I don’t get it? Why this way God?

I have been pondering today’s scripture for several days.  Luke 1:34-38 continues the encounter of Gabriel and Mary.  She begins with a question and listens as the angel explains how and why Mary will become pregnant.  Amazingly Mary states her unwavering obedience to God before Gabriel leaves her.

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”   35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Where is God in this encounter?  God is the Sovereign force behind the events happening right then.  He is All-Powerful, Omnipotent God who can make the impossible God-is-incomprehensible-1happen.  But, the attribute that has stuck in my mind is Incomprehensible.  Not in our wildest human plans would we have come up with a miraculous birth by a lowly young Jewish maiden to save all mankind.  We cannot understand God’s thoughts, plans or ways with our finite minds.  His ways are always righteous and good for all people.  His ways and plans bless us and glorify Him.  Here are a few verses that speak to the incomprehensibility of God:

Job 5:9 “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”     

 Isaiah 40:28  “Do you not know? Have you not heard?   The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”     

Isaiah 55:8 ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,”  declares the Lord.”     

Romans 11:33  “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments,  and his paths beyond tracing out!

faith_does_not_make_things_300x300How big is your God?  Mary knew God could do great and impossible things in the world and in her life.  She experienced the incomprehensibility of God in her life and accepted it on faith.   Can you do that too?  When you face hard to deal with questions or situations in life, can you trust in Jesus anyway?  Walking with Jesus is a life long journey of learning and discovery as no one can plumb the depths of God’s Word or fully know His character.   He wants to teach us to love and trust Him realizing He is incomprehensible and His ways are not our ways. 

Linda                                                                                                                 

 

 

God’s Power in our Lives!

Our story of Advent began even before Gabriel approached Mary and Joseph as it was in the mind of God from the beginning of time.  The arrival of the Messiah, one who would save mankind from their sins, was told throughout the Old Testament.  Scripture also mentioned one who would come before this Messiah, Savior, and prepare the way for His arrival.   Today in Luke 1:11-17 we find two people, Zechariah and Elizabeth who were consider devout and blameless (verse 6).   This didn’t mean they were sinless, but that God recognized their devotion and love for Him.  They had been married many years and had no children.  Zechariah was a priest and Elizabeth his wife was called barren.  They were both considered old, and she was beyond child bearing age.

Zechariah was serving in the temple and an angel appeared to him.  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”  The angel told Zechariah their prayers for a child had been heard and would be answered with a son he was to name John.  Then the angel continued and told him about this unusual child, what he would be like and what purpose God had for him.  “He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

luke 1 13Can you imagine Zechariah and Elizabeth’s surprise at hearing this news?  Their prayers had been heard and the answer was forthcoming.  It was not only their prayers but the prayers of the nation of Israel for a Savior, Messiah, that would to come and save them from their sins.  Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son would go before this coming holy one and prepare the way for Him.  What honor and joy they must have felt!

How do we see God in this portion of our Advent story?  As I began yesterday, knowing that God would hear my cry for understanding through His Word so Zechariah and Elizabeth were assured by Gabriel that their prayers had been heard for a child.  They had prayed for years for a child to raise and love.  God had chosen them to parent this coming one who would proclaim the Messiah.  What joy they must have felt at knowing God heard their prayers and that they would have a child.  On a bigger scale they would have understood that they would all be part of God’s  plan for the redemption of mankind.

This reveals that God is accessible to us in prayer.  He hears us and responds in His own way and in His own time.  All God’s plans are for His glory and our good.  I also see God’s infinite grace in revealing His plan to them, showing them how He was going to use them GodsGraceand their son.  God did not need to tell them all these things but showed them His grace in revealing it to them.  Grace is God showing us kindness or favor we do not deserve.  One does not earn grace, it is freely given by God.   Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;  no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”  We also see God’s ability to know the future and have all things under His control, Sovereign.  His supernatural power to provide an impossible child for Zechariah and Elizabeth also shows His love and care for us as individuals.  

May you see our Accessible, Gracious, Loving, Caring and Sovereign God at work in your life today.

Linda

Worthy of our Praises? You bet!

Let Psalm 95 speak to your heart today as you worship the Lord this Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Think about God, who He is and why He alone is worthy of praise.

Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.        He provides salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,                            He is completely Sovereign.
    a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth          He is creator God.
    and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
    His hands formed the dry land, too.

Come, let us worship and bow down.                             
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,             He watches over and cares for us.
    the flock under his care.                           We belong to Him.

psalm 95 2Praise God for His love, sovereignty, omnipotent power, creating all things, protecting, watching and caring for us.   We are so blessed that we belong to Him.

Have a great day rejoicing and being thankful in His presence.

