… and he will be named: Mighty God pt 2 || Jessica Bolyard

To continue with this week’s topic of the coming Savior as “Mighty God,” write down three points you want to remember from Monday’s discussion.

Chances are, you – like me – were struck profoundly by the thought of the majesty of God being placed within the humble stature of a newborn baby. For those of us who have been in the church for awhile, this can be one of those “ho-hum” facts about Christmas. We’ve heard it so many times that it goes in one ear and out the other before we move on to other things. Rarely do we stop to consider what, exactly, God did when He sent His Son – all God but also all man – into the world.

As Ken Gire wrote in his book Intimate Moments With the Savior, “every royal privilege for this baby king ended at conception.”

Consider that for a moment. Any other king on Earth would have been born with every luxury imaginable at his disposal. From the earliest age, he would be treated as the king he was destined to be, even being referred to as “your highness” and “prince.” He would have the respect of every person within his kingdom. He would live in a palace that was, well, fit for a king, and would have countless servants at the ready to tend to his every need.

The baby King Jesus, though – the heir to the throne of heaven – was born into a very different situation: hay for a bed, barn animals pushed out of the way as His mother tended to His needs, treated no differently than every other little boy.

How hard do you think that was for Him? How many times – faced with the trials of childhood – do you think He wanted to stand up and say, “Don’t you know who I am?”

I think the human aspect of Jesus likely wanted to declare His position many times…but it was the God aspect of who He was that kept Him humbly walking the path of humanity.

How ironic.

Facing childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood with such humility may have been difficult, but that was actually the reason He came at all. To humble Himself. To walk in the sandals, so to speak, of His creation. To lower Himself that mankind might be elevated.

In a surprising twist on everything we know, this King likely would have refused royal privilege even if it had been made available.

So what do we take from this? What does this mean for us as we approach the manger of Christmas?

We remember that power does not always show up in the way we expect. We remember that lowliness is not synonymous with weakness. We remember that humility does not negate importance.

What do we do?

We willingly choose weakness for ourselves, and seek out the weak ones among us. Oswald Chambers famously said, “Beware of posing as a profound person – God became a baby.”

There isn’t much I can add to that. If we call ourselves Christians – “little Christs,” as the word implies – we must attempt in everything to do what He does. That must be our goal during this season and always.

He must become greater, and we must become less. Period.

                    

 

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

…and he will be named: Mighty God || Jessica Bolyard

Last week Marissa walked us through the first of Isaiah’s prophetic descriptions of the coming Messiah – Wonderful Counselor – and we learned of one of the practical purposes of His coming. This week, I’ll lead us through the second – Mighty God.

Reread Isaiah 9:2-7, giving special attention to our focal point in verse 6.

Whenever I’ve read this passage, one question that has repeatedly crossed my mind is, “Why are these names listed in this order?” Have you ever wondered that?

Mighty God, it seems, should come first! Is that not the most important of His descriptions? He’s GOD, after all. Don’t we need to understand that before we can move on to anything else? I’ve realized something, though, that might help you if you get hung up on this point, too. To get there, read these verses from the Gospel of Luke: 1:13, 1:30, 2:10.

What theme do you notice here?

These are just a few instances of angels delivering the same message, these few within the Christmas story itself. Human instinct – when something unexpected or confusing happens – leads us to fear. We are uncomfortable with what we don’t understand, and that discomfort leads us to a defensive stance. God – being our Creator – understands this reflex and seems to first want to disarm our knee-jerk reactions before He delivers heavy news.

Therefore, when God first speaks (through Isaiah) of the coming Savior, He describes Him as our Wonderful Counselor. He tells of one who would come to help, lead, and guide us – not condemn, hurt, or shame us. Hearing that should naturally ease our minds and prepare us for the announcement that’s coming next.

“…he will be called…Mighty God.”

As we often do here at HFL, let’s examine the original words Isaiah spoke so that we can have a clearer understanding of the message he was delivering.

The Hebrew word for mighty as used in Isaiah 6 is gibbor. This word can be used in two forms. As an adjective, it translates to the English “strong, valiant, and powerful”. As a noun, it means “warrior” or “champion”.

