“For I Know the Plans I have For You,” says the Lord

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47578314_201992257356142_9114796165555027968_nWhy can others often see our gifts, talents, and God’s plan for our lives so much easier than we can? I was reminded of this truth when I was recently reading someone’s personal testimony about the struggles he had been facing. The enemy does not want us to know our worth, especially to the Kingdom of God, or the plans God has for us, because when we have that settled, we can be dangerous to the enemy’s plans!

One of Satan’s greatest weapons is to attempt to tear us down through intimidation and rejection. This can come in many forms, but one of the most common is to use the words and actions of those around us.

This was even true in the life of Jesus, during His earthly ministry. I want to take you to two different examples of this tactic in action.

Mark 6:1-3 NLT

1 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

Can you hear the intimidation rage as they scoffed? Today it might sound more like, “Who do you think you are?” For many, this is the stopping point – this is the place where we back off, and rethink our stance on walking out the plan of God for our lives. It is a normal human reaction to feel the sting of rejection, and in an effort to make that pain stop, to back away from the directive God has given us. Jesus gives us a different example. I am sure He felt the intimidation and the rejection, especially since it was the people from his own hometown. However, He didn’t let their words or actions define His. We see His response as we continue reading this passage.

Mark 6:4-6 NLT

4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

The people in this location limited Jesus, but He did not allow their intimidation and rejection to control His future and the fulfillment of the plans God had for Him. If you continue to read the next verse of this passage, it says, “Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people” (Mark 6:7). He realized the opposition, but didn’t allow it to stop Him. Look at this next passage for yet another example.

John 1:43-46a

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. 45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Have you ever had someone tell you that nothing good could come from your life? Maybe they didn’t actually say those words, but you certainly felt the judgement of the actions of others. This is exactly how the enemy of our soul wants us to feel! He wants us to feel devalued to the point that we stop trying to fulfill the plans God has for our lives. Again, Jesus gives us a different example. He just continues to be who He is called to be. He displays the gift of God in His life and then Nathanael believed.

John 1:46b-49

“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. 47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” 48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” 49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”

I want to encourage you today! Don’t allow the sting of rejection or the power of intimidation to stop you from fulfilling the plans God has for you. Don’t focus on what others say you can’t do; instead keep your aim on what God says about you! Don’t let your past failures and current shortcomings paralyze you from moving forward in the direction He guides you. Learn from the past, let God’s strength fill the gap of your own weakness, and be who He wants you to be!

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The Garden

43687639_563672060718899_5948384938792321024_nEven in the crazy paced society we all live in, many still make a commitment to gardening. When you ask most of those individuals why they go to all the work and effort to garden, the most popular answer is usually about the harvest.  They want the reward of the fresh food that the effort reaps.

My husband and I have had different commitments to a garden over the years. I remember the first year we were married and lived by his mom and dad and we helped them with a huge garden, but the reality was, his parents really did the hard work.

In recent years, we have started doing a small garden in our back yard, but we really weren’t too serious or dedicated to it, until this year. This year we decided to make a brand new commitment to gardening and my husband built this amazing raised bed for us.

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Now the stakes had changed. When we used to just plant a few things out by the fence, there wasn’t much of an investment, so if we didn’t feel like protecting it to see if it would grow, there wasn’t much to lose.

This new garden was expensive to build, and it certainly cost us much time and effort to maintain, but we decided that if we wanted something we had never had, we would need to do something we had never done!

Many could make this relate this same analogy to their spiritual lives. There are seasons in our journey where our devotional lives become stagnant, and our relationship with our Savior becomes a bit cold.  It is during these moments that we stand at a crossroads and we determine, “If we want something we haven’t ever had, we are going to have to do something we have never done!” This decision most likely will cost you something; it may be an investment of your time and energy, or some other kind of sacrifice.

Let me be the first to say this is easier said than done….especially for the long term. I vividly remember one Sunday afternoon during our gardening season, I was tired and wanted to go crash in my recliner, but I had to travel for work that coming week and there were all of these green beans to work through and preserve.  I remember standing at my kitchen sink and asking myself “IS IT WORTH IT?” I could buy a bag of these at Walmart for $1.44!  It was during this moment of weakness that I kept reminding myself about the investment, and I tried to focus on the reward. If you want something different, you have to do something different!

The problem is, we want different without a commitment! We want different without it costing us anything. We do not want it to be INCONVENIENT!

I love the story of the blind man named Bartimaeus that is found in Mark 10:46-52. You know why I love this guy?  He decided if he wanted something he didn’t have, he was going to have to do something he had never done and that was crying out with all his might, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

He was committed! When the crowd told him to be quiet, he just yelled even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus saw his determination, He saw his investment, and He responded, “Your faith has made you well.”

What about the woman with the issue of blood? We read about her in Mark 5:25-34.  This woman is another great example of someone who said, If I want something I don’t have, I have to do something I haven’t done! She had seen many doctors, she suffered much, but when she risked everything to touch Jesus, she was made whole!

