“As for you, Solomon, my son, keep near to your father’s God. Be happy to serve him faithfully in every way. The Lord knows what you are thinking. He understands all your thoughts. If you turn to him, you will find him. But if you turn away from him, he will leave you alone for ever. You must realize that the Lord has chosen you to build a temple to be his special home. Now you must be strong! Do this work.’” – 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 EASY
1. You have to be strong when you don’t feel strong. Your strength will come as you act upon what you’re supposed to do.
2. You have to do what only you can do and rely on God to do the rest.
3. You must realize that your strength doesn’t come from how you feel, it comes from who God is. It’s not about what’s surrounding you, it’s about Who’s surrounding you. It’s not a matter of feelings, it’s a matter of faith. It’s not a matter of quitting, it’s a matter of digging deep.
Mary Did You Know is a popular Christmas song written by Mark Lowrey (music by Buddy Green). This song has been sung by numerous artists in a wide range of genres. It has been made popular by anyone and everyone who sings it. The song simply asks the question, “Mary did you know?” Maybe in her heart she did, but in the natural and in reality, and retrospect- she probably didn’t. Hindsight and foresight are wonderful attributes; however, they are not usually readily available in “real time”… at least not in most cases. Most of us, like Mary don’t actually know until after the fact. We may have a prophetic promise or a discerning sense, but sometimes even those things that we have a sense for don’t always come to pass. And the things that we go through and experience in the “process” of receiving what was promised, doesn’t always make sense either. The “process” is the most difficult part of any endeavor or experience, especially in regard to obtaining a promise! God said it, His word promised it and you are believing for it, but then the “process” begins. No manifestation, no signs, no proof- just a process of living out what seems to be the insignificant mundane routines of life. Even when it seems like nothing is happening, God is always at work- even behind the scenes.
Most theologians believe that there was a 400-year period of silence from God. This period of silence would represent the period of time between the Old and New Testaments. Nothing happening, but people believing what the prophets had declared and living by faith for the fruition of that promise. Isaiah records it this way: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Fast forward 400 years and you have record of an Angel of The Lord showing up to a young virgin girl named Mary. Yeah, “Mary, did you know?”
Luke 1:26-38 gives an account of the encounter this way: “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”
Did you catch the words from those last two verses? I underlined them and put the last statement in bold font. The first phrase is: “No word from God will ever fail.” That was spoken by the Angel of the Lord who had come to earth from heaven (Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven). The second statement was spoken by Mary: “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary confessed in faith and declared, “May Your Kingdom come and may Your will be done- in the earth through this earthen vessel.” Then the Angel of the Lord left her. There she was- all alone with the promise of God and now she would begin to walk through the “process” that would eventually lead to the promise that had boldly been proclaimed by the Angel of the Lord. Now, before I go on, I want you to know that I know that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. However, when you are believing for something without seeing a tangible result, it sometimes feels as if God is a million miles away. Right? Nonetheless, this verse says that the Angel of the Lord spoke the promised Word and left her. Mary was now alone with this overwhelming sense of how? And now what?
So, my question is not, “Mary did you know?” My question is, “Mary what did you learn through the process?” The “process” is difficult and demanding. The “process” is confined and confusing. The “process” is also sometimes painful and peculiar. Nonetheless, what keeps us going through the “process” is the possibilities of the prophesied promise. “I heard Bishop TD Jakes say recently in an interview that we talk more about the promise than we do the process, but nonetheless, he believes that God is in the process even more so than the promise.” The “process” is what we despise, but it is also what develops us. And, without the process we would never obtain knowledge, wisdom or experience. We must go through the process to grow, learn and to obtain all that God has for us. Mary went through the process: (1) She received the word of the Lord from the Angel of the Lord. (2) She told Joseph and had to deal with being misunderstood. (3) She undoubtedly went through the process of people not believing her and drawing conclusions and forming assumptions. (4) She experienced the encounter of visiting with Elizabeth. (5) She experienced the journey on a donkey to Bethlehem. (6) She experienced no room in the inn and having to spend the night in an animal stall where she would ultimately give birth. (7) She experienced the birth pains and travail of having a child.
