Summary: A message to remind us 1) what God has done for us 2) what He has promised us, and 3) where He is taking us. We must make the decision whether or not to take God into the New Year with us.
So, all the presents have been unwrapped and even some of the gifts have been exchanged. The leftover turkey is all but gone and we have had to let our belts out a notch or two. All seems well and we are happy as can be – or are we?
Many people find themselves depressed during the weeks following Christmas. We call it the “After-Christmas Let Down”. For some, it is a brief pause; a time to catch our breaths and meditate. But for others, it is a lingering feeling of being overwhelmed by life itself.
I sometimes wonder if Mary and Joseph didn’t feel some of that, too. What would it have been like for them? Jesus had been born, the shepherds had already come and gone, the angel had gone back to Heaven, and the Magi had gone back to where they came from. And now they were left to raise a not-so-normal young boy in a normal world.
We sometimes forget that they were people just like us. They had to live the day-to-day life like we do. Joseph had to go out and earn a living and Mary had to do the same things that other mothers and wives did. They had to deal with the daily routine - just as we still must do today.
Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed by it all and tend to get down. We succumb to the discouragement of the enemy. He does that so it will take our focus off the Lord.
We should understand what the word ‘discourage’ means. The Greek word for ’discourage’ is ‘hâtat’. The Greek definition of that word is – "To beat down – to make fearful – to frighten – to shatter – to destroy."
Yet, I see in Mary, one of the keys to coping with this problem. The scripture says she “treasured all these things quietly in her heart”. I think that as she got back into the swing of life, she kept all those feelings fresh in her mind. I don’t think she put the experiences on the back shelf, as we tend to do.
Have you ever heard a tune that just keeps repeating over and over again in your mind? No matter what you do, it is in your thoughts all day long. I think Mary did that with the promises Gabriel gave her when he told her how she would conceive the Messiah.
I raised my kids myself, and as a single father, I would sometimes get overwhelmed with the everyday sameness of things. I would get up; get the kids ready for the sitter; then drop them off on my way to work; and then like clockwork, I would pick them up on my way home from work. I would spend a little time with them as soon as we got home and try my best to make it quality time.
Then, I would head towards the kitchen to cook dinner, clean the kitchen, straighten things up; and then get them ready for bed. After all of this, I would manage to sit down and rest for a while then go to bed myself. Tomorrow would start the same process all over again.
I think I can relate a little to how Mary may have felt. Whenever the daily routine got overwhelming, I would sit back and picture in my mind how my kids would be when they reached adulthood. I tried to imagine what they would accomplish in their lives and what kind of personalities they would have. I looked ahead to the promise of their fulfillment. I think Mary did the same with the baby Jesus.
We need to do the same with our lives. Every one of us has had a storm in the past year or so, and some of us are having one right now. We need to sit back and imagine what our lives will be like after the storm. Will we just go through this storm reacting, or by acting? Will we just go through clinging to the norm, or will we start putting a real faith to work?
Will we actively seek God’s face in this storm, or will we put our blinders on and just tread forward like we have in all of our other storms? In short, will we rely on God or will we rely on ourselves?
As we descend from the high we felt at Christmas, we need to remember the promises of our Lord. This morning, I want to offer you some words straight out of God’s love letter to us that can help you adjust back into the real world of monotony.
Our main text is LUKE 1:68-79. [READ ENTIRE PASSAGE]
There are three things I think we can take from this passage and hang onto.