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And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. - Luke 2:6 (NLT)
It’s Christmas Day!! What an exciting time to celebrate. As we do, let’s take a moment to ponder an amazing fact: the Creator of the universe chose two ordinary people, Mary and Joseph, for one of the most significant moments in the history of the universe. Just two impoverished people under the rule of a hostile foreign occupying force... and God shows up in their family in the form of a new little baby. Born of a young virgin. Adopted by a poor carpenter. Welcome to our world, Jesus.
Now, if I were God, I’d be looking for someone with some childcare experience and maybe a decent income. So, why these people? It’s because God’s birth announcement was that people who tend to be excluded, insignificant, and even sinful would now be included, given purpose, and forgiven.
Sara and I welcomed a little one into our world when we adopted our son. Dimitar was just beginning to speak a few words in Bulgarian. Then we came along and he had to meet new people, taste strange foods, and learn English from scratch. We discovered it’s possible to understand each other with a few words, some knowledge of basic needs, a little sign language, and patience.
It’s kind of like when God dropped in and became the third member of Mary and Joseph’s brand-new family. Jesus showed up on the scene and, at first, we kind of didn’t get it. But He knew how to speak to our deepest needs. He spoke the language of love that helped us see and know Him. And He exercised an infinite level of patience as people rejected, abused, even killed Him.
Mark Moore comments that humanly, Jesus was Mary’s son; legally He was Joseph’s son; fundamentally, He was God’s Son. Welcome Him to your world, your home, your life today. It’s because of Him that we’ve been welcomed into God’s family. Merry Christmas, friends.
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin[a] will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). - Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
A few weeks ago I tossed the TV controller to my six year old and said, “You’re in charge, man!” He had a strange look in his eye as he gleefully picked up the remote. I was heading out the door for the day and didn’t think about it long enough to wonder what he was up to.
Later that evening I discovered he’d taken my words literally. My bride had asked him to do something and he had told his mom that, in fact, he was in charge now. I can almost hear his little triumphant laugh as he broke the news to my wife. But my sweet little dude, in an attempt to establish his totalitarian regime in our home, had his dictatorship instantly overthrown as he received a humbling awakening to reality in that moment.
Mary and Joseph, like you and I, may have had some level of control over their lives. But they could clearly see now that they were in no way In Charge. They were dependent upon God. And, to their credit, magnificently, they were obedient to Him.
Dependence and Obedience. Two simple qualifications that made them the right people to whom God could entrust His son.
When God spoke through Isaiah in today’s text, we see the word “will” four times. It’s used sixteen more times immediately afterward. So God said what was going to happen twenty times in one passage of text. And all of it did. Rhetorical question: Who’s in charge here?
From a human perspective, Mary and Joseph had no hope to be anything other than poor Jewish people under Roman rule. But even the Romans weren’t in charge here. God wasn’t giving up remote control of the world. As we’ve shared before this week, Christmas is a beautiful announcement. The announcement that God is about to score the win…
Even a young husband and wife whose pregnancy was scandalous to some people could be chosen, empowered, and become beautiful instruments in God’s hands. The same goes for you and me, friend. How do you respond to that? Write your words down or share them with someone today.Share Tweet
...but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. - Luke 2:19 (NLT)
Recently a friend and I tackled the job of repairing a hole in the exhaust system of my ‘98 Subaru. I’d ignored it for a while. Then one day my wife drove the car and I realized it was time to do something about it. I could hear the car all the way out of the neighborhood - more than a mile away. It had gotten bad. Really bad.
So I fired up my friend’s reciprocating saw, sliced off the rusted-through pipe, and replaced the segment. It felt like I was driving a new car! Well, for a few days, at least. It was then I started to hear the much more subtle noise of the rear wheel bearings going bad. Awesome, right?
It’s a truth worth remembering that, when all the noise stops, we begin to hear a little more clearly. Sometimes it’s only when we get quiet and allow some time to ponder our lives that clarity begins to bubble up.
