Welcome to Fresh Manna! My prayer is that this devotional post is a blessing to you in your walk with the Lord! My email is stndn4jesuschrist@gmail.com if you wish to contact me! May the Lord bless you for taking the time to read it!

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The 3 Wisewomen and 3 Wisemen of Christmas~Zacharias


All three Wisewomen of this series have now been covered, so the last half will now cover the other three Wisemen! The first " Wiseman", other than the ones that followed the Star of Bethlehem, is Zacharias, the husband to Elizabeth (first Wisewoman covered). This follows the chronological order of Scripture. In studying this portion, I learned ALOT personally from the Lord, and it was a blessing to me. I pray that it will be in some way to you too! 

1) Zacharias was a Wiseman in that he was DEVOUT.  Luke 1: 5-7 gives the details of his AND Elizabeth's walk with the Lord. They both were of the tribe of Aaron, and "walked in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." This portion of the Christmas story recorded, Zacharias was the priest,whose DUTY was of the course of Abia, which meant he was the priest to burn the incense at the time of prayer. The Altar of Incense was made of acaica wood covered in gold, and the two main ingredients of the incense burned were Frankincense and Myrrh! This again shows what was in store, 2 years later, that the Wisemen WOULD be bringing! In studying, I found that there were 24 "courses" of service in the Temple, set up by King David, (I Chron. 24:10). The course of Abia was the 8th, and 8 is the number of Salvation in the Bible. This was not by chance, as it further shows the Hand of God in the miracle He was about to announce to Zacharias. Luke 1: 7&8 say that although he was "well stricken in years", he was executing, following every jot and tittle, of his office. He remained faithful DESPITE his physical age. While serving, suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared unto him. Fear fell upon him, as he saw the angel on the RIGHT side of the altar. The angel DECLARED unto him that the Lord had heard his and his wife's prayer. This was the time of prayer for the whole multitude of Israel, BUT the Lord was sending a personal answer to a DECADES old prayer of them both, and was about to bless them for their DEDICATION. 

2). Zacharias was a DEVOUT Wiseman, BUT he was just that-a man, and all men are sinners and make mistakes. He was about to make one of DOUBT.  This made him no less righteous in God's eyes, as he remembers our frames are but dust (Ps.103:14). The angel Gabriel, was sent directly to Zacharias from the throne of God with the Decree that their prayer had been heard, that she would conceive a son, and  that he would call his name John (meaning "God is Gracious").He wouldn't be just any son, but he was going to be the fore-runner of the Messiah, and great in the sight of the Lord. He would be a Nazarite, meaning he would drink no wine or strong drink. Most miraculously of all, he would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb!! Gabriel even said the parents would have joy and gladness, and many would rejoice at his birth. He would go forth preaching in the power of Elias (Elijah) and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the "wisdom of the just", to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. BUT, instead of believing the angel, he asked a question on DOUBT! Like most of us, he looked at the decree and assumed there was something HE had to do, when it was a miracle, which God does, and surely doesn't need our help! But how often do we do the same?? After years ofl praying, he looked at how old they both were and then basically asked, "by or through WHOM, how, or in accordance with agreement " (definition on "whereby") could he know this was the truth?  Gabriel then decreed that at the at moment he was standing in the presence of God, and sent to speak these glad tidings unto him.  Because of this question of doubt and unbelief, God struck him DUMB, not able to speak until the day that these things would be performed. Now he would not be able to easily tell others, the full details of what was said and done. He would have to sign or write to communicate. 

3). Zacharias DEPARTED wisely in faith, as SOON as his days of ministration were over. Even though he had been  chastised by God, He remained FAITHFUL, and served. How many of us would have left early, or given up?? But, he finished what He was called to do. He had learned to obey and not doubt!. He hasted home when his days of service were done, just as Mary and the shepherds did, to see and carry out what the Lord had revealed to them! I can only imagine the conversation, or at least the events that took place once he got home to Elizabeth! Just as the message Gabriel delivered, she conceived and 9 months later, a son was born!

