Even If…

‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.’ Leviticus 26:1

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was brought to my attention with a fresh word today. If you are familiar with the story in Daniel 3, ask God to cultivate new awareness as you read it again. In short, King Nebuchadnezzar, a King of Babylon, made an image of gold that was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. tower-838540_640He commanded that when the people heard all kinds of music they were to bow down and worship this idol. 3 Jewish men refused and the King’s punishment was to throw them into a blazing furnace. They had earned favour with the King and looked over his affairs but that had no bearing when they would not bow down to the King’s command. ‘They pay no attention to you’ was the tattletale account from the astrologers to the King. Nebuchadnezzar was furious but amazingly still willing to give them another chance. I love their reply. vs 16-18 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”‘smoke-1232654_640

As you can imagine, the King was furious and he threw them all in to the blazing furnace. You will have to read the rest of the story to see the amazing way that God rescued these men.

What God showed me was an incredible faith in these men that EVEN IF God did not rescue them, they were willing to die for their God. They knew Him and nothing came before Him.

I have been challenged in the last few days especially to look at the idols I have placed before my God and sense as I pray for the body of Christ that this is a heart issue in many of us, in fact I would even go so far that this is an ongoing issue we all need to stay aware of and keep in repentance over. My heart’s desire is to love God with all of my heart but to be quite honest, I find some things are layered in front of that.. Areas of my life that I continue to struggle with and not able to relinquish over to God when I do know that He is able to save me from myself. He has done so in many places of my heart.

God placed a book in front of me this past weekend called Idol Lies by Dee Brestin right after a time of prayer when the word idol came to my mind. Then this morning our marriage devotional was, you guessed it, about idols. Coincidence, I think not. Dee says it well, “Being released from the penalty (the guilt) of sin is instantaneous, happening the moment we respond to God’s call and to the payment Christ made for us at the cross. Being released from the power of sin is gradual, for bondage has layers. All of us have hidden idols that need to be revealed, removed and replaced.”

God is in the business of revealing things to us that need to removed and replaced so that He will maintain first place in our hearts. The beautiful thing is, He will not give up on us. One of my favourite promises is Philippians 1:6,’ being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
I want to be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and not compromise my faith to God for something less than what He desires for my life. I want to easily be able to give up the things I love to love Him even more if He asks that of me. I want the death grip I have placed on some areas of my life to be removed and ready for him to replace with Himself.

‘Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ it says in Psalm 37:4. This Psalm also instructs that we trust, commit, be still and hope in the Lord. It is in these actions toward Him that we will find delight and the fruit will be our true desires. Come along on this continued journey of delight with Him, let Him reveal the things that get in the way of being fully devoted to Him. These sentences in Dee’s book grabbed me to simultaneously want to dig in and to close the book, “Every believer needs to be set free, and it begins with getting past our denial, with seeing what we really idolize and admitting this to God and to others.We may think for example that our deepest desire is for God, but in reality we are running to food, friendship or Facebook to fill up our souls. We may think that our identity is in Christ, but in reality if may be in the success of our ministry, mothering, or marriage.”

You know what my favourite part of the story of the 3 Jewish men is? This… Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.’ Daniel 3:26,27. Not one hair singed. Not even the smell of smoke. We have all sat around a campfire I am sure and know how much that smell permeates our skin and clothes. Not even the smell…God can do this. He is a Redeemer that wants to remove any smell of smoke, any idol, anything that keeps us from true intimacy with Him. I do know this and so I will come and be still and listen, and repent and continue to walk out this journey until my stone heart has been replaced by a heart of flesh that is intimate with my God. Will you join me?

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Waiting Well

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Psalm 27:14

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. MSG

 Wait patiently for the LORD . Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. NLT

 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. NIV

Did you think the title Waiting Well is an impossible feat? I heard a quote about financial planning that said usually you are coming out of a crisis, in the middle of one,  or one is on its way. This may be a good reference when dealing with money but if it refers to waiting, it doesn’t bring much hope. Although the definition of crisis can mean a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger, it can also be a turning point when an important change takes place.
We all have our own definition or experience of crisis depending on our life filters. We all have different ways of responding. My heart is to wait well through things but often my faith in attempting that is not pretty. Often it results in me taking things into my own hands and messing with the outcome God may have wanted, or I may become suspicious, resentful or full of doubt toward the situation and sometimes even God.

