Suffering Christmas

This week I found encouragement in, of all places, a cross-reference. Part of an adventure journey is shutting off the noise and actively seeking. We may seek answers, reasons, or someone special. An adventure journey has a destination and choices. Choosing to investigate another path can actually help the journey. This week, my foray off the path brought me the strength to keep going.

Reading the Book of Revelation has been tough. It is hard to read the prophecy of what will happen to our beloved home because the nations and peoples turn their backs on the Creator. The Lord nudged me to read Revelation with a whisper, “It’s time.” I knew what He meant. Taking a deep breath on October 19, 2021, I dove into chapter one. The other day I picked up my Prophecy Bible and read the first passage in Chapter 20, including the cross-references. This is where my adventure side trip began.

Revelation 20:2

He laid hold of the Rdragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”          (cross-reference) 2 Pet. 2:4

I turned to 2 Peter 2:4 to find the connection:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to Thell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;”    (Literal Translation for “hell”) Lit. Tartarus”

I needed more and read the entire passage (2 Peter 2:1-9). In verse nine, I found another cross-reference:

2 Peter 2:9

then the Lord Rknows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,”  (cross-reference) Ps. 34:15-19

Ah a bit of hope there. Our Lord knows how to deliver us out of temptations. I’m sure the “godly” are those of us who believe. There is hope for me yet! That means you too! So what is this passage in the Book of Psalms? According to the placing of the reference mark (R), it has something to do with delivering us from temptation. Hmm, there is a prayer from Jesus about that too!2

Psalm 34:15-19

15 RThe eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

And His ears are open to their cry. (cross-reference) Job 36:7

16 RThe face of the Lord is against those who do evil, (cross-reference) Lev. 17:10

RTo Tcut off the remembrance of them from the earth.  (cross-reference)[Prov. 10:7]

(Literal Translation for “remembrance ”) destiny

17 The righteous cry out, and Rthe Lord hears,

And delivers them out of all their troubles. (cross-reference) Ps. 34:6, 145:19

18 RThe Lord is near Rto those who have a broken heart, (cross-reference) [Ps. 145:18] [Is. 57:15]

And saves such as Thave a contrite spirit. (literal translation for “have a contrite spirit.”) are crushed in spirit

19 RMany are the afflictions of the righteous,     

RBut the Lord delivers him out of them all.”      (cross-reference) Prov. 24:16, Ps. 34:4, 6, 17

My first thought was: Oh my. Just think, the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. Am I righteous enough? Jesus is the only one that can cover me. He is the righteous one. We are His, He makes us righteous. His eyes are on us… I had to explore further.

In Job 36:7 Elihu states: “He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous…” The verse in Job cross-references to Psalms 33:18 where David sings “Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,” This confirms God’s care for us. Leviticus 17:10 confirms the Lord’s Face is against those who do evil. Proverbs 10:7 describes clearly who God remembers: “The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.” Imagine a name rotting. It would no longer be readable in the Book of Life. That sends a shiver down my spine. And puts an exclamation point on our need for God’s forgiveness and mercy!

Psalm 34:6 David writes, “this poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 145:18-19 assures us that the Lord is near when we call on Him with truth and the fear of the Lord, and he will hear us and save us. In Isaiah 57:15: God promises to revive the “spirit of the humble” and “the heart of the contrite ones.” Proverbs 24:16 assures us; “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again. But the wicked shall fall by calamity.” Then the references take me back to Psalm 34, encouraging me to not allow despair to swamp me.

This holiday season in the United States is filled with those suffering, grieving, lonely, isolated, and defeated. They “are crushed in spirit.” As Christmas Day approaches, I see a suffering Christmas in 2021. It has weighed on my heart this year. I remember the first Christmas Day after my sister’s death. I woke and pulled the covers over my head with pain so intense it physically hurt to remember she was not there. I rolled over and gave in to the oblivion of sleep for a while. Today, I can’t remember the rest of that day. Death crushed me that Christmas in 1982.

By following the cross references, God created a map weaving its way through His Words. He strengthened my resolve to stay the course. To continue to pray for those crushed these last two years. This road map lifted my spirit from the depression and fear pressing in from all sides. “His eyes are on us…”

For those suffering Christmas this year, we may not know you or your circumstances, but myself and others are lifting you up in prayer. I hope you are encouraged. The Lord sees and hears us. He revives, delivers, and saves us. Keep your eyes on Him and the destination of your adventure journey. With Christ’s strength, we can run the race set before us.3

Just as our celebrations spread light in the darkness of winter, we, the believers, are the light in this darkness. Please pray with me:

Heavenly Father, thank you for encouraging us through Your Holy Word, and strengthening us to continue to be Your Light in this place. We Glorify You Holy King. In Jesus’ name, amen and amen. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For my Jewish and Messianic friends and readers, I pray God blessed your Hanukkah beyond measure. For my Christian friends and readers, Merry Christmas. May your season be blessed. May the Peace of the Lord surround all of you and encourage you this day,

Milly

1 All scripture is from the New King James Version: Prophecy Study Bible New King James Version, Editor John C. Hagee © 1997 by Thomas Nelson, a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.

2 The Lords Prayer Matthew 6:9-13:

9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

3 “Run the race:” Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

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