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December 22, 2017

Fear, Favor, and Faith

by Robby Higginbottom

...In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to 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.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=998629ddf9&e=82a9a8f891)

How would we respond if we received the news that Gabriel delivered to Mary? As far as we know, she has never seen an angel. Of course she is afraid. Hearing of the Lord’s gracious favor and presence is encouraging, but then comes the announcement. A child—her child!—will reign forever on David’s throne. The news would make anyone’s heart race. And one more thing: she’s never been with a man. “How will this be?” is a fair question. The Lord is calling her to trust Him for a promise whose fulfillment requires doing the impossible. How would we respond? Would we trust that God can do the impossible? When our fear and God’s favor collide, faith grows as we remember God’s faithfulness.

Sarah was old and barren (Genesis 11:30), but the Lord chose her to bear Isaac, Abraham’s long-awaited child of promise. Rebekah was barren (Genesis 25:21), but the Lord blessed her with Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes. Leah was hated (Genesis 29:21), but the Lord opened her womb and she gave birth to Judah, the forerunner of a Lion whose roar would silence sin and death. A nameless Levite (Exodus 2) faced Pharaoh’s threat of infanticide, but the Lord delivered Moses to her—then delivered him all the way to Pharaoh’s household—that he might one day deliver Israel. Ruth was widowed and childless, but the Lord brought her a husband and a child, Obed, the grandfather of King David. Elizabeth was old and barren (Luke 1:7), just like Sarah, but the Lord chose her to bear John the Baptist.

Again and again, our sovereign Lord chooses to do the impossible as He writes His story of redemption. In choosing the barren, hated, hopeless woman, God makes it clear that salvation is nothing less than the Lord doing the impossible: bringing life from death and hope from hopelessness. And if barrenness and genocide are not enough, for His grand entrance the Lord overcomes the ultimate obstacle to having a child: virginity.

What impossible obstacles are we facing? Where do our fears collide with God’s favor? When we hold our circumstances up to God’s promises, what makes us ask: “How will this be?” If we learn anything from Mary, we learn that the answer is not: Because of who we are and what we can do. The Lord will do what He has promised in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit, “for nothing will be impossible with God.” As we reflect on Mary and all these women, I believe the Lord wants us to see more than a string of medical miracles. He wants us to trust in His relentless love, a love that overcomes all obstacles to unite us with Himself.

At Christmas, we don’t just celebrate the coming of the Baby. We celebrate the arrival of the Bridegroom. God’s people are already betrothed to Christ, and a wedding is coming that will make the greatest earthly celebration seem dull. “How will this be?” I think we know the answer. Lord, let it be to us according to Your Word.

About the Author

Robby Higginbottom
Assistant Pastor of College Ministry
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As early as high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. Through the years, he has worked with high school students, college students, and young adults at PCPC. Robby currently serves as an assistant pastor. He is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John Harper.

DECEMBER 15, 2017

Big Sandy Area Development District raised largest amount for statewide food drive

Big Sandy Area Development District took the overall award having raised nearly 1/3 of a pound of food per person in their district.Big Sandy Area Development District took the overall award having raised nearly 1/3 of a pound of food per person in their district.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and representatives from the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB) and the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts presented the inaugural Commonwealth of Kentucky Bowl on Thursday, the prize for gathering the most food in a statewide food drive held in October.

Big Sandy Area Development District took the overall award having raised nearly 1/3 of a pound of food per person in their district. The rural district winner is the Purchase Area Development District, and the Northern Kentucky Area Development District is the urban area winner.

"Far too many Kentuckians face hunger daily – nearly one in five, and in some parts of the state one in three kids. The need is great, and continues to be," said Grimes. "But, Kentucky's area development districts have stepped up in a huge way to help, raising an amount equivalent to more than 250,000 pounds. This will provide a lot of relief this holiday season through Kentucky's amazing food banks."

The 250,000 pounds collected is enough food for 2,525 people served by KAFB for an entire year or 208,333 meals, according to the food banks association. Every $1 donated returned $8 or more in food to the community.

The 15 area development districts across Kentucky collected food and monetary donations in the inaugural campaign from Oct. 16 through Oct. 27.

The Office of the Secretary of State, the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts (KCADD), and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks partnered to create the competition.

