Breath of Heaven, A Prayer

As this series on lessons from the story of Mary concludes, reflect on how Mary’s walk with God truly reflects the walk we are called to as well. 

I have a heart for music and I love to sing to and for God, so it’s no surprise that there’s a song I love that conveys all that this series means.  It’s a song you only hear sung in December, but one that I sing to myself throughout the year. 

The verses and chorus are a prayer Mary might have sung on her walk with God as she carried His Son, but they speak to beautifully to us as we carry the name of God into the world. 

Today, I offer you the words of this song to consider for yourself as a personal prayer all year long.  I’ve written the lyrics in plain type and my personalized prayer version in italics

Breath of Heaven / My Prayer

[songwriting credits: Chris Eaton and Amy Grant]

I have traveled, many moonless nights.

Cold and weary, with a babe inside. 

And I wonder, what I’ve done. 

Holy Father, You have come

And chosen me now,

To carry Your son.

Lord, I traveled in the dark for so long before I knew You as I do now.  Even still, when I am cold and weary, I fall to my knees and You picked me up.  I realize how my sins were and are an abomination to You and I can’t help but wonder what I ever did to deserve Your grace and mercy.  I know that I can do nothing to earn this gift, but by simply choosing to submit to You, to surrender my will to Yours, and to worship the risen Savior as my Lord, You choose me to carry Your name into the world. For Your glory I am here.

I am waiting, in a silent prayer.

I am frightened, by the load I bear.

In a world as cold as stone.

Must I walk this path alone.

Be with me now.

Be with me now. 

Lord, I come to You daily, constantly, in silent prayer, seeking Your guidance, help, support, comfort, healing…the list is long.  I confess that there are times I am fearful, even though Your word tells me that You do not bring me a spirit of fear but of sound mind.  I desire to walk the path You set before me and to uphold Your word in my life, but this world is often cold towards Your ways and I can feel so alone.  Thank You that I am reminded in Your Word that I am never alone.  Thanks You for the gift of prayer where I can come sit at a table and be with you. Be with me now. You are always with me.  I walk in Your strength. 

Do You wonder, as You watch my face

If a wiser one, should have had my place

But I offer all I am

For the mercy of Your plan

Help me be strong

Help me be

Help me

Lord, as You watch me day by day, I wonder what You must be thinking. I know You see when I stumble.  The enemy wants to take those moments and give me reason to question whether I can even be used by You.  Forgive me Lord when I doubt. I submit my all to You, recognizing that it is not my strength, talents or wisdom that fulfill Your plans for Your kingdom, but in my weakness, You are strong.  When I let go of me, a can be all You created me to be.  When I can’t…YOU CAN. So Lord, help me be strong when You need me to be strong. Help me to be when You just want me to be still and listen/trust. Help me Lord. Every step of the way. Help me.

CHORUS:

Breath of Heaven

Hold me together

Be forever near me

Breath of Heaven

Lighten my darkness

Pour over me Your holiness

Breath of Heaven

Lord, pour out your Spirit, Your breath, over me.  When I am falling apart, hold me together.  Thank You Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be near me here on earth.  When I am lost, You lighten my way.  When I feel surrounded by darkness, You are my light.  I cannot be perfect or holy in myself, but pour out Your Spirit on me and I walk in Your holiness.  Because of Your sacrificial act on the cross, Your holiness is poured over me and I can come before You in prayer.  I can seek You and build a deeper relationship with You.  I come to You in the name of the one who went to the cross, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

For His Glory

May this model inspire your time with God today.

Ponder and Treasure

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2: 19 NIV
Listen to today’s message

The Greek word used in this verse for ‘treasured up’ is syntereo.  It means to preserve in memory. 

There isn’t a mother who can’t relate to that word!  Today Mary would have started a photo album.  You know the kind.  Not just an album filled with pictures, but lovingly designed with borders, stamps, stickers, journaled thoughts and memories, etc.!

Can you imagine what that memory album would have looked like.  Not only was she preserving in memory the birth of her first born (don’t you know they always get the best one!), but she was preserving the memory of the birth of our Savior, the Son of God.  Are there enough stickers, stamps and decorative paper to properly commemorate this memory?

I wonder what thoughts Mary had as she preserved in memory this moment in time…

  • Hope… this is the Son of God.  The promised One that will fulfill prophesy and is our hope for the future.
  • Wonder… how can this little child with 10 tiny finger and 10 tiny toes be Emmanuel ~ God with us? Such an ordinary infant in my arms that brings extraordinary things to the world.
  • Amazement… angels have provided my child’s birth announcement.  Strangers are coming to adore Him.  I’m a simple servant, holding and comforting this King of Kings.

As children of God, we have so much to ponder. 

  • The realization that as a sinner we fall short of being able to come before the throne of God, but by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus our sins are washed clean and we are welcomed before His throne.
  • That God chose to send His Son to earth knowing that the ultimate purpose of His birth would also send Him to a painful death on the cross so that we could fellowship with Him.
  • That we are wonderfully and perfectly made with the purpose of glorifying God as followers of Christ.

