Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Insights 3

Encountering God

Go back to our Christmas story, and the typical church pageant or play that we enjoy at Christmas time. Here is a young lady named Mary. She is walking around doing whatever it is that young and holy girls did in that day, and BBBAAAAAMMMM, the Angel of the Lord, clothed in brilliant white and shining like the sun, with the voice of James Earl Jones (for those outside of North America think really deep bass notes), prophecies about what is going to happen.

Is that how you envision it? Is that how the play portrays it. By the way, a few years ago…I think in 2005 or 2006, a movie came out called “The Nativity Story”. While it does not stay true to the Bible…it is closer than any other I have seen. I highly recommend it.

Go back to the play. Is this what happened? Well. The part about the Angel appearing is accurate…but his appearance, voice, and basically everything else is screenplay not truth.

Let’s look at what happened.

(Luk 1:26) Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

(Luk 1:27) to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

(Luk 1:28) And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

A young girl, who (based on history and culture not Bible) is probably in her mid teens is alone in the tiny home of her family. She is doing something, but no one else is in the house with her. She hears someone at the door, and a strange man enters the house, univited. This frightens her. Imagine for a moment that you are a 15 year old girl alone at home. You look up, and there is a man opening the door. He walks into the house. What would you do? What would you think?

When I was 16 years old, I went home at about 10:30 at night. No one else was home, nor would be. I knew that I was going to be there by myself for the weekend, due to the fact that my parents were out of town. I came home, and went immediately to the bathroom (TMI). As I came out of the bathroom, I saw a man run down the hall and into the living room.

Dude…I was so scared I could not spit. I was home alone and a stranger was in the house! (end of story…you have to make a comment on my blog to hear the rest).

Mary was frightened. She was not afraid because of the brilliant white clothes or the face shining. She was afraid of the uninvited stranger. Keep reading.

(Luk 1:28) And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

(Luk 1:29) But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

Mary wasn’t freaked out by the appearance of a Heavenly Being. She was confused by the strange greeting. In Bolivia, everyone greets everyone else. Typically, you say, “How are you doing?”, and “Good Day”. Now, once more imagine that someone you have never met before, nor even seen in the small town that you live in where everyone knows everyone; in this setting a stranger walks uninvited into your home and says:

“Hello! You are chosen by God. He has favored you above all other people. God is with you”.

Truth time. I am a former pastor and currently a missionary. If someone walked up to me on the street and said this…forget about waking into my house…if you walked up to me and said, “Greetings Favored One. The Lord is with you.” I would think you were a nut case and seek to get as far from you as possible as soon as I could.

This is what was going on in the mind of Mary. This is how I know the angel looked normal. She wasn’t taken aback by his appearance…it was his words that threw her. What in the world is he talking about, who is he, and why is he in my house?

He answers her unspoken questions (remember, she pondered them, not stated them).

(Luk 1:30) The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

(Luk 1:31) "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

(Luk 1:32) "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;

(Luk 1:33) and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

Mary is listening to him, probably looking for a weapon or a way out while doing so. The angel proclaims that Mary is to be the mother of the Incarnate Lord. The angel then states the Scripture that this promise is based upon. The Bible has prophesied that someone, someday, somewhere will give birth to the Messiah. This man is telling Mary that she is the one. However, Mary has a pretty legitimate question.

(Luk 1:34) Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

Mary is not arguing with the Bible. She knows the prophecy. She is just confused as to how she can be the one to fulfill it due to a very poignant fact…she has never had sex and therefore cannot be a mother.

However, at this point I want to see something. Mary was not denying that God was going to do this…nor even declaring that she could not be the one God was going to use. She was not debating her favored status, or the possible truth of the opening salutation. She was simply wanting to understand a little more.

(Luk 1:35) The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

God answered her question. It will be a miracle. He then went one step farther and revealed to her that He had already began to prepare her for this miracle by working another. He was going to make her pregnant before the time of pregnancy (sex), just as He has allowed her aunt to become pregnant after the time of pregnancy.

(Luk 1:36) "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.

(Luk 1:37) "For nothing will be impossible with God."

Now, what follows is what I believe is the most incredible statement of faith in all the Bible…in all of eternity. It is one that we should mimic.

(Luk 1:38) And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Mary had learned from childhood that God was going to use someone one day. That is just like us. We know that God uses people.

I believe that the hardest thing in the world for us to believe…is…

You know,

I can believe that God exists.
I can believe that God created the universe.
I can believe that God created and loves humanity.

I believe that the hardest thing in the world for us to believe…is…

I can believe that humanity…that I, sinned against God.
I can believe that God became a man.
I can believe that He lived a sinless life.
I can believe that He died on the cross as my own, my personal Savior and substitute for sin.
I can believe that on Calvary He forgave me.
I can believe that He rose from the dead.

I believe that the hardest thing in the world for us to believe…is…

I can believe that He is coming back to reign forever.
I can believe that He is going to use people as His instruments, and out of a love relationship with them, He is going to change the world.

I can believe all of this.

However, I believe that the hardest thing in the world for me to believe…is…

God can, will, and wants to use ME.

I can believe that God can, will and wants to use you.

But, the hardest thing for me to believe is that God can, will and wants to use ME.

Mary heard the truth of Scripture, and then heard that this verse applied to her. That God was going to use her to change the world. That she was the mother of the Messiah.

And she said, “Okay.”

What a statement of faith. God is going to use someone, why not me?

If it is of God, does it matter what I have to offer Him?

All things are possible…even using YOU!

Have you ever thought about being used on the Mission Field? God is going to use someone…why not you?

IN Jesus,



Kathy W said...

Love, love,love this series!!
I, too, have always had a hard time believing God could use me for anything more than being a Christian wife and mother. (Not that that is not enough, but you know what I mean.) The first inclination I had that maybe God COULD use me was when I felt called to start volunteering at the Arlington Pregnancy Centers about 4 years ago. Long story, but we just happened to go to their annual fund-raiser dinner, really to hear the group Selah, and the testimonies spoke so powerfully to me that I truly felt God tell me, "You could do this." While I have not personally led anyone to make a proffesion of faith there, I have been used to help women change their minds about aborting their babies, and have been able to share how God can help them cope in their daily lives. The other main way I feel God may can use me is through my children's lives, most specifically, my daughter Hailey. She has dedicated herself to mission work, and fully plans to go to the foreign mission field some day. While that thrills me to no end, as a Christian, it scares the snot out of me as a mom. Maybe you can understand, a little!

So what's the rest of your burglar story???

Kathy W

Caris said...

Good thoughts, thanks! And yeah... don't leave us hanging like that with your "Home Alone" story!!!! =)

mater said...

I love your series on Christmas. And I like the Thanksgiving ones...I don't get to read your blog often so I kind of caught myself up today. Great insights - I want to read the rest of the man-in-house story =) ~Carin

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this lovely series, they have touched me each and every day. I am waiting and yes it is so hard for me to believe God could use me. Little me. The me no one notices. Me. Me? MJ

Becky said...

Joe, These Christmas insights are great. Thanks for inspiring us with your writings.

When I was young, we had a beaten and bloody man burst into our home when our parents were away. Waiting to hear the rest of your story....