Trying to help things along on my own often reminds me of the story of Abraham and Sarah, once Abram and Sarai. I invite you to read this fascinating story beginning in Genesis 15. In short, God promised Abraham in his old age, offspring as many as the stars. Sarah did not believe after all this time that the God who had kept her from having children would fulfill this promise through her. Now before we persecute Sarai too much in her decision, know that it was common practice in that day and culture to give a female servant to her husband to produce an heir. Often women were shamed when they were unable to conceive. Imagine for a moment how that felt to her, now imagine trying to wait well in that situation. Notice Abram didn’t seem to protest too much about her suggestion. (Genesis 16:1-4)

This created a series of problems from Sarai feeling rejected, her barrenness highlighted even more as the servant conceived,  to blame towards Abram and the maidservant running away. These are all seemingly difficult situations that arose from independence from God’s plans. But God…

He not only brought restoration to these relationships but He gave Abram and Sarai their promised son, through their 100 and 90 year old bodies, and He gave them new names. The meaning of a new name in that culture was that God was calling them to submit to Him and His promises, it wasn’t to shame them for their mistakes but to create more intimacy with them.

Do you know our God this way? Have you experienced His redemption in the midst of your waiting even in the form of the strength to keep standing? I have a feeling like the financial saying about crisis above, that waiting is more a normal in our walk with Him, than the manifestation of answers or miracles or removing of circumstances. I think He trusts us more than we trust ourselves.

Marlo Schalesky said, “Waiting is not a punishment from God, it is a tool in His Hands to make and mold us into who we are meant to be.” We are always looking for the ‘there’ aren’t we? Once we get _____ or do ______ or accomplish ______ we will be happy or successful or have ‘arrived’. It is an elusive chase though. Marlo also said, “There is no ‘there’ here in this life. When God brings us to a place, He doesn’t want that to be the answer. He wants Himself to be. True fulfillment comes in God.”

In the Mercy Me song, Even If, they sing this sentiment. ‘I know you’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand. But Even If you don’t My hope is You alone.’ Can you sing that? Is your heart convinced that there is purpose in this process? Or are you in a place of discouragement? Of not being able to believe for that?

What do we do in the meantime, in the wait? How can we wait well?

Remember that our life is not our own. I know this statement is a newsflash to many in this self-centred, what about me world? I can relate and I still sometimes struggle with this. But it really is Not about us. Jesus died, buying our freedom at a price, so that we could be reconciled to God and in this bring glory to Him by living for Him. Our lives are because of Him and in Him. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.‘Jeremiah 10:23
‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ 1
Corinthians 6:19,20

Seek Him. Yes Him, not always His hand. I once heard it said that He is more concerned with our character than our circumstances, but He uses our circumstances to make us more like Him. His heart is for relationship, it is why He created us and He promises that we will find Him if we look. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ Jeremiah 29:13

‘Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.’ Psalm 105:4

‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Matthew 6:33

Be Real. He knows you better than anyone else. Go to Him with all of your emotions, honesty, discouragement, praise, frustration, anger, sadness, confusion, questions. It is in this place of honesty and surrendering all of this along with your opinions, ideas or thoughts that He will come and meet you and minister to your heart. You know when He says to love Him with All of you heart, ya He meant that. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.’ 1 John 1:8-10

Receive. Take in the love He wants to give you. Don’t let it bounce off of the filters of your wounds or shame. Ask Him to help you receive all that He has given you. And this is everything, by the way. When you sit with Him, be expectant that He will meet your heart. We can’t buy, earn or deserve His mercy love and forgiveness, we just need to receive these free gifts. Not because we are good, but because He is!  Renew your mind with these truths;

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ Matthew 7:7
‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ Hebrews 4:16

 

Pray. Submit. Surrender. Trust. Hope. Persevere. Choose. Pray. He’s Got You.

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I am Least

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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Today I met a man I will call Joe. He was worn and leathered, a hard life written over his skin and in his eyes, like a well-read book. His nicotine stained moustache framed the mouth that spoke pleas of desperation. He was holding a sign, I did not read it, I just looked into his eyes and shook his hand as I introduced myself. He proceeded to tell me that he was having a bad day, a bad life really and mine was good because I did not have him in it.

