Monday, 23 December 2013

See Amid the Winter's Snow

See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See, the gentle Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Hail that ever blessèd morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He Who built the starry skies;
He Who, thronèd in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim.

Say, you holy shepherds, say,
Tell your joyful news today.
Why have you now left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

“As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light;
Angels singing ‘Peace on earth’
Told us of the Savior’s birth.”

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.

Teach, O teach us, holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.
     "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

     May God fill your hearts with joy this Christmas.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Developing in the Dark

Do you know what happens to a roll of film when it is exposed to light? It's completely ruined. Once the light strikes it there is no going back.

Today I learned that faith, like film, develops in the dark.

81/365 Mar 22, 2011 by becca.peterson26
81/365 Mar 22, 2011, a photo by becca.peterson26 on Flickr.
I heard a message from Sue Gilmore, a woman of strong faith whom I greatly admire. She spoke on Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation, the time an angel came down to a simple girl from Nazareth and told her the mind-blowing news that she had been chosen to give birth to the Messiah. 
...God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
"Troubled" is probably an understatement. If an angel greeted me right now I might just have a panic attack. No wonder Gabriel's next words were, "Do not be afraid." He announced to the girl that she would conceive and give birth to a boy named 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."

Naturally, Mary was curious as to how this was going to work. She was engaged but had never slept with a man, and was no doubt nervous about what this was going to look like.
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."
It's a well-known story, and I tend to glaze over whenever I hear it, but put yourself in that place with Mary today. How would you feel? Scared? Vulnerable? Confused? Anxious? The truth is that Mary was kept almost completely in the dark. She knew the basic facts: angel, favor, baby, Son of God. What she didn't know was the step-by-step guide to coping with an unplanned pregnancy in the kind of culture where sexual immorality could result in ostracization, or worse.

Something I had never realized about this passage until today is that this is what happens to every Christian. You won't be called on to give birth to baby Jesus, but you are called to give birth to the Spirit of Christ within you. The Holy Spirit comes to overshadow us, completely envelop us, and do what we are unable to do. This does not result in an easy life, but just the opposite. It throws us into the world's teeth, like lambs surrounded by a pack of wolves. Discipleship is a challenge, and a dangerous one.

But God knows what He is doing, and it's far more wonderful than we could ever imagine. He is the one who effects the miracle, but He waits for us to respond.
"I am the Lord’s servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled."
If God is keeping you in the dark, rest assured it's for a good reason. Your faith is putting on muscle right now; this is the place where you are meant to grow strong.

Today God is asking for our obedience. No matter your current situation, there is probably some area in your life that you hesitate to turn over to your Lord. I know there is in mine.

Will you choose to believe His promises and say "Yes" like Mary, allowing the Spirit to work in your life, or will you squelch Him and refuse to take the dangerous step of obedience?
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