[category devotionals]The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God. And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.
This time of year I am reminded of the lyrics of an old hymn:
Tell me the old, old story.
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
I never tire of the Christmas Story. It gets sweeter each year for me. Allow it to for you also as you choose to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Read the first stanza of the old hymn whose message is timeless:
Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.
I believe I hear the entire world crying out these lyrics this year. I pray you are hearing it too, and will answer the call to tell all who will listen to the true meaning of Christmas. We as the church need to take every opportunity to restore our families and this nation to the true purpose of Christmas. There is no story more precious than Jesus and His love for mankind. There is no story more encouraging than the way God sent His Son to the world!
The mother chosen could not have been more ordinary and unimportant in the world. That included her family and the town she came from. It was the most humble of circumstances and typically those of whom society doesn’t even acknowledge. She certainly wasn’t the Jewish elite. She was living in a backwoods town living a simple, godly life, not seeking any kind of prominence for herself.
We know God does not judge as man does. God looks inside the heart and judges the motives behind our actions. He judges the inward beauty before the outward. Oh how we have forgotten that. If only we would focus on our character and countenance, especially women, what a difference we could make for our families. God declares humility as beauty. Mary gives the most humble amazing response to the angel, Gabriel! It reveals why He chose Mary.
Firstly, Mary wasn’t a half hearted Christian. At her young age she was focused on her walk with God above all else. She declares herself a bondslave of Christ. This is a choice that is presented to every Christian. How deep is your love for your God? Bondslaves were slaves that had been set free, but chose to serve permanently their masters out of love for them. Mary backed up her declaration when she added,
"Be it done to me according to your word."
How profound! Go back and read the first chapter of Luke slowly. Read what Gabriel had just told this young virgin who was in love and engaged to be married. Losing her future plans for the will of God was immediately sacrificed to obey the will of God. God saw the heart of Mary. She had a willing servant’s heart to perform anything He asked of her.
The world saw an illiterate, poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Let this be an encouragement to those whom society looks down on and considers themselves so superior due to riches of this world, or having attended the ivy league schools, or perhaps has achieved title and fame in some form, but have nothing of eternal value, and certainly no character to go with expensive outward adorning. Let us allow this time of year to take our children aside and tell them where true value lies. Look to the Word of God, and read to them about Joseph and Mary, the parents God chose to care for His only Son.
I would like for us now to take a look at another couple God chose to parent the forerunner of His Son, John the Baptist. Zecharias was a priest and his wife was Elizabeth. This is how God describes them in Luke 1:6-7:
"They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years."
What a word of encouragement for those who have struggled with barrenness, and have believed the lies of satan, that past sins were why they couldn’t have children. God declared them both righteous, blameless in all the commandments and requirements, but they still had not been able to have children. So much for the popular false teachings that if you are living righteously everything will be great in life, and if not, your sin will cause anything bad that happens. I am so thankful that is not true. No one suffered more than Mary and Eliizabeth’s sons on this earth, but they were focused on eternity while on this earth. Their focus wasn’t on the temporal.
John was beheaded for speaking the truth. Jesus was brutally crucified suffering as no other by the religious leaders of the day and was sinless. The wonder of it all! The story was only partially fulfilled. Lets remember what hasn’t been fulfilled! Jesus said this about John the Baptist in Matthew 11:11:
"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist."
In this life, he was persecuted just as His Lord, and first cousin, Jesus. He was murdered even though he was innocent as Jesus. He asked a disciple to go ask Jesus if He was the coming One, or should they look for another, after being held in prison before being beheaded.
But what do you think it was like for him when his physical head rolled, and he stood in the presence of our Heavenly Father? Do you believe as I do He heard "Well done good and faithful one. You accomplished all you were born for." The eternal reward will be so much greater than the suffering we go through on this earth.
No one will ever suffer as much as Mary’s son, Jesus, on this earth. He is the only perfect One who never sinned. He struggled as John did when He cried out from that inhumane cross in Matthew 27:46:
"Father, why have you forsaken me?"
That is the saddest verse in the Bible, when He took on the sins of the world, and the Father had to look away. He actually lost, for a moment, the Presence of His Father. That would be truly hell! But where is He now? We know our Father raised our glorious King of Kings and He ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father on His throne. Because of one man’s obedience many were saved scripture tells us. (Romans 5:19) Now lets return to Elizabeth and Mary.
We know God loved both of these women and they were godly and righteous in His eyes. Yet, no mother has ever been blessed more or suffered more than Mary, the mother of Jesus. We read in Luke 1:80 John grew to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
God separated John unto himself for years in the desert. That would be difficult for any mother, even if she was committed to the will of God for her son. I have three incredible sons and my highlight on this earth is to hear their voices and get to see them which is seldom, being very busy, and not living close by.
I pray we will all take in the truth of becoming a bondslave of Christ. It is a choice. Few will choose it, but I want my family and me to be one of the few. For us mothers with sons or daughters, are we willing to pray for our children to make that choice, knowing what it cost Mary and Elizabeth? I hope so, because as I pray this for my own family and me, I am focused not on the temporal life in this world, but on our eternal destination. We are all going to stand face to face before the One who gave His all, and when I do, I want Him to know I did the same for Him, along with my children and grandchildren.
The Bible tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God. As long as I do that, my love is greater for Him than myself or my family. I know for them to know His love is the greatest thing I can give them. However, they still have to make their own choices. But I know the truth. This world is full of lies and deception. Because I strive to keep myself in His Word more than the clamoring of this world I know where I am headed. May we all eagerly await the second coming of our Lord and Savior.
The second coming will be very different. This time He is coming in all His power and authority;
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! Every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him for who He truly was then and is today and always will be — our glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I pray you will choose to bend your knee now, on this earth, voluntarily, because every knee will eventually bow, even under the earth.
"For this reason also, God Highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, the the glory of God the Father."
In His love.
The annual Roberts Christmas Gathering was yesterday. We are so blessed, and have so much to thank Him for!