The Mystery of Waiting

THE MYSTERY OF WAITING

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:1-2,5

            The theme of waiting saturates the whole redemption story. God waited so long to send a Savior after the fall of Adam and Eve. Did they look for Jesus after they were banished from the garden? If they understood the prophetic words God spoke over them, they did. They knew the love of the Father in the garden and though the consequences of their sin were staggering, I’ve no doubt they knew that God would come to save.

In their lifetime however, He didn’t come. Though He made a way for their sins to be covered through the sacrifice of innocent animals, it wasn’t the same as a Savior coming to take away their sin and restore them to paradise. In fact, things just got worse. Their descendants saw evil compounded. The god of this world took center stage as He appeared to be the one who controlled everything. Where was God? Where was the promised Savior?

‘How long, O Lord?’ was the cry of the ages. Injustice, suffering, and the havoc of an enemy who relished the destruction of his evil schemes appeared to have the last word as God’s people waited for their Messiah. It appeared that He was late and uncaring. Their laments through the ages filled His ears but so did their well-ordered proclamations of faith. They endured the scourges of many enemies and captivity in Babylon. They saw the destruction of their beautiful temple, waited four hundred more years through an interminable period of silence, and then bent under the tyranny of Roman rule before Jesus finally came. Their cries for rescue were so desperate that they couldn’t recognize the Miracle when He arrived. Never could they guess that their answer was a sleeping baby in an animal’s cradle.

Today, we still wait. Emmanuel came once, stayed a while, but promised that He would come again. Though we saw the mystery unveiled in part at Bethlehem, the full redemption of mankind and the earth we have destroyed have not yet been restored to their original condition. Why is He, again, waiting so long to rescue? How can He restrain Himself from coming when evil is rampant upon the earth? The nature of waiting is to have unanswered questions. The challenge of waiting is to find the spiritual grit to make proclamations of faith while we scan the horizon for His appearing.

In every way you might be watching for His salvation this Christmastime, do not let Your trust in God be shaken. Rest in the mystery of His timetable. Grieve – but not without faith. Expect ~ but not with a sense of entitlement. Question ~ but not with a fist. History will always reveal that love prevailed in the waiting.

You don’t always come sweeping in to make a grand statement. Many miss the salvation of a Bethlehem moment. Don’t let it be me. Amen

Peace! A Choice To Believe

PEACE!  A CHOICE TO BELIEVE

The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee.  Isaiah 26:3

        I realize today how many times I’ve had things backwards.  When my mind was in turmoil, I prayed for peace.  When I was plagued with distrust, I prayed for peace.  When I felt God was unfair, I prayed for peace.  I didn’t get the results I wanted and now I know why.

        Jesus is my peace.  Peace lay in a manger.  So, in preparation for Christmas, I’ve been studying the subject of peace and under what conditions God promises it.  This verse from Isaiah seems to sum it up best.  Those who are steadfast in their mind, who choose to trust Jesus, will be kept in perfect peace.  If I do not have peace, it is because my mind has taken a detour to a place of dis-trust.  I have allowed my interpretation of circumstances to rule my mind, and subsequently, rule my emotions.  My beliefs are the problem, not God’s inability to bring peace. Continue reading

It Took A Census

IT TOOK A CENSUS

“And Joseph went up from Galilee, from Nazareth, to the city of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was with child.  And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.”  Luke 2: 4-6

            Caesar Augustus gave a decree that a census was to be taken.  This law affected the most common of people in the most obscure places.  It reached Joseph and Mary at a most inopportune time, tucked away in Galilee.  Mary was nine months pregnant and I’m sure the thought of such a trip was overwhelming.  Nonetheless, this journey to Bethlehem became necessary so that they might comply with the law and register for the census.  Did they strain against such news?  I feel certain they did.  Was God in it?  Absolutely.  Hindsight proves it.  Prophetic words from ages past foretold that a Savior would arise out of Bethlehem.  God used Caesar’s mouth, a census, and a difficult journey for a woman at full-term pregnancy to fulfill prophetic words.

            God is in the ordinary events of my day, too.  When I am hit with unemployment, sickness, an unexpected move out-of-state, I can despair thinking that God has turned His back momentarily.  I can fear that I’m worth little, just something to be tossed around like a rag doll.  Little do I know that these events are like the ‘census’, steering me on to the next thing God has for me.  The seemingly catastrophic event is really like a rudder getting me to Bethlehem.  I can’t see it at the time but I need to remember that my trust in God need not be shaken.  Not then, not ever.

Oftentimes, I have cried out, “I can’t believe this happened to me!”  Yet, where I am, and who I am today, have depended on those unexpected events.  I have absolute confidence in You, God.  In Jesus name, Amen

Journal Question:  Why are you so quick to distrust God?  What is the history of your unbelief?  Name three events for which you still have no understanding.  It appears God was cruel.  What might Mary tell you today about God’s plan for your life?