Linda

All-Knowing God provides Victory!

daniel 2 20Daniel 2:20-23 gives Daniel’s praise to God after having received the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.   Daniel and all the wise men of the kingdom were going to be killed if the meaning of the King’s dream was not revealed.   Upon receiving the King’s death threat, Daniel went to his believing friends in the palace and asked them to pray concerning this mystery asking God to reveal the meaning of the King’s dream so they might be saved.  Here is Daniel’s response after God revealed the dream’s meaning to him in a vision.      Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

Daniel begins by praising God for who He is- the Sovereign Eternal God of the universe with all things, people and circumstances within His control.  He praised God’s knowledge and wisdom and His ability to reveal things to those who love Him.   He praised God’s purity, and that in Him there is no darkness.  Daniel thanks God for revealing His wisdom to Him and for letting him know what the King’s dream was about, thereby saving him.

who-is-godDo you know who God is?  Do you praise Him for His glorious character  and for how He has kept all His promises?   Try incorporating  praise for who God is into your prayers today.  List His attributes so you can think about Him as you pray.   The more we love and know God the greater our trust in Him will be.

Linda

Are you ready? Jesus calls us to be part of His Plan “A”.

Today’s meeting with Jesus took place on a mountainside in Galilee.  I had always associated this scene with the ascension,  but it is a separate incident.  Jesus did give the ‘Great Commission’ at His ascension but he also gave it here sometime before the ascension.

the_great_commissionMatthew 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    

There were 11 disciples because Judas had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself.  However, there were probably others along with them as in verse 10 earlier in the chapter Jesus had said to the women at the tomb garden, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”   Scholars think that the people Matthew is referring to as ‘doubting’ are the other brothers who also accompanied the 11 to the mountainside and does not refer to the disciples.  The heart of Jesus’ message is He wants the message of salvation and redemption to go out to all the world.  It is their job to spread the ‘good news’ to the world.  He promises to go with them (and us) throughout all the ages to come.

the_great_commissionHave you ever considered that you are God’s plan A?  There is no backup plan for spreading the news of redemption to the world- we are it!  God promises that His word will not return empty or without use, Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,  but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”   God also promises that His will cannot be thwarted, Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  Jesus did His part- He came to earth, lived, died on the cross to redeem us and rose from the grave conquering sin and death.  We have our part to do now- tell others about marvelous, amazing, redemptive Jesus!   Since you are part of plan A, whom will you tell today?    Remember there are many ways to tell others about Jesus.  Yes, you need to be able to give a full account of the gospel which according to 1 Peter 3:15, “ but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,   However, you can witness each day to the power of the risen Christ in your life by what you say, how you respond, who you help, what you do for others, how you treat them, etc.  Our lives speak for Jesus along with our mouths.  We can give a word of praise to God for little and big things in our lives and others will hear it.  We can mention a verse of scripture and how it applies to our circumstances, we can offer to pray for a colleague or neighbor who is in need or lend a helping hand without being asked.  There are many ways to show you love Jesus and that He is the driving force behind what you say and do.  All of these witness to His power of redemption.  At any point you are asked, you need to be willing and able to give words to your faith as 1 Peter 3:15 tells us- the reason for your hope.

matt 28 16Be encouraged today and mindful of the position and commission Jesus gave to me and you.  Be bold for the gospel and let the gospel drive you thoughts, actions and words today.

Linda

Living with Confidence, Thank you Jesus

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a life with a godly plan and purpose. This thought brings me great comfort as it means my existence has meaning and I am here for a reason. It also means God has intentions for my life and knowing that God is good means His intentions are always good for me, my life and my growth. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse I claim frequently for reassurance when things seem bleak or unsettling in my life. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I can rest in knowing Sovereign God has a plan and purpose for me and it is all good!

Knowing God’s plan is good, we can cling to that promise in hard times as well as the promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Many say “life just happens” but this verse assures us that is not true. We can rest assured that God’s purpose and design is greater than anything Satan can throw at us. This verse promises God can use all things for our good. Many times we don’t see how at the moment, but God is faithful and eventually we may see how He uses even the very hard things in our lives to teach and grow us for His good.

One last verse for today: 2 Timothy 1:8b-9a “But join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy life -not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” Paul knew that God had a purpose for him, a work that was divinely commissioned just for him and that God would empower him through Christ to do all He had set out for Paul to do. We can know that is true for us as believers, too.

When things are hard- claim any of these three verses in your life. Cling to them and know God is faithful and keeps all His promises.

Linda

Suggestion: Take time to reflect on a hard time or difficult relationship and see how God worked in the circumstances to bring you to a better place or to grow you. Claim one of the above verses over something you are facing and believe God for the results.

4th Sunday of Lent, A Time of Prayer and Praise

40 days is a long time and it is enough time to establish a habit, overcome an adversary or endure a trial.  Do you feel like you are enduring a trying time in your life this Lent?  Then, look to Daniel today and see God from His perspective. Daniel was a Jew who was taken from Jerusalem and deported to Babylon.  He and his friends were smart and resourceful and were a part of the king’s wise men.   The king had a dream and no one seemed to be able to tell him the meaning of it.  He got frustrated and ordered all the ‘wise’ men killed.  Daniel heard about this and ran to tell his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah.  He asked them to pray and ask God for mercy concerning this mystery.  During the night God revealed to Daniel the meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Here is Daniel’s praise to God from Daniel 2:20-23.

