Friday, December 31, 2010

The Favor of the Lord

"And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40, ESV).

The favor of God was on Mary. The favor of God was on Jesus. Jesus grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom. Mary and Joseph taught Him, modeled a life of commitment before Him, and took Him to be taught.

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52, ESV).

As women, we are to pass on the truths of the Word of God to those who come behind us. Whether we are moms or not, we look for younger women and pass on the faith we have in Christ. As we live out our lives of commitment to Christ, the favor of the Lord is upon us. We have influence in so many ways.

As we conclude one year and begin another, let's commit to be women of influence. Let's keep our focus on Christ and make a difference in the lives of others. God gave us Jesus as a free gift. We have the gift of Christ to go change the world.

May God give us favor. May God give us a "Mary" new year!
You are being prayed for today!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

His Name is Jesus!

"And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb" (Luke 2:21, ESV).

I wonder what Mary had always dreamed about naming her first child? Was it Adam or Moses? Maybe Harry or Paul (maybe not)? The angel of Lord told her to call His name Jesus, and she did. She gave her plans to the Lord, even though they were not her plans.

During the past few weeks, I have been able to catch up with many younger family members and their friends. All of them have dreams. All of them have plans on what they will do in life. It has been great to listen and encourage each one. As I encouraged, I hope I have communicated that God's plan trumps our own plans.

Sometimes God speaks in a whisper, sometimes He shouts it from the rooftops. Sometimes He speaks through friends and family, and sometimes He is known through quiet reflections on His Word. No matter what He is saying you...listen. Stop. Do what He says. Change your plan to His plan. You may not see or understand it, but it will be the best plan.

God's plan was for Mary to birth and name His Son Jesus. It was the name above all names. He is the plan! Choose Him.

Have a "Mary" end-of-the season!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Praise God!

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them" (Luke 2:20, ESV).

As it was told to them, the shepherd glorified and praised God. During the hectic days of Christmas we praised God. During the lazy days that follow (maybe for you, not for me), we are to glorify and praise God.

As I write this, the computer I am writing on is barking at me! I am trying to glorify God in the process and I admit, it has become a humorous ordeal. I am determined not to let it get to me. I'm sure the shepherds had things to catch up on. Maybe some sheep had gone astray. Who knows what happened while they were gone. Yet, they kept their focus on the important things.

Let's continue to glorify and praise God. Let's keep our focus on the importance of Christ in our lives. Let's glorify and praise God - even while computers bark.

Let's have a "Mary" end-of-the-season!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Treasured and Pondered

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19, ESV).

Don't you love it? When it was all said and done, Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Now that Christmas is over, what will be the things that we treasure? One of the memories I will hold dear will not be new material gifts, but a four inch photo binder packed with photos of our family. My parents spend the whole year gathering photos of past holidays and vacations and gave Kelli and my two nieces each a huge notebook full of pictures! Each was unique. My dad took the time to scan every page and gave all of us a DVD of all three albums. What a blessing to have that and to be able to pass it on.

As important as the memories and photos are, the most important thing they passed on to us was the message of Christ. I have been reflecting and pondering what my life would have been without Jesus in my life. I would have been a complete mess. I cannot even imagine how my insecurities would have taken over. Thank you to my parents who passed on the message of eternal life. Thank you Lord for finding me.

This new year, let's commit to pass on the love of the Lord. Let's make a memory by sharing the good news! Let's have a "Mary" new year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Share the Message of Christ!

"When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.' And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them" (Luke 2:15-18, ESV).

The angels rejoiced! The shepherds told each other. All spread the good news that Christ was born! All who heard it wondered!

I pray you had an awesome Christmas. Our Christmas celebration is still ongoing. We are now celebrating with Dana's family. We are blessed that we have heard the good news of Christ and are in families who live it out on a daily basis. What a blessing we have heard!

Let's see who needs Jesus today and share Him with someone. That is what Christmas is all about!

Hope you had a "Mary" Christmas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pain turned to Joy! Joy to the World!

"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” (Luke 2:8-14, ESV).

Mary birthed baby Jesus. Sometimes we don't think about the pain of it all. Childbirth is one of the most painful things that can happen to a body. Fortunately, the Scriptures skip right over it, and rightly so. No need to rehash the pain of it all. And Joseph didn't really escape it because he had to be right there listening and assisting during the process.

