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Dec 2021 – Encountering Jesus

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Make this month’s recipe – Butternut Squash & Beef Stew


 

So many of us experience some form of belief amnesia during our lives. That happens after we’ve walked through an experience or circumstance that has tested our faith in God and shown Him to be real. We’ve celebrated God’s supernatural intervention and allowed the spiritual victory to become a mountain-peak moment in our faith journey. Yet inevitably time goes by, and life becomes controllable. We begin to skillfully manipulate our circumstances in order to construct imaginary cocoons of comfort and self-sufficiency. Those moments of utter dependence on God that we vowed to remember begin to fade.

 

What is your attitude toward God when circumstances out of your control seem to conspire against you? When is it easiest for you to forget the words of God through the prophet Jeremiah: “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NET)?

 

The Mother of Jesus certainly faced circumstances outside of her control. She nearly lost her husband, who hoped to preserve her life by divorcing her quietly (Matthew 1:19) and she also endured the hardships of pregnancy, along with the added murmurings about her character from within her community. It is not hard to imagine how easy it would’ve been for Mary to retreat from the long stares and the marketplace gossip by building a wall of self-protection. Instead of praising God in the difficulty of her situation, how natural it would have been to harbor annoyance at God for not giving her an easier path.

 

When it came time for Mary to give birth to her son, she delivered Jesus in a humble cave. She rested as he lay in a nearby manger. And in Luke 2:19, the author gives us a unique look into Mary, where we find a key to combating belief amnesia – Mary “treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean” (NET).

 

In the simple English translation of “treasured,” we miss meaning that is expanded in the original Greek. Luke uses a word meaning, “to store information in one’s mind for careful consideration, hold or treasure up (in one’s memory).” Mary took it all in—the experiences and testimonies surrounding her son’s birth—and stored them away in her memory, not to collect dust on the shelf of her mind but for future contemplation of their significance. She would not let this moment slip by.

 

Mary not only engaged her mind, but she was “pondering in her heart” all that she was seeing and hearing concerning the miraculous events surrounding her special little boy. Luke uses a word for “pondering” that means “to give careful thought to.” In other words, she was determined to put it all together in her heart. She would not be a passive recipient to all that was happening as she encountered the Christ child. She embraced it with her heart and engaged it with her mind, and kept it close by so she could continually dwell on the significance of it all.

 

Excerpt taken from Emmanuel: Sixteen Encounters with Jesus


 

Listen to this short video to go along with the Advent teaching: