December 24, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Ramona Davis - Proverbs 31 Certified Speaker
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" Luke 1: 46,47 (NIV)
I shuffled into my kitchen, plugged in the coffee pot then made my way into the den. The lights from the Christmas tree cast peaceful twinkles across the room where I was about to enjoy a special quiet time on this particular Christmas morning.
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to read scriptures of our Lord's birth. I snuggled up on the sofa and chose to read from the first Chapter of the Book of Luke. This account tells of Christ's birth from Mary's perspective. I did not expect God to open my eyes to so many truths all in one sitting!
The angel, Gabriel, was sent by God to deliver the wonderful message to Mary that she would be the mother of the Christ child. First, he told her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women." Obviously, God had bestowed a special honor on Mary. She was a special recipient of His grace but I often wonder what God saw in the heart of Mary that caused Him to trust her with the Son of God. Why would she be called highly favored? The Bible says man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. Mary's heart was revealed by her response to this awesome encounter. I want to know what He saw in Mary's heart. After all, my heart is the dwelling place for Jesus and I want my heart to be a place He wants to dwell.
Mary was very frightened to see this angel standing before her. The angel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." Fear - from one cover of my Bible to the other God tells me not to be afraid but I have been gripped with fear more times than I want to admit.
When my first son born was born prematurely, I was paralyzed with fear. When my first husband abandoned us, I was drowning in fear. I could go on and on. But I have learned that God is our Light and our Shield, a very present help in time of need. He desires that I trust Him and not be afraid, no matter what my circumstances. He asks that I cling to Him. My first response should be to pray and seek His direction, His comfort, and His peace. What are you facing in your life right now? Is fear threatening you like a heavy dark cloud? Seek Him through prayer, cling to Him, and Trust Him!
Gabriel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." Gabriel told Mary that she had found favor with God. Favor (Charis) in the original Greek language means the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life. Mary was obedient to the divine influence on her heart. Her life reflected her relationship with God.
Mary listened as Gabriel delivered the awesome message of Christ's birth. Mary had a listening heart. Have you ever met anyone who talked non-stop? Always asking questions but not giving time to listen to the answers? Frustrating and annoying, isn't it? I wonder if God feels that way when we come to Him in prayer, bombarding Him with our words. Do I take time to be still and listen to what God is trying to tell me? Do I slow down long enough to seek His voice? Am I spending quality time with Him daily in His Word and in prayer getting to know Him and learning to recognize His voice? Do I then make the necessary changes in order for my life to reflect my relationship with Jesus?
Mary asked a question in faith. In the 11th Chapter of Hebrews, we find the Hall of Fame of Spiritual Leaders. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied, Sarah laughed, Moses murdered and David committed adultery.... what did they all have in common? Faith! Are my questions to God cloaked in faith or unbelief? Gabriel answered her question and then said, "For with God nothing will be impossible."
Perhaps you are facing a seemingly impossible situation - a problem that has you backed against a wall with no apparent way out. It doesn't matter what problem, crisis, or challenge you are facing - God is able to do the impossible. We need to stop telling God how big our problems are and start telling our problems how big our God is.
Mary's response to the astonishing message was, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." Mary had plenty to worry about if she chose to do so. What would Joseph think? What would her parents think? What would other people think when her body would begin to show the new life growing in her? Mary didn't ask God these questions. Mary was completely obedient and submitted to God's plans because she fully trusted God. Mary had a heart ready to say, "Yes, Lord".
My desire is to obey God quickly just as Mary did, without questioning, arguing or whining and in complete humble obedience. I want to always be ready to say, "Yes, Lord" to whatever Jesus asks me to do because I can trust in His goodness and plans.
Is my heart pure? Am I seeking Him with my whole heart? Is fear or faith residing in my heart? Is it listening? Is it ready to say, "Yes, Lord"? Is my heart a place where He is at home?
My prayer for today:
Lord, I want my heart to be a place that You are pleased to dwell. I open every room in my heart to You, Jesus. Where there is fear, replace it with faith in You. Help me make our relationship my first priority. I want to have a listening heart ready to obey You. I want to love you with all my heart. Amen
Read Luke 1:26 -38 and ask God to search every room in your heart for anything that may not be pleasing to Him. Make a list in your journal and write a prayer asking Him to reveal specific steps you can take.
Read Matthew 22:37, 38 Do you love Him with all your heart? You cannot love Him with all your heart if you are keeping any of it from Him.
Reflect on the fact that your heart is the dwelling place for Jesus. Is there any room in your heart to which you have denied Him access? Perhaps a deep secret, a hurt so deep or a sin locked away in some secret place is keeping God from filling your heart with His love and peace. He wants you to open the door and allow Him to flood your heart with His love.
Plan a trip to the mountains or beach or even take a long walk in a nearby park to be alone with Him. Cry, scream out in pain, do whatever it takes to allow Him access to that hidden part of your heart. He longs to hold you close, comfort and heal you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23, 24 (NIV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7 (NKJV)
You will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa Terkeurst
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Friday, 24 December 2004.