Time

Time

Luke 1: 57 “When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.”

It took 9 months for her son to grow within her. God could have done a miracle but He waited. He waited within the restricted time.

Some things take time. It would appear to Google that getting the perfect boiled egg is indeed a science there are so many pages on this but it boils down to time!

On the Gmaps app on my phone it will tell me with a fair degree of accuracy how long the distance of travel will take whether I am driving, on the train, walking or on a bike. How clever that we can plan our lives around time and how time restricts us. How strange that the one thing we have done all our lives is to try and beat time?!!

Miracles are not necessarily instantaneous. Breakthroughs are often accompanied by careful carrying of responsibility for that breakthrough.

Is time your friend or foe?

Submit your prayers to the time restriction that God wants to use. They are never wasted or lost.

 

Get some friends

Get some friends

Luke 1: 56 “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”

Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth was already in her 6th month of pregnancy. Therefore Mary stayed with her for the final 3 months and by the time her baby was born Mary was indeed showing herself, her miracle was growing within.

There are friends:

  1. Who have been tipped off by God to come to you. Can you imagine the scene? Elizabeth: ‘Mary I’m pregnant’, Mary: ‘I know, an angel told me’. Get some friends who are hearing God and encountering Him.
  2. Who will be there for you and will stay with you. Get some friends who will not just pray with you but will see you through into the next breakthrough of your life.
  3. Where age is nothing but it is also everything. Get some friends that are younger than you who have the energetic passion with vision for the future (Mary). Get some friends that have the wise experience of having lived longer and have walked with God before you. Get some friends that are younger and older than you.
  4. Who know when to leave. Some leave too soon and some stay too long. Mary knew Elizabeth was now fine, the baby was either born or would shortly be (I like to think Mary stayed right through to labour). Mary also knew she was now beginning to show herself and so now was the time to speak to Joseph. Get some friends who understand the times.
  5. Who have homes that are needing a miracle. You never know what is happening behind someone’s front door. Not all homes are peaceful and some are in confusion and have complex issues to face. But every home can become a miracle story. Get some friends who need miracles in their homes. Encourage them to believe. Bless them. Commission them.

 

Friends usually evolve. But we can be more pro-active in choosing them.

Get some friends.

Praying the Magnificat 10

Praying the Magnificat 10

Luke 1: 55 “The Lord made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his family forever!”

After 400 years of no prophets bringing any messages from God, all they had were fading promises and many would have forgotten them completely.

But here comes Elizabeth and Mary. An old lady carrying a miracle-child who has encountered the power of the Holy Spirit standing with a greater miracle.

Mary says, “These are the days of the Abrahamic promises coming to fulfilment.”

She will later see and suffer that God who spared Abraham’s Isaac will not spare her own son – His Son.

2018, we are the descendants of that.

But what does it mean if everything is fulfilled, all the Law and the Prophets is found in Christ? If all the Abrahamic promises are now in Jesus do we just study them?

No.

We live like the Mary generation, but even better.

Generally speaking, just like 2,000 years ago, many in the Church struggle to expect that the Messiah/Jesus will return in their own lifetime. Ironically unlike, Mary and the early Church who had just met Him.

In the waiting we too have let the promise of the coming Messiah fade. As a result mission has now become tired and silenced. Maybe God will stir a young generational miracle-carrier to believe the promise-keeper is coming again very soon; that He is in fact already here in presence but will appear physically in what is going to be a blink of the eye.

Will that be you? Can you be an Elizabeth? Can you be a Mary?

Prayer

Promise-keeper, you never fail, you are always on time.

As you fulfilled the many covenants in history like that of Abraham, you will also fulfil your promise to return.

I am ready. I do not have the perfect life. My circumstances are not ready. But I am ready.

I host your presence.

