Friday, November 20, 2015

#5 of Top Five Posts on my Blog - Hope in Hard Times

Though this is a little early for Advent, I wanted to repeat some of my top five
blog posts. I thought this one was appropriate for the times we are finding this
world in today and hope it encourages you to remember how God sent His
only Son for you. 

Advent Thoughts - Week 2: Hope in Hard Times

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies 
and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant— 
the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
 so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
 for as long as we live.
“And you, my little son,
 will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
 the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:67-79, NLT)

Birth of John the Baptist, by Tintoretto
A priest in Israel, Zechariah wasn’t a young father filled with his own hopes and dreams. For many years, the dream of having a son eluded him. Yet, he and his wife, Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, still followed God’s law faithfully. They must have trusted that God knew what He was doing, though they went through great disappointment.

Israel wasn’t going through the best of times either. The Lord had seemed to be silent for many, many years, they found themselves under Roman rule and they awaited the Messiah. Life was difficult. Under Roman oppression they were taxed heavily and their sons and daughters could be whisked away any time at the bidding of occupying forces.

Yet, when Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to their son, John, the focus was on God’s own Son, still in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit testified to that precious life that Mary carried, a fulfillment of God’s promises. As Zechariah prophesied, “. . . he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior . . . just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.” God kept His promises in what might have seemed the bleakest of times. The Lord remembered the sacred covenant He made with His people, a covenant He cannot break, and sent His Son, Jesus.
Madonna with Child and St. John the Baptist
by Guido Reni

And in the moments of joy, when Zechariah named his son, the Holy Spirit gave him a glimpse of what that special child would do—introducing the Savior of the world to the people of Israel! There would be forgiveness of sins and the washing away of guilt. In a dark time when some waited for death, a deliverer was coming to give them hope and new life!

It encourages me to know that God remembers His people. Even in the hard times, He knows what I’m going through and gives me hope for the future. His promises are still true! If you are God’s child by faith, be encouraged that He has not forgotten you. As promised in Romans 8, He has a purpose in your life for what you’re going through and nothing can separate you from His love!

Father, help us when we hurt and feel left alone, to remember we are yours and You haven’t forgotten us. Please help us to focus on Jesus, even in the hard times, knowing that nothing can separate us from You and your love. Amen.

(Images in public domain. Source: WikiPaintings.org)

I am praying for those in Paris to feel God's comfort and
experience His grace and mercy during this awful time
and also for Christians suffering around the world.

Who are your special prayers for today?

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