A Christmas Gift Like No Other

[This is a short devotional I shared at our ladies ministry Christmas night last week.]

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.For no word from God will ever fail.”

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

gift

Would you willingly receive a gift that brought with it shame, people talking about you behind your back, it had the possibility of shattering all your dreams, your life plans oh, and, legally this gift could have you killed?

I’ve received some pretty horrible Christmas presents but it’s safe to say that’s not the type of Christmas gift any of us would like to receive.

Through human eyes God was offering Mary a gift like this. Mary wasn’t married therefore she should not have been pregnant, if she accepted this gift she was putting everything on the line. She would face people talking about her behind her back, she would bring shame upon Joseph and although the law doesn’t state what should happen if the woman you’re pledge to marry conceives of the Holy Spirit and is pregnant with the Son of God, it does however state that any woman who is found not to be a virgin whilst pledged to marry or after marrying should be stoned to death (Deut 22:20). Looking at the cold hard facts it would seem that if Mary said Yes to this gift she would be giving up everything – her reputation, her relationship, her life.

Yet God’s plan cannot be seen through human eyes. It has to be seen through the eyes of faith. To everyone in that culture Mary would seem unusable, it would appear that God could not use her for any great task. Why? because she was young, poor and the worst of it all she was…female.  But God knew Mary’s heart, he knew she was the girl for the task. He knew she’d be obedient.

I just love Mary’s response to this incredible gift God was giving her; “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”

Mary was a ‘Yes’ girl.

She was willing to do whatever God asked of her no matter the cost.

She carried that gift of hers for 9 months. Her pregnant tummy was a public symbol of her obedience to God. Some people may have looked at her and thought Joseph was crazy to believe what she told him about the angel etc. Some people may have watched from afar really pondering what Mary had claimed about this baby and others may have believed with all their heart that Mary was carrying the promised Messiah. But the most important thing was that Mary knew she had heard from God and that she was obeying him – no matter what others thought.

What about you? Are you a yes girl? Are you obedient to the tasks God gives you no matter what the cost?

When Jesus was born something incredible happened; the gift that had been given to Mary, the one that she had carried all by herself suddenly became a universal gift. Jesus had been given to us all. Emmanuel means “God with us” not “God is just with Mary”. Unfortunately people think God chose Mary to be Jesus’ mom because she was without sin, she was perfect, she was God-like but the Bible says otherwise; “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of the Lord” – Romans 3:23 . God chose to use her despite her imperfection.

John 1:14 really captures the moment Jesus was born. The moment Mary’s personal gift became universal; “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen the glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Message version puts it like this; The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

Jesus came as a gift to the world with one purpose- to save us! Jesus didn’t stay a little baby, he grew and became a man. You see he had a gift he had to give the world but like all gifts it had to be paid for. Money couldn’t buy this gift, fancy words wouldn’t flatter to avoid payment and this is one gift you couldn’t persuade your other half or family to pay for. It’s only a gift that God can give so it’s only a gift God can pay for. Most gifts are given out of love but this gift is given by love Himself.

Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross and rose from the dead 3 days later showing us that we can have the free gift of salvation. ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ – 2 Cor 5:21

That’s the gift Jesus offers you this Christmas – forgiven sin, new life on earth and eternal life in Heaven.

Mary was obedient to God and said ‘Yes’ to carrying the gift he asked her to.

Jesus now offers you a free gift. The question is… will you say ‘yes’ to receiving it?

The Bible even tells us how to receive it: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

The gift of salvation is not to be kept hidden away and never shown to anyone. In fact, it’s the gift that keeps on giving – you have to share it with others. It’s almost impossible not to.

Mark 16:15 says: “Go into all the world and preach the good news.”  In other words – share your gift! Tell people about the Lord Jesus.

This Christmas God has given you a special gift to carry and share with everyone you meet. Your task may not be as dramatic as Mary’s…in fact I know it won’t be BUT God is still desiring for you to be a ‘Yes’ girl. What is God asking you to do this Christmas? Who is he calling you to speak to? Give your time to? Help? Pray for? Share the love of Jesus with?

Jesus name is Emmanuel “God with us” … Are you ready to share the gift you have been given?

May we all be able to answer like Mary did; “I am the Lord’s servant.”

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