Magnificence Magnified

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47

What is Mary saying? What does it mean to magnify the Lord?

In a sermon, John Piper suggested that the word “magnify” can be used in two different senses. It can mean to make something appear greater than it is. My mother does this each time she reaches for her magnifying glass to make words appear greater than they actually are on the page.

clip_image002

Another meaning of the word is to make something that seems small appear as big as it really is. When we look through the lens of a telescope it is for the purpose of making some barely visible pinpoint become more of what it really is. Through a telescope, pinpoints of light in the sky suddenly appear with substance — they are no longer lights but large planets with shape and contours clearly visible. Features and details that were previously unseen explode with brilliance and glory through the powerful lens.

Mary knew that she was not being called to be a microscope for God but a telescope! As she pondered God – His ways, His strength, His plan, His timing, His willingness to use a humble girl—His greatness became clearer and clearer in her own heart. He became for her more of what He truly is! With God magnified in her life–fear, doubt, and shame were minimized.

That experience is available to us as well. When God is magnified in our hearts, the things that are truly small stop appearing larger than they really are. Let’s put away our magnifying glasses and stop looking at small things. There is a God of enormous proportion ruling the universe—One that is exponentially magnificent. As we see Him for what He really is, we will say with the psalmist, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together!”

Great and Glorious God, give us eyes to see you as you really are—exalted above all things. Forgive us for seeing you as small and our problems and selves as great. Have mercy and give us clear sight that spills over in great rejoicing and praise to your name forever more. AMEN

Living Hope

Yesterday, I heard a sermon from 1 Peter entitled “A Living Hope”.  Last night, I talked with a friend who shared her excitement that she may be able to adopt a little 1 year old boy after the first of the year.

my-life-gods-story

She knew that was the hook I needed to keep me on the phone when the Survivor China finale was on!

She and her husband have two other adopted children and they have been praying for a few months about this particular little boy and how all the finances and other considerations might be worked out.

Well, the “God story” piece of this call was that the little boy has an inheritance!  His college education will be paid for as well as all the adoption costs!  When my friend protested that this was not necessary…the response she got was, “You don’t understand, you cannot say ‘no’, it is an inheritance!’

That conversation must have been meant to seal the sermon on 1 Peter deeper in my heart because I have pondered it all morning.

This letter written to exiles whose lives were anything but hope filled was built around the idea of the sure hope that one can have in an inheritance.

Peter’s heart was as full as my friend’s when he spoke the truth to suffering saints as deep encouragement and powerful help to persevere.

He wanted them to see with the eyes of faith to the other side of the persecution and alienation that they were enduring.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:3-9

I was struck by the interweaving of hope and faith in Peter’s words.

Hope has come to us as part of the new birth–we do not have to work it up–it is a grace gift!

  • it rests not on a vague feeling or wishful positive thoughts–it rests on the sure evidence that death was not the last word for Jesus–He was resurrected victoriously over death!
  • since He lives eternally–we have a living hope–one that knows no end.
  • since the inheritance is being guarded by the power of omnipotent and eternal God, we need not fear loss or that we will come to the end of our days and face bankruptcy.
  • he describes the inheritance as imperishable, unspoiled, and gloriously and permanently brilliant — life eternal.
  • Peter assures the readers that their hope is as secure as an inheritance–and gives them perspective on the present by reminding them that an inheritance is something you wait to receive.

However: The life he was promising as an inheritance contrasted with the reality they were living in the moment–their eyes saw people perishing, beauty and goodness spoiled by evil and light fading into suffocating darkness.

  • Faith is introduced as the instrument that would give these suffering saints the “eyes” to  “see” a greater reality than the one before their physical eyes.
  • Faith would be the instrument through which they would receive God’s sustaining grace as they suffered and anticipated their secure inheritance that was being shielded and protected by the power of God.

Why?  Peter’s answer is that what we cannot see is more precious to God than what we can!

  • We don’t have eyes to see the dross of unbelief mixed in with faith–God does–faith is precious to Him so He refines it with the fires of suffering.
  • We don’t have eyes to see the praiseworthiness of the Living One–Jesus —God does and He uses persevering faith through suffering to gain praise and glory for His precious Son!

How grateful I am for my friend’s phone call!

God used her words to reorient my vision…there was a real Survivor finale that took place over 2000 years ago and His victory–having survived death– secured my inheritance—I have a Living Hope!

Though I have not seen Him — I love Him and the unbeckoned joy that wells up and generates inexpressible delight as I ponder Peter’s words is evidence that I am receiving in the present an installment on my future inheritance.

