The Power of Expectation

Advent

Hope is a powerful word that is often misconstrued…

For a follower of Christ, it is more than just an optimistic outlook but a confidence that God will complete the plan that HE has promised.

The prophecies of the Old Testament cast a vision of the Messiah that gave hope to God’s people.

This is the HOPE that we celebrate this first week of Advent.

The LORD speaks of the Hope of the Messiah even as the punishment of the Fall was delivered.  

The first woman, Eve, in the midst of the curse, became a vessel of redemption.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. ~ Genesis 3:15

The Psalmist calls out a prayer and song of hope:

Our soul waits for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

For our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

Hope is at the heart of our celebration of Advent.  As I have pondered this truth the women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ come to mind.  Their stories are often marginalized as women in an age of patriarchs and they would not live to see the hope of a Messianic line in which their names were revered but they each demonstrated the “hope”  that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would deliver His people. 

They were more than optimistic… they expected HIM to complete the promise of a Savior and went to great lengths to be included therein.

Tamar

First mentioned in Genesis 38 in relation to Judah, son of Jacob, who arranged for her marriage to his oldest son.  It simply states that her husband was an wicked man and the LORD put him to death.  We can only imagine how he treated his wife.  Next, she is shamed by the second son and set aside by Judah.  Despite her mistreatment, or maybe because of it, she goes to great lengths to secure her place among the people of Israel according to their customs but she was forced to play the harlot to do it.  It is through her and Judah that the Messiah would come.

Rahab

First mentioned in the second chapter of Joshua, a successful harlot of Jericho, heard the stories of YHWH, and went to great lengths to secure a place among the people of Israel.  It is through her and Salmon that the Messiah would come.

Ruth

First mentioned in the Book of Ruth,  like Tamar loses her husband but goes the extra mile to cling to her adopted family and returns with her mother in law to Israel.  She marries Boaz, Rahab’s son.  It is through her and Boaz that the Messiah would come.

Bathsheba

First mentioned in 2 Samuel and again in 1 Kings she  is perhaps most well known for her affair with King David, but she is listed as the “wife of Uriah.”  I believe that this is less about shaming her and more about including the faithful Uriah in the heritage.  It is through her son, Solomon, with David that the Messiah would come.

Each of these women lived in the shadow of Eve and was hobbled by the sinful world in which they lived. 

Each hoped for the promised Messiah who would crush the serpent’s head.  

Each had been with at least one other man before the husband to whom she would bear the child included in the Covenant lineage.

Our God is willing and able to use us where we are; no matter how humble the circumstances to accomplish HIS PURPOSES.

Mary

The young mother of Jesus, whose story is found in the Gospels of Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38  was not a harlot, an adulteress or even married before… she was a virgin… but the world saw her as no different than these other women.

She would experience a miracle no woman before or since has ever known but most would not believe the wild story she told of the child’s extraordinary conception.

She would give birth to GOD and watch Him die… but still she would hope…

She would see Him resurrected and then she would lose Him again… but still she would hope…

These stories are different but they share something in common. 

They found themselves in places they never expected where life was absolutely not going the way they had planned but they never gave up hope and we are all the richer for it.

Remember their names, go read their stories and cling to the HOPE that the Gospel is spread by us, the least of these, and our testimony is usually built out of our response to our lowest moments.  Be encouraged!

On this first Sunday of Advent we light the Candle of Hope!

Advent Thoughts: Singing

Advent

He would suffer every single day of his life so that he could, with his life, give grace to rebels, extend love to those who would deny his existence, impart wisdom to those who think they know better, and extend forgiveness to everyone who seeks him.
            ~ Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp

One of my favorite memories of my visits to Israel was walking across the temple mount with my mother in 2009. We heard another group singing Amazing Grace in their own language.  Our group joined in English as we passed them and the recognition and smiles between us abounded.  My mother squeaked and whispered loudly, I believe that will be what heaven is about… don’t you think? Every tribe and tongue praising HIM together?  I agreed not knowing that she would see and hear for herself in 2014. I look forward to joining the chorus and Advent reminds me that it is only possible through the birth, death, and resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

My understanding of this truth is grace, undeserved, unmerited and often taken for granted.  May I see the whole world through such eyes of grace.

