Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Waiting and Prayer according to God's Time

It's Wednesday of the first week of Advent and this morning I remind myself that Advent always has to do with Waiting in Prayerful Hope for God to come.  Two passages of Scripture to think about on this theme:

Galatians 4:4
4  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 

Luke 1:5-13
5  In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
7  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8  Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
9  according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10  And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
11  And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12  And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
13  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.


 The Christmas story begins over a year before Jesus is born.  It begins with an old priest and his wife - together defined by the words in vs 7, "they had no child...Elizabeth was barren...both were advanced in years.  

I know married couples like this...never were able to conceive even though they wanted to.  What did they do?  What do we do when what we want so badly never seems to come?  We pray...and pray...and pray.
It's a difficult thing to do - persevere in prayer, in hope, in expectation, in trust when nothing seems to happen.

Perhaps that's the key word in this:  "Seems"... because the only vision we have in our prayers is from the ground up and we don't know what is going on in the heavenlies.

So, Zechariah is surprised...first by an Angel appearing to him - who wouldn't be?  But then by the words... "Your prayers have been heard".

Isn't that what we all want to know?  Our prayers have been heard.  Isn't that what we all should believe?  Yes it is...Lord, help my unbelief.

That first verse says it so well - In the fullness of time, God sent forth his son...  That my friend is what we must always hang on to.  God has a time for all things, and it is always different from our time, but it does not mean he does not hear, nor that he does not care, and definitely not that he will not answer.

Peace

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Dance with God: Faith-Hope-Love

It's Tuesday of the first week of Advent.

This passage of scripture reminds me of the goal of Advent...to wait in joyful hope because of love.

Luke 10:21-24
21  At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
22  "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
23  Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
24  For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."


Everytime I have read this passage I get a picture of Jesus laughing.  As his disciples return from a successful ministry trip they tell him (in essence) "Everything you told us to do, we did, and it all worked!"  They were ecstatic and so was Jesus.  Like a proud Father who showed his kids how to do it and then watched them do it, Jesus saw His disciples do what he told them to do, and they did it well...and he was very happy.

He then says, not only am I happy, but I told you this and the Father is happy also...and I know that he loves what he sees too.  Then he looks at his disciples as a Parent sometimes looks at their child, like a teacher sometimes looks at the student, and says..."You don't know how great this, but you will....good job."

Yet, the key to me is in the first verse, verse 21.
21  At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 


I remember Advent as a child as a time of waiting.  The waiting was purely for the treasure at the end of the season - presents on Christmas day.  As I grew older I began to appreciate the joy that comes from the journey through the season itself. 
Advent is a season where Faith, Hope, Love circle each other in our souls as a dance with God.
Paul said these three are what makes up our life in God.

1 Corinthians 13:13
13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

My favorite Advent memory is of an airport waiting line for my daughter's family to arrive back home.  A little boy and his Mom show up at the line, and for 20 minutes he keeps saying out loud:  "Dad, where are you dad?"  Then that moment comes when Dad walks through the door, and he yells at the top of his lungs, "Daaaaaaaaaaaaad", and he runs under the security line and runs to his Dad.  

A child gets it:  Faith, Hope, Love.... it is the dance with God that Advent brings us to. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Waiting for God

It is the first Monday in Advent.

Psalm 39:7
7  “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.




Perhaps nothing is more difficult to some - myself included - than to wait.  I have a less than patient attitude when it comes to waiting.  I don't know of anyone who enjoys sitting and waiting.  Waiting is that time when we realize we are not where we want to be and we do not like the space or place that we are now in.  I have waited many times.  Waiting happens in an examination room, or worse, a hospital room, for what is next.  Waiting at the airport for love ones to arrive is a daily scene at airports.  Waiting for almost anything is tough on us.  Even waiting for God in our Prayers is not easy.

I find it interesting that as the Gospel of Luke begins the story of the first Advent, all of the people in the Gospel are waiting.
Zechariah is waiting...and he's been praying for a child to be born to him.
Elizabeth is waiting...and she's also been praying for this child also.

Luke 1:5-7
5  In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
7  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.


How long had they prayed?  How long had they been waiting?  I've witnessed this in couples even today.  The hope of having children is lived out in waiting...discouraged and afraid.   The problem of waiting and unanswered prayer is that it often produces fearful people.  In fact, the more afraid we are the more difficult waiting becomes.

