Happy Birthday Jesus!

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:15 (MSG)
Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!
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“Now thanks be to God for His indescribable gift [which is precious beyond words]!” -AMPLIFIED

God’s indescribable gift to us; that most precious, beyond praise gift was Jesus Christ. God’s own Son given as a ransom for our sins. God cared so much that He took the initiative. God did what needed to be done so, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Today is the day that we remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was born over 2,000 years ago, but the importance and the impact of His life on our own is still being felt today. He was God, come to Earth to make things right where we had so sadly failed Him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”

All of God’s gifts are precious and worthy of praise, but this gift, this unspeakable gift of His Son transcends all other gifts. It is a gift that is indescribably great and we truly are incapable of praising Him and extolling God for the gift enough. Given freely, because of His great love for us; it was absolutely necessary. For without God’s intervention we would be eternally lost.

God took a special interest in each of us personally. Hallelujah; He did too, because without that love, that interest, that caring attitude we would be in a hopeless state, indeed. Salvation is absolutely the total gift of God; His idea, His initiative, His incomparable love given to whosoever believes.

Happy Birthday Jesus! Today we celebrate the expression of God’s love given to every man, woman and child. The angels announced His birth; the shepherds and the Magi came to worship Him. Let us praise and worship Him too. Let us be sure that we are sharing God’s gift with as many people as we possibly can. For the greatest gift that anyone could receive this year is the Jesus Christ their Savior.

May your Christmas celebration be blessed this year; as you spend time with your family, friends, and acquaintances. Let us be sure that we are keeping our perspective focused on Jesus; for it is because of Him, God’s gift to us, that we have reason to celebrate. Merry Christmas!

My Prayer:
Father God, thank you for sending your precious Son Jesus to be the Savior of the World. Without Him I would be eternally lost. Your love shown through your Son is indeed indescribable and precious to me. As I celebrate the birth of Jesus today, help me to realize even more how precious this gift is. I find great joy and peace in your love extended to me. Hallelujah and Happy Birthday Jesus!

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Come, let us worship the King!

Growing with God: A daily devotion with Tonia Slimm.

Matthew 2:11 (NIV)
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11 (MSG)
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
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“And after entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, after opening their treasure chests, they presented to Him gifts [fit for a king, gifts] of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” -AMPLIFIED

The Magi followed that star till it led them to the house where the holy family was living. If we look at the verbs in this passage we can glean a pretty good picture of the state of the Magi’s hearts. We find that as they came to the house, they: saw, bowed, and worshiped. Then once they had acknowledged and worshiped this Holy Child we find that they: opened and presented, or gave.

These Wise-men had traveled far and experienced much in order to find this child. Notice that they were not willing to let anything detour them from their goal. What was their response once they found Him? The saw the child in the arms of His mother Mary and they bowed in homage; that would be reverence and respect. They knew and realized that this was not just any child; this was the King of the Jews. During this time when one would pay homage to another they would kneel and bow with their face to the ground to show respect and honor. It also acknowledged that the one who bowed was under the one bowed to.

We are told that these men then worshiped the Child. We do not know how, in what particular fashion they did this. Did they sing songs, speak words of praise, chant, raise hands of praise, dance, or shout unto the Lord; we do not know. What we do know is that they came with sincere hearts looking for the One, True God. When they found Him they humbled themselves and worshiped Him with all that was within them; just as we too should do.

They came, they saw, they bowed, they worshiped and now they opened their gifts and gave. This is where the rubber meets the road; they did not just worship and leave. They opened up their hearts and gave their very best for the King of kings. They prostrated themselves before this holy child in lowly worship and then they proceeded to open their treasures and offer gifts that would be helpful and meaningful to this family.

It is said that the gold was offered to this infant King as a sign of His royalty. The frankincense was an acknowledgement of His divinity. The myrrh was a foretelling of His sufferings that were to come; it was a common spice used in burial. Each gift was extremely expensive and each was given whole-heartedly and freely to their King.