Manger Preparation

MANGER PREPARATION

    In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.  Isaiah 30:15

            I was thinking this morning about the power of repentance.  Without repentance, my heart is dull and unreceptive to Jesus.   Repentance has become a ‘turn-off’ for many because society associates it with some red-faced pastors who yell about it.  The message God wants us to hear today is ~ repentance is our friend!

So, thoughtfully and slowly, I take in these truths.

God wants to bless me.

He longs to love me and watch me blossom under the umbrella of His affection.

He wants to share Himself with me and make my soul tremble with wonder.

Continue reading

A New Disclosure of the Face of God

JESUS ~ A NEW DISCLOSURE OF THE FACE OF GOD

There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might. Jeremiah 10:6

         Until the birth of Jesus, people only knew God in part. Jesus’ arrival, however, gave new disclosure of His Father. New names, names only hinted of in the Old Testament, took center stage and God was understood in a whole new way.

         Names for God prior to the birth of Jesus were ones that befitted an all knowing and powerful God. He was called the God Who Sees, God Is My Banner, The God Who Hears, and many others. These were enough to give His people comfort and strength.

         With the birth of Jesus, however, came new understanding. It was a knowledge of God born of new names. Immediately after His birth, the shepherds were told that He was Savior and Emmanuel. As He grew, He revealed Himself as the Bread of Life, the Shepherd, the Son of God, the Vine, the Lamb of God, the Lord of Glory, the Last Adam, and the Precious Cornerstone. Each one gave believers new eyesight into the complex and unfathomable depths of God. They experienced Him through His names because there was a new dynamic in their relationship. Intimacy.

         The names of God that are the most precious to me are the names I’ve had to embrace out of great need. Continue reading

Arise and Shine!

ARISE AND SHINE!

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1

         I heard a quote in a movie the other day. Ideology is peaceful but history is violent. The darkness of this world, starting with the fall of man, has been overwhelming. No matter where we study history, there are stories of unspeakable cruelty.

         The differences between the darkness of evil and the light of the glory of God are so stark that I can not even begin to comprehend them. I think I truly get the dark side. I see it every day. But God’s glory? I see only glimmers of it and must wait until heaven to see the full effect.

         The Light of the world entered our violent world humbly and quietly. His light was only visible to some but for them, the darkness was eclipsed by the glory of the Son of Man. Those who lived in the time of Jesus’ birth existed under the rule of the Roman Empire, a corrupt and vicious dictator. They suffered in the shadows of evil and languished for their Messiah to come and deliver them. His birth had been preceded by 400 years of silence. Deafening and interminable silence. Never was the light more life saving than when Jesus came to show the world the Father’s face.

         God loves to show off His glory. How much more so at Christmastime. How does heaven celebrate the birthday of Jesus? Someday we’ll know but I want to take part in the celebration. I’m asking God to open my spirit wide so that I can feel the impact of heaven’s praise and worship. The re-telling of His birth, captured by the musicians of heaven, has to be stunning.

Show me the hidden gems of Your glory in the Christmas story. Amen

The Expanse of God Confined To A Person

THE EXPANSE OF GOD CONFINED TO A PERSON

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9

         The concept is pretty unbelievable. How can you take a timeless, omnipotent, powerful, holy God and confine him to live His life through a human being? Such is the meaning of the incarnation.

         God speaks and planets appear out of nowhere. God pushes galaxies around with the tip of His finger. He breathes over a dead Earth and everything brown turns to lush green. Such unfathomable power, isn’t it? Can this deity be born inside a virgin and emerge as not only the image of God, but God Himself? Jesus said yes and this is what got Him crucified. He claimed to be God. Either He was telling the truth and is worthy of my worship or He’s a liar and should have died the death that He got. For much of the world to believe that He’s just a good teacher without choosing sides is a cop out.

         The expanse of God can live in a person. Jesus proved that. God, in Christ, restrained His power but when unleashed, the dead were raised, storms ceased, and the blind were made to see.

         Can I even dare to believe that I have no only been made in God’s image, I am a container for the Spirit of God to live in. All that power, wisdom, peace, holiness….lives in my spirit. Can others see evidence of that? Is His glory visible? Am I bold enough, when prompted, to speak words of healing and truth and trust the power of God to work through me? Perhaps I am shy of it because I have forgotten that I can be possessed by Spirit. Just as a demoniac is possessed by the god of this world, I am to be overtaken and ruled by the Spirit of God. When that happens, it’s quite evident that I am not my own. Like Jesus, I only do what my Father tells me. My works of faith will be both glorious and controversial.

Help me fully understand what Your incarnation means for me. It’s so loaded with implications and I know I haven’t begun to grasp it. Amen