What would our photo album look like if we pondered and treasured all we have through the birth of Christ.

For His Glory

Take a moment to ponder today’s verse from this perspective. 

  • What are the God moments in your life? 
    • Not just the ‘big’ things that cause you to say ‘that was a God thing’, but all ‘the things’.  Ponder how God has shown up in even the small things.
  • What has God refined in you over the last year, 2 years, 10 years, etc.
    • Sometimes those things take time and if we don’t stop to ponder them and treasure the memory of them we miss the joy of seeing His work. 
  • What were you doing this time last year or any other year in the past? 
    • Were you seeking help for something? 
    • Were you being tossed in a storm? 
    • Were you battling a stronghold in your life?
    • Were you celebrating a victory?
      • Ponder those memories and see how God showed up in each of t them. 
  • How about today? 
    • As you ponder the ways He has shown up in the past, what perspective does that open up for you on how He is showing up now, even in ways you can’t yet see?

What is your memory album filled with? Take some time to journal your answers to these questions and create a memory album to ponder and treasure.

Prayer Starter:

Heavenly Father, what a loving Father You are. 

As I ponder all that You have done in me and for me since I came to know You, my heart swells with joy. 

If I were to create a memory album of all I treasure in my heart, it would show the good times as well as the hard times.  And on each page I would journal the words ‘thank You’. 

Thank You for first loving me before I even knew how to love You. 

Thank You for the days, months, years and seasons when You took me on a journey that brought pain, heartbreak, angst and frustration, so I could learn to love You more and more. 

Thank You for all of the victories at the end of a refining battle. 

Thank You for never giving up on me. 

Most of all, thank You for the cross and the resurrection of Your Son.  In His name I am given access to You today.  Amen.

Just Do the Next Thing

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there.

He went with Mary, his fiancé, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

Luke 2: 1-7 MSG
Listen to today’s message

God’s plan isn’t always going to look like a well thought out, perfectly orchestrated journey.  At least not from our point of view.

As we respond in faith and begin taking the steps as He directs them, it may seem messy, hard or even wrong.  Looking back, we can see how it WAS perfectly orchestrated and very well thought out.

But we never walk in faith with 20/20 hindsight vision.  The key is to not question His plan and just do it! Even when it doesn’t make sense. 

In addition, we are asked to do it with the right attitude.  God asks us to obey from the inside out.  Obedience with a grumbling heart is not pure, submitted obedience. 

Mary (and Joseph) obeyed without complaining.  As far as we can tell from scripture, Mary never complained or grumbled when she was faced with the following conditions of her journey:

  • Travel to Bethlehem in her final month of pregnancy. 
  • No hotel reservation held for her
  • Giving birth in a stable where she also slept and recovered after the labor (this means a bed of hay)
  • No family around.  No mid-wife. Just her and Joseph.

Despite the dreadful conditions of Christ’s birth, God’s will was carried out perfectly and God was perfectly glorified.  Not as we would have planned it but as He had planned it.  PERFECTLY. 

In addition, Mary followed God’s leading without question – with a faith that trusted the next step would be revealed at the right time.

  • Mary was told to travel to Bethlehem in her late pregnancy condition. 
    • She didn’t ask “and then what”… she just did it.
  • Mary was told she would have to stay in a barn. 
    • She didn’t ask “and then what”… she just did it.
  • Mary had only a manger to lay her child, the Son of God, into. 
    • She didn’t ask “and then what”… she just did it.

For His Glory

What is God is calling you to do?

  • Is your first response to question it or just do it?
  • Are you waiting for God to show you how every step will unfold before taking the first step?
  • Are you looking for perfectly laid out plans that make sense and have obvious ‘God glorifying’ results?
  • Are you ready to surrender and faithfully do the next obvious thing, without questioning the ‘plan’? 

And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You, For You, O Lord , have not abandoned those who seek You.

Psalm 9:10 AMP

Just do the next thing and see how God’s plan for you will bring Him more glory than you could ever imagine. 

Prayer Starter:

Lord God, as I consider how Your will was played out in the birth of Christ, I am humbled. 

How many times Lord, have I formulated great plans to bring You glory by doing this or that for You? 

How many times have I miss stepped because I questioned the reasonability of the obvious next step and adjusted it to something that made much more sense in my mind? 

Forgive me Lord for the times I have brought my worldly expectations to Your Godly plan.  Thank You Lord for never shutting the door and always giving me another opportunity to walk the path that brings me straight to You. 

Forgive me Lord when I have grumbled and complained along the way.  Thank You Lord, for those hard walks down Your path that have drawn me closer and closer to You. 

Lord, show me the next thing.  Give me eyes to see the next step.  Give me a heart that responds with obedience. 

Lord, I want to just do the next thing for You and watch the Glory of Your will play out in my life.  I do not ask for 20/20 hindsight vision Lord.  There is more joy and peace in trusting you blindly than in seeing the beginning from the end. 

Thank You Lord for the sacrifice of Your Son that allows me to walk in that peace and joy with You.  Amen.

Praise Him with Blinders On

Mary’s Hymn of Praise

And Mary said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. 

For from now on all generations will call me blessed,  because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.

He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.

He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:46-55
Listen to today’s message

This was Mary’s response of praise once the shock had subsided and she had bonded with her aunt (‘sister in Christ’).  Pure, joyful praise!

  • Her praise isn’t watered down with concerns about her personal needs or reputation.
  • Her praise is free from question or doubt.
  • Her praise is a pure reflection of a servant filled with joy to do the will of God.

Putting ourselves in Mary’s shoes, imagine her fear of the unknown and acknowledging the ridicule society would throw her way with gossiping rumors of their perception of what ‘really’ is happening here. 

Now consider how we respond when God calls us to do His will in ways that don’t align with our plans or understanding.

Mary’s hymn of praise reminds us that the response God desires is pure praise.  Humble, soul submitting praise that has no implied conditions or ties to an expectation of self-gratifying results.

Blinders on, eyes focused only on Him and the purpose of His plan for His kingdom

Mary is excited to be serving God, even in a precarious position that could harm her ‘reputation’ in the world.  It could bring hardship in her future and she is definitely not being ‘paid’ to do this. 

God asks us (desires for us) to respond to His calling with a resounding, joyful – YES! True JOY that comes from a pure motivation to glorify God – even at the cost of our own popularity, wealth, comfort, or fame.

For His Glory

This lesson from Mary provides us an opportunity to sit at the table with God and ask Him give us a pure view of His will and a response that glorifies His name.

  • How is God asking you to serve Him? 
  • Do you have your blinders on to see only that which is His calling? 
  • Are you focused on seeing the purpose of your life for the plan of His kingdom? 
  • What thoughts want to creep in and distract us from being focused on His will:
    • Concern about possible ridicule from the world’s perspective?
    • Fear of how we will live?
    • Concern for income over trust in His provisions? 

Prayer Starter:

Lord God, creator of all, Master of all plans, lover of my soul.  I rejoice in the salvation provided by the sacrifice of your Son. 

I rejoice in the mercy you showed to us all at the cross. 

I rejoice in the grace You pour out on each of us.  

Without your perfect plan of salvation, I would fall short and never have the joy of sitting at Your feet for comfort, guidance, wisdom and protection.  I would not know the joy of such intimate fellowship with You.   

Give me eyes today that are focused on Your will, Your plan and Your desires.  Give me a heart that desires nothing more than to submit for the glory of Your plan.  Protect my heart from fears, doubt and concerns of what the world may think. 

I submit my all to You Lord.  For Your glory.  In the precious name of Your Son I humbly pray.  Amen. 

Highly Favored

The angel went to her (Mary) and said

“Greetings to you who are highly favored.  The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1:28 ~
Listen to today’s message

Have you ever wondered why God chose Mary to carry His son?

Was she walking in her faith perfectly, without any sin?  Was that it? 

Scripture tells us this…

….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 

Romans 3:23

For this reason we know that Mary was not perfect or without sin. So again..why Mary? Did she pray more; do more ‘good’ things?

Why is it that God favored Mary?

A deeper look at the Greek word used in Luke 1:28 for ‘favor’ shows us it’s the work ‘charitoo’ and means “filled with grace”. 

The definition of Grace is God’s unmerited favor – His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. God’s grace is given in the form of a gift.

Mary wasn’t chosen because she had earned favor, it was a gift. God chose to gift Mary as part of His plan to fulfill prophecy and bring salvation to the world.

Further study reveals that this word ‘charitoo’ is used only once more in the New Testament-

To the praise of His glorious grace,

which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 

Ephesians 6:1

This tells us that believers in Christ are also ‘filled with grace’. Not because we do good things, pray enough or walk a perfect walk, but because we are ‘filled with grace’ by the blood of Christ. 

Just like Mary, God chose to favor us with the ultimate gift of life. 

Mary was chosen to physically carry the
Son of God to be born into the world…
We are chosen to carry the name of God
into the world…
so that we could have a way to salvation
and be highly favored… filled with grace.
so others can hear the way to salvation
and be highly favored…filled with grace.

For His Glory

Mary did what God called her to do.  The question we have to ask ourselves is are we doing what we have been called to do? 

Prayer Starter:

Thank you Lord that I am highly favored as a child of God.  I come before You during this season when thoughts are turned towards the birth of Your Son and ask that You make me mindful of more than the event, but of the result of that event. 

Because You chose to send Your Son to earth in the form of a baby, I am able to live a life free from sin.  I have done nothing to deserve this favor; I have not acted perfectly, prayed perfectly or even done good deeds to earn this favor. 

I am filled with Your grace and You are with me because a child, Your only Son, was born to live a life that would take Him to a cross where He would be the only perfect sacrifice that could bring me into fellowship with You. 

Lord, give me eyes to see those You have put into my life for Your glory. Those who need to hear Your path to salvation, the path to being highly favored through the blood of Christ.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  Praise to God the Father.  I rejoice in the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel ~ God with us! Amen and Amen!