How Can I Be Sure?

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Watering:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. …

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (Luke 1)

Watching:

Zechariah was a priest. A respected man of an honored lineage – set apart for God’s service.

…And though he had prayed for years,

Zechariah’s wife remained barren. Disgraced.

Now God was finally choosing to answer their prayers —

Up close and personal.

In the temple.

With an angel.

Hard to get more sure than that!

And yet Zech just had to ask: “How can I be sure?”

Ummm… probably not the best response.

 

Wondering:

So I just have to ask: “Yo, Zach, dude,  you really couldn’t just ROLL with it?!

* * *

Why is it so easy to believe the bad report, and not the good?

Why do we ever struggle with believing in God’s love for us?

Is it just the deceitfulness of Sin?

Has the enemy’s voice become so familiar, it just feels safer?

Or do we just go with our eyes and our gut? (And forget that’s what got us humans here in the first place!)

But here’s the deal: I so totally “get” Zechariah’s response.

We live in a “prove it” world after all. And with technology’s  trickery, how could we NOT?

And honestly, what’s wrong with, “How can I be sure?” I mean, the Lord asks us to test the spirits, right? Count the cost. Discern the Truth. Watch for wolves dressed as good guys… and all that wisdom jazz.

And then there’s the slippery, treacherous slope of unanswered prayers.

Here, when Hope was knocking on Zechariah’s heart right in front of his face, he put his faith in all the dawns of unanswered emptiness instead.

Zechariah let himself fall into the default mode of fear and doubt

… instead of falling on his face in thankfulness.

Yet, even still I think I understand: all those years of serving God faithfully, all those years of others  muttering behind your back wondering what sin, what curse was lurking in your past… all those years of an empty cradle. How hard it would have been to believe it was all finally over – the reproach finally gone. Caught off guard. Incredulous. Yep, I’d be talking to that angel too:

“Whoa, Gabe, hang on, just a sec. Yeah, you’re all shiny and bright and completely scared the bejeebers out of me, but I’ve been praying a long time. Years. And actually, I guess, maybe praying turned into more a habit than a real hope. I guess maybe I stopped believing my prayer mattered. I don’t know. But I DO know this is NOT how I imagined I’d be answered. Life has gotten a little fuzzy and my mind is not what it used to be and maybe this ol’ fool is losing it after all. I’m just so tired. Done. Worn out. So, excuse me Sir, but I just have to ask, “How can I be sure?”

An honest question…

And what’s wrong with that?!

 

Nothing.

Nothing at all

… because God meets us where we’re at.

 

And in Zechariah’s case, he was met with the proof of a silent tongue.

Zach wasn’t being punished, he was being disciplined. There’s a big difference. Zach was being taught…shown. He was being loved.

The raging whirlwind of doubt and worry and confusion and all the unanswered years – were quieted. Literally.

…”How can I be sure?”

Well, let me show you, Zach, and you’ll be silent until you are sure. Watch and see the glory of the Lord. No more words for a while, just watch. You didn’t believe, Zechariah. That’s okay, you will – and others will too because of you. And in the fullness of this answered prayer, you will give thanks to Almighty God  – who loves you regardless of your doubt.

***

It would appear that sometimes answered prayer comes with the need for silent strength, with the need for time to ponder and acknowledge the work of God’s hand.

It would appear that sometimes answered prayer comes with Hope smacking us upside the face, and yet it still comes anyway

despite how “dumb” we can be! ( 😉 )

It would appear that the only thing we need be sure of

is how much we are loved by God.

Waiting:

Lord, make my life a prayer to you.

Watering Today: Prov. 25; ps 25, 125; Jeremiah 31-32; Luke 1

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On your mark, get set…

Watering:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes. 5:16-16)

Watching:

God’s will.

The answer to the heart cry, “What the heck am I doing here?”

The place where vision begins.

Wondering:

The very heart of God is that I should:

Rejoice always.

Re-joy. Remember. Rehash. Regurgitate. Relive. Renew. Re-determine every moment to see His goodness and reflect all the good that I see.

Pray continually.

Focus and purpose to give my thoughts back to the One who gave it all – my cries, my whoops and hollers, my moans, my questions… Fill my mind with conversation with Him.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

Wait at His feet until I know

KNOW what he’s already done for me,

KNOW that He will never leave me or forsake me,

KNOW that it is God – the Creator of heaven and earth – at work in me, and for me

KNOW that He is purposing good for me and not evil, working in me both to will and to do His good pleasure.