There is one more example from the Old Testament that shows us a different situation. Let me give you the background because this is a lengthy passage.  There was a great man who was highly respected and the captain of the army of the king of Aram named Naaman. He was a valiant warrior but he was a leper. There was a little girl from Israel who knew the prophet Elisha, and she told Naaman’s wife that if he went there he would cure him of his leprosy.  Naaman went and told his master what the girl had said, and he sent him with a letter and payment to the king of Israel to cure him of his leprosy.  The king got upset and tore his clothes at the request, but Elisha heard about it and said, “Let him come to me.” Let us pick up reading the story from there:

2 Kings 5:9-14 NASU

9 So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 “Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

We see a very different example here. I wanted to use this example because if we are honest we often have the same attitude that Naaman had.  We want the preacher to pray for us, and the problem to just go away.  While sometimes that is certainly the case, often it is a process.

Naaman didn’t want the process, he just wanted the prophet to wave his hand and pray to God and it be healed. He was mad when he told him he had to go dip in the Jordan, he even asked why he couldn’t go to one of the other two rivers…..IT WAS INCONVENIENT! Naaman had to do something different to get a different result.

I could give you many more examples, but I just want to remind you that when your commitment seems difficult to keep, remind yourself of your investment and focus on the reward.

Let’s consider more about the commitment. Revival is a time where we stir up the gifts God has inside of us. It is a time that we fan the flames and renew our passion for the things God has planned for us, and our corporate bodies we are a part of. With that thought in mind, I want to encourage you to keep pressing forward and to not allow your momentum to slow or your fire to go out by sharing some of the lessons I learned in my garden this year.

Lesson #1: Sowing and Reaping

Sometimes we plant seeds and nothing seems to happen! I felt like it would take forever before I had my first tomato this year!  On the other hand, there are some things that grow really fast, but burn out fast, this was the case with my lettuce…we produced two good crops but then it was gone.

There are other things that take more than a long time; they also require patience and hard work. This was the case with my husband’s strawberries!  He wanted to get a good base crop, so he focused on reproducing more plants this year instead of producing the crop.

What is the point I am making with all these examples? Some things will produce fast in your life.  I believe God wants us to have those things to help us to persevere for the things that might take a little longer.  Scripture tells us in Galatians 6:7-9 NASU

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Don’t get weary, and quit! If you sow in the spirit, you WILL reap in the spirit!  Remember you can’t have different without commitment!

Lesson #2: Guard against Distractions

Just like weeds in a garden, distractions will choke the progress of growth. While I think we all understand the concept of weeds, I want to give you a very different visual.  Using our raised bed for the first time this year, we didn’t know the challenge of planting our zucchini and yellow squash in the first section.  Talk about a distraction! The large leaves overtook the entrance to the walkway and made it difficult to manage the rest of the crop.  They also reproduced at a rate that there simply was not enough room for them to be housed in one section together.  This picture shows the end result.

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This is what distractions will do to you! You will be divided, not fully engaged in the plan God has for your life. Not fully committed or invested in growing spiritually. One day you are yellow the next day you are green!  One day hot the next day cold, distractions will do that to you!

Let me tell you about distractions, they are often used as a tactic of the devil to take away your TRACTION for forward momentum! As soon as you start making some spiritual progress, the enemy wants you to be focused on something else to slow you down or detour you. He wants you to become DIVIDED!

We learned some lessons this year; we are NOT going to plant our zucchini and yellow squash there next year! We are going to put them in our barrels where there are boundaries!  Sometimes we need to place some boundaries in our lives to stop the distractions the enemy brings our way!

Lesson #3 is about Preservation

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We had such an abundance of tomatoes this year that I decided I was going to preserve some crushed tomatoes for cooking. Recently, I had to buy tomatoes for the first time in a few months and they just didn’t taste the same.  Then later that same week, I decided to pull out a jar of the crushed tomatoes I preserved to make some chili, and I quickly remembered the difference in how these taste. Remember, if you want something different, you have to do something different!

This is just one of the things we preserved this year and we continue to benefit from the commitment even after the season is over. My point is, during a season of revival when you are making a new commitment, when you are fanning the flames, when you are stirring up the gifts, you will often get fresh revelation, new direction, a Word from God…you have to preserve it!

Don’t let what God is doing in you die with the first cold spell!

For some preserving it might be continuing to do something different and continuing to go after God with a completely new passion and energy. For others preserving it might be documenting some things you can go back and read at a later time.  I am a real advocate of a spiritual journal.  The reality is, if you don’t write it down, you will eventually forget it.

God will commune with you every day; He will meet you at your point of need and will give you direction. Those who are faithful with little, He will give much.  If you will be faithful to do something with what He gives you, He will trust you with more!

I can take you to the day on July 9th in my journal when the Lord first spoke to me about my garden.  On that particular day, I was calling out to God about prayers I had been praying and answers that seem are never coming.

He said to me, “You planted the seeds, now keep watering them…” In that moment of communing with the Lord, I continued to write. “We are learning first hand this year the work of gardening. It was such an investment to build, we will definitely stick with it. It requires daily watering and weeding and even when it produces – it is messy, so much work to do before the harvest is usable….It is not convenient, but the reward is worth it!”

