Kingdom Citizens

by David Edgren

Sometimes, right is wrong.

When I first came to Australia, more than two decades ago, I discovered this the hard way.

22 years of age, I arrived in Australia to volunteer at Lilydale Adventist Academy (LAA) in Melbourne as the boys' assistant dean. When I walked out of the airport, following my boss Mr Joey to his car, I noticed something. The steering wheel was on the wrong side of the vehicle. I sat where the wheel was, yesterday, and watched in terror as my driver left the parking garage.

And as we drove, we used the wrong side of the road. It was terrifying! The road came at us in all kinds of weird ways. Intersections were particularly overwhelming. Cars emerged from places where they shouldn’t be and drove, turning in ways that befuddled my visual cortex. Then came my first roundabout. Luckily, it was huge and made sense. Nearly an hour later, we drove through a town named Mooroolbark and I experienced a triple roundabout. By the time we arrived at LAA I was a mess. I exited the car, vowing never to enter another vehicle until I left the country a year later.

Then, Mr Joey pointed to a small car – a green Sigma – and said, “That car’s been donated for you to use while you’re here!”

“You have got to be kidding!” I said.

“You said you have an international drivers licence.” Mr Joey said, “Right?”

I laughed. “It’s just a piece of paper. I’m sure the DMV in California had no idea what they were getting me into!”

After settling into my routine, early one Sunday morning I decided to give the Sigma a test drive. I got in on the wrong side and sat behind the wheel. I started the car and drove it gingerly around the roads at the school. I was amazed how quickly I got used to it.

So, I took her out on the main road. Ater driving for a few minutes, I noticed blinking red and blue lights in my mirrors. That I recognised! I pulled the car over and took out my California drivers licence, my passport and my international drivers permit.

The officer leaned down to Sigma level and said, “What do you think you’re doing?”

I handed him the three documents and said, proudly, “Driving, sir.”

“I followed you for quite some time.” he said, “You are lucky it’s early.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“There are no other cars on the road.” The officer continued, “What would you have done if someone came toward you?”

“Go around, I guess.”

Now looking at my licence, the officer asked a new question – one he hadn’t considered previously, “You do realise you were driving on the wrong side of the road, don’t you?”

I laughed. “Not really.”

“Yes, really!” The officer was getting upset, “Young man, are you fit to drive?”

“I was on the right side, not the wrong side!”

Taking his sunglasses off, the officer stared. “Is this a joke to you?”

“Officer, I am American. We drive on the right side of the road.” I paused, considering my words, “Look, if my nationality offends you, I’m sorry. I can’t just change who I am!”

“If you’re going to stay alive in Australia,” he said, “you’ll have to learn to follow the Australian road rules.”*

Sometimes, right is wrong.


Kingdom Living

As believers, we are Citizens of God’s Kingdom. We have been given Eternal principals and universal laws that God designed us to obey. But what are we to do with the laws of the land in which we live?

We have a King greater than any king on this earth. And God's Kingdom has a greater more perfect law than any nation on Earth. On our passports, it says Citizen of God’s Kingdom. But the most recent stamp inside says, “Earth, Kingdom of Man.”

So how are we to live in the “now and not yet” of waiting for Jesus to return? Are we meant to run to the hills and hide? Are we meant to embed ourselves into a sinful suburb and hide? Or are we meant to do something else?


Conforming to the World

In Romans 12:2 Paul says we should “not conform to the pattern of this world”** but then in next chapter, he says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1) and “pay taxes” (Romans 13:6). In fact, he says that “whoever rebels against the authority [local government] is rebelling against … God” (Romans 13:2).

So, as a day to day habit, we are to abide by the laws of the land. We comply with the leaders of the land because we respect God. But, what about not conforming to the world? Where’s the line? Is there one?

Paul continues in the next chapter with ever harder teachings about going along to get along. This time he writes about our faith. Seemingly in contradiction with Romans 12:1 where he encourages a thoughtful lifestyle, saying we are to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”, Paul says we should accept believers “without quarrelling over disputable matters” (Romans 14:1) and that we “must not judge” believers who think differently to us because “God has accepted them” (Romans 14:3).

