Hiding the Word
My second Christmas memory verse for the season is one of my favorites. When she talks with her cousin, Mary, for the first time about their pregnancies and the babies that they carry, Elizabeth exclaims:
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Scripture tells us in Luke 1:41 that the moment Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby she was carrying jumped in her womb and she “was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
That’s a powerful moment. I think we overlook too often the fact that we Christians have the Spirit within us all the time, everywhere we go. But, people before Christ’s resurrection and ascension did not. Until that point, the Spirit fell upon particular people at certain times only for specific purposes.
So, imagine Elizabeth going about her daily business and then BAM, the rush of the Holy Spirit coursed through her being. She can’t help but give God praise. It just pours out of her in an instant.
Part of what she exclaims in this spontaneous worship and prophetic recognition that Mary was carrying the Messiah is the declaration that Mary was blessed because she believed the promises of God.
And so are we. How blessed we are when we believe that God will fulfill His promises to us.
This is my verse for meditation and memorization this week. I hope you’ll join me or choose one of your own!
For Your Name’s Sake
Originally Published 03/04/2011
This morning, I filled my minivan up with gas and about choked on my bottled water when I saw the little rolling numbers climbing higher and higher. I started imagining the what-if’s of our future like not being able to afford food for my children and my husband having to sleep at his office because we couldn’t afford the gas for him to commute. Within a few seconds, I had my family out on the street with one pair of clothes each and no food.
So, I took one look at my total gas bill and marched inside the store and bought myself a caramel cream doughnut with chocolate frosting and a double chocolate milk. I almost bought two doughnuts, but a little Holy Spirit self-control kicked in—thank goodness.
Many of the storms in our lives are simply the result of living in this sinful, messed up, broken world. We can’t blame God for the crises we face. It’s not God’s fault my gas bill each month is about half my mortgage. Sometimes the storms we face are because we’ve sinned or have chosen to disobey God and now we’re facing the consequences. Other times, Satan is at work, trying to discourage and defeat us with trial after trial.
Regardless of whether our difficulties are God-caused or God-allowed, we can trust that He’s always at work for our benefit and for His glory.
In the case of the disciples in Mark 6:45-52, just because they were in a storm, didn’t mean they were out of God’s will or that they had sinned. It says, “Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida” (verse 45, NIV). He intended for them to be out on that sea, facing the wind and waves. Clearly, this particular storm served a purpose in their lives–two of the same purposes that God often has for our life storms. He uses them to prepare us for our future and to show His glory.
Lessons for the Future
When the disciples faced their first storm on the sea in Mark 4:35-41, Jesus was in the boat with them the whole time, sleeping on a cushion in the stern. At any time during the storm, they could reach over and wake Him up and that’s what they finally did. The disciples exhausted their own resources and acknowledged that the storm was too much for them, so they “woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'” (Mark 4:35-41).
But, this second storm in Mark 6:45-52 was different. Jesus wasn’t physically in the boat with them. He had stayed on the other shore and went off by Himself to pray. So, when the storm got too much for the disciples this time, they couldn’t just do what they did before. In this storm, they were physically alone.
Jesus uses this second storm to teach them that just because He wasn’t physically in the boat, doesn’t mean He was unaware of what they were facing or unable to save them. This was a vital lesson for their future! Every day brought them one step closer to the cross, to His resurrection and His ascension—to a time when they would have to live out everyday life without Jesus talking, walking and eating with them. Without this lesson in this boat in the storm on the sea, the disciples wouldn’t have survived a single trial after Jesus left them. They wouldn’t know how to withstand a storm without Jesus physically in their boat.
God doesn’t waste the experiences in our lives–the storms, the trials, the bad days, the annoyances, the interruptions. All of it. He can be at work in our lives, teaching us and growing our faith, transforming us to be more like Christ, comforting us so we can later comfort others, as long as we yield those moments to Him and willingly receive the lessons.
For His Glory
Not only can God use our every experience to teach and prepare us for the future, but He is also intentional about being glorified in our every circumstance.
In the case of the disciples, when Jesus walked across the water in the middle of the night and climbed into the boat with them, the storm ceased. As you can imagine, the disciples “were completely amazed.” I’d be amazed, too! In the companion passage in Matthew 14:33, it says, “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'”
When God gives us too much to handle, it’s not so we feel defeated or broken or ashamed. It’s not to humble us or make us fall. God gives us too much so that we give everything to Him. Then, when He carries the burdens that force us to the ground, He is glorified. People stand in amazement and see God in us and at work in our lives. There is no question of whether “Heather did this amazing thing”—No, it can only be God.
That means that instead of praying for the miracles I think I need, I can tell God my problems and simply pray for Him to be glorified in every situation. That’s not natural for an in-control, planning person like myself. I am so tempted to pray for specific miracles when I go through tough times and tell the God of the Universe exactly how He can provide for my need.
Praise God that He shows me enough grace not to give me what I ask for!
I’ve slowly learned not to pray for the miracle I think I need, but to pray for God’s glory instead. When David was surrounded by enemies and running for his life, he so often prayed for God to rescue him or save him for God’s glory and for the honor of God’s name. In Psalm 31:3, he prayed, “For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.”
Whatever you are facing, you can trust God to know the perfect way to provide for you and to rescue you. Give your problems to Him and ask Him, “Lord, be glorified in this situation. Be amazing. Be awesome. For Your name’s sake, take me through this storm. For the glory of Your name, rescue me. Whatever brings You glory, Lord, that’s what I ask for.”
Today, I saw this kind of faith in a prayer from another family. I don’t personally know the little girl, Kate McCrae, who is fighting metastatic brain cancer for the second time in her young life. But, her story has touched my heart. I pray for her all the time and I follow her family’s updates and prayer requests. At the end of her post today, Kate’s mom wrote, “We continue to pray that Kate would be healed of this disease, and that Jesus would be glorified through our heartbreak.”
What an example of faith for us. Not many of us will face a crisis in this life as big as this family is facing and yet this hurting mom is willing to place everything in God’s hands and just ask that He be glorified.
Is my daily life too much for me to handle? All the time. Is Kate’s cancer too much for her family to handle? It’s too much for any of us on this earth. But absolutely nothing is too much for God, and so we hoist the burdens that are too heavy for our shoulders onto His back and let Him carry them and us as well—and then we give Him all the glory.
Please join me in praying for Kate McCrae as she begins radiation treatments for her cancer. You can follow this link to learn more about her story.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King