Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26 (Luke 1:55)

…just as he promised our ancestors. (NIV)

It is typical at this time of year to think back over the past twelve months and to begin dreaming about the next twelve. We do this from a perspective of change rather than one from fulfillment. For most of us, we have things we did not get done, or would have preferred to do differently. These thoughts help us chart the course for what we want to change in the coming year.

In the final words of Mary’s response to the announcement that she would be the mother of the incarnated Son of God, she acknowledged a different perspective on time. She saw in the past the promises that God had made to her people, promises that were passed down through families, taught by rabbis, preserved in the sacred scriptures. So deep was she in the historical promises of God that she was able to see what was happening to her as fulfillment of those very promises, thus prompting her poetic praise.

Rather than think merely about the past or coming twelve months, consider the larger sweep of history, of which you are also a part. As you contemplate the promises of God and their fulfillment through Jesus Christ, both in the lives around you and in your own, your view of time will take on an entirely new and faithful perspective.

O Lord, my God, before Abraham was, You were. Draw me into an eternal perspective. May I see life as You see it, eternal, with purpose, and perfectly redeemed by Christ. In His holy name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19 (Luke 1:50)

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. (NIV)

We do not like this statement by Mary, uttered when Gabriel announced that she would be the mother of Christ. We want it to say that the mercy of God extends to all. In a world that despises all authority and wants to put everyone on equal footing in every situation at all times, we have placed ourselves on the level of God Himself. How can we show fearful respect to one who is our equal?

Yet God is clear. We are to have no other gods before Him, including ourselves. While His mercy is available to all, it is accessible only to those who will humble themselves at the foot of a babe in a manger. It is accessible only to those who recognize God as their Lord and King, who drop to their knees in adoration at the Presence of His Son.

This was true before Mary and it remains true today, from generation to generation. As we head into the week that ends with Christmas, let us remind old and young alike of the proper posture before God. The babe whose birth we celebrate is not to be cooed over in saccharine sentimentality. He is to be worshiped with fear and trembling, for as the hymn rightly says, Jesus was Lord at His birth.

Almighty and merciful God, prepare my heart this week as I prepare to celebrate the birth of Your only Son. May my posture of humble adoration bring glory to You, my Savior and King. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12 (Luke 1:48-49)

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. (NIV)

What on earth was Mary thinking? She thought she was blessed to have to carry around an increasingly difficult burden for nine months, only to deliver that burden in agonizing pain and then have to care for it, all while not knowing if her betrothed would believe such a cockamamie story about its paternity? If she had only known the kind of suffering her child was going to endure, so great that it could be compared with a sword piercing her own soul (see Luke 2:33), she surely would not have considered this a blessing, nor would she have praised the name of God.

Thus runs modern reason. Yet Mary knew that for however much suffering and work go into the life of a parent, a child is never a burden and can never be described as an it. She simply knew that God had picked her to play a role in His grand design, and for this she was grateful.

If we read her words closely, I think we can detect a bit of excitement, too. Do you remember what it was like to be young and capable of hearing the call of God as an adventure? As we grow older, we try to look too far down the road, to see every angle and consequence before deciding whether or not we will do what God asks. Mary was a young girl. She did not ask whether this or that would happen. She simply heard the magnificent call and accepted it with enthusiastic praise. It is no wonder that all generations have called her blessed!

Father, my life has become encrusted with attachments, burdens, and responsibilities that keep me from being free to follow You. Restore to me the childlike faith that would follow You anywhere. As I look toward the celebration of the birth of Jesus, may I be reborn with the enthusiastic faith I had when I first knew You. In the name of my beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5 (Luke 1:48)

…for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant… (NIV)

Mary truly understood what receiving the ultimate Christmas gift meant. After it had been revealed that she would be the mother of God in the flesh, she acknowledged that she had done nothing to deserve such a privilege.

We may become puffed up with our many accomplishments in the world, even with all the great things we do for God, but at the end of the day, we are merely servants. The truly great ones, of course, are those who do not think they are. Yet God remembers His servants in their humility. He knows each and every one of His children. He sees the one living in squalor and the one who inhabits the penthouse. He knows the labors of the custodian and the multi-million dollar deals of the executive. He is mindful of us all.

The incredible thing about Christmas is that not only is He mindful of us, He has deigned to give us the most extraordinary gift of all, His own Son. This is a gift greater than the humble could ever wish for, more wonderful than the great could ever hope to attain. Pause for a moment and realize with Mary that although you are truly nothing in and of yourself, yet God saw you from eternity and loved you enough to give you His son.

Glory to God in the highest! May Your name be praised forever in my heart and from my lips, Lord! May I never overlook the greatest of gifts, Jesus Christ, and the greatest of affections, that You would want to give this gift to me. Amen.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven R. Perkins