Tuesday, December 9, 2014

GIFTS


The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."  Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"  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..." Luke 1:30-35 [NASB]
"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." Luke 1:37, 38 [NASB]

     With those last words, Mary, being true to her word, just had agreed to forego a normal daily life.  She let go and totally gave up the power to control her future because of her perfect trust and faith in God.  She placed her reputation and relationships in jeopardy just to obey His call.  
     The prophecy now brought closer the reality of the unbelief and suspicious minds of her neighbors, childhood friends, and the religious leaders who watched over this community.  She, just recently engaged, wondered as any young woman, 'What will Joseph think of me now?  Will he believe me when I tell him about the angel visitation?'
     So, the holiest Presence to walk the Earth was coming and the world would not receive him because God's plan was to use a simple virgin, a commoner.  God saw her faith and knew she could stand the cynicism and would not fail to raise her son with the love and upbringing needed for the great destiny before Him.
     Then go forward more than thirty years to the last supper that Jesus shared with his close friends, his disciples.  After sharing his heart and openly telling him that this was the last food and drink that he would eat before his suffering, after asking them to remember him with the bread that represented his body broken for them, and the cup of wine which represented the new covenant, they turned around and started vying for positions and even argued about who was the greatest among them in Heaven. 
     How weak is mankind in our own power.  We are given priceless jewels to behold and honor, and we fail to see the cost, or the great expression of love.
     Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done."  Luke 22:42 [NASB]  He prayed so fervently and in such agony at the fate that he faced, that his sweat dripped with blood down from His face onto the ground.
     Hours later, after Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the scribes and the priests held him for questioning.  They asked him bluntly if he was the Christ.
     "If You are the Christ, tell us."  But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God."  And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?"  And He said to them, "Yes, I am."  Luke 22:67-70 [NASB]
     With those three words, "Yes, I am," he had sealed his fate on earth.  He would be scourged with whips full of metal until the skin on his back was in ribbons.  He would have his beard plucked and his face beaten in until it was unrecognizable.  Then, the most horrible of deaths, saved for the worst criminals.  He surrendered to the will of God and would be the perfect peace offering that would end all need for sacrifices.  The kingdom of Heaven, come to earth was soon going to invade earthen vessels.
     So, waiting, fifty days after Jesus left them, the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.  The world will never be the same as long as believers are available and courageous enough to say, "Yes, Lord.  Use me to bring your kingdom to earth."
     So, in the light of such a mighty history of love, sacrifice, honor, and deliverance, can I merely conjure up a lovely Christmas reverie, or shall I stop and count the cost the Prince of Peace paid.  The Flawless One.  The Complete One.  
     I must offer up all that I have to give for such a love as this.  I wait on you Most High.  I recognize that wherever I go, your kingdom is present, through your Holy Spirit in me.  So, I will tread softly and lovingly.  Give me the courage and the strength to make a difference everyday.  Lord, I give you myself.