KNOW that He has my eternal back…

KNOW so deep and true that my tongue agrees with my heart and bubbles up in thanksgiving in all circumstances.

…This is God’s will.

Waiting:

Jesus, you know me – every part of me, and you love me just the same. Thank you for being simple in your instructions. Thank you for the knowledge, that with one step in your direction you run to greet me, to help me, to lavish your love and throw me a party. Thank you.

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Hurts So Good

 

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Watering:

 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Watching:

Work. Labor. Endurance.

Nope. No siree. No thank you…These don’t sound very fun.

Produced by Faith. Prompted by Love. Inspired by Hope.

Hmmm… maybe I better rethink this.

Wondering:

I’ve been having the Whinies lately. Triggered by an irritating cold, lack of energy and drive, and any other excuse I want to include.

I’ve slumped into the “Woe is me’s” of bigger, deeper issues that have been my traveling companions in this life for way too long.

And frankly, I’m just a little tired of myself.

So I look at this Scripture and I see work. labor. endurance… and you might as well say death, destruction and dismay because sometimes – in the slumps – that’s all it feels like.

But then I see the tie in of Faith, Love and Hope and I realize, quite honestly, I’ve been acting a little like a soiled, entitled brat. And I hear the Spirit of God, like the prophet Nathan say,

“That man is you, Jane.You want all things good to include all things easy. You want Faith, Love, Hope… and you want them all right now. But like freedom: priceless gifts come at a cost – a price already paid by me.  So labor, with me. Endure beside me. Hope in me. Walk these gifts out in respect, and bended-knee thanksgiving. I have not promised this journey will be easy, but I have promised it will include joy.

It is time to put on your big girl pants, little one… .”

Ouch. That hurts so good.

Waiting:

Yes, Lord. Yes

This Morning’s Word to Water

http://youtu.be/v7TI0JFNNhA

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A New Day Vow

Watering:

Psalm 56

Be merciful to me,my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire,they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.

 In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?

 I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

Watching:

David lived an enemy-filled life. A life filled with war and death, and frontline battles no further than his own front door.

Often using his kingly power, and sometimes being played by it, David was always pursuing or being pursued. But down deep, in the nitty gritty dirt of darkened caves, David knew who had the true royal power… and to that Heavenly King, he was under vows:

“I will present my thank offerings to you.”

Wondering:

I’ve never been chased by a literal army. And I don’t imagine you have a target on your back either.  We don’t have an enemy pursuing us at every corner … or do we?

* Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

* For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:22)

* And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. (2 Cor.11:14-15)

Prowling. Roaring. Devouring. Deceiving. Masquerading.

This enemy is subtle, sneaky, driven by power-hunger, and dresses in his Sunday best. A defeated, and desperate foe pulling out all the stops to take down as many as he can before his power is no more.

But that’s the point: Right now, his power is no more.

How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

Those who see you stare at you,
they ponder your fate:
“Is this the man who shook the earth
and made kingdoms tremble,
the man who made the world a wilderness,
who over threw its cities
and would not let his captives go home?” (Isaiah 14: 12-17)

We have overcome by the blood of God’s lamb. Yet, until he is thrown back to the pit of hill, we are easily deceived – just ask Eve.

And we are easily persuaded – just ask Adam.

And we have not been promised a trouble free life – just ask Jesus

So I will follow David’s lead, and grab hold fast and hard to my overcoming King as he whispers his bold-faced strategy, “Be of good cheer!”

And I will make a vow to the Living God.

I will hold my head up and look to the Lord, maker of heaven and Earth from where my help comes and when battles rage, and my enemy laughs… I. Will. Bring. My. Thank. Offerings.

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

Waiting:

Father, not by might, not by power, but by your spirit … With all my trust poured out in thanksgiving, I will keep my vows to you, because you are worthy.

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Snuggling Closer

Watering:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24)

Watching:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.  The love of most. Not a few, not some… but most.

Most.

Wondering:

I’m not going to lie, this Scripture scares me

…because suddenly I’m at the Last Supper, feasting, learning, dreaming of glory days about to be. And then Life stops as my Every Hope says: “Tonight, one of you is going to betray me…” And I’m one of the disciples, with exceeding sorrow looking into the eyes of the One who would know,

            ” … Lord, is it I? ”

Will it be me whose love grows cold?