Come Lord Jesus.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 9

Praying the Magnificat 9

Luke 1:54 “He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful …”

Mary had already been told that her son was more than just a child. That it was God coming to the world for a throne, to reign and to build a kingdom. She understands that He is firstly coming to her nation and she chooses descriptive words that are used by the earlier prophets: “But you, Israel, my servant … from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; … I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41:8-10)

He is coming to help in remembrance of His mercy.

Mercy is more than sympathy, pity and forgiveness. It is that but it rushes past and out of those expressions. It is possible to sympathise, have pity and even forgive without doing anything. Mercy needs an act for it to be mercy.

Mercy is not self-seeking or trying to win an argument or prove a point. It is not trying to gain but is in fact accompanied by losing.

Those who show mercy look weaker in our aggressive culture. Mary knew this is what was inside her. She was hosting His presence and this was mercy.

This was the help coming to Israel and to the world.

 

Prayer

Merciful God who came and gave everything.

I see that if I truly want your presence in my life then I am welcoming mercy to dwell in me.

Forgive my defensive, over sensitive, prickly responses to people around me. Forgive my desire to be right.

I lay my life down for others. I offer my life as an act of mercy to those who hurt me.

I think of ways to show mercy to those who suffer.

I choose to suffer for the suffering.

In doing so I host your presence.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 8

Praying the Magnificat 8

Luke 1: 53 “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Mary lived at a time when because of the Herodians taxing heavily the Jews for the building of their lavish palaces and homes for the gentry, hunger was very familiar to most.

Today there are people who stiff suffer at the hands of their governments and broken infrastructures. Even here in the UK there are families who are trying to survive with little food. Of course that doesn’t compare to the many famines that have happened and are still going on around the world. Fuelled by war, corruption, ideologies and apathy from the rest, many are hungry today.

But Mary also lived during a time when the Jews were hungry for God to once again step in and end the suffering of His people which historically was seen to have been caused by their wandering from Him.

Psalm 107: 4-9 “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

Was Mary in fact quoting this Psalm? Probably.

Jesus certainly had Scripture in mind when he gave the beatitude, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled”

The Church needs to find its hunger point again.

We do not have everything. We cannot by our own efforts see Church growth and effectiveness. We boast and advertise our riches but it all comes to nothing. We need God to enter. We need to be able to say, “He has filled.” So …

Are you hungry?

Do you have an insatiable longing that can only be satisfied by God?

Is there a strong desire for more?

Are you pouring out your soul?

It is better to be hungry than not needing a thing.

So let’s hunger for Him today.

 

Prayer

God of the hungry, filler of good things, here I am.

I have nothing to give to you except my appetite for you.

I need you.

It is your face I seek, not what is in your hand.

Come to me.

I want to host your presence.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 7

Praying the Magnificat 7

Luke 1: 52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.”

Today, we are starting 5 days of the Brexit debate in the UK House of Commons! There will be lots of gloating and proud belittling of the opponents opinions.

Also no doubt this week the super powers of the world will once again flex muscle and try to convince the other that they are stronger and richer.

Here is a young teenage girl who may not have been educated but knows her Scripture enough so that when she is pouring out her soul to God she is able to use it to form her own prayers.

Job 5:11 “The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Mary says: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

What appears to be ruling your life today? Which Caesar has sent his minions to encamp on your territory? Has a throne been established? Has there been an authoritative positioning through sickness, financial burden, grief and hurt and stress?

No matter how powerful the seat is, God brings down such rulers from their thrones!

God is with the poor and the broken. The Asia Bibi’s of this world waiting, silently, longing for God to rescue them.

30 years later after the Magnificat comes the Beatitudes which Jesus gives to those who were wandering aimlessly in life, the forgotten, the broken:

If you cannot take any more (poor in spirit); if your heart is broken (those who mourn); if you are not pushing yourself forward all the time (the meek); if those who have harmed you have not got justice or if you long to be free yourself (hunger and thirst for righteousness); if you refuse to walk over people to get to where you want to be (merciful); if you focus less on outward appearances for the praise of men (pure in heart); if you are trying to stop the fighting (peacemakers); if you are losing for refusing to give up (persecuted); if you are any one of these people today then Jesus says to you: You are welcome. Come on into my Kingdom. I have come for you. I am here for you.