There is a lot of work that goes into Christmas. Whether we are hosting or visiting others, there is just much to do thrown in on top of a busy schedule. As I write this, I am feeling the physical pain in my back from it all. Somehow, I am sure I am not alone. There are some tired souls out there! My husband didn't miss the pain either. No telling how many side trips he has made just trying to keep us all together (Dana always has smile on his face as he charges out to conquer the next task.)

This season, let's don't let the joy end. Let's keep the good memories, toss out the bad ones with the trash, and turn the pain into joy! Let's focus on a loving God who sent His Son Jesus to show us how to live and to die so that we might have life!

Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:1-7, ESV).

Months have passed between the end of Luke 1 and the beginning of Luke 2. It is finally time for the Messiah to be born! You know what happened, there was no room in the inn. We assume Mary and Joseph were forced into a stable because of that - and the fact that there was a feeding trough - a manger - there. Don't you know it must have bothered them both. Here they were, trying to birth the Savior and forced to have the baby in something less than adequate. Do you wonder if they thought they had messed it all up?

No doubt, Mary had an idea of what she thought it should all look like, and be like, yet it wasn't. Jesus was still born, history changed, and our lives changed forever. Regardless of what you thought Christmas and Christmas Eve were supposed to look like, it doesnt' matter! It is here so rejoice in it and be glad! Make the most of it! Mary lay Jesus in a manger. Use what you have, go with the flow, and make the best of it!

Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home Sweet Home

"And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home" (Luke 1:56, ESV).

Mary, the mother of Jesus, heard from the angel about the soon-to-be birth of Jesus. She went to stay with her relative Elizabeth (who was pregnant with John the Baptist). In Luke 1:56, we see that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, and then she returned home.

Somehow it is a comforting thought to me that after all the Christmas rush, relatives go back home. That's a sad thing and yet a joyful thing. We come together, we love on each other, we celebrate Life in Christ and make memories (some good, some not) and then we go back to our lives to share with the world that no matter what, Jesus Christ is Lord!

Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prophesy Fulfilled

“He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:54-55, ESV).

Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang her hymn of praise to the Lord. She was in the middle of it all. The Holy Spirit had fallen on her and in months to come she will birth Jesus the Messiah. She sang of the prophesy that was being fulfilled and kept her perspective on it all.

Today, December 23, I find myself doing yesterday's post. I am in the middle of it all! Parents have arrived, nieces have boyfriends around and in town, Kelli's boyfriend arriving this morning, the massive cooking and cleaning continues, and I am thankful that most all the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. For the most part, things are in order and every time someone says something bazaar or something else goes haywire, I remind myself that Jesus is Lord! Christmas is all about our Savior who died for us. Jesus is here as a way out of this crazy life in which we find ourselves. Thank you Lord! While parts of Christmas are fun, parts are not. I am so grateful that He will come again to rescue me (and us)!

I WILL HAVE A "MARY" CHRISTMAS, no matter what anyone does or says! Will you join me???

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Humbled and Exalted

“He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:52-53, ESV).

I find it interesting that God lifts the humble and lowers those who are arrogant. I admit that I have been in both groups - I have been lifted by the Lord but I have been humbled many times. It is a balance that only God can bring. It is a balance that I can also count on.

This Christmas, we will probably be with someone who wants to share how well they are doing. It might be in the form of bragging or being arrogant about what they believe and why. It might be someone new to the group or a family member that we have to brace ourselves before we see. It may be someone at the party of a friend or someone we see at a work dinner.

Whatever the case, let's decide that we will pray for the person. Instead of arguing, getting huffy, trying to top them or replying with sarcasm; let's decide now that we will give the person to the Lord. Let's choose to humble ourselves and serve them, knowing that God will take care of the problem. He will set them in their rightful place. He will humble them in a way that is better and more efficient.

Mary sang before the Lord in praise. She came humbly before the Lord. He honored her humbleness. It was years before anyone knew her story, but God used her to change lives and change history.

I pray that we will have a "Mary" Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merciful God

“And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” (Luke 1:50-51, ESV). 

I love the verses that follow in Luke 1:76-79. They are part of Zechariah's prophesy about John the Baptist (the child that Mary's relative Elizabeth was carrying). They give great insight into our merciful God.