Proceeds and goods generated from the competition will directly aid the members of the KAFB – an organization that distributes over 63 million meals to 1 in 7 Kentuckians annually in partnership with a network of 800 local charitable feeding organizations. Its members serve all 120 counties in Kentucky.

"Kentucky's food bank network is so grateful for impact the inaugural Commonwealth of Kentucky Bowl will have on hunger. Thanks to the efforts of KCADD and the leadership of Secretary Grimes, our struggling neighbors across the Commonwealth will benefit from increased resources in the fight against hunger," said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of KAFB, upon the announcement of the results.

Grimes has been a champion for solving Kentucky's hunger issues since she took office in 2012, including being instrumental in the Farms to Food Banks tax credits legislation, and before she was elected to public office. She is a longtime volunteer at the Salvation Army, serving the Thanksgiving meal at her local service center for more than 30 years. She also has served on the board of God’s Pantry Food Bank.

 

Date: 12-15-2017

Kentucky Appeals Court ruling revives Bevin's Planned Parenthood lawsuit over abortions

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled a lawsuit by Gov. Matt Bevin's administration that had claimed Planned Parenthood illegally provided abortions at its clinic in downtown Louisville was wrongly dismissed.

The ruling on Friday sent the case back to the lower court.

While the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services "may have a difficult time proving its allegations we believe said allegations are sufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," a three-judge panel ruled.

Courier Journal reported in July 2016 that in dismissing the lawsuit filed by Bevin's general counsel, Steve Pitt, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry found that the reproductive health organization had — as it had claimed — been following directions of state officials when it began offering abortions in December as part of its effort to obtain a state license.

Planned Parenthood had sought the license last in 2015 from the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, and produced documentation from state officials directing Planned Parenthood to open the clinic and begin providing all services, including abortions, so it could be inspected and be granted a license. Officials with the Beshear administration told Planned Parenthood its licensing application was complete and fulfilled requirements.

But the license had not yet been issued when Bevin became governor in December. His administration ordered the clinic to stop providing abortions and claimed the license application was deficient.

Bevin's lawyers had responded by suing Planned Parenthood, seeking fines of more than $500,000 for 23 abortions provided at the clinic.

 


God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Fruit of the Spirit

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

    Key Thought

    Sometimes we misunderstand "fruit of the Spirit" because we say "fruits of the Spirit." This difference seems like such a small thing, but, unfortunately, this small thing can lead us to a dangerously false conclusion. The fruit of the Spirit involves all nine of these qualities. We can't excuse a lack of growth in one area or another as simply not having all the fruits of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is working to create the character of Jesus in us (2 Corinthians 3:18; see also Galatians 4:19). He wants to see us growing in each area; we should not excuse ourselves from any one of these qualities of Jesus. I don't know about you, but there are several areas in which I need to grow — but I believe the Spirit is making progress in them. Let's keep encouraging each other to let the Spirit lead us to become more and more like Jesus in every way!

    Today's Prayer

    O precious Father, God Most High, thank you for your patience, grace, and forgiveness. I want the Holy Spirit to lead me and empower me to grow in every way, but especially so that I can be more and more like Jesus in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thank you for hearing my prayer offered in Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Sorrow to the Spirit?

    And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

    Ephesians 4:30 NLT

    Key Thought

    Some other translations say "do not grieve the Holy Spirit." Two truths scream to be heard. First, the way we live matters deeply to the Spirit! Second, we can actually oppose and wound the Spirit of God who lives in us. As Galatians 5:13-21 reminds us, feeding the fleshly, sinful side of ourselves puts us at war with the Spirit of God. Things like telling lies to each other, acting out our anger, stealing, sharing unwholesome talk among ourselves, living with rage and brawling, and slander are all activities that bring the Holy Spirit sorrow (Ephesians 4:25-32). Living under the influence of the Spirit empowers us to go beyond these bad qualities as we are conformed to be more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-26).

    Today's Prayer

    Sovereign God, I confess that I sometimes ignore the impulse of the Holy Spirit inside of me and act in ways that are inconsistent and hurtful to you. I want to be like Jesus — more and more under the influence and control of your Holy Spirit. Please open my eyes to your will, your presence, and your character as the Spirit leads me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.