You may know that there are numerous names for God Himself in Scripture, each used to describe a particular attribute of the character of God. (We see this pattern within Isaiah 6 itself!) The word “God,” as we read it here, is the Hebrew word ’el. This particular word for God, in itself, means “mighty one.”

And the English definition of mighty? “Possessing great or impressive power or strength, especially on account of size.”

So….essentially, Isaiah’s description is redundant. “He will be called Strong, Valiant, Powerful, Mighty Warrior God.”

Well then. There can be no mistake what God wants us to know about the coming Messiah: He will carry the full might of God Himself. This Wonderful Counselor to come – the One who would finally deliver God’s people from darkness – would come in the majestic power of a God in full warrior mode.

That undoubtedly creates a certain kind of image in your mind. What does that look like?

Now….remember what that Mighty God actually looked like when He entered the world. A tiny, helpless, shivering baby boy. He – the God who Himself created Mary’s womb – emerged from her body no different from any of us. He – the God who held the stars in His hands – reached up and, with the newborn reflexes of His human creation, wrapped his finger around that of His mother.

The God of the Universe – the Mighty God the world had longed for and anticipated with bated breath – came not as a celebrated warrior. He did not ride in on a warhorse, and was not celebrated with shouts at the city gates as He entered. Instead, this Mighty God of ours snuck into town under the cloak of night, welcomed into the world only by the agonizing shouts of his mother in the throes of childbirth. He came not with the victorious cry of a battle-worn champion, but with the desperate cry of a sleepy, hungry infant child.

No, this certainly was not what Israel expected. Is it any wonder, then, that so few recognized Him?

Meditate today on the contrast between the all-powerful, all-mighty God of the Universe… and the way He came to us. Why would He do that? What could He possibly want to tell us by coming that way?

Come back later this week for more on this. I can’t wait to go deeper into this with you.

And if you’re more of a pen to paper type person, don’t forget to print out the PDF below & follow along with us.

PDF Study Printable- Mighty God || …and he shall be named…

                    

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

…and he will be named: Wonderful Counselor application || Marissa Dodgen

Yesterday, we looked at the Greek and Hebrew transliterations and supporting scripture about the impact of the name Wonderful Counselor. It’s great to know those things. It’s great to know how to dig out the actual meaning of the words we see in the Bible and how they impact one another. Those are incredibly important, but being able to put it into practice is imperative to it being effective in our lives.

James 2:14-26 goes into detail about the importance of faith and works. In verse 18, James specifically says “…I will show you my faith by my works”. He isn’t saying our salvation or faith are based on or earned by our works, but that true salvation should change us. That change ought to mean that our works or deeds, whichever you prefer, should be a result of our genuine faith and knowledge of the Word of God.

So what does that mean when we think of Jesus as a Wonderful Counselor? How should knowing what we now know change us and our lives? If we believe Christmas is the celebration of God in human form by the birth of our prophesied Savior, Jesus Christ, who was called Wonderful Counselor, what action do we need to take? Well, for starters, lets take a practical and literal look at his name Wonderful Counselor.

What is a counselor? According to the dictionary it is a person trained to give guidance on problems. But here’s the thing: we don’t just have a counselor, we have the counselor. Remember that he Hebrew word for counsel means to advise, deliberate, or resolve. We have a savior who guides us, advises us, deliberates with and for us, and ultimately leads our problems to be solved (not necessarily in the way we always understand or hope for, but solved nonetheless). Those things are accomplished in our lives by two specific actions: prayer and study.

We talk a lot about prayer around here. (In fact, we just finished a series about it back in the October.) We talk about it because it is critical to our relationship with Christ. In our first study from that series, Keisha took us through five verses that very specifically tell us why and how we pray:

1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing

1 Chronicles 16:11: Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His presence continually.

Romans 12:12: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Colossians 4:2: Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

We pray because we are instructed to do so. We pray with a patient spirit that needs to also be looking for God to work. Just as He expects us to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17), we should pray and not worry whether or not He will answer (Philippians 4:6). We can rest assured that He will answer – again, most likely not in the way we expect, but He will.

