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Realised Faith

Daily Devotional Thought from 'this is what i have to say' with Darryl SchoemanLuke 1:56-64  Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.  (57)  When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.  (58)  Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.  (59)  On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,  (60)  but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”  (61)  They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”  (62)  Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.  (63)  He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”  (64)  Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God.

The story of the birth of John the Baptist is coming to an end. What started as a visitation from an angel with his message that two old people will give birth to a son, is now reaching its appointed time of fulfilment and completion.

Notice that there is an appointed time. Every message that God gives us, every prophetic word, has an appointed time and place for its fulfilment. As much as Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted their baby to be conceived and born immediately, they had to wait – endure – the time of pregnancy before he was to be born.

And so it is with us! When we hear from God we sometimes get so over-excited about the call, the message, that we run ahead of God and try in our own strength to implement or work out that which God has spoken. We lose sight of the process of development both of ourselves and the circumstances or timing that will allow for the call’s fulfilment. But for faith to be realised, we must continue to wait on God for the appointed time. For it does indeed have an appointed time.

Notice too that faith must be shared. It was not good enough simply for John to be born and for Zachariah and Elizabeth to privately name their child and cherish that in their hearts. A whole week had passed after John was born and yet Zachariah could still not speak. And it also wasn’t good enough for only Elizabeth alone to announce John’s name. No! Both of them had to. Zechariah had to somehow announce it too, make it known. And only after both of them had completed their part in the fulfilment of the angel’s message, only then is the message fully realised and completed and Zachariah’s tongue is loosed and he is able to speak again.

Finally, realised faith results in praise. And it is right that it does. For it is right to express thanksgiving and praise toward someone after they have promised you something and which has now been fully realised, supplied, and completed? This is even more true of God whose promises are true and full of love. We may not always fully understand why things are as they are. But know that when God has spoken and it has been fulfilled according to His will, praise will indeed be the end result of your realised faith.

Friends! Has God spoken to you? Has God laid something on your heart that you need to do? Or has He maybe promised something toward you? Is your faith waning?

Ask yourself if it is the appointed time for the fulfilment of the promise?
Share what you believe God has said to you with someone you trust.
And then praise God when it has been fulfilled and realised.

my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say

Exalted Worship

Daily Devotional Thought from 'this is what i have to say' with Darryl SchoemanLuke 1:46-55 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord (47) and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (48) for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, (49) for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name. (50) His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. (51) He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. (52) He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. (53) He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. (54) He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful (55) to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Mary has just arrived at Elizabeth’s house after being told by the angel Gabriel that she has been chosen by God to bear His son, Jesus, the saviour of the world. Elizabeth herself is party to the miraculous workings of God as she too in her old age had been visited by Gabriel to tell her that she will be having a baby. Spirits are high and rejoicing is flowing. And Mary bursts forth in worship, praising God.

Mary’s praise is a reminder to us of one of the elements of worship and that is exaltation. Many times when we as Christians “spend time with God” by having a quiet time or meeting in fellowship groups, very often our focused time is not spent on exalting God, but rather on getting something from God. Even at church and despite the worship band’s or choir’s practiced efforts, our hearts are not inclined toward exalting God, but rather preparing our hearts and minds to “receive the Word”. Our attitude of worship then is what does God want to tell us, rather than what do we want to tell God.

And this is not a bad thing. A very large part of the Christian journey is about our sanctification. And for that, we need God to speak to us, to tell us how we are doing and what needs to change or improve. But that is not all there is to Christian worship. We forget many times that worship is about God and not about us. We lose sight of the exaltation.

One of the great ways that Mary’s exalted worship shows us how we can worship God through exaltation, is to remember. Moses said in Deuteronomy 32:7 “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.” And that is what Mary is doing here; she is remembering. Nine times in ten verses, Mary says has. God has, God, God has. And in her remembering, she sees God’s hand of deliverance and salvation at work. So Mary worships.

God does not need to be reminded of what He has done; we do. And our remembering allows us to be grateful for what God has already done for us, allowing us then to truly worship God through exaltation. And when have remembered and our hearts have inclined to exalt God, remember and even use the words of Mary, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Holy is His name.

my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say

Joy’s Anchor

Daily Devotional Thought from 'this is what i have to say' with Darryl SchoemanLuke 1:39-45  At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  (40)  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  (41)  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  (42)  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  (43)  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  (44)  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  (45)  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

If we had to summarise this entire passage with but a single word, that word would be joy. Joy drips off of every verse. The angel has just told Mary that she is going to bear God’s Son and that her cousin Elizabeth was also pregnant. So with joy she hurries off to visit with Elizabeth. Then when she enters Elizabeth’s house, she does not wait to see her or find her before she starts greeting. No! She is too excited, too filled with joy. I can imagine her stepping through the door and loudly calling out, “Elizabeth! Elizabeth!”

And Elizabeth too is full of joy. She herself has been visited by the angel and is pregnant with the child that the angel said she would bear in her old age. But upon hearing Mary’s calling her name, her joy is increased, and even her baby responds with joy at Mary’s presence. Then filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth joyfully announces a blessing upon Mary and her special child. And recognising the presence of God in her midst, Elizabeth joyfully recognises the favour of God in being visited by Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Finally, with joy, Elizabeth recognises that the essence of being blessed, of being filled with joy, is our faith in God and His promises. Faith is the anchor of joy.

You see joy needs faith. Joy that has nothing to cling to, is but only optimism. Optimism is not joy. Optimism is grounded, is rooted, in blind faith. Blind faith is not the same as faith. Blind faith is something that by our own design and desire, may or may not come to fruition, to fulfilment, to completion. Blind faith is not rooted in God, but man. And therefore it is not faith at all, but only optimism.