4.) Lastly, Zacharias had a son DELIVERED!   A son was born to the well stricken parents, by a miracle of God! Their neighbors and family rejoiced with them, just as Gabriel decreed (Luke 1:14). When 8 days passed and it was time to take him to the Temple for circumcision, he DECLARED his name was John. But; HOW He did so showed he had learned to never DOUBT such a decree from God the Father again. He wanted EVERYONE to know, and it to forever be on record! He could have "signed" the child's name but asked for a writing tablet, then made of clay, that would harden and be forged forever, when it dried. He took it upon arrival, and DREW THE LETTERS, OR WROTE: "His name is JOHN"! He WISELY believed and agreed with the Word of God, that DECREEED this event! 

5.) Lastly, this Wise, DECREPIT DADDY immediately began to prophesy of the DAYSPRING from   on High!  His act of FAITH opened his mouth and he began to praise God! Fear fell upon all around them, and it was told abroad throughout Judea. His "wisdom of the just" was now seen as only God could orchestrate!  He began to prophesy " Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed his people...To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham." (Luke 1: 68&72). "And thou child shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way; to give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, Through, the tender mercy of our God; whereby the DAYSPRING from on high hath visited us, " (vs 76-78). That Dayspring was JESUS, the Son of God!" What a blessing and long-awaited answer to prayer for this senior couple! None of it was by chance. God CHOSE this WISE couple, to use in the story of the plan or redemption. He gave them a child that was not only the cousin to Jesus, but the Fore-Runner of the Redeemer! Elizabeth's name meant " God is my oath", Zacharias name meant "YHWH remembers", and John meant " God is gracious"! So, This family DELCARED to the world  that "YHWH (Jehovah) remembers His oath, and is Gracious in doing so!" May we be WISE as well, to let our "Judea" know all the wonderful things that God has so graciously done for us!! 


Thursday, December 28, 2023

The 3 Wisewomen and 3 Wisemen of Christmas~ Anna


The Third WiseWoman in the Christmas story was Anna the Prophetess. And from the start, let me be clear, she was NOT a priest or a preacher, as the Bible CLEARLY states that only MEN are to be called into those ministry positions. ( I Tim. 3:1-13). This simply means she was the wife of a priest or a prophet. Luke 2: 36-38 are the only verses of Scripture dedicated to this woman, yet they speak VOLUMES about her! She is pictured here above with another godly, wiseman Simeon, (whom will have a post dedicated to him this week) and baby Jesus in the Temple. She was used of God to be a mighty example, of TRUE FAITHFULNESS! She displayed this by HERALDING the news of the Redeemer's birth! 

1.) Anna's family name alone HEARLDED plans the Lord had for her concerning Jesus' birth.   An old saying says "what's in a name?" Well, here there is alot!!  Verse 36 says" And there was ONE Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phannel, of the tribe of Aser...". Anna means "God has favored me" in Hebrew, and Phannel, her father, meant "Face of God, or He turns to God."  The tribe of Asher would refer to those that lived by the sea, which plays into what will happen later, when Jesus was born. The way the Lord recorded HER name, ONE  Anna, shows a PERSONAL or SPECIAL something about this one person to Him. The Lord has ALWAYS dealt with man personally; from creation to salvation. But we know she was already a believer that the Messiah was coming. It is also interesting that her father's name is given and  her husband's was NOT. It AMAZES me how the Lord chooses to unfold HIS-STORY in His Word! This all shows that she had a goodly heritage that served the Lord. Her upbringing hearlded to others their faith, and that of her husbands as well. The verse says that she was married to a husband from her virginity, for 7 years. It also says that she was of great age at this time of Jesus' birth. 7 is the number of Divine perfection or completeness in the Bible, so it was God's perfect will that she was wed for only 7 years, but no child was conceived.