We also pray because it is communication with him. You can’t expect your counselor around the corner to just drop truth bombs on you out of the blue. No – you have to speak to them. You set up an appointment and you sit down and have a conversation. And if I understand well enough, they don’t just tell you all the things you are doing wrong or how to fix all your problems. Instead, that counselor will lead you through your struggles and oftentimes you sort things out through the answering of questions. It is similar with God. Very rarely does He just drop truth and direction bombs on us out of nowhere. It is through our communication with Him as our guide, advisor, and advocate that we see things clearly. Oh, and we don’t have to schedule an appointment or pay anything for it, either. He is there all the time…even at 3:30 in the morning.

But we also see things clearly and can see how He is answering our prayers through the study of His word. A mentor and friend once told me that the Bible is like an instruction manual for life. We have every why, how, and what for contained in it. If we need to troubleshoot our lives, we have the FAQs right there in front of us. But also, if we would read it from the start we wouldn’t get our wires crossed so much or use the wrong nuts and bolts. His word is our map to make it through this life and our prayer is like our communication with Houston. Houston, we have a problem.

So we have this amazing savior that was sent here for us, to come to earth to save us from ourselves and die for our mistakes and shortfalls, so that we don’t have to pay the eternal price of eternity in hell. Instead, we get to spend eternity in heaven with Him because He came here for us as our Wonderful Counselor. Following His lead, we have a way to navigate through this life, do His work, and show others why He is the Wonderful Counselor.

                    

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

…and he will be named: Wonderful Counselor || Marissa Dodgen

If you are reading this blog, I would be willing to bet you know or at least have heard the real Christmas story. Not the real St. Nick or why we have Christmas trees and stockings; but the actual Christmas story. If you are a beliver, recent or seasoned, not a Christmas goes by when you don’t hear some version of the birth of the Jesus. And rightfully so! After all, He was God’s only son sent to earth, born as a human, raised to die on a cross for our sins in order for us to escape eternal damnation in the flames of hell. I would say it is a pretty big deal. But here’s the problem with it…

We have let His story grow stale.

We have. Christmas today is less about celebrating His coming and more about consumerism and materialism. Now, let me preface what I’m going to say by saying this: I am a big Christmas fan. I don’t believe all the Christmas stuff as we know it is bad. In my family, we do presents and parties and big feasts and decorations and visits to Santa and all the Hallmark movies you can stomach. The problem comes when we allow the message of this season go by the wayside. When we aren’t “in the Christmas spirit” (this was me about a week ago), it is a problem because it means that we aren’t focusing on what this season is truly about. Instead we are allowing ourselves to be bogged down by the modern version of a holiday celebration.

So to fix that we need to turn our focus back to The One and allow the other things to simply be a byproduct of the celebration of the birth and eventual resurrection of Jesus Christ.  So how do we do that? Well, just like we did back in April, we need to look at the Old Testament. Because Jesus didn’t come out of nowhere, people. The actual prophecy of Christ started 4000(ish) years before he was born to Mary – sometime between 1a.d and 4a.d. If you turn to Genesis 3:15, what does God tell Satan He will put between Him and the women?

An enmity. That is Jesus. This was the first reference to Christ. So from the very beginning of sin, Jesus was in place. God had a plan from the beginning of mankind to send Jesus as a buffer between us and Satan. Some translations say offspring and others say seed, but either way that is the first reference to Jesus. All throughout the Old Testament, God is setting His people up for the arrival of Jesus. But if we fast forward 3500 years – give or take – we come to Isaiah 9. That is exactly where we will spend our time as we lead up to Christmas and the celebration that belongs to our Savior.

Slowly read Isaiah 9:1-7.

According to verse 6, who is this section of scripture referring to?

And what four names is he called?

Today we are going to dissect the first of these names: Wonderful Counselor.

Wonderful is from the Hebrew word Pele‘ (peh’-leh) meaning miracle. Take a look at Psalms 77:14 – at the verb form of of this Hebrew word.

Who is verse 14 talking about?

What does it say he does?

The same word is used as a discrition and an action. A thing to be done. But before we move on, read all of Psalm 77. Drink in what David is saying about God. If you can, read it aloud.