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76-79, ESV).

God is a merciful God. God gives us knowledge of our sins and helps us see our need for salvation. It is the tender mercy of God that allows us to know we need Him. All creation points to Him. He brings light to those who live in darkness. He guides our lives so that we can come to Him and experience His peace.

I need to know the merciful God. I need His mercy at every season but especially now during the Christmas rush. I need to remember that God has allowed me the privilege of knowing Him and serving Him. Oh God, have mercy on me a sinner. At times I have forgotten how to be grateful for the opportunity to give and share with others. Lord, help me to see your mercy and help me to extend it to others who desperately need you today.

I want to have a "Mary" Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Holy Christmas

"For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his  name"  (Luke 1:49, ESV).

Holy is His name! Holy is the name of the Most High and Mighty God! In her hymn found in Luke 1:46-55, Mary sang of the holiness of God. She had a right perspective on it all. It wasn't about her, it was about the God of the universe. It was about a mighty God who was holy!

To be holy is to be set apart, to be pure, to be without blemish. God is the only one who is holy. He is the only Messiah. He is the only one worthy. God sent Jesus, His Son, to earth to show us how to live and how to die. Jesus is God in flesh - fully human, and yet still God. Jesus was holy. Our minds cannot conceive of what it means to be without sin, but Jesus was without sin. Mary understood enough to know that she was carrying the Messiah of the world. She understood that God was holy and that He had done a mighty work in her both physically and spiritually. She rejoiced in His holiness and in His mighty hand in her life. No doubt she understood that she was not worthy, yet He was.

We live in a world that is full of sin. In fact, we tend to look the other way or just ignore some things in our lives. Sometimes during the holidays, we forget that we must be holy before God. When we are not holy (and have unconfessed sin), we tend to let things get to us. People and even family members bother us. Somehow we get so busy that we forget to sit before the Lord and confess our sins one by one.  One thing leads to another and we find ourselves stressed and losing perspective on the little things.

I was blessed to be in two small gatherings to pray for my friend Lisa. Lisa lost an eye to cancer 20 years ago. The cancer has returned in the other eye and we prayed over her today. Her surgery is December 23. Praying for her healing has brought a new perspective to the season for me. The things that seemed big are now small. My personal sin seems so huge as I have close times with the Lord. I am so aware of my shortcomings and I am committed to keep my eyes on the log in my own eye and not on the specks I see in others. I'm sure I will fall back but I'm going to keep pursuing holiness. I'm going to keep confessing my sin and keep my eyes on what is important - that Jesus came into the world to save us.

Mary had many things happening - she was pregnant, the baby wasn't from Joseph, her friends and family must have wondered about it all, and she was staying with a relative - but she praised God that He was mighty and holy. She knew that He was in control and to keep her focus on His holiness - not on her worthiness.

This Christmas, will you join me? Will you confess your sins before the Lord? Will you concentrate on the Lord and His mighty hand in your life. He chose your family and placed you there. He knows, cares, and is working. Let's fall before Him and "be holy because He is holy."

Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blessing All Generations

“For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48b, ESV).

How Mary responded to the news of carrying Christ changed the world for generations to come! It must have been an overwhelming thought that she would birth the Savior of the world. Can you even imagine that? We look at Mary and wonder how she kept it all together. Do you think she ever wondered if she would blow it and do something that would completely change the outcome? Mary was human, so my guess is that she had a few of the same thoughts that you and I would have.

What you and I do can also bless or curse the generations to come. How we respond to the family member who is out-of-order sets a pace for everyone nearby. If we are frustrated with someone or with a situation, how we act can make an incredible difference. When we think back on things, sometimes we remember a comment for years. It can change us forever. When we pray and are ready for the season (and the day), it changes us and in turn, changes others. This Christmas, let's look for ways we can bless other generations.

Let's comment together to bless someone with the love of Jesus. Tis the reason for the season! Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mary - the Humble Servant

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:46-48a, ESV).