I can’t say “No” it is an inheritance!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Fallen

I continue to be drawn to the blog site paradoxuganda written by Doctors Scott and Jennifer Myhre.  Here are two entries that compel me to see the news of an epidemic as more than cold abstract statistics.  When I read her words, this story of ebola is no longer vague and distant–I am drawn in to pray and be involved in heart and mind–the words become flesh.  I am struck again by the power of the word–they communicate more than information– behind and underneath what is written you can sense love and compassion–pain and sorrow–weeping and persevering. It is a Christmas story.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Last Words of Dr. Jonah

 838128536_4831332e37 “Scott was speaking today to one of the World Health Organization visitors who related information from the MSF doctors who cared for Jonah at the end. It was spine-tingling to hear Jonah speak from beyond the veil….

Tuesday afternoon, he was still walking and talking, and said to them “I have seen these patients die, and I know that I am dying”. I don’t think they believed him, and I wonder now if that is why he was determined to call us though his efforts were not successful. Moments before he died he said “I am going to die now. And I pray that no one should ever have to die of this disease again.”
2091489524_9dac38f4aa_s Right to his last moment he was thinking like the compassionate doctor he was, looking beyond himself to others.

Tomorrow his body will arrive, having been carefully decontaminated (as far as possible) and enclosed. His family was still en route when I last talked to them a couple of hours ago. Whenever we speak of him again to someone who cared about him, the tears come freely. We have seen some men here cry like we never saw men cry before. 2090712775_c7176b4552I think Jonah was perceived as a resource, a gift, to the whole district, everyone feels bereaved and robbed of their man, their doctor, the one they could trust and count on. When we see his family, we will have the complication that they are now contacts too like we are, and we should not be touching each other. So we have to go to the burial of our dear friend without any hugging, comfort his wife and children without touch. That feels harsh.
My mind keeps reaching back to some words of the Psalms which I can’t place, though a thousand have fallen at my side, yet I will trust.

2107135275_13e641ae45
We feel the falling of Jonah so acutely, we were both on the same front line of the same battle fighting side by side, yet he went down and we have not.
I know I can’t trust in anything other than God . . . Certainly not in not dying, which is not guaranteed, as Jonah shows. If we make it through this then what about the next tragedy?

Safety is not the basis of trust. Instead our trust needs to be in God, inexplicable God, dangerous God, other-than-us God, who does not order this world according to our will, but knows more than we do and loves more deeply.”

Posted by DrsMyhre at 11:08 AM
 

Monday, December 03, 2007

Explaining Ebola

“This afternoon seven of the eight boys who are my kids’ close friends hung out playing cards.  I tried to explain ebola, most of these boys are CSB students 1901042719_76059f2626 whom we sponsor.  They asked good questions, but one got me thinking:  Is this disease only in Africa, or is it in other parts of the world?  I felt disloyal, or sad, to admit that all the major outbreaks had occurred relatively close (on a global scale) to where we now sit, in eastern Congo, southern Sudan, northern Uganda.  Almost the only time the filovirus has been found elsewhere was when it was inadvertently transported out in monkeys from Uganda.  I could see the world-wide image of Africa, the continent of disease, being reinforced once again.  And it is not just a matter of how uninformed or prejudiced westerners view Africa, the assumptions are so powerful they trickle down into the minds of these boys.  It seems unfair that Bundibugyo only gets the five minutes of world attention because of yet another disease.”

Posted by DrsMyhre at 7:54 AM

Would You Go Back?

Ever since our return from the mission field, friends have asked, "Will you ever go back?"

That question stirs so many emotions.

My mind races with remembrances and I think, "It was a call not a decision when we went DSC00345 (Small)before and I would expect it to happen that way again if God intends us to go anywhere."

I say to the Lord what I have been saying, "Lord, here I am…yours…wherever you can use me."  DSC00344 (Small)

These thoughts were brought forward in my mind  this morning when I was meditating on Acts 17:16.  Luke is describing the inward thoughts of Paul when he arrived in Athens, "His spirit was stirred when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."  I was taken by this poem by Eva Doerksen in light of this verse:

"If you had been to heathen lands,

Where weary ones with eager hands

Still plead, yet no one understand,

Would you go back?  Would you? 

 

If you had seen them in despair,

Beat on the breast, pull out the hair,

While demon powers filled the air,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

If you had seen the glorious sight,

When heathen people, long in night,

Are brought from darkness into light,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

Yet still they wait, a weary throng,

They’ve waited, some so very long,

When shall despair be turned to song,

I’m going back! Would you?

I am thinking again this morning after being blessed by the trusting faith that lived powerfully in the hearts of many Ugandans; perhaps the Lord is helping me see "who" the real heathens are.  When I saw what faith looked like in the lives of Africans who had "nothing" but God and He was completely sufficient– I knew the heathen was me!  For now,  I might be in God’s intended mission field.

May He turn our eyes to see the light of Christ and give us a new song!