Nothing is Impossible

During this Christmas season, I get so excited about the Bethlehem scene in Luke 2—the angel, the manger, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, AND sweet baby Jesus’s birth.

This year I am so pumped also about the chapter before—Luke 1. I see a story of struggle and God’s miracle. The kind of story I love. The kind of story I live and can relate to.

Three of my favorite verses are found throughout this Luke 1 chapter. I never realized how much was in that chapter foretelling John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth.

Zechariah was a priest, and his wife Elizabeth had not been able to get pregnant. An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him not to be afraid (if I saw an angel I’d be afraid also), and that his prayer had been heard. I love that.

The angel told him he would have a son, name him John.

“He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” –Luke 1:14, 15.

Zechariah doubted the angel, asking:

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” –Luke 1:18.

Ouch. How many times do I doubt God’s promises, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness? My “soul holes” of doubt speak louder than my faith.

Because Zechariah doubted, he was struck silent for her whole pregnancy. People in the temple could tell he had seen a vision. He made signs with his hands but could not speak.

His sweet wife Elizabeth became pregnant and remained in seclusion for five months. Her response was,

“The Lord has done this for me.” Luke 1:25.

Amen. What profound gratitude.

Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visits Elizabeth’s young relative Mary in a little town of Nazareth. The angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a son named Jesus.

“He will be great and will be called Son of the most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David…His Kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32, 33b.

Mary asked the angel how it would happen since she was a virgin. The angel’s response is so encouraging.

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”  Luke 1:36, 37.

AMEN! Mary’s response is one of my favorite in the entire Bible.

“’I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:38.

Can you imagine being 13 or 14 years old, as Mary was, and having the kind of Spirit-filled faith to be that obedient?

Then Mary went to visit Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby inside of her leaped, and Elizabeth was filled with the holy Spirit. Elizabeth encouraged Mary, saying in a LOUD voice:

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear!….” –Luke 1:42.

Elizabeth declared another one of my favorite verses:

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” –Luke 1:45.

Friend, what can we learn from this passage so full of miracles and wisdom?

1) God hears our prayers. The angel affirmed Zechariah first by saying his prayer had been heard. Every prayer is heard, no matter how short the prayers are and how desperately we cry out to God.

2)Whatever in our life seems “barren,” God provides life in that barren spot. Nothing is impossible with God. For me it’s my singleness. God fills my “barren spot” and heart’s desire for a husband. You may have a “barren” relationship or a yearning for a child. God fills that soul hole, even on days that are hard, especially at Christmas.

3) May we always give God the praise. Like Elizabeth who had prayed for years to be pregnant, “The Lord has done this for me.” All comes from Him.

4) May we have the humility and faith like Mary to be totally obedient. Not only did she say she was the Lord’s servant. She declared her total surrender. “May it be to me as you have said.”

Oh, I pray so for me and you also. Total surrender.

It was for Mary. It will be for us also if we surrender our will. May Thy will, not my will, be done.

Merry Christmas, friend.

Reflect:

–What seems “barren” in your life? What seems impossible? Please comment.

–What prayers do you want God to hear? Keep praying. He hears them all.

Renew:

“And Mary said: ‘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.” –Luke 1: 46-49.

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The Sign That Freaked Me Out

It happened in the winter. It freaked me out so much I have told hardly anyone. It’s time to tell the story.

I was going through a “dry-spell” in my faith–going through the motions. I needed a revival inside my soul.

Winter sometimes gets me that way. The long nights and short days at home affect me. Seasonal Affective Disorder “they” call it. SAD is a perfect acronym for it.

The Lord called me to Proverbs 31 Ministries almost three years ago. It is a high calling, and one I don’t take for granted. I love where I work and the people with whom I work.

With the rapid way the Lord is growing us,  it makes us desperately dependent on the Lord. I call it “growing pains.” The kind of growing pains that sometimes leave stretchmarks.

We have a God-sized vision to eradicate Biblical poverty–to inspire people to become passionate about Jesus and reading God’s Word. Once that vision is cast and people engage with our Proverbs 31 Ministries resources, then they can influence their hearts, homes, communities, cities, and states around them.  Although I know God’s provision follows God’s vision, raising the funds to do God’s work weighs on me sometimes.

That freaky incident, mentioned above, happened in February of this year.  Our amazing Proverbs 31 Ministries President Lysa TerKeurst was the only female keynote speaker at the wonderful Kingdom Advisors Conference in Orlando. More than 1,200 Christian financial advisors attended this conference.

It was holy ground and such an encouragement to attend. Lysa delivered a powerful message on the spiritual continuum of only needing God, trusting God, and wanting God.

Afterward, I went to my hotel room that night totally convicted, crying out to God. I apologized to Him that He was not my sole heart’s desire.  I confessed to God that He is all that I need. All that I trust. All that I want. At that moment, peace came.

