Monday, December 24, 2018

A Heart for Jesus... Mary: A prepared heart that receives God's promise

“Are you ready for Christmas?” I couldn’t begin to add up the amount of times I have been asked this challenging question by friends, coworkers, and store clerks throughout the years. No one likes the thought of being unprepared, especially at Christmas when there are so many things we need to do.
Whenever our lives get busy it’s important that our hearts don’t become overwhelmed. We need to be watchful that our Christmas preparation and celebration of Jesus does not distract us from our relationship with Jesus.
In the opening chapters of the book of Luke we are introduced to a few individuals whose hearts were prepared to “receive their King.” Included are Mary, Simeon, Anna, and the Shepherds. Although they lived at a different time, and were under different circumstances from our lives today, we can be encouraged to know that the things we see in their hearts can also be in ours.
When the book of Luke begins there was no Christmas Season. “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night” had not yet been written.  The #1 song for believers at that time could have been titled, “How Long, O Lord? How Long?” The story of Mary begins in Luke’s first chapter. She lived during a very dark time in the history of her people. Nearly 400 years had passed since the words of Malachi had been written, and the Jewish people were still waiting for the promised Messiah. It is in the midst of this darkness, and the crushing presence of Rome that the spotlight of God’s mercy and grace shines the brightest. Mary is about to receive the greatest blessing ever given to any woman!
When Mary awoke on the day the angel Gabriel was going to pay her a visit, she had no idea who was coming to her house, or what the reason for the visit would be. She didn’t know this was God’s appointed time for the promise of the Messiah to be fulfilled, and she didn’t know she was to be God’s chosen vessel to carry the life of her Savior within her.
Mary’s story is one of a heart prepared for God’s visitation. When Mary first heard the words that Gabriel spoke to her, she was perplexed and responded with her mind. None of it made sense and so she asked, “How can this be since I am a virgin?”  When the angel gave her more details, Mary’s next response was not from her mind, but from her heart. She knew this was not a time to reason, but a time to believe.

Here is a paraphrased version of her response, “I hear and receive your words, for I know they are God’s Words. I will keep them and cherish them in my heart. I am His servant-vessel and welcome Him to do in me all that He has promised.” This is an amazing, in-the-moment response from a young, engaged, teenage girl who just heard she was about to become pregnant through the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit.
Mary didn’t resist or argue. She didn’t offer another option or try to come up with a better plan. She didn’t try to put the angel off or ask for a few more weeks to think it over. She didn’t say, “This is not a good time for me! I love what you said and want to be the one chosen for this amazing privilege, but could it happen after I’m married so I won’t have the reproach of carrying a child without a husband.”
Mary’s heart was ready to trust, and ready to receive. It was a listening heart, a yielded heart, and a welcoming heart! It was a heart that heard God’s promise, and a heart of faith that was reassured by the words, “With God nothing will be impossible.”
This holiday season, as we remember Jesus’ birth and the first Christmas, our hearts can also welcome the reality of His presence. As we experience one of the busiest times of the year we can be assured—that His peace will fill our hearts, that His praise will be upon our lips, and that His joy will flood our souls. May your faith respond to His presence and to His promises, and may your heart-response to Him always be, “Let Your will be done in me according to all that You have spoken.”
©2018 Roy Lessin, all rights reserved.

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