Christmas Week – The Cast: Gabriel

I stand

in the very presence of God

 

and my appearance

is light,

overwhelming light

 

I know heaven

and I know earth

 

I fight battles unseen

and I bring messages of truth

 

All tremble at my appearing

for I stand

in the presence of God

 

Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary

all recorded as God followers who heard my voice

 

I came with good news

and I came with challenging words

 

messages from the Maker of heaven and earth!

 

who I revere

who I adore

who I obey

in whose presence I stand

 

I am Gabriel

and God is my strength

 

I do only what He directs

and I am given authority in the spiritual realm

 

by His gracious hand

 

I am Gabriel

and I spoke tenderly with the mother of my Lord

 

I told her of the conception immaculate

and the beautiful name to be given her son

 

Jesus

 

He is great and is called the Son of the most High!

His reign and kingdom will have no end!

 

My eyes

which have seen God

look deep into her

 

and she who is highly favored

bows to God’s words

 

She is to be the mother of the Messiah

 

I am otherworldly and intimidating

but God’s mother listens intently

 

and she does not doubt

 

I, Gabriel, stand in the presence of God

and I go to earth to speak His words

 

to those who also

will stand in His presence

 

because of Messiah

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Then the angel said [to Zechariah], “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was He who sent me to bring you this good news! 

– Luke 1:19 (NLT)

 

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. 33 And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

– Luke 1:26-38 (NLT)

 

As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision, someone who looked like a man stood in front of me. And I heard a human voice calling out from the Ulai River, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of his vision.”

As Gabriel approached the place where I was standing, I became so terrified that I fell with my face to the ground. “Son of man,” he said, “you must understand that the events you have seen in your vision relate to the time of the end.”

While he was speaking, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. But Gabriel roused me with a touch and helped me to my feet.

Then he said, “I am here to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath. What you have seen pertains to the very end of time.

– Daniel 8:15-19 (NLT)

 

The biblical meaning of Gabriel is “God is my strength”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire & Water

The tests

and the trials

 

are fire

and they are water

 

threatening to overtake

exposing

hurting

invading

 

but…

 

My GOD, too,

is FIRE and WATER

 

An unquenchable Flame

A never-ending Stream

 

of power

and healing

and love

 

and He is fierce

 

So, as I am lead into fiery trial

He stands in Divine authority beside me

 

As the floods threaten to drown

He provides my net, my calm

 

His presence burns vibrantly

His Spirit refreshes completely

 

 

And I know the God of fierce Fire

and I know the God of Living Water

 

is refining through the process

 

He takes my right hand

and

stands

with

me

 

Alone is a word I never use

 

for my Savior

has a tight grip

 

on me

 

– Susie Stewart

 

For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver…
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.

– Psalm 66:10-12 (NIV)

 

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

– Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

 

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

– Revelation 22:1 (NLT)

 

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.

– Exodus 3:2 9NLT)

 

The Eternal went on ahead to guide them during the day in a cloud shaped like a pillar; at night He appeared to them in a fire shaped like a pillar to light their way. So they were able to travel by day and by night.

– Exodus 13:21 (VOICE)

 

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, believers) say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take and drink the water of life without cost.

– Revelation 22:17 (AMP)

 

 As evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey Him!”

– Mark 4:35-41 (NLT)

 

Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and He won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God Himself is Fire!

– Hebrews 12:28,29 (MSG)

 

You make Your messengers like the winds; the breeze whispers Your words, Your servants are like the fire and flame.

– Psalm 104:4 (VOICE)

Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?
– Jeremiah 23:29 (NLT)
With joy in each step, you will drink deeply from the springs of salvation.
–  Isaiah 12:3 (VOICE)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and rescued His servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

– Daniel 3:16-29 (NIV)

 

 

Surgery day today to remove cancer of the uterus.

But God

I looked at her text

and it gave me pause

 

“Interesting times here, but God…”

 

But GOD

with three tiny dots

 

And it got me to thinking

 

about how God is always present

and supremely sovereign

 

And no matter what…

 

BUT GOD

 

So I went on a search

through the Scriptures

 

and found His hand

working in our circumstances

in the middle of our humanness

 

in the pain

in the joys

 

in the midst…

 

But God…

was in

and about

and through

and all over

 

He is here

and He is aware

and He is at work

 

in our present circumstances

 

And no matter what,

our sentence can end

with “but God…”

 

– Susie Stewart

 

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

– Geness 8:1 (NIV)

 

But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night…

– Genesis 20:3 (NIV)

 

He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.