We do not know what happen to these Wise-men once they left the Christ-child. Just what Matthew tells us; “And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” -Matthew 12:12 (AMP)

I can guarantee though that they were never the same. This journey was a life-changing pivotal point in their lives. They had come, they had seen, they had bowed, they had worshiped and they had given themselves to the One, True King. They would never be the same and that is as it should be.

My Prayer:
Jesus, Most Holy One, I too come to worship you. I give you the best of all I am and ask that you use me for your glory and honor. Having you in my life has been a life-changing experience for me too; just as it was for the Magi. You bring out the very best in me, Lord and because of this I want to give you my very best. This is my true and proper worship to you. Lord, here I am; bowing in humbleness before you; use me for your glory.

What’s in a good name?

Growing with God: A daily devotion with Tonia Slimm.

Luke 1:31 (NIV)
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.

Luke 1:31 (MSG)
You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
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“Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” -AMPLIFIED

You may wonder the importance of a name; does it really make a difference? The angel had told Mary that she would be with child, give birth and she was to name this son, Jesus. Jesus? Why Jesus?

The name “Jesus” is the English form of “Yeshua”, which is Hebrew and it a variant of the name “Joshua”. The literal meaning of Joshua is “Jehovah is salvation”, but can also be translated as: Jehovah is generous, Savior or Deliverer.

Yeshua ben Yoseph, better known as Jesus the son of Joseph, is the very center of God’s answer to mankind’s problem; that would namely be sin. Jesus Christ would be our Savior and our Deliverer. It was through Jesus that God’s generosity and salvation would unfold and be revealed to all of mankind.

Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, was also instructed on the name of this child. “While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: “Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”). Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.” -Matthew 1:20-25 (MSG)

What is the importance of a good name? Solomon tells us in Proverbs; “A good name [earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity] is more desirable than great riches; and favor is better than silver and gold.” -Proverbs 22:1 (AMP)

He also tells us in Ecclesiastes 7:1- “A good name is better than precious perfume.” Precious perfume was something that was quite expensive and highly treasured in those times. So too would a good name be. It should leave a pleasant fragrance or feeling in the air when someone speaks it .

Sadly, many of us do not live up to the meaning of our name, but Jesus certainly did. He is our Savior. He is our Deliverer. He was Immanuel; God with us. He was the epitome of every one of the names assigned to Him; He personified them all. He was the Christ, the anointed one. He was the Messiah, the deliverer of the Jews. He is everything that we need Him to be in our lives.

God left nothing to chance when His Son came to Earth; even the child’s name held great weight and meaning. This child was the Son of the Most High; He would change the course of History for all time. He was to have a name that held great meaning; a name that others could understand and look to for strength. His name was Jesus; for He would save His people from their sins!

My Prayer:
Jesus, my Savior, my Deliverer, Emmanuel; you are my all in all. You have lived up to every one of your names in my life. You are indeed, “God with us”; dwelling with each of your children personally. I can look to you and see the example that you gave and I try to be just like you. Help me to have a good name, just as you had a good name. I want to have a name that was earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity; just as Solomon taught. Allow your Holy Spirit to work in my life to make me more like you Jesus.

Jesus the King!

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Matthew 2:2 (NIV)

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:2 (MSG)
“Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”
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“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” -AMPLIFIED

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” the Wise-men asked this question. Jesus, our Savior, was born a King; Christ our King is one of the titles that He holds. His life though did not reflect the life of a king as we know it.

1.) Born in a stable, not the royal palace or even in a hospital. Jesus, our King, had very humble beginnings.

2.) His parents were not wealthy. In fact, Joseph was just a common workman and Mary herself sang these words to God in her Magnificat, “For He has looked [with loving care] on the humble state (or low-estate) of His maidservant…” Luke 1:48a (AMP)

3.) Unlike most kings Jesus walked among the people. He was unafraid of being touched by them. In fact, He often went out of His way to touch the unclean, sick or even dead.

4.) Most kings follow a protocol, a system of rules and conduct; much as the Pharisees did, not Jesus. He was a radical; more concerned about the heart than what was on the outside.