2.) Anna HEARLDED the REDEEMER as her HUSBAND and the Temple as her HOME Vs. 37 says was a widow of about 84 years and "....departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." When Her husband died, she CHOSE to not remarry, but HERALDED the Saviour as her Husband! Isaiah 54: 4&5 says " Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed.....for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called." She chose to give herself, for the rest of her life, in serving the LORD! In doing so, the Temple then became her HOME! Ps. 84:1-4 " How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh ...for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah." In choosing to serve God, after just being "grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth" (Ish 54:6) and take Him as her Husband and Redeemer, the Lord took away her reproach, as a widow with no child, just as He had done for Elisabeth. And because she so wisely chose God over man, HE CHOSE to show her "great mercies", and "everlasting kindness"  (Ish 54 6-8).

3). Lastly, Anna HEARLDED what the Holy Ghost and given her an unction to SEE and SAY! 

After all of her years of serving the Lord in the Temple; fasting, praying, and being an encouragement, no doubt, to others, her faithfulness was also seen of her HUSBAND! This shows that age is NOT a factor for service; positions may change, but our passion should not!  Ps. 84 says that those that dwelt in God's house would go from strength to strength, and everyone KNEW she would rather be there than in the tents of wickedness! I'm sure that in reading this, there may even be someone white-haired, saged wisewoman of God that comes to mind that you know. IF you want someone praying for you, it's that lady! THIS is how the Lord described Anna. As stated in Isaiah, the Lord blessed Anna beyond measure, and put her into the events of the Redeemer's coming! While loving life, service and I believe, LOOKING for the coming of the Messiah, she was sensitive to the HOLY GHOST and obeyed when He  prompted her. Luke 2:27 says Simeon (mentioned earlier) came into the Temple by the Spirit's leading. Verse 38 says that Anna sensed the same thing, "..And she coming in THAT INSTANT.."  suddenly found herself, gazing upon the literal " Face of God"! Is that not what her family name meant?? Also, Ish. 54 promised The Lord of Hosts promised to take away her reproach of youthful widowhood, with no children, and gave her the blessing of seeing THE CHRIST CHILD; THE SON OF GOD!  Her HUSBAND, REDEEMER, and MESSIAH KNEW she would be faithful to HEARLD HIS BIRTH, to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem! (Luke 2:38.) Wisely, this is EXACTLY what she did!

Anna was a Wisewoman in that she HEARLDED FAITH from her goodly heritage. Even being  a young, barren widow, she wisely chose the REDEEMER as her HUSBAND, and the Temple as her HOME for the rest of her life! The Lord openly rewarded her faithfulness and put her into HISTORY; "HIS-STORY' concerning His Birth, and allowed the daughter of Phannel " He turns to God or "the Face of God" to do just that- She turned to see His precious Face, and then be given the honor of Heralding HIM to all that were looking for the Messiah, or soon coming Redeemer! No doubt her testimony made its way back to the tribe of Asher, by the seashore, that sat in darkness, according to Scripture. Just as the Wisemen saw that STAR of BETHELEHEM and His Light, she & they had too! And what other reaction could she have after such blessings??? She HEARLDED and gave thanks, just as the angels, shepherds, and wisemen did!! And as her name meant, Anna could hearld "God HAS favored me"!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

The 3 WiseWOMEN And 3 WiseMEN of Christmas~ Mary


   The second WiseWoman found recorded in the History of Christmas is Mary, the Mother of Jesus! She is without doubt the most famous woman known in the Bible. There is a reason for this-The Lord had a great place of honor for her and plan for her life in the birth of our LORD and SAVIOUR! 
Mary was a wisewoman for one reason plainly seen in the Bible: she was HUMBLE.

1) Mary was Humble physically and pure. The Lord said she was a virgin, and had NEVER known a man, for a natural HUMAN conception of a child, to take place. That fact is crucial for the Saviour, the Son of Man, to be sinless. Luke 1:27,34 & Matthew 19-21confirms that Mary was innocent in this way. For the sake of this devotional to be appropriate for all ages, we will leave it as stated.

