In the story of Mary’s encounter with God, an angel greeted her with the words… “you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28-33)
At this moment, Mary’s world shook as she heard Heaven’s perspective over her life and caught a glimpse of her true identity as favored, blessed, and chosen – a beloved child.
This was the Father’s heart for Mary, and it is His heart for you. He comes to deposit a promise, but His priority is to reveal how He sees you. How often do we forget that our position in His love is established before anything is accomplished?
Today, allow this part of the Christmas story to remind you that you cannot earn what is already given and let the season draw you back into living first from love and obedience second. When we get these two out of order, we can waste our obedience by using it to earn His affection and favor, rather than living from them.
When our hearts are soft to the Father, we can receive His love and favor without discomfort or attempting to justify His affection. On the other hand, the result of resisting His unconditional love is a life that is frequently worn and weary because we are grasping at worth.
A significant shift took place at Christ’s birth, a realignment of humanity under this declaration at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God, and peace on earth! From this day forward there will be no doubt that His favor rests upon all of you!” (Luke 2:14 – my paraphrase). We were brought up into peace, which in the form of a word picture, mends the conduit of love that flows from the throne, connecting it again to us so that we can live in the experiential reality of being His beloved!
On Sunday during Advent, episode 2, we talked about how being at peace with God thru Christ and living loved softens our heart and life. It pulls us out of the struggle of this year, a year that has possibly hardened us or so filled us with tension that we are completely immobilized. Maybe you’ve experienced it in your heart, mind, or even your body this year? Unexpected grief and sorrow? Racing thoughts, or a clouded brain that feels fatigued? “Random” aches and soreness, back or neck pain, stomach issues? These things are the result of a life in tension – out of harmony with the love and peace our Father wants for us – pushing us into “psychosclerosis,” which is “the hardening of the attitude, which causes a person to cease dreaming, seeing, and leading. It is the hardening of the mind to become unteachable: we stop thinking, learning, and growing. It is the hardening of the heart, which takes away our ability to feel, love and believe.”
That’s no way to live! Today, invite God to speak over hard places in your attitude that have caused you to stop leading or dreaming; over your mind that has stopped thinking, learning, or growing; over your heart where you have stopped feeling or believing. Accept His favor, grace, and love. Let it wash and soften the hard places, and push out the tension. Relax your clenched fists, let your anxiety leave your body, lungs fill, and lay back. RECEIVE HIS LOVE. Feel life flowing through you again!
In response to this, journal the places He’s softening. You can also shoot an email back to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reach out to a trusted friend as you watch the tense, jaded places that have seized up soften in His love.
May Christmas arrive to find your heart, mind, attitude, spirit, and body living in harmony with His love, at peace with God, at peace within, at peace with the world around you!
“Peace to you, on whom His favor rests!”