NURTURING HOPE

thumb.phpPlease find my teaching notes below to Pt. 2 of The Mary Miracle series. 

“Conceiving Your Miracle” by inviting God into your circumstances and receiving the seed of his Word in your situation.  In Pt. 2 “Nurturing Your Hope” we unpack why you are the perfect candidate for an “impossibility!” 

Consider: Christmas is the story of an ordinary teenager in an ordinary town who experiences an extraordinary event!  Perhaps you struggle with the idea that you could be a candidate for a miracle, for something hoped for to happen in your life.  Perhaps you think you’re not good enough, or spiritual enough, or faithful enough.  Perhaps you’re not exactly a “saint” and so it’s hard to believe that God could do anything in, or through your life, ever.  But a faith-liberating hope can change all that!  

In the most barren of settings, God breathed hope into the most unpromising of situations.  Don’t think he won’t do the same for you!  The key is becoming open to who God is and who you can be in Christ! 

Luke 1:28-29 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Mary was probably the most surprised person in human history!!  Mary was “greatly troubled”– surprised by the declaration, “You are highly favored!”  After all, she’s a simple girl from a very small town!

I think God loves to surprise us!!

ORDINARY PLACES ARE PERFECT…for God to do the miraculous! 

Most of our poetic notions about the Christmas story need to be challenged!  What kind of town was Nazareth?  What kind of day was it in Nazareth?  What was Mary doing when the angel appeared to her?  Picture the “ordinary” instead of the “majesty!”  

We need to know that “God clothes himself in the ordinary, coming to ordinary people, in the most ordinary places” to do the extraordinary!  “Nazareth” was a small rural town of no more than 400-500 people.  To put it into perspective, years later a disciple to be would hear of Jesus’ hometown and say, “Nazareth!  What good can come from there!”

God doesn’t need a contrived setting or elaborate stage to do the miraculous!  Think church pageants!  He sends his Word of Promise to ordinary people in the most ORDINARY PLACES! 

Was Mary at prayer when the angel visited her or washing the dishes?  Was she having a quiet time or babysitting her younger siblings?  Was she poised and composed when the angel appeared or totally freaked out?

Had her parents taught her “you may be the one” or was it not even a remote thought?  Was her planned marriage to Joseph a relief or financial strain for her family?

Was she culturally beautiful, socially adept, and personally desirable or was she possibly only a plain girl with a simple faith, raised in an ordinary home, scheduled for an arranged marriage and headed for a predictably uneventful future married to a local carpenter???

Put this into perspective!!  Set the “traditions” of the Christmas story aside!!  The truth is, nothing in Mary’s setting or situation suggests elegance- this is NOT the story of Kate and William!!  Rather, Mary’s own words tell us she was one of the “lowliest” people from one of the “lowliest” places!!

Here’s the song she sings in Luke 1:48, 52, 53 “For he took notice of his lowly servant girl… and exalted the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things…” 

Let’s get it right!  Jesus would be born in a barn.  As a 2 year old his parents would have to hide him in a foreign country because of a crazy king’s murderous rampage of baby boys.  Later in his home town, he would not be able to do any miracles there because of people’s unbelief and skepticism.  Nazareth was no center of spiritual promise!!  Denver isn’t either!!!

So, no matter how obscure, how out-of-place, how “ordinary” our lives may seem to be- let none of us live without HOPE!  God is very interested, and has proven it time and time again, that he will incarnate hope and promise “right where you live, right now!”

Your seemingly ordinary personal setting is the perfect setup for a promise of God!  Put your hope in that; especially as you consider the “place” you find yourself in right now.

ORDINARY PEOPLE ARE NOT PERFECT…

And that’s the point!!  You don’t have to be sinless for God to do something special in and through your life!!

Mary, a simple girl from a small town wasn’t sinless either!  It’s not comfortable to assert that considering the sincerity of those whose reverence of Mary is rooted in the proposition of her “immaculate conception.”

But this just isn’t true; but neither is this an attack on or unkind towards those who revere her.  The fact is, Mary didn’t need to be a sinless human to carry and deliver a sinless Savior!

Mary, like every person before her, like every person after her, like all of us, was born into sin because it’s inherent within our nature.  Humanity is a fallen race that God chose to redeem!  The “sinless” chose to enter the “sin-filled” through a “sinner!”

Mary’s humanness is essential to our fully appreciating her miracle!  It reveals just how determined and dedicate God is to working a miracle that is beyond our helplessness and hopelessness!

The “Mary Miracle” first happened in an ordinary town to an ordinary sinner to set forth this lesson: Nothing is impossible where you live- no matter who you are!

God doesn’t need a perfect saint or sinless person to do a miracle; just someone who’s open to receive both salvation and the potential supernatural work that only God can do.  This isn’t so much about WHO you are or WHAT you’ve done, but about WHO GOD IS and WHAT GOD CAN DO!

WHAT’S MARY TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR “ORDINARY” SITUATION?

She knows how to RESPOND when God offers the “miracle!”  She welcomed the work of God into her life.  Are you willing to welcome the work, perhaps the next big move, that God wants to do or make in and through your life?

She knows how to THINK when she’s given “prophecies” about her life!  She doesn’t push for the prophecies fulfillment, but ponders them patiently, leaving them in God’s hands.  When you know God has spoken something into your life- “seeded” a vision, dream, a miracle, are you truly trusting in God to “work” it out in and through your life, “walking” it out as God leads?

She knows what to SAY when she doesn’t understand what God is doing in her life!  Later in life you hear her say to others, “Whatever Jesus tells you to do, do it!”  When everything you’ve hoped for, dreamed of, have believed in, isn’t coming together as you thought, are you willing to abandon your own reasoning and understanding and completely have faith in God- like Jesus, “Nevertheless, Your will be done?”

She knows how to GROW when one season of God’s miracle work in her life is transitioning to a new season!  We see her after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in the upper room with the other disciples, ready to embrace the new season of life and ministry!  Can you accept that part of God’s “miracle” in your life may include a change, or a new beginning, or a transition into a different season?

She knows how to NURTURE HOPE!  Again, we see in Mary the picture of us all- seemingly insignificant, not without sin, perhaps “lowly”, and most certainly “ordinary.”  SHE CHOOSES TO PUT HER TRUST IN GOD!!  

Whatever the problem facing you, whatever the fear that engulfs you, the doubt that plagues your mind, the relationship that’s weakened, the dream or desire that seems beyond reach, you can put your TRUST and HOPE in Jesus Christ- no longer the baby in a manger, but the King of Glory, and RECEIVE the BIRTHING of SOMETHING NEW!

God wants to work the same kind of miracle” he worked in Mary!

God wants to “birth” Jesus Christ in and through your life!  Col. 1:27 “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”

God wants to reveal his glory in and through your life!  2 Cor. 4:7 “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

God can accomplish his purposes in and through your life!  Phil. 2:13 “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Perhaps the first “miracle” you need today is to invite Jesus Christ into your life, accept his forgiveness, and commit to following him!  Perhaps your “miracle” is to believe again that “nothing is impossible for God!  Perhaps your “miracle” is to realize that no matter who your are, what you’ve done, or where you’re from or have been, God sees you as having the potential for a miracle!

And you can put your hope in that today!  Because everyone NEEDS HOPE!!!

 

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