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Summary: Living outside of the box! Mary lives outside of the box - a. Humility/meekness b. Faith c. Agape Love

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Scripture: Luke 1:26-33; 39-56

Theme: Finding Favor with God

Title: Mary - Outside of the Box

INTRO:

Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This morning in your worship folder you will find a box with nine small dots in it. This is a little exercise or puzzle that you can take a few minutes and try to solve. The goal is to connect all the dots using only four straight lines without lifting your pen or pencil. Now, remember you can only use four lines and you must connect all the dots without lifting your pen or pencil.

When you first look at it you may think that it's not a big deal. Anyone can connect all these dots pretty easily. But then you start trying to do it and after a few minutes you might find yourself not only confused but a little uptight and stressed. What seemed at first to be rather simple has resulted in being a little more difficult that it first appears.

It really is easy once you know how to do it. But isn't that true of all things? After you know the answer then you can look back and say - "Oh, that really is easy." The interesting thing that this little puzzle is suppose to teach us is that in order to solve some problems you have to think outside of the box. The majority of people who attempt to solve this little puzzle try to do so by making sure that they stay inside the box and of course that is impossible to do. You cannot connect all of the dots using only four straight lines without going outside of the box.

When I first tried to figure out this puzzle that is what caused me to stumble. My friend had given me the puzzle and asked me to figure it out. After about 15 minutes and a lot of paper I finally asked for help. In a matter of seconds he showed me the answer. At first I objected. I told him that he had cheated. He went outside of the box. He then shared that in the instructions nothing is said about going outside of the box.

"You have to go outside of the box and see the big picture". "Don't be limited by the lines that someone drew around the dots." "Focus on finding the answer not looking at the limitations that you think might exist."

My friend was right. I was confined to the box. Box thinking had limited my ability to be able to solve the puzzle. I couldn't see the big picture and as a result I couldn't find the answer and was only getting stressed out.

Sometimes all we need to do is to see the bigger picture. All we need to see is that the picture not only includes the space within the box but the space that is included outside of the box as well. Sometimes our only problem is that we think too small. We limit our vision to narrowly and we assume that we have to work within a certain confined area when that is not true. We need to realize at times all we need to do is to cross some imaginary lines and then we can find the answers we need.

There are people that all their lives they put up little boxes and expect to find all their happiness inside those boxes. There are even some that try to draw a box around their current life and tell everyone that they are already happy. And then there are those people in our lives that do their best to get us to live inside a box of their creation. They tell us that if only we do things a certain way or look at life a certain way we are guaranteed to find happiness living inside their certain life box.

However, when we look at some of the greatest stories in the Bible we immediately discover people who not only refused to live inside of a box they threw the box away. We find people who by faith learned to draw outside of the lines and who lived outside of the box that other people had predesigned for them. This would include people like Noah, Abraham, Moses and Ruth along with very many more. Each of them lived a life of progressive holiness and a life that was definitely outside of the box.

+Noah lives way out of the box as he builds this great big boat on dry land all because God told him to do it. Even though he could not see the rain nor did he hear the rain for decades he choose to follow the God who lives outside of mankind's box.

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