Luke 20:15-20 (NIV)
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
What mother does not look into her newborn’s eyes and begin to ponder their every moment? The future of their baby becomes their mission to mold and shape their little one. To breathe in the smell of newness and not miss a moment of their life. To be the best mom possible never making a mistake or falling short in their calling. A fierce protector rises within us ready to defend that defenseless human with our life which does not end only intensifying as they grow. Sitting with my firstborn in an empty hospital room, the sun slightly breaking through the shrouded window, he was breathtaking. His presence intoxicating. I could not believe that this perfect little person was the result of anything I had taken part in. At the time, I had wandered from the Lord but in that moment a conversation began in the quiet of early morning. In that moment, I knew I was not perfect. I realized that I would make mistakes and let him down just because I was human. As has been my experience in life, my God of compassion and love simply reached down and hugged me in His Presence. I began to cry at the realization that no matter how hard I tried or what I did, that I would never be all he needed me to be.
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” To ponder means to consider something carefully and thoroughly. To meditate on it with utmost consideration. To the shepherds who experienced the angel throng, they had all they needed to spread the Good News. The Lord told them of the Messiah as they tended sheep in the field. They went to Bethlehem and found it just as the Lord had said. They returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen. But not Mary, her intuition told her something was up. What king is born in a manger? His power compromised from the start as the current reigning government and principalities of darkness bore down on Him. Mary was his mother. In her all the dreams and longings, coupled with the knowledge that this indeed was the Son of the Living God.
We can learn from Mary the mother of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. She was chosen by God for a reason. The Plan of God and His Purpose are mighty complex. His Authority and Power are the greatest in all the earth and His Comprehensive and Complex Nature stretches beyond finite human thinking, reasoning and intelligence. Though she saw these things come to pass, she did not stop there but rather continued to think about the future carefully considering it in her mind, heart and soul. We should do the same. We live moment to moment in God rather well. We sing joyfully look what the Lord has done as if that is the end to purpose. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. The Lord has already provided everything we need on a daily basis. His Goodness comes pouring from Heaven like rain and those who seek Him will have it just because it is. We do not have to hope for these things. What we hope for is that which cannot be seen or created in our humanness. The greatest hope we have is heaven and our arrival into Eternity.
Isaiah 55:8-11 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
When are youngest daughter was a toddler, she developed rapid onset asthma. It showed up one day and got worse every day. The doctors were perplexed. During that time a pastor friend of ours began to teach us about faith and walking in it. It was a crash course. We would pray and nothing. I was intent on finding out how this faith thing works. On one of the then routine visits to the doctor, she had shown a tiny glimmer of improvement so the doctor wrote the most recent protocol on the prescription pad followed by the word “FOREVER” and underlined it. I really am not sure what happened in that moment other than to say heaven and earth collided and there was a war in the spirit realm. Blind fury rose up in this mama and I began to pray all the things I had learned seeking the Lord through this ordeal. Once in the car, I prayed, cried and prayed some more until finally I was out of breath. In that moment, the Lord healed our daughter miraculously. She never had another dose of asthma medicine. The doctor was ready to call child protective services on us until he confirmed she was completely fine. Never has she had another rasp, rattle or wheeze in her chest. In fact, even colds and viruses are mild when she gets them. So fast forward to our son’s bout with cancer, my natural expectation once the Lord confirmed that he would live and not die was that he would be healed like his sister. Well, that did not happen. He would be diagnosed four more times. We would have to fight to the finish for the transplant that would ultimately drive out the cancer. My experience made me think that it would be like before. My expectation of God was based on a previous encounter.
In the past few months, the Lord has made many changes in our life. There are a lot of new things happening around us. The whirlwind of activity draws us deeper in His Presence. Even good change is seldom comfortable as human beings we like things to be familiar and the same. The Lord is reminding me today that His Thoughts are not my thoughts. His Ways are not my ways. They are much higher from a greater vantage point and larger perspective. Everything the Lord does in my life has purpose and meaning beyond what I can understand. The promise is this – My Word that goes from My Mouth will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and will achieve the purpose that I sent it forth to do. How do I see from God’s Vantage Point? How do I gain godly perspective? Is there any possible way to tap into the Thoughts of God?
