FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Third Sunday of Advent

Confession. I’m not good at waiting.

I’m working on it. Have been. For at least…well, let’s just say, a lot of years!

This is one (just one) reason I am always both amazed and encouraged when I read of the promises of a Messiah to the people of Israel.

First, the promise. Through his trickery and scheming, Satan had brought a curse upon Adam, Eve and their offspring. Adam and Eve’s sin separated them and their offspring from God. More than a millennium before the birth of Jesus, God, knowing man’s proclivity to sin, promised One would come, seed of the woman, and He would bring Satan’s destruction and man’s deliverance (Genesis 3).

Then, the anticipation. Surely it began with Adam and Eve when the Scriptures tell us that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (Genesis 4:1a). Was this the seed? Was this the Savior?  Through the years the Jews anticipated the promised Messiah – a savior who would restore the former glory of Kingdom of Israel. From the Mosaic Covenant (The Old Testament), we know that God kept His promises, thus the Jews rightly and wisely expected and anticipated the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy. Surely with each struggle, each war, each captivity, the Jews anticipated their coming Savior. Their rabbis, scribes and Jewish priests had taught them that the Messiah would not just come but would overcome their enemies. Surely many women wondered if their seed would be the Savior.

Finally, the wait. Daniel, the prophet of the Biblical book of Daniel, prophesied the year of the Messiah’s arrival saying that the Messiah would come 483 years after the orders would be given to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Keep in mind that by the time we get to Daniel’s day, hundreds of years have already passed since God’s promise to Adam and Eve.  Still, they waited.

They waited, yes!  But they waited in anticipation, expecting, attentive and in hope. They did not wait passively with crossed fingers; they did not just endure their hardships. They had set their sights on a promise from their faithful God. Theirs was a posture of waiting.

Ours, too, is to be a posture of waiting.

In one of his sermons, John Henry Newman wrote, “We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simply to love, but to watch; not simply to obey, but to watch; to watch for what?  For the great event – Christ’s coming!”

So what exactly is our posture of waiting? It is those actions Newman noted between the “watching.” We are to believe, to love, to obey.

Advent is a yearly reminder, a yearly opportunity and a yearly invitation to check our posture.


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Big Hairy Audacious Prayers

Exodus 14:21-22 (NKJV)

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”

Joshua 10:12-14 (ESV)

“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,  “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”

2 Kings 6:1-7

“The disciples of the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we’re staying is too small for us. Let’s go to the Jordan River. Each of us can get some logs and make a place for us to live there.”

Elisha said, “Go ahead.”

Then one of the disciples asked, “Won’t you please come with us?”

Elisha answered, “I’ll go.”

So he went with them. They came to the Jordan River and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the ax head fell into the water. He cried out, “Oh no, master! It was borrowed!”

The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed Elisha the place, Elisha cut off a piece of wood. He threw it into the water at that place and made the ax head float. Elisha said, “Pick it up.” The disciple reached for it and picked it up.”

Parting seas, suns that stand still, ax heads that float? Yes…because they dared ask; they dared believe.

Mark Batterson says, “If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention.”

Business leaders, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, said successful organizations set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They called them BHAGs. They were designed to focus an organization on a single goal – one which outsiders would think impossible but would stir within those in the organization belief and momentum

Our God is the God of big, hairy, audacious prayers – BHAPs. Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) tells us to call to Him, and He will answer. Pastor Ray Stedman says, God is “absolutely available, absolutely approachable, gracious, merciful, compassionate, kind, and you can go into His presence boldly and ask for whatever you want.  You can go into His presence any time and not interrupt Him.”  Genie in a bottle?  No, but a compassionate Father who loves His children, a powerful King who is merciful and gracious  and a faithful God who answers prayers.

What is your Big Hairy Audacious Prayer?

THIS WEEK:  Search the Scriptures for other examples of bold prayers and God’s response to them. Some examples might include the prayers of Hannah, Jehoshaphat and Daniel. Pray to know God’s will and that His will is your sanctified wish, then pray your biggest, hairiest, most audacious prayer!