Devotional

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30, 31 NIV)

Every year we celebrate the birth of Jesus. But who is He? Why is He important? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah foretold by prophecy throughout Scripture. Is He? Does he fulfill prophesies about Him?

According to Josh McDowell of Josh McDowell Ministry, there are 333 Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah that go back hundreds of years before Christ. They are fulfilled in Jesus. Some would claim that it is a coincidence that these prophecies came true. If Jesus were a fake, He would not have been statistically able to fulfill them.

Let’s look at some of them.

  • Jesus was from the house of David through both Mary (Luke 3:23-38) and his foster father, Joseph (Matthew 1:1-17) as the Prophet foretold in Isaiah 9:6, 7.  
  • The Messiah would be born of a virgin. “Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”(Isaiah 7:14) Mary asked the angel Gabriel how she could give birth. “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:26-38). Joseph was told by the angel not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18-25)
  • His birthplace would be Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, 4a). Mary and Joseph were from Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Caesar Augustus decreed that all of the Roman world should be registered. Joseph and his betrothed wife Mary had to register in Bethlehem, the town of David. The angel of the Lord told the shepherds a Savior was born in the town of David. (Luke 2:8-20). Later, the wise men visited King Herod to find the King of the Jews who had been born. The chief priests and scribes told Herod of Micah’s prophesy regarding Bethlehem. The wise men went there, and the star they were following stopped over the house where the young Child was. (Matthew 2:1-12)
  • The king would come to Jerusalem righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, and on a colt. (Zechariah 9:9) All four Gospels recount Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt while crowds spread branches on the ground and shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
  • Jesus is the suffering Savior of prophesy. Psalm 22 foretold His crucifixion 800 years before Jesus’ death and resurrection, long before the Roman Empire existed and started using crucifixion.  Psalm 22 describes the mocking; his clothes being distributed by division and the casting of lots; the piercing of his hands and feet, and bones being out of joint. All of this happened to Jesus, as described in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.  Jesus alludes to Psalm 22 when He cries out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46)

After Jesus’ resurrection, He said to two disciples on the walk to Emmaus, “How foolish you are and slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27 NIV) Jesus also told His followers of His resurrection before he went to the cross for you, me, and all who choose to come to faith in Him.

The Bible is full of prophesies about the coming Savior, the Messiah. Foretold from Genesis through Revelation, Jesus’ first advent came to pass, and we can rest assured that the second advent of Jesus Christ will come as He said. Prophesy foretells His return in Revelation and Paul wrote about it in I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

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Why does Jesus being who He said He was matter to me? Jesus is my Savior, my rescuer from the penalty of sin’s eternal death. I have life with God because of the price Jesus paid in my stead. I can face death and know beyond doubt that I will spend eternity with Jesus because He is the Son of God as He claimed. He can help me live life according to His plan. He is coming back again! His fulfilled prophesies tell me who He is.  

Who is Jesus to you? What does that mean for your life?

Dear Jesus. I’m overwhelmed by how You alone fulfill Scripture. I choose to follow You, for You are who You claim. Amen.

Additional Resources:

Devotional

What did Joseph Know?

By Kathryn J. Hughes

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1: 18, 19, 20a, 24 NIV)

In my last devotional I considered what Mary knew that convinced her to agree to become the mother of Jesus. Mary had great trust in God that led her to submit to the changes of her plans and to her willingness to face the problems she would encounter giving birth to God’s only Son.

What about Joseph? What did Joseph know that caused him believe this seemly outlandish claim that his virgin promised wife carried the Son of God in her womb? Joseph knew the baby was not his. Her pregnancy gave him reason to break their betrothal contract to get married. Even though the wedding had not yet occurred, it was binding as if married, and a betrothed couple was often referred to as husband and wife.

Photo by JINU JOSEPH on Pexels.com

We know from Scripture that Joseph did not believe Mary at first. Joseph was a just man, but also a compassionate one. Matthew chapter one tells us that Joseph being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. Mary could have been stoned for immorality. If Joseph wanted to maintain his own claim of moral purity, Mary’s punishment may have stopped people questioning his own actions.

Joseph received visits from the angel of the Lord. While he was thinking of breaking their betrothal, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name JESUS, for He will save his people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV)

Joseph was obedient to God. He followed the angel’s instructions to take Mary as his wife. Obedience to the Lord God was more important to Joseph than his reputation or the fact that the Child was not his own and that he would have the responsibility for raising Jesus. He exhibited patience and self-control. He did not have marital relations with Mary until after Jesus was born. He followed whatever the Lord directed him to do.