 

 

At that moment, the store manager interrupted, possibly thinking she was ‘saving’ me from Joe and offered him coffee if he would put his sign away and come into the store. I pulled out what I thought God would have me give him and walked around the store praying He would give me the opportunity again. Funny thing, I never shop where I went today and I was shopping for friends whose family was down with the flu. God had an appointment for me. The opportunities He presents are endless, if we would only look.

Joe was back at the door when I was leaving. I stepped over extending my meager offering and talked with him a bit more. I blessed him and left and as the door was closing I thought I heard him say wanna give me a ride home. I unloaded my groceries in the -30 with wind temperatures and did the bargaining thing with Jesus, you know, like if he really said that Lord and you want me to drive him home, let him walk out of the store when I drive in front of it. Guess what? haha I rolled down my window, “Joe, do you want a ride?” His eyes lit up and he slowly limped around and slid in.

Turns out, his little shelter apartment was on the way to my friends’ home. Funny how even this unexpected appointment was ordered. Joe shared his life, his look was a true reflection of all he’s lived. 40 years ago an accident paralyzed half of his body and he has been unable to work. We talked about Jesus. He knew God saved his life and he has been searching for his purpose ever since. I told him I think it was to make people smile as he hadn’t stopped telling me how kind and beautiful I was and that my husband was very lucky.

As we pulled up to his building, he said he was going to fight the eviction notice they have given him, but he wasn’t fearful. He didn’t know where he would end up next. I asked if I could pray for him before he got out, oh yes a beautiful angel to pray for me he said. I asked God for the impossible which isn’t impossible for Him. For Joe’s healing and provision, for God to be his strength. As he got out of the truck, he said it was God’s will that he met me today and if I ever change my marital status to come looking for him. That made me laugh out loud and I assured him that it won’t but I pray he is blessed and it was a pleasure to meet him.

I share this story with you today not because I think Joe is the least of these but because I know that I am too. I know that I needed Jesus and He saved me and set me free from sin and death. So when I give of my heart and time to someone that may have less than me, I know they are not lesser than in the Kingdom of God. Compassionate actions are the central message of the gospel and though the least of these may not encompass only the poor and needy, God gives us compassion for those that are.

I don’t know if God intends our paths to cross again on earth but I do know I will see him again someday. In 1986 he said, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour and I went back and thanked the nurse that saved my life. Our encounter was just as much for my heart today as perhaps it was for his. It reminded me that God answers us when we ask Him for opportunities to love others with His love. It shows me that a smile and being noticed can bring light to someone’s eyes. I saw how life is not all about me and God wants to interrupt us so we can extend His hope. I saw Jesus in a broken, frail man who seemingly had nothing but really had all his heart required. And I can pray. Thanks Joe. Thanks Jesus.

hope-1804595_640How can you extend the hope of God to someone today? Pray that God will open your eyes for opportunities and to have a heart willing to be interrupted. You might be surprised.

Shameless Child

I have heard stories about people who were adopted say they had a longing, or a feeling like something is missing in them. If they discover their birth parents this sense is sometimes alleviated. It is as if we are built with a yearning to know where we came from, what our roots are. This probably also explains the popularity of family trees, genealogy and ancestry sites which are more easily accessible now.

God, the original infinite family – 3 in one- God, Holy Spirit & Jesus, created the first family,‘ All things were created by Him and for Him’ Colossians 1:16– Adam and Eve. He created us for His pleasure but not in the sense of pleasure as we may describe it but for relationship. Since the beginning, the longing to belong and have relationship was deeply implanted in us all.

We all seek identity in one form or another even if we had the most attentive, loving parents in the world and especially if we are followers of Christ. We were created to have relationship with God and He pursues our hearts, then when we listen and use our free will to choose Him, he adopts us. I love how the New Living Translation says it, “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself by Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5

I don’t believe this quest of belonging is ever wasted. We are on a journey of discovery about who we are in Christ from the moment we choose Him. It is when we discover who He is, what His heart is, that we can get to the heart of who we are. Like those people discovering their birth parents, we find the place of affiliation in God’s family.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also heirs.” Galatians 4:4-7

I have a lot of family that is not biological but because we share the blood of Jesus, it is a deep connection. Sometimes it is instant before a relationship is really formed. It is a sweet thing when you know your hope lies in the same place, the person of Jesus.