Along these lines is Luke 2:14 which was one of those verses which rocked my world when I began studying the ASV and ESV but makes so much more sense in context.  The common translation from the KJV is “peace on earth, goodwill to men” but closer examination reveals the Greek word εὐδοκίας (G-2107) which indicates “goodwill” or “pleasure” changing the understanding of “God’s goodwill to all mankind” to “peace among those He shows favor toward or finds pleasure.” 

I have found favor through no righteousness of my own and I am humbled and awed by His grace and hope to never cease sing His praises! 

Let us seek HIM together this Advent Season!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Luke 2:13-14 (ESV) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

             “Glory to God in the highest,
                       and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Revelation 5:8-13 (ESV)

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

A Great Multitude from Every Nation  Revelations 7:9-17 (ESV)
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 

 

December 1st Resolutions

Musings

On November 30, 2017 I realize that 2018 is hammering down on me and while I have completed much this year my personal blog has not been a priority. 

I was part of a terrific group of ladies who wrote for a collaborative blog called Middle Places but its time has passed and we are moving different directions. I have archived some of my favorite posts from that site now that it is gone and will probably add more but have neglected to add new content here.

I would like to fix that in 2018 but I just could not let the year go down with ONLY ONE POST!  

In February 2017 I was diagnosed with steroid-induced diabetes.  I have been struggling with sinus issues ever since dealing with toxic chinese drywall in our home.  Last fall was particularly harsh with a case of walking pneumonia that basically lasted from Thanksgiving to New Years!  I had a brief reprieve during the month of January (thus the last post) before being sideswiped by diabetes (brought on by four rounds of steroids fighting the walking pneumonia), sinus surgery, hospitalized for pancreatitis and finding out I also had the flu and needed thyroid surgery! All of this was from February to May!  The good news is that all that sickness and the potential threat of diabetes motivated me to not only get well but take better care of myself!  

I know exactly what to do to lose weight but unfortunately, I have never been successful in keeping it off.  Eat less… move more… Right?  We all know it but making it happen is something different altogether.  

I have never been a fan of making resolutions for this very same reason…fear of failure.  But since last February I have been food journaling through MyFitnessPal (lmclayton2) whereas of December 1, 2017, I have a 240-day streak going and keeping track of my exercise (or lack thereof) with a Misfit Shine 2 (lmclayton2) activity tracker.  I have lost just over 70lbs and I still have at least 20 more to go but I am not waiting to January 1, 2018 to make that happen. Feel free to friend me through either app as the encouragement makes all the difference!

I have also spent what little spare time I had helping to launch my son’s website: BradleyAClayton.com to promote his career as in graphic design, as an illustrator and cartoon artist.

Alas, my health struggles, sidelined my Through The Bible Plan with The Bible Project that I posted about last January.  Somewhere in during all the surgeries I got hopelessly behind but I am planning on picking that back up… right where I left off in the New Year!  The Read Scripture app is great and after my Advent readings this month I am looking forward to finishing what I started… even if it takes more than one year!

Perhaps the year to come is about continuing the race. A life of faith, health and encouragement is not a sprint but a marathon.  Like I said, not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions I am resetting my focus on December 1, 2017 for the days to come. I have been sidelined for a bit this year but the LORD has been working in my life and I cannot wait to see what the next chapter will be! 

Join me!

I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

In the Beginning and so much more!

The Bible Project
Mark and I are doing something very exciting this year.  
 
Reading the Bible in a Year… no, don’t click away yet! This is different!
 
I know most of us have started these plans with various degrees of success or have done it several times and just don’t see the benefit of slogging through Leviticus again but I’m asking you to take a moment and check out The Bible Project!  
I do encourage you to stick with this challenge.  If you get behind go do the reading for today, watch whatever videos you missed and keep going!  Every word buried in your life will bear fruit!
 
The Bible Project is a Portland based non-profit that utilizes short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story by focusing on its overarching themes and each book’s literary design. We are committed to understanding the Bible in its historical context and communicating its wisdom for the modern world.
 
I think you will find it opening up so much perspective on your reading! 
 
I started a Facebook Page to challenge and encourage others to participate but there are still many brothers and sisters not on Facebook so I decided to open the new year with a blog about it here.
 
I keep thinking of new people to invite and I believe it will rock your world and your faith if you give it a chance.  Having been struggled some years and been successful others I encourage you to just jump in whenever the LORD has brought this to your attention.  Watch the video for whatever book is currently being read but then pick up the readings for today and go forward.  Many reading plans have been abandoned when we get behind and know where will not get caught up!  
 