Later, when an angel warned Joseph to flee from Bethlehem to Egypt because Herod sought to destroy the young child, Joseph immediately moved his small family to that foreign culture. His other angelic dreams told him to return to Israel after Herod’s death, and then to settle in the region of Galilee. Joseph could have argued that he had his carpentry trade established in the various places they lived. Instead, Joseph was quick to act as he is directed. Joseph couldn’t know everything the future held any better than any of us. He and Mary both marveled at the things that were spoken of Jesus by Simeon. (Luke 2:25-33) He obeyed anyway.

* * *

May we be like Joseph, righteous, just, and obedient to God. We may not have angelic instructions, but we have the Holy Spirit who guides us. What is He directing you to do? What are some steps you can follow so you will do it?

Dear Holy Spirit, Thank you that my righteousness comes from Jesus Christ because of His sacrifice for me. Please help me to hear your directions and to obey. Please help me to be just in my dealings with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotional

What Did Mary Know?

…the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph…The virgin’s name was Mary…. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name JESUS.” The Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:26, 27, 30, 31, 38.)

“Mary, Did You Know” is a beautiful song originally by Mark Lowry (lyrics) and Buddy Greene (melody).  The song asks Mary, the mother of Jesus, if she knew her Baby Boy would walk on water, calm the storm, heal, save people, and one day rule the nations. It got me wondering, what did Mary know based on Scripture? What did she probably know about the Lord before she made her decision to obey what the angel Gabriel told her?

image by FSJ-FSP on Pixabay


 Historians think Mary was a young girl, probably around fourteen years old. Over 2,000 years ago women usually were not educated, so she probably didn’t study the Torah with a rabbi or prophets.  Her spiritual education was learned at the synagogue or at home.

Mary knew that God knew her, a girl from Nazareth. The angel called her by name and told her she had found favor with God.

Mary knew what the angel told her about the conception of her Baby, and that He would be holy.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born is to be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35) Just imagine being told you were going to raise the Son of God! What an overwhelming task.  

Mary knew part of this Holy One’s future. “He will be great, and will be called the son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32, 33)

Did Mary know her Son would someday hang on a cross? Did she know He would be resurrected? I doubt it. The spiritual leaders of the day didn’t recognize that the Messiah would come as a humble servant and save them from their sins through His death and resurrection. They were looking for a political rescue from the Romans.

Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-55 tell us that she knew that God was her Savior. She knew the Lord was mighty; He scattered the proud and put down the mighty from their thrones. He exalted the lowly. “He has filled the hungry with good things.” Perhaps she knew the Lord provided from her own poor childhood experiences. Mary knew the Lord had come to Israel’s deliverance in the past, and would in the future, for she said “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Mary also knew her culture. She must have feared the gossip. How would she tell Joseph and family and friends that this Baby was conceived through the Holy Spirit? No one would believe her. She and Joseph would be judged as sinners, having conceived a child outside of marriage. Worse yet, Joseph knew the baby would not be his; he could have her stoned for immorality!

Yet Mary chose to submit to God. “Let it be to me according to your word.”

Mary trusted the Lord enough to overcome the fears and the shame her obedience would cost her. She rejoices! “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

* * *

What do we know of the Lord, and does it lead to our obedience to Him? Do we willingly submit to God’s will and to what He asks us to do? Do we find favor with God? Do we rejoice? Are we following Jesus and becoming more like Him? What has God asked you to do?

Dear Lord, thank you for the best gift ever, my Savior, Jesus Christ. No gift is greater. Please forgive me for those times I do not obey. Please help me become more like You. Amen.

Devotional

Happy Thanksgiving! Reflections on Gratitude

by Kathryn Hughes and special guest Marcy James

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Thanksgiving Day is the one day of the year that we deliberately try to express our thankfulness to others and to God who provides all things and shows His great love towards us. How wonderful it would be if we all were thankful to God and to others all of the time.

Thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks. It is grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God. It shows an attitude of gratitude. Thanksgiving is also part of Christian maturity.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  (Colossians 2:6, 7 NIV)

My friend Marcy James overflows with thankfulness. She is one of the most grateful people I’ve ever met. She expresses her gratitude for even the smallest thing one does for her or says to her. She shares her thankfulness to God as well as to others. I asked her to write her thoughts on gratitude:

“Right now there’s someone happy who has much less than you.”  Those words were on a poster at my daughter’s first school.  It’s a simple statement about gratitude that gave me pause and had me thinking about what “much less” is.  I’ve seen “much less” in China when a man with no legs used as his wheel chair one of those boards with casters mechanics use to slide under cars.  He propelled himself with his hands against the frigid winter road.  It’s not hard to see those with “much more” who somehow have it hard, but in a different way.  That might beg the question, “What is the source of happiness?”  But maybe the bigger question is, “Why are ‘much less’ and ‘much more’ not really a factor?”  I think the unmentioned factor is Christianity.  The love of God, the promise of salvation in Christ, the very loyal support of the Body of Christ all put this world in perspective.  The Word of God sharpens our focus on how to navigate our own trials and tribulations and still have the Fruits of the Spirit, which include joy and peace.  Vacation Bible School often speaks of God sightings, and the most moving God sightings to me have been kindness and compassion in others towards others.  The youngest of children can point them out.  Anytime someone of any age does something helpful, says something helpful, it’s a God sighting sent to you and the only possible response is thankfulness to that person and to God above and to pass that blessing on. 

I want to become more like my friend Marcy. I confess that I too often take things for granted. Unwritten thank you notes sit near my desk, as I substitute a quick verbal thank you for a gift or for an act of kindness from others. I thank God regularly for my food, but how often do I thank Him for the air I breathe, or for the sunrise I saw on my way to work? I’m learning to be more grateful.

Giving thanks to God is shown and taught throughout Scripture. Psalm 100 shows that thankfulness is more than words. Note the attitude and actions in the Psalm. (Underlines are mine.) May we be thankful and show our gratitude first to God, and then to others.

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.

Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him,
and bless His name.

For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Anytime someone of any age does something helpful, says something helpful, it’s a God sighting sent to you and the only possible response is thankfulness to that person and to God above and to pass that blessing on. ” ~ Marcy James

Dear Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for being You. Thank you for Your faithfulness, for being my provider, and for Your unconditional love which You showed through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue me from the punishment for my sins. Thank you for Your care for me. In Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving Fall photo by Hudsoncrafted on Pixabay

Devotional

The Lord Keeps His Promises

When Storm Clouds Gather series, devotional # 8

Then God said to Noah and his sons, “I solemnly promise you and your children and the animals you have brought with you…that I will never again send another flood to destroy the earth. And I seal this promise with this sign: I have placed My rainbow in the clouds as a sign of My promise until the end of time, to you and to all the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-13 LB)

Noah and his family went through a terrible storm, the flooding of the whole earth. They lost not only their home, but friends and neighbors. It must have been reassuring to know God promised not to destroy everything with another flood, and to see His bow as a sign of that promise when storm clouds gathered. They experienced how the Lord carried them safely through the storm. They saw God’s power and His redemption in their lives.

I have seen God’s power and redemption in my own life. My health is good. I’m cancer free. Relationships that were once tumultuous are now calm and loving. My husband is employed after periods of job losses. It encourages me to know that the Lord keeps His promises, for He is faithful and trustworthy. When storm clouds gather, it helps me to look back at how the Lord has carried me through to the other side. Reading His love letter to us reassures me as I read His promises in Scripture.

Image by Navallo on Pixabay

Below are some of God’s promises that mean a lot to me. I hope they bring you joy and peace.

  • Promises of forgiveness
    • I write to you, little children, for your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. (I John 2:12)
    • Psalm 103 is full of King David’s praise for who the Lord is and His forgiveness.  
  • Assurance of Salvation
    • For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 (RSV)
    • Romans 10:8-13   If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes in his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. Verses 9-10
  • God will finish His work in me and in loved ones
    • Philippians 1:6; I Thessalonians 5:23-24
  • God’s Holy Spirit lives in me 
    • John 14:15-18
  • The Lord will never leave me.
    • Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5
  • He will guide me:
    • He has good plans for me that will give me a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
    • God will give me wisdom when I ask without doubting. James 1:2-8
    • The Lord will teach and lead me. Psalm 25
    • The Holy Spirit will guide me in all truth.  John 16:12-15
  • The Lord loves and cares for me. 
    • Psalm 23; I John 4:19; Ephesians 5:25; Psalm 139
  • My ultimate future- I will spend eternity with Jesus Christ.
    • I Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-3, 6
  • God is faithful to keep His promises
    • Hebrews 10:23; Numbers 23:19

What are some of God’s promises that are meaningful to you? May we not just read them, but absorb God’s promises into our lives and cling to them. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NKJV)

Dear Lord, I give You thanks for your many promises. I praise You for Your faithfulness. Amen.