The same word used to describe what/who Jesus was, is the same word used to descibe not only God, but to tell us what He did. Jesus, son of the Most High, not only came to earth at His command, but was also given the power of the wonder of God. I mean, does that not just blow your mind? It does mine. This is one of those things better said than written, but y’all….think about it. Read Psalm 77 again, and this time, give it some power and umph. Move your arms, raise your voice, find the passion David was writing with. This same God who did all these things….waters, clouds, rain, thunder, lighting, etc…gave those same wonders to Christ as a name in order to tell people, hundreds of years before His cry was heard on earth, who He was and who He would be to us.

Next, let’s move on to Counselor.

The Hebrew of this word is yâ-‘ats (yaw-ats) meaning to advise, deliverate, resolve. It is exactly what we think of as a counselor today: someone that guides us or helps us. In Isaiah 28:29, we find both of these words, in a different capacity. What does it say?

Jeremiah 32:19 also references this same theme, but uses the english word counsel.

From the beginning we see that Jesus wasn’t just here to save us. As if that wasn’t plenty, He was here to guide us and direct us – a line to follow, so to speak, to the Father. Look at His ministry. What did He do throughout His ministry? Did He just walk the streets like a Biblical Oprah handing out healing? “You are healed and you are healed. Everyone is healed!” No. He advised people. He counseled people. The disciples are an easy example. His entire ministry was dedicated to training up those men and then, in His last command to them in Matthew 28, He told them to go and make more discples. Thousands of years later He is doing the same for us through the Word and through His ministry on earth.

So while it is easy to simply look at the fact that Christmas is celebrating a baby, even as a baby He was not without purpose and plan. We do ourselves – and this season – an injustice when we look at Jesus as a “sweet little baby in a swaddle” and inadvertently give a mental “choochy-coo”. When you think of Christmas don’t stop at the frailness of our Savior as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothing — look forward to the man He would become. Look at Him as the same Savior that 33 years later would hang on a cross and split the temple curtain from top to bottom with one final breath. That, my friends, is the Savior we need to celebrate.

                    

 

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram

Unexpected: Gratitude In Grief- Part 2 || Keisha Hill

I’ve been trying for days to find words for this post.  Honestly, I’ve been trying for years to find words, because my heart just doesn’t know how to reconcile grief.  Grief was not how God created us.  Oh, it’s natural alright, but that’s all after the fall of Adam and Eve.  God created mankind to live forever with Him in the garden.  The curse of death brought grief, not creation.  No wonder it feels so unnatural. 

I have no beautiful words or a bow to wrap this all in.  I can’t take your grief away just in time to enjoy a Christmas that has no shadows at all.  I can’t even do that for myself.  What I can do though, is encourage you to pray.  Your heavenly Father knows what you need, even before you say it, so those prayers are safe with Him.  (Matthew 6:8)

We talked about prayer in the last series, and I told you then that prayer isn’t the easiest thing for me.  It’s hard!  I think it’s all the waiting.  Way more often than I like to admit or accept, God’s timing is not mine.  I want my prayers answered in one miraculous instant.  Instant healing.  Instant relief from pain.  Instant understanding of why.  But God works in the waiting. 

My sweet friend Kari posted this song and these words just today…

***Jessica here’s the link.  https://youtube.com/watch?v=mXmZaR0dtsQ&list=RDmXmZaR0dtsQ ***

“For me, this brings tears. Because you guys, waiting. is. hard.

Waiting for a baby. Waiting for a relationship to mend….Waiting for the sunshine to come back. Waiting for Jesus to come back. Waiting for heaven….Waiting for health and healing….Waiting, waiting, waiting. We’re all doing it in one way or another.

One thing I know is this: we don’t have to wait for freedom. The truest freedom I know is a life in Jesus, and that is available to anyone at any time.  <3

But in the season that we are a seed being sown, ready to become a sequoia…. let us sing this loud and proud, ‘If You’re not done working, God I’m not done waiting.’ “

So that’s my prayer.  That in this season of grief and shadows that we can all remember (and maybe even be grateful) that God works in the waiting, and He is growing us in ways we can never imagine. 

I love that we can trust in God because of who he is and what he has done through Jesus.  His son.  The Messiah.  The one who came to change everything.

Knowing that, next week we’re going to dive into Isaiah 9:6 and the names of the Messiah. 

Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace.

Join us, won’t you?

                    

Back to topShare this on FacebookTweet this post69,109,97,105,108,32,77,101eM liamEPin It!follow me on Instagram