The Bible Project 2017 Reading Plan allows you to download an app for phone or tablet or print a pdf to follow similar to the screenshot below. 
 
I am adding direct links just in case: on the page linked above but just to be sure. 
 
Even if you are not doing the Bible in a Year this year I encourage you to check out the videos.  Also note that there are sometimes two or even three versions of the videos sometimes with different emphasis.
 
For example: 
The Book of Genesis Overview: Chapters 1-11  and the Read Scripture: Genesis 1-11  are very similar but the Overview is just that and the Read Scripture video is more in-depth. Note there is also a video called Torah Series: Genesis 1-11 which appears to be the same as the Overview but is renamed and grouped with the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah.
 
Finally, they also have corresponding theme videos.  Here are the first two examples:  Image of God  and  Heaven & Earth
 
Finally, as if it was not jam packed with goodness they are starting a new blog this year that will preview even more interesting perspectives on what you will be reading in the following week.  This week the first post is entitled: Genesis & Ancient Cosmic Geography
 
The artwork is amazing and if you are interested in copies of the posters there are several options available.
  • The outline of Genesis on a premium quality, hand torn paper made by our team is available for $50.00. Purchasing this premium item from them supports future projects.
  • Signing up as a new monthly supporter at $10 or more a month will get you a free coupon code to order one of these quality prints.
  • Finally, showing their desire to spread the Word they make all of the images available for free and can be printed for personal use without restriction.
    I have heard some talk that someday a coffee table book may be created with all of the prints.   Genesis Poster Link
Feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested and if they are on FB they can participate in our discussion at Liz’s Facebook: Bible Project 2017 Challenge
 
Happy New Year!
 
Disclaimer: I to not work for or represent The Bible Project but simply love their efforts to spread the Word and want to share it with others! 

Who is your enemy?

Middle Places Archive

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…”  Matthew 5:44 KJV

Who is your enemy?

When I was a child, I was sexually abused by an extended family member.  

I don’t know when it began. 

But I know when it ended – the day he died, when I was ten years old. 

I remember hearing the report that he had suffered a heart attack and was gone.  I went back out to play in the woods near my home, feeling nothing.  Suddenly the emotions welled up within me, and I sobbed until there were no more tears.  I got up, walked home, and for almost five years remembered nothing of the abuse.  

When I began dating, the memories came back in flashbacks and nightmares.  My mind had completely shut out the abuse and fused a string of normal, healthy times into a seemingly coherent set of happy childhood memories.  I was frightened and confused by the flashbacks, but as I began to accept them, they fractured my idealized childhood.

I was ashamed and alone. 

I knew I was the victim, but I was afraid of the reaction I would get if I told anyone in my family the truth.  My abuser had threatened me and lied to protect himself, and I now believed those lies.  I convinced myself that he was dead, and it was in the past.  I buried the pain.

But as a result, every area of my life suffered.  I rebelled against everything and broke all the rules.  In time I hit rock bottom and my world fell apart.  I wanted to die, and I cried out desperately to God.  

God met me there.

In that moment, the Holy Spirit descended and wrapped me like a blanket.  Nothing had changed in my circumstances, and I was faced with the consequences of my actions.  But from that day forward I would never doubt or question the peace that surpasses understanding because I experienced it, the night God met me in my pain.

Eventually I told the truth to my family.  Just as I expected, everyone around me was wounded by the emotional debris. 

Some were angry, others afraid.  Some just could not cope with the truth.  One cousin felt guilty… I was not the only one. She had offered to babysit but was too afraid to tell my parents the truth about who he really was. I’m not sure anyone would have believed her anyway.

I was more fortunate than most and my mother, deeply grieved by the abuse, set her pain aside to help me to get the counseling that I needed. 

Telling the truth was terrifying. 

But when I did, I learned the power of salt and light to clean and disinfect a wounded heart.  I learned that forgiveness is not a onetime event, but a continuous process and even a benchmark of a healthy life.  Forgiveness was difficult because the object of my rage and hurt was already dead.  I couldn’t confront him to experience healing.

Instead, I was given a very helpful coping exercise.  I was asked to visualize my abuser.  This was a very difficult step because facing him even in my heart and mind was frightening.   I was then asked to choose between two buttons. 

The first button would simply incinerate him.  Before my eyes he would cease to exist.  My personal rage begged for this choice but it was not assuaged. 