Doing something different is NOT ALWAYS CONVENIENT, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT!!

In closing, recently my grandson gave up on completing a difficult puzzle and it stayed unfinished on my dining room table for a few days. During that week, I was having my prayer time and I was telling God how so many things felt so BIG right then.  He immediately reminded me of that unfinished puzzle sitting on my table with a gentle reminder, “if you just tackle one piece at a time, it won’t feel so big, and the puzzle will eventually be complete!”

That unfinished puzzle on my table now became my picture reminder to me that with God all things are possible and I needed to remember that when your commitment seems difficult to keep, remind yourself of your investment and focus on the reward. I needed that picture reminder that when you plant a seed, sometimes it doesn’t feel like or look like anything is happening on the surface, but if you will keep watering it, keep exposing it to the sunlight, something is eventually going to spring forth.

I needed that picture reminder that I couldn’t let the distraction of doubt, or feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances cause me to become double minded….I needed that picture reminder to put some boundaries up to guard against those things that would cause me to be distracted and lose traction.

That puzzle on my table became more than a silly challenge; it became a faith builder. Every time I walked by the table, I would stop and find a piece, put it in its place, and go on about what I was doing.  I would remind myself that no matter how BIG the circumstances seemed, I would just take it one piece at a time. IF I WANT DIFFERENT, IT TAKES COMMITMENT!  Before I knew it the picture was complete! Stay committed, when it seems tough, remember the investment, and focus on the reward.

 

Under the Influence

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Have you ever watched any of the funny videos of people who are waking up from anesthesia? I found several by searching YouTube.

  • There is one, where the person just loves everyone, and even proposes to the health care provider
  • I found one where two brothers actually convince their poor sister, who wakes up from having her wisdom teeth pulled, that there is a zombie apocalypse happening!
  • There is a girl who is convinced that they took her lips off
  • And a white boy who is convinced he is now Mexican

I can tell you I have had the opportunity to witness this very phenomenon more than a few times with my husband. The problem is you never know which version of him, he will wake up to be….one time he was a comedian, the next a wild man, and then usually he just loves everyone and tells them what an amazing job they are doing.

The point I am making is that many people who are under the influence of anesthesia will say and do things that they would not normally say or do! We also know of negative examples of things people do differently when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  1. In general, these individual’s judgment is impaired. They often make decisions that they would not otherwise make, and they may go places where they normally would not go.
  2. Often their speech is impacted; they may slur their speech, or say things that they normally would not say, and my later regret.
  3. The way they walk may also be effected. They may fail the field sobriety tests where law enforcement asks them to walk in a straight line, turn on one foot, and walk back on the straight line.
  4. Someone under the influence is often more emotional and expresses love in a more open way. Some people marry strangers when they are under the influence!
  5. Many also have an unusual level of bravery or boldness. Some people actually refer to alcohol as liquid courage.

Normally when we consider people being “under the influence”, we think of it in negative terms. For example, someone driving while “under the influence”.  I want you to expand your thought process and consider it a different way. If most people were different when under the influence of anesthesia, drugs, or alcohol, would you agree that people could also be different when they are under the influence of an all-powerful God?

Romans 8:5 AMP

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit.

I believe that those who are controlled by and under the influence of an all-mighty and all-powerful God also do things they would not normally do too!

  1. In general, these individual’s judgment is not impaired but heightened. They often make decisions that they would not otherwise make. Let me give you an example. Recently I dropped some friends off at a store to pick up something, while I went down the street for fuel. When I got back, two of them came out carrying the boxes, but said my other friend would be a minute….she was in there praying for a woman who has a bad back! When you are under the influence of an all-powerful God, you do things like pray for hurting people in the store, even if they are a perfect stranger!
  2. Just like the first group, people under the influence of God will also have their speech impacted; they may say things that they normally would not say. When we are controlled by an all-powerful God, we can speak with words that are not taught by human wisdom, but words taught by the Spirit! (1 Corinthians 2:13)There have been countless times in my life, when someone being influenced by God has spoken words of encouragement to me, when there is no way except through God they could have known I needed those words!
  3. When we are under the influence of God, it isn’t just our speech that is effected, but also the way we walk.Ps 119:1-3 NKJV …walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If we are under the influence of an all-powerful God, the way we walk should be effected. 

    Ephesians 4:1b-3 NKJV

    1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! 2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! 3 They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.

    • We should walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2)
    • We should walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8-12)
    • We should walk wisely and not as fools (Ephesians 5:15)

    1 John 2:6 NKJV

    He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

  4. One other thing I said about people under the influence of anesthesia or even other drugs/alcohol is that they are often more emotional and express love in a more open way. There is no love like God’s love. The influence of God in our lives gives us the ability to love the unlovable in ways that would normally be humanly impossible.
  5. The last attribute I mentioned about those under the influence is a heightened level of bravery or boldness. I am here to tell you that when an all-powerful God influences you, you will have opportunities for great boldness and bravery.

