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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Angel on our barn loft door
The backlit angel on our barn loft door.

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"Gabriel's Last Words"
"The angel answered and said to him, 'I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news'" (Luke 1:19). "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth" (Luke 1:26).  "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
In our many years of ministry together we have had some interesting and sometimes humorous experiences. Christmas recitations and children's plays often have some humorous unscripted glitches that actually make the presentation that much more memorable. We suppose many of you can recall some. Some of our recollections we can publish, others we better leave alone! We'll share such an instance in a church we served about twenty years ago.

Children in Christmas play During the course of the children's recitations Brooksyne held a microphone for four year old Amber as she was prompting her with the lines that she was to have recited by memory.  Amber just stood there, looking into the microphone,  without saying a word.  Finally she took the mic from Brooksyne's hand and informed the entire congregation  loud and clear, "I gotta go pee" as she quickly bolted down the center aisle toward the bathroom!  Rehearsed recitations are one thing; saying that which comes naturally might bring about quite another story!
Most children's plays at this time will usually include a couple of children dressed as angels since angels have a vital role in the Christmas story. They're abundant in both Christmas account narratives in Matthew and Luke. But only two angels are identified by name in the Scriptures; Gabriel and Michael. Both are customarily identified as archangels, but only Michael specifically has this title (Jude 9).  (Of course the fallen angel also has a name, one all too familiar.)
Gabriel visits Zechariah In Luke's gospel only Gabriel gets the choice assignment to make two visits to earth during this time.  These visits are six months apart and recorded in Luke 1.  The first one was to aged Zechariah; the second one to young Mary.  Both received a message regarding the birth of a son.  Both were miraculous in nature.

Of course the remarkably unique message to Mary concerned the special work of God in her life in the supernatural conception of Jesus.  "The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 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; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.'"

Gabriel visits Mary Aware that such an announcement was not in keeping with the "facts of life" she inquired, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

Gabriel's final words recorded in Scripture were not a technical answer to Mary's question but rather an assurance of God's almighty power. It was specifically directed to Mary, but speaks to all of us as well. This is the testimony of an angel who had been working as a top associate at God's side through the endless ages.  He should know. His final words in response to Mary's question
were, "For nothing is impossible with God."

The immutable God has not changed.  The testimony of Gabriel stands true today.  It's true for you and me.
"For nothing is impossible with God."

These words not only spoke to Mary when she received news that just didn't make sense concerning her special role in the greatest birth, but it also speaks to perplexing situations in our lives when God is at work, but we don't have full understanding.  Certainly Mary didn't have the full picture during the angelic visit. We have the wonderful advantage of reading the Scriptures that tell the entire story, from Christ's birth to His death and resurrection.  Her story was just beginning.

Mary received these words in faith as she responded, "I am the Lord's servant, be it unto me according to your word" (v.38).  Her words expressed the servanthood attitude and submission that is foundational to our Christian walk. What an exemplary attitude for us to observe and to espouse!

This is the way God works in all of our lives as our stories are presently being written. What a joy it is to be a child of God; to trust Him to the major and minor details of our lives. His plan unfolds in our lives, one day at a time, and we do well not to try to get ahead of His revealed plan for our lives, lest we lean on our own understanding rather than His. May we all have this response to God,
"I am the Lord's servant, be it unto me according to your word."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, we read of Your supernatural workings throughout the Bible and we've witnessed it over the years as we've seen miracles of Your healing and saving power in the lives of others.  We've also experienced it personally as You've saved us from our sins and set us on an eternal journey of giving praise and thanksgiving to You for all Your wondrous works.  When we lose sight of Your miraculous deeds in the daily grind of life and in the circumstances that baffle or discourage us help us to remember that You are a God of the impossible, nothing is too complex or broken that You cannot fix. You delight in us as we put our hope in Your unfailing love and miraculous power. We give thanks to You through Jesus in whose name we pray.  Amen.

Here's another humorous Christmas recollection, this time involving Ester: Over 15 years ago
when we pastored in New England we had a musical drama called “Little Christmas Lamb” about a poor orphan girl with ragged attire and worn-out shoes.  In fact the shoes were so worn that the soles flopped up and down each time the girl walked across the stage.  This caused the congregation to laugh every time she walked. Ester was 4 years old at the time and was so upset at what she perceived to be people making fun of the girl with her worn-out shoes. She spontaneously ran up to the platform, turned around to the congregation and then shook her finger at them, much like a mother would to her badly behaved children. She scolded them for laughing at this poor girl. Seeing how shaken Ester was by the poverty stricken orphan Brooksyne took her to the shoe store the next day and bought Cleusa (the young actress) a new pair of shoes.  Ester wrapped them and gave them to her for Christmas. It served as a wonderful lesson for her to see the proper Christian response to a person in need (even though it was a bit "staged").

Personal note! Whenever you pastor (or serve in any way such as a leader/teacher) you remain interested (or you sure should be!) in how people do after you no longer have opportunity to impact their life. We are grateful that through our Daily Encouragement ministry we can stay in touch with many from our past ministry whether pastoral or chaplaincy. Yesterday we received a short email response note from Jackie, a young lady from our church in New England, who is now in her late twenties (I reckon).  She told me she is "Staying Faithful", which is indeed heartening. Those who know me will recall that for many years I have urged faithfulness to the Lord with the two word phrase, "Stay faithful".  In fact Brooksyne says she may have it put on my tombstone!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Be It Unto Me"  Video  This is one of Brooksyne's favorite songs from the musical she is directing this season.  This appears to be a local church presentation.

"Mary's Song"  Video  Sara Groves

"Mary Did You Know?"  Video  Mark Lowry

"Angels We Have Heard On High"  Video  Third Day

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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