Thursday, December 6, 2018

Christmas - Day 2

Christmas Day 2
I am so glad that Luke included the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth and the birth of John the Baptist in his recounting of the coming of Jesus to earth. He relates to his readers the agony and ecstasy of a life of faith - the struggle that often accompanies walking with our God of Promise to realize fulfillment that only God can bring about. It is included to help those of us who may find ourselves in the middle of such a struggle, not understanding why our hope is deferred, trying to cope with what appears as a death of a dream or vision.

We read that before the angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias to announce good news about fulfillment of his desire for a son, he and his wife were already in the stages of defeat and hopelessness - they are now too old to have children and Elizabeth's womb is now beyond just barren. We can see that Gabriel's announcement of heaven's plan is met with pain, bitterness and unbelief. This is a very real place in our human experience that can rob every son and daughter of God of their future destiny yet reserved in heaven to come into play for their inexpressible joy and God's glory. Unfortunately, many who started out with a vibrant hope in God's goodness and promises have been caught in this tar pit, never to move forward, living in a reduced version of the purpose for which they were born.

Sometimes the seemingly insignificant words of the Bible carry hidden treasures if you know the ways of God. How about these in v. 8? "Now it happened....". Other more literal translations of this text say it this way: "And it came to pass....". Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because it reveals how our breakthroughs and fulfillments come about historically in our lives -  our "What ifs" become reality. 

The Greek word translated "now" or "and" in this verse is used to reflect that a change is about to be released from heaven, regardless of what has been happening up to that point and the normal earthly flow of events that define our normal. Something new is coming from the Lord of Hosts. The Greek words for "it happened" or "it came to pass" used by Luke reflect that the change is being birthed or breaking through by God's creative power to shift our normal into alignment with His prepared plans that override our earthly limitations and previous history. 

While that right there excites me and stirs my hope, it is even more important to note that Luke is telling us that while God was setting this up for Zacharias and Elizabeth, they did not know it! Zacharias was just in the flow of his priestly duties, which included the opportunity to offer up incense in the temple once in his lifetime. He was chosen by lot to be the one that year to do this. But he did not know the greater life-changing event that was about to take place that day when he entered into the holy place to offer incense to God. He was stepping, without knowing it, into the Kairos Time of God for his life and the fulfillment of fathering an amazing son that was to be born to him in his "beyond fruitful" years. Kairos is the Greek word used in the Bible for heaven's timing that carries divine purpose when it intersects with our earthly historical time.

If you have the eyes of faith to see beyond the normalities and limitations of this life that so often suck the life out of us and leave us with hopelessness and living a life accepting lack of fulfillment, you can look beyond to something greater reserved in the heart of God's good plans for you. This is how the Bible defines faith - seeing the unseen, not walking by sight, a mind set on things above, not trusting in our own understanding or perceptions of current realities but in God Who is always working on our behalf. 

Zacharias had given up and was living in reduced expectations for his future. So he was not perceiving that God was changing things. He was not ready to receive the word of God's fulfillment from the angel Gabriel on that heavenly appointed day. Contrast that with his wife Elizabeth who would go on to say, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).

In Genesis 28 we read that Jacob, as he was running in his own strength away from his negative circumstances, stopped for the night to sleep. But he awoke from a dream in which he saw the Lord operating over His life with awesome heavenly power.  His waking words reflect our common experience: "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. How awesome is this place!" Jacob would never look at his life or future the same way.


Point to ponder: What might the Lord of Hosts, your Heavenly Father and His angels, be up to right now in your life that you cannot see or have imagined? Have you asked Holy Spirit to give you eyes of faith to see the unseen in your limitations and struggles? Are there signs of "heavenly possibilities" moving around you right now that you may not have attributed to a breakthrough and fulfillment of your dream from God? This Christmas season is a good time to start praising the Lord in advance for what He is doing right now and begin to prophesy your fulfillment! Angels are waiting....

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Heavenly Possibilities



If your heart has been awakened to God's love and activity in your life, the Christmas season—and the story behind it—can capture your attention afresh each year with new expectations of blessing and breakthrough. All of us need a fresh dose of hope because we all need breakthroughs and blessings that take us beyond where we are living right now.

When I read the accounts written in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke of how our Heavenly Father sent His Son into the earth wrapped in human flesh and the incomprehensible way He did it (angelic visitations, supernatural conception, a star appearing, etc), my imagination gets stirred for my present circumstances of life. Heavenly possibilities begin to overlay what I thought were limiting earthly realities. This is where, with Holy Spirit, we can dare to dream and embrace the "what if's" of God. And such dreaming and pondering has been known to lead to believing that you can receive what you had never previously imagined. As Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is "at hand."

While Matthew's account kicks in with Joseph and Mary as the central story, Luke begins with the "story behind the story." And this is where I want to begin my Christmas journey this year. In Luke 1, we are introduced to a couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, relatives of Mary. We read that when God began to open up heavenly possibilities ("what if....?") into their lives, they were already in the grip of "hope deferred," "dreams have died," "just surviving," disappointment and shame. All they had wanted in life was to have a son who would carry on the family name and priestly ministry of the father. They had served God faithfully according to all His commands, especially the ones that carried promises of blessing. But the fulfillment of the promise of the blessing of children was beyond them, for they were now too old in body and Elizabeth's continued barrenness had become deadness.

Just like you and I, they had no idea that their dream was too small and that their Father, who had regard for their faith and obedience, had kept in reserve something greater than they thought was available. It is not that He had no regard for their pain or disappointment (hope deferred makes the heart sick), He just had a more glorious outcome to overlay onto their impossibilities that carried a joy in fulfillment beyond their imagination. And the heavenly Kingdom assignment for their son required a more than ordinary birth to provoke the hearts of all who heard of it that something marvelous was about to break into the earth and change history forever. "Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matter were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, 'What then will this child turn out to be?' For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him" (Luke 1:65-66, NASB).

Ponder with me: What if my present "hope deferred" and the limitations/impossibilities that seem to dictate my future are only the stage God has set for His glorious entrance into my life circumstances to unfold His glorious plan that was far greater than I could have imagined? Is there reserved in heaven for me right now a blessing, a breakthrough, a fulfillment that will blow my mind when it comes to pass in His prearranged time? And would you welcome an extraordinary, unexplainable miracle breakthrough to shake things up around you? Here is the pathway to receive it, found in the words of Elizabeth herself after she became pregnant: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).

Dare to dream again with God this Christmas. Your ponderings and prayers could attract some angels to your impossibilities, which could lead to something marvelous!