We see many examples of boldness and bravery in Scripture, but one that immediately comes to mind is Peter. This man had just recently denied knowing Jesus when they came to take Him for crucifixion.  Then we see this same man not long after Jesus’ resurrection, under the influence of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, stand up boldly proclaiming the gospel and preaching his first sermon.  The people responded asking, “What must we do to be saved?” He saw about 3000 souls come to the Kingdom that day!

We have seen all these examples of how things can change under the influence of an all-powerful God, but how do we tap into that? To answer that question, we first must consider the influences around us.

The word “Influence” can be defined as a powerful legacy, something passed on to you from family. It can also mean to sway, or effect or alter by indirect or intangible means.

The reality is that we have people and many forms of information, media, and communication that influence us each day. Sometimes that influence can be positive and sometimes it is negative.  Look at these two examples from the Bible.

Romans 7:24-25 Message Bible

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? 25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

James 2:1 Message Bible

My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.

Not only do forces of influence surround us, but also we as individuals, have an opportunity to influence those in our own circles. Take a moment and consider who have been the most influential people in your life. Perhaps you are thinking of a parent or grandparent, maybe a teacher or a pastor, maybe a friend or coworker.

I did a Google search for the most influential people of all time1.  According to one survey that named the top 100 most influential people, Jesus Christ was number one, but in that very same survey, Muhammad was number six!  Moses was #18 but Hitler was #17!  We have an opportunity every day to be an influential person; the question we should consider is if our influence is positive or negative?

There are benefits of being a positive influence.

Proverbs 11:11 AMP

By the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favor the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Psalm 112:1-9 NLT

1 Praise the Lord!  How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.2 Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.3 They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.5 Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly.6 Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered.7 They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.8 They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.9 They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

On the other hand, we can also see in Scripture those who were negative influencers. Here is just one example.

1 Kings 21:25-26 NLT

No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.

Every person has opportunities to be either a positive or a negative influence on the lives of those we touch. This picture speaks of influence…

It says “I thought about quitting, then I noticed who was watching”. You can put a blank there instead of the word quitting and fill it with many things that would apply to your ability to influence others.  Here are some examples:

  • I thought about HATING then I noticed who was watching
  • I thought about SINNING then I noticed who was watching
  • I thought about GOSSIPING then I noticed who was listening

YOU FILL IN THE BLANK! You can fill it with whatever your greatest struggles are. NONE OF US ARE EXEMPT! Now let’s turn those words around.

  • I thought about showing kindness….because I noticed who was watching
  • I thought about praying….because I noticed who was watching
  • I thought about turning the other cheek….because I noticed who was watching
  • I thought about being generous…because I noticed who was watching
  • I thought about leading….because I noticed who was following!

OH, THE POWER OF POSITIVE INFLUENCE!

We live in a world that is all about self-gratification….but if we are under the influence of an all-powerful God we can live differently than that. He empowers us to live self-less lives being His hands, feet, and voice extended to this world.

In closing, consider this passage. The prophet Jeremiah is crying out to the Lord and look at how He responds.

Jeremiah 15:19 NLT

19 This is how the Lord responds: “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!

Our world is desperate for those, under the influence of an all-mighty God, to become the most influential people with voices and actions that are louder than all the destructive influences around us!

WE MUST INFLUENCE THIS WORLD MORE THAN IT INFLUENCES US!

 

  1. https://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/the-most-influential-people-of-all-time–

The Roundabout

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IMG_0292.PNGIt was February of 2015 when the image you see above was planted in my brain because of a dream that I had. It was a dream that was so vivid, that I woke up thinking it had really happened.

In my dream, I was driving a big truck, in a lot of traffic with other vehicles, trucks, and buses around me. I kept coming to a strange two-lane roundabout that had six road exit options. I was lost and kept taking the wrong turn at this roundabout and I would travel that road and end up right back at the roundabout again. Each time I would try to concentrate and take the next option, only to end up back at the roundabout again and again.  At the very end of my dream, I had a realization that if I had only taken the exit to my direct left, it would have been the correct turn.

Recently, during my normal daily Bible reading one morning, I read something that reminded me of the image of this dream. Below is the passage I was reading at the time.

Deuteronomy 2:1-3; 7a; 18a NKJV

1 Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me, and we skirted Mount Seir for many days. 2 And the Lord spoke to me, saying: 3 “You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward.”

7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness…

18 This day you are to cross over…

In this version of the Bible, which I was reading that morning, the word “skirted” jumped out at me. If you read it in many versions, it will say, “circled…you have circled this mountain long enough.”

The Living Bible says, “You have stayed here long enough.”

The New Living Translations says, “You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn to the North”.

On that particular morning, I heard the Lord say, “Tell them they have circled this mountain long enough, I have seen their trudging through this wilderness…it is time to look up and cross over!”

I’m not sure how many will read this and relate to that statement, but I feel confident there will be some. Sometimes this type of change comes with your own decision and sometimes it starts with God’s command…”IT IS TIME!”

Regardless of which of those two it is for you personally, it will begin with trust. Sometimes we get confused with faith and trust. For that reason, let me give you an example to consider.