Mary is my hero! She magnified the Lord, rejoiced with God, and stayed humble in the middle of it all. In her song found in Luke 1:46-55, we see that she was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah partly because she was humble. She wasn't seeking this high position. She rejoiced when she found her calling. There was no press release, she didn't Tweet about it, and she didn't post photos on Facebook of her growing belly. :) She just rejoiced before the Lord and with Elizabeth's family. Mary kept things in perspective and chose to be the humble servant chosen to carry our Lord.

This Christmas, I want to be like Mary. There are many things to do and many of them servant-oriented. What I do will not be known to the world, in fact few will notice. I doubt that anyone will know how much shopping (gifts and groceries) I have done, how much cooking, how many gifts I have wrapped, how much time I have spent in the kitchen, how many towels and sheets I will wash, or how much work goes into hosting family and friends. I didn't say it would not involve some fun in there but there is much to do and for the most part, it won't be known.

As I write this, it is the weekend before Christmas. Family and friends start arriving on Tuesday and if I were to stop and write a to-do list, I would never finish writing (so I had better get busy)! I'm concentrating on being like Mary. (Of course, that is like making a public declaration for the enemy to use.) I'm going to think about the outcome of Christmas and look for how I can serve my family and others - without griping. I'm going to try to work and serve as unto the Lord - at least I'm going to start each day trying to allow God to serve through me without the fanfare.

Will you join me? I pray that we all have a "Mary" Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:46-48a, ESV).

It's Christmas, rejoice! It is easy to say it. During church worship or during those awesome one-on-one times with the Lord, it is where we would just like to camp out and stay. Rejoicing is what Mary says that she is doing! She is rejoicing that God is her Savior and that He has chosen her. There are so many things to rejoice about and so many ways to show joy.

Rejoicing is a state of joyfulness. It is holding or possessing joy. To rejoice in the Lord is to delight in Him. We delight in who He is, in what He has done, and what He is going to do. Mary rejoiced in what the angel had said and she believed it would be accomplished. "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45, ESV).

Let's be like Mary. Put away the worries of the season and focus on the joy of Christ. He came to show us how to live, and how to die. He came that we could have life! When we believe in Christ, turn from our sins (repent), and trust in Him, we can know that He will help us live each day. We also know that we can spend eternity with God in heaven. That is something to rejoice about!

This Christmas, let's be like Mary. Rejoice, no matter what the situation! We have much to rejoice about! Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Magnify the Lord!

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:46-48a, ESV).

Mary's soul magnified the Lord. Wow. How many times is my soul magnifying the Lord? Apparently not enough! I'm overwhelmed with little things like getting grades in, finishing my dissertation, Christmas shopping and cleaning, and other things that show that I am not magnifying the Lord enough. I'm even overwhelmed with the fact that I haven't blogged in several days! Oh my, I need to be like Mary and magnify the Lord!

When we let the things of the world take away our joy of the Lord, we have lost perspective on how big God really is. To magnify simply means to make great, to acknowledge greatness. God is so much bigger than even the things of Christmas. It is easy to lose the meaning of Christmas when we are more concerned about staying out of debt and more concerned with all the parties (or lack of them). When we think about the things, we are not magnifying the Lord.

Let's commit together, that in the middle of all the craziness, we will magnify the Lord. Mary was pregnant and could have been overwhelmed, but she wasn't. Let's keep our focus and every time we start to get off track, let's pull out our Bibles and remember to magnify the Lord!

Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

the Unexpected Guest

"And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?'" (Luke 1:41-43, ESV).

Have you ever had an unexpected guest? One that just drops in with no warning? Growing up, I learned to keep the front rooms and public areas of the home picked up and ready for company - just in case anyone dropped in. Mother also taught us to have a meal ready - pre-cooked and frozen - or something easy to prepare. While I admit that I hate drop-ins, I am still ready - just in case!

I can't imagine being Elizabeth and having Mary drop in - and stay for three months! My, can't say I'd be ready for that! Elizabeth was very old and now pregnant. She had to be exhausted and achy - even if she was excited to be pregnant and excited for Mary! Yet Elizabeth kept a positive and spiritual outlook on it all. Elizabeth knew that God was in the visit. Whatever she thought she had planned, God's plan had to take priority.

I pray that this Christmas, we will be ready for company. It might come when someone arrives at the door, or when we find ourselves with time to talk to someone about Christ. I pray that we will be ready for God's plan to change our plan. And may we be like Mary - full of the Holy Spirit and listening for what He will teach us.

