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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.

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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What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Have you ever sat down to pray and just didn’t know what to say? Or felt like your prayers were empty and meaningless? Or if God was even listening?

Prayer is one the most important things we can do in our lives, yet when life gets busy, its one of the first things we omit out of our daily schedules and what we give up when we do don’t see ‘our prayers working.’

Maybe one of the reasons prayer can be so difficult is because of its meaning.

In English, Pray means ‘to ask or beg.’

In Hebrew, the word for Pray Tefillah means to ‘self-examine.’ The root word for Tefillah is Tofel, which means to ‘attach, join or bind together.’

In Aramaic, the word for Pray salah means ‘to bow, worship.’

In Greek, the word for Pray proseuchomai means to ‘supplicate, to worship.’

As one can see, the definition for pray has a variety of definitions. So which definition is correct?

All of them.

Prayer is a way to worship God, it is a way to sit before God to self-examine ourselves and how we ask God to intercede on our behalf and bow before Him in His presence.

Nonetheless, prayer doesn’t have one singular definition and fit into a box. Making prayer fit one singular definition would limit God’s abundant meaning, purpose, and power for prayer. The purpose of prayer isn’t solely meant to just ask God for our own needs and personal gain, or just to ‘self-examine’ ourselves or just to worship. Prayer goes way beyond that.

Prayer is our invitation to God to open the door for His divine power to move the mountains in our lives and others. Taking our struggles to God through prayer invites Him into our lives, brings us into His presence and binds us closer together with Him.

So what do we say when we don’t know what to pray?

God doesn’t judge our prayers. They don’t have to be filled with eloquent words or with verbatim Scripture. We don’t have to be on our knees, bow our heads or even fold our hands. The prayer posture and how we pray is God’s least concern. God is more concerned about when we don’t pray and the condition of our hearts. Our prayers are a way to get our hearts right with God and communicate with Him.

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help.

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

PRAISE
If you don’t know what to say, start with the very nature of what prayer is, praise. Some of the best prayers written in the Bible are prayers of praise spoken by David in the Psalms. Start telling God everything you are thankful for. Praising God first sets our hearts and minds on our Creator and His greatness and puts us in His presence. Praise purifies and softens our hearts, so we can hear what God is saying. (James 4:6-10)

REPENT
Next comes the hard part of what prayer is—repentance. No one likes to admit their wrongs or even speak them out loud. Confessing our sins to God opens a door for His forgiveness, so we don’t allow sin to reign in our lives but allow more room for God’s truth and grace. Confession allows us to humbly come before our Lord, lay our burdens at His feet, so He can do something greater than we ever could on our own. Confession invites God in to intervene on our behalf. (Matt. 3:8, Isa. 30:15).

ASK
Next, tell God all that is troubling you. He wants to hear what is in your heart. He wants every part of you, struggles and all. Ask God for help and healing, to supply for your needs, your provision, safety, wisdom, discernment, guidance, direction. God is always bigger than our struggles and can handle anything we ask of Him. (Phil. 4:19)

YIELD
Lastly, yield to God. Submitting our ways to God to His will and way allows for God’s greater plan to happen through us. Pray for God’s desires to be your desires. At the end of the day, it’s about God’s plans, not ours. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)

We may not always know what to say, but know when we are silent that is what Satan desires for us. Click To Tweet

Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. ~Zig Ziglar

Next time you pray, don’t allow Satan to keep you silent. Cutting prayer out of our lives, cuts our direct communication and relationship off with God, which is exactly what Satan wants. Your prayers matter and make a difference to God. Never stop praying, He is listening.

What is one action step you can take today, to make prayer more meaningful and purposeful in your life?

What does prayer mean to you?

What do you pray when you don’t know what to say?

Prayer- Dear Lord, We praise you even when we don’t understand. We thank you for your greatness and power of what you are able to do. We know prayer can move mountains but can let the busyness of life to get in the way of doing what matters most—spending time with you. Forgive us, Lord, for allowing busyness and distractions get in the way of what you desire for us. Help us stay committed and devoted in prayer daily and integrate it into our lives. We praise you, in Jesus name. Amen.

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A Love That Transcends All Borders

There are some things in this life that are hard to describe unless they are witnessed firsthand.  I have been a nurse for almost 19 years and have witnessed some of life’s most amazing and devastating moments.  I would like to share with you one of those moments today that has been ingrained forever in my heart.  

This particular day, I had already finished a couple of cases in the operating room.  People who know me, know I wear a cross necklace.  As I entered the room of the next patient, he saw the cross I was wearing around my neck.  Before I had the chance to introduce myself, he held out his hands for me to hold.  He took my hands then said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?”  I said, “Yes.”  It was obvious this patient did not speak much English.  He smiled and said in his broken English, “Then you are my sister.” 

Here was a man (probably of Russian descent) whom I’ve never met before, embracing and proclaiming me to be his sister in Christ before he even knew my name.  

