Tag Archives: Mary

My 2017 Christmas Message

It’s quiet in the house this morning. Just a soggy December rain outside, falling on our tin roof that breaks the silence and makes me halfheartedly wish it were snow. I’ll get over that after the first flake hits and sticks.  I have a minor mess left to clean after we celebrated Christmas with the children and the grands last night. My heart is full…with a cup of Ninja Coffee Bar ® coffee in my hand, compliments of a husband who loves me that much. I need to hear from God. It’s been a week of running wild for events and sometimes just running for the sake of running.

I had put off reading the book of Luke in my yearly reading because I wanted to save it for Christmas. So this morning as I read through the story of Elisabeth and Mary, two of the Christmas Chicks, I marveled at their humility. They were both shocked that God had blessed them in the manner He did; I’d say they still marvel when they realize 2,000 years later, we’re still reading their story, and sermon after sermon have been preached with them as the key point. It makes me wonder how God would have my life be preached? I’m not so sure I’d want to be in the building as my life “illustrations” were used. But Mary and Elizabeth… their lives are proof that God honors those who are faithful and gives me reason to pause on this 23rd day of December. The day I too gave birth to one Tiffani Danielle. Who hasn’t stopped blessing me since.

A three point message for the faithful came from the two sister chicks of Luke:

Luke 1:39-47

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And when is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

For the faithful God Reveals Secrets

When Mary spoke the Holy Spirit filled Elisabeth and the baby that was in her womb leapt for joy. How exciting for both women! God had revealed the secrets of both women to one another and He still reveals the secrets of the Savior to His people today.

Secrets in the sense that the world doesn’t experience that leap in the depth of our soul when the Savior makes Himself manifest in the life of His child. I understand the women’s awe. It’s how I feel every time God reminds me that He is in me, just as He was in Mary.

For the Faithful God Reveres His Servants

Luke 1:48 – For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

She was blessed! And so are we,  that the Creator of all, who spoke the Christ child into existence in the womb of Mary, spoke the Holy Spirit into existence in our souls and allows us to be used for the Kingdom. The Jesus Chick isn’t famous in the halls of earth, but in the halls of Heaven, I am known by God. And because of Him I’m known in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, California and Minnesota. My friend in WV know me as the Jesus Chick, failure that I am in my own sight, but loved in spite of it by them. I stand in awe this eve of Christmas eve…

For the Faithful God Revives the Saint.

Luke 1:53-54 –  He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy. As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to His seed for ever.

Glory to God how my soul is filled and stirred today because the God of Abraham still speaks to me. Even when I turn my back on Him. You don’t know the countless times I fail the Lord. You don’t see how I feel so unworthy of His love and so I run, and would run to the ends of the earth…but I don’t have the money. And so I’m stuck with the rain on the tin roof of my West Virginia home and the rain of tears in my soul because I know how unworthy I am to be called His child and filled with His Spirit.

The best, and eternal gift that I can never repay or deserve…

Merry Christmas Shari… again.

3 Christmas Chicks

Rewarded for Patience

Every stage of our life is an opportunity to serve the Lord. But often the very blessing of the stage becomes the reason that many don’t serve.

Children feel that they can wait, there’s plenty of time to serve God.

Married life brings with it a load of responsibilities and others who depend on us and are vying for our time. Careers are often our focus and between that and family, serving God is something that will need to wait for when the children are grown or life calms down.

So life calms down and we’re in retirement or widowhood and it’s time for rest. We’ve done our part, now let the younger one’s pick up the slack. But the problem is, there’s nobody picking up the slack. We aren’t seeing children, middle age or older women serve. We see a few worn out chickd who shoulder the load in most churches because we just don’t have the time.

But what would have happened if the the three women of the Christmas story, the Christmas chicks per say, would have had that attitude? Praise God! They didn’t and they were richly rewarded for embracing their opportunities to serve, rather that avoiding or making excuses.

The first of our Christmas chicks is Elisabeth. (Luke 1:1-25)

Elisabeth would represent the Married among us. Her life had been far from perfect. She and Zachariah had long prayed for a child, and during the culture of that day it was great embarrassment if a woman didn’t provide a child for her husband. This was the family legacy after all. And for her it would be the literal future of her husband’s ministry. And so they prayed and prayed and God had not allowed it to happen. Perhaps it was a test, or just God being God, waiting to make someone’s story into an awesome testimony.

