I went to the St. Louis Family Church Ladies’ Meeting on 12-05-06. Pastor Patsy Perry spoke about avoiding stress over the holidays, and she helped us evaluate the Christmas story with a fresh perspective.
Here’s a few gems from my notes:
Patsy encouraged everyone not to let the holidays stress us out.
Keep Christmas new. God is always new.
A fresh look at the Christmas story:
After the angel of the Lord told Mary that she would be having a baby (without sex…and without being married), Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” (Luke 1:38, NCV)
Patsy reminded us that with the simple statement, Mary was making a big statement of trust. She knew she would face ridicule. Mary could have been stoned, disowned, shunned, left alone.
It was like she was saying, “I’m going to do whatever God says; I don’t care if it is unconventional. Whatever the consequence, I will do what you want me to do.”
Mary went immediately to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth moved in a word of knowledge with Mary.
(Luke 1:41-45) Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (NASB)
The Christmas story is a story of faith and a profile of faith.
When you pray, God hears you.
Mary responds by praising the Lord in faith, not thinking of negative things. (Luke 46-55)
This was like Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah in 2 Chronicles 20. He was told that three different armies had teamed up to come take over Jerusalem. He responded by praying to God, saying “…we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chron. 20:12)
King Jehoshaphat trusted in God. The next day, the people of Judah rose early in the morning to meet their attackers. The King sent the singers out before the army to worship and praise the Lord.
This looks crazy in the natural.
And yet…When the people began praising the Lord, the Lord caused their enemies to begin fighting among themselves. The enemies killed each other; all the Israelites had to do is praise the Lord. (2 Chron. 20:22)
There’s power in praise.
Thank Jesus for the answer (as if it had already happened). It doesn’t mean that it is easy, you still need to fast and pray. And sometimes it takes time.
Remember: The battle is not yours but the Lord’s. (2 Chron. 20:15)
Praise = I believe you, Lord.
Other good stuff:
There is a good life with God.
Don’t use liberty as a cloak for flesh.
Get honest. Quit pretending.
Admit what you’re afraid of to God.
Then tell the Lord, But when I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Sometimes you just have to worship in faith.
Shake it all off.
Do some new things in the Lord.
The Devil is a liar. Resist negative thoughts.
Think on these things:
(Phil. 4:8) “Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” (New Century Version) (If you are like me, and you like to look at scriptures in at least three versions at time, more versions are available at the Online Parallel Bible.
Walk in a manner worthy of the call, tolerance for one another in love. (Eph. 4:1)
When you walk in the spirit, it is easy to love people.
Check yourself: Am I walking in love? Do I have unconfessed sin in my life? Am I doing a good job? Is there anything not pleasing to the Lord? Is there anything I am lacking faith for?
Don’t you just love God in spite of it all?
Worship Him based on who he is.