April 27, 2017

Breath Of Heaven

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I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven

Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness
For You are holy
Breath of heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be…Help me

Sara Groves
written by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant

* ♥ ~ ✝ ~ ★ *
This song—a depiction of Mary’s heart as she prepares to give birth to God’s Son—is such a simple prayer, too… Can’t you just imagine Mary singing it under her own breath?  No one really could ever fully understand Mary’s heart as she gives birth to her Son, Who is her Savior, her Redeemer, Emmanuel.  Perhaps in a small way (especially those who have also labored and delivered a baby) we can empathize a bit with her feelings.  But I do believe we can (we DO!) at times also sing/plead this same prayer.  How about you…been there?  Me, too.

Breath of heaven, hold me together!
Be forever near me, Breath of heaven!
Breath of heaven, 
lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness…for You are holy!

This is a prayer I know He will answer…the Scriptures assure us that it is so.

For in Him all things were created…
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:16 and 17

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Psalms 139:1-6

You know me inside and out, You hold me together
Psalm 41:12

Don’t the lyrics of this chorus just capture so much what we feel—our total dependence on the Lord for everything we need.  And because Emmanuel has come, our Help is here.

Just like Mary, we also recognize our great need for hope to cling to.  She grew up knowing and believing the promises made throughout the Old Testament of a Redeemer, a Savior.  She clung to the words spoken by the Angel Gabriel telling her of the greatness of this baby she was carrying.

For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37

We also know and believe this same Truth as well as the promises that God has made to us…not only of our Lord’s Coming but also of His second Coming!

Mary, I am sure, had moments of fear and worry and despair, but she had been given a promise and she knew that holding on to that promise was ultimately not only all she had but all she needed.  We, too, should follow Mary’s example.  For nothing shall be impossible with God!  We, too, have the hope of being blessed by God’s goodness and faithfulness and grace to cling to!

Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering,
for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His Word]…
Hebrews 10:23

Knowing of the great love that God has for mankind (for you…and for me!), we have faith and hope and trust in His ability to ‘hold us together’ and to ‘be forever near me’.  I am praying and asking God to encourage you, my friend, and remind you that He loves you.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

Gabriel’s Message – Sting

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The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow
His eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emanuel,
By seers foretold
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her Emanuel, the Christ was born
In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn
And everyone throughout the world forever saved
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Gabriel’s Message  ~  Sting

I first heard this song sometime in the ’80s.  Musically depicting the events told to us in Luke  chapter 1 (verses 26-38, 46-55),  I was originally drawn to the description of the Angel Gabriel and what it must have been like to have been visited by a messenger of God!  Now that I am older and in a different place in my walk with God, I am still drawn to this song, although now focusing on Mary and her obedience.

To me be as it pleaseth God.” – that line always brings goose bumps! In Luke 1:38, Mary says more specifically: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”  What beautiful humility!  What a servant’s heart! What a willingness to be a vessel (literally) for God. Surely she had to know the risks, the potential to be shunned and humiliated.  What would Joseph think?  What if he left her? She was a “lowly maiden” – what if she was financially unable to take care of herself and her child? What an amazing trust in God to fulfill His promise to her!  In verses 46-55 we see Mary’s beautiful song of praise:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name.  His mercy extends to those who fear Him from generation to generation.  He has performed mighty deeds with his arm, He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.  He has brought down rulers from their throne but has lifted up the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.”

To me be as it pleaseth God.”  Mary’s obedience brought our Savior into the world!  Do I say to the Lord, “May it be to me as you have said”?  May we follow Mary’s example and be as obedient, sisters!  When we do, God uses US as vessels for His divine purpose, and brings blessings to others!

Merry Christmas!

And may God bless you richly with rewards for your obedience to Him!

Esther – Chapter 6:1-3

During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records,  the chronicles, and they were read before the king.   It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers,  that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.   The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?”  Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

 Esther 6:1-3

The favor of a man (in this case King Ahasuerus), while a blessing, is always temporary.  As we read this record, we see that the king realized that something should have been done to show honor, or favor, to Mordecai for saving Ahasuerus’ life. (Look back here to see exactly what had happened.)  For some reason…perhaps God’s timing…it did not happen at that time.

We have seen ‘favor’ being given here in Esther’s story before…let’s look back.

…Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.
And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the maidens….
Chapter 2, verse 15-17

And when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight, and he held out to [her] the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the tip of the scepter.
Chapter 5, verse 2

In the first account, Esther was favored not only by everyone she met but…far more importantly…she was favored by the king.  And, in the second record, because of the favor that Esther received from her husband King Ahasuerus, she was allowed to approach his throne and granted her most unusual request.  When favor is given from person to person, there is always the chance it will be withheld, or delayed…as in the instance between Ahasuerus and Mordecai.

