Advent, A Time of Grace Realized

The birth of a child brings happiness, joy and wonder to every parent. The arrival of Elizabeth’s baby was no exception and perhaps was an even greater joy to them and those around them as they had waited a long time for a child. I can identify with this as we were married for 14 years before the arrival of our Elizabeth and it was pure joy! Jewish customs prevailed and the child was not named until he was circumsized on the eighth day, as that recognized his officially belonging to the family of God. It was a day of great family celebration and scripture gives us a glimpse into this special day.

Luke 1: 57-66 “ When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. 59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” 61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. 65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Can you even imagine being there when Zechariah spoke after 9 months of silence? What a surprise! But God is faithful to His Word, and just as the child was named, Zechariah’s time of silence ended. Awe or reverence for the Lord was used to describe the effect this had on the people there and the surrounding area. Other translations word it this way, “And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea.” The awe or fear was due to their amazement over what the Lord had done in their midst. They had seen first hand the power of God to provide this child in old age and to mute Zechariah for 9 + months. When was the last time you experience the hand of God in your own life or in someone near to you? Did it leave you in awe of our Sovereign God? Perhaps it was due to the birth of a child, healing of an illness, release from a threatening situation, resolving of a difficult circumstance or an answer to a specific prayer. What effect did it have on you? Were you joyous, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, or filled with wonder like the neighbors or did you try to discount it? Our response to God’s mercy and grace in our lives is crucial. In 1 Corinthians 1:4 Paul puts it this way, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,” Because of Jesus, our response should be one of thanks for His grace, His unmerited favor, towards us.

Let thanks be on your lips as you look for His Grace in your life today.

Linda

Provider God gives exactly what is needed. See it?

The story continues in Luke 2:4-7 with scenes that could have been filled with confusion, despair, hopelessness and desperation but God.  I always love that whenever you see But, or Therefore in scripture you see the results of what God did or will do in a situation.  Here Mary and Joseph could have experienced all those emotions BUT God intervened. And Joseph mary and joseph journeyalso went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

Mary and Joseph had to make the 60 mile journey by walking or riding a donkey.  The government required they travel to Bethlehem to register for the ordered census. (God provided protection for them during their journey.)   When they got there, the city was crowded with other travelers,  and there was no room at any of the inns.  The inn keeper having mercy upon them let them stay in his stables. (God provided a place when none existed and a merciful innkeeper.)  Her time to deliver the child came when they got to Bethlehem, not before on the road,  but mercifully after they arrived. (God provided the perfect timing.) They had no crib so they laid Jesus in a manger which is used to hold hay when feeding animals. (God provided a special place for the child.)  They were safe and The-Providerout of the elements because God provided what they needed.  God is our ProviderGod provides for every creature He has made.  He feeds the birds and gives us our daily food. We do not have strength or goodness of our own,  but God gives it to us generously.  He provides a way out of temptation and protects us from evil.  God’s greatest provision was sending His Son Jesus.  Because He gave us Jesus, we can trust Him for everything else we need.

Where do you see God’s provision for you in your life?  We live in a world driven by wants and desires, greed and power.  Sometimes we have to step back and look at our lives, what we have, the people, places and things that our ours.   Where did they come from?  If you say, “I did it”, aren’t you fooling yourself?  Who gave you the opportunities to achieve, who gave you the strength, desire and power to overcome?  God promises that He will meet our needs, not necessarily all our wants.  Philippians 4:19 reminds us of God’s power to provide, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  God knows what we need even before we ask as He is our all-knowing provider.

psalm 23 1Here are a few other verses to ponder as you consider God, your provider.  Psalm 23 :1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  Psalm 34:9 “O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones);  For to those who fear Him there is no want.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 ““No eye has seen, no ear has heard,    and no mind has imagined what God has prepared  for those who love him.”

no lackPraise and give thanks to your great Provider.  God alone can and does provide what we need physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Thank you Jesus!

Linda