He Came To Warn

But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. Genesis 19:15

One of the most dramatic theophanies is when the Angel of the Lord appears to Lot. Even in the Old Testament Jesus came to save.

Sampson didn’t have the corner on making bad choices. Many people came before him in biblical history that could share that spot. Even before Lot went to Sodom, he was causing trouble in Abraham’s camp. Lot’s shepherds fought with Abraham’s shepherds, which led Lot to make the brilliant decision to take his family to a little, unknown area called Sodom and Gomorrah.

God will never abandon His children and Lot is no exception. After every trail of poor choices is the opportunity for redemption. So God prophesied, to Abraham, the complete destruction of the sister cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. It became clear, after a time of haggling, that this place was not worth saving. God decided that it made more sense to rescue the holy remnant, Lot’s household, than to spare these cities.

In this theophany, angels, including Jesus, we believe, went to Lot’s house. My Mom and I have encountered some scary situations on the road, but nothing holds a candle to this. A group of men, intent upon raping these holy beings, demanded that Lot give the visitors to them. Lot offered his virgin daughters instead to no avail. (This one action puts Lot up there with Sampson, in my book.) The angels blinded the mob and sent them into confusion. You would think that this would be enough to make Lot’s family flee but not even the prediction of destruction moved them. The angels physically pushed Lot, his wife, and his two daughters out of the city. Our almighty God was faithful to Abraham and merciful to his nephew, Lot. He offers the same rescue to us if we will only receive it.

Heavenly Father, Rescue me and deliver my whole family from potential destruction. Help me to move the first time that you ask.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

How has God rescued you?

In what areas do you need deliverance and rescue?

Do you believe that God can help you?

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In The Fire

“But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25

I doubt that King Nebuchadnezzar had any idea what he was getting himself into when he brought young Jews to serve in his court. Their captivity would lead to spiritual freedom for others.

I’m not sure what King Nebuchadnezzar was thinking when he made an image of gold and told his people to bow down to it. Personally, I suspect that God, in His sovereignty, allowed the enemy to whisper this idea in his ear. Three young exiles stood out because they refused to obey the king’s command. Our almighty God set the stage for the most dramatic theophany of all. If this persecution had not happened, we would not be witnesses to this awesome deliverance. We would not realize that our hardships and torments have much greater significance than we realize.

I can just picture it. The king’s orchestra began to play and thousands of people flattened their bodies to the ground at the same time. The king was then made aware of three men in his employ that refused to bow down. The Bible actually says that Nebuchadnezzar “was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was set against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” But what should have been the end was only the beginning. The king looked into the furnace once it cooled down enough for him to approach. He saw not three, but four men standing in the fire. The fourth was the Son of God Himself standing in the flames.

Can you picture that today as you walk through your own personal fire? Jesus is Lord even in our pain. Even our persecutors will see Him. I think that is the point of this theophany. Jesus is Lord. He chose not to let the fire burn Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Instead, hundreds of years later, He would allow the nails to pierce His hands for our freedom.

Heavenly Father, You are Lord over my pain. Shine through. Make this worth it all. In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

What is your fire?

What is the purpose of it?

How can Jesus be made know because of your situation?

To Remind Us

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

We know that God keeps His promises. But what about us? Do we keep the vows that we make?

Jacob, the third patriarch of the Old Testament, literally wrestled with God in one of the most physical of theophanies ever recorded. While his relationship with his creator was complicated, I admire how real and raw it was. Their relationship wasn’t one-sided like so many of our relationships with God in prayer. Jehovah God talked back and reminded Jacob of the vow that he made to Him at Bethel. That night, years back, when the angel of the LORD visited Jacob, they made a covenant with each other. Jacob said that if God took care of him, then He would be his God. Years down the road, God visited Jacob again in a dream to remind him of his vow. It was time to take his large household and livestock and travel to the country that God set aside for him. God kept His promise and now it was time for Jacob to keep his.