I Corinthians 2:10-12 (NIV)
These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
The only one who will ever identify with the Word of God for our life and effect the change necessary to do the Will of God is the Holy Spirit. Notice that Mary didn’t talk to Joseph about her thoughts, she pondered them and kept them in her heart. Sometimes the Lord works in us and talks to us personally and intimately. We can know the Thoughts and Plans of God but it is not confirmed by the world but rather in our spirit. As we direct our spirit to connect and relate to the Holy Spirit through prayer, fasting, obedience and self-control, we begin to understand the peace of God that surpasses understanding. This is important as hope is never something we can see or do but lies solely and completely in the Hands of God attained only by faith in the unseen.
Sowing and reaping will be in effect as long as the earth remains. If we do what the Word of God says, it will yield the promised harvest. We must somehow come to know and understand that God is our Provider. When we sow, we will reap. By planting, we will always harvest in the natural. It is our spirit that must learn to sow in the Spirit that will reap in our soul. Why is this important? What profits a man (or woman) to gain the whole world, but lose their soul? Religion allows sowing and reaping to take place in our natural life. We do what we are told and gain the reward that is promised. God’s Plan and Purpose is always higher than what we can see or do. If you want a comfortable life, the written Word of God will take you straight to it. If you want a complete life, we must learn to ponder and meditate on His Word in our spirit.
Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
When our son’s transplant was denied six times, I was devastated. I finally took the Promise of Life that the Lord had given me and laid it at His Feet. I did everything I could do to get an approval. Nothing. The very next day, we got an approval. No one knows how and it really didn’t matter. But after the approval came, he had to undergo the transplant. The doctors would fill his body with toxic levels of chemotherapy killing all his immunity. He had a 2% chance of survival. However, there was no other option. Cancer was attacking more quickly with each new onset. Time was running out. Sometimes when we finally achieve what we are praying and believing for it takes even more faith to get through it.
Our church was believing God for a new building. They fought through banks, buyers and even devastating discouragement. As a church we prayed for the final push on Monday, it came to pass on Wednesday. Woo hoo! Look what the Lord has done, right? Yes, but know we must do what God called us to do and build the Body of Christ as He has ordained. God leads us from Glory to Glory which means that faith is a never ending process and hope greets us in the end.
We must be strong. We must be courageous to walk by faith and not by sight. We must be sure that we also carefully obey the Word of God given to us, do not turn from it to be spiritually successful. We must exchange human experience for godly expectation because the promise is not a one-time thing but daily acquisition that unfolds into beautiful salvation to those who make it to the end. I am pondering the Will and Way of God in my heart but I must meditate on His Word and do it to make it to the end.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
We must ponder the Word of God. We must meditate or think about it. God is not a random god. He does not lie or change his mind. He has all the answers. We can put all of our hope and expectation in Him. However, sometimes it will defy human logic or natural expectations. It will take courage and strength to do the Will of God and Wait for His Word to come to pass. Those who attempt it will be mocked. The enemy will rattle his cage so loudly you will be sure he is making his way out and into your life. It is a lie and a bunch of bravado to instill fear, doubt and worry in our life. We must retreat to the Refuge of God’s Presence and ask Him again. Tell me the story again. The one filled with my promises and remind me that you have a plan. One of my favorite verses in the Word is Micah 6:8 as it tells me how to live – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
This year is coming to a close. I am ready for the new thing that the Lord has promised in the New Year. I have no idea what all it encompasses, I just know it is coming and almost here. I am pondering His Word in my heart. Meditating on His Promises. How about you? This year will soon become the past and tomorrow is quickly approaching. What are your goals? What are your thoughts? Are you ready for something new? Do you want God’s Plan and Purpose to come to pass? You must ponder these things. Meditate with your mind and fill your heart with His Promises. There is difference between dipping and dunking.
Have you ever seen the videos of brides in the wedding dress wading in the water? Their intention is to only get their feet wet and capture the moment in a beautiful picture, but somehow it all goes wrong. The wave no one noticed that comes and overtakes her and suddenly she is saturated in salt water, flailing to get up, but weighted down by her attire. Well, that’s me today. I thought I knew what our life might be like. I thought I knew what to expect. Well, God has other plans. Exciting ones. Good ones with a future and hope so I will ponder these things in my heart today. Mary understood that God has a complex nature. She saw the baby before her and knew he was so much more. She waited and watched by faith in the unseen hope that would come. Will you? Will I? Lord, let it be me.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.