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“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”- 2 Corinthians 8:9

When Christ came as a child it meant leaving all the comforts of heaven behind.

This side of heaven, we can’t begin to imagine all that Christ gave up to clothe himself in flesh.

He who was rich in every way imaginable, choose to become poor. He chose to have less, to be a nobody so that we could have the opportunity to have heaven… to have forever with Him.

Forever… with no tears, no sickness, no heartache, and no more broken lives.

And if I’m real honest, I’m convicted when I look at this example that Christ has set for me to follow.

How often am I willing to take less so that someone else can have more? How often am I willing to give up the seat, to give up the right, to forego that item so money could be spent helping someone instead? How often am I willing to lay my life down in love for someone else? To have less so that others can have more?

In this crazy narcissistic world that I live in, I need to stop and ponder how Jesus chose to come to me, and maybe you do, too.

He came in the stillness of the night. To a young couple with no prestige, no privilege, and no fancy color coordinating nursery. Of all the towns in the world He chose Bethlehem, and of all places to make his entrance he chose a stable, not a stage.

He came to do one thing… the will of His Father.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:38

And out of God’s great love for us, He sent Jesus. And out of Jesus’ love for God and us, He obeyed… to the point of dying a painful death on the cross.

We cannot miss this truth. Out of God’s great love, it was His will for Jesus to leave heaven, to live a humble life, and to die for our sins.

We live in a time when we are told that God’s will for our lives is to be happy, prosperous and successful.

And yet the Christmas story – Jesus’ story – couldn’t be further from that truth.

From those on the outside, Jesus’ birth was viewed as an unplanned pregnancy, and I’m sure Mary carried that stigma with her the rest of her life.

Yet, it was God’s will for Mary, a virgin, to miraculously give birth to Jesus. What God did through Mary’s life was amazing but don’t be mistaken. Her life was anything but easy even though she was in the center of God’s will.

Looking at Jesus’ life and Mary’s life, God’s will for their lives involved loss, heartache, and pain.

And maybe that’s where you are too this Christmas. Maybe you’ve been trying to obey God but the result has been pain and ridicule, and you’re beginning to wonder if this path you’re on is really God’s will for your life.

If so, you’re in good company.

For some of us, God’s will for our lives might mean leaving the comforts of our “heavens” for the sake of others. God’s will, at times, might mean brokenness and pain.

If that is you this Christmas and you find yourself in a “stable” of obedience instead of a “nursery” of blessing, remember how God changed the world through that stable.

He chose the stable over the nursery.

He chose the cross instead of heaven.

Regardless of who we are, God’s ultimate will for our lives is to draw closer to Him and as we do, reflect Him to the world.

“It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do—God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. The emphasis of holiness movements tends to be that God is producing specimens of holiness to put in His museum. If you accept this concept of personal holiness, your life’s determined purpose will not be for God , but for what you call the evidence of God in your life. How can we say, “It could never be God’s will for me to be sick”? If it was God’s will to bruise His own Son (Isaiah 53:10), why shouldn’t He bruise you? What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick…we are called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that our lives produce a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for ourselves. Thoughts about ourselves hinder our usefulness to God. God’s purpose is not to perfect us to make us a trophy in His showcase; He is getting us to the place where He can use us. Let Him do what He wants.”– Oswald Chambers

The Christmas story is one of incredible love, pain, and obedience. It’s a story of a real couple who lived imperfect lives, yet who gave it their all. A couple who bore the shame, the misunderstanding and the gossip, yet chose to walk in obedience regardless of what others thought.

The Christmas story is about real wise men who set out on a journey following a star, only to be led to a stable because many times God does His best work in the places we least expect.

The Christmas story is about God loving us so much that He left the comforts of heaven to save us, redeem us, and rescue us despite the cost.

May we not forget that Christmas is about more than getting. It is also a story of choosing to walk in obedience to God’s will and the amazing work He does through our lives when we respond like Mary…

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38

 

Love God Greatly!

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Week 2 Challenge: After reading today’s blog post, what is one area in your life you need to give over to God in obedience? Write it down on a piece of paper, then place it in a box and wrap it for Christmas. Make this your gift to God on Christmas morning. Whether you open it just between you and God or in front of your family, give God the gift of walking in obedience in this area of your life in 2017.

Week 2 Video:

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Week 2 Reading Plan:

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Week 2 Memory Verse:

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