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Archive for December, 2015

Maybe I should have packed faster. Then I could have pleaded with Joseph to leave sooner. We should have had a room…

 

Maybe I should have asked those kings why myrrh was brought to my baby. People are buried, wrapped in myrrh. Maybe I should have sent that back home with them. It always made me wonder…

 

Maybe I should have pressed the man Simeon to tell me what he meant about that sword piercing my heart. If I had understood then, maybe I could have changed something, somewhere, somehow…

 

Maybe I should have spoken to those doctors of the Law my son was out-talking in the Temple. Three days it had taken us to find him once we’d discovered he wasn’t with our family on the way home from the feast. I could have told them that up til then he’d just been a good obedient boy; he was just a boy. But that strange reply when we rebuked him,that he had to be about his Father’s business… Still, maybe I should have explained more. Maybe I could have kept them from later growing so angry when the grown-up Jesus told them what they didn’t want to hear in front of those they’d been trying to impress. Maybe they wouldn’t have wanted him dead so badly…

 

Maybe I should have just let that wedding feast go down in dishonor. I knew what he could do, and I was anxious for others to know. He told me his hour wasn’t yet come. Maybe if I hadn’t pushed him…

 

Maybe I should have elbowed my way into that home the day he refused to come out and talk with me and his brothers. We’d heard the Pharisees were working on a plan to kill him. They were calling him a devil. I needed to talk to him, and I just wanted him to step outside. Just a private moment with his mother, to warn him, to talk with him about his teachings that were upsetting so many. If something wasn’t done, this wasn’t going to end well. But his words, “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?” Then, pointing to those disciples in the room, he’d even gone on to say, “Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” I was so embarrassed and stunned. I just quietly left. But if I could have gotten over myself, persisted as some of those women who needed something from him had done, maybe it could have all changed right there …

 

Maybe I should have been willing to go and try again after John was imprisoned and killed. I should have understood these people would stop at nothing…

 

Maybe I should have died trying to tear him off that cross. They would have speared me and kept on with their mocking, never missing a beat. But wouldn’t that have been better that watching him die? There was nothing left for me to do, but to wonder over all the things that maybe I should have done before. The pitiful form with no resemblance to who he was; the groaning, the agony. From the glorious beginning with the angel in my room, how could so many things have gone so horribly wrong? The gift I was trusted to give life to, to nourish and to nurture, for God Almighty to be born in flesh: I must have been the worst failure God could have chosen for the mother of the man Christ Jesus. Somehow that day, through bloodied eyes, he had seen me there. He had given me to John, who took me home from that day. I had sons left. But John believed. Maybe I should have understood what he was trying to tell us all sooner…

 

Maybe I should have been the first one at the tomb on the third day. Mary Magdalene was there. She was with him at every opportunity while he lived. From the time her sinful wretched life was changed by his word, when seven devils had left her by his mercy and power, nothing could turn her away. I kept hearing he’d been seen by the disciples. I should have made sure I was with them at least once. I would love to have seen him more, before…

 

Now it’s been ten days since we saw him go up into the Heavens in a cloud. He told us to tarry for the promise of the Father, and I came with the eleven disciples and the other faithful women. I watched Peter and the others of the eleven choose a disciple to replace Judas who betrayed Jesus to the murderous crowd. We have prayed earnestly and fervently day after day, but most of the five hundred who were there on the hillside have already gone away. Maybe I should have done more to make them stay. There are only one hundred and twenty of us here now. Is there some reason we haven’t seen anything happen yet? What else I should have done…?

 

But now, what is this? Something is changing. I feel something inside that I’ve never known — or have I? It’s like what I felt whenever He was near me! What I felt when he spoke! When he healed! When he touched me! Tongues of fire are on each of our heads, and there’s a sound of a rushing mighty wind! Languages we’ve never learned to speak are pouring from all our lips! I don’t understand what I’m saying, but some in the crowd are beginning to understand — I’m speaking in their language about the wonderful works of God!

 

Oh, glory to God! This has to be what he promised, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you… He that believeth on me as the scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water…” This is the Comforter he spoke of when he said,”…ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you…” He is here! He is in me and speaking forth! Oh joy and wonder!

 

This is why he came! I see it now — all of it! It was as it had to be. I was not failing him, I just didn’t understand why he came the way he did, lived the way he did, and why it all changed so when he began to preach. He died the only way he could die to take my sin and the sins of the world, and it was all for this!

 

Peter is beginning to preach, “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, …In the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” He is showing them through the history of our people that Jesus answers all the prophesies about the Messiah!

 

The crowd is convicted; they see who it is they have killed, as Peter says, “God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. They ask what they must do. Peter is replying, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to them that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call…” Even his killers are being baptized in Jesus name and this Holy Ghost is filling them just like it has us!