Where does your hope lie? Jesus died for you too. Come as you are, as a little child. Read Luke 15:11-32 and see His heart for you. He is waiting for you to come home.

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Finding Hope

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:22-25

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All throughout Scripture we are told to put our hope in God, that this is the only true hope. Yet for many of us, even those who know Jesus as Saviour, we allow disappointments to get in the way of our hope. Disappointment can take many forms when we try to fill our hope with things in this world. People and things are never any consolation for the hope God longs to give us. Yet we settle for these things often.

In the last few days I picked up where I left off purging my home a few weeks ago. It gives me great satisfaction to throw out, recycle, and reorganize less things. I actually feel physically/emotionally/spiritually lighter. For me, it allows space to breathe and facilitates healing in places I have been overwhelmed.

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This portion of purging along with many other drawers and cabinets included a drawer in my dresser that was packed full of cards. It was in this space that God showed me to be a little more empathic of people’s emotional attachments to some things. I found cards my kids had written in or made, cards from sweet friends full of life giving words, standard family cards and the cards I have apparently been saving for 9 years since Mom’s suicide.

To be honest I did not know or remember that I had been saving those sympathy cards. For the first few years they did serve a purpose as I would reflect about how God had been healing my heart and it made me be intentional to take time to grieve. I remembered how so many people had gathered around us during that time. How God showed up.

Recently my friend told me about a process when decluttering. It was from a book that has given her  much insight. Clutter Busting your Life by Brooks PalmerMr. Palmer goes through a home with a client and one item at a time, he says how is this serving you? Often the item has no purpose in that way or they get to the emotions in it and people are able to release things they haven’t for years. It is very freeing.

And it was for most things, except these cards. I held them and I wept for that season, for Mom, for friends and I released my disappointments that I had allowed to pile up. Just like those cards. And I threw them away. There was sorrow attached to those things but not despair. I had experienced the hope of God and know without doubt that my hope initiated during that season was triggered by my faith.

In the book, Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller, he said,” Sorrow is pain for which there are sources of consolation. It comes from losing one good thing among others. Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. When you lose the ultimate source of your meaning or hope, there are no alternative sources to turn to. It breaks your spirit.”

God’s hope protects us from despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8,9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

So be careful where you place your hope. Choose wisely what you build your life around. We are created with a longing for God and relationship but unless we choose Him first, we will try to fill those longings with people and stuff. What are you hoping for? Where does your meaning lie?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

 

 

 

 

 

Shameless Audacity

Luke 11:8 “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, but because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

This phrase, shameless audacity, jumped off the page and into my spirit today. Audacity – the willingness to take bold risks and the flip side is rude or disrespectful behaviour, impudence.  It can be like Wow, you did that? or How dare you do that? I believe in this verse it is the Wow version as other translations describe this as persistence or boldness, so I guess it depends on the heart behind the action and how it is perceived.

We had a real live version of this shameless audacity play out at 3am Sunday morning. A persistent ringing of the doorbell jerked us from the fog of our delta activity of deep sleep and moved my husband to the door. Then he opened it!!! To a drunken stranger nonetheless that had already staggered on to the next house. Then he called him back!!! This gentlemen staggered back waving his credit card and wallet like a flag of surrender and his innocence. Then my blessed husband let him in and shut the door!!! Meanwhile, realizing what was taking place and completely shed of any leftover delta remnants, I was sitting on the floor in our bedroom with the phone in hand to call 911 and prayed like crazy that my husband would not be stabbed and we would be left to fend for ourselves in that situation. We have a noisemaker in our room and  I could only hear the hum of conversation so I was straining to fill in the blanks.

Wade very graciously plugged this gentleman’s dead phone in to a charger and listened to his story of being abandoned at a party, having a dead phone and no vehicle and obviously too drunk to drive himself. He then let him use our phone to call his ‘buddy’ who so lovingly said, I will send you the address where we are now, nevermind I will come get you. Wade then helped him to call a cab. Praise God for that actually.  We laughed later that this guy kept telling Wade he should send him a fruit basket or something for being so good to him. Before he left he babbled about his business and if Wade Ever needed any work done, he would do it for free. Then he proceeded to write out all of his info and leave it and asked Wade to write our address, which he did!!! (This was to be for the fruit basket delivery , which it is now Wednesday and no sign of it so far haha). Talk about shameless audacity right! Well as I know in the days before Christ, alcohol usually takes down or obliterates any inhibitions that may have stopped us from doing things before its consumption. This usually leads to bad decisions or sin, not often a good place when it is abused for sure. Like our pastor says, sin can be fun for a season but there are Always consequences to our decisions.