I believe that one of the many reasons that there was a need for theophany was that it provided the basis of trust. Before the written word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, people of the Old Testament needed to know the person who was asking the impossible of them. Only God’s provision and protection would lead His people to this new place filled with both bounty and enemies. We also need God’s provision and protection today, but we have access to God, through His Son, Jesus. What was a rare event is something that can live within us at all times. If only like Jacob we were willing to wrestle with our faith and have a two-way relationship with the God who calls us friend… If only…

Heavenly Father, I forget sometimes that I’m not alone. You’ve kept Your promises so empower me to keep mine. I can’t do this without You.  In Jesus Name Amen

Journal

Have you wrestled with your faith? How?

Are there any areas where you need to listen more and talk less?

What promise has God asked You to keep?

Two Fold Purpose

And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6

God always takes interest in all of the details of our lives, even so more than we do. In everything He has not just one purpose for us but two.

He wants us to know Him. He wants our relationship to so overtake us that the overflow will impact others. That is exactly what He did with Moses, the most famous adoptee of all. After he killed a violent slave master in Egypt, he fled into the wilderness. Moses started over, getting married and starting a family. Forty years passed while he tended sheep. Then it happened. While he was tending his livestock, a nearby bush began to burn. God spoke out of this bush in what is probably the most well known theophany. This happened privately. Just as the angel Gabriel came to Mary when she was alone, God spoke to Moses alone. While the purpose was bigger than anything either of them could even imagine, God took interest in them first as individuals. Sure, we are all part of a huge purpose, but our Shepherd King takes great delight in rescuing each one of us singly, so than none will be lost.

God took the time to reveal His plan to Moses, building him up in the process. Moses had none of the luxuries or the tutors that he was raised with in the Egyptian royal house. Those many years in the wilderness humbled him beyond recognition. All he had was a staff. God said, “What is that in your hand?” (That was my grandfather Wyrtzen’s favorite topic for preaching.) God chose to use what Moses had, which wasn’t much. This man, brought to so low a place, only had “I AM” and his staff. Yet that is what the Almighty decided to use.

This same God is interested in you. He wants to know you. His purpose for your life will come out of redemption of your story. Will you trust Him with it today?

Heavenly Father, You are my Father! Thank you for loving me and using the redemption of my life to rescue others. I cannot help but sing of what You have done in my life. I love you! In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal

What is the lowest that you have been?

Have you asked God what His purpose was for that experience?

In what part of your life do you need to declare, “Is anything impossible for my God?!”

Why Theophany?

“O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.” Genesis 18:3

Did you know that Jesus appeared in the Old Testament? He came in the flesh for an important purpose before His birth.

This year, my Mom is focusing on the acts of Jesus in the Gospels while I focus on His acts in the Old Testament. A theophany can be defined as the physical appearing of Jesus before His birth. Some teachers focus on the New Testament while ignoring the Old but this is a mistake. We cannot fully enjoy the beauty of the New Covenant when we haven’t explored what came first. At Daughters of Promise, we went into this New Year with the goal of teaching a cohesive ‘scriptural whole’. We desire to give a big picture of what our all-knowing God did for us.

So why study theophany? We study it because it is the source of hope! Even before we were given the written law, the Son of God approached Abraham to tell him and Sarah that in their old age they would have a baby boy. The Son who was to come prophesied in the flesh a firstborn son. This, in and of itself, was a prophecy of His very own birth down the road.

Think about it, even before the words were written on the page, the Word came and spoke hope to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He walked into the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Jesus’s rare presence before His advent ushered in such profound consequences. Children were born to the ancient. Millions of people were protected from armies. Kings bowed their knees to the ground knowing that this God could protect His children in a fiery furnace.

Now, this God, whose physical appearances were so infrequent, makes available now to us His very own spirit. This year, let’s see the mighty things our God has done since days of old so that we can believe Him today for what He wants to do from inside our very own hearts.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for the ways in which You have revealed Yourself. Seeing what You did in days gone by gives me hope for what You can do in a willing heart tomorrow. So, today, take over every part of me. Let this heart be Your dwelling place.