Faith on the other hand is rooted in God. It is grounded in who He is and what He can do. Just a few verses back, Gabriel declares to Mary that nothing is impossible for God. And because nothing is impossible for God, we can be confident that what He said, will be accomplished. And because what he said will be accomplished, we can be joyful, have joy.

Friends! Satan will come to try and rob you of your joy. He will make you look around at your circumstances and he will plant the seed of doubt as he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden and ask, “Did God really say?” Do not be fooled by this question. You need to remember that the anchor of your joy is faith in God and His promises.

At the end of his life, John finds himself in prison. After leaping with joy in his mother’s womb at the presence of Christ, the whispers of doubt now fill his ears. He sends a messenger to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else” (Luke 7:19)? And Jesus replies, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Luke 7:22). What Jesus was pointing out to John’s disciples was that the promises of God were being fulfilled. And so John could be confident in his earlier joy, knowing that it was not mere optimism, but rooted in faith in God.

Trust in God.
Remember His promises.
And be blessed and full of joy knowing that what has been promised by God will be accomplished.

my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say

To be touched by an angel

Daily Devotional Thought from 'this is what i have to say' with Darryl SchoemanLuke 1:26-38  In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  (27)  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  (28)  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  (29)  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  (30)  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  (31)  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  (32)  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  (33)  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  (34)  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (35)  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  (36)  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  (37)  For nothing is impossible with God.”  (38)  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

There is great awareness in our society today regarding the subject of angels. People buy books and mementos and cards advising them on how to connect or communicate with their angel. They have stickers and necklaces and charms and bracelets, and they even hang angel figurines from their rear-view mirrors in their cars. Some have even gone so far as to engrave (that is tattoo) angel figures onto their bodies.

What is it that makes people to be so fixated with angels? Two reasons come to mind: protection and direction. The Bible intimates towards children having guardian angels when Jesus says in Matthew 18 vs. 10 that their angels – that is the little children’s angels – are in heaven and that these angels see the face of God. Some have read into the context of that Scripture and concluded that it is not only the children who have guardian angels, but all peoples, including adults. And so we pray that our guardian angels would help us and our children to remain safe, to protect us.

The second reason that the world is so fixated on angels, is because they believe that the angels can give them advice and direction for their lives. And this is where the bigger problem lies. You see, instead of praying to God, people are now praying to angels. Instead of seeking to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, they want the experience the power of the angels. And there are some that instead of wanting to learn what they must do differently – what they must change – are wanting to command the angels to do their own bidding.

Yes, God does use angels to communicate and give instruction to us humans. But most of these times, the message that they deliver, is not an easy one. Normally, the message that they bring to the person, is one that requires of that person, a great deal of courage and faith.

In this passage, the angel comes to Mary and tells her amazing things. He tells her about what is going to happen to her, what God has got planned for her life, what she must do. He gives her direction for her life.

But notice that she is not filled with awe and delight. Rather, she is troubled, indeed greatly troubled. Mary is filled with worry and doubt, even fear. How could these things be? How could she be pregnant without having been with a man, a husband? What are people going to think? What are they going to do to her? Surely this will lead to her death! How could this be? She might have even thought, “This is not the type of direction I am looking for for my life.”

But the angel responds: “For nothing is impossible with God”.

The messages that angels bring will always seem insurmountable and impossible, something that only an all-powerful God can achieve. And yet when we respond as Mary did, we partake in Him achieving it: I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said.

my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say

How can I be sure?

Daily Devotional Thought from 'this is what i have to say' with Darryl SchoemanLuke 1:18-25 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”  (19)  The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  (20)  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”  (21)  Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.  (22)  When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.  (23)  When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  (24)  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.  (25)  “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

How can I be sure of this? I am always flabbergasted whenever I read this. How is it possible that a man of Zachariah’s stature, a priest of God, could ask such a question? It is not as if he didn’t know that he was speaking to an angel; verse 12 says clearly that he was gripped with fear. He was gripped with fear because he did not know whether the angel was there to strike him down or not. But he certainly knew that the person standing next to the altar of incense was an angel. So how is it, knowing that he was speaking to an angel, that Zachariah could still doubt the message that the angel was giving him?

The truth though is is that we are very much the same like Zachariah. We look at our surroundings and our circumstances and they do not measure up to what God has called us to do, to fulfil. We do this with every area of our lives. We doubt that we can fight temptation, yet we’re told that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We doubt that we can achieve the vision that God has placed on our hearts because we feel that we lack some internal character, talent or ability that we think we need in order to achieve it, forgetting that in our weaknesses, God is strong. We doubt that we are saved because we fall so often and cannot believe that God’s grace is sufficient enough. We doubt.

But we need not doubt. More so us than Zachariah. You see, where Zachariah had an angel of the Lord deliver a message to him, we have the Holy Spirit of God – God Himself – dwelling within us who speaks to us. It is God Himself speaking to us directly when we pray to Him, not a messenger, an angel.

Don’t doubt but believe.
Don’t look at your circumstances but believe.
Don’t look at yourself but believe.

When Zachariah asked, “how can I be sure”, he was in fact asking for a sign. But we today must not ask for sign. Rather, we must say, “Lord, help me in my unbelief”. And when we believe and pursue the vision, the calling, God will show Himself faithful. Maybe it will not be in the manner or form that you anticipated it to be, but it will be fulfilled. Just believe.

my name is darryl
and this is what i have to say

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