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Mary- A Heart Prepared

 

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Then before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

I Love how God Uses the Unlikely to Carry out His Almighty Plan.

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.  God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.  She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan but how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!  She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her by submitting her heart to God.  How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself.

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.

May we all have a heart like Mary's, a heart that faithfully responds to His promises. Click To Tweet

This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.  There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts and joy will fill our souls when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy.Click To Tweet

Have you allowed God to Prepare your heart to receive His Promises this Christmas?

If God sent an angel to you with a message, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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Top 10 Things I would like to Leave Behind in 2017: A Year in Review

At the end of every year, it’s always fun to reminisce about all the fun and happy memories one has had over the year.  It is also a good time to write goals and get rid of any junk or clutter getting in the way of reaching our goals.

I don’t know about you, but I love getting rid of clutter to help clear paths to achieve goals.

I asked my family what is something you would like to leave behind this year?  What is something you do not want to take into the New Year?  Here are our Family’s responses.  (You can Probably guess which ones are our kids’ responses)

Top 10 Things to Leave Behind in 2017:
1.  Negativity–  Nobody likes a Negative Nelly.  Negativity is a sure way to a bad attitude which never leads to anywhere good.  In 2018 I want to trade negative attitudes in for positive ones.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”  (Ephesians 4:29).

2.  Fear–  Being Scared of the unknown is a sure way to get into a vicious cycle of worry and anxiety.  Who wants that?  Not me.  The best thing to trade our Fears in for is more Faith.

“Trust in the Lord with All your Heart, Lean not on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

3.  Poor use of Time–  I want to trade in any Lack of Planning in for being more intentional and purposeful with my time.  The best person to give our time to is God.  God will provide all the time we need when we give it to him.  Time spent with God is time well spent.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

4.  Busyness–  Filling my time with busyness and distractions is a guarantee for burnout and being tired.  This year I want to let my ‘yes’ be ‘yes and my ‘no’ be ‘no’ (James 5:12) so I don’t overcommit or overextend myself.

5.  Regret–  Allowing fear to dictate actions is a good way to get into a pile of regret.  Living a life of love the way God intended us to live, helps to leave regret behind and look forward to the life that God has designed for us.

6.  Accumulating Stuff–  This year is a year to live with less.  When I have less, I have more room for what God has intended for me.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

7.  Silly Arguments–  Maybe you are a better person than me, but I would like to trade in silly arguments for positive, encouraging remarks.  Who really cares if the toilet seat wasn’t put down?  Instead of being quick to start a silly argument I want to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

8.  Sweating the small stuff–  Worrying about every little thing leads only to more worry.  Worry never changes the situation or the outcome, it only brings more grief and worry.  In 2018, I want to trade worry in for more Trust in God.  He’s Got it!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”  (Matthew 6:34).

9.  Disorganization–  When you consistently can’t find your keys, clutter starts to pile up and life starts to spiral out of control;  maybe it’s time to trade in the clutter and chaos for more order.  Take the time to get rid of clutter and organize your spaces.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”  1 Corinthians 14:33

10.  Disconnected–  I have gotten into a bad habit, of spending time on social media when I should be present with whoever I am with.  Just because there is downtime doesn’t mean I have to pick up my phone.  This year I want to be present with whoever I am with, not trading face to face interaction in for screen time.

Have you made a list of things of your Fun Happy Memories from 2017?  

What would you like to leave behind in 2017?  

It is a good activity to do with your family to start with a clean slate for the New Year!

Prayer:  Dear God,

I want to start my New Year off to the right start.  Help me identify the clutter in my life, anything getting in the way of reaching my goals you desire for me.  Help me use the time you have given me wisely and keep my path clear of junk and live how you designed me!  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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May your New Year be Filled Abundantly more with God’s Blessings of Love, Joy, Peace and Freedom! I would love to hear from you.  Leave Your Comments Below.


