Summary: Using the word "How" the sermon explores Mary as an example of handling difficult circumstances.

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Luke 1: 26 – 38 / How Far?

Intro: There was once a wonderful, elderly, Christian lady who lived next door to a grumpy old man who was constantly trying to convince her there was no God. One day through an open window the old man heard the woman praying. She said, “Lord, you always given me what I need. I have no money and am completely out of groceries. Somehow, Lord, could you get me some food?” / The old man hurried to the store, purchased some food, put it outside the woman’s door, rang the bell and hid in the bushes. When the woman saw the food she began to praise God. The man jumped from the bushes saying, “God didn’t give you those groceries; it was me.” --- The woman calmly picked them up and said, “Oh no, God bot me these groceries and made the devil pay for them.” (Contributed to Sermon Central by Larry Butcher).

I. Have you ever faced a difficult time and turned to God asking, “How far are you going to push me, God?”

A. You difficult time could be the loss of a job, death of a family member, a problem relationship, disease in your family, a problem at work. Some of these times are emotional, some spiritual and some financial. The challenge is finding the courage to face them.

B. VS. 29 – “But she (Mary) was perplexed, (confused, disturbed, troubled.)” She would face difficult time, rejection, ridicule. And what would Joseph think?

C. Once owned a poster with a cat holding on to a knot tied in the end of a rope. The caption under the picture read, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

II. Have you ever been asked to do something and you ask the person, “How am I going to do that?” Has the Lord ever lead you to do something and you asked, “HOW?!”

A. “You have been chosen to . . .” and you ask yourself, “why me?” Pick somebody else.

B. May never questions the wisdom of God’s decision. She doesn’t ask, “why?” She only asks, “how” --- Vs. 34 – “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” How, not why?

C. It was not a question of doubt --- it was a question of mechanics. It just wasn’t natural! --- But God doesn’t always do things NATURALLY.

III. So, my question for you this Christmas season is this, “How far?”

A. "How Far Is It To Bethlehem?" is a traditional English Christmas carol. The lyrics were written by Frances Chesterton and the music composed by Stowey. This song is also known as, "The children’s song of the nativity".

“How far is it to Bethlehem? Not very far. Shall we find the stable room lit by a star? Can we see the little child? Is he within? If we lift the wooden latch may we go in? May we stroke the creatures there ox, ass, or sheep? May we peep like them and see Jesus asleep? If we touch his tiny hand will he awake? Will he know we’ve come so far just for his sake? Great kings have precious gifts and we have naught. Little smiles and little tears are all we brought. For all weary children Mary must weep. Here, on his bed of straw sleep, children, sleep. God in his mother’s arms babes in the byre.

Sleep, as they sleep who find their heart’s desire.”

B. The story of the birth of Jesus is one that stretches our imagination and challenges our belief in all that we know as normal and natural. When we are confronted by what seems impossible circumstances, the words to Mary take on new meaning for us.

C. Gabriel said, “The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid . . . for you have found favor with God . . . For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Conclu: How far is it for you to the Bethlehem experience? Will you drop all and run with haste? Will you respond with Mary, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

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