Monday, December 18, 2017

Mary's Story Pt. 3

Distractions are interruptions that interfere with us accomplishing what we believe is important. They are rabbits in our minds that capture our thoughts and take them away from what we are supposed to be thinking about. They compete for our time and try to occupy space within our minds needed to stay focused. They compel our eyes to look at images not associated with the task at hand. Basically, distractions take us away from what is considered the main thing.

Amazing amount of ways to fight distractions.
1.       Determine what is most important—that is your priority.
2.      Organize your time around that priority.
3.      Schedule your day accordingly.
4.      Refuse to allow anything to keep you from your schedule.
5.      Say no to interruptions.

But what if the distraction proves to be more important than what we had thought was most important? What if the rabbit is a better catch than what we’re after? What if the interruption solves greater problems than it causes? What if in denying the distraction we lose one of the greatest moments of our lives?

One cold winter day in 1971, students at a small Kentucky college went to their weekly chapel service. It was their duty. Attendance was required. They expected nothing but getting their name checked to prove they were there. 185 hours later they came out of that chapel, changed beyond their wildest dreams. God had scheduled the Asbury Revival, a divine moment, within a busy college curriculum.

A lady had an eating disorder caused by using food to cope with life. “There is nothing life can throw at me that I cannot eat away,” was her motto. The comfort she found in eating was only compounded by the guilt she experienced when she was done. She went to church one Sunday in her usual mindset of no expectations. The Pastor shared that Jesus was the Bread of Life. Suddenly it dawned on her that the desire to eat wasn’t the problem. The problem was what she chose to eat. She had been expecting food to do what only Jesus could do. Four years and 172 pounds later she has held to her new diet. Her divine moment gave her a new life.

Every morning a man went out into the garden to spend time reflecting, doing his devotions and reading the Bible. After his wife died it was four days before he went back. As he was reading his Bible, considering how alone he felt, reading of the Spirit of God descending like a dove, he begged God for comfort. A bird suddenly flew up and perched on his foot. The bird showed no fear and spent several minutes chattering to him.  This had never happened before. After a while the bird jumped from his foot to his knee.  He said he just put his hands out and said, no food. But the bird seemed happy just to be there twittering to the man for a few more minutes and then it flew away. He thought about the comfort the little bird had given him but the loneliness came back when the bird flew away. The man went back to his prayer and asked for comfort again and the bird actually came back.  He said afterwards, “I was just amazed at the whole thing, enjoying the moment with the bird, then missing his company when he flew away.” Which was how his emotions were—unpredictable and raw. “But, then the bird came back to me. Then I realized, by a little insignificant bird, God gave me a divine moment to remind me I wasn’t alone. He was with me.”

A divine moment is when God interrupts our lives to give us something better than whatever it is we’re after at that moment.

They are extraordinary because in that moment we discover something we might miss had we pushed it away as an interruption. They are moments that remind us that we are part of a much bigger picture of what God is doing.

Vance is a Black man living in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. But that isn’t the only reason he stands out. He is a servant-hearted father who also cares for the many other kids who play in the streets by his building. One night at 9 p.m., there was a knock at Vance's door. The 16-year-old boy who lives a few doors down needed help tying his tie. He had a big presentation at school the next day, and he had no father to help him get ready. After Vance had finished tying the tie, the boy asked, "Do you have a pair of black dress shoes I could borrow?" Vance thought about the $60 pair of shoes in his closet that he hadn't even taken out of the box yet. He cringed when he was certain God was telling him to give the boy those shoes. Vance cringed inside. He told the boy to wait at the door as he headed into the apartment to look for any pair of shoes but the new pair. Before he went to the closet, though, he told his wife what he sensed the Spirit was saying to him. She agreed that it sounded like something God would say. So he got the new shoes and brought them to the boy. His last hope was that they wouldn't fit. After all, how many 16-year-olds have size-12 feet? They fit perfectly. Just a few weeks after Vance gave away his new shoes, he and his wife sensed God telling them to start a Bible study for the kids in their building. They bought four Bibles and put out word a Bible study was beginning. That Sunday, seven kids showed up at Vance's apartment—brought there by the 16-year-old owner of a new pair of shoes. The following week they bought more Bibles, and the 16-year-old brought in 14 kids! Who would have thought the kingdom of God would come to the kids of that apartment complex just because one man, in a divine moment, chose to give away a new pair of shoes?

What is a divine moment? It is slice of time into which God slips a unique and unexpected encounter. It is a sovereign act, not something you can plan for or schedule. Can you miss it? Sure, by being so focused on what you think is more important, you can miss what God wants you to see.