As I was still holding this man’s hand, I responded back to him, “Then you are my brother.”  

What’s so amazing about this moment, it didn’t matter this man could barely speak English. It didn’t matter he didn’t know my name—he didn’t need to.  He only needed to know that I loved and accepted Jesus as my Savior.  We didn’t need to speak the same language to understand God’s love for us.  God’s love is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NIVClick To Tweet

This man showed me it doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jewish.  When we accept the love of Jesus, we become the same lineage, united by the blood of Christ which makes us brothers and sisters.  In God’s love, there are no orphans left behind.  It doesn’t matter if we came from a broken home, a perfect home or don’t have a home.  The love of Jesus provides a home for everyone– his love is our home.  We are all apart of God’s one big family when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, adopted by the blood of Christ.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

Once we are adopted into God’s family, we become new citizens not of this world but of heaven.  

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”  Philippians 3:20

God’s love is what transforms our hearts and our lives.  

“who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”  Philippians 3:21

My patient recognized I was a part of his family that day because I was wearing my cross.  What if I wasn’t wearing my cross?  How would others recognize we are apart of the same family?

Watching the news, there is so much division and hard to tell who is apart of God’s family because of our differences.  Even in our differences, God’s love is what unites us.  

His grace is what saves us.  When Christ lives in us, his loving kindness overflows from within us, allowing others to see the love of Jesus.  When we give the lovingkindness of God, others will know how much God loves them and in Christ, we are all apart of God’s holy family.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Phil 4:1

There is no greater love than the love of Jesus.  God could have lived anywhere in the world but he chose to live in our hearts! (author unknown).  You are loved my sister (or brother)!

Are you apart of God’s one big family?

How can we show others we are apart of God’s family?

Want to tell others how much God loves them? Click Here For Free Valentine Printable Cards with Bible Verses!

Nothing unites us and draws us closer to God than when we read scripture together!  It’s not too late!  Join the Bible reading plan. 

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Want to know more about being apart of God’s big family?  Are you my brother or sister in Christ?  Please introduce yourself, I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!


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Getting Out of the Grave

 

Have you ever gone fishing in hopes to catch the big one?  Our family has done our fair share of fishing, coming from Alaska.  In Alaska, the king salmon is one prize fish that everyone tries to catch.  The king salmon only run at a certain time, once a year so there is a mad rush to catch the big one before they are gone.  People are so crazy about catching king salmon, there are even fish derbies to determine who caught the biggest fish–which can weigh up to 100 pounds!  People spend years trying to catch the big one and still never catch a king salmon.  However, when a person catches a king salmon there is no going back, they are hooked.

No doubt fishing in Alaska is one of the most amazing experiences a person will ever have–there is a joy and art to it.  However, fishing for the big king salmon makes me think how we go out to lure and hook the big fish, but eventually the desire to catch the big one, lures and hooks us if we’re not careful.

Have you been there before–caught in the trap of chasing more?

I am painfully aware and convicted of how many times in life I’ve been a victim of chasing my own desires to find fulfillment and satisfaction–only to be left weary, disappointed and depleted.

In life there becomes a healthy balance of chasing our own desires versus God’s desires to find some sort of satisfaction and fulfillment.   Sometimes we can get caught up in chasing our dreams for the big one, whatever that may be–a bigger house, better job, nicer car or more money.  Then somehow, someway we get stuck in a place where we don’t want to be, missing out on all of God’s greatest blessings along the way.

Trying to catch the big one makes me think of the Israelites.  

Graves of Craving Numbers 11:4-34

Moses, the leader of the Israelites, had been leading them through the desert for about 40 years to take them to The Promised Land.  In this time of wandering, God was teaching them how to rely and depend on Him for all their needs.  God had provided the Israelites with shelter, water and a bread-like substance called manna.  After while the Israelites became dissatisfied with God’s provisions.  They were tired of wandering around the hot desert and eating the same old thing every day.  They whined and complained and desired something more.  They asked Moses if they could have some meat.  The Lord honored their request and sent quail, not just for one day but for a whole month!

There was so much quail meat, that each Israelite had an equivalent to 10 homers which is 100 bushels or a little over 22 barrels of meat.  Their indulgence and engorgement infuriated God.

“While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague. So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy” Numbers 11:33-34.

In our lives, there is a fine line between being content with what we have and being greedy.  In the case of the Israelites, their greediness for more left them unsatisfied and became the death of them.  In fact, their greediness dug their own grave.

God used the Israelites greediness as an example for generations to come.  The place of their overindulgence was located in the desert and named Kibroth-Hattaavah, which means graves of craving, desire and/or greed.  Their greed and burning desire actually dug their own graves.  It’s not wrong to crave worldly things but our cravings become a sin when our worldly desires become greater than God.