Prayer

God of the humble, breaker of the lofty, teach me how to live lowly.

I seek to be low in my thinking, low in my speech and low in my actions. That you in time may lift me, position me and exalt me in your good purpose for my life.

The powers around me and any within are temporary. Bring down those that try and set up thrones in my life.

Take me to the broken and the suffering of this world that I might be with you.

Teach me power within humility that I may be more effective in this life.

Let me host your presence.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 6

Praying the Magnificat 6

Luke 1: 51 “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” (ESV)

Who were the proud that Mary was thinking of? Was it the neighbourhood gossiping about Elizabeth? Was it the Gentiles? Was it those in power? The Pharisees? Caesar? Herod? Even if it was, would they be concerned of a little unknown girl prophesying from a backwater of Judea?

The story at Christmas is an off the radar story. Bypassing the rich and famous, the pride and pomp, the prestige and palace of the upper class.

Who has He strengthened? Mary herself? Elizabeth? The poor all around? I think all those and more.

This statement is an echo of the ministry of Jesus that was to come.

We see Jesus choose the uneducated and broken people of the world as his disciples and future leaders of the church. He challenges the religious as hypocrites and lifts up the rejected women who are no more than second class. He calls Herod a fox and overturns the tables of the money-changers. He totally offends those who think they know the Scriptures better than anyone else. At the same time he picks up the children and blesses them, he touches the leper and the dead making him unclean but leaving them transformed.

How do we relate to those who are proud with all they have achieved and their grand plans for the future and those who think they haven’t done a thing and have got nothing to contribute?

The proud and the poor are all around us. Who do we sit down with the most?

 

Prayer

God of strength who has lifted me and made me stronger.

Teach me how to walk in humility.

I choose to sit with the poor because you are with the poor not the proud. You are with the humble and the humiliated not the holier-than-thou and the haughty. You are with the hungry not those who are full.

Teach me your ways.

I host your presence.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 5

Praying the Magnificat 5

Luke 1: 50 “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”

 

When Gabriel appeared the first words were always “Do not be afraid!” He said it to Mary. Angels appearing meant only one thing, trouble. God was a frightening God, one who would punish the wrongdoing. It is still true today, we are sinners in the hands of an angry God said Jonathan Edwards and centuries later we are trying to avoid those big hands of God. The stance is to fear Him from a distance, lest He notice us and beats us.

I have a Minister in Training in my region who every Sunday evening he and his wife invite the LGBTQI+ people together into their home for a bible study. This is not part of the church programme, it is part of their heart of love for the estate where they live. How wonderful! Gathering the people that some churches would be angry towards (because God is angry) to study God in the Bible!

What kind of God do you worship? An angry one? One to be feared? Does this fear make you think He punishes you and others? Is He a dormant volcano ready to explode?

This song bursting out of young Mary’s soul now moves from what God has done for her to what He will do for the world to come. She has understood and probably knew that when God moves it is not only for now but for the future.

Genesis 17:7 “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”

Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

Just as Mary had to be told not to dread some punishment coming on her by Gabriels appearance so too we must not dread something bad will happen. That is not the fear which matters. Mary says in the next generation to come and the ones beyond there must be fear. So what is that fear? It is a fear that we might ignore the covenant of God, we might not know His plans and purposes for our lives. A fear that we might miss His presence. A fear that says if we don’t host His presence we have nothing.

And in His presence there is mercy. And yes we need that!

 

Prayer

Generations have come and gone and here I am, Merciful God, waiting on you, fearing you, in awe of who you are and the wonder of all that I still do not know. I do not want to let my life be caught up with other good things that I miss the best thing of your presence.

Thank you for your covenant to me. Thank you for the plans and purposes for my life.

I know they will be active and bear fruit. I just need to stay in your presence.