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
5067135-Charles-F-Stanley-Quote-As-children-of-a-sovereign-God-we-are21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Do you share Daniel’s high view of God? Daniel knew from first hand experience that God was sovereign, all powerful, eternal,  wise, light, and worthy of praise.  Where do you need strength or knowledge today?  Ask Him like Daniel did then praise Him even if-the-god-you-believe-in-is-not-a-sovereign-god-then-you-really-dont-believe-in-godbefore He answers.

Linda

Suggestion:  As you journey through this day, keep Daniel’s prayer of praise in your mind.  When you encounter difficulties, pray immediately and leave it to God.  Then wait expectantly for His answers.

2nd Sunday of Lent, God’s Sovereignty challenges us to see God in everything!

On Sunday’s during Lent, I desire to focus on praising God.  Pondering the Sovereignty of God this morning brought me to my knees as I considered all that God controls, directs, His kept promises and those in the future He will keep, and the fact that nothing surprises God or catches him off guard.  He is ever vigilant and none of His plans can be derailed or thwarted.  The Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, offered a prayer to God in Habakkuk 3.   Let his words of praise and awe wash over you and seep into your soul.  Cling to the sovereignty of God in all your experiences in life and trust Him, the one who knows all, sees all and determines all by His power.  Habakkuk 3:2-4, 17-19

Habakkuk 3 2I have heard all about you, Lord.
    I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
    help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
    remember your mercy.

I see God…
His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
    and the earth is filled with his praise.
His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise.
    Rays of light flash from his hands,
    where his awesome power is hidden.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,sproul
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.

Praise Him today for His Sovereignty and trust all that you have and are into His care.

Linda

In-Gods-HandsSuggestion (it’s a challenge):   Knowing that God is sovereign and depending upon God’s sovereignty are vastly different.  Think of something that is coming up for you today or this next week.  Determine now to release that item to God and depend upon and seek His sovereignty over all parts of this task.   Do your part in preparing for the event, but release the outcome to God.  No worrying allowed as you depend solely on His sovereignty. and for God to bring this work to completion for your good and His glory.  Let go and let God!

Enjoy this beautiful song about God’s Sovereignty.

A Struggler’s Confession

I have struggled these first few weeks of January as it seems I can’t get things to run smoothly.  Yesterday I sought solace in God’s Word and Job 42:1-6 brought me comfort.  I was touched by the Message version.

42 1-6 Job answered God:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.             I’m comforted by God’s 
Nothing and no one can upset your plans.                                              Sovereignty.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
    ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
made small talk about wonders way over my head.            I’m talking and not 
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.                                listening.
    Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!          I do know you!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

As I read this passage, I identified with Job.  I too question God’s wisdom and His perfect plan.  I forget that He alone is Sovereign.  I tend to run on about things and not take time to listen to Him in prayer and in the Word.  Thankfully, I do know Him and have experienced God first hand in my life.  I know He is truth and He will fill me with His love and mercy if I turn to Him.

Prayer:  Father, I do know you and trust in your plans for me.  I know who you are and of your love and grace.  You do not do to me what I deserve but shower me with grace and mercy.  Thank you Jesus for loving me and keeping me in the palm of your hand. You shield and comfort me in hard times.  You bring me joy and hope everlasting day after day.  Create in me a clean heart that is focused upon you and not the swirling world around me.  Help me, like Job, to cling to you and your truth with a repentant heart.  Amen.

job 42 2Have a blessed day living in the light provided and protected by Sovereign, Almighty God.

Linda

Possessed by the Savior

The duties of the risen Messiah are foretold in Psalm 2:7-9.  I chose the Amplified version to give us some additional help in understanding these words included in the Messiah.

psalm 2 7 “I will declare the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son;
This day [I proclaim] I have begotten You.

‘Ask of Me, and I will assuredly give [You] the nations as Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth as Your possession.

‘You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall shatter them [in pieces] like earthenware.’”

Paul quotes verse 7 in his impassioned preaching to the Jews in Antioch recorded in Acts 13:32-33.  He was describing Jesus as the awaited and prophesied Messiah.  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’”  God claims Jesus as Son and establishes His right to rule over all the earth.   The author of Hebrews also includes verse 7 when referring to Christ’s God given superiority over all angelic beings.   He rightly includes all beings in heaven and earth will worship the Son.  Hebrews 1:5-6  “For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?  Or again,  “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.

What do these prophecies mean to us? Our Savior and Lord is God’s Son and will rule over all creation both in heaven and on earth.  This is not wishful thinking by God but presented as fact that His Son will rule as King.  God gives each of us to His Son as a precious possession.  Ephesians 1:14 refers to all believers as belonging to Christ and being sealed by His Holy Spirit.In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Peter also refers to believers as being a special possession of Christ’s  special possessionin 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”   Peter reminds us we are called to proclaim Jesus as we have seen His light and were called out of unbelief.

christmasLet us praise our risen King and all He accomplished on our behalf as we consider the babe in the manger.   I love the description of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  Thank you Jesus.

Linda