Elisabeth is the very same name of the wife of Aaron. The priests were very careful to marry within their own family to maintain the dignity of the priesthood and keep it without mixture. They were held to a far greater accountability than the average Joe in the children of Israel. Elisabeth and Zachariah knew it and it is said of them that they both were righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. God’s timing had no doubt not been their timing. Elisabeth was well stricken in years. We’ve seen the effects of that in other women of the Bible who were impatient, like Abraham’s Sarah. Look what a mess that made when she gave her maid Hagar to Abraham, and the the world is paying a high price. Maybe that thought came to Elisabeth as she waited and helped her be more patient. But Elisabeth was willing to wait, if it never happened, believing God for what’s best. She and Zacharias had likely stopped praying for a child at this point, but God remembered their prayer. And they were rewarded for patience.

What are you waiting for God for? I have much. And I’m not as patient as Elisabeth and I often get the cart before the horse.

Rewarded for Purity

The second Christmas chick is the one we all believe to be central of the Christmas story and that is Miss Mary. (Luke 1:26-

She represents the single age of life, even though she was promised to Joseph. But she still remained pure of heart and pure of life and God took note.

The world is so jaded at this point, purity is seldom discussed in most homes. Celibacy, yes. And we may think of them as the same thing, but you can be celibate and not have a pure heart. A pure heart is a dedication far above just denying the desires of the flesh, it’s a focus on the sacredness of life and accountability to a Holy God; and that’s what’s missing in our conversation with youth. Even in our warped society it’s still expected that we speak to our young girls about saving themselves for marriage, but we don’t speak about the importance of dedicating themselves to the service of the Lord at that time; and what an important role that is in choosing the right mate and living the right life.

Mary obviously had that.

Scripture said that she was highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.

The angel alone had scared her to death, but to hear that the Lord had taken such note of who she was must have certainly took her aback. I think we’ll be surprised what God notices in our life. And as young women, we need to understand that God is looking at our lives and He’s still looking for pure hearts to use for the Kingdom’s glory.

We learn that Mary was pure of heart, pure of body and pure of soul, willing to take on the persecution that would surely befall her because of the out of wedlock pregnancy. God continually provided for her. He changed the heart of Joseph, He allowed her the blessing of raising the Lord Jesus Christ and He allowed her the opportunity to continue to serve all the days of her life. He also made sure that she was taken care of when Christ died by appointing John to look over her.

Children who are taught to serve grow up with the understanding that God provides opportunity and He provides what’s needed for the day. I always imagine what Mary might have seen Jesus do as a child. What if He refilled all the chocolate milk cups, or made sure everyone had never ending cookies. We don’t know much about His childhood, but Mary did.

She was reward for her purity and willingness to serve

Rewarded for Perseverance

The Third Christmas chick is Anna, a widow. In the retirement of life. I found her most interesting because that’s where I’m heading.

The Spirit of prophecy which had ceased in Israel above 300 years but was now revived and through a woman. It may not have meant anything more than she was a woman of understanding. But she made it her business to instruct the younger women in the things of God. God will not be left without His witnesses

She was 84 years old and had long been a widow. She lived with her husband only 7 years when he died, and never remarried. We know nothing more than that of her married life, except that it is mentioned to her praise because she obviously dedicated herself to the things of God. She was constantly at the temple and it is speculated that she had a place to call home in the out-buildings of the temple. Her worship was both public and private. She prayed, fasted and served God night and day.

The Pharisees prayed and fasted too, but for vain glory. Not Anna. She did it for the glory of God!

It said that she spoke of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.  She was a soul winner long before the word existed. Anna is a reminder that we should not grow weary in our well doing. She had waited a long time for the opportunity to see the Messiah. I doubt her days were filled with soap operas and bonbons on the sofa. As a widow without children she would have been at the mercy of the Lord for provision and some of her days of fasting may not have been by choice. Because of her perseverance in those hard times, God rewarded her a piece of the Christmas story.

It’s kind of tucked in there at the end and often forgotten. Elisabeth is tucked in the beginning and is often over looked, but all three women serve as examples of the stages and progression of life that women go through.

Where do you see yourself? And how are you allowing God to use you?

This Christmas let’s keep their examples in our mind as we worship the Lord through this season.