Journal

How do you think people pictured God as before He appeared to Abraham?

How do you think Abraham was able to know that He was seeing Jesus?

Does this give you hope?

Right Now

After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.” 1 Samuel 2:1

What are you doing right now? What are you thinking about at this very moment? My God’s mercies are new every morning. So why do I live in the past; bitter, angry, and ashamed over what I can’t fix? Does God want me to fixate on what’s behind me? My God isn’t worried about the future either. He knows what will happen. So why do I worry and over-plan?

I can’t bask in the beauty of my sweet Savior if I’m being torn limb by limb by both the past and the future at the same time. Life is hard enough. Why do we add to our own drama? There’s a time and a place to take stock of the past and ponder our future but not at the expense of ‘the now’. I will never have this moment back.

What does God have to offer me right now? If I’m going to find out, I’ve got to let go of the burdens of the past and the weights of the future. I want to hear His voice so I need to still my own. I need to feel the beating of His heart by not trusting the lies swirling inside of me. Let’s stop and let His glory light up our faces. Only He will purify us: past, present and future. Only He will warm up our souls to worship. We need Jesus to breathe us out of our spiritual deep freeze.

This year, this season, let’s ask our God to bring us to a hushed place so that He can whisper His truth to us. I choose to not set my own agenda. My own agenda leads me into a yoke that I’m incapable of carrying. I will seek His holy and perfect heart for me. He can weave me into His will without unnecessary mending if I quit spinning. At the moment, we may not understand this place where our Heavenly Father has our church, our country, or our personal lives. But we can trust Him, right now. He is with us, right now. We won’t make it if we don’t wait for Him.

Heavenly Father, Forgive me for not living in the present. You have given me grace and mercy for today and I choose to listen to You right now. I’m done spinning.  In Jesus Name, Amen


Journal:

How are you trapped by your past?

How are you in bondage to the future?

What does the Bible say is God’s relationship to time?

When Believers And Unbelievers Share Christmas

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?  For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…   Matthew 2:1-3

It’s not a secret that Christmas and other holidays are difficult for many.  It’s trending, even, to talk about it.  So how are we supposed to process the holiday of all holidays when so much may be wrong?

I think every Crèche or manger scene should include a malevolent King Herod standing woodenly off in the distance.  Think about it.  We have the shepherds, but what about the sword bearing soldiers?  We have the three kings but no murderous Caesar with his crosses.  Sure, there were cute sheep.  But where’s there’s sheep, there’s sheep smells.  We have straw but no midwife.  Just Joseph.  He was a new husband and father to the Son of God.  He wouldn’t answer to God as only God, but as Heavenly Father.

The first Christmas was stressful as well as joyful.  It was pain and hardship in the cold, broken only by angels singing from on high.   We three kings wouldn’t even make an appearance for another couple of years; Herod in hot pursuit.  Mary continued to ponder all of this in her heart, sheep smells and all.

Christmas, here on earth, is supposed to be a glimmer, a sparkle in the darkness.  Many spend time with guests and/or extended family that despise Jesus.  Our family of four will too, unfortunately.  We will be spiritually prepared as the atmosphere of our home is challenged.  For me personally, every time our family guests spit venom when Jesus’ name is mentioned, I will remember the weeping in Ramah.  This city in Israel was full of recently delivered mothers with milk, but with no sons to feed.

When a person refuses to let Jesus into His own birthday celebration, we can remember how there was no room in the inn.  While enemies of our lord sit nearby, we can ponder in our hearts what Jesus did for us.  As for our two children, we will pray with them and still celebrate the birth of the Son who came to set us free.
Heavenly Father, You sent Your precious son into this less than perfect world.  The things that go wrong are just reminders of how much I need that baby in the manger.  Keep my eyes fixed on You.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Journal
What do you look forward to the most about Christmas?

When was the first time that you were disappointed around Christmas?

Write a thank you note to Jesus for coming to save us.