Thursday, December 20, 2012


“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” 
She'd been startled, heard the greeting, questioned, received information, and guessed at the challenges ahead. Now, she had a choice.
God chose her because she already held Him dear in her heart. Her yes would make her a special vessel for Messiah. Her yes would subsequently challenge us when we had to choose between receiving or rejecting God's purposes. Costly, rewarding--yes.
She could have objected because the town gossips would have a heyday with her growing belly. Her life would be thrown into upheaval from a newborn before her wedding. Even worse: Joseph might think she'd had an affair.
Instead, she spoke what was in her heart. She was the Lord's servant. She would do whatever it took to be a part of God's grand scheme of salvation.
Examine attitudes that prepare you to say yes to God's instructions.
Consider how your yes (righteous response) impacts others.
 Consider the impact of Jesus' YES:
Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men (Romans 5:18, NIV).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Do Not Be Afraid

This draft was written before the recent horrendous events in Connecticut. As we continue praying for those precious folk who are grieving, may they hear the voice of Immanuel, the God of comfort.

Why wouldn't she have been afraid? She'd likely not seen an angel before. The unearthly being brought a personal message that would change her life.


But God's word through Gabriel also calmed her. I'm sure the Scripture had become part of her mental and emotional fabric. She would have memorized much of it through hours of study and meditation. Because she lived in God’s presence, she could recognize God’s voice however it came.


Mary's heart and intellect were so given to God that her dialogue with Him was authentic and precious to them both. Now she was about to enter a phase of obedience that would challenge, delight, and tear her heart and mind.


God's perfect love comes, whether heralded by an unfamiliar angel or by a familiar scriptural phrase,  and His presence reminds us, Do not be afraid.



As you prepare for Advent, examine yourself for any fear you might have and why. Talk to Immanuel, and listen for the Holy Spirit who comes to you through the Scriptures or circumstances. How could you address your fear [or grief] together?


Meditate on 1 John 4:16-18 (NIV)

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

 Thank God for the perfect love He shows us through His beloved, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fully Committed

Mary was young, poor, and a woman--not qualities the intelligentsia would have chosen to bear the Most High's Messiah.
We don't know if she was plain or stunning but, spiritually, she was all God's--available to His wisdom and strength. God assigned her to be the perfect mother for His Son. Pure, astute, and willing, she chose to lay her will under God's.
Whether 16 or 62, on food stamps or a 400K salary, woman or man, God chooses us for special jobs. He sees what we can't. The Almighty has ways to help us overcome the challenges. Our Lord doesn't measure like Wall Street or Washington, Harvard or Hollywood.

The Creator's eye, clear and infinite, sees what we can't. Our King reveals that He is looking for hearts completely given to Him.


The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV '84).

Do you acknowledge that God chooses YOU for unique purposes for which He hand selected you? (See Ephesians 2:9-10.) How might God's measure of your suitability be different from your own?

Would God say you are fully committed?

Thursday, December 6, 2012


“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.”

When God communicates with us it can be like fading quill strokes on aging parchment: it takes scrutiny to read accurately. Sometimes, it’s like bold print on white background: clarity that makes our hearts jump.
Gabriel's presence and greeting were unmistakable and Mary found his presence troubling.

While he would explain more as she asked, the God-given assignment was going to stretch not only her womb but her trust.

But God had selected her for the task.


Read and meditate on Luke 1:26 -30

Has the Lord ever sent you a clear message that initially troubled you?

What did you do with your initial disequilibrium?  What insights did you gain?

[This painting looks like Ron DiCianni's work, but I can't decipher the signature. If you know, please let me know whose work it is. Thank you.]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Favor With God

"The Annunciation" c.1898
by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) American artist

It was an ordinary day. Mary may have been washing dishes or preparing a meal. She may have been studying the scriptures she loved so well. But Gabriel's greeting brought consternation enough that he had to calm her. "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God."

Favor with God? She wasn't perfect. She knew her shortcomings in contrast with the holy God who had often spoken to her through the Jewish scriptures. Now there was this amazing creature speaking God's message to her.

Highly favored by God. God, the Lord, with her: words to savor for days and years.


Meditate with me on some of the Lucan passage as we prepare for Christ's birth.
Read Luke 1:26-30

Has the Lord ever broken into an ordinary day with an unusual message? What was it?

Pay attention to ways that your Creator has shown you favor. When you notice and thank God for favor, do you become aware of anything else?