Daughters of Promise

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  Psalm 42:1

If my heart longs for God as the Psalmist’s does, then the coming of Jesus has huge ramifications for me.  Jesus is God and all of my longings are satisfied in the coming of the Messiah.

My soul pants for a God who came near as my Emmanuel.

My soul pants for a God who was vulnerable enough to become a baby, only to suffer before saving.

My soul pants for a God who, at 30, saw hypocrisy and hard-hearted rebellion in the religious elite and confronted it head on.

My soul pants for a God who, when presented with a woman caught in adultery, extended forgiveness and love instead of condemnation.

My soul pants for a God who was powerful enough to offer up His life when it was heaven’s time.  He was not a victim, but a triumphant Victor.

My soul pants for a God who told me the truth about my sin so that I could find the joy of forgiveness and the exhilaration of love given without any conditions.

My soul pants for a God who was born to serve through suffering, not to rule through intimidation.

My soul pants for a God who called me friend, not enemy.  Bride, not harlot.  Forgiven, not condemned.  Free, not enslaved.  Loved, not spurned.

9 days till Christmas morning.  My soul pants for You, O God.  Whatever You say, whatever You require, whatever You offer, I’m yours.  In Jesus name, Amen

And Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.  Luke 1:56

When Mary became pregnant by the Spirit of God, she picked up her things and went straight to Elizabeth’s house.  When Elizabeth saw her, she knew something momentous had taken place.  She immediately prophesied over her and provided a place for Mary to spend the most tenuous time of any woman’s pregnancy – the first trimester.

When Mary experienced the most severe symptoms of morning sickness, she was safe in Elizabeth’s care.  When Mary first deliberated the cost of carrying the son of God, she was with the one who was safe for her spiritually.  When Jesus’ life was the most fragile, his mother cared for him best by securing the best possible environment.

There can be many reasons why faith is fragile.  Symbolically, Like Mary, I can be pregnant with God’s calling on my life.  The first days and months after God has spoken to me is the most critical time to be a guardian of that ‘new thing’.  That is the time when I’m prone to question what I heard Him say.   I’m also the most vulnerable to others talking me out of it.  Until His Word is established in my heart and has fully taken root, I must be diligent to keep company with the likes of Elizabeth.  I must secure an environment of safety where His Word can be received, not questioned.

My faith can also be fragile because I’ve walked so long in the wilderness that my strength to hold on is spent.  What I once believed in the light is now a shadow in the dark.  Did Mary have a crisis of faith?  It’s hard for me to believe that she didn’t.  The spiritual mountaintop of her angelic visitation soon gave way to the pressures of being pregnant before her marriage to Joseph.  Who would believe her?  Would they stone her?  Would Joseph want a divorce?  When I step from the safety of my boat into the raging seas, proclamations of faith can disappear.  All the more reason for me to seek out an Elizabeth.  She will comfort and she will confirm God’s promises.  Is this not the very reason God sent out people in pairs?

Solomon said, “Walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.”  The ‘righteous’ does not always describe every child of God, only the one who is also able to hear and obey the voice of God no matter the cost.  This bears out with the story of Elizabeth. She was also pregnant with a child who would bring great controversy.  (John the Baptist)  Who better to nurture Mary in her most vulnerable time than another woman who was pregnant with God’s call!

I choose my company wisely and guard my heart against any whose cancer of unbelief might threaten to undermine my fragile faith.

Show me how to guard what is so precious.  Minister to me, Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges. He [Jesus] took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. Philippians 2:7

I’ve witnessed the pain a parent feels when their child boards a plane for far off places. The mission field beckons with all of its rewards and its dangers. The parents can’t foretell the future so they are not certain they will see their child again. They grieve as if they might not. Yet, they rejoice that some future reunion will ultimately be an eternal one.

Christian parents know it won’t be easy. The more hostile the culture to Christianity, the more danger their child faces. There will be want, discouragement, defeat, even threats of persecution. There will also be mountaintops, spiritual victories, and unexpected miracles. Does God understand a parent’s misgivings and broken heart when goodbyes are said? Yes, He experienced it firsthand.

The Trinity had always been together, functioning in perfect harmony from before time. Their synergy is described in terms of a rhythmic slow dance. They moved in perfect sync. Each had a clearly defined role and the execution of them was achieved without the slightest hint of friction.

Imagine how their rhythm was disrupted when the Son left the Trinity to go to His mission field. Intimacy was disrupted as the Son became a child in Mary’s womb. God, the Father, bade His Son goodbye and watched Him leave. God was able to see into the future. There was no fear of the unknown but there was pain. He knew what awaited His child. He envisioned the 40 days of temptation in the desert. He knew Lucifer intimately and could predict the all out war that would be waged. God knew who would accept Jesus as the Messiah. He knew the faces of those who would openly reject Him, too. He foresaw the close calls; the brushes with death as crowds plotted to kill Jesus. He meticulously planned each way of escape to ensure that His Son would fulfill His mission at Calvary. And yes, the Father also rejoiced, in advance, over the disciples that would be called and mentored. He looked down through the ages and saw an unstoppable church on the move. It would be battered but it would prevail. He saw it all and He felt what human parents feel at their child’s departure. Joy and agony.