 

“Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death never satisfied” (Habakkuk 2:5 NIV).Click To Tweet

Satan would like nothing more than for us to believe, overindulging in our desires will bring us fulfillment and satisfaction—when in reality our self-fulfillment will only lead to emptiness and temporary satisfaction.  There will always be another desire to fulfill.

When is enough ever enough?

When we reside in what God desires, we will never desire more of what the world wants and be eternally satisfied.Click To Tweet

How do we stay out of the Grave of Craving?

  1. Trusting in Him.  Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.”   Trusting in the Lord for His provision keeps us straight on our paths, so Satan can’t lure us away.  Keep taking those steps of faith, God will always lead you in the right direction and firmly secure your feet on the straight path.
  2. Being content.  Philippians 4:11-13 NIV, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Being content with God’s provision and trusting it is enough, will provide us with more than we ever need.
  3. Prayer and Thanksgiving.  Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Allowing God’s desires to be our desires.  Psalm 37:4 NASB, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”  When we allow God’s desires to be our desires we will always be eternally satisfied.
  5. Staying alert and aware.  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.”  Keeping our eyes and focus on God will keep us out of the grave.
Satan will always try to use our cravings and desires against us to fulfill his evil plan.Click To Tweet
When our cravings and burning desires are greater than God, they will always be the death of us.Click To Tweet

Our steps of faith will keep us out of the grave.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).  He didn’t die on the cross and stay in the grave, he resurrected from the grave so that we could live an eternal life with Him be filled with His abundant blessings.  We aren’t meant to live in the grave but be resurrected with Jesus to live a life with eternal fulfillment and satisfaction.

God can handle our circumstances and turn them into something so much better and greater.  Getting out of the grave of our circumstances will be hard, but I promise you, dear friend, God will hold your hand and never let go.

Have you been a victim to Satan’s sneaky tactics and not even know it?

Have you ever been stuck in the grave with your circumstances?

How has God led you out of the grave?

We were never meant to live in the grave with our circumstances but in the Victory of Jesus!  You were made to be victorious!  God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His Word is alive and active in our lives!  Please let me know if you have any questions!  You are loved!  

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I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!


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A Selfless Love

Today we are going to hear a story of great selfless love. Have you ever witnessed an act of selfless love that touched your heart beyond measure?  Last week we talked about how we are all apart of God’s one big family when we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  God’s family started with the greatest selfless love of all— the sacrifice of his one and only son, Jesus.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  Ephesians 2:13

Selfless love all starts with a sacrifice.  It never expects anything in return.  When this type of love is given, a person always receives more than they give.

One of the most selfless acts of love has to be when a mother gives her child up for adoption.  I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to surrender over motherly rights to another mother.  How selfless of a birth mother to put her own child’s needs above her own.  It reminds me of what God does for us everyday.  By giving up her motherly rights she gives another woman a chance to be a mother who may not be able to become a mother on her own.  She gives her child a chance for a better life than she could give herself.

I have worked in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist for over 13 years and in that time, I have witnessed hundreds of babies born.  I will never forget the selfless love of the mother who gave her baby up for adoption.

An Act of Selfless Love
We had gone back to the operating room to prepare for a cesarean section.  Usually the husband or close family members comes back to the operating room to witness the birth of their new born baby.  This time there wasn’t a husband or family member, but the adoptive mother who was present.  When the baby was born, I felt overwhelmed with emotion for both the birth and adoptive mother.  I was in a quandary because the birth mother was my patient whom I was taking care of.  I usually tell the mother congratulations after her baby is born.   This time however, I was trying to console the birth mother who was crying and congratulate the adoptive mother who was rejoicing at the same time.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”  Matthew 18:5

I was overjoyed for the new adoptive mother but at the same time saddened for the loss the birth mother must have felt.  It makes me wonder if this is how God feels about us?  He loved us so much that He sacrificed his own son for us in order to be apart of His family.  He paid the price for us through the blood of Jesus.  In Christ we are all united by the same spiritual DNA, the blood of Jesus.  There are no orphans in God’s selfless love“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”  (John 14:18).  

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”  (Galatians 3:26)

God’s selfless love makes our adoption complete into His big family.  How beautiful it is when you see an adoption story?  One where you know a child is now going to have a life where they are loved by family regardless of them being adopted or not.  We are all God’s children, he loves us all the same whether we are adopted or not. 

“He predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”  (Ephesians 1:5-6)

In God’s family we become new citizens of heaven of God’s household.  In His selfless love we are made complete.  

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19

How has God’s selfless love impacted your life?

Have you ever witnessed an act of selfless love that stirred your heart?

Did you enjoy this blogpost? Please share with others!  Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox?  Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts. 

I hope you enjoyed  this 4 part series of God’s love and being apart of His big family!  Nothing is greater or bigger than the love of Jesus.  Join me next week as I share some of life’s most precious moments I have experienced as a nurse!  You are loved! I would love to hear from you!  Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!