The second button would cause him to be spiritually broken, to truly realize his sin, repent and be forgiven by my SAVIOR, Jesus.  

It took me a long time and much prayer before I could press the second button even once. 

I would later learn that once was never enough.  I still face emotional repercussions of that abuse.  The rage returns. 

Each time, I must go back through the exercise until I am able to press the second button. 

Each time I am asked by the LORD to forgive, to love my enemy. 

Not for his benefit, but for mine.

My abuser was not my only enemy. 

My fear and insecurities were also enemies which I must daily hand back over to my SAVIOR, Jesus.  

The emotional armor I created to protect myself was also an enemy.  It had two parts.  An anesthetic shield and a sword of rage.  

They both had to be removed so that the wounds could drain and be healed. 

It is tempting to take up again that comfortable shield that numbed the pain.  It slips on easily and fits like a glove.  It clings tightly to my heart and mind, but it tears the flesh and reopens wounds when I try to remove it in times of peace… when I attempt to feel again.  

Pink Floyd expressed it very well in “Comfortably Numb” but that is another post…

Suppression of my anxiety, hurt and anger created a well of personal rage, raw unprocessed emotion.  Nurturing these emotions I often allowed them to boil over and scald those I perceived as a threat.  Too often innocent bystanders were wounded in the overflow.  

Refusing to release this emotional armor was poisoning me.

I despaired of ever moving on with my life.  Sometimes, I still do but have learned that I must daily exchange my anesthetic for a Shield of Faith and my rage for a Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  

My personal rage is different than the righteous anger related to the crime of my abuse.  Writing this post, sharing my story, this is righteous anger over something that angers God.  The abuse of the innocent.  It brings healing to me and hopefully to you, the reader.

Part of the happy childhood that co-existed with the abuse included my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior.   

But the abuse did not end when Jesus came into my heart.   

I see and hear pain that others overlook because I have been there.  

While I was still an enemy of God…

HE had mercy on me…

through the death of his own Son…

HE made not only my forgiveness possible but HE chose me as His own child.

Because of HIS Grace I can forgive my own enemies, too.

The forgiveness God requires of me is yet another gift to me.

It frees me from the chains of the past and allowed me to experience the abundant life promised in His Word.

Who is your enemy?

In the Middle of a Game Changer

Middle Places Archive

Originally published May 19, 2013 on Middleplaces.com

Have you ever thought you knew just how things should proceed and then theLORD just rocked your world?

Gamechangers come in many shapes and forms. 

Marriage…

Divorce…

Job offer…

Transfer…

Job loss…

Pregnancy…

Diagnoses of …

Church growth…

Church revitalization…

Church split…

Empty Nest…

Death of a loved one…

What they have in common is that they turn everything upside down.  The story of Pentecost may be familiar (if not, read about it in Acts 2but have you ever stopped to really think about what happened? 

 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Acts 2:4  

The disciples had gathered to celebrate the Jewish feast of Shovaut, known in the Greek as Pentecost.   We have already discussed the relation of Pentecost to the Passover 

CHRIST had died, risen again and taught them for forty days but they were still going about through the same motions, celebrating, hanging out with friends, attending to responsibilities.

CHRIST had given them the commission to go into all the world and preach the Good News but HE told them to wait.  

What do you do when the LORD reveals a promise for the future but says, “Not yet.”  I’m sure some were planners, others worriers and a few were just excited to get on with the adventure.  As they gathered, perhaps, they discussed dreams and possibilities, goals and vision for the future.  We do not know what happened before that moment when the violent wind and tongues of fire filled the room but nothing would ever be the same afterward. 

Suddenly they were divided, unable to communicate with their friends, alone and misunderstood… seeking out others who could understand them…   

That is often the after effect of a “Game Changer” 

The question for them was… what now?  

It is the same for us.  What will we do when the fire and the wind comes and offers to make or break our opportunity to make a difference for the KINGDOM? 

Peter was ready. 

He knew the Scripture and was ready to give an explanation for something so miraculous.  The others went out and began to communicate with people who shared their language.  Perhaps they moved into their neighborhoods, or journeyed back to their respective countries.

The point is that they took action.

They did not insist on remaining together, trying to overcome their language barrier.  They did not try to “fix it” or change it back the way it was before.

Believers in Christ, today, share the Great Commission Call.

How many times has the LORD sent a “Gamechanger” into your life?

How did you respond? 

What did you do right? 

How could you have improved your response? 

How can you prepare for your next opportunity?

