wants to carry your baggage, forgive your sins, and give you peace. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Visitation & JOY of Fellowship – A JOY-Filled Advent #3

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Today, we witness the visitation of Mary and the Joy of fellowship. Do you need more JOY in your life? Who doesn’t? Advent is the perfect time to receive and share more JOY with others! Mary and Elizabeth will show us how.

Join us today as we travel with Mary 90 miles to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. We will drop in on a special meeting of hearts to partake in the delight, the prayer, and the JOY of Fellowship.

The Advent JOY Podcast

Welcome to A JOY-Filled Advent Podcast #3, based on my book The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.  Last week, we heard how God supernaturally begot the Son of God in the Virgin Mary and gave an old woman, Elizabeth, past her time conceiving a child. We discovered any barrenness in life can become a breakthrough! “For nothing is impossible with God!”

Advent JOY in the Hill Country

Today, we travel with Mary down the 90-mile road from Nazareth to the Hill Country of Judea, near Jerusalem. We will drop in on Mary’s visit to her old cousin Elizabeth. Both women are expecting, rejoicing over the births to come, and thrilled to see each other.  Join the podcast today as we cover these exciting points:

The Visitation – Leaping for JOY (Luke 1: 39-45)

  • John the Baptist leaps for Joy
  • Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims words of JOY.
  • Mary praises and skips with JOY.
  • Jesus is always joy-filled—even in the womb!

The JOY of Fellowship – God Knows Our Need (Luke 1: 31-33)

  • Fellowship in the Scriptures is translated from New Testament Greek Koinonia, occurring 20 times in the New Testament.
  • Elizabeth brought out Mary’s JOY, and Mary brought out Elizabeth’s JOY. True fellowship strengthens and encourages faith.
  • Elizabeth praises Mary for believing Gabriel.
  • The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb to Elizabeth.

The Magnificat – Mary’s Song of Praise (Luke 1: 46-56)

  • Magnificat was the first word in Luke 1: 46 found in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible (4th-century common language of the people) and it means “my soul magnifies.”
  • The Magnificat is a canticle – a liturgical song from a Biblical text.
  • The Magnificat shows Mary’s love for Scripture. She knew the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) well.
  • The Magnificat reflects themes from many Old Testament Scriptures – the powerful arm of God, His mercy to all, His justice and faithfulness, and His care for the poor and afflicted (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and Psalm 34:2, 35: 9, 103: 17, 107: 9, 132: 11, 138: 6).

 Three Months of Sharing Hearts

  • We can only imagine the comfort Mary and Elizabeth must have been to each other. They talked of the Scriptures to be fulfilled because they knew well the promises regarding the Messiah and the one who would precede Him. They shared the stories about Gabriel as his message had changed each of their lives. They would have known of Gabriel’s former visitations and announcements recorded in Daniel 9.

Advent Application

  • We can respond to these verses of JOY shared between Mary and Elizabeth by 1) Asking God for Advent JOY (He wants to give us His JOY), 2) Rejoicing in God’s goodness, 3) Preserving a quiet time for prayer, and 4) Sharing JOY with others, especially during Advent. God has JOY for YOU.

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

“For Nothing Is Impossible with God” – A JOY-Filled ADVENT # 2

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
A Joy-Filled Advent - Nothing is Impossible with God

A Joy-Filled Advent The Annunciation- Nothing is Impossible with God

JOY in Nazareth

Welcome to A JOY-filled Advent, Podcast #2.  It’s based on my book The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.  Last week we met the Archangel Gabriel, who appeared to Zechariah in the temple after 430 years of silence from heaven. When Zechariah disbelieved his announcement, Gabriel gave him a 9-month silent retreat.  This week, we follow Luke 1: 26 to a small town in Galilee, the hometown of Mary and Joseph, to hear another announcement called The Annunciation in the Catholic Church.  Join our journey today as we visit Mary, hear of a Savior to be born, and learn that “nothing is impossible with God.”

 Another Message from Gabriel (Luke 1: 26-30)

  • The powerful Archangel Gabriel brings the second announcement– this time to a young girl in Nazareth.
  • This most important heavenly Annunciation comes to a girl in a remote village where you might least expect it to occur. BUT God causes miracles to happen in the most unlikely and even ungodly places when people are open to Him.
  • The recipient of the Great Annunciation is Mary, a virgin teenager, engaged to Joseph in the lineage of David, which points to the Old Testament prophesies soon to be fulfilled.

Jesus Name by His Heavenly Father (Luke 1: 31-33)

  • The Baby would be named Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew and derived from Yahweh – the Most Holy Name of God in the Old Testament. The message is clear: Yahweh God would name His son Yeshua after Himself.
  • Truly, Jesus would be the Son of God and fulfill  Isaiah 7: 14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God with us).