Jesus Christ, our King, humbled Himself to walk where we walked and live as we lived. In fact, Paul the Apostle tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” -Philippians 2:8-11 (NIV)

“My king was born king. The Bible says He is the seven-way king. He is the king of the Jews. That’s a racial king. He is king of Israel. That’s a national king. He’s a king of righteousness. He’s a king of the ages. He’s the king of heaven. He is the king of glory. He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords. Now that’s my king.” -Dr. S. M. Lockridge, Dallas, Texas

Jesus, our King, is coming back again. “I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes.” -1 Timothy 6:13-16 (MSG)

Are you ready for HIM? Soon we will see Him; this One who came as a little man-child, born of a virgin, who walked this Earth, healing and doing good. He will appear and all will worship Him. We will see Him, “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name inscribed, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” -Revelation 19:16 (AMP)

My Prayer:

Hallelujah to my king! Jesus you are my King of king and Lord of lords. A King that is willing to walk where I have walked and experience what I experience. You were not afraid to touch the unclean, the sick or even the dead; so different than any king that has ever lived. You are the Magnificent One, the Almighty One, and my Beloved! Thank you for being exactly who you are!

God is watching over His own!

Growing with God: A daily devotion with Tonia Slimm.

Matthew 2:12-13 (NIV)
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

Matthew 2:12-13 (MSG)
In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”
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“And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him.” -AMPLIFIED

We bring our attention back to the Magi and their visit to the newborn King of the Jews. They have finally arrived and were able to worship Him. These Wise-men gave to Him the gifts that they had brought; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We then find they are warned in a dream NOT to go back to Herod as he had instructed them to do, but to instead go home another way.

Once again, we find God watching over and watching out for His own. Throughout Scripture we find reference that God cares for and watches over all those who love Him. Case in point, we can see David’s reference to God watching over him. “The Lord keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.” -Psalm 145:20 (AMP)

God, once again takes the initiative to care for His very own. Sending the Magi home another way, He then warns Joseph once again in a dream to “Get up and flee; for Herod was going to try and kill the child.”.

Notice, God is taking care of every detail. The Magi have provided the means for them to go. He warns Joseph of whom they are to beware of. He tells Joseph where to flee to and also tells him to stay there until further notice from Himself. Nothing has been left to chance. God has a plan and He has everything in control.

“Egypt had been a house of bondage to Israel, and particularly cruel to the infants of Israel; yet it is to be a place of refuge to the holy Child Jesus. God, when he pleases, can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes. This was a trial of the faith of Joseph and Mary. But their faith, being tried, was found firm. If we and our infants are at any time in trouble, let us remember the straits in which Christ was when an infant.” -Matthew Henry Commentary

If you have ever questioned the involvement of God in your life, never question again. God is interested in every detail of our lives and He desires to do His best for us. Peter reminds us of the need to give all our cares to God, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

God is interested in the minute details. He cares about the specifics; the where, when and how and He has a plan for our lives. In fact, Paul tells us that; “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” -Romans 8:28 (AMP)

Is there something in your life that you are worried about? Do you feel that you are in an impossible situation that you cannot get out of? Maybe you just need a reassurance that God is there for you. Know this truth, God loves you with an everlasting love and He does care about every detail in your life. He is watching over you, just as He was watching over the Christ child and He will take care of your every need. Trust Him!

My Prayer:

Father, I will trust you to care for every area of my life. Just as you watched out for every need and detail of the Christ child’s life; you also care for me. Almighty, you are a God who looks out for the littlest details. You understand our need of encouragement and affirmation. I will trust that you always have my best interests at heart and that you will work all things out for good. Sometimes I may not understand what is happening or why, but I believe that nothing happens by accident with the child of God. You orchestrate everything out for a purpose; I believe this! Lord, I will trust you!

The Anointed One!

Growing with God: A daily devotion with Tonia Slimm.

Jeremiah 23:5 (NIV)
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”

Jeremiah 23:5 (MSG)
“Time’s coming” – God’s Decree – “when I’ll establish a truly righteous David-Branch, A ruler who knows how to rule justly. He’ll make sure of justice and keep people united.”
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““Behold (listen closely), the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as King and act wisely and will do [those things that accomplish] justice and righteousness in the land.” -AMPLIFIED

Jeremiah prophesied of the coming King, the Branch of David; who will reign justly and wisely. This passage is clearly messianic and was even believed to be so by the Hebrew teachers. God had made a promise to His people that He would send a “Messiah” (The Anointed One), who would be from the family of David.