I am a pretty strong swimmer. My dear friend likes to spend time with me at the lake, but her preference is to be in water no deeper than her height. If it is deeper than that, she prefers a life jacket.

I asked her to consider a question. If I had a large body of water separating me from safety, and my life literally depended on me being able to swim across with no life jacket, did she have faith in my ability to swim to safety? She immediately responded, “Yes!”

In order to demonstrate the difference in faith and trust, I asked her a second question. If you were there with me, same scenario, would you TRUST me to climb on my back and let me swim us both across to safety?

Do you see the difference in faith and trust in this scenario? She should have said “No” to the second question, because while I feel confident I could swim myself to safety, I don’t think I am strong enough anymore to swim two people to safety. This demonstrates a good point.

If we are honest, sometimes we have faith in God’s ability, but we don’t really trust Him to carry us. While I may not be able to carry my friend, I can assure you God can carry her or any one of us.

Here is the reality. WE HAVE TO TRUST HIM WITH ALL THAT WE ARE…..AND ALL THAT WE ARE NOT!

If God is saying you have trudged through this situation long enough to stop circling it and look up, He is telling you to not only have faith in His ability to do anything, but He is asking you to trust Him to help you too.

Now if you go back to the passage I started with, and read the whole thing in context, you will see there were some directions for them along the way. He didn’t just tell them to stop circling, He gave them some specific instructions for their path forward.

He told them when you get to Moab, do not harass them, or provoke them to war, because I have not given you that land to possess. (Vs. 9) Then if you keep reading, He tells them when you come opposite of the sons of Ammon, do not harass them or provoke them, for I will not give you any of the land of the sons of Ammon as a possession. (Vs. 18)

Now look at what happens when we get down to verse 24.

Deuteronomy 2:24 NKJV

Rise, take your journey, and cross over the River Arnon. Look, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to possess it, and engage him in battle.

Look also a few more verses down…

Deuteronomy 2:31-34 NKJV

31 And the Lord said to me, “See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to possess it, that you may inherit his land.” 32 Then Sihon and all his people came out against us to fight at Jahaz. 33 And the Lord our God delivered him over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people. 34 We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining.

When we read things like this, it seems cruel that they were to destroy even the women and the children, but what we have to realize is the Lord’s command was directly related to destroying future temptation.

Let me show you an example a few chapters later.

Deuteronomy 12:1-4 NKJV

1 These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. 2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.

See the Lord instructed them to destroy the people and places who worshiped other gods. By doing this they removed the temptation of future idolatry.

If you are someone who has been trudging around in circles long enough, I want you to consider what the Lord is speaking to you in this message.

They were instructed to look north. In this context, it is time to look up! You make the decision that it is time to stop trudging through this situation and you look up because your help with come from the Lord!

You need to address your fear or your unbelief. Do you have faith but are lacking trust? There are consequences to unbelief. Most of the original group of the Children of Israel did not get to see the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit; they were able to focus on God’s promises more than the seemingly impossible circumstances that they were faced with. We read in the Gospels where Jesus visited certain places and He did not perform many miracles there because of the people’s unbelief. There are consequences to unbelief and we need to ask for help. (Matt 13:58)

Maybe you are not struggling with fear or unbelief but you need to address your cynicism. If you have circled a mountain 40 years, it is easy to stay stuck in that way of thinking. Just like the man who was at the Gate Beautiful, this man was lame from his mother’s womb. Someone carried him to the gate every day to beg. He was stuck in this way of thinking that this was the best it was ever going to be.

Then one day….he begged alms from someone who was full of the Holy Spirit and power and he said,

Acts 3:6-9 NKJV

…. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.

LOOK UP, LET GOD HELP YOU DEAL WITH THE FEAR, THE UNBELIEF, THE LACK OF TRUST, AND THE CYNICISM!

You have to cross over and possess. I will actually take that thought a step farther, you need to go beyond just possessing and occupy!

When you read about the journey of the Children of Israel, there are some parts that just seem difficult to understand. When they were instructed to wipe out certain people that seems harsh, but the Lord knew that in order to totally possess all that He had for them, those things needed to go. You can read example after example in the Old Testament where the Children of Israel did not comply, they would partially obey, and then there would be future consequences because of that lack of obedience.

If there is something in your life that needs to go in order for you to cross over and possess, let it go!

The example I want to close with is the life of Elisha. If you know the background of the story, the Lord directed Elijah to anoint Elisha to take his place as prophet.

1 Kings 19:19-21 NKJV

19 So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Why am I using this example? Because Elisha did exactly what the Lord instructed the Children of Israel to do so many times. He totally destroyed what might tempt him to look back or go back. His oxen and his equipment was his profession and he was being called to a new profession.

I am certain that there were times of questioning, and difficulties that Elisha faced in this new position, but he made a decision, “I’M ALL IN!” He destroyed the possibility of being tempted to go back.

