We all come to Christmas with different expectations. I heard a story about a little boy who wrote a 12-page letter to Santa requesting toys, video games, and bicycles. When his parents saw this list, they were reasonably upset by the length of the list. His dad was really mad and picked up his son and put him in front of a nativity set and said, “Son, I want you to look at this nativity and stay here until you remember the real meaning of Christmas and then you write Jesus a letter.” The little boy sat there a little while and decided to get this over with. He began to write a letter that said, “Dear Jesus, I will be good for a full year if you give me what I want.” He didn’t think that would work so he tore that up and started another that said, “Dear Jesus, if you give me everything I want, I will be good for half of a year.” He decided that would not work either, so he had an idea. He took Mary, the mother of Jesus from the nativity set and put her in a shoe box and then hid her in his closet. He then set down to write another letter that said, “Dear Jesus, if you ever want to see your mother again…”
We all come into the Christmas season with different expectations which can easily complicate things. While Christmas should be a time of joy and celebration, it’s often a source of stress. Between decorating, shopping, cooking, party-planning, party-attending, kid’s programs, family visits and a million other things, the Christmas season can blow through our lives like a hurricane that leaves us exhausted.
What if the Lord’s desire for us this season is to be more rejuvenated and filled with joy at the end of this season than we started? I believe the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, illustrates three keys to embracing an abundant Christmas season.
- Mary Conceived.Luke 1:29–31 says, “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” As a 13-15-year-old young lady, Mary’s heart was postured in faith to receive (or conceive) the promise of God. Luke 1:34–38 continues, “And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Mary submitted her life to God which prepared her heart to embrace the abundance He had in store for her and all of humanity. She made herself available to the Lord and responded to his word in faith. This is the heart condition of everyone that will receive God’s fullness this Christmas season. Mary didn’t respond like Zechariah when he was told of the coming promise of his son being born to his 88-year old wife, Elizabeth. He said, “How shall I know this? For I am old and my wife is advanced in years” (Luke 1:18). For Mary, it’s not so much a matter of how can I know—it’s more “I know this is true because I trust my source, but I’m dumbfounded as to how it will happen.”
Zechariah responded to the word with unbelief. Unbelief is dangerous because we don’t expect God to do wonderful powerful things on our behalf that man cannot do. Mary refused to limit God in her life. She knew that there is nothing too hard for God. She knew:
- There is no promise to hard for God to keep. Sometimes we need to wait for the promise to come. A promise from God are promises that He keeps. God cannot lie. Has God given you a promise or word? Believe and stand on that word.
- There is no prayer too hard for Him to answer. As the old hymn says, “You are coming to a King, large petitions with you bring, for our God is of such that none can ask too much.” Pray bold prayers to our large God. Jeremiah 33:3 states,“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God.
- There is no person too hard for a person to save.No matter how hard and broken a person is. This is why we keep going after those in our community. There is no person beyond the gospel or so lost that God can’t find them.
- There is no problem that is too hard for God to solve. There is no problem in your life to hard or complicated for our God. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
- Mary Carried. In the Christmas season, we often remember the virgin birth but don’t spend much time acknowledging the pregnancy of Mary. Mary carried the Christ child in her body through many adverse conditions. After the visitation from the angel Gabriel, Mary quickly went to Zechariah and Elizabeth, her cousin. On her arrival, “Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” 46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:41–47).
What if we were conscious, like Mary, that we were carrying the Christ child with us this season? A pregnant woman is always conscious they are carrying another person in them. How would our Christmas season change if we recognized that we carry the Spirit of God within us? I am sure Mary was surrounded by skeptics, critics, and harsh responses. She knew that to be a carrier of the abundance of God that she would need to get around other victory and promise carriers like Elizabeth. Mary’s story was not believable. She was probably around a lot of negative people, so she knew she needed to get around other faith-filled believers. If you want to be a carrier of the presence of God this Christmas season, bypass the negative and get around others with the same heart.
Another key to Mary’s ability to carry the promises of all mankind was her heart of worship to the Lord. We read that Mary magnified the Lord. To magnify is like a magnifying glass which makes something larger. Every situation in life we have a choice to make circumstances larger or God larger in our lives. Every time something goes wrong or we think about it, we make that situation larger. Mary made the Lord bigger than her circumstances by magnifying Him. When we think about the Lord and make Him larger, we walk in freedom. Resolve this Christmas season to magnify the Lord and watch his supremacy overshadow every circumstance.
- Mary Birthed. The Christmas season is about the birth of the greatest miracle for all mankind. Luke 2:6–7 says, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” After Mary made a long trip when 9-months pregnant, she gave birth to the King of the universe in a cave and placed Him in a feeding trough. It makes me wonder if Mary knew this is how the fulfillment was going to come. What if the Lord comes in a way this Christmas season that you were not expecting?
As you pray large bold prayers this Christmas season, remember to be expecting the unexpected. It is easy to pray for something with a very narrow expectation of how and when the Lord will answer those prayers. May we stand in agreement with Mary that the Lord wants to implant the life of God within us this Christmas season. That we would carry the presence of God wherever we go expecting Him to birth new life as we stand in faith. May the Lord fill you with the expectation that nothing is impossible with God!