Mary’s Fiat (Luke 1: 34-38)

  • “Fiat” is the first word of Luke 1: 38 in the early Latin Bible translation and it means “let it be.” This was Mary’s “YES.”  
  • Mary received the Word of God, surrendered, and entrusted herself and her life to God’s will. Mary gives us this example of how to seek and accept God’s will: Listen, Dialogue with God, and Surrender.

God’s Power

  • Some may find it hard to believe in the virgin birth. But the virgin birth and incarnation are essential parts of our Christian faith.
  • The incarnation means God became man, reaching out to mankind.  In no other religion does God “become flesh” (John 1: 14), “accept the limitations of humanity,” come to earth to show His love, and then die for the sins of all (Fulton Sheen, 1958, Life of Christ, p. 19). St. Augustine says that when we cannot understand this miracle, “Let us grant that God can do something which we confess we cannot fathom. God is the God of the impossible!” (John Willis, 2002, Teachings of the Church Fathers).
  • For example, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli told God he felt barren in his old age and then received a great miracle!
  • If you are unsure about God’s power to accomplish miracles or significant changes in your own life, consider this: If God can supernaturally beget the Son of God in a virgin and give an old woman Elizabeth, past her time of conceiving a child, God can fix the barrenness in your life too. If you feel unproductive or barren, ask the Holy Spirit to come upon you in new ways and to open new doors where least expected. He will give you a breakthrough! “For nothing is impossible with God!”

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Gathering small groups.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

God Hears & God Answers; Don’t Give Up Hope – A JOY-Filled Advent #1

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

God Hear & God Answers

Are you waiting for an answer to prayer, or are you about to give up hope?  Join us today as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Gabriel teach us this lesson: Don’t give up hope – God hears & God answers prayer.

The celebration of ADVENT often surprises me because it comes so quickly. How about you? It was just fall, then Thanksgiving, and then within a week, it’s Advent. So let’s prepare our thinking—our mind and heart with plenty of time to find the JOY of Advent this year. We will cover these points today;

The Meaning of Advent

  • Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus, ” meaning “coming.”
  • The Advent season helps us focus on the present coming of Jesus in our lives and on increasing our desire for His presence every day.

The People, Prayers, and Events

  • This podcast will help you discover the people, prayers, and events so important to Jesus’ first coming.
  • You will meet Zechariah, Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the Angels, the Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the Magi.
  • It’s as if we will travel with them and partake in the most meaningful events in their lives.

The First of Two Annunciations

  • For 430 years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, God had stopped speaking to His people because they had stopped listening to His prophets. Fast forward 430 years and we will drop in on the “first annunciation.” The term “annunciation” in Latin means announcement.
  • When God began speaking again, He sent announcements through His most important heavenly messenger – the Archangel Gabriel.
  • In Luke 1, we read that the first announcement came to Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth served God, trusted him for everything, while they waited and prayed for children, which overtime seemed more impossible (Luke 1: 5-7).

Gabriel, The Might of God and No Puny Angel

  •  Gabriel may sound harsh to you, but he has a gentle side too.  We have to consider the circumstances: the GREAT Archangel Gabriel had been sent by God to  O
  • Poor Zechariah—the Archangel Gabriel just couldn’t take his unbelief so with one look he muted Zechariah for the next nine months.
  • Gabriel is no puny angel –  “Gabriel” in New Testament Greek means “the Might of God.”

Personal Reflection

  • After listening to the podcast, please reflect on the powerful message of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and us in the first part of Luke 1: God hears. God answers.  Don’t give up on God.
  • Have you ever prayed for something so long that you gave up? Have you ever received more than you expected – just as you were about to give up?
  • St. Jerome wrote about Zechariah: “Your prayer is heard…that is to say you are given more than you asked for. You prayed for the salvation of the people and you have been given the Precursor” [John the Baptist] (Souvay, 1910, The Catholic Encyclopedia – Zacharias).
  • While Zechariah was praying and waiting and giving up on prayer all those years, he did not know that God was preparing Joseph and Mary and so, he had to wait just a little longer.

Application and Prayer Points

Consider these prayer points because Jesus wants to share His joy while you wait for His answers:

(a) Ask Jesus for a  new and fresh prayer encounter with Him. Ask for new joy and to experience His presence while you look for everyday miracles.

(b) Take Time. Make a point to take some quiet time every day to listen to the Lord, read LUKE 1, and stay connected to the joy of the Lord

(c) Converse. Share with Jesus what you are waiting for. Then keep an open attitude to receive heavenly surprises JOY. (For example, you could pray: Jesus, I have given up on… Please give me new insight. Show me the little places where I see your hand at work.)

(d) Start an ADVENT PRAYER Journal. Why not record your prayer and conversation with Jesus this Advent?  You may be surprised at the transformation to JOY you receive and will want to record during Advent.

(e) Thank God. Let the Lord know that you trust your life and circumstances to Him.