2). Mary was Humble mentally.  This meaning, how she viewed herself. Once again. the angel Gabriel was sent to deliver the prophecy of good tidings of great joy to Mary! Her humility of her thoughts of self, were again seen by her reaction to his words: "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be." Luke 1:28&29. She humbly wondered if this "man" had the right person he was looking for, or how he even knew who she was to make such a statement!

3)Mary was HUMBLE in Faith! Faith is simply believing and taking God at HIS WORD! This is exactly how Mary responded to the WONDERFUL news Gabriel was about to tell her! She listened as the angel explained what God the Father had planned for her: Luke 1:30-33 says "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Her humility of faith prompted her question OF FAITH, NOT doubt! She asked HOW shall THIS BE, seeing I know not a man? (vs 34). Gabriel explained " And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:35&37). Imagine the joy and wonder that must have thrilled her soul, to be chosen as the mother of the long-awaited Messiah! The Lord on High had given her the greatest blessing a woman would ever know!
4) Mary was HUMBLE in her Will.  After hearing this miracle the Lord had chosen specifically for her life, she CHOSE to die to her own will and desires she had for her heart. She knew that this would be hard to explain to her espoused husband Joseph. She also understood that it would affect her testimony, or her reputation, for the rest of her life. She would be seen as unpure, or a fornicator. BUT, she knew would know the truth, and that whatever the Lord had planned for her, HE WOULD TAKE CARE OF, and bless with the GRACE and MERCY needed. So, she chose WISELY, and said, " Behold, the HANDMAID of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.." Luke 1:38.

5) Finally, Mary was HUMBLE in HEART  Luke 2 gives us the story of the performance of those events prophesied by the angel Gabriel, and prophets of old. Mary and Joseph both had to go to Bethlehem to pay taxes and she was great with chlld! Already their new start in the journey of their marriage was challenging, as many other days ahead would be!! BUT: SHE KNEW she was in the center of God's Will, and after a hard physical journey,"being great with child,"Luke 2: 5&6," the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swadddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." The HUMBLE wisewoman of God had to give birth to the Lamb of God in a stable, without so much as one gentleman with manners, to offer up their room for a lady in labor! But nowhere does it say she complained! All new mothers want the best for their child, is VERY particular in every aspect about them, but she HUMBLY held the hand of God that literally had created HER with that HAND! Only God in HIS WISDOM could work out such miracles that night held! Soon after His birth, Shepherds arrived with haste, from receiving the "good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10) that the Saviour was finally here! When they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying,which was told them concerning this child. and all they that hear it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. BUT Mary kept all these things and PONDERED them in HER HEART." (Luke 2:174-19).
When they went to the Temple for Jesus' circumcision, again she showed wisdom by HUMBLY listening to another wiseman, (for another post in this series) bless them and prophesy that " (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also,) that the thoughts of many HEARTS may be revealed." This was foretelling Jesus' death on the cross, and the sword that would pierce His side, and no doubt hurt her as much, by seeing it happen to her Son! Oh what heartbreak that would have been as a mother! But God's grace was sending her the promise to help, at least in knowing, that His death would open up direct access to the THRONEROOM of Heaven, and many people would be saved! The Holy Spirit would then stay in the saved people's hearts forever then!

Mary-this great WiseWoman of Christmas, was truly a HUMBLE and righteous woman, that was highly favoured by God, and would be called blessed forever! (Luke 1:48). She was humble in physical purity, and how she thought of herself mentally or spiritually. Her FAITH was humble, which lead to humility to accept God's Will for her life. When this wisewoman died to self and chose God's Will, her heart was humbled by doing so, and God blessed her heart with many miracles ahead! But mostly, her humble heart was blessed beyond measure, with a bond she would forever share with the Son of God! They were so precious that she kept them close in that HUMBLE HEART, AND pondered, or thought on all of it! Only Heaven will reveal one day just how is HUMBLE this WISEWOMAN truly was! May we look inside OUR OWN HEARTS this Christmas, make room there for HIM, and ask to be more HUMBLE in His service.