…because suddenly I’m rising up with Peter, empowered with passion, “Lord, not me, I will never deny you…”

Will it be me who chills beneath Wicked’s growing glare?

…because suddenly I wake with the echo of the rooster’s crow, and see myself dealing with the behavior of yet another “kids these days” – disrespectful and apathetic – acting out as I turn to listen to the drug-leashed parent glaring from behind hazy dilated eyes – the one who can no longer give a rip – telling me all I’m doing wrong

… because suddenly I sense it

the icy danger nipping at my cooling heart

Waiting:

Oh sweet Jesus, help me be the one

the who stands

firm until the end

the one who sees the darkening clouds of wickedness increase

and snuggles near your flame even closer

letting grace increase instead

grace for the one who’s looking

who’s searching

the one who’s waiting for life to make sense and emptiness to be filled

the one who spits and curses

mocks and crucifies

testing, tempting, trying

— looking at me to see if your love is real

if your love is sure

if your love is wickedproof

Love enough to warm a chilly heart

Love enough to keep a fire burning bright and hot and true

Love enough for them

true and firm

to the end

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In the Everydays

Watering:

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1)

Watching:

It was spring.

David was a king.

He was supposed to go off to war.

Ho hum, another war… another sure victory,… let’s see, what else is happening?

Disillusioned? Bored? … or was David just a gorged stomach after a Thanksgiving feast? Power full, victory stuffed…ready for some football and a nap.

Regardless the reason, David sent someone else to fight his battle. Someone else to win his war.

Someone else to do what he should have been doing…

David stayed behind.

Wondering:

Much is made of David’s subsequent decisions surrounding Bathsheba – the juicy tabloid news. But it seems that real problems always start way sooner, more quietly, more internally — more root like.

Problems always start in the Everydays, the day ins and the day outs… deciding to put our hand to the plow, or opting to stay behind.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? I could no more pick apart David’s fall than he could pick apart any of mine. Because only God sees our heart… the very depths of the Everydays that makes me, me — and makes you, you…

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens,you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139)

And it doesn’t matter weather our Everydays are full of victory or despair, excitement or boredom, everything fulfilling or everything on hold… God waits for us.

His right hand holds us fast to keep us from falling.

Waiting:

Father, you know the depths of my heart, and you love me the same. In all my Everydays, Lord, help me keep my hand to the plow.

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Sandwich Hug

Watering:

 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart… After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty… and when David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Watching:

Michal was sandwiched between pride and jealousy – between a blessing and a curse. David was returning to bless her and she didn’t even know it.

Pilate was sandwiched between his conscience and the crowd – between personal doubts and perceived authority. Merely washing his hands, he was left unable to wash his heart.

Jesus was sandwiched between one who believed, and one who mocked – between one whose life choices had softened his heart and one who had let them harden and blind. Condemned criminals both, given last minute game-winning baskets to shoot.

And bottom line: Jesus was ready and willing to give victory to all.

Wondering;

Bible days. Modern days. Our choices to what Life throws at us remain the same…

At any given point in time:

* I’m Michal:  jealous, self-righteous, embarrassed by the backlash of a loved one’s actions — ready to open my mouth in hurtful complaints. (And I wonder now, what blessings do I miss when I forget to first give my heart (and my words) to the Lord to make His own?)

* I’m Pilate:  fueled by the public swelling of opinion – pro or con, it doesn’t matter, the stink of misplaced authority is the same — caught in my own battles of doubt, ready to jump to misguided action just to have a matter finished. (And I wonder now, how might God rewrite the scene if I give Him half a chance to lead?)

* I’m the disillusioned criminal: hardened and blind, clinging to hurt– ready to wear anger and pain as leaden shields of misplaced grief. (And I wonder now, what view of paradise do I miss when I hold on to pain rather than reach for grace, mercy and forgiveness?)

At any given point in time, I am a sinner lodged between The Rock of Ages and a hardened place of my soul.

So can I say (again) how stinkin’ thankful I am for Jesus!… because, beyond all unfathomable reason: this wretched sinner is saved from myself, saved by grace!

Saved by the One true God, the one mediator (sandwiched) between God and mankind – the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (1 Tim. 2: 3-5)

You can’t get THAT at Subway! 😉

Waiting:

Jesus,  I rest hugged in your arms of love. Let your gentle squeeze welcome death to all things ugly. Let your embrace help me look for Resurrection-powered Life.

 More Word to water:

 

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