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Finding Victory in Our Struggles

Have you ever struggled with something and wondered ‘God where are you?’  Or asked God, ‘Why Me?’ or ‘God do you even care?’  

Have you ever prayed so hard for God to answer a prayer and wondered, ‘God are you even listening?’  

I have been there.  I have asked God all of these questions before.  I don’t have all the answers to why things happen the way they do.  I do know God loves us and desires us to live a victorious life in Him, despite our defeating circumstances.   So how does one go from Defeat to Victory?  

The answer lies at the cross.  

Where do you stand at the cross?

Sides of the Cross:  
Do you stand behind the cross?  You can see the cross, but you can’t see the victory or the suffering of Jesus.  You can’t bring yourself to walk up to the cross because you don’t think the cross can help and can’t see it’s true meaning.  You live in continually defeat of your circumstances, because you put your faith in what you see.  

Do you stand at the side of the cross?  You can see the cross and the suffering, but you can’t bring yourself to walk up to the cross and reach out your hand because you are holding onto your sin.  You have deemed yourself not worthy of the cross.  You live with unforgiveness and can’t seem to let go.  

Do you stand in front of the cross?  You go ahead of God, get in a mess look around and then ask ‘God where are you?’  You can see the cross but it is far out of your reach.  You desire the crown but not the suffering.  You chase what the world considers valuable.  You want to pick and choose the parts of Jesus you want.  You’re surrounded by busyness and distractions.  Temptations are running you’re life drawing you further away from the cross with each choice you make.  The enemy is claiming victory over you keeping you far from God’s truth and out of reach of the cross.   The enemy doesn’t want to let you get too close to experience and see the victory of Jesus.  He doesn’t want you to see the whole Jesus and experience Him in his entirety in his suffering, his mercy, his grace, his richness, his servanthood, or his enduring love.   

Do you stand at the cross?  You partake in everything Jesus has to offer;  the suffering and the crown.  You allow the power of the cross to intercede on your behalf.  You lay your burdens and sin at the cross, you have given everything to God, there is nothing getting in the way of him.  Your life has been completely surrendered to him.  You allow the cross to empower you to live in the victory of Christ!  

OR

Do you even see the cross at all?  You are surrounded by unbelievers.  You have stopped going to church altogether and don’t even know the last time you’ve prayed.  You have fallen far away from God.  Maybe you used to have a relationship with him, but you have been burned, either by a judgmental Christian, a corrupt church, or dead-end circumstances that lead you to know where you want to be.  You have lost your hope and don’t trust God at all.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for nothing.  He didn’t stay in the grave– He was resurrected.   Our burdens were meant to be left in the grave and never carried beyond the cross.  The power of the cross is nothing without the resurrection.  Satan would like nothing more than to keep us broken inside that empty tomb.  He would like to keep us blinded and whisper lies from the world to keep us from seeing the truth.  We can have all the evidence in front of us, but if we don’t have faith we will miss it altogether. 

Do you live in the power the cross or continual defeat?  Victory lies within the cross, not far away from it, not behind it, not beside it, not ahead of it, but within it.  

There is victory in our struggles.  To experience the entire victory, we must allow Christ to live within us by inviting him in so he can work and within us. 

The victory will never be experienced on the sidelines.  It will never be experienced when the cross is out of our reach.  The victory is something to be done together as a team  (Jesus and us) to be fully engaged in, participating in, not just watching.  The victory is won by actively living out our faith even in our trials, even when we’re persecuted.  Oh, how glorious is the reward of the victory.  It’s all for us to have right now and it’s right in front of us.

Our victory is only one step away.  We are only one step away from surrender.  One step away from forgiveness.  One step away from letting go and letting God.

Where do you stand at the cross?  Are you able to confidently live out your faith to overcome your everyday battles?  You are made to be victorious.  Don’t allow circumstances to conquer and defeat you.  Satan is the defeated one, not you.

Where do you find your victory when you have struggles?

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