An old shoe cobbler dreamed one Christmas Eve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true. So the next morning he got up, straightened up his shop, sat down and waited. The hours passed. But an old man came inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobbler talked with him he noticed the holes in the old man’s shoes, so he reached up on the shelf and got him a new pair of shoes. He made sure they fit. He dried his socks and then sent him on his way. Still he waited. An old woman came who hadn’t had a decent meal in two days. He sat and visited for a while. He prepared some food for her to eat then sent her on her way. Then he sat back down to wait for Jesus.  Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of his shop. He went outside and found out the boy had gotten lost from his parents and didn’t know how to get home. The cobbler put on his coat, took the boy by the hand and led him home. When he came back to his little shoe shop it was almost dark and the streets were empty. And in a moment of despair he lifted his voice to heaven and said, "Oh Lord Jesus, why didn’t you come?" And then he heard a voice say, "Oh cobbler, lift up your heart. I kept my word. Three times I knocked at your door. Three times you answered. I was the man needing shoes. I was the woman needing food. I was the little boy on the street." Jesus had come. The cobbler just didn’t realize it.

Luke 2:21  And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, "A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS."

All of this was routine, simply carrying out what was expected—following the Law. Nothing unusual or exceptional about it. No one would have looked at them and said, “Look at those religious fanatics.” If you were a Jewish family, this is what you would do. Eight days after the most spectacular night of the presence of God and angels and shepherds, they were now into the ordinary schedule of life.

Who expects God to show up in the ordinary stuff of life?

Let me tell you about Simeon: Luke 2:25  And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Righteous, devout
            Righteous – a title given – we are righteous (right with God) because God
                        declares us so.
            Devout – a title earned
Devout: totally committed to our beliefs. Believing strongly in the principles of our faith and structuring our lives to live by those principles: To be deeply devoted to God. Living out our righteousness.

Men typically judge someone more by what they do than what they say they are.
·         If you give a man a title with a job description and he doesn’t do what is on the job description, then he isn’t being what his title says he is.
·         But, if a man does the job he’s called to do he can wear the title.

Simeon was both righteous and devout.
            He wore the title righteous but backed up that title through his devout actions.

Ask a man if he is righteous, he’ll answer no, not really. Ask him if he is devout, he’ll stay he’s trying or working on it.
Which tells us this story didn’t come from Luke interviewing Simeon. It’s what Mary remembered him. She saw him as a righteous man first then told Luke what he was doing.

A man would look at what someone does, then define him.
·         He passed for 389 yards, threw for four touchdowns, ran for one. His QB rating for his last game was 147.7. He’s an MVP Quarterback.
·         He shot from 300 yds and got a 14 pt. buck that scored a 127. He’s a great hunter.

By the things a man does he either deserves the title he is given or he doesn’t.

That’s probably what Luke heard when Mary told him about Simeon. She saw a righteous man who did things that blessed them. Luke heard the things Simeon did that demonstrated he was a righteous man.

Acknowledged the presence of the Lord in his life. Something a righteous man would do.
·         Looking for the consolation of Israel – the Messiah – Meaning he was open to God’s Divine Moments.
·         Lived with a promise. What are you trusting God for? What in your life needs God’s intervention?
·         Came in the Spirit – sensitivity to God’s promptings and anticipation of God’s workings.
·         Took the Baby into his arms and blessed God. Why did Jesus come as a baby? Because even burly old men will hold a baby in their arms.
·         Shared insight with Mary.

Luke 2:26  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel." And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed--and a sword will pierce even your own soul--to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

Simeon’s Divine Moment:
·         Were it not for Simeon’s desire to see God, he would have missed seeing God in a baby.
·         The Holy Spirit was upon him – He was sensitive to the promptings of God.
·         Wasn’t looking for a baby. He was looking for God so was prepared for however God would reveal Himself to Simeon. He found both in the same package.
·         He didn’t get up that morning saying, “This is the day I see the Messiah.”
·         He didn’t have it on his to-do list: go to the Temple, meet Jesus.
·         He simply lived in anticipation of God fulfilling His promise.
·         His desire for God made him open to this divine moment with God.

Righteous men live that way. They’re not weird, they just leave room for God.

Does God have a divine moment planned for you this Christmas?

Easy to lose the gift in the wrappings.

1.       God does many extraordinary things within the ordinary.
2.      Since every day is a day the Lord has made, we can expect there will be moments within those days in which He does something special.
3.      Being preoccupied is the easiest way to miss what God is doing.

4.      If we choose to live in anticipation, we will be in a better position to recognize the Lord when He visits us.

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