However, God’s favor—His grace to us—is never withheld.  We are never left waiting for His blessing.  When we receive favor from the Lord it is always timely…perfectly on time.   There are many records throughout the Bible of people being favored by the Lord.  Here are a few of my personal favorites!

Noah — found favor in God’s eyes; and we know what came from that!

Genesis 6:6-8
And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart.
So the Lord said, I will destroy, blot out, and wipe away mankind, whom I have created from the face of the ground—not only man, [but] the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air—for it grieves Me and makes Me regretful that I have made them.
But Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord.

Moses — also was favored by God and through His life the children of Israel benefitted from that favor and were led to the Promised Land.

Exodus 33:17 and 18
The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.”
Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

David — Psalms 5:12, 30:5 and 7, 69:13 (and others)

Acts 7:45 and 46
So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God
and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.

Mary — Can you only imagine being told these things!

Luke 1:28-31
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus.

As we read through these records and remember the fullness and importance of each account, I think that we recognize the incredible value there is in finding ‘favor with God.’  I have read numerous times that ‘favor’ (Old Testament word) and ‘grace” (New Testament word) are the same thing.  So favor = grace

Well, we HAVE found favor, or grace, with God!  And the favor/grace that we have with Him can never be withheld, delayed, or taken away!  (For a beautiful picture of God’s favor, His grace to us, read Romans 5.)

Read through the following verses…I pray that God will enlarge your understanding so that you will see and know of His favor and grace towards you!

I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4

Romans 6:14

2 Corinthians 9:8

Ephesians 1:2-6

Ephesians 2:5-8

Ephesians 4:7

Philippians 1:7

Hebrews 4:16

Titus 3:4-7

2 Peter 1:2-3

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Let’s Pray:

Almighty Father, we thank You…we praise You…for the immensity of Your grace towards us!  Where would we be without it?!!  Truly, still dead in our trespasses and sins!  Your grace, your favor, Your blessing for our lives cannot be earned; we are so thankful!  May we hold the TRUTH regarding Your wonderful grace in our hearts…and rest in that truth.  Thank You, Father; we love and adore You!

Amen.

Captivating: Chapter 12 – An Irreplaceable Role – The Power of a Woman’s Life

Mary responded, I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.    

Luke 1:38

IT ALL STARTS WITH AN INVITATION….  Invitations to the prom, the Christmas party, New Year Eve’s party, your best’s friend’s wedding, and even your own wedding.  Whether the question is ‘will you be my date’ or ‘will you dance with me’ or ‘will you marry me,’ things turn around upon your acceptance.

Just like a gentleman would ask you any of the above questions depending on where you are in life, so too does our God.  God does not bulldoze himself into our lives.  He invites us to the most important and irreplaceable role in this world; and everything depends on our answer.

Stasi Eldredge takes us through the life of Mary, a teenager who is betrothed to Joseph.  The Angel comes to her and gives her the news that she is to have a child—not just any child—but the Son of God.  Imagine with me how it was… First of all, the message is being delivered by an Angel—a heavenly being with wings and full of light.  Secondly, Mary is a teenager who has not yet slept with her fiancé, Joseph, (or anyone else for that matter).  And thirdly, this child she is going to have is the Son of God. How is it going to happen?  This must have been a conversation to discuss with your family at length before saying yes, right?  But not so with Mary.   “Mary responded, I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true” (Luke 1:38).

Most of us have received invitations to do something for God.  But, unlike Mary, we have and still continue to deliberate over our answer.  We ask ourselves “Is this really God?”  “What if I fail?”  “I am too young or too old to go on a mission’s trip.” “What will my family, and friends think of me?” The debate within ourselves goes on and on until we convince ourselves not to do it.  We hide in the words: “I have prayed about it and my heart is at peace.”  Wait a minute!  Your heart is at peace for refusing an invitation to do God’s will?

What would have happened if Mary said “No.” to the Angel?  If she had told him that she was too young to be a mother or that she was afraid that if she got pregnant out of wedlock the elders of the village would throw her out of the village and stone her to death or Joseph will divorce me if he hears I am pregnant.  All these were valid reasons to say “no.”  But Mary chose to trust God and said “Yes!” to the most important and irreplaceable role of her life.  She said “Yes” to become the MOTHER OF OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.

My sister, you and I have an irreplaceable role to play in this world. God is waiting for us to accept that role so that He can use us for His glory.  You and I have the power to influence our world for God.  As our precious authors point out:

“There is much lifesaving that needs to be done yet, and someone needs to do it. Not in a pressure-filled, You’d better get to it kind of a way. Rather, an invitation. Your feminine heart is an invitation by your Creator. To what? To play an irreplaceable role in his Story. Isn’t that what your Lover wrote there? Some dream, some desire, something so core to who you are it almost hurts to think of it. The very longing is such a part of your being it’s scary even to give it a voice. You may not know the dream itself yet. But you know the longing to play an irreplaceable part. That is a good beginning.

Ezer is woven into the fabric of your feminine heart. You must live this out. What lives, what destinies are hanging on your “Yes” to God?”

My prayer is that we will all accept this invitation by our Creator in order to become who we are meant to be.  Our callings may be different.  Some of us are called to be mothers, wives, teachers, nurses, counselors, prayer warriors, leaders in the church or community, deacons, evangelists, preachers, caregivers, or whatever it is that you are called to do.  The most important thing to do is accept this invitation with faith and trust that God will prepare and equip us for this role.  Some roles may look like they are less important than others but in God’s eyes each role is equally important.  All we have to do is say YES and watch how God will use us.  WILL YOU ACCEPT HIS INVITATION?

In closing I would like to thank you so much for being with us for the past 12 weeks that we have been together on this journey.  It has been challenging and transforming but I have enjoyed every moment.  I hope your life is no longer the same because you now see yourself as CAPTIVATING.

I would love you to join us for the new study so we can take this journey even further with Lisa Bevere’s new book GIRLS WITH SWORDS.

LET’S PRAY:

Father, thank You so much for taking us through this Bible study.  You have taught us so many things throughout these 12 weeks and our lives have been transformed because we know how much You love us and how much You want us to know that we are Captivating and Irreplaceable.  May we live what we studied and be doers of Your Word.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

What is the role that God wants you to play and you have been putting off?

 

Be Blessed,

Jackie


Captivating: Chapter 7 – What Does God Want From You?

When I was a child, I had a “best friend.”  All of my other classmates knew that she was my best friend not just by the fact that our names rhymed (my name is Carissa, her name was Larissa), but because we were always together – on the playground, in the classroom, even outside of school.  And we got along famously, too. It didn’t matter if we were running around outside in the woods or doing our stinky homework together – we were always having a ball.

As I grew older, we grew apart, like many relationships do.  Since then, I’ve been in search for a friendship like that.  I’ve been searching for a buddy who “gets me,” someone I don’t have to be anyone but “me” around.  I don’t have to explain my weirdness or hide my oddball nature.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re still searching for a relationship, whether romantic or not.  One where the other person just “gets you.”  Do you know that God “gets you?”  You don’t need to hide your true self from Him; He created you to be just the way you are.  So when you’re talking to Him and spending time with Him, you can just be yourself.  He is your oldest, most true friend.  He knew you before you were even born! Jeremiah 1:5

“Jesus loves you.” A common phrase, probably one we’ve heard a thousand times.  So with any solid relationship, affection is a two-way street.  I’ve always been told, “Carissa, YOU choose your friends.”  So I ask you: Have you chosen God?  Do you love Him as He loves you?

Because you are created in the image of God, your desire to be romanced is the same as our Father’s.  He desires our love and attention.  “He wants to pour His love into your heart and He longs to have you pour yours into His.  He wants your deep heart, that centerplace within that is the truest YOU.  He is not interested in intimacy with the woman you think you are supposed to be.  He wants intimacy with the real YOU” (page 121).

WhatDoesGodWant

Our authors point out that we were made to worship.  I’m not talking about singing hymns or praise songs in church every Sunday or while you’re driving in your car.  I’m speaking about worship as “what we give our hearts away to in return for a promise of Life” (page 123).  That “Life” our authors reference—I believe that’s the part of our hearts that was created to be filled by only One Being: Jesus.  It’s unable to be filled with anything else; not money, not success, not a man, not a family, not anything else that this world can offer.  Only Jesus can give you the Life and the Love you need so desperately. So I ask you: Have you let Him in? Have you given Him your love that He so desires?  Do you know your true Father—the One who loves you just the way you are?

I love the lesson about Mary versus Martha in Luke 10.  “[Mary] dropped everything and sat at His feet, fixing the gaze of her eyes and the gaze of her heart upon Him.”

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:8

I pray you fix your eyes on Who is unseen right now, but Who we will soon see one glorious day in Heaven—our Father and ultimate Lover, Jesus Christ.

Praise Him!

Carissa

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Let’s Pray:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your unconditional and unsurpassed love.  I pray that You become our focus, that each day we start by fixing our eyes on You.  You alone can fill the missing relationship in our lives.  You alone can give us the love and attention we crave.  I pray that we can better show You how much we love and adore You, too.  In Your Precious Name, Amen.

Your Assignment:

What have you given your heart to? What are you worshipping daily? What is distracting you? Make a list. Share it here with us, in the comment section, if you wish.

Jesus is the only One worthy of our heart’s devotion. Mary recognized who Jesus was—the Source of all Life. Love Incarnate. She did what you and I hope we, too, would have done. She dropped everything and sat at His feet, fixing the gaze of her eyes and the gaze of her heart upon Him.

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If you would like to contact Carissa in regards to this blog post, please email her at: Carissa@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com