Throughout the Old Testament we can find various prophesies that reference the fact that the Messiah would be from the line of David.

1.) “For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. There shall be no end to the increase of His government and of peace, [He shall rule] on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from that time forward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” -Isaiah 9:6-7 (AMP)

2.) “Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word and promise which I have made regarding the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He (the Messiah) shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.” -Jeremiah 33:14-15 (AMP)

3.) “And it shall come to pass that when your days are completed and you must go to be with your fathers [in death], I will raise up one of your descendants after you, one of your own sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My steadfast love and mercy away from him, as I took it from him (King Saul) who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forevermore.” -1 Chronicles 17:11-14 (AMP)

These passages are just a few of many which explicitly declare that this Messiah will be from the line of the King of David. We can look in Matthew 1 and find the genealogy of Jesus where it is established fact that He was indeed of the line of David. “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son (descendant) of David, the son (descendant) of Abraham:..” -Matthew 1:1 (AMP) Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

The Apostle Paul declared to the Romans, “The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah.” Romans 1:2-7 (MSG)

Hallelujah, Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One. He is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and God always keeps His promises. Take hope and joy in what your Creator, the Almighty One has in store for His children.

My Prayer:
Jesus, You are the Messiah, The Anointed One, The Chosen One. I believe that you are the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophesies and of all of God’s promises. You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords; from the very line of David. You are God’s gift to us; and oh, what an amazing gift You are. Thank you for being exactly who you are; Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Used for God’s purposes.

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Matthew 2:6 (NIV)
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Matthew 2:6 (MSG)
“It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”
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“‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; for from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” -AMPLIFIED

This prophecy that the chief priests and scribes found and pointed out to Herod is found in its wholeness in Micah 5:2; “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (NIV)
Every Jew knew that this prophecy was a reference to the coming Messiah.

We may ask, what is the significance of Bethlehem in being the birth of Jesus? Why Bethlehem and not somewhere else of greater religious importance, such as Jerusalem?

1.) Bethlehem, because this is where the Messiah was prophesied to be born. As we have referenced from Micah’s prophesy it would be here in this small, insignificant town that the Ruler of all of Israel would be born.

2.) Bethlehem because it was the birthplace of David; the greatest King of Israel and Jesus was of the line of David. “Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?”
-John 7:42 (NIV)

3.) Bethlehem, in Hebrew בֵּית לֶחֶם or Bēṯ Leḥem; which meant “House of Bread”. How ironic that the “Bread of Life” would arrive and make His entrance in a place called the “House of Bread”. Jesus Himself said He was the “Bread of Life”. “Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.” -John 6:35 (MSG)

Bethlehem during this period of time was an un-walled village about five miles from Jerusalem. It lay along the path of a caravan route which brought much traffic through it, though it’s population in and of itself was quite small. It actually was a sort of melting pot of cultures because of the travelers that passed through it. Because of the census that Caesar Augustus issued we know that this normally small town was overflowing with people at the time of the birth of the Christ.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah was born into a very insignificant place. Some people even make reference to it as the armpit of Palestine, but God Almighty had great plans for that little insignificant village. “”It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”

God is willing to use the least significant to bring about His purposes and plans. All He asks is that we have a willing spirit. Are you willing to be used by Him in His ways and for His purposes?

My Prayer:
Lord, I am encouraged that you look at the heart and the attitude of your children. You know what can be accomplished with the small, insignificant things. You made something great out of little, old, insignificant Bethlehem; bringing forth the King of kings and the Bread of Life from the very armpit of Palestine. You are able to change people so significantly that you are able to use them for your purposes too. Thank you, Most High, for seeing the potential in your people. Thank you for your promises throughout your Word and the fact that you are revealing them and making them come to pass in your time. God, I may not know or understand your ways, but I trust that you do all things well.