Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 12, 2010

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

The Apostle Paul writes after the fact that all the events of Christmas happened at precisely the right time and in exactly the right way!

I believe that is true. You probably do too!

But, for Mary and Joseph, not so much! Christmas was an inconvenience for them!

Think about it!
What a terrible time to get pregnant! Mary was engaged to a wonderful man and was making plans for the dream wedding. But then the angel shows up with another plan. Mary would conceive by the Holy Spirit and bear a son. As far as she was concerned, it couldn't have happened at a worse time!
What a terrible time for the Caesar to declare a tax! Just when Mary and Joseph were trying to scrape up enough money to begin their new life together, now they have to cough up a bunch of it to Rome! From their perspective it couldn't have happened at a worse time!
What a terrible time to have to take a trip! Mary was nine months pregnant! And what a terrible trip to have to take, across the hilly, rocky roads of Galilee - ON A DONKEY!
What a terrible place to have to go! Bethlehem? Such a tiny little place with only one hotel! And what a terrible time for that one hotel to be all booked!
And, what a terrible time for the king to get paranoid! Mary has just given birth to a baby - in a manger inside a stable no less - and not they have to hit the road for another trip! This time they must head down to Egypt to escape the edict of the king to kill all newborn boys. What a hassle!
Just when everything seemed to be going wrong, God brought the miracle of salvation! When everything was uncomfortable and inconvenient for Mary and Joseph it was perfect timing for God!
That is another of the amazing truths of Christmas! God's timing is always perfect even if it doesn't fit your schedule! When everything seems to be going wrong, God can still work a miracle! IF you are obedient to Him in spite of the inconveniences.
This Christmas season, trust God's timing! Trust His sovereign goodness! Even if it looks like the worst time for something to happen, remember that when everything seemed to be going wrong God brought a miracle!
Obedience is a willingness to be out of control - and under His control!

December 11, 2010

"Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord." Luke 1:8-15
When the angel appeared to Zachariah and spoke these words it marked the end of a 400 year period of silence. His message marked the beginning of the New Testament era.
Many people wondered what God was up to during this 400 years of silence. That question was answered conclusively with the events that unfolded over the next year. John was born and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. Then the Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem and the world has never been the same. So what was God doing in that period when He appeared to be silent? He was being God! He was preparing people and events for His next great move!
There have been times in your life when God seems silent. You pray and pray and look for God to answer and you see no evidence that He hears you. Maybe you are in one of those periods right now. Heaven seems like brass and your prayers don't seem to get anywhere. It can be discouraging! It can test your faith!
One of the many blessed truths of the Christmas story is that when God appears to be silent He is actually just preparing for the next great work He is planning for your life! Embrace that truth and let it encourage you!
But to me, it raises and even bigger question, "What are you doing when God appears to be silent?"
Learn from Zechariah! Learn from Mary! Both were busy serving God and being faithful! The Scriptures testify that they were righteous people who found favor with God! Even though God had been silent, their faith was strong! They trusted in the goodness of God even when they couldn't see evidence of His activity in their lives!
The great 19th Century preacher, Charles Spurgeon was said, "When I can't trace the hand of God I can trust His heart!"
In those moments when God seems silent in your life, trust His heart! Believe that He is preparing you and your world for the next great thing He wants to do! And, remain faithful to Him so you can remain in His favor. When you are not sure what He is doing, be sure that YOU are doing right!
Christmas proves that God is always up to something good!