 

This is what he came to do. This is what it all was for. This is why I brought forth my firstborn son and laid him in a manger…

 

And I can see the real story is just beginning…

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Humbled

You’ll notice many of my posts giving credit to a sermon and the man of God who preached it as the source of inspiration. Usually the post is a mixture of what was preached and how it’s affecting my life, with maybe other scriptures that come to mind as I turn that over in my heart. God’s Word fits together perfectly and when it is rightly divided, every truth reflects every other truth in the Word. Digging deeper after a message helps plant it more solidly in my heart and creates fresh excitement for how amazing the Word of God truly is.

Pastor John Bowen, Jr.’s message Sunday morning was on our humbling ourselves, or else being humbled by God. You can pretty well guess which one we’d rather have happen, right? We will be humble either way (if not now, then at the Judgment, where “…every knee shall bow and every tongue confess…”). If we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (2 Peter 5:6…), we will in fact be exalted. Many scriptures support this idea, including Proverbs 18:12, stating that “before honor is humility”.

Daniel 5:26 shows a very different picture, that of a pagan king who acted as though he was above the judgment of God Almighty, and called for the vessels taken from God’s holy temple in Jerusalem when the city was captured by the Babylonians to be brought into his drunken feast. He actually used them to drink wine from, and gave them to his lords, his wives, and his concubines, as together they praised the gods of silver, and gold, and brass, iron, wood, and stone, “…which see not, nor hear, nor know…” But, as Daniel told Belshazzar, “…the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, thou hast not honored.” Belshazzar’s judgment was pronounced quickly by a hand writing on the wall, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, interpreted by the prophet Daniel as, in part, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” The scriptures tell that Belshazzar was killed that very night.

What is probably more amazing than this story, though, is the one Daniel referred to in his rebuke of Belshazzar. For a pagan king to exalt himself was not all that unusual. The mighty king Nebuchadnezzer, Belshazzar’s father, actually became like a beast and was driven from men, eating grass in the field like an ox after standing and surveying the kingdom God had elevated him to build and taking all the credit to himself. Not until he acknowledged God’s power and majesty did his reason return to him and he resumed his throne. Belshazzar had seen enough to know that God was all-powerful, but seeing it wasn’t enough to keep him humble.

God isn’t always so immediate in his judgment. He is, after all, merciful, and not willing that any should perish. His greatest desire is that we hear preaching and repent, addressing what we hear at an altar, and taking care of it once and for all by His help. My last post, Are you out of control? referenced Job’s trial, and how his efforts to raise his children to live for God were not immediately rewarded by seeing them outlive him in the fear of the LORD, nor the assurance that all was well when they left this earth. Job was not in control in that aspect, or in any other.

At the end of the message I heard on Sunday, as I was praying in the altar and searching my heart about any areas where I was less than humble, one unexpected picture came to mind. It had to do with my feelings over some things in life that haven’t gone as I expected them to. Realizing that I can’t make anything happen by trying to force it has been a revelation that has freed me. But, as God knows the thoughts and the intents of the heart, He showed me through the preaching of His word what I had not realized until that service: my believing that if I do “my part” then He is obligated do His was actually an act of pride.

In fact, for me to believe that I could do anything to make another person truly choose the right path was pride as well, even for someone who I could influence greatly. Nor is there any room for me to feel I deserved something from God because I had obeyed Him. We don’t hear much about Luke 17:7-10, but the attitude of a master toward a servant who has labored all day in the field is described. Will that master tell the servant, “Come sit down and let me get you something to drink and eat?” Hardly. Rather it’s more like, “You fix my supper and when I’m through eating, you can go take care of yourself.” A side of Jesus we don’t think of very often, but these are His very words: “So likewise ye, when ye have done all these things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10).

For example, teaching our children the ways of God, and reaching out to others with the message of the Gospel is our reasonable service, not something for which we deserve praise or even reward. I had to let that concept sink it. It’s still not about me. At the end of Job’s trial, God addressed Job much the same way: “Where was thou when I laid the foundation of the earth?…Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?…Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee. Here we are?” Though Job had not sinned — according to the Word of God — he was told where he stood, and reminded in a sense that “…every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Psalm 39:5

The truth is, God has his way in the affairs of men. We, and our loved ones, live unto the LORD and die unto the LORD, and whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (some through relationship with Him, but we are all in His hands to do with as He will). So in my case, where my hopes are hung on loved ones desiring the things of God with passion and seeking them with all their hearts, if it should be that the happy spiritual endings I have given myself to strive for do not come to pass when I would like to see them, can I say God didn’t pay up after I did my part? Of course not. Striving for those things is not optional, but an obedience in itself to the Word of God. But that is where my ability to affect anything stops. I can support, encourage, and expect. But only He can do the work.

Humbling ourselves in prayer and fasting to acknowledge that we and our loved ones are in His hand sets things to right in our hearts. Retreating to wonder why God isn’t working for us just wastes time we can’t afford to lose. There’s an enemy who is trying to cut off the supply line of support for struggling souls who are in the midst of a battle for their eternity, those who may not have fully given up yet, but may be fighting with less and less strength against opposition that will never give up. It’s not time to take a pity party break. It’s time to come out with guns blazing and bombard Heaven for the help of the only Power that can redeem: the blood of Jesus.

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