For the last 3 weeks, we’ve been wrestling with this question… Is there any WONDER in our Waiting?
How are you doing with finding the WONDER in the midst of your Christmas shopping?
In the midst of the waiting in line to check out?
Are you choosing to worry or worship?
Is there pride or praise?
Are you choosing character or convenience?
Waiting is tough for a lot of us. Our HOPE over this entire series has been that all of us will develop or strengthen a healthier posture while we wait… because…
HOW we wait shapes WHO we become.
This past weekend there were hundreds of kids waiting and wondering what their Christmas was going to look like. For the 4th year in a row, we had the opportunity to offer our Toy Store to area families that needed a little assistance this year. For lots of different reasons, these families didn’t know whether or not there was going to be much under the tree this year.
But because of your generosity, gifts, and volunteering, we were able to serve 148 kids and 64 families from our community. Sending them home with gifts, resources, and food. More so, we sent them home with HOPE.
And if that wasn’t enough, after our Toy Store here, a group of volunteers packed up the truck and went out to H.O.P.E.-full Pastures in Harrison and took the TOY STORE to them. They were able to serve an additional 26 Foster Families and 75 more kids.
So many kids and families in the midst of waiting. I’m certain there’s a little more HOPE and WONDER there now. Praise GOD!
Today, as we take a look at the Christmas story… specifically as we look to Jesus’ mother, Mary… we are asking the question…
In the midst of your waiting… Will you choose Faith or Fear?
So much has been written and said about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
She’s been called by many names throughout history:
The Blessed Mother
Holy Mary, Virgin Mary
Mary, Mother of God, The Madonna
Millions have prayed, and still pray to this day, specifically to Mary. If you know it say it with me…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Thousands of songs have been written about Mary, one of them, “Mary Did You Know” gets played on repeat on many Christian radio stations this time of year.
So, did Mary know that she was going to give birth to Jesus, the messiah?
Let’s take a look at the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verse 26…
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Can you imagine this moment?
Let’s make this really interesting…
Most scholars believe that at the time of the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel announced this news to Mary… they believe Mary was between the age of 12-15 yrs old.
Raise your hand if you have a daughter between the ages of 12-15.
Ok, those who raised your hands, how would react if your 12-15 year old daughter came to you and said, “Mom…Dad… I’m pregnant. But don’t freak out, the baby is gonna save the world. And the father is the Holy Spirit.”
How’s that conversation gonna go down in your house?
For some of you, that wasn’t a ‘what if’ scenario… you’ve lived that moment.
For some of you, that’s your worst fear, right?
That would probably be one of my greatest fears.
Aside from that scenario, what’s one of your greatest fears?
What are you afraid of? Shout 'em out…
I hate snakes, always have. My fear of snakes stems from something that happened when I was around 12 or 13.
My older brother worked at a wildlife center at our local park. And they had all these different types of animals and reptiles at this wildlife center. Well, one day there was this huge storm and the whole wildlife center was flooded so they were scrambling to get the animals to safety. My brother volunteered to take home whatever animals needed to have care overnight.
All of this is happening unbeknownst to me.
I get home from a friend's house late that night. And so I get home, and I wanted a coca-cola. I go to the fridge downstairs, where we keep the soda and I don’t turn on any lights because why would I, I know where I’m going…
I open up the fridge to grab a coke, and the light from the fridge cascades across the basement floor to reveal a sea of cages filled with snakes and reptiles… I dropped my coke, I screamed like a little girl, I’m confident that I wet myself…
I ran to my parents. They told me why our basement with crawling with snakes. I’m sure I said something self-centered and disrespectful, so their response was, "go to bed…"
Imagine trying to sleep that night knowing your basement is filled, literally wall to wall with snakes… mom, if I’m lying, tell 'em in the chat. There was NO sleeping that night. Just terror.
I hate snakes.
Now, what creature is our enemy, Satan, the evil one, most often referred to as? Right… a snake. Those of you who have snakes for pets… idk… come forward for prayer… we’ll do an old-fashioned altar call and deliver some demons.
In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, there’s this moment between God, Adam and Eve, and Satan. Sounds like the opening line to a bad joke, “God, Adam and Eve, and Satan walk into a bar…”
In this story in Genesis, Satan reveals himself to Eve in the form of a snake. And the snake causes Eve to sin.
I want us to look at God’s response… because this story actually points us to Mary.
Genesis 3:14-15, Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
For generations, there will be tension and hostility between Good and Evil. Between the children and offspring of Eve and our enemy the evil one.
But watch this… there is this really cool moment happening in verse 15 because it’s foreshadowing the birth and victory of Jesus.