So, as a moment by moment habit, we are to accept and include fellow Christians who worship differently, eat differently and act differently to us. What about the “true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1) of pure living?

How far are we supposed to conform to society? What if the law of the land requires you to pay taxes and then uses those taxes to run schools that teach things you don’t agree with? What if you are required to work or take an exam on Sabbath? What if your politicians are not kind? We’ve all drawn lines in the past. But, in Paul’s theology, where is the line in the sand between God’s Kingdom and the Kingdom of the world?

How accepting are we to be of other believers? What if they are driving on the wrong side of the road? What if their theology is so narrow it barely seems to allow even a pinpoint of God’s Love to shine through? What if they are so open they seem to have no boundaries at all?

On the last day before Christmas break, a Fijian-Indian dad of one the students stopped by my office. We have had many conversations in the past. After a few end-of-year pleasantries, I asked, “Do you have a faith background?”

He replied that yes, he and his family were Hindu.

“What holiday do you celebrate at the end of the year?”

“Christmas!” he laughed. “We do Easter, too!”

I joined in the laughter. “What about your Hindu tradition, is there a celebration for the year ending and a new year beginning?”

“We have the Festival of Lights, Diwali.” He said, “But, Hindu’s have many gods and happily participate in all faith celebrations!”

Is this what Paul is talking about? Just accept every celebration and join in?


Life & Death and Love

Paul concludes these seemingly warring thoughts by saying, “none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:7-9).

So, therein lies the difference. It’s life and death. The line in the sand is Love. What do you live for? Are you willing to die for it? Where do you place your greatest love? There is only one thing you can live for, die for and live for again. One.

In false religions, the worshippers worship dead gods. There is no life in them because they are made of wood and stone. And the god’s they represent are not gods at all but merely figments or ideas.  You could live for them. Many have. You could die for them. But why? Your life and death would be in vain.

Living in earthly kingdoms as we do, we follow dying leaders. It is, of course, possible for leaders to be followers of Jesus. But, their kingdoms are built on sand. It is a natural law on sinful Earth that death is coming. Every kingdom, just like it’s human leaders, is born and dies.

There is only one Kingdom worth living and dying for. God's Kingdom is the one thing for which you can live, die and live again. Life, death and resurrection. God’s Kingdom where love rules and life eternal awaits. We worship the living God and we live for His eternal Kingdom.

Christ died and returned to life – why? So he might be Lord of both the dead and living.
Are you caught in a dead religion? Jesus died to save you from death. Follow the living God!
Are you investing your life and wealth in a dying kingdom? Jesus died to save you from death. Follow Him into life everlasting!

Jesus is Lord of both the dead and the living. The only line He draws is love. He draws us toward Himself with Love. His life, death and resurrection provide the way out of all kinds of death. Jesus said He came so humanity “may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).


God’s Love

Imagine a pyramid that represents all of Creation. Where is God in the pyramid?

It is natural in human thinking to put God at the apex – the point at the top of the pyramid. But this is not how God thinks. Some theologians have talked about Jesus being the bringer of the “upside down kingdom” and for good reason.

Jesus revealed God’s nature. Jesus said, “The one who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). As the fullest expression of God to ever visit sinful humanity, Jesus showed through his birth, life and death that God is the bottom of the pyramid.  “God is Love” (1 John 4:16) and that Love is the foundation of Creation - God is the entire foundation of the Pyramid, the base on which all else rests. Love is humble. Love is foundational. It’s something you build on. Jesus came to Earth, lived and died as one of us – that’s how God began His upside-down Kingdom.

We are Citizens of that Kingdom. God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom built on Love.

What does the life of a Citizen of God’s Kingdom look while awaiting Jesus’ return?


God’s Community

Most of the Bible talks about how we are to live now. It’s full of illustrations, real-life examples and occasional value-statements. Built on God’s Love and His desire to be known through our love, some of the rules are downright backward to sinful human eyes.

“Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). No revenge. No hard feelings. Love others as much as you love yourself. This was written when God’s people were still very young. Over a thousand years before Jesus walked the earth.

When He did come, Jesus summed up the entire Bible – all the stories, examples and rules – with one statement. Known both inside and outside the church as the golden rule, Jesus said, “Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them” (Matthew 7:12).

