MARY Christmas (Part 3)

(Part 3)


I hope you’re having an amazing Christmas today celebrating our Savior’s birth.
To think that the King of kings
chose to leave the perfection of a grandiose kingdom
and invade our sinful world with love
and a plan for redemption is mind-boggling.

I’m still thinking about Mary and want to pass on some lessons
I’m learning that I hope will challenge you today:

Mary allowed God to make good things from her mistakes.
Twelve years after Christ was born, Mary lost Him!
She and Joseph thought Jesus was somewhere in the caravan of family and friends they were traveling with, but she soon discovered He was missing. Yet Jesus was exactly where He was supposed to be—at the temple. Mary maintained a teachable spirit and learned more about her Son from this incident.

Will you, too, have a teachable spirit?
I’m guessing this has to be one of the most important things to God. Obedience and a teachable spirit.

Mary pondered things and kept them in her heart.
What’s inside YOUR heart?
Will you determine to make time to ponder some stuff this Christmas?

Instead of doing all the talking, consider being quiet for a while.
Think about Christ’s birth and all that it means.

Be willing to ponder some things as Mary did.

Learn to become comfortable with silence.

Start a journal.
Memorize some Scripture.
Learn to truly meditate on God’s holy Word this Christmas.

God’s best servants are often plain people who are available to Him. Mary was available. Are you?

God’s plans involve extraordinary events in ordinary people.

This Christmas, will you let Him use you in a way He’s never used you before?

Give God a merry Christmas by asking Him to help you celebrate a Mary Christmas.

And if you’re wondering what to give the King of kings on His birthday . . . the very best gift is always yourself.



MARY Christmas (Part 2)

(Part 2)

As mentioned last week, I’m trying to have a MARY Christmas this
year. In thinking about her life, I want to pass on what I’m learning
and hopefully challenge YOU to establish a Mary Christmas as well.


• Mary trusted in the midst of discomfort. In Bethlehem, Joseph and
Mary soon discovered the inns were filled with other travelers who
had reached the destination much earlier. Mary was reduced to
giving birth to her first child in a cold, dark, damp cave.

No medical staff.
No medicine or sterile environment.
Just a frightened young girl, her frightened husband
and a few noisy animals.

When we don’t understand to begin with,
and when our situation becomes uncomfortable on TOP of that,
we often tend to question whether we heard God correctly,
or maybe we question God Himself.

Mary simply continued to trust.
If YOU can learn to trust in the midst of hardship and discomfort,
God will bless you by teaching you things you couldn’t have learned otherwise.
God doesn’t always reveal His plans right away.

Often, when it sees as though everything is going wrong,
He is quietly working behind the scenes.
Can you trust Him when you can’t see what’s ahead?

Ask God to deepen your faith this Christmas.

Imagine the letdown after traveling for 70 miles in the condition
Mary was in, only to find out there were no more rooms available
and she’d have to give birth to her first child in a cave.
Do you really want to have a MARY Christmas this year?

Then we have to realize when we do God’s will, we’re not
guaranteed a comfortable life. We’re promised only that even our
discomfort has meaning in God’s plan.

We like to think that Mary was comfortable, because most of the
popular Christmas scenes picture her kneeling serenely by a manger
with a baby who’s glowing.

Chances are good that the King of kings was crying and
uncomfortable Himself. Stables were often crude caves with feeding
troughs (mangers) carved into rock walls.

Though Christmas cards picture a clean atmosphere with happy
animals in the background, the truth was that Jesus was born in an
extremely unsterile and filthy environment.

This certainly wasn’t the atmosphere the Jews expected as the
birthplace of the Messiah. They thought their promised Messiah
would be born into royalty.

But Mary didn’t limit God by her expectations, and neither should
we. God is at work wherever He’s needed in our sin-darkened and
dirty world.

That night, the world’s greatest birth announcement took place.
The greatest event in history had just happened:
The Messiah had been born!

For ages the Jews had waited for this, and when it finally happened,
the announcement came to some humble shepherds.
They were terrified, but their fear soon turned to joy.

First they ran to see the baby, and then they spread the word.

Jesus Christ is YOUR Messiah,
YOUR Savior.
Do you look forward to meeting Him in prayer and in His Word each day?
Is your relationship so special that you can’t help sharing this joy
with your friends and co-workers?

How do you see Jesus?
Do you still picture Him as a baby in a manger,
or is He your absolute Lord?

Let’s not underestimate Christ. Let Him grow up in your life!

One of the best ways to do this is by exercising a mature faith in His
plan—even in the midst of an uncomfortable situation.

Jesus may not meet the specific expectations you have for your life.
He may want to move you beyond your own dreams.
Again: can you trust Him?

Give God your human expectations and ask Him to replace them
with His dreams, plans and vision for your life.

They may not be more comfortable, but they will always be better!




MARY Christmas

This year I’ve decided to have a MARY Christmas.
I’ve been thinking about her recently . . . and here are some things
I’m learning that I want to challenge you with, OK?

• Mary trusted God for the impossible.
When the angel announced she’d deliver the Messiah, she didn’t understand it. It seemed ridiculous, but her response was,
“I believe. It is as you say.”

This Christmas will you, too, trust God for the impossible?
Is He calling you to do something that seems ridiculous?

Even though you don’t understand and can’t see what’s ahead,
you have the opportunity—like Mary—to respond in simple faith:
“I believe. It is as You say.”

• Mary was obedient. 
Her obedience to God required her to risk disaster.
In her culture, an unmarried pregnant woman was shunned. And unless the father of the child agreed to marry her, she’d probably remain unmarried for life.

If her own father rejected her, she could be forced into begging or prostitution in order to earn her living.

And with her story about the Holy Spirit impregnating her, she risked being labeled crazy as well. It must have seemed as though everything was against her.

But in spite of the risks, Mary responded in obedience: “I am willing.”

In spite of the possible costs, will you be obedient this Christmas? Will you ask God to help you overlook the risks and simply say yes to His holy will?

When Mary said, “I am willing,” she didn’t know about the tremendous blessing she’d receive. She only knew that God was asking her to serve Him, and she willingly obeyed.

Will you react the same way? Don’t wait to see the bottom line before obeying God. Offer yourself as a wiling servant—even when the results of doing so look disastrous.
• Mary allowed herself to be accountable.
She made herself accountable to her spiritually wise and older cousin, Elizabeth.

I can imagine these two women praying and rejoicing together in their godly obedience. Make it a point to share your deepest questions, needs, requests and victories with another Christian who’s solid enough to ask appropriate questions and who’s willing to pray with you.

• Mary never lost faith that God was in control.

When Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census must be taken throughout the nation, it meant that Joseph and a pregnant Mary would have to make the 70-mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Mary knew the trip wouldn’t be easy, and she could’ve easily begun questioning God’s plans. But she trusted that God was in complete control.

Can you trust that God controls ALL of history—even when you don’t understand it?

Because of the degree of Caesar Augustus, Jesus was born in the very town prophesied for His birth (Micah 5:2), even though His parents didn’t live there. God was quietly working behind the scenes, even though Mary and Joseph couldn’t see His hand.

Like Mary, I want to trust, obey, be accountable and remain faithful.

How about you?