Preparing the Way

quotes-perfection

God’s plans are perfect.  He gave an old man and an old woman a child, to be named John, not Zechariah after his father.  God had prepared the path for this “John”.  On the day of circumcision, this child would be named by a father who had lost his ability to speak during the pregnancy as he had not believed the words of Gabriel, the angel of the LORD.

And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered.

And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.

And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,

and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,…

Luke 1:63-67

Part of this prophesy was:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.  

Luke 1:76-80

John, the Apostle, writes in John 1:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 

John 1:6-9

God prophesied through others about John and Jesus:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:1

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 4:30


“And you, child….”

“What then will this child be?”  ~

prophet of the Most High

a messenger

a preparer of the way

a guide for our feet into the way of peace

a giver of knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins

a giver of light

The tender mercy of God prepared John for this calling.  John’s obedience and abiding with God would allow him to go before Jesus.  Jesus said this about John: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Matthew 11:11

Father God, You are the Holy One.  I am at peace this day as I wait in this Advent season, seeing the ministry of John who came before Your Son.  John had so much to be and do but You were always with Him for You gave him Your Holy Spirit from the womb.  He was obedient to You.  He abided in You always.  Thank You for these lessons to my spirit.  When I stand upon Your holy ground, I am called to follow You in all ways.  May my sight be towards You and my hearing to You as well that I would know Your will for my life, the path which I am to walk.  Father, I meander and get lost, but You never lose me.  I am so grateful for Your strong hand upon me always.  Keep me on the straight and narrow highway that is Your Way.  My heart is Yours.  I pray, in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.   

Being Woven ~ linda

The Baby Leaped in Her Womb

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 

and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.  And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,

and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Luke 1:39-45

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John, yet unborn, leaped inside Elizabeth when Mary came to visit her cousin.  This unborn child would go before Christ Jesus to prepare a people for His coming, would “be great before the LORD,” would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”  And then he leaped inside the womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.  God’s plan was orchestrated perfectly for He knows all being the Creator.   John welcomed Jesus before either one was born, and long before John would be baptizing Jesus, announcing Jesus and His ministry on this earth.  Surely, the mothers are blessed.

In verse 45, after John leaps, Elizabeth spoke of the blessedness of Mary who believed the angel from the Lord.  Believed.  Verse 38 of Luke 1…And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  She believed!  And Elizabeth says to Mary in verse 43, “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  “The mother of my Lord….”  She believes.  How powerful this is for me.  Belief with a trust that is beyond human ability.  Belief with a love that can truly only come from the Holy Spirit.  Belief through being humble and gracious.  How can we believe, believe like Mary and Elizabeth without the Holy Spirit in us?  How?  I think we cannot.

Throughout this passage, I find…

acknowledgement

joy/leaping

filled

believing/faith

trust

love

acceptance

humbleness

grace

How blessed I am to know Jesus by faith.  How much stronger I can be as I draw near to Him.  Oh, My precious LORD, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.  May I stand firm upon the foundation of You, my LORD and Saviour.  Your cousin greeted You from the womb.  He knew because the Holy Spirit was upon him.  I know You.  I know that the Holy Spirit lives in me.  May I be attuned to Your Spirit so that I will recognize the greetings of those You send to me.  May I believe as Mary and Elizabeth believed.  Such trust and humility and grace.  In the Holy Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

My Soul Glorifies the LORD

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And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 

and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  

And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  

For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  

Luke 1:41-49

Pondering Mary’s words as she magnifies the LORD.  Father, I pray I am able to humble myself as sweet Mary did at such a moment as this.  Power could have been hers.  To be worshiped could have been hers.  But she accepts the beautiful pregnancy of having Your Son being born through her and she does this with such a humble spirit.  Praise You, Father, for choosing Mary.  Praising Mary for being able to accept such a wondrous privilege.  I thank You, Father, for this time with You in Your Word.  In the Name of Your Only Son, I pray.  Amen.  

Being Woven ~linda

Let It Be…

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.   He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Luke 1:30-33

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So much happens in these four verses:

 An angel

He speaks to Mary

She has found favor with God

She will conceive a son

The angel gives her the name to call this boy

He tells her about her coming son, words that any mother would be proud to hear about her coming son, but would wonder if all of these things could be true

As I wait in the spreading Advent, I ponder the magnificence of this proclamation.  Would I be able to understand and accept these words had they been spoken to me?  Could I grasp the future that these words speak?  An angel naming my baby?  Me, a young and vulnerable woman, having a baby of God’s, not of man?  How could this be?  To me, if I were Mary?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.

Yet, I understand something.  God can do and be anything and is everything.  The angel says in verse 37: “…For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Even more beautiful and amazing is this young woman who is to be the Christ’s mother, innocent and gentle in her spirit, questions the angel, and then graciously accepts those deep and powerful words by responding thusly:

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:38

Could I?  Would I?  Oh, God, grant me a heart that so beautifully wraps around Your Truth; accepts the words of Your messengers; opens myself to Your will.  Would I? Could I?  I pray so, my LORD.  I pray so.  I pray with my heart’s ears and eyes open to You, to You alone.  In Your Son’s Holy Name, the Son of the Most High.  Amen

 

 

Graphic:  http://www.lorisreflections.com/god-lessons/mary-favor/

Preparing the Way

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.  And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  Luke 1:13-17

Zechariah prays.  God hears his prayer.  He sends an angel and brings great and unbelievable news to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  God’s Truth comes to pass for He said it.

John will “…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

As I prepare for Christmas this year, I am mindful of being drawn closer to Christ Jesus, my LORD, with each day, each passing minute, or even a second.  God gave John a calling to draw people to the LORD Jesus even before He became known.  He was to prepare a people for His coming.  In our own day, we, too, can prepare for His coming as He enters our hearts with newness each year, each Christmas, but also each and every day, each and every moment.  Christ brings cleansing and wholeness to us with each breath.  May we then be prepared and turn to prepare others.

Father God, I seek You and call upon You to prepare my heart in this Advent season.  I wait.  I wait, Father, for Your Son comes anew although He has been, has gone, rose again, and yet lives in me today through Your Holy Spirit for I am one who had to be prepared once for His coming.  I believed.  But I believe today, not in the past tense, for “believing” is ongoing and for always.  Father, breathe in me afresh daily that I would be able to prepare others for His coming.  I praise You, Father, for You gave us the Only Gift we would ever need.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing…for until I knew You, nothing meant anything.  I thought ‘things’ meant something to me, but they really did not.  Knowing You, Your Son, Your Holy Spirit, the Trinity, is All that makes a difference in my life.  I know that Your Son is the Redeemer for He redeemed me, even me.  Praise You, LORD.  You are the Holy One of Israel.  I pray in Your Name.  Amen.

holy-one-lge

Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.  
Isaiah 41:14

graphic banner:  http://wordworshipbanners.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/the-holy-one-of-israel/

Peace Came

In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, the “peace offering” to God made before the priests, according to the law, is often mentioned.  It had to be done just right physically as well as with a right heart or it would have been done for nothing.  How often do we do things out of repetition without even thinking about how we are REALLY doing them?  Praying words without our heart attached?  Going to church diligently without that right heart?  Reading the Bible without spending time with God?

“When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted.  It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire.  If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted, and everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is holy to the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from his people.  Leviticus 19:5-8

Peace_Gold_LR

Matthew Henry states in his commentary on Leviticus 19: “Though the sacrifice was offered according to the law, if it was not eaten according to the law, it was not accepted. Though ministers do their part, what the better if people do not theirs? There is work to be done after our spiritual sacrifices, in a due improvement of them; and, if this be neglected, all is in vain.”  

In Leviticus 19:5, the words “peace offering” is שֶׁלֶם – shelem, which means offered by giving thanks and praising God, a sacrifice for alliance or friendship, a voluntary sacrifice of thanks.  At the end of that one verse is the phrase, “so that you may be accepted.”  In Hebrew, the word is רָצוֹן – ratsown meaning pleasure, delight (pleasing to God), favor, goodwill, acceptance.  

The New Testament also uses the word “peace” which is one of God’s many gifts to us through His Son.  In Luke, Zacharias speaks with his newly unbridled tongue once his own son is born, but he speaks about the coming Messiah that Mary is carrying:

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,  to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:76-79

Pioneer_Peak_Alaska-2

This “peace” in verse 79 is εἰρήνη – eirēnē  in Greek, meaning…of the Messiah’s peace, the way that leads to peace (salvation), the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ thus fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatsoever sort that is, the blessed state of devout and upright men after death.

Matthew Henry, once again, says, “Salvation…is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last. It is not only a light to our eyes, but a light to our feet; it guides us into the way of making our peace with God, of keeping up a comfortable communion; that way of peace which as sinners we have wandered from and have not known, nor could ever have known of ourselves.”

Jesus is our Peace, our Prince of Peace.  By the One, the Holy One of Israel, we have the Way to salvation and that Way is peace.  We, by God’s Grace, have His Word and the way to “see” clearly the path that is before us.  We must still have our hearts right as God wants us to come to the Cross with open hands and an open heart.  He wants us to lay our sins, our burdens, at the foot of that Cross.  It is then that His peace can rain upon us and reign in our hearts.

Oh, Gracious Heavenly Father, I do come before You this eve and know that my peace offerings, nor any other kind of offerings, are never enough if my heart is not set upon You with a right attitude and openness before You.  May I begin each day with a prayer to You for this kind of heart.  I have trusted Your Son for my salvation and know where I am to go and be upon the death of this body.  Oh, I am forever grateful, LORD.  May the years of this life left be wholly Yours and on Your path for my life.  May I walk rightly with this beating heart at peace in You.  In the Name of Your Son, the Prince of Peace, I pray.  Amen.  
Peace: http://ilovetypography.com

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