In considering what impact God’s Citizens should be having, Paul said,“If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Romans 12:20).

What would it look like if an entire people of God, lived this way?


Feed Your Enemy

A story is told in 2 Kings 6 of the prophet Elisha ending a war with food.

The enemy king from the country of Aram would tell his generals to send raiding parties to Israelite land. When they arrived there were smouldering campfires but no people. Over and over this happened.

Frustrated, the king of Aram demanded his generals tell him which one of them was the traitor. Someone was clearly relaying his commands to the Israelites, thus protecting them. A general said, “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in your bedroom” (2 Kings 6:12).

The king sent a large army to capture Elisha. I wonder if he considered the likelihood of Elisha knowing this move as well and escaping. But, Elisha stayed put. And for good reason. He was about to teach everyone how God's Kingdom works.

The next morning, the servant of Elisha was terrified when he saw a huge army of solidiers, horses and chariots surrounding the city. Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). Then the prophet prayed that his servant be able to see the armies of God.

Surrounding the armies of Aram, the servant now saw a vast army of fire – fiery soldiers, horses and chariots – beyond them, covering the mountains. Elisha then prayed that the armies of Aram be blind to his identity. He walked out through the gates, found the captain of the armies of Aram, and led them to Samaria – the capital of Israel.

Once the army of Aram was completely surrounded and captured within the walls of Samaria, Elisha prayed again – this time that they might see the truth of their situation. They were surrounded. Defeated. It would have been the expectation of every man – in both armies – that a slaughter would follow.

Instead, Elisha told the King of Isreal to feed the armies of Aram and send them home. Which, begrudgingly, Israel's king did.

When the soldiers of Aram arrived home, alive but without the prophet Elisha, they explained the situation to their King. The story finishes by recording, “The Aramean raiders did not come into Israel’s land again” (2 Kings 6:23).

By feeding their enemies, Israel had enacted a law of the desert that is still followed in the Middle East today, “If you feed me, I will feed you. If you shelter me, I will shelter you.”

In one simple act of mercy - one meal - God’s Kingdom overcame an entire kingdom of this world. This is what it looks like when we do to others what we wish they would do to us. (see Matthew 7:12). We can bring peace to our relationships, our families and the world by feeding our enemies as well. It’s a peace strategy from the Kingdom of God, one we can practice today!


Kingdom Come

In the final book of the Bible, another prophet says the kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of God. When this happens, it will be global.

 The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

While we do not know when this wonderful event will take place, we can begin living by the values of God’s Kingdom now. The moment you realise your sins are forgiven by the gracious blood of Jesus, you received your Kingdom Passport. You’re a citizen of God’s eternal Kingdom – starting NOW!


Faith vs work

Do you follow God’s rules to guarantee you allowed entrance into God’s Kingdom?
       or
Do you follow God’s rules because you are guaranteed entrance into God’s Kingdom?

When faced with this question, nearly every Christian will agree that option two – the gift option – is the right one. But, many people feel threatened by the word “obedience” and some are plagued by guilt because they still think sinful thoughts.

How do you know which way you are living?

In a youth Bible study at Ringwood Adventist Church, they young people passionately debated the difference between a life of works and a life of grace. How do you know if you have grasped the grace of Jesus or if you are trying to earn your way to Heaven by obedience?

As we concluded, I asked them to consider one question: “When you’ve broken His holy law and offended His holy name; when you sin, do you run toward God or do you run away from God?”

Those who know Christ’s love run to Him for forgiveness. Those trusting their own strength, run away.

The God of grace, forgives. The person of grace, repents! When we sin, we run to Jesus, kneel at His feet and confess our sin. Why? Because, God is love; and forgiveness for sin is available only through His Son, Jesus Christ!


Conclusion

As citizens of God’s Kingdom, Jesus' followers embody God’s Eternal principal of Love. Love calls us to obey because obedience increases the Kingdom in us and through us. There is no king like King Jesus. While we wait for His return, He offers an eternal purpose for our lives – living in His love as beacons of hope to the dying world around us. His perfect nature fuels our lives. We live and love, giving glimpses of God’s Kingdom.