In my dream, I kept taking the wrong turns, similar to the way the Children of Israel took wrong turns. If you have been trudging around in circles long enough, I want to encourage you to look up! Your help will come from the Lord. He will direct your path and give you direction to cross over. Turn loose of the things that will tempt you to go back to your old way of thinking and living. Move forward with confidence that what God has for you in your future is far better than circling this same old mountain!

 

The “I AM” of the Storm

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I AMThis is that time of the year in Missouri when the weather patterns begin to change too quickly, and we find our TV shows are constantly being interrupted with storm warnings. We sometimes hear the meteorologist tell us we need to seek shelter immediately.

When I think about storms and shelter, I often envision the eye of a storm. Did you know that in the center of a tropical cyclone you can find a region of calm weather and sunshine as much as 20-40 miles in diameter?  It is called the eye of the storm.

In this life, we are often faced with other types of storms. We get bad news, negative reports, face difficult obstacles.  Read below one of my favorite passages of Scripture, which talks about the shelter that is available to the believer.

Psalm 91:1-2; 9-16 NKJV

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust…..”

9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

If you are facing a storm in your life, I want you to remember that no matter what kind of storm you encounter, He is the “I AM” of the storm!

Eye of the storm verses “I AM” of the storm 

  1. He said to Abram, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Gen 15:1 NKJV).
  2. He said to Jacob after he wrestled with Him all night. “I AM God Almighty!” (Gen 35:11) He changed his name from Jacob meaning supplanter to Israel “may God prevail”.
  3. He said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14).
  4. He said to the prophet Isaiah, “I AM the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God” (Isa 44:6).
  5. He told the disciples:
    • I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35).
    • I AM the light of the orld” (John 8:12).
    • I AM the door” (John 10:9).
    • I AM the good shepherd” (John 10:11).
    • I AM the true vine” (John 15:1)
  6. He told Martha, “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
  7. He told Thomas, I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
  8. He told John the Revelator:
    • I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Rev 1:11).
    • I AM He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev 1:18).
    • I AM He who searches the minds and hearts” (Rev 2:23).
    • I AM the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev 22:16).
    • “Surely I AM coming quickly” (Rev 22:20).

One of the most famous “Peace” Scriptures is about Jesus being the “I AM” of the storm.

Mark 4:35-40 NKJV

35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

In this passage we not only see Jesus demonstrate speaking peace to a literal storm, but we see Jesus show us what perfect peace looks like when He can sleep while the others were so overcome with fear.

I have heard it said, “Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His Child”.  Our peace is often a result of our ability to cast our care over on Him and trust that He has us.  I will be the first to admit; this is easier said, than done at times, but I want to encourage you today to do that.

We can be confident that He is our great I AM, He will be what we need Him to be at each moment in our lives, and we can find the shelter that we need in the Great “I AM”!

 

Our Infinite God!

There have been moments in my life when I have stood on a sandy beach looking across a body of water with no visible end that I had an awareness of the vastness of my God. Recently during my devotional time, He has challenged me to realize that just as in His very nature He is infinite, so is His love for us and His power and anointing that is available to us.

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Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?  They are higher than heaven— what can you do? Deeper than Sheol— what can you know?  Their measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.

Job 11:7-9 NKJV

A short time ago as I was meditating on this passage, I had my iPad in my lap and I just asked Siri to tell me the definition of infinite. She responded with this on my screen:

Infinite (adjective):  Limitless or endless in space, extent, or size, impossible to measure or calculate

  • Very great amount of degree
  • Greater than any assignable or countable number
  • (of a series) able to be continued indefinitely

Infinite (noun):   A space or quantity that is infinite

  • God

WOW! I didn’t expect that!  Even the on-line dictionary that Siri references equates infinity with God!  In contrast, as a human I do exhibit certain limitations. Elijah was a mighty Old Testament prophet, and we are told in James that he moved beyond his human limits through the power of faith and prayer.

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].

James 5:17-18 AMP

This passage speaks a powerful message! It tells me that while I may have human limitations, through prayer and the Holy Spirit Power we read about in 1 Corinthians 2:10, we can move from being humanly limited to accessing supernaturally power that is limitless and infinite!

For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].

1 Corinthians 2:10 AMP

Have you put God in a box? He is an infinite God!  He is limitless.  He is immeasurable!  He is indescribable and all powerful!  His love for you is endless, and His power available to you has no boundaries!

Elijah had the same human limitations that we exhibit, yet through prayer and faith he tapped the power of an infinite God! Can we live by his example?

In my mind’s eye I can visualize a green field with a white fence at the far end. As I move closer and closer to the fence, it continues to expand out and forward encouraging me to understand that through our infinite God, there is a place without borders.  He can enlarge our capacity and create in us exponential expansion if we will only believe!

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The Force of Frustration

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frustration.pngFrustration can be a powerful negative force in an individual’s life. According to Wikipedia, “Frustration is a common emotional response to opposition.  Related to anger and disappointment, it arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will.”1

For many frustration can be extremely paralyzing. It has both external and internal forces.  Externally, we feel frustrated when there is some kind of obstacle hindering our progress or success.  Internally, if we are unable to overcome the emotions that come with the perceived hindrances, we can be tempted to give up.

