★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

05 - Daily Dependence - Mary and Gabriel_1The Birth of Jesus Foretold – Luke 1:26-38 (NLT)

 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.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.  What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age!  People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.  For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  And then the angel left her.

Wow!  This is such an incredible story.  Many times we can read a familiar part of the Christmas story and just glaze over what is actually being said.  Often times I like to put myself in the story to understand it more fully.  First off, what would I do if an Angel appeared to me?  Cower in terror I am sure!  Everywhere in scripture that an Angel appears to a human their very first words are the same “Don’t be afraid.”  Just the sight of a Messenger of God evoked such terror.  Now think of Mary, and what it was like to see and Angel and being a teenager!!  Though scripture does not say how old she was, Mary was probably around 13 or 14 years old which was the traditional betrothal or engagement age.  The artistic rendering above is more commonly the type of depiction you see of the interaction between the two of them, and perhaps afterward Gabriel comforting words Mary had that composure, but I think this is probably how it first appeared and what I image myself being like.  05 - Daily Dependence - Mary and Gabriel_3As Gabriel was making his second proclamation to a human being, this time to Mary, I wonder if he changed his approach after Zechariah’s response of disbelief (that his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant in their old age) because now he is giving supporting evidence that the impossible can and is currently being fulfilled.  (If you missed it, go back and read, ★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★.)  What an encouragement Luke 1:37 (NLT) is, not only for Mary but for us today:

“For the Word of God will never fail.”

The New Kings James Version (NKJV) translates it,

“For nothing is impossible with God.”

I love Mary’s response in verse 38 to the Gabriel that though she was a virgin, she would give birth to the son of God. 

“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  And then the angel left her.”05 - Daily Dependence - Mary and Gabriel_4

Amazing faith!  If you want to delve a little deeper about Faith, we posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★.  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) says,

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

There is much uncertainty in this world, but one certain thing I know is that God will never change and so long as I place my faith in Him I WILL NEVER GO WRONG!  I am so thankful for Mary’s extraordinary example of Faith and I pray that I would have the same as well!  May we not only keep sight of the “Reason” for the “Season” but also to trust in God with the same measure of faith as Mary!  I will close with this beautiful prayer from Susie Larson,

“Today, may the Holy Spirit awaken your heart, stir up your faith, and empower your steps! May Jesus open your eyes to all you possess in Him. May you raise your shield of faith, draw a line in the sand, tell the enemy of your soul, ‘No More!’ and refuse to be bullied by your fears. God’s perfect love surrounds you, fills you, and covers you. He’s got you. In Christ Jesus, your soul is heir to His Kingdom. Everything He has is yours. Remember who you are today. Remember whose you are. Heaven knows your name.”

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Mary – The Voice of Wonder.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Mary’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 06 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Should Change Us ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Back Into the Fire ★

Happy Memorial Day!!  Today is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  I think though, many people just look forward to the 3-Day Weekend and do not really consider that the freedom they enjoy came at a high price!  Freedom in NOT free.  I just want to say…THANK YOU to all the men and women who have served in the armed forces, and extend my condolences to all the families that are missing someone at the table today as a result of their service in battle. Thank you!

As I thought about the significance of Memorial Day, my mind drifted to another group that deserves recognition as well.  In my opinion, one of the most impressive and honorable professions is being a firefighter but there is no day that recognizes these incredibly selfless people!

75 - Daily Dependence - Day in the Life of a FirefighterI have a neighbor who is also a great friend that is a firefighter and when I mentioned to him today that it is a shame that firefighters do not have a day of their own to honor their service, do you know what his response was??

“We’re privileged enough to do this job…..one of the best….service to community!”

Wow!!  I expected no less of a response from this man who is “on fleeck,” but it really made me think about how remarkable firefighters are…When everyone else is running out of a burning building, fearing for their lives…these brave men and women are running into the blaze!  What kind of person places themselves in harm’s way to help those in need?  Someone…who has been in a fire and knows all too well the dangers, and in spite of the risks, they go back into the fire to rescue those in peril!  Individuals who are courageous and willing to do whatever it takes.  Jesus said in John 15:13:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Now that certainly is the ultimate sacrifice!  In this post, I want to parallel what firefighters do everyday with what I believe God wants from those who claim Jesus as their Lord and savior.  Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we could have eternal life, and in return He asks for us to be “His hands and feet!”  2 Corinthians ‭1‬:‭3-5‬ (NLT) says,

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

Did you catch that?  The first part of verse 4 gives us quite an eye-opener, that God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.”  Have you ever thought of it that way?  God comforts us so that we will turn around and comfort those in need but in our self-absorbed culture, many people are just focused on their needs and don’t look to extend a hand to those suffering…But there is a very clear directive here, When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  God does not deliver you from a hardship, a disease or an addiction, only to help you…but expects us to take what He did for us and reach the people who He has placed in our sphere of influence with the same comfort and hope that God poured out on us.  Our response to God ought to be not only one of gratitude, but also one of willing submission to go anywhere, and do anything to return the comfort we received.  In a recent message called the “The Gift of Interruption,” Holly Furtick made this great point:

“Some of life’s greatest invitations come packaged as interruptions.”  

She also quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer that:

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.  God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.”

Do you allow God to interrupt your day?  Do you have room in your schedule to respond to the call to help someone??  This is something that I need to keep in mind as well, when I receive a knock on my door from a neighbor, a text from a friend or a call from a family member who is in need, my first response should be “yes,” now…”what is the question.”  Rather than see it as an interruption, I need to see it as an opportunity!  Susie Larson made this great statement…

“In those places he [God] rescued us from, He sends us back to rescue others.” 

Love that!  Just like firefighters who go back into the fire to rescue people, God wants us to go back into the dark places that He rescued us from to help guide those who are suffering and shine the light of Jesus into their hopeless circumstance.  Galatians 5:13 (NLT) says,

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

Just like we talked about taking Memorial Day for granted, we should never take the freedom Jesus provided for us on the cross for granted!  Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT) reminds,

“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

And we certainly should never allow the busyness of life to stop from helping others in need.  So if God has delivered you from an addiction, look to help others with theirs.  If your marriage has been revitalized or resurrected then look for a way to walk alongside others in their marriage, whether that be one on one or participation in a class.  If God has healed you of a disease, look for ways to 75 - Proverbs 11-25encourage and bring hope into the lives of people suffering.  And if you do, Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) give this motivation…

“The generous will prosper;  those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

I will close this thought from Liz Curtis Higgs, who said,

“God often does the counter cultural thing. He does what we don’t expect. He does what we sometimes don’t even want. There are things God asks us to do that are so hard that it has to be God.”

It may be uncomfortable to have a conversation with someone struggling with an addiction, or you may feel unequipped to counseling a couple struggling in their marriage, or you may not want to relive your painful experience by walking with someone with a disease.  But ultimately, that is the very purpose that God in mind when He rescued you out of the fire, so that you would go back in!!