We are citizens of God’s Kingdom. But, we do not live there, yet. We live here. This land has rules. This world has laws. In Australia, we need to drive on the left side of the road!

Filled with God's love, as Kingdom citizens, we go where God wants us to go. We become, who He wants us to become. We live in hope of the world to come. Living in this world as Citizens of God’s Kingdom is nothing compared to what it will be like to live in God's fully realised Kingdom.

For now, we are residents here but citizens there. Some of us feel like exiles. Some like missionaries. All of us ache for the day Jesus returns in Glory and establishes His Kingdom once and for all. Until that day, we pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

-x-x-x-x-x-

This was Prepared for Ringwood Adventist Church combined Sabbath School, Dec 30 2017

* While learning to drive in Australia was difficult and on occasion, I did find myself on the wrong side of the road, I was not stopped by a police officer because of it. I was however, once pulled over and cited for ‘limb protruding from vehicle’ – another story for another time! 

** All texts quoted in this post are from the HCSB. 

God's Storytelling People

Story is the bedrock of the Bible.

It doesn’t matter where you start. Turn to the beginning and you’re faced with two stories of Creation. Turn to the end and you see a seven-headed dragon spewing a tsunami in the desert. Pick a random spot in the middle and you’ll find Nathan wielding the sword of story to smite King David’s soul with self-incriminating judgement, Daniel recounting mirrored dreams of a multi-storied statue to a stressed-out king, a cupbearer explaining to Pharaoh that he knows precisely where to find the man who can interpret dreams, Paul calling himself a fool as he recounts the long list of abuse received by himself for the Gospel, Peter saying silver and gold are out of his reach but the story he has is worth much more, or any number of stories told by Jesus causing one disciple to write, “He said nothing without telling a story.”

Why all the stories?

Let’s imagine, for a moment, the God of the universe loved a little blue-green orb and its sinful inhabitants so much He decided to send His Son there on a rescue mission. They plan the rescue mission in detail. When His Son sets foot, in the flesh, on terra firma the plan is perfect. His approach, His delivery, His every act intentionally communicates in ways these creatures understand perfectly. To be understood is His greatest wish.

God sent His Son telling stories. Sent to reveal the character of God, Jesus brought Love to the world and in so doing saved them from the sin which bound them. Story after story, Jesus laid out the nature of God, mankind, Sabbath, law, love, obedience and more. Ultimately – through His life, death and resurrection – Jesus bridged the chaos between creature and Creator – restoring us by restorying us.

Then, promising us greater power than He displayed, Jesus handed the story to you and I before heading back to His Father. We are only disciples when we are disciple-makers. And we are only disciple-makers when we tell the story. God’s story is told when we feed the poor, when we care for the sick, when we embrace the lonely. We tell the story of God’s Love when we act within His character – communicating to be understood. We are effective as preachers, teachers, parents and parishioners when we care enough to connect people, in ways they understand, to the God who loves them – first by meeting their needs, then by restorying their lives.

The Great Commission is the mission statement of God’s storytellers – His disciple-making manifesto. We grow the Kingdom of God when we restore and restory lives. Bringing people into the Kingdom, baptizing them into God’s story and teaching them to seek to be understood - we send these disciples out with a story worth hearing.

Kurios Christmas



Free eBook


2017 Christmas Sermon
by David Edgren
(all Bible texts are from the HCSB)

Scripture: Luke 2:1-20

Introduction

Have you ever had a road trip that couldn’t get any worse – and then it does? 

Mary’s last week of pregnancy was that road trip. 

“You want me to go where, Joseph? Bethlehem? I can barely walk!” 
“A donkey? Are you serious? Can’t you go alone? I’ll be fine here. Mum will help.”
“No? As your wife, I’m ‘required’ to go with you. ‘REQUIRED!?!’ You asked for it!”

You remember the stories you parents told about your childhood? There were those one or two punchlines that Dad liked to tell and so the whole story got told – over and over. Perhaps your life didn’t have the best start. Perhaps your story isn’t all roses. Jesus knows how you feel. His is one of those stories.

