Heavy Hearts With Big Prayers

This year I am more ready for Advent than any other year. I actually started a couple of weeks ago to dig in through the Gospel of Luke and I really hope to finish sometime around the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.

As I was reading through Luke 1 when the birth of Jesus was foretold by the angel Gabriel to Mary (vv.26-38), I had to stay there a bit longer -a day longer actually- to really take in something that I had not seen before.

When the angel told Mary that she had already found favor in God’s eyes and was going to have a child who would be the Savior of the world, Mary’s heart sank because of the bigness of the promise. “How will it be, since I am a virgin?” She asked, and the angel responded saying that she had to do nothing else than to believe the promise and carry it within her. God, the Holy Spirit, would come upon her and overshadow her with the power of the Most High, and therefore the promise would be fulfilled and have a name (I love that *therefore* on verse 35). Do you see it? How we need to dare to hear and to ask “How will it be?” and then, after you ask, trustfully rest and wait on the God who keeps His promises.

The promise was too big to bear for Mary, -and honestly, too big to be believed, but at the same time she didn’t have to do anything else other than believe and carry the promise within her until the fullness of time (oh, Waiting, how sanctifying you are!). Because God had decided to look on Mary with favor, because He had promised the Promise, because God’s Holy Spirit was overshadowing her and giving her the gift of faith to believe, because it was His doing, *therefore* she was able to believe, to carry the weight of the promise, to wait and see the fulfillment all the way through. She not only saw and felt the baby growing in her womb, she delivered the baby and laid Him on the manger, she saw Jesus grow and saw Him being betrayed and hanging on the Cross. But she was there also to see Him conquer Death. She was given the gift to believe God’s Promise, the big promise, the heavy promise. Calvin said that we, Christians,  have one thing in common with Mary, and that is Grace. Grace! What else do we need in the longing, in the waiting, in the meantime?

This Advent I want to pray that God will grant me the same gift of faith that Mary had. My heart, like that of Mary’s sometimes asks when I am facing a promise too good and too big to believe, “How will this be…?” But at the same time, I want to join Mary and hang onto the Promise and carry it within me until the time of its fulfillment comes. And I know that I can do that because God’s Holy Spirit has been given to me to believe. He helps my unbelief.

Think of this, which is harder to believe, that God’s Holy Spirit will overshadow a virgin woman and have her conceive the Savior of the world, or God saving your own child, or giving you that child you long for, or that job, or that husband, or that friend, or that reconciliation you have been praying about? Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. The angel of the Lord said before departing from Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” His promises are true and firm and never change because He is both, the Promise Giver and the Promise Keeper.

Someone said, “God’s promises claim us, we don’t claim them” and, Oh, how I agree with that! If we are His children, we have already found favor in His eyes. We have been given Jesus, the Promised One,  and with Him we have received faith to believe all of His promises which are true, all of them are yes and amen. Just say “yes” to his promises, He will bring them to pass.

This Advent I want to pray big and believe big. I don’t want to be doubtful and not dare to believe that God wants to save many, to reconcile many, to give husbands and wives, and children to his people, and healing, and good jobs, and endurance, and joy, and forgiveness of sins,  and more faith, and more perseverance and patience. I want to embrace the promises as much as they are embracing me and wait expectantly to see their fulfillment.

I pray that as you read this, you won’t think that I am foolishly embracing the “claim-it, get-it” unbiblical approach to God’s promises (the so called Prosperity Gospel). No. Not all. But at the same time, I think that we, hardcore Calvinists, Sound-Doctrine-Lovers, need to wake up and see the Promise-Giver with open hands and stop trying to see if that promise “fits” in our perfect-by-the-book-theology, we need to learn how to receive His promises and believe in His goodness as much as we believe in His Sovereignty. How we need to embrace His promises by faith and believe His Word, and pray over it and wait to see how God will fulfill each one of His promises. We don’t dare to pray eagerly for the lost, for example, trusting that God can and wills to save them because of the “what if they are not elect” that is always present in our minds. How often do we dare to pray for the big things in concrete big ways?  Oh, how easily we forget that God is big and His promises are big and His grace is big! I will pray big prayers and trust that God can bring big promises to pass.

