Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. …37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
NLT I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.
THE SEASON’S REASON – Lets pray
In the beginning of time, God gives mankind options. In order for there to be true love, there has to be a choice in the matter. Rick Warren says that it is our greatest asset and our most crippling liability. Our freedom of choice. God allows us to be who we want to be.
Each time we turn from God, we vote for darkness. Not because we are hoping for darkness. We actually desire pleasure and immediate gratification. However, we turn from the light.
We live in a dark world. People are talking about the end of the world on Friday, Dec 21. It has sort of been a joke, but when you look at the headlines, it doesn’t look all that funny. It looks deadly serious. The end of this world actually doesn’t sound all that bad, if that means we live forever in heaven.
The US government is facing the fiscal cliff. Where financial markets are in a turmoil. Taxes being raised in 2013 have people scrambling to sell.
It seems every few weeks there is more news about violence. The news from Connecticut on Friday was devastating.
We stumble through the dark. Find a lot pain and struggle. The wages of sin is death.
We try to generate light ourselves by our work ethic. Our purchases. Our ‘making it’. Earthly success seems to give us a glimmer of hope, but it is no match for the strong man. Luke 11 says that you can become strong, and protect your possessions. However, they are only protected until a stronger man comes along.
God’s answer to the strong man is the manger. A baby. The Season’s Reason.
All we need is Jesus. **Even after we come to Jesus. We still need Jesus.**
Only time would tell just what that meant. ’Let everything happen to me’ Many of us have responded in the exact same way. “Yes, Lord, I will follow you. It is not too long after before we realize that trials come to everyone. Jesus says you will have enemies. It rains on the just and unjust.
Matthew 5: 11 God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
Matthew 24:9 Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
Mary faced the physical pains of the natural birthing process. She also unleashed the wrath of a society that believed she was in sin for conceiving a baby out of wedlock. After this waned, she faced the struggle of her adult son traveling the region preaching, teaching with no home and no means of survival. He eventually is tortured and sacrificed on the cross in front of her face. Her own son.
Many of us have been impregnated with the purpose of God and He is wanting us to give birth to ministry that will further his Kingdom. As we carry that ministry to term and then live with it in adulthood, it takes a toll. We look for solutions to deal with the wounds and the pressure.
Since Mary’s solution was her baby (Jesus), we are tempted to think that our solution is our baby (our ministry). Therefore, when struggle comes, we work harder. We try to catch people that leave us. We think one more service, one more sermon, one more encouraging word and one more conversion will help our hurt. When this happens we continue to dig ourselves into a hole that we can never get out of. If we are looking to ministry to heal our hurt, then we will always hurt.
The mission field is inexhaustible. There is always one more Sunday to plan for. There is always one more sinner to save. We chase joy forever, if we think it is found in the grasp of our ministry.
Ephesians 2: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
The bottomline is when we ‘give it all to God’ that means that we are ok if it all falls apart. It ‘staying together’ is not our saving grace.
We continue to give it our best effort, but it’s ultimate success or failure is solely dependent upon his Grace.
Our release is so difficult, because it has been our baby. We have poured a lot of sweat, blood, tear, money, effort into our Christian Life/Ministry. Now, we realized we have crossed a boundary and are not simply caring deeply for God’s work, and relying on Him to supply the Grace to complete. Instead we feel like God’s acceptance of us comes through the completion of the work He has commissioned us to complete.
We do not find our hope in the birth of our ministry or our work. We find our hope in Mary’s baby. Jesus was born once and it was enough for eternity.
Personal connection with Jesus is the only way we will find healing for our ministry wounds. We will continue to chase after sinners, hunt down demons, plan weekends, and get really creative with technique. However, we will stop the rat race of thinking that heals us.
Jesus, you are our source. You are our source for help and healing
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately. These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
The Joy of Trial
–by Marilyn Moore Apple
James speaks from those pages beneath my hand
A challenge I have laughed at just like Sarah laughed
I know of Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory
I know of the Joy That Comes In the Morning
But Joy In Trial?
How can my patience reach across that sea?
How can my tears be still in turmoil dark?
In the valley of the shadow of death even far at sea,
Shall I smile?
While pulling on the oars so hard to get to you
As you stand so peaceful on the Shore.
My sin is scarlet
My deeds are rags
My youth was wasted in the dusty alleys of this world.
I cannot see beyond the bow.
I can’t find solace in this darkest hour.
Though in my mind I see your sparkling flower covered hills.
Though through my reason I know your breadth and depth.
My breath still comes in gasps and sobs
My hope in peril on a sea of heartfelt doubt.
My flesh too weak to move
I seek to drown.
Heaven waits if I can yet somehow cast off this worthless form.
And be done with helpless futile efforts of my will.
You stand upon the sea my Lord
I see you’ve come to me.
Running to my gate of desperation
You take me in your arms.
Your voice in softest whisper
Tells me “patience, let it be”
“Let me row, give oars and all to me.”
I faint within this vision or this song.
When I awake I stand among the wildflowers on the hill,
I watch you rise again,
And suddenly I know—
You my Jesus, You are the Joy of all Trials.