And so, the journey began. Then came the condescending looks from fellow travellers making their way to Bethlehem.
And the overheard comments: “You know they’ve only been married a couple of months.” 
“But, she’s ready to pop.” 
“Exxxxaccctttly…”

Imagine hearing THAT story repeated constantly through your childhood. “You know his Mum and Dad weren’t married…” In their day, that was a reputation killer. It still is in some places, today. Perhaps it’s a different story about your Mum or Dad that you heard over and over from people who didn’t realise – or didn’t care – how much it hurt you. Know this: you are not alone. Jesus would have seen his mother come through the door crying more times than he could count. Jesus would have heard his dad defend his mother’s honour a thousand times: “It’s not like that!” 
Jesus has one of those stories, too. 

Can you imagine, as Jesus grew up and began developing his amazing way with words. When accusers hit him with their hurtful words, he quieted them with his gentle reply: “Let me tell you about my Mum. Let me tell you why I love her, so much!”

Back on the Road to Bethlehem, Mary sits side-saddle on the donkey. “Are we there yet?”

“Yes, dear. Those are the gates of Bethlehem.”

“Joseph, I am not kidding when I tell you this child is on his way into the world! I have got to get off this donkey! Find a room! Find a midwife!”

Then the search begins. Everywhere is full. Finally, a barn is found. A bed of straw is made. A blanket is placed on the pile of straw. Joseph is shooo-ed out of the barn by an unnamed and unremembered midwife. Culturally, there had to be one. 

Joseph steps outside the barn and listens through the door. He waits. And waits. Finally, the baby’s cry comes, followed by: “It’s a boy!” 

“Of course, it’s a boy!” Joseph says as he rushes back to his wife’s side.

Tightly, Baby Jesus is wrapped in swaddling rags – a sure sign there was someone there who knew what they were doing. Following a quick bath and salt rub, Jewish babies were swaddled – using many strips of cloth newborn babies was bound snugly. 

Then, the swaddled baby Jesus was laid in a feeding trough. 

You can hear Mary, can’t you? “A feeding trough? Really? But, he’s a special child!”

“Of course, he is,” the midwife says as she lays Jesus on the hay. “Aren’t they all?” Gently she touches the sleeping Jesus’ cheek, “Aren’t they all!” She coos before leaving the tired couple. 

Mary looks at Joseph, “A feeding trough, Joseph? It’s like adding insult to injury.” 

“It’ll do, love.” Joseph says, wiping the sweat from Mary’s forehead. “Rest now.”


Bible Study

Luke 2:1-5   In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.  3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, 4 which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was •engaged to him and was pregnant. 

The fact that Mary travelled with Joseph indicates that they were now married, but the description of her as pledged to be married shows that they had not yet consummated the marriage.

Luke 2: 6-7   While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

The phrase “in a feeding trough” is repeated three times in this short story. There is no doubt Luke wants us to feel the incongruity of the Son of God laying in a manger – in a feeding trough. 
Is this the place for a “Savior”? 
Is this the place for a “Messiah”?
Is this the place for a “Lord”? 
The implied answer is ‘no’. 

And thus begins the life of Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us – born in a manger and then living a perfect life on Earth to prove the answer is, actually, yes. Yes, God always stoops when He enters. He always humbles Himself. His love compels Him to do so. And He would have it no other way. 

Luke 2:8   In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 

Shepherds. When I was in Maasai-land in Kenya last January, I noticed something about shepherds. They are not old men. They are children. Boys like David with his sling and stick scaring lions and bears. Shepherds are brave because they’re boys! Maasai boys are shepherding the livestock as soon as they can walk. So, when angels arrived and sang to Shepherds, there’s every chance the audience was filled with boys. 

It fits the character of God to tell children first. 

In the fields, as shepherds watch their sheep by night, it’s time for a bedtime story: “You know the story you’ve been told about the promised Messiah?” The Angel of the Lord says, “It’s true! He’s here! In Bethlehem. In a feeding trough!”

It fits the character of children to believe – to believe a four-thousand-year-old story has come true, tonight. 

Like the children I talk to every day at school, these shepherds were thrilled the Christmas story was true. They ran to find the present wrapped-up and laying in a manger. In a feeding trough. 