The last day of the conference was filled with worshipful sessions, praise and worship. I couldn’t take notes fast enough as I was hopeful about implementing some of these ideas professionally and personally.

When it was time to leave the conference hotel and head to the Orlando airport, a gentleman from Black Cab picked me up. I thought I’d have time to reflect quietly on the 45-minute drive to the airport. He seemed talkative.

“Oh Great,” I thought to myself. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to marinate on all that I had learned and experienced. Then doubt set in again.

Questions flooded from within me. “God, why did You choose a women’s ministry like us at Proverbs 31 Ministries to eradicate Biblical poverty”?

“Why us?”

“Why me?”

“Please give me a sign that I am right in the middle of Your will. I need You. I trust You. I want You.”

And then it happened. At that moment, I looked up out of my window. Written in the sky just as clearly as could be, was the word “Trust.” Shocked, I asked the driver, “Why do you think that word is written in the sky”?

The driver replied, “Oh, he’s not finished. Each day the skywriter writes a message. It’s different every day.”

The skywriter started the next word. “J.”

We were getting close the airport.

“E” was formed. Then an “S.” My heart is skipping a beat by this time. No way.

Then the rest of the word. The Name. Absolute shock. Tears formed.  I was speechless.

The driver must have sensed my emotion.

He said, “Today’s message is just for you.”

Teary-eyed I said, “Yes, He knows what we need just when we need it.”

Okay, Okay, I get it.

Yes, sir, Jesus. I Trust YOU with all that I am.

Friend, if you have doubts, like I sometimes do, please be encouraged that God is with you.  He will reveal Himself to You when you need it most. He is the ultimate Skywriter on our hearts.

“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek You.” –Psalm 9:10.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. ” –Psalm 20:7-8.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” –Proverbs 3:5

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Holy Land Revelations Part 4: The Garden Tomb

“He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.” –Matthew 28:6
Those few words changed the history of the universe. How exciting that Resurrection Day, which we celebrated two days ago, is the biggest event in human history!

Darkness and despair died.
Light, Love and Life overcame the grave.
Hope and anticipation were born in the hearts of all who believe.

I felt that same hope, anticipation and overwhelming peace visiting the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. This Garden Tomb is one of two sites that scholars consider that could be the location of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

 

It is also adjacent to a rocky slope. Some scholars believe this to be Calvary, or Golgotha.

Our guide gave us the history lesson before we took Communion and were able to walk inside the empty tomb.  We took Communion in the cistern of the garden, close to the empty tomb. It was such a powerful experience to take the bread and drink the cup, knowing Jesus sacrificed His body and bled for us in this close proximity.

Although no one knows for sure where the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus took place, some facts do point to the site being at the Garden Tomb.

Site of the Crucifixion:

  • Outside the city walls of Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:12)
  • Along a busy road (Mark 15:21, 29-30)
  • The place of the skull—Golgotha (John 19:17)
  • A garden is nearby (John 19:41)

 

Site of the Tomb:

  • In a garden (John 19:41)
  • Belonged to a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60)
  • Cut out of a rock (Mark 15:46)
  • Low doorway (John 20:5)
  • Burial chamber located to the right of the entrance (Mark 16:5)

“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’ …

“Then the disciples went back to their home, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb, and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman why are you crying?’

‘They have taken my Lord away, ‘ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

‘Woman,’ he said, ‘Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).

Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them. I am returning to my Father and your Father to my God and your God.’ (Editor’s note: Can you imagine how tightly Mary must have been bear hugging Jesus for Him to tell her to let go?)

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them he had said these things to her.” –John 19: 41-42, John 20: 1-2, 10-18.

Friend, whether or not this particular Garden was the actual site where Jesus was crucified and buried or not, we know for sure that on the third day after His burial, the tomb was empty. He is risen, indeed!

Just days prior, Jesus had been overwhelmed with sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing what was before Him. Jesus conquered sin and death, and He rose from the grave victorious!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Have you accepted Jesus today as Lord and Savior, knowing that beautiful Truth? If not, today is the perfect day.

Here is how you can receive Christ:

  1. Admit your need. (I have sinned, have messed up).
  2. Be willing to turn away from your sins and make a fresh start (repent).
  3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
  4. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and guide your life through the Holy Spirit. (Receive Him as Lord and Savior).

Simply pray this prayer:

Dear God,

I know that I am a a sinner and have messed up. All the tears I’ve cried and hurt I’ve felt–it’s Yours now.  I want to turn from my sins, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe He died for my sins and that You raised Him to life. I want Him to come into my heart and guide my life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

All of us here on earth and in heaven are celebrating with you, friend. IF you just prayed that prayer, please send me an email at Danya@proverbs31.org. I’d love to send you a free small gift to celebrate the biggest decision of your life.

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