Let us be patient if the Lord has us waiting.

Let us be pure if the world around us is full of corruption.

And let us persevere in the face of all adversity so that God may use us and bless us for His glory.

Merry Christmas from the Jesus Chick!

 

Searching for Christmas in the Chaos

chaos

It’s a rare day when I have silence in the house. I’m not complaining… just stating a fact. I have a happy, busy home with a revolving door of guests. But the busyness at Christmas shoots to a mock ninety decibel (meaning it’s both fast and loud). There’s not enough time in the day to accomplish the tasks at hand, or there not enough mind in my head, that may be a more accurate description. It just gets crazy! But this morning I’m enjoying one of those rare moments of time where it’s just me and Jesus, and we got our own thing goin’ this morning.  While I’m here I’m searching for Christmas in the chaos.

I want a “Mary” Christmas. And no, spellcheck didn’t fail me. There are three notable Mary’s in scripture that have my mind affixed on how I’d like my Christmas to be.

Mary # 1 (Luke 1:27>)

The chosen mother to the Christ child who had obedience without question. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gift to give God in celebration of His birth. I struggle. I heard a statement from Steven Furtick (Pastor of Elevation Church) this morning who said “How many know that every time your heart tries to have faith, your mind tries to makes sense?”  There would have been no sense to make of Mary’s decision. It was a done deal with God and with her. She had been dealt that lot and had taken it on as a factual gift in obedience.

It’ likely did not stop her mind from going places it shouldn’t go. Like… “how on earth am I going to explain this to Joseph, my parents, my friends. During those days of others questioning her purity her mind had to have wondered why obedience had gotten her into such a trying place. But there’s no word of that in the scripture, only speculation on my heart. God just mentions her goodness, as if to say… leave her alone. She did as she was ask… you could learn.

Mary # 2 (Luke 8:2)

Mary Magdalene whom Jesus had healed of evil spirits had a wonderful Christmas Spirit about her. She loved to be around Jesus, she was found in service to Jesus and it was she who was found at His tomb to anoint His body. She told the disciples that she had seen the Lord after His resurrection. She was a busy woman! Not just during the holiday season but every day of the week because she was so thankful for having been healed of that terrible feeling inside. I should be so thankful. My busyness it’s just often that… busyness. Without purpose. Just a point “A” to point “B” kind of days. Every day of my life should be lived with the purpose of glorifying and serving Christ for taking that evil spirit that caused me such heartache and misery away.

Mary #3 (John 11:12)

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who was also the same who anointed Jesus feet with the oil of the Alabaster box and wiped His feet with her hair. She who knew the power of worship and the worthiness of sacrifice. She aggravated the religious who seen her worship as a waste of money. What greater spirit of Christmas could there be than one who is willing to spare no expense for her Lord and Savior. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the sacrificial gift. Religious people try to make sense of faith, and it can’t be done.

So this morning while I went search for Christmas in the chaos I found my Mary Christmas, having a heart’s desire to live obedient, willing to not ask why… with a servants heart, willing to not ask how… and heart of sacrificial worship, willing to not ask when or where, just willing to be ready. The beautiful gift of Christmas came at the expense of the cross. Help me to keep that in view.

Trust God to Take Care of the Powers that Be

chick in dcLuke 2:1-4

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” and each day that the Lord allows me to continue serving and studying His Word the more those words come to life. I see God’s purpose in the intricate threads woven through my day, people, conversations, events, all playing their part in the Lord’s purpose for each of us. A different purpose for different people heading to the same place. Heaven.

Prior to Luke 2, it was prophecy… but there in Luke’s telling of the events of the birth of Christ we see prophecy fulfilled and a few notable players that had no intention of helping. He was born at the time when the fourth monarchy was at the height of its glory and was known as a powerful, universal monarchy. It was called ironically (or not) Terraram orbis imperium – The empire of the whole earth. Luke called it “all the world,” and there was scarcely any part of the civilized world that wasn’t dependent on it. I could imagine that being the breeding ground for government arrogance.

Sound familiar? It likely does if you’ve watched the news lately.

Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 2:44) said that this would be the time the Messiah would be born. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

The kings Daniel spoke of were the Kings of the fourth monarchy, those in control in the days of Joseph, Mary and their soon to be Son Jesus, the Son of God Who would reign in the everlasting Kingdom of God. Mary lived in Nazareth, but for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled He needed her in Bethlehem as foretold in the Old Testament book of Micah 5:2 

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

And so it was that the seed would be planted in the mind of Ceasar, let’s tax the world and make everyone return where they came from. Who cares about the hardship on the people, we own them! Bwahahaha. I added that for effect. Ceasar wasn’t a man of God, he was man of his own power… and yet…. Unbeknown to him, God controlled his buttons like a remote control car under the Christmas tree. And for such a time and purpose, the very expectant Mary packed her purse and climbed on board the donkey, and she and her husband returned to Bethlehem and prophecy became the person of Baby Jesus.

The last prophecies to be fulfilled from the Bible are the end time prophecies and the same arrogance of Caesar (who thought himself god) and Herod who feared the baby King Jesus so much that he ordered boys born of that time period to be slain are alive and well today. The political factions of our day believe they are in full control of our fate, they tax and govern with haphazard results and all the while God sits on the throne with the remote, waiting in His time to push the buttons that finish what He started on that Bethlehem night. Although the political players are big in their own mind, it’s no game; it’s serious business. And the obscure people in the scenes of the story that is unfolding, are us! We are God’s people with purpose which is to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

Nobody was expecting God to use a little virgin girl to bring the King into the world. So to the little churches up the hills and hollers of West Virginia and other places across the globe, keep on keeping on… you have purpose, and it’s our time. Trust God to take care of the powers that be. He did it with Caesar Augustus, our leadership should be a cinch!

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What WV and Heaven have in Common

Grist Mill in the Winter, Babcock State Park, West Virginia

Photography credit: http://www.forestwander.com

I have for as long as I can remember, been proud to be a West Virginian. There are as many redneck and hillbilly jokes as ‘Carter’s got liver pills’; some I’ve laughed at, some made me nauseous, but very few have ever upset me. Most are told in good country fun and those that are not, are told in ignorance of the goodness of God that dwells in this place. I don’t think for a second that we are “Almost Heaven” because 1 Corinthians 2:9 says “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Heaven’s way better than anything here on earth!  But West Virginia does have one thing in common with Heaven… commonality.

Drive down practically any country road in West Virginia and ask for directions and you’ll likely get more information than you wanted! Not only will you get directions, but quite possibly a little family history, political insight or advice on the best place in town to eat. It’s our way. There are the occasional grumpy guss, elitist, or recluse but I can almost guarantee they’re a transplant from another State. It’s just not the nature of the people in rural (Country) West Virginia not to want to help. Yes there is the exception to the rule, for them, I apologize.

The story of Christmas is filled with country. Mary, a virgin girl from the city of Nazareth, who called herself a “handmaid,” meaning servant or voluntary slave (Luke 1:38) is visited by the angel Gabriel with the news that she is to carry in her womb, God. And following her most likely initial shock it says in verses 39-40, And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  There it is. Just good country people, Mary, Elisabeth and the country Preacher, Zacharias, willing to be used by God. He could have chosen anyone and most would have expected that the Messiah would surely come from a royal estate. But it’s apparent that God’s idea of royalty is unlike ours. He likes country!

And what about Joseph who would be the earthly father of the Christ child? A common carpenter, blue collar worker, although he was of the lineage of David. A man we know very little about, except his trade, and willingness to marry the mother of God, love the Son of God and deal with the stigma that was to come.

And then there were the shepherds, farm boys, who were the lowest of the low in the eyes of society in that day and God sends a host of angels to bring witness of the news of His Son’s birth to these unlikely men. A common thread woven into the Christmas story is common people just like you and I. God didn’t exclude royalty, the wise men received the same news and although it was much later they too were a part of the story of Christmas. No one is excluded from Christ’s story. And although it was a cast of common characters it was far from a common occurrence, it was a once in a lifetime, exclusive event that changed the world.

Jesus’ birth story brings home the message the God uses common, ordinary people to do extraordinary things then and now. God created each of us as a character in His story that continues to be the greatest ever told and each time a “new birth” occurs, at the time of someone’s salvation, the excitement level of that day in Bethlehem is still there and the desire to go and tell somebody! The song go tell it on the mountain scrolls across my mind and cheers my heart with the Christmas Spirit this morning.

I like country. I like common. I love Christ. Go tell somebody!