If you are a Christian, you have an enemy who wants to use frustration as a source of discouragement in your life. He wants to stop the plan of God for your life and your purpose.

We find a great example of this in the book of Ezra. There was great opposition to the purpose of rebuilding the temple.

Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.  Ezra 4:4-5 NKJV

Their enemy wanted to “frustrate their purpose”! Look below at the meaning of that word “frustrate” from the original text.

OT:6565 : parar (paw-rar’); a primitive root; to break up (usually figuratively, i.e. to violate, frustrate

KJV – any ways, break (asunder), cast off, cause to cease,  clean, defeat, disannul, disappoint, dissolve, divide, make of none effect, fail, frustrate, bring (come) to naught,  utterly, make void. 2

We can see from this definition that the enemy uses frustration to STOP us from accomplishing the plan of God and to destroy our destiny. Let me share five simple steps found in Psalm 37:1-7 to help you overcome the negative force of frustration in your life (the full text is at the end).  Every time you feel frustrated, replace those feelings with the below instructions.

  1. FRET NOT: Replace fret with faith. Instead of focusing on the obstacles, rehearse past victories. 
  2. TRUST IN THE LORD AND DO GOOD: Instead of focusing on what you cannot do, concentrate on what you can. 
  3. DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD AND HE WILL GIVE YOU THE SECRET DESIRES AND PETITIONS OF YOUR HEART: Cultivate dynamic devotion to the Lord! Take your attention off the problem and delight in the problem solver! 
  4. COMMIT YOUR WAY TOO THE LORD, TRUST ALSO IN HIM AND HE WILL BRING IT TO PASS: Stay committed to the purpose. You will not have opportunity without opposition. Allow the delay to increase your determination that the outcome is worth your perseverance. 
  5. BE STILL AND REST IN THE LORD; WAIT FOR HIM AND PATIENTLY LEAN YOURSELF ON HIM: Remember if you are getting tired, you are getting close! A distance runner does not get tired in the first part of the race, this happens close to the finish line. A position of rest is an attitude of trust that God is big enough to bring His purposes to fulfillment.

Next time you feel like you are pushing against a brick wall and you are overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, I hope you will stop and remember these five simple steps to turn the force of frustration into a force that propels you into a deeper trusting relationship with your Heavenly Father. 

Psalm 37:1-7 Amplified Bible (underline added for emphasis)

FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass. And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday. Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

  1. Frustration. 2015. In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 17, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frustration
  2. Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.

Greater!

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Do you remember when you were young trying to learn the concept of greater than and less than? Perhaps your teacher used the image of a hungry alligator to demonstrate that the open mouth is always toward the side that was greater.

Today I want you to see the (>) greater than sign in a completely new way. I have been meditating on this word “Greater” since the beginning of this year after my pastor said it is our word for 2018.  He began the New Year encouraging us to dream big and expect “Greater”, and that is exactly what I have been doing!

We are now far enough into 2018 that many people have already given up on their New Year resolutions, but I want to continue with some New Year declarations!

Years ago, I sang with a couple friends and one of our favorite songs was one that talked about not being satisfied. We called it our “Sick of church song”!  Before you misunderstand that statement, let me explain.  We were saying that we didn’t just want to “Do church and walk away”.  The power that Jesus provides when we become His child, should transform us to live differently than the world.

We read in 2 Timothy chapter 3 a description about the perilous times in the last days. This passage seems to describes the world we currently are living in!  Be careful about thinking this passage only applies to the reprobates or evil people in the world.  Verse 5 might just be pointing to those of us occupying a pew in our local church every time the doors are open!  It says, “Having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim 3:5 NKJV).

I recently posted this picture on my Secret Place Revelation Facebook page. This image demonstrates such a powerful truth.  We should be exponentially greater with God on our side!

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Do you want 2018 to be greater than 2017? I do!  As I get older, I find that one of the greatest challenges is a temptation to become complacent, especially in our spiritual life.  Think of it this way, your teacher taught you that there was “greater than” or “less than” choice.  If this is true in your spiritual life that you have two choices, which will you choose?  Do you want your spiritual walk to be less than last year or greater than?

Jesus said this:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” John 14:12 NLT

When I think about what we read about Jesus in Scripture, and this promise, I realize that there is so much more! I am not satisfied with a form of godliness without the power.  I am contending for something greater!

My Christmas Wish to You

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26102915_10211152629351451_2129966095_n.pngHere I sit in the quietness of an empty nester’s home on Christmas morning just reminiscing about all the December 25th mornings when my children were young. I am thinking about the current fun happening at my son and daughter’s houses right now, as my young grandsons have awakened to find presents that have been left for them and overflowing stockings full of their favorite goodies.  It warms my heart to know they are creating memories and traditions that their family will recall someday too.  These are moments to cherish.

Many people do not have the pleasure of joyful Christmas memories and that makes today difficult. Some are faced with their first Christmas without someone special due to broken relationships or the loss of their loved ones this year.  Some have arranged for an amazing family time, only to have weather or illness cancel their plans, leaving them full of disappointment.

