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I hope your Christmas season is filled with hope, joy and so much love! For many of us this time of year brings up beautiful memories but it also intensifies our feelings of loss. The loss of a dear loved one, a divorce, estranged family members, even the loss of a pet that has shared holidays with us for years can completely alter Christmas as we have experienced it in the past. The emotions of grief and mourning can come upon us quickly and are hard to understand. They can leave us feeling misunderstood, alone and possibly abandoned by family, friends and even God. The life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, should encourage you that God does not abandon you in the hard, difficult seasons. I pray you will see that your Heavenly Father is there with you through it all and that He has a plan, a spectacular plan for the “hard” things that come into your life. Look carefully, God may open your eyes to see that you are highly favored and blessed.

The Beginning of Mary's Christmas Story - Rejoice Highly Favored One

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her,

"Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

Luke 1:26-32

Mary was given great honor by the Lord but not by man. Her blessing did not include a life of ease, wealth or fame. Her calling was to live a life characterized by shame, ridicule, poverty, suffering and great intimacy with God Himself. The shame and ridicule came from man not from within herself. People who thought they were better than her judged her and considered her a fornicator and her son Jesus as an illegitimate child born out of wedlock. These accusations followed her throughout her life. This is not exactly a life that we would expect if we were “highly favored” or called, “blessed among women.” In fact it seems the exact opposite. Some might even think it was a life where God was against her, not for her, certainly not blessing her.

Mary was just a teen when the angel Gabriel came to her. What was it about her that caused her to be called “highly favored” and “blessed among women?” She was just a young girl in the obscure town of Nazareth. A town with a reputation of one of the lowliest places on earth, nothing good could come out of it (John 1:46.) Yet, God saw her and chose her out of all the women in the world to be the mother of God. What was it about Mary that made her stand out in God's eyes?

We learn a lot about Mary in her response to Gabriel and in The Song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55

To Gabriel: Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38

Mary was a willing servant of the Lord. Totally submissive to His will and rule over her life. She had a heart of obedience and accepted the authority of His word over her.

In Mary's Song we see into her heart.(Luke 1:46-55)

She magnified the LORD

She Rejoiced in God her Savior

She was humble

She was His servant

She was grateful

She worshipped Him and set His Name apart as Holy

She acknowledged His Mercy

She reflected on His strength and mighty works

She declared His power, justice and righteousness

She proclaimed His compassionate and faithful character.

She believed and trusted His Promises.

She knew God and He knew her!

2 Chronicles 16 tells us: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him . . .” Mary had a loyal heart, a heart after His. He showed Himself strong on her behalf and chose her to be blessed and honored above all women. She was a human just like us. She had her fears and doubts. But she believed and trusted in her God. She worried about her child and even had panicked moments' when she couldn't find him. She was trying to control at times and even tried to interrupt Him when He was speaking to the multitude. She grieved at his suffering and mourned at His death. She rejoiced at His resurrection and was praying with the disciples while waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit to come and fill them. Her life was painful and spectacular. Blessed, Honored yet full of suffering and disappointment. As Simeon said, "(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:35 Mary's heart & soul would experience a continual piercing throughout her life but not in vain or without an eternal purpose that generations of hearts would be revealed and would come to know her Son as their Savior and Lord. Yes, truly a woman highly favored and blessed above all others!

So dear one, woman or man, if you think your life falls short of your expectations. If life has been hard, full of suffering and painful events. Do not think that God is against you but know that He is for you. He will not waste your suffering and will never leave you alone. You are accepted in the beloved and if Christ is your Savior you are His precious child. Look for the blessings in the hard. Look for His favor and blessings in the intimate relationship you have with Him. Meditate on what made Mary favored and blessed. Look at her heart and ask yourself where are you in your relationship with Jesus? Is your heart fully surrendered to His will and His Word above all else? This is the only way to have a truly honored and blessed life my friend.

All for Jesus & His glory,

Merry Christmas!



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