Some Final Ponderings

by Carolyn Hope

The past two weeks, we’ve observed several different pieces in the story of our Savior’s birth. We’ve read about shepherds, prophets, and angels. We’ve seen individual characters such as Elizabeth and Mary. There are many parts to play in such a momentous birth, a birth that shook the world.

I’d like to leave you this week with a few thoughts:

  1. God took the lowliest and the least and used them in mighty ways. Shepherds were outcasts; angels were often unseen; the prophets were rejected. Mary was ordinary; Elizabeth was old. Every character had multiple reasons for disqualification, yet God never considered those. He chose them, and He chooses you too. When God calls you, nothing can disqualify you. You yourself are enough for the journey He is leading you on.
  2. One ordinary night became an encounter. At an unexpected time and an unexpected place, God showed up. What started as a normal day became a day that changed history. You never know what today could bring. Stay expectant and stay hopeful. Wake up each morning eager to see all that God will do. He is working and moving on your behalf. Today could be the day that everything changes.
  3. God’s plan for your life is greater and more risky than you could ever imagine. Mary and Joseph’s calling to be the parents of the Christ was incredibly dangerous; yet they were never unsafe as they followed the Lord. There will be great risk in your story, and there will even be danger. Do not let those facts deter you or frighten you, for your God is with you through every moment. He will protect you and fight for you through it all.

I hope you have had a very Merry Christmas!

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Supporting Actress: Elizabeth

by Carolyn Hope

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called 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 barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:41-45)

Gabriel gave Mary a verifiable truth: Elizabeth was six months pregnant. This was a way to test his word. Mary could go and see for herself that her old cousin who could never get pregnant in her prime was now with child in her old age. If God can take a dead womb and make it live again, can He not also create a child without a man? If He can do the impossible with Elizabeth, can He not also do the impossible with Mary? I love that the proof was found in her own family. She didn’t have to go far and find some stranger to see if it was true. It was her very own relative whom she loved and was familiar with. She could go and find solace and comfort, as well as protection and faith, with her dear Elizabeth.

When Mary came to Zechariah’s house, she was greeted by Elizabeth, but the words that came from her mouth were from the Lord, not herself. What God spoke through Elizabeth directly confirmed everything that Mary had already been told. God watched over Mary and cared well for her heart. He comforted her and encouraged her through her cousin.

No doubt it took much courage, character, and grit to return home as an unmarried pregnant woman. That’s why it was good and important for Mary to stay with Elizabeth for the first three months of her pregnancy. She needed someone who would believe in her and in what God was doing in her. She needed a friend who would encourage her, build her up in faith, and prepare her heart to be courageous for what lay ahead. Elizabeth very clearly believed in Mary and spoke life to her, from the moment they greeted each other. I believe that being with Elizabeth for the first trimester of Mary’s pregnancy helped her face everyone else back home.

There are many ways that God confirms His Word and encourages us. One of the primary ways is through other people. There are people in your life that God has sent to strengthen and build up your faith and courage. Let these dear ones into your life; let them speak truth to your heart. Receive their love.

You also are such a person to someone. Ask the Lord to show you how best to encourage and build up those you love and those He has strategically placed in your life. You can be a deep well of comfort and hope to others.

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