As I reflect upon Christmas, I think about three words: hope, faith and love. These powerful words were so intertwined throughout the Christmas story. Our story begins, not with the lives of Mary and Joseph, but with Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Luke 1:13 “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.” What is so powerful about this particular scripture is that it is filled with hope… In Luke Chapter 1, the scriptures inform us of how Elizabeth was barren and both she and Zechariah were both well along in years. I love God’s timing. It is always perfect. Zechariah was called to go into the temple to burn incense before the Lord; at that moment he had an encounter with Gabriel, God’s angel, who would deliver to him a message of hope because Zechariah never gave up hope.
See dear one, even when circumstances were bleak and seemed impossible for Zechariah and Elizabeth to have a child, deep down inside Zechariah never gave up hope in God. He continued to seek Him through his prayers. There are many things we are all hoping for within our lives and the Lord does not want you to give up hope in Him. How He chooses to answer our prayers will be His decision but we need to have a constant hope just like Zechariah did – trusting God will work on our behalf being for our good and His glory. You need to realize our hope is the fire that burns within us. Hope is the lifeline that keeps us focused on the One when all things around us seem impossible and insurmountable.
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’” – Luke 1:30-33
In this passage, Mary had to exercise her faith in God to bring to completion what He had spoken over her life. Mary faced before her the testing of her faith. First, she would have to trust God at His word to fulfill what He had stated to occur? Secondly, she would need faith in God to see her through? It wasn’t just the fact she was a young girl about to become pregnant. What many do not realize is during that time and culture, she could have been stoned to death. The custom back then was issued for any woman who was found to be unfaithful was to be stoned. Since Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, she was placed in an unpredictable position. But her faith remained strong even though she didn’t know the outcome. “’I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” – Luke 1:38. Beloved, we need to have faith like Mary. Sometimes we won’t have all of the answers to all of our questions, but our heart should remain the same – anchored to God knowing He will bring about His plans for our lives.
In closing, God desires for us to realize His love for us is unconditional. We can do nothing to add to it, nor can we do anything His love away from us. There is no elite with Him; He just desires for all to come to repentance so that He may dwell with them.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks a night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”- Luke 2:8-11. The shepherds at that time were considered to be outcasts based upon their social status. I wonder how many times we feel like we are outcasts or not of worth towards God? Yet, it was He who sent His beloved Son into the world to demonstrate His love for and toward us. Amazing love is what He bestows in His heart for us. Dear one, God desires for you to know how precious you are to Him, and this Christmas He desires for you to receive the greatest gift you could possibly receive – His love.
So as we enter into the Christmas season, ponder upon those three powerful words: hope, faith and love. Where is God asking you to trust Him? Can I encourage you? Trust Him; it just might lead you on an encounter like Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary and the Shepherds for which their lives were forever changed.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!