Let's have a "Mary" Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Days of Haste

"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth" (Luke 1:39-40, ESV).

Even Mary went with haste. She was rushed. Just like us. Well not exactly like us but don't you know she had much to do? The birth of the Son of God was coming and there were people to see, things to talk about, and preparations to be made. She heard good news, yet life-changing, startling news and she went quickly to one who could help her put it all into perspective. Mary want to a safe place with a safe person to discuss things.

Mary was hurried to a town to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39) and Elizabeth helped Mary see things in God's eyes - that the Holy Spirit was with her and she was filled and favored (Luke 1:39-41). Elizabeth was a relative but she was a mentor. Elizabeth took Mary in and can you even imagine all the discussions that may have taken place? I'm sure they pulled out the Scriptures and poured over them. Even though there was much to do, they took the time to be spiritually prepared.

In the middle of the Christmas rush, know that God is there and that He has brought us favor in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. As we physically prepare and even rush to get things accomplished, let's remember that God wants us to be spiritually prepared. In the days of getting ready, let's take time to read the Word, to share it with others, and to be a shining light. When we are spiritually prepared, we will have a ready and Spirit-filled response for that unexpected situation in which we find ourselves.

In the rush, let's be ready spiritually as well as physically. Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lord, make me a servant like Mary

"And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her" (Luke 1:38, ESV).

I wish I was like Mary. I think if an angel came upon me and told me I was pregnant, I might not have responded with "behold, I am a servant of the Lord, let it be." In fact, I'm sure I would have been startled speechless. When I am really scared, I can't scream much less speak at all. Even when I came too, I think I would not have responded so favorably - and especially if I was young and unmarried. I know if you haven't had a child, you might not know what it all entails but having had several miscarriages and one miracle child, I can assure you it was one of the most physically trying experiences of my life. Being a mother might be the greatest blessing, but getting there wasn't. I'm sure Mary didn't know all she would encounter, but I love that she had such a positive outlook on it all. I love that she declared, "I am a servant...let it be!"

This Christmas, I pray you have a "Mary" Christmas. I pray that no matter what God calls you to do, that you will serve the Lord with gladness. I pray that you (and I) will respond and be willing to serve. It might be cleaning the house, going that extra mile to help someone with a screaming child at the mall, letting someone have the parking space that you had been waiting on, putting up with relatives that seem impossible, or helping do the cooking and the dishes. Whatever God calls us to do, let's just do it and be servants who shine with Jesus as we serve! You pray for me and I will pray for you. Have a "Mary" Christmas and let's serve the Lord with gladness!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nothing Impossible with God

And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:36-37, ESV).

The angel told Mary that nothing was impossible with God. Her friend, mentor and too-old-to-have-children relative Elizabeth was pregnant and Mary was having the Holy-Son of God. Wow, that's a lot of miracles all at once. Mary believed the angel. It was simple faith. She believed that God could miracles and believed she was experiencing one.

In the past few weeks, I've been praying for God to take over some "impossible" things happening. Within just a matter of days, two of my friends have had cancer return - one breast cancer and one eye cancer. One healed for four years or so, one healed for twenty years. Then poof, there it is again. With no notice or warning, both are back in the whirlwind of doctors, surgery, and all things uncertain. I know I speak for many of us when I say that I am ready for a couple of miracles. I'm ready for God to take two impossible situations and intervene! Lord, please heal Paula and Lisa! Lord, I believe that You can do the impossible and provide healing to their bodies. And as I write this, there are so many "impossible" situations...I pray for healing and for God to do the impossible in each life. So many needs, so many hurts.

I don't know why God allows some to be pregnant and some not. I don't know why He heals some and some He doesn't heal. What I do know is that He is there, He listens, He cares, He speaks, and He can. Some day maybe we will understand, maybe we won't. I trust that whatever you are going through, you will trust Him to do the impossible in your life. With God, all things are possible and I, for one, am praying that He will do the impossible and heal Paula and Lisa. I'm praying for you too.

Lord, give us the simple faith of Mary to believe in You.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holy - the Son of God

"And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God’” (Luke 1:35, ESV).