As Mary welcomed her newborn Messiah, God had just said goodbye to a part of Himself. From a human perspective, the plan was ludicrous and treacherous. From a divine perspective, there was no other way. The love story of the ages was being written. It was the only way His estranged creation could be restored to paradise.

Father, You gave it all up too. Thank you for counting the cost and deciding that Your creation was worth loving so recklessly. Amen

A Great Read

December 6, 2018

Does God have anything to say about the personal affairs of our lives?  Absolutely.  He promises instruction.  So when there is no chapter/verse for weighty matters, He nudges, whispers, and invokes thoughts when He’s asked.  He is a shepherd after all.

My friend, Lucius Malcolm, embarked on a journey of learning to hear God’s voice in the personal matters of his own story. This book is the result.  It is his prayer that any who read it will hunger for more of God’s personalized instruction for their own lives.  His glory shines on every page. It’s a great read!

Here’s the link to purchase. https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781545647684

But as for you, Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.  Micah 5:2

The Old Testament contains over three hundred references to the Messiah and all of these were fulfilled in Jesus. They provided a solid confirmation of His credentials as Messiah, and Anointed One that would release and deliver His people. They referred to the time and place of His birth, His death, and His resurrection.  I’ve heard it said that using the science of probability in reference to just eight of these prophecies, the chance that any man might have lived to fulfill all eight is one in one hundred trillion!  There should not be any doubt that the scriptures are the inspired words of God.

The prophet Micah, whose name means “who is like Jehovah”, was a strong prophetic voice.  He knew his God and stood ready to tell a rebellious nation that the Lord was coming. Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk in his shoes?  To be one solitary man of faith in the midst of an unbelieving people?  More times than not, to be a prophet was to be lonely and misunderstood.  They held the revelations of God in their heart and though spiritual realities were stunningly real to them, they had a difficult time getting anyone to take the truth seriously.  In spite of that, their spirit resounded with the message and it must have changed the fabric of their internal world.

The quill that penned the prophetic words of a ruler arising out of Bethlehem must have shook in the hand in the writer.  Though Christ wasn’t born for another seven hundred years, Micah will watch the birth of Christ from the grandstands of heaven.  I need to see that life is often about what will happen later in the lives of those I love.

  At the very least, I will also see Your purposes prevail from heaven’s gates.  My joy can start now, Lord,  if I look into the future with the eyes of faith.   I will pray, and then declare, the scriptures because they are still prophetic.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Vast caravans of camels will converge on you, the camels of Midian and Ephah.  The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense and will come worshiping the Lord.  Isaiah 60:6

In the mighty expanse of God’s wisdom, prayers are answered.  God’s children, in great need, can not predict when and how He will move.  Because our view is limited and our minds are so finite, we often struggle with His decisions.  We know what it is like to love people and how much we desire to alleviate every place of pain in their lives.  If we could make things perfect for them, we would.  All the more reason to wrestle with God; to trust Him to give us what is best and what is good.  To believe that all His decisions are driven by love requires supernatural faith.

Never were these realities on more on display than in the Christmas story.  God provided supernatural clues of His loving-kindness in some instances but left us looking for them in others.

  • He could have ensured a more comfortable journey to Bethlehem.  He could have worked through the generosity of wealthy travelers who felt compassion for a woman about to give birth.
  • God could have supernaturally reserved a room at an inn for Mary’s comfort. And yet, God graciously appeared to Joseph to tell Him of Jesus’ divine conception.  Mary’s life and honor were spared.
  • Two years after Jesus’ birth, Herod would act out in a jealous rage.  God would appear to Joseph and tell him to take his family to Egypt in order to preserve Jesus’ life.  At the time of Jesus birth however, Joseph and Mary knew nothing of the future.  Yet, from the East, by way of a star, God brought wise men with expensive gifts.  What might these gifts be used for?  For all we know, they provided the income for future travel and life in a far away land.  God’s provision was miraculous and given way before there was a need.

The struggles, and the miracles, in the life of Jesus continued all the way to His resurrection.  We see God’s supply but we also see the restraining hand of God as His Son suffered many things.  In this, our own faith is built.

I have seen the miraculous in my life.  So have you.  God showed up in unexpected places with just what I lacked.  I have prayed for help and God granted it.  I also prayed for decades for something else before He answered.  Can I know the reasons for why He waited?  Not all of them.  But when He finally did move, I can tell you that it felt like the right time.  In the waiting room of prayer, waiting was not my enemy though it felt like it.   God knew the benefits.  My spiritual grit was increased.  Scripture was explored.  Faith was exercised.  Patience was learned.  Compassion for others was born.

We have many unanswered prayers today.  God will break through with saving power and redemption for ALL of them.  If not today, then one day.  And when He does, we will give thanks that He does all things well.

You don’t remove all my pain.   If you did, I would be a shallow narcissist.  In whatever ways I languish for You, it is good.  Amen

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 a long time 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 had known 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 created by an enemy who relished destruction  appeared to have the last word as God’s people waited for their Messiah. It appeared that He was late and uncaring. Their lament 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 weight 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 are in a new waiting period. Emmanuel came once, stayed a while, but promised that He would come again. Though we saw the mystery unveiled in part at Bethlehem, mankind – and the earth he has destroyed – has not yet been restored to their original condition. Why is God, 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 without 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