Mary had experienced an encounter with the Angel Gabriel, her pregnancy as a virgin, sharing the news of that pregnancy with people who loved her, weathering the judgmental stares from many others. She’d been rejected at the inn and given birth in a stable. The smelly shepherds came and worshipped, with their own story of an angelic encounter. And now, it finally got quiet.
She had space to think as she looked down at her nursing baby.
She pondered. And wondered what was to come. Did the quiet finally give her space to settle in her heart that God could use absolutely anyone to accomplish His purposes in this world? Christmas is the announcement that formerly excluded, sinful, and insignificant people are now included, forgiven, and given significant roles in God’s family. That includes you and me.
Sometimes we can’t understand what’s happening in or around us until time passes and the noise simmers down. Take some time to get quiet, spend time with God, and let the details that are swirling in your world just land in His strong hands. Take five minutes to pray for wisdom to respond as God shows the way ahead.Share Tweet
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. - Matthew 2:13 (NLT)
Do you happen to be one of those people who regularly remember their dreams? There’s nothing like the exhilaration in a dream where you get to fly. Or the sinking feeling in the one where you can’t remember your locker combination. Or the joy in the one where a bald guy like me suddenly has long, flowing dreadlocks. Ah, dreams can be fun.
God certainly got Joseph’s attention through a dream. Joseph’s family was in danger and it was vital for God to intervene. So He provided the direction they so urgently needed. There’s no more significant sign that we are special to God than when He reaches out to get our attention... especially when He’s reaching out to help, protect, or provide for us.
God reaches out to us in so many ways. But does He still reach out to us through dreams? Consider for yourself: Do you think God might speak about things like...
… integrity and honesty through a dream of a guy hired to plow a field? He’s annoyed that the job is too difficult, so he finds a way to make it merely appear the job is done, but the soil is still hard and packed underneath; he gets paid and takes off with the money.
… faithfulness in marriage through a dream of a man with a woman who is not his wife? They’re laughing together, as she reaches down and scoops water from the toilet to give him to drink. He drinks the water, laughs, and smiles.
… our freedom from sin but the remaining urgency of choosing holiness through a dream of a person walking down the road? He had been shackled in a chair when he was born. He was walking freely now, but planned to go back to sit in the same old chair out of habit and familiarity.
God has used these dreams to help people recognize what He wanted to do in them. Did one of these examples even grab your attention today? Perhaps God is reaching out to you. Right now. Will you respond to His gentle knock and open the door today?
So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.” - Matthew 2:23a (NLT)
Long ago, I couldn’t even have imagined the idea of life in 2018. But now it’s just a sneeze away. And I’ve got some breaking news for you. Are you ready? Here goes… Today, you’re older than you’ve ever been in your life. Ouch. Thankfully, the aging process is usually accompanied by maturing. But while we may think we’re as mature as we’ll ever be... guess what? If you’re breathing, you’re still growing and learning.
As another year is about to pass us by, think back 10 years. What were you up to? What did you stress about? Where did you live? How were you growing? Could you have imagined then how different your life is today? It’s interesting to consider how we’ve changed in a decade. But even a single year can bring about massive change - and transformation as God works in us.
God says through the prophet Isaiah, “Forget what happened before. Do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?” God is about to do something brand new. He specializes in that kind of thing.
Teetering on the edge of the cliff about to plunge into another year - or maybe just another day for you - there is hope. It’s rising like the sun on the horizon early in the morning. For some of us, God is going to continue the growth trajectory He’s already launched us on. For others of us, He’s going to do something so brand new and amazing in us, we couldn’t have begun to imagine it. Do you feel that nudge?
Pray, search, ask questions... and start the process of discovering what God wants for you and your life. Then take steps to align your practices with the purpose He’s unveiling: Read through the Bible, join a group, leave that addiction behind. As you move toward God, you’ll find that hope begins to dawn in your world.Share Tweet