I host you in my generation. Here, now.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 4

Praying the Magnificat 4

Luke 1: 49 “for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.”

“For me, this unknown ordinary and insignificant girl!”

This is not for the high powers, the political rulers, the religious know-it-alls.

The King of Kings, the Creator and Sustainer of ell things came into the world and would fall on the side of the weak and the vulnerable.

Let us not forget who came. His name is holy.

This causes us to flee or run to Him. Mary doesn’t announce her planned strategy for what is now coming through her. Vision statements, mission statements, business plans, project proposals, strategy developments are now all found in the church as a given way we must do things. It is all good, don’t worry. But it is not the most important.

What is?

It is the acknowledgment that God has done great things in our lives. Look back and see. Don’t forget how He carried you, provided for you and made a way for you. And today we must return to Him for He is holy. His holiness calls to apathy and duty and our stale and stubborn discipleship to return to the significant and all-consuming influence of His presence. This pull of desire must increase in us and our churches. It has to go beyond the 20 minute songs we sing and the 90 minute services we attend. It has to invade our lives to the point that as the Jews of Mary’s day we yearn for His coming. We need Him. We need His return. And as we wait longingly the Holy Spirit hovers and lands and moves and fills and we are in the Holy presence. We are thankful and we change our lives to accommodate Him.

 

Prayer

Almighty God, I am thankful.

You have done great things for me and I am thankful.

Thank you for …

You have come to me and for me. I cannot fathom why it was me you have shown grace and mercy to. I no way deserve this love.

But you have come and you are coming again.

And in my waiting I long for you. I desire your presence more than anything.

I return to you. To your holiness. To live holy.

I choose to host your presence.

Amen

Praying the Magnificat 3

Praying the Magnificat 3

Luke 1: 48 “For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed”

 

Who are you today? Are you like Noah being ridiculed for your obedience to God? Are you like Moses with a deep sense of inadequacy and not a great public speaker? Are you like Caleb, the best years look like they have come and gone? Are you like David who did not come from a supportive family? Are you like Jeremiah who was criticised and was very unpopular? Are you like Daniel, in exile, not where you should be? The list of names goes on and on throughout Bible history. Then we come to this less than ordinary girl. She is from Nazareth. Nothing good came from there. It had no religious significance. Her fiancé was not a wealthy trader, he was just a carpenter. Yet she along with the rest was on the mind of God and He chose them. It is what God does. He shames the wise and those who are lofty by using the foolish and lowly. How encouraging for you and me who are just ordinary also!

Elizabeth had called her blessed among women and that she was blessed because she believed the promise.

Mary steps into this blessing. From now on …

Jeremiah tells God’s people that they have heard in the past of all God has done and said. But “From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.” Isaiah 48:6.

Paul would change his course of direction when all he faced was a brick wall from the Jews. Acts 18:6 “But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Do you need to announce From now on? Do you need to step from obscurity and the hidden place and take the opportunity set before you? Do you need to change course and announce a new moment?

Mary from now on steps into her blessing and it will be the next 3 decades that remind her constantly of what that blessing means entails.

One day a woman from the crowd interrupted Jesus’ teaching shouting, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:27-28).

Mary would learn that being blessed meant she would have to learn to obey the child within her.

She would have to learn that Jesus was her Lord not her son.

It would culminate in being the mother knelt down at the foot of the cross with her heart torn realising to be blessed means it will cost you everything.

Prayer

Almighty God, You bless me beyond my understanding!

In my ordinary state. In this place of difficulty where I face many times the challenge of giving up and walking away, I choose to stay. I remain in this place of lowliness. It is where you found me. It was here in the dust of the earth that you found me and you formed me. You created something new from my ashes. And now … I am blessed!

I step into my blessing today. I choose blessing, joy and life.

From now on I walk in your path, wherever you take me, however you lead I will follow. To the cross I come. To my cross of surrender. For within this pain lies the treasure of blessing.

May others see what blessing truly is.

I host your presence.

Amen.