As some of you may not have signed up for the free 7 day Christmas devotional/reflection, "A Journey to Bethlehem", I wanted to share Day One with you! I hope it blesses you!
DAY ONE: "JUST A GIRL"
The Passage: Luke 1:26-34
" In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, "But how can this happen? I am a virgin."
Back in Mary's day, many would have wondered why God chose Mary for a purpose such as carrying the Messiah into the world. She wasn't a "likely" choice. They would have looked at her and seen just a poor, young girl. She had no "credentials" to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And yet, that is exactly who God chose.
God chose Mary. Not the other way around. He chose her for that purpose and He chooses us, too, for specific purposes. Yes, that means, YOU. The call might not come in the form of an angel with a message, but He is calling. Do you hear it? Are you listening? Is it drowned out by lies saying you are not enough?
I imagine Mary was aware that she was an "unlikely" choice according to many in her community. Verse 29 tells us Mary was confused and disturbed when the angel first appeared! Here she was, "just a girl". Just a girl faced with the prescence of an angel with a message from the Lord. She had to be wondering, why me?
We often feel "unlikely", don't we? I know I do at times. When an unexpected task is presented to us, we can feel unequipped. Imperfect. Unworthy. Too old. Too young. Too uneducated. Too inexperienced. Too quiet. Too weak. Too ordinary. The list of reasons can go on and on. But, just like God saw more in Mary than those around her did, he sees more in us too. And He calls us.
Let's not forget, too, that God has chosen over and over again the "unlikely". The woman at the well. Jonah. Rahab. Jacob. Paul. David. Moses. Just to name a few. They were cheaters, liars, murderers, prostitutes, aldulterers. Some stuttered. Some ran from God. Some killed Christians. Some were outcasts. Whatever reason lies behind your "I am not enough", there is nothing that will stop our mighty and merciful God from using you.
The angel sensed she was confused and troubled, and told her not to be afraid. God senses this in us as well. He knew we would feel this way at times. I believe that is why, over and over again, in His Word, He tells us not to be afraid.
Do not be afraid. Let those four words comfort you in whatever challenges are in front of you. He will equip you when you face trouble, when you walk down the unknown path in faith, when you say yes to your calling, and when the journey is burdensome.
Understanding that Mary was troubled is vitally important to her response to Gabriel's message. In verse 34 she asks, "But how can this happen?" Mary's response was not like that of Moses, who (when God told him he was to go to Pharoh and lead the people out of Egypt) protested, "Who am I to appear before Pharoh?", "Who am I to lead the people?" (Exodus 3:11) and then pleaded, "I'm not very good...", "I have never been...", "Lord, please send anyone else...". (Exodus 4:10,13) No, Mary didn't make excuses for why she couldn't be used, even though she had some trepidation. Instead, she was obedient and simply asked, "How". When God calls, will we answer like Moses? Or like Mary?
I don't know about you, but I sure have found myself saying a few things to God just like Moses did. But I desire to answer more like Mary, obedient and trusting. When He calls us, it is not a matter of will we be equipped for the task, because God will equip us, but rather will we say "yes", trusting in His purposes?
1. What tasks have you been called to? Is your heart open to being called?
2. Are you feeling unequipped for what God has called you to do? Is this holding you back from following your calling?
3. Think of a time you found it hard to trust God in what He was asking you to do. Were you like Mary or Moses? Did you come up with excuses as to why God should not have picked you? Why someone else would be better to fulfill this purpose or task? Or despite not understanding why or how, did you trust that God would equip you? What lesson did you learn from this? Looking back would you handle this differently now? How will you answer God the next time he calls?
4. Are you ready to say "yes"? Are you ready to step out in faith and trust that God will equip you?
5. If you say "no" to what you are being called to do, reflect upon what amazing work you may miss out on! What if Mary had said no? Saying yes, didn't mean an easy road ahead of her, but imagine what she would have missed out on? Through her obedience and submission, hope was brought to the world!
I hope you enjoyed Day One of A Journey to Bethlehem: Preparing Our Hearts. If you would like to receive free devotionals in the future, you can sign up by clicking below.
"My sacrifice to you, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you, God, do not despise." Psalm 51:17
This has long been a favorite verse of mine. Because it spoke straight to my soul the first time I read it, I wanted to fully understand what a broken and contrite heart was.
A contrite heart is one humbled by its own brokenness and guilt, it makes no excuses and is fully aware that it's righteousness comes from God alone. It is a heart that embraces the need for God's mercy and truly desires a more holy life.
So what does a broken and contrite heart look like?
I studied this for quite some time and here are just a few examples to reflect upon during the week.
A broken, contrite heart is:
~ overwhelmed with the awareness of their personal spiritual need
~ can forgive because they have been forgiven
~ genuinely wants to serve others
~ truly cares about the success of others and lifts others up
~willing to get close to others and take the risk of developing deep, loving relationships
~lives transparently and allows others to see their weaknesses, flaws, and sin
~ elated when God chooses to use them and sees their worthiness through God's redemption in their life
Is this your heart today?
Yes, God, BUT.... Have you ever found yourself saying that? I know I have.
We say yes to one thing God calls us to do, but are not so willing to do another.
We are obedient in one way, but in another we are reluctant or think our own way is better.
Yes, God, BUT.... Saul was the first king of Israel, and he definitely had a "yes, God, but..." moment.
In 1 Samuel 15, God commands Saul and his army to defeat and destroy all of the idolatrous Amalekites, along with all the plunder.
Now, Saul does defeat and destroy them, BUT, he lets the king live. And....he and his men take some of the plunder with them that they find appealing.
When he is questioned, Saul tells Samuel that he did obey the Lord by destroying the Amalekites, he just let the king live and took some of the plunder with him to use for sacrifice. Really he was saying, "Yes, God, but..." It is important to ask ourselves what our "yes, God, but" is really about.
Are we allowing ourselves to "plunder" in ways we should not?
Are we fearful of letting go and letting God be in control?
Are we letting people or things - "idols" - live in our hearts and decisions that we should be letting die?
Are we working at destroying sin and idolatry in our lives, but allowing just that one thing to remain and live without trying to destroy it?
Samuel's response to Saul in 1Samuel 15:22, is to tell him that obedience is better and more pleasing to the Lord than any offering or sacrifice.
Reflect for awhile on these things today. Presently, what are you saying, "yes, God, but..." about?
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