Holy. The word described Mary's son, the Son of God. I wonder if she fully understood it all. Can you imagine that you would give birth to the Holy, Son of God? My Logos Bible software describes holy as "exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness; divine" from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. I think of holy as one who is set-apart, one who is pure and without fault While Mary heard the angel say it, I am sure the thought must have overwhelmed her. And yet somehow, she trusted God to walk her through each day and learned to depend on the Holy Spirit that had come on her.

It is one thing to know that God is holy. We may not comprehend that but we can accept it. The hard part comes when we try to understand how we are to be holy as it says in 1 Peter 1:16, "since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy." We are to be set apart, to be holy and pure. The only way we can do that is with the help of the Holy Sprit. When we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

This season, let's be like Mary. Let's trust that God is holy. Let's believe in Him and take Him at His word. Let's ask forgiveness of Him and others when we lose our cool because the season is so hectic. Let's remember that there are more important things than perfectly decorated homes and perfect gifts. Let's remember that He is the reason we are here. He is holy. Let's fall on our faces, confess our sins, and make a commitment to start over and to be like Him - Holy.

Will you join me? So many need to know the cleansing power of God. He is the reason for the season.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Power of the Most High God

"And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God"  (Luke 1:35, ESV).

Just imagine being Mary. Her whole life she had heard the rabbis teach about the Messiah that was to come. I doubt she could have imagined that He would be born to her. What do you think she was thinking when she heard that the power of the Most High would overshadow her? I doubt she had much concept of what that meant. Not only was she scared, but she had to be a bit overwhelmed by it all...and all so sudden. It was the Holy Spirit's power that came on her but obviously His power was what took her through long months of thinking, preparing, praying, and no doubt experiencing all the emotions that go with being pregnant with the Son of the Most High God.

Today, when we accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for our sins, the Holy Spirit comes on us and stays with us. He guides us in truth, comforts us, show us the way to go, loves on us, counsels us, and is our constant companion. If we have made a commitment to Him, then He is forever there. We may be overwhelmed but all the happenings of life, but we have God's promise that the Holy Spirit will never leave us.

As I write this, I've been shopping all day. I'm not sure what I was thinking to go to the stores in Houston on a Saturday (especially when it was 80 degrees). I was overwhelmed by all the people who were overwhelmed! You would have thought it was Christmas Eve. As I stood in a long line (people speaking other languages in front and behind me), all I was thinking was how hot it was, how long the line was, and how crazy I was to keep standing in it. I should have been thinking how much Jesus loved and died for each one.

I think Mary must have focused on the important things about having the Son of God. I bet she listened to the Holy Spirit and let him help her keep it all in perspective. I pray that you and I both stay focused on what's important this season. I pray we let the power of the Most High God comfort us. I pray we have a "Mary" Christmas day.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


"But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God" (Luke 1:29-30, ESV).

Troubled. Disturbed. Concerned. Worried. Anxious. Bothered. Regardless of how you say it, it happens to the best of us. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, was troubled. An angel appeared to her. Don't you know she wondered if she was seeing and hearing things? I wonder if she shook her head or blinked her eyes several times. An angel reassuring her not to be afraid might not have been so reassuring! Probably a good thing that Mary and Joseph both got visits from angels so they could calm each other down. Troubled was probably an understatement.

Right now I'd troubled over much smaller things. Things like the right gift for the right person. Somehow I think if it fret over what to buy, it makes the gift-giving so much better. It seems I spend more time thinking about it all than I do just getting something. When I think back on years past, I can hardly remember what I gave - or what I received. It seems that shopping for hours leads me to buy more and then I'm still concerned it wasn't good enough or the perfect gift. I need to learn to be less troubled and more thankful. After all, this has nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas. There are so many more important things I could be troubled, and thankful for - like friends, family, health, and the list goes on.

Mary must have gotten a handle on the trouble she felt. She was told not to be afraid, because God was with her. Wow Lord, give me your perspective on all the things that really don't matter. Help me to reach out to someone who is letting the little things get to them. May I remind them that there is no fear in the Lord because He is with us.

Have a "Mary" Christmas season.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Lord is with You

“And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’” (Luke 1:28, ESV).

