Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

It's funny how Christmas changes over the years. My brothers and I were talking today about the fact that when we were kids, Christmas Eve was the longest day of the year. The Christmas Eve service (which is usually pretty short) felt like it was 5 hours long because we couldn't wait to get home and go to sleep... just so we could wake up! I was (and still am) a dramatic person, so Christmas morning was (and occasionally still is.. ha!) a spectacle at our house. I LOVE a good surprise. The years that my parents have sent me on a scavenger hunt on Christmas morning are some of my favorite memories.

As I've gotten older, some of the child-like excitement is gone, but it's a different kind of Christmas and I love it. I know it won't be like this forever, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

One day last week, I looked at Luke 1 and spent some time thinking about Mary. I can't imagine what she must have felt when an angel appeared to her and told her that she was not only about to be a mother, but that her son would be the Son of the Most High. From what history has taught us, Mary was young... she was a teenager and was probably scared out of her mind. Scripture skips most of her pregnancy, but can you imagine what it must have been like when she sat down in the afternoon, feet and back aching, and she thought about what was about to happen. I'm sure she faced ridicule from those around her for the fact that she was not married, but was pregnant. In the same vein, Joseph must have been awfully perplexed as well.

Scripture tells us that Mary seemed to keep it together. Somehow, I think I've missed Luke 1:46-56 until recently. Mary is visiting Elizabeth, who is about to give birth to John the Baptist. Here's what is says...

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
In this moment of great uncertainty, she gave praise to Almighty God. She trusted him when things probably didn't make sense to her at all. She allowed God to use her to accomplish his purpose here on earth and the only question that she ever asked was "how?" because nothing about this made sense from an earthly perspective. My study Bible says this, "Mary's entire being is caught up in praise to God. Mary herself is not free from sin but is in need of a Savior." Oh, if she only knew...

The Lord used a woman of no reputation to give birth to the Savior of mankind. 

As she arrived in Bethlehem to find that there was no bed for her to sleep in, what was she thinking? Not only does she not have a bed, but she goes into labor. I have a lot of friends who are pregnant right now, and I can tell you that none of them would choose to give birth in a stable. This teenage girl gave birth to Jesus Christ... the Messiah. He came to save, redeem and restore. He came to fulfill prophecies throughout Scripture. He came so that we might have eternal life.

Am I willing to do whatever the Lord asks of me like Mary did? While it's not going to be a virgin birth, am I ready to say "yes" to whatever he leads me to do? I pray that my answer is always "yes." We were created to be a part of God's story, but the choice is up to us.

Oh, that my soul would magnify the Lord.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

thanks be to our God

This weekend, Corley and I headed to Pensacola to hear Beth Moore speak at Living Proof Live. This is the second time that I have heard her speak live, and she was fantastic. I'm finishing up her Believing God study right now, and it has been a challenging, fruitful study. 

Our friend Bud just started a new job in the Lifeway Women's Events department, so he totally hooked us up with seats in the second row! I'm pretty sure we were beside ourselves the whole time. It made the whole room feel so intimate, and it was so easy to engage. 
I was a little bit excited to see my name on my chair!

with one of my best friends, Corley 
 She spent Friday night and Saturday morning walking through the book of Philemon. I'm sure I've read Philemon before, but I definitely never grasped the book until we walked through it verse-by-verse this weekend. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to sit under such powerful, thorough teaching from the Word.
listening to Beth speak
It was SO much fun to get to hang out with some of my friends this weekend! Even though we're all in different states, it's great to get together and catch up.
with Bud and Corley 
Corley and I both read the Living Proof blog, and Beth refers to her blog readers as Siestas. At the end of her events, they put up a slide letting the Siestas know where to go for a meet up. We even got to take a group picture with Beth!
our Siesta picture (we're on the top right)
Spending time in the Word in an environment like this is always refreshing and challenging. The thing that stood out to me more than anything else is something she said Saturday morning:
"That which makes us the most joyful is not always the thing that makes us most useful. That which makes us most useful will be the thing that gives us the most satisfaction and joy!"
How often do we look for things in life to bring us joy, when we are called to make good use of what the Lord has entrusted us with?

When we are deeply satisfied in Christ and are making ourselves useful for His glory and purposes, there we find joy.

It's not on our terms.

I'm praying for contentment and satisfaction in Christ, so that I can be useful where he has placed me. I long for joy in Christ - not joy in this world. Thanks be to our God for his providence and purpose in each chapter of our lives.

I'll leave you with this... Travis Cottrell led worship, and I just can't get this song out of my head. I hope that you'll allow the Lord to speak to you through it. Travis Cottrell – Thanks Be To Our God (this link plays on Spotify)