There will be hostility between the enemy and the offspring of the woman…
This text is pointing us to thousands of years later… when there will be a new EVE… found in Mary. Who will give birth to Jesus Christ, a living HOPE, who will reign over all things. Who through his birth, death, and resurrection, will defeat all the powers of hell even death itself.
He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
The enemy will try to take Jesus out and try to tempt him by nipping at his heels but the offspring of Mary will rise up to crush the serpent's head.
Listen, and somebody needs to hear this… because you’re in a season right now of fearing the unknown and the enemy is using this time to discourage your heart and you’re on the verge of giving up or doing something dumb… listen to me…
We don’t need to live in fear of someone who has already been defeated.
We don’t fight for victory over whatever evil is in front of us. We fight FROM victory. The battle’s already won.
The enemy is a sore loser with a loud mouth. Like a little punk who runs their mouth after you beat them on the basketball court three different times…
(you know that kid…?)
Just because the enemy’s voice is loud doesn’t mean it’s true.
The enemy’s been defeated. If Jesus is your lord and leader… the battle’s already won.
Stop living your life otherwise. Stop walking around like you don’t have power. Stop walking around like you don’t have answers.
Are you going to live by faith or fear?
In 2 Timothy 1:7, the apostle Paul writes… For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a self-control.
Too often, too many of us are walking through life with a spirit of fear. And it is crippling you. Fear of rejection. Fear of the unknown. Fear of disappointment. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of finances. Fear of not having enough. Fear of having too much. Fear of missing out. Fear of snakes. Fear of clowns.
It’s time to FAITH our fears.
No, I don’t have a lisp. I said FAITH… not face. “That pastor said we gotta faith our fears…”
It’s time we start… FAITH(ING) our Fears
I’m not facing my fears, because to face my fears means I’m going to elevate them. My fears are beneath me.
To face it, means it’s on my level.
And I’m not going to give my fears the authority to meet me eye to eye. I’m going to keep it where it belongs… beneath me.
Because my fear is a byproduct of my enemy and my enemy is under my feet. C’mon somebody…
I’m not going to elevate something that comes from someone that our God has already crushed under His foot.
Your fear is UNDER you so don’t allow it to have control OVER you.
It’s time to faith your fears.
We don’t live with a spirit of fear but a spirit of POWER. Of LOVE.
Mary had fears. Right?!
Of course, she did. When the angel, Gabriel visited her, one of the first things out of the angel’s mouth was what…? Don’t be afraid.
Of course, Mary had fears.
She’s young, poor, and female… all characteristics that would have placed her at the absolute bottom rung of society.
An unmarried, middle eastern, pregnant teenage girl would be:
Rejected by her family and society, remain unmarried for life, was typically forced into begging or prostitution to survive, and would also run the risk of being stoned to death.
And the moment the words "became pregnant by the Holy Spirit" came out of her mouth, she would have been looked at as crazy or demon-possessed.
Which would have led to even further persecution, rejection, and risk of death.
This is Mary’s reality. Fears? You betcha.
But even though Mary had fears, questions, and concerns, she wasn’t consumed and crippled by fear.
In the face of fear, she chose faith.
Luke 1:38, Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
Our CHARACTER is revealed when we FAITH our FEARS.
To faith your fears means you may be rejected and seen as an outcast.
To faith your fears means you may lose your job only to find your purpose.
To faith your fears means you may find yourself a stranger in a distant land.
To faith your fears doesn’t mean you won’t have to go through the darkest nights or the deepest valleys, but it means that even in the deepest valley you will not be alone. You will be comforted, you will be protected.
God’s goodness and mercy will pursue you and tackle you to the ground and give you rest even when you won’t give it to yourself.
Faith(ing) your fears means that even in the face of your fears, frustrations, and failures… you will find strength and peace.
In John, chapter 16:33, Jesus says, “I’ve done all that I’ve done… I’ve taught you all these things…” … so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.
In this life, there are going to be mountains. There are going to be obstacles. There are going to be giants. There are going to be seasons of life that are going to knock the wind out of you. There are going to be things that are going try to terrify you and shrink you back in fear.
“But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Take heart. Be courageous. Have faith. Don’t be afraid.
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
What would it look like for you to choose faith over fear this week?
As you gather around for Christmas dinner with in-laws, with family members who believe differently than you.
In the midst of the last-minute shopping… in the midst of “do they really need another one of those”…
In the midst of financial stress. In the midst of worry.
How could we lean into the substance of things HOPED for?
What’s one area of your life, one fear, you need to put beneath you by taking a step of obedience like Mary?
In the middle of all the waiting…
I’m inviting you to not be afraid, but to find a supernatural strength and peace that only comes from a relationship with Jesus.
I’m inviting you to Faith your Fears.