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.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mary's Story Pt. 2

I read an article this week on information trends. In medical school, they tell you half of what you are about to learn won’t be relevant when you graduate — they just don’t know which half. A procedure will be replaced, new medications will be discovered, causes and treatment of diseases will be reevaluated and changed. Diseases not in the books today will be the new threat for health tomorrow.

We’ve seen it in a drug claiming to be safe a few years ago and now is listed as a bad drug subject to lawsuits. Substances that are dangerous now will become acceptable in the future and things we trust now will be untrustworthy before long.

A few years back eating eggs was harmful, today eggs are good for you. Sugar substitutes were considered safe, now they are a hazard. Cigarettes were harmless and asbestos was a safe product. Once Brussel sprouts were bad…and they’re still bad.

In every field of knowledge, most of what is true today will one day be updated by better information.

This is what the author called “the half-life of facts.”  The premise that for every category of knowledge, the facts that knowledge was built on will slowly be overturned, changed, and replaced. In medicine, the rate of that overturning is high enough that you never really complete your education. For a doctor, Medical school is an on-going process.

In physics, about half of all research findings will be discredited within 13 years. In psychology, information changes about every seven.

Some of that change is due to revision. The field of History is being tampered with continuously as people want to sanitize the ugly out of what went on, or rewrite events to twist the truth to fit a political or social agenda. Simply throwing in a lie or two or leaving out key information to unsuspecting students can change the whole impact of an event.

Kids are used to beliefs being taken away from them. One of our families told me of the discussion about the reality of Santa Clause with their grandson. They went ahead and used that moment to clear up other myths—tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, Great Pumpkin. The grandson thought about it and asked: what about God? Is God a myth, too?

With so much information changing, will there be a day that our belief in God will be replaced by some History Channel exposé that in a manuscript found in a mayonnaise jar in a cave in Western Kentucky says: I don’t exist, signed God. Will that be the silver bullet Atheists are looking for?

So in a culture where change is the rule and nothing lasts forever, where truth is flexible and can be spun, twisted or stretched as needed, how can we believe what the Bible says is true?

  1. Inability to disprove it. Men who have tried ended up surrendering their lives to what it says: C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel
  2. Continuity of the story. It is one story of Redemption from start to finish. Over 40 different writers, written over a period of 1500 years, one message.
  3. Historical accuracy of its details. Archeology has reinforced the Bible not disproven it.
  4. The compelling affect upon those who believe it. Seeking lives have always been transformed.
  5. It is based on eyewitness’s accounts. Strongest testimony is a first person story.

Ultimately, we believe the Bible is true because we believe in God. Scripture says God breathed the very words into existence. We believe that God, who cannot lie, presented us truth through men He chose to write His words. Luke being one of those men.

But what makes Luke’s version of the story of Jesus’ life correct? Well, even if you take out the effect of inspiration and just made it a deposition of facts, what Luke wrote came from the people who experienced the stories. They were told to him by the people who were there. Luke also wrote the Books of Acts where he made 46 historical references. Every reference has proven accurate. He seems quite trustworthy as a historian.

He started his gospel with: Luke 1:3  it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; Luke 1:4  so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Exact truth is different from relative truth. What we think about what he wrote is immaterial. Whether we believe what he wrote doesn’t matter. Truth remains true. His accounts are true because he extracted from those who were there what they saw, heard and felt relative to Jesus’ life. That intersection of their lives with Jesus was their testimony of what happened. The lasting effect of Jesus in their lives was indisputable.

I’d like to take you back to that interview Luke had with Mary. Remember, he never met Jesus and didn’t know all the backstory. All he knew was what he had been told. In this moment, he’s trying to fill in the gaps of his understanding by asking Mary to share her story.

Okay, so Mary, I believe I’ve got the things about Elizabeth and John, let’s shift over to the story of Jesus’ birth.

Well, we were planning for the birth in Nazareth but then a Roman soldier came to town and announced the census from Caesar Augustus. It meant Joseph would have to go to Bethlehem right when the baby would be born.

Now, which census was this? I know there was one in celebration of Caesar’s victory over Marc Antony…

No, this was the first one, about 12 years before that one. Quirinius was governor then.
But I didn’t think Quirinius was governor until later than that.

Actually, he was governor twice, during the first census before Herod died and then reaagain during the second census.

From what I know, most censuses take place at your home city? Why did Joseph have to go to Bethlehem? You guys were from Nazareth. Shouldn’t he have been registered there?

This wasn’t like most censuses. This one had something to do with a man’s ancestral roots. It was like a reverse migration back home to be counted. Since Joseph’s family traces back through David, he had to go to Bethlehem.

But the Romans didn’t count women in their censuses. Why did you go?

Well, you remember, when I got back from Elizabeth’s, I was already three months pregnant? Well, we were married right away. But being pregnant that soon would make people think we had been together before we got married, so we kept it a secret. Flowing dresses helped and I stayed home a lot.

You know I never realized you would have had a full-term baby in only six month. I can only imagine the shaming by your family and friends and even the people in town. So, you were actually married when Jesus was born?

