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Mary- A Heart Prepared

 

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Then before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

I Love how God Uses the Unlikely to Carry out His Almighty Plan.

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.  God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.  She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan but how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!  She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her by submitting her heart to God.  How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself.

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.  God knew Mary would be obedient and willing to accept God’s message.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.

May we all have a heart like Mary's, a heart that faithfully responds to His promises. Click To Tweet

This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.  There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts and joy will fill our souls when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy.Click To Tweet

Have you allowed God to Prepare your heart to receive His Promises this Christmas?

If God sent an angel to you with a message, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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3 Strategies Satan Uses Against Us

When you look at this picture what do you see?  The game of chess is an interesting game where one tries to capture the king to become the victor.  I love how the game of chess provides an opportunity for the underdog to win.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Even if all the major playing pieces are taken, it’s possible to still win.  In this game, the pawn can become a queen.  The pawn is merely an underdog until it makes its way to the other side and changes the trajectory of the game.

The game of chess requires perseverance and patience.  How many of us give up before the end of the game? Is it because we are weary and tired?  Or have we lost the confidence to believe that we can win?  In life, Satan can play us like pawns in his game of evil.  He throws temptations in our path trying to lure us away, he whispers lies in our ears to make us doubt and seduces us to believe life is better in the green grass.  He waits until we are at our weakest, most desperate moments to make his move.  He is evil and uses sneaky strategies to make us move where he wants us.  We don’t have to fall victim to Satan’s evil schemes.

3 Strategies Satan Uses Against

  1.  Unforgiveness-  Satan’s role in our lives will always be to tempt us.  When there is unforgiveness in our lives, Satan will always use this against us to tantalize us to the point of destruction.   Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to cause division and chaos in our lives.  Satan seduces us into believing holding onto unforgiveness is a better solution than forgiving others.  Forgiveness provides an open door for unity, harmony and peace in our world.  Forgiving others allows an opportunity for the underdog to win.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

2.  Making Fear greater than God.  Satan will do anything he can to elevate our fears, trying to make them greater than God.  One of his primary purposes is to instill fear in our lives and take our focus off of God.  The other day we were at the park and my daughter said, “I’m thirsty.”  I said, “There is a water fountain over there, go get a drink of water.”  My daughter said, “I want a drink of water, but there is a wasp over there.”  I went over to inspect the situation to find the wasp had already left.  I told my daughter the wasp was gone, but she would not go near the water fountain because she was still afraid she would get stung.  How many times has the enemy done this in our lives?  He instills fear in us so we can’t go where God is trying to lead us.  Even though the wasp wasn’t there anymore she still wouldn’t go near where it was.  Allowing fear to dictate and control our responses and actions will always keep us from God’s greater plans.  When Fear > God, we will always live defeated life that is stuck.  When God > Fear, we will always live a life that is filled with God’s abundance and victory.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

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Anchored in Hope

I will never forget the time we had to take our daughter to the hospital when she fell off a stool.  It was dinnertime and she was wiggling around on a not so stable wooden stool.  I had asked her to please stop wiggling around because she was going to fall and get hurt.  She was 5 years old at the time and was working on her listening skills.  I turned around to plate my dinner then heard a loud crash and immediate screaming.  I turned to see streams of blood running from my daughter’s finger.  She had smashed her pinkie finger under the wooden stool onto the tile floor.  I immediately picked her up and applied pressure to her finger with a paper towel.

We knew she needed more than stitches.  As I drove her to the hospital, fear filled her mind with what was going to happen when she arrived in the emergency room.  She was deathly afraid of needles and hospitals.  Our son had died a year earlier and her perception of hospitals was, when a person gets sick they might not come home.  I kept reassuring her that the doctors would fix her finger and she definitely was coming home with me.

After the doctors examined her, they confirmed she needed surgery.  In life, there are some things that can only be explained as God orchestrated moments.  Because the next part of the story I never imagined happening, not in a million lifetimes.  Since Brooklyn’s finger was an open wound she needed IV antibiotics.  She needed to stay overnight and receive her surgery in the morning.  We were in the same hospital our son died.  As the attendant was wheeling my daughter down the hall, everything looked so familiar.  I asked, “Are we going to the intensive care unit?”  He said, “Since the new hospital was built, the old intensive care unit is now used for surgery overflow patients.”

If you can even imagine, we were taken to the very unit our son had died only a year and a half prior.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I started questioning God, “Why did you bring me here?”  Our Father in heaven knows exactly what we need to achieve wholehearted healing.  He knew what I needed even when I didn’t.  He knew I needed to face my fears head on even if it hurt.

When we let go of what we hold so tightly onto, God will fill it with something so much greater and better.

Brooklyn had a successful surgery, everything went well.  After we were discharged, I asked Brooklyn, “Will you walk into Bowen’s room with me?”  I knew if God brought me all the way here, I mine as well visit the last place I held our son alive in our arms.  When I walked into the room I received an overwhelming gift of peace that went beyond understanding.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me, telling me ‘You don’t have anything to fear or worry about, I have your son and am taking care of him.’  I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders that I have never felt before.  When I walked towards where God was asking me to go, I received the greatest reward of hope and peace.

I received another gift that day.  The hospital where our son died was a place of horror for me.  That day, God replaced my horrific memory with a new one.  The same emergency room door we walked out of with empty arms, is the same door we walked out of holding onto our daughter’s hand.  God was a replacing our painful memory with a healing one–one that offered an endless amount of hope.

Have you ever felt hopeless in your situation?

Our daughter is ten years old now and remembers the day she fell off the stool.  Her finger is a daily reminder of how God restores and renews us.  Whenever she sits on a stool we still mention don’t wiggle around!  It’s amazing the pearls of wisdom that come out of the mouth of babes.  She recently sat on a stool that was anchored to the ground.  She discovered she could wiggle around all she wanted and the stool would never fall.  She said, “I need this stool to keep me safe.”  She recognized there is safety when things are anchored to a strong foundation.

Hebrews 6:18 NLT

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”

God keeps His word and promises.

Hebrews 6:19 NIV

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,”

 

Like an anchor holding a ship safely from drifting off,  our hope in Jesus ensures our safety.  A ship’s anchor goes down to the bottom of the ocean to ground it.  Our anchor is secured in the true heavenly sanctuary that anchors to God Himself.

When storms come our way we can be kept safe when our hope is anchored in God. Click To Tweet

 

Are you anchored in Hope?

 

What gives you hope in your storms?

 

God is faithful, He will never leave you.

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Where Do Unanswered Prayers Go?

I don’t know about you but I have thought about this question many times.  There have been many prayers I have prayed my whole life, God still hasn’t answered.  Does that mean he doesn’t care?  Does it mean God isn’t listening?  I pray this post encourages you to know that God indeed is listening and he cares and loves you very much.

I have heard many say ‘God didn’t answer my prayer, that must mean he doesn’t love me.’  Even though it may be true God doesn’t answer all of your prayers the way you want them, he isn’t a genie in the bottle waiting to grant your every wish.  God doesn’t work that way.  He is our Father who loves us, who knows what is best for us, who sees the bigger picture and has the best plan ever for our lives.  To not answer your prayer may mean that God has something better waiting ahead.

When our third child was born with a fatal kidney disease, my husband and I prayed for God to please heal our son and for him not to suffer anymore.   We had so many people praying for healing for him.  The day he went to heaven, many were angry (including us at first) and said I can’t believe God would not answer your prayer.  Even though God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted, he indeed answered our prayer in a bigger way than we could ever imagines.

Our son is living the best life ever in heaven where there is no more pain or suffering, he awaits until one day we will see him again.  

When I struggle with ‘Why isn’t God answering my prayer?’  ‘Why is this happening?’  ‘How will I ever get through this?’  I hold onto God’s promises that he is faithful, he loves me and cares about my every need.  He is good all the time and I can rely on him for ALL of my needs.

Where do unanswered prayers go? In God’s Hands, He holds them, never forgets them.  He molds and shapes them into the best life ever for you.  (Click to Tweet)

When I am feeling defeated by my circumstances I think of…………..

The Israelites running away from the attack of the Egyptians.  They cried out to God for help and protection and God provided a way through the Red Sea which provided them with a safe escape and toppled on top of their enemy.

Mary and Martha crying out to God, why didn’t you heal our brother Lazarus, to see him arise from the dead 3 days later.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abendengo in the fiery furnace how he kept them protected from the hot flames.  There wasn’t a hair singed on their body and they didn’t even smell like smoke.

I think of Daniel in the lion den.  God sent an angel to shut the mouths of those lions and kept Daniel safe.

It may not seem a likely place to find hope in unanswered prayers, but know that God uses them for good.  He will never waste your prayers or pain.  Your prayers are like precious gold to him.

In your trials is where you will find hidden treasures of what God is trying to show you WHEN you allow him to have your struggles and pain.

Do you have unanswered Prayers?  

Did God answer your prayers in a way you didn’t even think was possible?

Keep Praying.  Never Stop.  God is listening.  He is always with you!  God is Faithful!  In God all things are possible!  You never know what Prayers God will answer, know you can always trust in him and he his plans lead to the best life ever!

In God We can Find Comfort in our Trials.
In God We can Find our Hope despite devastation.
In God We can Find our Peace in the Storms.
In God We can Find Joy in our Struggles.

Keep Fighting the Good Fight with your Prayers!

There is HOPE in our unanswered Prayers!


What do you think God does with unanswered prayers?  Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox.  I also post weekly on my Author Facebook Page.  Join us for #13DaysofKindness starting April 7-20 where you can participate in doing acts of kindness visit www.bowenshope.com for more info!  

I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.