Because of Pentecost, we do not even have to wait for a “Gamechanger” to occur.  As believers in Jesus Christ we are uniquely equipped in a way that the disciples, before that moment, were not. 

We have the Holy Spirit ready and available to us.  We do not have to wait but are able to go forward with confidence that the Holy Spirit desires that we follow after Christ.  We must be plugged in, committed and ready to go forth at the urging of the Holy Spirit.

Examine your heart today as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. 

Do you feel a peace within your heart and mind that inexplicably comforts and yet prompts you to action?

If not, perhaps you need to ask the LORD for guidance. 

If you feel that motivation; what are you going to do about it? 

Pray that the LORD will guide you toward those to whom you are intended to minister and give you the words to say that will draw them unto HIM. 

In the Middle of becoming a Prayer Warrior

Middle Places Archive

Originally published on May 12, 2013 on Middleplaces.com.

I have a special place in my heart for the Prophet Samuel’s mother, Hannah.

I have always considered her as a prayer role model because she poured out her anguish to GOD, with such raw honesty.

A friend knows of my affinity for Hannah and mentioned her surprise to find Hannah identifying the “LORD of Armies” in her address recorded in the first chapter of 1 Samuel.  Some translations use the term “host” which is often associated with militaristic organization.  My friend expected such language from Joshua or David but was perplexed by Hannah’s choice.  

Hannah would not know until eternity that her prayer to the “LORD of Armies” would create an important link between two of the LORD’s greatest warriors; Joshua and David.  I think it is interesting to note that Hannah was actually the first person recorded addressing the LORD with that particular name.  

Joshua, before his victory at Jericho,  was confronted by ONE who called Himself, “the CAPTAIN of the ARMIES of the LORD.” (Joshua 5:14)  After subduing the land; the “house of the LORD” was set up by Joshua at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1). 

The people paid tribute, at Shiloh, to the LORD of Armies who brought them out of Egypt and allowed them to conquer the Promised Land.   As time passed the people of Israel became complacent.  The Bible recounts a series of “Judges” who would rise up and lead the people back to the LORD but time after time they would turn their back again and the last verse of the book of Judges recounts, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The story of Hannah proves that not everyone had forgotten who brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.   I Samuel 1:3 relates that Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, took his family up to Shiloh for the sacrifice to the “LORD of Armies” every year.  The people of Israel no longer controlled the land.  It had been a very long time since they had been victorious.  

They needed the LORD of Armies.  Hannah needed the LORD of Armies and she sought HIM persistently.  This is a warrior’s quality.

Verses 5 and 6 state and repeat, “the LORD had closed her womb.”  This is a hard passage which supports a difficult truth about the LORD.  HE is sovereign over our circumstances.

Mother’s Day is tough for many who have lost their mother, lost a child or have not had children of their own.

Hannah was no different.

She struggled to reconcile her pain with faith in a GOD who had not granted the desire of her heart.

She struggled but did not give up.

Verse 7 reminds us that the taunts of her rival continued “year after year”.   We are not told how many years she sought HIS respite from her condition but this year was different.  Eli, the priest, is there and rebukes her for drunkenness.   We witness the boldness of a woman with nothing to lose.  Rather than being embarrassed or running away she stands up to the priest and admits not only her fears but her anger and frustration.  

This is what real prayer is about… being honest with the LORD, yourself and even others who challenge your faithfulness.  

She states clearly that she is not a “worthless woman”.  In the next chapter we will find that Eli’s own sons are described as “worthless men.”  Perhaps Eli recognized the difference as he answered her with respect rather than dismissal. 

Hannah finds herself expecting and gives birth to a son, Samuel.  The LORD remembered her and she remembered her promise.  After Samuel was weaned she took him back to the temple and presented him to Eli saying, “as long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.”  According to Hebrew tradition Samuel would be at least three or four years old by this time.  How she must have loved that little boy, a gift from YHWH.  

How difficult the trip back to Shiloh must have been for Hannah…

Scripture records Hannah’s beautiful prayer which would later be echoed in the words of Mary, the mother of Christ.  She presented Samuel as a living sacrifice even as Abraham presented Isaac, yet another foreshadowing of CHRIST, but Samuel did not go home with her.  

How many of us cry out to the LORD with the desires of our hearts.  We make promises of obedience, change, and repentance only to receive our request and then go about our own business without fulfilling our vows, without looking back.  