I love the movie, The Nativity Story. If you haven't seen it, someone has graciously put it on You Tube In the segment, The Nativity Story 3/10, the scene begins with the angel coming to Mary to tell her than she is favored and that "The Lord is with you." Our minds have a hard time imagining what Mary must have felt to hear this amazing news. The God of the universe had chosen her to carry His Son. The angel tells her that she is favored, and then he assures her that The Lord is with her! Words that changed her life, as well as ours.

I don't know about you, but there are times that I know the Lord is with me, and yet I don't feel it. Mary must have had many times during her pregnancy and her life that she felt the same way. Imagine the ridicule, the physical changes, and the challenges of keeping her perspective. The words from the angel must have been a comfort to her as people laughed and as she tried to prepare for the birth of our Lord.

As the Christmas season quickly approaches, there is so much to do. My house is barely back to normal after Thanksgving guests and all that cooking. The thought of papers to be graded, writing projects both large and small, emails to catch up on, and administrative details with the added pressure of gifts to buy, decorations that need to go up, and a packed schedule, can send me over the edge. It is easy to be overwhelmed with it all. It is as if everyone needs something and there is not a moment to spare anywhere!

In the midst of it all, I have to allow myself to be comforted by the fact that the Lord is with me. When I invited Christ to come into my life, forgive me of my wrongdoings, and be my boss; it changed my life forever. God came in, cleansed me from sin, and made me a new creature. He become my constant companion - even in the midst of the Christmas rush. He will be with me through the cleaning, working, gift-buying, and all the traveling. Lord, thank you for the reminder.

This season, have you allowed Christ into your life? Take a few minutes and thank Him that He is forever there, with you. Who do you know that needs a touch for the Savior? Who needs to know that God is there for them through the belief in His Son, Jesus Christ? Share with someone how God can be with them too. Be comforted that He will be with you when you do. Let's pray for each other.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Glory to the newborn King!

"And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior..." (Luke 1:46-47, HCSB).

Mary glorified God as she expressed her love for the One who suffered to save us.  The glory she brings to God seems to be more than just what is seen outside of her, since the above verses read that even her soul and spirit rejoiced!  She seems to have had an appreciation for the Creator that was genuine and that started within her.  This overflowed into her speech, and she sang in honor of Him.

The psalmist in Psalm 69:30 wrote, "I will praise God's name with song and exalt Him with thanksgiving" (HCSB).  I wonder, how often do I thank God (Psalm 50:23)?  Do my actions thank the eternal King, who came to save us (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Throughout this season that can be cheery and busy, it's my prayer that we remember how God sent His Son, Jesus, to sacrifice for us and to offer us new life.  We can give Him credit for the joy and peace we find in Him (Romans 5:1-2).  I pray that we thank God for His nature and share the hope that He brings.

Mariah Carey singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" live:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Have a "Mary" Christmas

“And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  (Luke 1:28, ESV).

I have always admired Mary, the mother of Jesus. Can you even imagine what she went through? I cannot begin to understand what being pregnant out of wedlock brings, especially at such a young age and especially in that day and culture. You can almost bet that hardly anyone believed that an angel had appeared to her to tell her that she was favored and would have a child. To think that she would become the mother of the Son of God must have carried a whole new set of emotions. And yet, in Luke, chapters one and two of the Bible, we can gain some insights into what Mary was like - especially about her relationship with the Lord. This December, we'd like to share with you some insights that we can learn from Mary and the very first Christmas.

Today, our word for Mary is FAVORED. The angel came to Mary, a virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph (Lk 1:27) and said that she was highly favored. In Luke 1:28, we see that she was troubled when she heard this and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be (Lk 1:28). "And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Lk 1:30-31). In verse 34, we see that Mary asks how this is possible, since she is a virgin.

If I was Mary, I'm not sure the word favored is what I would be thinking! There is so much to learn here but I want to remind us of this: When life and God's plan don't unfold the way we think it should, let's remember that we are favored. God loves us and he has given us favor - the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has a plan for us and He is still showing it to us. In the middle of the plan, it might not look like what we think it should look like. God doesn't show us everything at once.

Mary was favored and yet she might not have felt it at the time. We have the advantage of looking back on Mary's life and knowing that she was favored. She lived a life that honored God, even when the world doubted her story.

This Christmas, let's live every moment like we are favored. Not only will it change our lives, it will change the lives of those around us.