As these two wait, praying, hoping, Zechariah is also doing.  He is a priest and he's doing what he's called to do - his duties in the temple.  The scripture tells us that it was while he was faithfully doing, that God met him in his waiting.

Luke 1:8-13
8  Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
9  according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10  And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
11  And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12  And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
13  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.


 In faithful doing while waiting...the words the Angel Gabriel spoke should resonate in our souls:  "Do Not Be Afraid, Zechariah, your prayers have been heard..."

The echo of the ancient Psalm breaks into our waiting.  
Psalm 130:5 
5  I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 


Waiting always involves the hope of the Promise.  For Israel it was the Messiah.  For the loved one at the airport it is their face as they walk through the doors and you know they have safely arrived.  In the doctor's office waiting challenges our faith.  In a diagnosis, waiting can make everything else in life seem to disappear.
Yet this waiting is - as Zechariah reminds me - active, never passive.  The secret of our waiting for God is that we have one who knows us, loves us, and has a purpose for us that can never be taken from us...our waiting is always on purpose, because we have one who has purposed us.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent - a time of New Beginnings

It's the First Sunday in Advent and I want to invite you to sojourn with me through this season of celebration that leads us to Christmas Day. Advent is a season and not just a day. It begins four Sundays before Christmas...in fact, this year it's the earliest it can begin.
Advent means "arrival, coming"...and it reminds us that Jesus Christ came to us to be Immanuel - God with us. Today I ask you to consider with me - God Promised the Messiah - His Son - and he kept that promise in a rather remarkable way. His Son didn't come bursting through the clouds with 10's of thousands of Angels, but rather came through birth.
700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah looked upon the landscape of His nation - Israel, and he saw a discouraged and fearful people.  To the North came a threatening nation that was preparing to attack.  Within his own nation he saw an unfaithful people when it came to God, and he knew the inevitable - God would allow the Assyrians to attack and win.  The nation was about to be destroyed.
Yet in this destruction, God made a promise.  It was in a simple picture:
Isaiah 11:1-4
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth...
A Shoot - a small stem from the stump...new growth would occur...a new person would come and it would all be changed in time.
We are distracted by world events.  A new election, a chaotic Middle East, a concerned and struggling Europe.  North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria...daily headlines and daily concerns.  We are so easily distracted by the noises that are the loudest around us that we might even miss the shoot coming from the stump.
Yet it is God's promises that will always outlast worldly concerns and events.

If you would like to come with me on this Advent sojourn, I'd like to recommend you pick up a book I wrote three years ago. It's available through Amazon as an e-book.
I love this season and hope you can grow to love it too.
https://www.amazon.com/Advent-Sojourn-Elliott-Pollasch-ebook/dp/B00FN1130C/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Advent is just around the corner.

For many of you tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day (not in England, although I'm certain my friends there are very thankful people).
I am excited about the beginning of Advent on this Sunday.
Advent is my favorite time of the year.  I have loved taking time each year to read, reflect, pray and "adore" Jesus' Incarnation.

Several years ago I wrote an Advent Devotional I entitled "AN ADVENT SOJOURN".  Sojourning is simply spending a little time in a destination we visit...but we spend a little extra time in doing that.  So this Advent Sojourn book was my attempt to take some 20 years of reflecting about Advent and put some of those thoughts down to read.

The book is an Electronic book, or Kindle book if you will.  It's can be purchased at Amazon and read on any digital device - from a computer, Ipad, or even Mobile phone - which has Kindle as an app.

If you're interested in getting it before Advent begins, you can find it at:  https://www.amazon.com/Advent-Sojourn-Elliott-Pollasch-ebook/dp/B00FN1130C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479916136&sr=1-1&keywords=Advent+Sojourn

The point of Advent is to slow down...take the Christmas time as a season, and not just a day.
Let the Advent of Jesus be something we can reflect upon, and learn from, even while we allow the Holy Spirit to help us "enter into" the story of the Incarnation.

I hope you can join in with me...either here on this blog page, or perhaps in reading the book, or reading something else that will help you take the time to enjoy this season of Advent.

Blessings to you,

Elliott