"Mommy! You weft out a wiseman!"
This was the cry of my then four year old son. It was January and we had taken down, packed up, and put away all of the Christmas decorations...except this one wiseman. Perhaps you've seen him. He's part of the Willow Tree collection. He is kneeling in worship of the newborn King.
You see, each year during the Christmas season I choose one character or aspect of the Christmas story to concentrate on. I study the character I've chosen throughout the Advent season. I ask questions. I put myself in that characters shoes. If it's an aspect of the story, I try to imagine why God included it. I attempt to recreate what it was like to be present for the most important birth in history.
That particular year I had chosen the wisemen. I studied them and their reactions. I was struck with the fact that they, most likely royalty themselves, chose to humbly bow before a child. A child who from all earthly viewpoints was poor and destitute, who had no place in society. I pondered what might have caused them to believe and why they were so adamant about finding, worshipping, and then protecting this child.
That year God spoke to me about my own pursuit of Him.
How eagerly did I search for Him?
What stance did I take in my worship of Him?
In what ways did my lifestyle choices protect my witness of Him?
As I pondered these and many more questions my understanding of true worship changed. I was no longer content to view worship simply as an act of going to church on Sunday, singing a few hymns, then going about life as usual the rest of the week.
I wanted to earnestly seek God throughout the week.
I wanted to make worship my lifestyle.
I wanted to protect God's reputation by the way I lived.
So, as a reminder of my new commitment I left that bowing wiseman on the corner of our mantle where I would see him everyday. I hoped this reminder would keep me accountable to my commitment. It did and I've chosen an ornament or figurine to leave on that same mantle corner every year since.
This year in my Advent study I decided to concentrate on Mary.
Why was she so ready to obey God?
I discovered three reasons for Mary's quick obedience.
First, Mary believed what God said of her.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary he said:
"Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28 NIV
Mary believed that God highly favored her. The Message Paraphrase translates this verse:
"Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty. Beautiful inside and out! God be with you."
When we believe what God says of us we know He loves us. When we know He loves us we understand that He would never ask us to do something that will harm us.
Believing what God says of us enables us to quickly obey.
The second reason Mary was so quick in obeying is that she believed God was with her.
Throughout Scripture we read words like:
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand."
Isaiah 41:10 NLT
"They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken." Jeremiah 1:19 NLT
"Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20 NLT
Believing God is with us gives us confidence to quickly obey.
And finally, Mary believed God would do what He said He would do.
After Gabriel told her what would happen and how it would happen, Mary said,
"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."
Luke 1:38 NLT
God is faithful to keep His word.
Think back to Genesis. Sin has run rampant. God is sorry He made humans. He decides to destroy the earth and all its inhabitants. Then some of most comforting words in Scripture appear: But Noah.
Noah found favor with God. God commands him to build an ark. God sends the animals onto the Ark. Noah and his family enter the Ark. And the rains begin, not ending for forty days and nights. When the rains end and the Ark finally comes to rest, Noah and his family must wait for the water to recede. Finally, the water has receded enough for them to exist the Ark. The first thing Noah does is build an altar and worship God. The smell of this sacrifice is such a pleasing aroma to God, He vows to never again destroy the earth with a flood.
"I have placed My rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of My covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember My covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth."
God placed the rainbow in the clouds to remind Himself of His covenant and He has kept His promise not to flood the whole earth again.
David wrote many songs about God's faithfulness.
"Then I will praise You with music on the harp, because You are faithful to Your promises, O my God." Psalm 71:22 NLT
"But deal well with me, O Sovereign Lord, for the sake of Your own reputation! Rescue me because You are so faithful and good." Psalm 109:21
And Paul tells us:
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure." 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
"May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who called you is faithful, and He will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV
Believing God is faithful to His word gives us courage to quickly obey.
This year I left the figurine of Mary holding Jesus on the corner of our mantle. It comes from the same set as the bowing wiseman. You see, I want to remember these lessons on obedience from Mary.
In 2021 I want to gain a deeper understanding of what God says of me, to see His viewpoint of who I am. I want to know deep within that He is with me no matter what. I want to trust completely that He is faithful to His word. And as these truths sink in, I want to have the confidence and courage to quickly obey God...even if my obedience causes others to look down on me or think I'm crazy. I want to be like Mary.
What about you? What do you believe about yourself? When you do difficult things, do you believe God is with you? How have you seen God remain faithful to His word in your life? How quickly do you obey God?
Until next time, keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
God bless and keep you,
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