Yes, but since we never consummated our vows before the birth, I guess we were technically still betrothed. And, of course, I was still a virgin.

And fear of the shaming made you go with him to Bethlehem?

That, and I didn’t want to be alone having the baby with Joseph so far away, so I went with him. And we planned to stay away for a while.

Oh, I get it. That’s why you stayed in Bethlehem after the census was over.

No one questioned us when we came back to Nazareth with a child like they would have if we came back with a baby.

That makes sense.
We thought so.

Ok, so, back to the birth.

Well, it was time for the baby to be born so I found some cloth strips to wrap around him then used a manger for a cradle.

Why cloth strips and not a blanket?

We didn’t have a blanket and the cloth strips were already there in the corner.

And why a manger?

We had to stay in a stable.

Okay, why in a stable?

Because there were so many people in town for the census there were no rooms available at the inn.
So you weren’t all alone?

No, there were others around. In fact, some shepherds came in from the fields.

Wait, Bethlehem…that was where they tended the sacrificial sheep for the Temple?

Yes. They told us a fantastic story of angels and lights. They said our baby was the Savior. They said the angels spoke to them and said: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men.”

They spoke? I would have thought angels would have sung.

The shepherds were very nervous, but they clearly said the angels spoke.


Yes, I even had to tell them not to be afraid. They said that was the same thing the angels told them. Apparently all of this had been pretty unnerving: Angels, lights and now the Savior.

Did they stay long?

No, they were only there for a few minutes. They said a blessing over our baby then went back to their fields. But they left praising God.

So what impressed you most about the shepherds coming?

That everything was exactly like the Angel said. They told them they would find our baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger and that would be the sign from God that Jesus was the right One—Christ the Lord.

Amazing. So strangers coming in, telling you how special your baby was. How did that make you feel?

Emotionally overloaded. Flooded by such precious thoughts. All I could do was try to take in as much as I could and let it settle in my heart.

What kinds of things were you thinking about?

Oh, all kinds. What’s going to happen, how is everything the angel told me going to work out, who this baby will become and how that will affect me.

Mary…did you know? Did you have any idea what this baby would become?

How could I? I was a young girl who had just become a mother. My life was now His life. My future was right then, in that moment. Tomorrow was a million miles away. All I knew was…I loved Him more than I ever loved anything in my life. (pause) And I still do.


Luke 2:1  Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

1.       When God is at work He leaves no dangling loose ends.
2.      He accomplishes everything that concerns us.
3.      Even in completing the big picture He takes care of the smallest details.
4.      Nothing is considered insignificant to Him.
5.      You and your concerns matter greatly to Him.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mary's Story 1

Memory is fickle. The elephant is supposed to have the best. My memory works just opposite of an elephant’s. Once I forget something it’s forgotten forever. 

Some things intensify memory like when a sense is attached to a place or person or event. Smells can trigger memories for me. I’ve walked by a group of pine trees and their combined scent is so strong I’m suddenly in the gully in the woods where I grew up. I can smell Stetson cologne and flash back to a Deacon friend from a church years ago as though he’s in the room with me. I’ve walked into a flower shop and been transported to a funeral service. Sounds can trigger memories. I’ve heard an old style siren and found myself in the back of an ambulance being jostled along on a trip to the hospital after a car wreck when I was in High School. I hear a Neil Diamond song and I’m singing along with a bunch of guys in a dorm room in college.

Another intensifier is emotion. When an emotion is connected to an event, we have a stronger memory. Not only do we know details, we also feel how we felt. We remember with the emotion attached. Ask a war veteran about their experiences and you’ll get more than a historical narration. He’ll go back there. Losing a loved one. We can give a play by play of all that was going on when they died but not in sterile facts, we are there again, feeling with the same emotions. Or in the birth of a child. I can take you back into the birth story of our firstborn and describe the moment I was overwhelmed with tears and begged the doctor to put him back in. Why do we remember so much? It’s the power of emotion—fear, terror, inadequacy, hope, future, love. They add depth to a story.
Emotions help us remember details we might otherwise dismiss as unimportant.

Most women remember much better than men do. Primarily because men aren’t as in touch with their emotions as women. Men remember in general. Women in specific.

In a man’s mind are dozens of little boxes. There’s a box for each subject he might be concerned about. A box for the car, the house, work, the kids, the pets, recreation, sports, vacation, church, health, finances, the wife.

Every subject has a box. If you want to talk about one of those subjects, he’ll go to that box, open it up and talk about what’s in the box. Ladies, if you change the subject, he will close that box, go back and get another box relative to the new subject, open it and talk about what’s in that box. If you go back and throw something in from the first subject, you’ll get the deer in the headlights look as he closes the current box and reopens the other one.

A man has limited RAM – random access memory – the ability for our computers to multitask. Even with all those boxes he is limited to the information he has available at the time to discuss a subject.

Men, your son calls and the grandbaby is born. You take the call and he tells you you are a grandfather. You tell him congratulations and how excited you are for them and hang up. Your wife asks, what was it? A baby. Boy or girl? I don’t know. How big was it? Small, probably. How much did it weigh? He didn’t say. How long was it? I didn’t ask. What did they name it? Smith.

Why? Men aren’t into the details? Those weren’t the main things of the story. The main thing was our son and his wife had a baby and we are grandparents. Women are into the details. So, your wife will by-pass you and your son, call your daughter-in-law and get the details she wants to know.

In a woman’s mind are wires going everywhere. Instead of boxes she has a circuit board with all the wires connecting to everything on that circuit board. Why? Because for a woman everything connects. Every story intertwines. Talking about dinner connects with your mother which connects with how she raised you which connects with why you can’t iron your own shirts. You compliment her new dress and she can’t accept the compliment because it connects with her new size which connects with her weight which connects with Thanksgiving which connects to your mom who brought the pumpkin pie and she had that extra slice.

But let her tell a story and she’ll give great details. A man, not so much.

Now when Luke wanted to write the story of Jesus, not having direct information from personal observation, he interviewed people who did have that information.

Luke 1:1  Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, Luke 1:2  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, Luke 1:3  it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; Luke 1:4  so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Who would know more about the birth of Jesus than Mary? You want specifics ask the mother. Matthew told the story from Joseph’s side. He wrote 7 verses about the birth and 23 about the Magi and the trip to Egypt. Luke wrote 132 verses, never mentioning the Magi or Egypt.

Why was the Magi’s story important to Joseph and not to Mary? Magi were men of renown from a strange land who traveled a long way to see this child that they declared a king. These men did something fantastic, so to make that journey to Bethlehem spoke volumes to Joseph. That would impress a man. But even still, Joseph’s story was just reporting an event as though he was describing stuff in the box that said Nativity. His story was factual but impersonal.

Mary told about family and faith and shepherds who made this birth a fulfillment of God’s love for His people.  That would impress a woman. Her story was relational.

A man’s life-strength comes from what he does. A woman’s life-strength comes from who she is. In a man’s mind what he does defines who he is. For a woman, who she is, expresses itself in what she does. The worst thing you can do for a man is take away his ability to do. What he does gives him his identity. The worst thing you can do for a woman is to take away her concept of who she is. Who she is is why she does what she does.

That’s why the empty nest is harder on a woman than a man. Her life is all about relationships. But retirement is harder on a man than a woman. His life is all about doing.

When you read Joseph’s story you understand he was focused on telling the story from what he was to do—take Mary as wife and protect her virginity and name the baby Jesus.

Matt 1:18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. Matt 1:19  And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. [What must I do to fix this?] Matt 1:20  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Matt 1:21  "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Matt 1:22  Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: Matt 1:23  "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." Matt 1:24  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, Matt 1:25  but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Mary was focused on telling who she would be—the mother of the Messiah. And who He would be—the King of the Kingdom of God. She told about this birth as it affected her.

Even though this interview with Luke was after Jesus had died, it was fresh to Mary. It was seasoned with emotions that maintained the flavor of every word. Garnished with details that created the warmth we expect in the story of a baby’s birth.

But why did Mary start her story with her Cousin Elizabeth’s story about the birth of John the Baptizer?

It gave credibility to her unbelievable story of virgin birth. Elizabeth’s was a miraculous birth in her old age. Who else would understand the visit by an angel and being left with a promise of a special child? Elizabeth could give Mary confirmation that this was God at work. Mary probably didn’t even know she was pregnant until Elizabeth told her. Elizabeth was Mary’s sonogram.

Elizabeth was married to a Levite Priest. Not that women married to preachers are any more spiritual than others, but she was probably the one Mary respected most. If you have a divine moment with God, you generally want to run that by someone you believe has spiritual wisdom.

Mary went to see Elizabeth and spent 3 months there, until John was born. Came home three months pregnant. When did she conceive? Most likely the very moment she agreed.

Luk 1:26  Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, Luk 1:27  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Luk 1:30  The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. Luk 1:31  "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. Luk 1:32  "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; Luk 1:33  and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Luk 1:34  Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" [I need more details.] Luk 1:35  The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Luk 1:36  "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. Luk 1:37  "For nothing will be impossible with God." Luk 1:38  And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." [Not: what do I have to do?] And the angel departed from her. Luk 1:39  Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, Luk 1:40  and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. Luk 1:41  When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luk 1:42  And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Luk 1:43  "And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? Luk 1:44  "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

There’s her confirmation. The promise was a reality. God was writing a fantastic story of salvation and deliverance, presenting the Messiah to the world, and Mary’s life-story gets woven in. God brought Mary into the greater story of Jesus. He does that for us. In a divine moment our life intersects with the truth of who Jesus is and we embrace it. We are now part of that greater story. His story becomes our story.

1.       Hidden within Mary’s story is one of the most significant statements in Scripture – Nothing will be impossible with God.
2.      When God is writing the story, everything fits in its proper place, the timing is perfect and the result is good.
3.      Wherever He is in the story of your life, anything is possible because your story isn’t finished yet.
4.      Faith is the ability to trust God to work out all the details in order to bring about a good conclusion.

5.      So don’t judge your story by how it began, wait and see how it ends.