I have been considering lately what a gift the Holy Spirit is. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit when He left the earth and this would be our guide until He returned. He is showing me more and more how there is no limit to the capacity of that guidance. In this story in Luke 11 as Jesus was teaching His disciples about prayer and he told the story how a neighbour’s shameless audacity to ask for bread for company had the man get up in the night to give it to him, he went on to say, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” vs 9-13.

I moved into shameless audacity and invited our drunken stranger to church, I am sure it was no accident that his audacity had my husband open the door that night. I am excited to see if there is more to this part of the story. Let us all as followers of Christ move into shameless audacity into the things that He calls us to do and continue to ask and seek and knock, receiving more of His Holy Spirit power to walk in His ways. Let all of you who may not know Christ yet, do all these things too with shameless audacity, He says in Revelation 3:19,20, “Those whom I love (which is everyone)I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

We aren’t the only ones who knock 🙂 He created shameless audacity out of his never ending love for us. Know Him and be it for others. Our world is desperate for audacious Love & Hope!

PS. I just found this video by a band called Audacious!!! No accident here either. Pour out your spirit on us Lord under your Open Heaven!

Overshadowed with Expectancy

cloud I saw this cloud as I traveled from Regina to Saskatoon a few days ago. It stayed in this formation practically the whole trip. An umbilical cord to heaven was my first thought as it seemed to extend beyond my sight. I wondered if God was like us when we as humans  tend to say we need to ‘cut the cord’ with our children and allow them to become more independent. In some ways, yes, our free will may get us in trouble early on but it also allows us to choose to follow the One that created us. At that time we get a new umbilical cord of sorts called the Holy Spirit, that keeps us connected to our heavenly Father and Jesus and helps us to navigate this new life.

Umbilical cord may have been a close association to my baby focus these days but it was still a sweet analogy of how God continues to give us life-giving nutrients. Baby focus = Our daughter recently announced we will be grandparents for the first time, my good friend is about to give birth any day, our lives are surrounded by young families with little ones right now and of course as Christmas approaches I reflect on baby Jesus; the most important baby of all time.  

Luke 1:30-35New International Version (NIV)

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.

As I have been reflecting on the miracle of Christmas this year these verses have been especially prominent in my mind and in my readings. I don’t know about the rest of you but the submissiveness of young teenage Mary and how she must have known her God and how an encounter with God completely changes someone, never fails to blow me away. And that is just a piece of this incredible story! The orchestration of all of the parts and lives and circumstances God used to come to earth as a baby and change our future is mind-blowing, if you choose to believe the truth.

I love the term the ‘Power of the Most High will overshadow you’.  Overshadow in Greek is Episkiazo (ep-ee-skee-ad-zo) which means to envelop. It is used in the New Testament 3 times meaning God’s overshadowing presence which always brings His plans to pass. In these verses pertaining to Mary it particularly means that the Holy Spirit will come over her and impregnate her. My devotional said today, “God chose to place Himself inside her womb so that you and I could, one day, carry His presence inside of our lives as well.”

Edwin Louis Cole said ‘Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.’ Mary had an expectancy in God, not in what He was doing or how, just simply that He could. Can you choose to believe this Christmas, just simply that He can, that He did all of this for you and He desires to meet you in the darkest, most broken places of your heart. Your pain is not too hard for Him. Pastor Craig Groeschel said, ‘Push through the pain to the point of praise.’ Worship will break into your hurt. He also meets us in our joy and in our peace and through our relationships, He is Love. Let your prayers be that the Holy Spirit will overshadow you and impregnate you with possibility, hope and the anticipation of who God is and who He wants to be for you.

Merry Christmas from my heart and my family to yours. Let the Light of the world shine through you in 2015 and watch the finger of God change the world, one life, one moment, one miracle at a time.