Advent Calendar day 19: A new perspective on favor

Today in church, my pastor spoke about the all too popular Christmas story but for the first time something caught my eye that I have never seen before (shout out to Pastor Kirk of Living Hope Alliance Church) Here is a summary of the story: Mary had been betrothed to Joseph and one day, an angel appears to her and tells her she is favored of God and that she would have a son, Jesus, who would be the savior of the whole world.

A careful look at the story reveals some very interesting things: Even though Mary received God’s favor, her life did not suddenly get easy. She was about to be faced by a difficult situation- she was going to become a pregnant virgin who was betrothed to a man who was not responsible for that pregnancy! Talk of awkward and the possible ridicule and shaming! Many Christians today pray for favor and while that is a good thing, favor does not always or necessarily guarantee easy. What favor guarantees is that you get the presence and power of God within you and overshadowing you as was the case for Mary. She was overcome with power from on high as the presence of God in the form of a baby inhabited her.

Another thing was that even though Mary had been favored of God, receiving the power and presence of God was not automatic. Mary had to say yes to those things and she did so with the famous words “be it done unto me according to thy word”. Have you made a willing choice to be a carrier of God’s power and presence? Do you make this choice everyday to be an honorable vessel that carries His power and presence?

A large house contains not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. Some indeed are for honorable use, but others are for common use. So if anyone cleanses himself of what is unfit, he will be a vessel for honor: sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.

2Timothy 2:20-21 BSB

Yours Truly

Advent Calendar day 18: Our Secret Thoughts

Yesterday I met with a group of my friends who have been constant in my life for the past few years. During this meeting, one of them shared about the most impactful things he has learned all year. Here is a summary of it:

He spoke about the power of our thoughts and the fact that God responds to our thoughts more than we think. He illustrated using the story of when the devil thought in his heart to be like God and by the many times Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of what they were thinking in their hearts. In the words of my friend, prayer is not just about what we say aloud to God- our whole life is prayer and so is our thoughts. What have your thoughts been saying to God recently? How would God judge your thoughts? How well do your thoughts represent you before God? as i pondered over what he said a scripture came to mind:

O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do]; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me. Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.

Psalm 139:1-6 AMP

God is interested in every detail of our lives including our thoughts. That is an area that we must also surrender to the lordship of Jesus. Many of us think as long as thoughts reside in our minds and hearts and we never speak them then we are entitled to the privacy of those thoughts. However, this scripture tell us no thought is as private as we think it is. God is intimately acquainted with those secret thoughts- good or bad. So today my prayer for you as is for myself is simple: that the peace of God would garrison our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4: 7) and that every single one of our thoughts would be taken captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5).

Yours Truly

P.s. Thanks Bari