– Genesis 31:5 (NIV)

 

But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands…

– Genesis 31:42 (NIV)

 

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

– Genesis 41:16 (NIV)

 

But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

– Genesis 45:7 (NIV)

 

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.

– Genesis 45:8 (NIV)

 

Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you…”

– Genesis 48:21

 

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

– Genesis 50:20

 

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid…”

– Genesis 50:24

 

 

But God did not answer him that day.

– 1 Samuel 14:37

 

David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

– 1 Samuel 23:14

 

But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.

– 1 Kings 5:4

 

…For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

– 2 Chronicles 20:15

 

With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.

– 2 Chronicles 32:8

 

 

But the eye of their God was watching…

– Ezra 5:5

 

But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.

– Ezra 9:8

 

But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…

– Nehemiah 9:17

 

But in Your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

– Nehemiah 9:31

 

But God drags away the mighty by His power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

– Job 24:22

 

But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

– Psalm 9:18

 

But You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.

– Psalm 10:14

 

 

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; He will surely take me to Himself.

– Psalm 49:15

 

but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

– Psalm 66:19

 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

– Psalm 73:26

 

But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation on the earth.

– Psalm 74:12

 

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

– Psalm 86:15

 

But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.

– Psalm 94:22

 

But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by His justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by His righteous acts.

– Isaiah 5:16

 

But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King.

– Jeremiah 10:10

 

But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.

– Jeremiah 10:12

 

but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.

– Daniel 2:28

 

But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.

– Jonah 2:6

 

 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

– Matthew 19:26

 

but God knows your hearts….

– Luke 16:15

 

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

– Acts 2:24

 

You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

– Acts 3:15

 

But God was with him…

– Acts 7:9

 

but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen.

– Acts 10:40

 

But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.

– Acts 26:22

 

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:8

 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

– 1 Corinthians 1:27

 

But God has put the body together…

– 1 Corinthians 12:24

 

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us…

– 2 Corinthians 7:6

 

…I do not know, but God knows—

– 2 Corinthians 12:3

 

 

Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.

– Philippians 2:27

 

 

but God is the builder of everything.

– Hebrews 3:4

 

but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.

– Hebrews 12:10

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

 

Forgive

If you are waiting for the offender

to be worthy of your forgiveness,

that time will never come

 

just like it never came for you,

before your righteous God

 

Unworthy, we came to our Savior

and humbly accepted His beautiful gift

of forgiveness

 

And we turn around

and we forgive people

 

Always

 

because we can’t receive forgiveness

and then not give it back out

 

This is not an option

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

– Matthew 6:14,15 (NLT)

 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

– 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

 

But You, O Lord our God, still show us compassion and forgiveness even though we have openly rebelled against You.

– Daniel 9:9 (VOICE)

 

You see, God takes all our crimes—our seemingly inexhaustible sins—and removes them. As far as east is from the west, He removes them from us.

– Psalm 103:12 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Into Focus

Occasionally when I’ve begun to pray, my vision seems blurred. Fuzzy. As though my prayer is out of focus because I don’t know exactly what to pray for or how to pray. But like adjusting the focus on [my] binoculars while I looked through them, I’ve found that as I pray, my thoughts become clearer, my focus sharper, and my requests more specific.

Daniel seems to have experienced this while praying because he states that God gave him insight and understanding, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people…while I was still in prayer…” (Dan. 9:20-22). It’s encouraging to me to know I don’t have to know specifically how or what to pray in order to submit to my Father’s guiding whisper. Sometimes I’m intimidated to pray beyond the limits of what I can imagine or understand. But as I am praying, God can bring to my mind the thoughts and ideas that have eluded my own understanding.

Why is it that I think after I pray it’s my responsibility to do all I can to bring about the answer? Why do I take the battle into my own hands? Like a drowning person who tries to “help” the rescuer, I wonder how many times I have actually hindered God’s answer to my prayers. I find it encouraging to be reassured that I don’t have to know everything, understand everything, analyze everything before I pray for something.

This is true for all of us. We don’t have to have a clear comprehension of what the need is or what the solution should be. We don’t have to tell God how to “fix” things or even suggest what His course of action might be. We don’t have to solve the problem for Him. What a relief it is to know all we have to do is to get down on our knees and state the problem. The burden to resolve the situation is His, not yours and mine.

– Ann Graham Lotz

 

I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, His holy mountain. As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.

– Daniel 9:20-23 (NLT)

 

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.

– 1 John 5:14,15 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart