Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are You Faced With The Impossible?

Christmas is just six days away! My children are all traveling home to visit so I am planning a menu of favorite foods, Christmas Eve traditions, and tucking a few surprises under the tree for them.
As I think of the preparations: shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, entertaining, cards to mail...It is easy to get caught up in the busyness and miss the quiet messages of Christmas. The message of hope. The message of Love. The message wrapped in swaddling clothes sent from God to a dark world; God's greatest gift.

When the angel visited Zechariah and then, Mary, the dark silence was broken. The dimmed hope of a Messiah was beginning to shine.

In preparation this month, we looked at the Angel Gabriel's first words to Mary, Hail favored one. The Lord is with you. We can only imagine what she felt as he said she would bear the Son of the Most High and name Him, Jesus. I know how I would have felt! Fearful, just like Mary! Then the angel told Mary, Do not be afraid. Easier said then done when faced with incomprehensible things. But, like Mary, once we get beyond the fear we can begin to believe.

When I need to believe God for something beyond my imagination, questions usually start to fly. Doubt rises and I begin to second guess myself and what I have heard. Mary had questions too. The angel assured her with news that her cousin, Elizabeth who was barren, was also expecting a child. Then Gabriel encouraged her by saying, Nothing will be impossible with God.


I believe these words are true for us too. Whatever we face, whatever our need, not only is God with us, but He is able to accomplish the things He has promised.

What promise are you waiting for? What comfort do you find in the words that Mary heard?

God is with you;
                       Do not be afraid;
                                                 Nothing will be impossible with God.

Believing brings hope to a fearful heart.
As we celebrate the messages of Christmas this week, I pray you will experience Him as Emmanuel, God with us. Savior. Lord. Redeemer. God's greatest gift. And, then believe, just like Mary did.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I love the simplicity of a single candle in my windows; it reminds me of the Light who came to illuminate a dark world. Before Jesus was born, the voice of God had been silent for over 400 years. Not a prophet spoke. Silence reigned over the earth. Until it was time.

Suddenly angels appeared to Zachariah and then Mary. And Joseph heard in a dream that what Mary said was true. Those who waited for the Promised Messiah had hints of His coming. It was no longer silent and the events began to unfold to those who would believe.

Mary's encounter with the angel filled her with questions yet her final word to him was...”Behold, the servant of the Lord; be it done according to your word.”
Her questions didn't evaporate but His peace descended as she pondered his words,
God is with you;
Do not be afraid;
Nothing will be impossible with God.
As she grappled with the unknown, she journeyed to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. She needed some fresh perspective. She needed some space from the terrifying glares of the village families who didn't understand the truth and only saw a young girl pregnant out of wedlock, an offense punishable by stoning.

Elizabeth and Mary share the amazing events that had befallen both of them. They saw the hand of God accomplish the impossible—in one who was a virgin and in another who was past her child bearing age. Two miracles connected by the power and majesty of God. Two events that would forever change the world.

Mary must have been afraid. Afraid of the consequences. Afraid of what would come about. Afraid of what others would think. Afraid of what Joseph would say. Yet, she says to the angel, “I am God's servant, may it be as you have said.”
She believed God. She trusted Him. Still, it must have taken a lot to surrender herself to His purpose.

Is your world dark right now? What are you afraid of? What unknowns are you facing?

Just like the words of the angel to Mary, God is telling us not to be afraid. He will provide what we need when the time comes. He is asking us to believe and trust Him.

To a young girl who faces chemo treatments, He is saying, Do not be afraid.
To a young man with tumors throughout his body, Do not be afraid.
To a woman overwhelmed by her husband's betrayal, Do not be afraid.
To one with a heavy heart, Do not be afraid.

He is with you through whatever trouble you're facing. He will care for your needs and show you what to do each step of the journey. Trust Him. And, believe. Elizabeth's words to her cousin, Mary in Luke 1:45 are for us too.... “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Believing brings about change, in our hearts and in the world as God's power is released to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Power to make a kingdom difference for eternity. So, whatever you face today, don't be afraid. The Lord is with you. 

He is Emmanuel,