The Bible says that Mary pondered all things in her heart. The word “pondered” means to think deeply about. Now let’s look at this verse in context in Luke 2:1-20: 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the entire inhabited earth should be taxed. 2 This taxation was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone went to his own city to be taxed. 4 So Joseph also departed from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to the City of David which is called Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be taxed with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So while they were there, the day came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in strips of cloth, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And in the same area there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And then an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very afraid. 10 But the angel said to them, “Listen! Do not fear. For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly there was with the angel a company of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men.” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came hurrying and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. 17 When they had seen Him, they made widely known the word which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Many theologians have various opinions on verse nineteen of Luke chapter 2. However, in the sequence of context, Luke tells the entire story of the birth of Christ and in verse nineteen simply says that Mary thought about all of these deeply and kept them to herself. Mary did you know? And most importantly, Mary what did you learn? What did Mary learn in the “process” of birthing and obtaining the promise of God and how does it relate to us as we journey through our own “process” that we find ourselves in while believing for the promised promises:
Mary learned that you have to begin by believing.
Mary learned that the longest journey begins with the first step.
Mary learned that surrender and obedience is what produces the extraordinary.
Mary learned that it’s not about what others may think or say that matters.
Mary learned that when you take the Lord at His word it may not turn out like you thought it would.
Mary learned that the Word of God is always confirmed, and it is always true.
Mary learned that God uses people, problems and pain to produce His plan.
Mary learned that God’s plan is perfect.
Mary learned that you can trust the “process” and that the timing of God is always perfect.
There is nothing like the frustration of failure, or the guilt of yesterday’s wrong. However, I want you to know that there is also never a wrong time, to do the right thing. And, I want you to know that you will never go wrong doing the right thing. It takes effort, awareness and intentionality to do the right thing. It’s easier to do what’s easy, but it’s not better. Nonetheless, with desire, effort and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, you can do it! You can do what’s right and you can do what’s better. You will never have regret or be disappointed when you do things God’s way. The Bible is a guide on how to do things God’s way. It’s a roadmap on how to do what’s best and to do what’s right. The Bible is not a book of no’s and limitations— it’s a book of defined boundaries. It’s written for your benefit. Anytime that I’ve done things my way, or that I have foolishly done what felt right or good in the moment, I’ve always had regret and remorse. But anytime that I have done things God’s way or that I’ve done things the right way— I’ve never had remorse or regret. Remember: “You’ll never go wrong doing the right thing!”
When You Do the Right Thing:
1. You feel good.
2. You don’t have as many regrets.
3. You have a sense of fulfillment and contentment.
4. You feel better about yourself.
5. You have a clean conscience.
6. You have less stress and rest better.
7. You have a peace.
8. You usually add value to the person or the situation.
9. You model integrity and maintain your character.
10. You elevate your self-esteem.
When You Do the Wrong Thing:
1. You feel bad.
2. You have regrets.
3. You’re not as fulfilled or content.
4. You don’t feel good about yourself.
5. You experience guilt and shame.
6. You have more stress and our restless.
7. You experience turmoil.
8. You don’t add value to anyone or anything.
9. You don’t model integrity and you don’t maintain your character.
The children of Israel had to be delivered from Egypt (place of bondage). But, they had to ultimately die in the desert (place of letting go of the past), before they could ever dominate in the promised land (place of taking new ground).
There’s always a sequence when it comes to destiny. The children of Israel left Egypt, but they wandered in the desert before they possessed the divine plan of the promised land. I believe that the desert of dying to self is the most significant place on your way to a destiny or in obtaining the promised things of God.
Luke 1:26-44: In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month.For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.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.
Mary had to trust the Angel.
Joseph had to trust the Angel.
Joseph had to trust Mary.
Mary had to trust herself.
Their friends and family had to trust them both.
Mary had to trust Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had to trust the impression from the Holy Spirit.
Zacharias and Elizabeth had to trust the angel of the Lord and *the timing of God.
Mary and Joseph had *to trust God and His timing. (the census which led them to Bethlehem the city of David / the flight to Egypt which led to Nazareth)
*An inconvenient interruption could be the intersection for increase… trust!
*Sometimes everything goes wrong for the right reasons… trust!
*When things feel like they are falling apart, they could be falling into place… trust!
Areas Where We Need to Trust:
Trust God is who He says He is.
Trust God loves you for who you are.
Trust God for Salvation through Jesus.
Trust God with your future that may be uncertain, difficult, or unknown.
Trust God that He is a God who is with you.
Trust God when you’re faced with an inconvenience.
Trust God when things don’t make sense.
Trust God when others don’t understand.
Trust God when He shows up unexpectedly and surprises you.