My Christmas wish for all today is that we find joy in the reason for this season, which is Christ our Savior, and allow Him to help us live our lives in a way that we bring the love and joy of Christmas into every day of this coming year. If we could be still long enough in the business of life, to count the many blessings we have received, I believe we would realize they usually outnumber the challenges that we face.  If we could live our life loving our neighbor as ourselves, how differently would this year be?

Take a moment today and thank God for all the people He has placed in your life, cherish those moments together throughout the year, not just at Christmas. Find a way to encourage and show compassion to others, you will find it is an amazing gift to give and receive.  Lastly, make room for Jesus in your life every day, not just during this season.  He is the reason we have an opportunity for eternal life.  He is our greatest gift!

I am so thankful for all of my treasured friends and family!  Christmas blessings and love to all!

The Christmas Question

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IMG_0027.PNGAs the holidays get closer this year, I am reminded of a Christmas question which happens to be the title to one of my very favorite Christmas songs, “Mary Did You Know?” (Click on the song title to listen)

Most know the Christmas story, but I am seeing it from a different viewpoint this year….Mary’ perspective.

Luke 1:26-36 NASU

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 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 name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.  

Even though the angel came to explain, what was to happen, can you imagine walking in Mary’s shoes and trying to make any sense of this unusual destiny that she was called to fulfill?

Most individuals love it when God gives them confirmation, especially when He gives such an unusual assignment as He gave to Mary! Joseph was planning to send Mary away secretly when she told him she was pregnant, but then the angel of the Lord told him what she has said was true.  Thankfully, not only was this assignment confirmed through Joseph, but confirmation also came through Mary’s relative Elizabeth.

Luke 1:39-45 NKJV

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Even with two witnesses I cannot begin to imagine the exciting yet difficult path that Mary was commissioned to walk. Understanding this unusual conception was only the beginning.

When it was time for delivery, Mary was again in a remarkable predicament. While traveling to register for the census, the time came to give birth.  There was no room in the inn so she was forced to delivery baby Jesus in a stable and lay him in a manger.  Read below this amazing story.

Luke 2:7-20 NASU

7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

I love that last verse….”Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Let’s quickly review this unusual assignment. First Mary is chosen to have a child fathered by the Holy Spirit while she is a virgin.  After walking through this pregnancy and all of the questions that I am sure came with it, she has to deliver this child in a barn!  Now she is faced with the next challenge, which was the need to go into hiding because Herod wanted her child destroyed.  We pick up reading after the wise men had left the manger:

Matthew 2:13 NKJV

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

Mary wasn’t able to return to her home because her life was now dictated by the destiny of the child she bore.

We don’t read much more about their unusual lives until Jesus was twelve. His family traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. His parents realized He was not in the group on the way home.

Luke 2:46-51 NASU

46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

We have seen a common theme in the Scriptures we have read….Mary treasured or pondered these things in her heart. The song I referenced at the beginning of this writing asks the questions so well. It says:

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.” 1

Mary was the one who encouraged Jesus to perform His first miracle, turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). She must have been so proud as she observed Him heal the sick, multiply food for thousands, and raise the dead.  She must have felt such concern when she watched as He was rejected, ridiculed, and falsely accused.  Eventually she finds herself at the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27).

Now she is asked the most difficult question, “Mary did you know your son Jesus was born to die?”

Can you even imagine a mother’s heart breaking in this moment? This innocent Son suffered unbelievable agony as He bore stripes and died for all humanity, so we might have eternal life.  I believe Jesus knew Mary’s pain.  Look at this passage:

John 19:25-27 NKJV

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

He was making sure she was taken care of when He was gone.

Jesus was resurrected three days later, but not long after He ascended into heaven. Jesus fulfilled the mandate He was given on this earth, yet I am sure Mary missed her Son.

She pondered many things in her heart during His lifetime….now I expect her heart felt the pain of loss. Mary was an amazing woman.  She walked a difficult path, but one that benefited us all.  She went where none had gone before.  Where would we be if she had refused?

During the Christmas season, we celebrate the glory of God that came to us first through a baby and now exist among us in the form of the Holy Spirit. This glory enables us to walk the path that God created for each of us to travel.

At times, our human strength is gone and our willingness to persevere the challenges life brings wears thin. We have asked the question, “Mary did you know?” I could ask each of you reading this if I called you by name, “______ did you know?”

Between the prediction and the fulfillment of the promise, there is a process. Any time you are pregnant with promise you have a process!  I am sure that when that angel first visited Mary she had no idea the process she would walk through, yet where would we be had she not been faithful to the assignment?

I don’t know where you are in the process, but just as Mary had a destiny to fulfill, so do we! Wherever you are in the process you can be strengthened and encouraged in His presence and by the example that we have seen through the life of Mary.

My Christmas blessing to you is that you will receive encouragement today to complete all of your assignments and that the Glory of the Lord will shine through you brightly during this wonderful season and into next year.

 

1. “Mary, Did You Know?” Lyrics written by Mark Lowry and music written by Buddy Green