We Quit – God Doesn’t

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Earlier today, the Lord led me to several scriptures that may not necessarily be correlated. However, the Holy Spirit connected them for me. Please give me a few liberties with what I share today.

I began reading II Kings 4:1-7. This is the story of the widow who possessed only a little oil. Elijah instructed her to collect jars from her neighbors. Then she began pouring her oil into the containers. The oil never ran out until she ran out of empty jars.
Could the widow pouring oil into containers be symbolic of my pouring out prayers to the Lord?

 Next I read Psalm 56:8 NLT that tells about the Lord collecting tears in His bottle.
My prayers are often cried out to the Lord in tears.
Can I make the analogy of God keeping my prayers in a bottle? 

Finally, I read Revelation 5:8 that says golden bowls are full of incense – with prayers being the incense. Angels present these bowls to Jesus in the throne room of heaven.
I wonder if Jesus responds to my prayers by pouring out His answers to me from similar golden bowls.

Putting these three scriptures together, this is what I envision:
All my prayers are kept in God’s bottle with my name upon it. At the appropriate time, Jesus tips the bowls of prayers. He pours out His answers in my direction. The number of prayers answered depends upon the number of prayers I have prayed (how many bottles I have filled).

If this is true, why does it appear that not all of my prayers are answered?

It certainly is not because of God’s inability. Luke 1:37 NKJV says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It must be me. The Lord declares in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.”

Sometimes I quit praying before God answers.

I am reminded of Zachariah and Elizabeth’s experience. They prayed and prayed for a child. No baby was conceived. Finally, they decided their prayers would not be answered as they desired. They were too old. They quit praying.

They gave up, but God did not.

Reading Luke 1:5-25, I find out what happened.
While Zachariah was serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel announced that Elizabeth would bear a son named John. Zachariah couldn’t believe it! How? Why at this time?

Scripture says that Zachariah and Elizabeth were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (see Luke 1:6) I believe God wanted to entrust them with a particular infant who would grow to be a man with a message.

God foreknew that He would send His Son, Jesus, to live as a human on earth. Part of His strategy included another man, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for His Son. Two baby boys had to be born during the same historical time period. God did not answer Zachariah and Elizabeth’s prayer earlier because they were to be the parents of John the Baptist.

Although Zachariah and Elizabeth may not have been faithful to continue to pray their petitions, God was still faithful to answer their previous prayers. God had the answer in His hands, ready to be released at the appropriate time.

I love this concept! God answers prayers we no longer pray.

God collects our prayers in a bottle. They are as sweet as incense to Him. God has no limit to the number of bottles He will fill. Our part is to keep pouring out our prayers to Him. At the appropriate time, He will pour out His answers – answers that will glorify God and be for our good.

Preparing Heart and Home for Christmas

christmas-preparingThis is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”
Matthew 3:3

A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God….
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:3-6

As I look at the calendar, I realize that today is the end of November and tomorrow begins December. This means that I can start to focus upon the Christmas holiday. My goal in preparing our home for this sacred season, is to prepare for it in the way the Lord desires. I want to find spiritual significance in each activity my hands undertake in the coming days.

I have quoted the phrase “Prepare the way for the Lord” spoken by John the Baptist as he urged people to turn from their sins and live for God. He was preparing the way for Jesus and His ministry. John the Baptist chose these words that were first spoken by Isaiah almost 700 years before Christ when Isaiah was foretelling a message of forgiveness, comfort and hope for the Israelites who were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. Today I choose these words to speak to those around me the message of preparing our hearts and homes for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

christmas-treeAs I decorate the tree, I think about the purposes of the wood from trees relating to the life of Jesus. The wood that was used to build the cattle stall that became the manger for baby Jesus came from a tree. The beams of the cross upon which Jesus died originated as a tree. When I look at the Christmas tree in our home, I want to see more than an evergreen tree with lights and decorations. I want to see the manger where Jesus was born as told in Luke 2:7 American Standard Version, “And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” I also do not want to be so shortsighted that I forget the words of I Peter 2:24, “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

christmas-bakingAs I assemble my recipes for baking Christmas cookies, I am aware that some cookies are soft while others are harder and crispier. I take time to ask myself how can I help those around me prepare their hearts for Christmas? Ezekiel 11:19-20 says, “And I (God) will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.” Only the Lord can do the work within a person that allows one’s heart to be permanently softened and ready to receive Christ into his or her heart. However, I must remember my responsibility of being a positive influence upon the hearts of those around me. Is my witness and way of softening the hearts of the hardhearted? I love to bake all varieties of Christmas cookies with my grandchildren but most of all I want to prepare my family’s hearts to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

christmas-candlesAs I place candles in the windows, I wonder how well I am fulfilling Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I must be careful during this hectic season that I do not become so stressed out that the light of my life flickers with weariness. I desire to focus upon allowing my actions to be good deeds that glorify God.

christmas-giftAs I wrap gifts that we have purchased for our children and grandchildren, I am reminded of the greatest gift of all. Romans 6:23 says, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If Jesus had not been born in the Christmas manger, He would not have been able to give His life for our salvation. I never want to forget that the reason for this season is that Christ was born so that He could die to give us the opportunity to receive the gift of everlasting life. No gift I purchase can compare to the gift God has given.

Preparing the way for the Lord in the way desired by the Lord can be very different from what my mindset can become if I take my eyes off the original meaning of Christmas. My goal is to follow the example of John the Baptist and personally fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy before we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, 2016. I definitely want to prepare in the way the Lord desires!

gold apple new