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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That's a friend...

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Luke 1:45-50
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

How do you respond to the "impossible" challenges of life?

In Luke 1:45-50, we see the response of two women to two different "impossible" situations in their lives.  These were not bad luck, or the hand of destiny dealing them a blow, but God ordained challenges that were placed into their lives for one simple reason: for His glory!

Elisabeth, who had already faced the challenge of being barren in a society where bearing children was seen as God's blessing upon your home, was suddenly faced with the "impossible" challenge of bearing a child in her old age.  A child whose job would be to "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17)  She didn't complain about the circumstance of her life, the economy, or how she was enjoying her life being free from the duties of child rearing, or how she was just too old and out of shape for this task set before her.  Now, we don't know what she thought or felt, but we do know how she responded.


Elisabeth believed the word of the Lord.  

 Zacharias was the one who received the message from the angel.  He then was struck dumb!  Can you imagine the conversation they had when he told her what the angel had said?  I know I would have had to read it twice!  She believed her husband and believed that God's word would be fulfilled in her life.


Elisabeth encouraged Mary in the Lord.

Fast forward a few months and along comes Mary.  Like a typical woman she had received some astonishing news and probably wanted to share it with someone.  However, in her society, she could not openly admit that she, an unmarried woman, was about to have a baby!  That would have definitely sealed her death sentence.  So she runs over the hills to visit her cousin.  Did she spend her trip wondering how she would explain her message from the Lord to Elisabeth?  If she did we'll never know because God allowed the message to go before her as baby John the Baptist leaped in Elisabeth's womb.

 How did she respond?  She called Mary blessed!  Elisabeth knew just what Mary needed to hear to calm her heart and point her in the right direction.  She was living proof of the impossible hand of God at work!  I'm sure their time together was very encouraging for Mary.


Mary gave glory and praise to God.

 In her song of praise Mary rejoices in the Lord and does not take any of the glory for herself.  She does not sing about being the only unmarried woman to ever be with child having never known a man.  Mary does not exalt herself.  She exalted the name of the Lord and stated that if anyone ever called her blessed in generations to come, it would be because of what God had done in her.  She was only a servant of the Mighty One! 

We need to follow their example.

Many times in my life I have face challenging circumstances that were out of my control.  Deaths, life threatening surgeries, miscarriages, and at times loss of health and home.  In my perfectly planned out life these things NEVER would have occurred, but God's plans are not always our plans.  His ways are not always our ways.  Yet I have learned that God's plan is always for my good, and like Elisabeth and Mary I have learned to believe God's Word, to encourage others to do the same, and to give Him the glory and the praise for the results that only He could bring about in the first place.   
"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17
Yesterday, we visited two different homes for two different reasons.  In one home we were excitedly sharing what God had done in our lives in preparing our way to leave for Peru.  This was something that was on our list of the seemingly impossible because our feeble minds cannot see the hand of God working all over the world to fulfill His plan at the exact moment He desires.  We could only see today and hope for tomorrow; but we believed God, encouraged others to do the same, and were giving Him the glory for what He had done.

In the second home we also shared tidings of joy, but were able to comfort a heart full of sorrow.  Our plans never include the loss of loved ones because we can only see today and hope for tomorrow.  It is a challenge that no one wants to face, but we can still believe God, encourage others to do the same, and give Him the glory for Who He is and the praise for His sustaining grace.

We are to live like Jesus!  Trust the Father, lift up the down trodden and the weary, and when it is all said and done, give God the praise because He is the Mighty One.  He alone can take the challenging circumstances of life and weave them with strands of His love so that His grace shines through to those around us.

How will you respond to life's challenges today?

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