Not Hannah.  

She honored her vow with a grateful heart.   Hannah was blessed with other sons and daughters but Samuel emerged from the cry of her heart and opened her womb.  Each year she would bring Samuel a new robe which must have been crafted with great love as she marveled at his growth and ministry before the LORD.  How hard she must have prayed for his well being up in Shiloh.

She remained faithful to the LORD of Armies who appeared to Joshua.  The LORD used her prayer to redeem the priesthood defiled by “worthless men” and prepare the way for the anointing of David, another true representative of the LORD of Armies.

She was in the middle…

In the middle of a nation in chaos, a difficult living situation and a personal anguish, but she was also in the middle of becoming a prayer warrior. 

No one becomes a prayer warrior without facing a difficult and uncertain circumstances. 

She had no idea how far reaching her prayer would be…

On this Mother’s Day we are here in the middle…

Our world appears very much like the closing of Judges with everyone doing what was right in their own eyes.  

What difference can one woman make?  

The Apostle Paul uses battle analogies in Ephesians 6.  He called us to “be strong in the LORD, and in HIS mighty power…put on the whole armor of GOD…against spiritual forces of evil…”  

In the example of Hannah “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) to the LORD of Armies for the victory!  

One woman made a difference and so can you! 

In the middle of waiting for the Holy Spirit…

Middle Places Archive

Originally published May 5, 2013 on middleplaces.com

The Middle Places theme for May is Celebration!  We celebrated CHRIST’s Birth at Christmas and walked with HIM to the Cross at Easter.  We waited for HIM, rejoiced when HE arose! We cried with the disciples, “He is risen, indeed!” …now what?  Where do we go from here?

The Book of Acts records that CHRIST spent forty days with HIS disciples teaching them about the Kingdom of God. An important part of this time was the Great Commission, as Christ commanded them to go into all the world and preach the Good News…

but they were to wait…

for the HOLY SPIRIT to come…

How often we get a message for the LORD and we are ready to charge out the door…

but HE commands us to wait…

wait for the Power,

wait for the fullness of time,

wait for HIM!

The LORD created time and uses it at HIS WILL to signify and connect things for us. Most associate the term Pentecost with the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT described in the second chapter of Acts and this is correct but the richness of the time is so much deeper!

Jesus’ celebration of Passover with his disciples is a traditional part of HOLY WEEK but most are unaware of the Old Testament significance of Pentecost and its relation to Passover. Pentecost is the literal Greek translation for “the fiftieth day” and the Jewish celebration of Shavuot or the “Festival of Weeks”.  Shavuot commemorates the day Moses came down Mount Sinai. This is often referred to as the conclusion of Passover because the purpose of the Passover was not just to free the Israelites physically from the Egyptians but to reunite them spiritually to YHWH as HIS Chosen People. The Giving of the Law signified this unique relationship and the completion of the Passover Purpose.

So for those of us counting and considering the significance of Sacred Time: Jesus died, arose and taught HIS disciples for forty days before ascending back to heaven.  He told them to wait for the HOLY SPIRIT. The Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the second day of Passover. Jesus taught his disciples for forty days so the celebration of Pentecost occurred about ten days after Jesus returned to heaven.

The disciples were assembled and celebrating Pentecost (the giving of the Law) when the HOLY SPIRIT came down and filled them.

There are significant similarities and differences between the two Pentecosts.  Both are evidences of the LORD coming down with a mighty rushing wind and fire but the second time was not upon a far off mountain where the people could not approach.  The SPIRIT filled their room and actually rested upon the worshipers within the walls of their celebration.  The first time there was One Voice from the mountain; the second time there were many voices and they spoke in multiple and diverse languages, confirming the command of the Great Commission to go and tell the Good News!

This year Pentecost falls on May 19, 2013.  For those of us counting the time, waiting for HIS RETURN let us be ready… Easter was not the end but only the beginning of this adventure… Are you still walking with HIM?  Are you still seeking HIM as you did in the days leading up to Christmas and then to Easter?  The gift of the Holy Spirit signified the beginning of the Great Commission and the opportunity for most of us (Gentiles) to be included in the covenant.

Walk with the HOLY SPIRIT during these days coming up to the celebration of Pentecost. Ask HIM to reveal to YOU the GRACE FULL balance of the Old and New Testaments and the significance of Sacred Time devoted and holy to HIM.  Continue with our celebration of May, the Good News and God’s love for you today!