May our hearts this Advent be heavy with many big prayers and big promises. May the Holy Spirit come upon us and overshadow us so that we may believe and wait.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Oh, How Wonderful it is to Come to His Table!

source

Sometimes the days are too long,
the nights don’t bring rest to our mortal bodies.
The minutes pass by slowly,
while our heartbeats run faster.

Some weeks the thorns and thistles
pierce our skin and hearts deeper.
But the Word does it work daily in us:
Dew in the morning,
Medicine in the midday,
Hope at night.

A Bible verse tucked in the back pocket of a pair
of old jeans day after day. Ready to be read.
One more phone call.
A prayer.
The Promise Giver won’t let us go.
His Promise is holding us.

It’s true, we are still standing,
Only because He sustains us.
The Word we have eaten,
The living Water we have drank
Runs through our veins even in the darkest of days.

And then Sunday comes.
Oh, how we love your day, Lord!
And we sing to our Maker.
And we all read the Scriptures together.
A Communal Table to feed the souls of many.

We confess our sins.
We confess what we believe.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer.
We sing Psalms and Hymns.
We bless our Maker and
Bless each other.

We listen to the Word proclaimed,
A fountain of life.
And we soak in all of it.
We, hungry pilgrims,
Are gathered together
Because we love Him,
Because He loves us.
Because we exist for this.

And then, a mystery before us unfolds again,
We look around, and we are together,
A body of believers, as one.
Ready to eat.
To remember.

The Bread is broken in front of us,
and we remember.
We pass it, we eat it.
Slowly.
My children -all of them- eat.
We smile.
We have longed for this all week,

The Wine is poured,
and we remember.
His blood for us.
We believe.
We drink.
My children -all of them- drink.
We smile.
We have been baptized,
and we remember who we are:
The sheep of His pasture.

We are at the Father’s Table again.
And we know that because of Jesus,
We are welcomed.

He has prepared this table for us
In the presence of our enemies.
We are ready to feast,
To remember His victory,
His love for His people,
The hope of Eternal Life.

Isn’t this what we needed this week so much?
This sacrament of communion,
To remind us that all will be well?
That we are His?
That He is ours?

Oh, how wonderful it is
To come to His table!
To remember how He saved us!
To have communion with Him
In the company of our brothers and sisters.
To eat and drink,
To remember all of His benefits.

Oh, how wonderful it is
To come to your table, Oh, Lord!

Becky

2015: Live Looking Up!

©Blue by Annie Pliego

2015 is here and I am ready to live fully under God’s sun and by His grace.

This year is, for me, a year to focus in living with my eyes fixed on Jesus. This meditation by J.R. Miller sums my sentiments perfectly well:

Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have . . .
new toils,
new trials,
new temptations,
new troubles.

 

 

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year — let us seek grace to follow our Lord’s loving advice, and “look up!
Do not look back — as Lot’s wife did.
Do not look within — as too many do.
Do not look around — as David did.
But “look up!” Look up to God — He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, “Look unto Me, and be delivered — for I am God!”
Look up for light to guide you — and He will direct your path.
Look up for grace to sanctify you — and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.
Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God’s will — and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.
Look up for comfort to cheer you — and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.
Look up for courage to embolden you — and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — He will increase strength.
Look up for endurance to keep you — and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.
Look up for providence to supply you — and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Look up in faith — exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.
Look up in prayer — asking for what God has graciously promised.
Look up in hope — expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.
Look up with adoration — and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.
Look up constantly — let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, “Our eyes are on the Lord our God — until He shows us mercy.”
Look up — for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year — but “Look up!” This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? “Look up” and hear Jesus saying to you, “Do not be afraid — I Myself will help you!”

Are you discouraged? “Look up” — and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? “Look up” for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin — but look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God’s dear Son!Do not look too much at self — but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you — loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
  bind up your broken heart,
  calm your perturbed spirit,
  cheer your drooping mind, and
  fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
  for all that you need;
  from all that you fear;
  through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and will look up!” Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!”

Do not look at your sin — it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self — it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan — he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men — they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials — they will deject you!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!” Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently — to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking — to Jesus, who is at God’s right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!



Becky