Thirty-some years later, Jesus would reflect on this moment when he said, “To enter the Kingdom of God, you must be like one of these little children.” It fits the character of children to find Jesus first. 

Luke 2:9-12   Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

LORD – in Greek, the word “Kurios” – is used in two ways. Secular masters and kings were called “Lord” and the Jews called their God “Lord” to avoid saying or writing His name. For the average listener, Luke is telling the story of a new king being born. A new ‘my Lord’ to curtsy and doff your hat toward. To the Jewish listener, this was subversive code for a God-King – a new king in the line of David. A king sent to set things right and set God’s people free from Roman oppression. Look how many times “Lord” is repeated, like a swelling theme in a musical. vs 9, vs 11, vs 15. 

In verse 11 Messiah the Lord – in Greek, “Christos Kurios” – is actually Messiah Lord. This is the only place in New Testament these two words are next to each other. Everywhere else the word “kai” (and) is between them. Messiah and Lord. But here, it’s a title. It’s the punchline for listening ears: “The Lord Messiah” is here, born – on the scene. Get ready for rescue!

Luke 2:13-14   Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
    Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favours!

Roman Peace was Ceasar Augustus’ promise to the people he ruled. “Pay your taxes, live peacefully and my soldiers will provide peace and security – Pax Romana – Peace, Roman style. The angels announced global peace – “peace on Earth.” Not Pax Romana but eternal peace for the entire Earth. God's promised Kingdom brought not Roman peace but universal peace. And this peace will pass all understanding. This peace – God’s peace from the highest heaven – will cover the Earth, blessing God’s beloved people, far and wide.

Luke 2:15-18   When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

The Shepherds. They came in faith and they left in joy. Their message was encouraging and left smiles on every face around the room. Their excitement was infectious. Everyone was amazed by their story of angels singing about this little baby boy – The Messiah Lord. Much like children today, they were passionate and unfazed by what anyone else thought. They just said it like it was. They told the truth, the whole truth and then bounced back out to the fields. I’m guessing they didn’t even ask anyone to watch the sheep while they were gone. “God told us to go find the child. He’s not going to let anything happen to our sheep while we’re gone, right?!”

Luke 2:19-20   But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.


Conclusion 

Mary treasured these things in her heart. … What things?

All the same things that were dogging her for the past nine months and coming to a massive peak in the past week. All the things that stressed Mary that morning she was now collecting like treasures. These weren’t the wisemen's treasures – those would come later. These were shepherds’ treasures. Childlike Faith. Boldness. Excitement. A story believed. A Saviour received. A Messiah recognised. The Lord Messiah, baby Jesus.

I can hear the shepherds. If you listen, you can too.
The angels told us, “Don’t be afraid” – God has a plan.
The angels told us, “Good News” – A Saviour is born. 
The angels told us, “Great Joy” – The Lord Messiah is here!
The angels told us, “Here’s a sign: You will find the Messiah King lying in a feeding trough! And there he is!”

Mary treasured these things in her heart and meditated on them. 

The Son of God being born looked very different than any worldly King being born. A human king Lords it over his people. A God King – Jesus the Saviour Messiah – is Lord with His people. The feeding trough wasn’t unfamiliar to Him. God always humbles Himself to meet us where we are. God sent His Son not to impress us but to embrace us – to become one with us. Jesus came to show God’s love not His power. God is Love. The feeding trough that so mystified Mary reminds each of us that when God shows up in our lives it will be in common everyday ways. Jesus’ family story is like my story and your story. 

Mary treasured these things in her heart and meditated on them. 

As she reflected on her pregnancy and all it’s troubles, Mary realised that God can bring glory out of chaos. When she looked back over the past week – the donkey ride, the barn birth, the feeding trough – Mary recognised God’s fingerprints. God’s love brings His people through life’s greatest troubles. 
As you and I review our lives, we too have the opportunity to see God’s fingerprints. As we reflect on stress that seemed impossible at the time, looking back we see signs and wonders. Signs of God’s presence. Signs that suffering leads to Glory. Even in a feeding trough.

Mary treasured these things in her heart and meditated on them. 

Now it’s your turn.

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...