Links

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from the Advent JOY Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Cleaning

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Spiritual Cleansing podcast from A Few Minutes with GodSpiritual Cleaning ~ Episode 259

When was the last time you did spiritual housecleaning? In this episode, we will explore why many of us struggle daily and the unnecessary burdens we carry around. Many of these can easily be trashed.

Thanks to Media Angels, the sponsor of today’s episode. You can visit MediaAngels.com for books and classes. Many products are available for immediate download.

The Lord gives us such an amazing compacity to feel. We are blessed with five senses, and we use these in our daily lives, often without thinking. However, it is those senses that can get us into trouble. It is time to take stock of our lives and get rid of the trash that does not belong. We can do this in several ways.

The first is to look hard at our lives and happiness. If we are in need of spiritual cleansing, we may feel a burden or heaviness. This is the first sign that something isn’t right in our lives. Before we cast the blame on someone else, let’s look interiorly first and see what we can change. This is not an easy task and may take some serious introspection. It also takes time, a commodity many of us do not have.

By identifying why we carry around specific burdens, we can hone into the issue and then figure out the remedy with the help of prayer. Some baggage is too hard to remove on our own and may take a Christian counselor or therapist. We are blessed to have the Wholeness and Holiness Podcast and Margaret Vasquez on the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

For most of us, it may be a matter of identifying an issue, such as turning to food when we are stressed or bored. Watching inappropriate shows or reading inappropriate books. Or a host of other things we do that can lead us into sin and guilt.

The God we serve is the Creator of the Universe, and we tend to forget that! David said it beautifully in the Psalms, and in Psalm 19:1-2 we read…

Psalm 19:1-2
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

If even the heavens declare the glory of God, shouldn’t we? This righteous God leads us clearly in His word to avoid evil, yet evil can be so tempting. Many of us have John 3:16 memorized. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

But what about John 3:17? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

And what do we need to do? John 18-21 (read on air).

And that is why spiritual cleaning is needed. We often need to tune up our faith and belief that God is a righteous, fair, and honest God, but we must believe in Him to have everlasting life with Him and believe He is the redeemer worthy of honor and praise.

John 3:19 goes on, (read on air).

How stark and scary! Jesus is the light, and Jesus came into the world for those chosen by God — the chosen ones of God were the people of Israel. Their leaders were interested in keeping their power rather than opening their eyes to Jesus – who was the fulfillment of prophecy. We are blessed to have the Bible and many Bible studies where we can see this so clearly. The Old Testament and the New mess together, and we see such evidence of this. Yet those people, the Israelites who the Almighty God took out of Egypt and slavery, continued in their slavery, their sinful ways> These religious leaders denied He was the Christ and hated light. Why? Because of the fear that their deeds would be exposed. Not all of them, we learn later that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council (John 3:1-2) were the ones to take Jesus’ body and place it in a tomb.

John 19:38-42 (Read on air.)

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.

So while not everyone denied that Christ was the Redeemer and Savior, their fear kept them from acting. Thankfully we know the end of the story and Jesus rose from the dead, but still, this miracle is denied by many today. If we deny God we can do whatever we want, in theory, but the burden of sin rests on the human soul, and that is what causes the guilt.

Who can hide from God? None of us. He sees all that we do, He knows our hearts and our motivations, and while we can fool ourselves, we will never fool God. When our kids were younger, my husband used to explain to our children when they were denying they did anything wrong that what they were doing was lying to themselves. I thought that was such a great analogy.

When we lie to ourselves, we make excuses or deny that our actions are wrong. Things like, “I’m not that bad compared to other people.” or “I would never do the things that this person or that person does.” We consider that if we work hard enough, we can earn a ticket to heaven. And, while works and faith go hand in hand, they are not exclusive. You can not love God and act in sin; you can not act in sin and say you love God.

Spiritual cleaning is so important to root out those sins that take over like weeds when we are not watching or aware of what is happening in our lives. And like those vines with the tenacles, I have them in my yard; when I pull one stem, five more come up with them. It reminds me to take stock of my life and examine my conscience from time to time.

Take the time to look at your life, if you need some help, I have several podcasts on this topic that may be helpful:

  1. Examination of Conscience here.
  2. Reexamine Your Conscience here.
  3. Avoiding Sin here.

As the scripture says, the reason we don’t want to look into our sinfulness is because then we have a fear of being exposed. But as John 3:21 states – “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

No matter if we fear it or not, it will come out in the end. This life is fleeting, and we consider the ramifications of sin because of our eternal life. Taking the time to clear out unhealthy habits, whether stress eating or binge-watching a show instead of doing something worthwhile, can make us lighter and happier in the end. I don’t know anyone who felt good after overeating, and there is a reason for that! These things while minor (after all, if you are listening to this podcast, you are on the road to seeking a closer walk with God), yet we all need to be an encouragement for each other!

Confession is good for the soul, and I pray that you take stock of your life this week and throw out the trash that has you burdened!