Monday, December 26, 2011

No Matter the Cost...Christmas 2011

Meditation Verse: But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." ~ Luke 2:10-12

Yesterday, Christmas day 2011, I snuck away to my red paisley chair that serves as my devotional chair. It was mid-afternoon and very peaceful in the house. I had this yearning to review the birth of Christ in the scripture. I felt the Holy Spirits urging me to look at this amazing story and to note what each of the main character brought to God and to His Son. Upon doing this, I found a beautiful gifts that I myself could give Jesus for His birthday...

Lets look first at Mary in Luke 1 (NIV):
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary was favored by God, so much so she was His chosen choice to bring forth His Son. Was she chosen because she was perfect and without sin? Impossible. But no doubt she has a gentle spirit, an obedient heart and a love for God. Even after the angel spoke to her, she may have question her worth, her ability to do such a thing but as quickly as those words left her lips, she gifted God with a willing heart-willing to accept this blessing no matter the cost.

God calls us to fulfill His will today. We may not be called to such a task as Mary but we are called to something. Our gift to God is to have a willing matter the cost.

What about Joseph? Look at Matthew 1 (NIV):
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Can you imagine the chaos surrendering Josephs thoughts when Mary revealed she was carrying an child...not just any child but God's child? His heart and his mind had to battled each other as he decided how to handle it all. Yet, when the angel spoke to him it reads that he awoke and did what he was commended. Joseph gave God the gift of an matter the cost.

Often we are wronged by others or a situation. Our heart may tell us to fight back or run while our mind might tell us to seek revenge or hold a grudge. Maybe, just maybe that wrong is all part of a bigger plan of God. Our gift of obedience is a perfect response to God in any situation.

How about those shepherds? We see their story in Luke 2 (NIV):
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The shepherds got a glimpse of heaven which made them seek after Jesus. Then when their eyes laid hold of Him they praised Him and immediately took out to boldly tell of Him. They gifted God with spreading the story of Jesus and glorified them both with their praises...

At some point, everyone gets a glimpse of God, something that makes them want more of Him. It is a continual process for those who have a relationship with Him. It's a hunger and thirst that is unquenchable by worldly standards. It's a satisfaction, a contentment, a peace when chaos surrounds. Its an unspeakable joy that allows for worship and praise no matter what surrounds a persons life. God is pleased with our gift of seeking and praising him no matter the cost.

And we cannot exclude the Magi, the wise men we read about in Matthew 2 (NIV):
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Assigned to find this Christ child for purposes other than Gods, it didn't matter to the Magi. They knew they were sent to worship a promised Savior and to give Him their matter the cost.

Sometimes it feels like we are in a dead-end, no-win kind of situation like the Magi. Do we give God our best in it? A failing marriage, a serious health condition, a rebellious child, a staled ministry, financial hardship, emptiness, loneliness, busyness....are we giving God our best in even these? Gifting God with our best, no matter how big or how small it may seem, will be worth any cost that comes with it.

Many of you probably celebrated Christmas this year with a birthday cake for Jesus. Most of you read the story of His birth around the Christmas tree or in a church candlelight service. Special remembrances that lead us to ask "what gift are you giving Him this year?".

Maybe its the gift of willingness like Mary, or obedience like Joseph...
no matter the cost. Maybe your gift is the eagerness to seek more of Him and the boldness of praising matter the cost. Maybe it is to give Him your best whether you are having a day of weakness or strength...your best in any matter the cost.

God gave us His best in so many ways but none more tender than through His Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Jesus gave us His best so we could share life with Him forever.

Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. ~ Gal 1:4 (NLT)

I don't know about you but that's a pretty amazing gift...almost more than my mind can wrap itself around. What more can we give back than a heart and mind that is willing and obedient, a life that worships and praises Him for all that He has been and all that he is. An effort to give Him our best no matter the cost.

Happy birthday Jesus...I hope you are pleased with this gift!

Living in His Embrace~Pamela

1 comment:

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

All of them, bowing their heads and hearts in worship. It all really comes back around to the heart, doesn't it?! Like you, I marvel at the mystery of it all and try to imagine myself in their shoes. In many ways, we are in their shoes, being called to carry Christ in our lives to a world who needs his witness.

Blessed peace to you as you walk these final days of 2011. Love you, friend.