Just Do the Next Thing

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there.

He went with Mary, his fiancé, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

Luke 2: 1-7 MSG
Listen to today’s message

God’s plan isn’t always going to look like a well thought out, perfectly orchestrated journey.  At least not from our point of view.

As we respond in faith and begin taking the steps as He directs them, it may seem messy, hard or even wrong.  Looking back, we can see how it WAS perfectly orchestrated and very well thought out.

But we never walk in faith with 20/20 hindsight vision.  The key is to not question His plan and just do it! Even when it doesn’t make sense. 

In addition, we are asked to do it with the right attitude.  God asks us to obey from the inside out.  Obedience with a grumbling heart is not pure, submitted obedience. 

Mary (and Joseph) obeyed without complaining.  As far as we can tell from scripture, Mary never complained or grumbled when she was faced with the following conditions of her journey:

  • Travel to Bethlehem in her final month of pregnancy. 
  • No hotel reservation held for her
  • Giving birth in a stable where she also slept and recovered after the labor (this means a bed of hay)
  • No family around.  No mid-wife. Just her and Joseph.

Despite the dreadful conditions of Christ’s birth, God’s will was carried out perfectly and God was perfectly glorified.  Not as we would have planned it but as He had planned it.  PERFECTLY. 

In addition, Mary followed God’s leading without question – with a faith that trusted the next step would be revealed at the right time.

  • Mary was told to travel to Bethlehem in her late pregnancy condition. 
    • She didn’t ask “and then what”… she just did it.
  • Mary was told she would have to stay in a barn. 
    • She didn’t ask “and then what”… she just did it.
  • Mary had only a manger to lay her child, the Son of God, into. 
    • She didn’t ask “and then what”… she just did it.

For His Glory

What is God is calling you to do?

  • Is your first response to question it or just do it?
  • Are you waiting for God to show you how every step will unfold before taking the first step?
  • Are you looking for perfectly laid out plans that make sense and have obvious ‘God glorifying’ results?
  • Are you ready to surrender and faithfully do the next obvious thing, without questioning the ‘plan’? 

And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You, For You, O Lord , have not abandoned those who seek You.

Psalm 9:10 AMP

Just do the next thing and see how God’s plan for you will bring Him more glory than you could ever imagine. 

Prayer Starter:

Lord God, as I consider how Your will was played out in the birth of Christ, I am humbled. 

How many times Lord, have I formulated great plans to bring You glory by doing this or that for You? 

How many times have I miss stepped because I questioned the reasonability of the obvious next step and adjusted it to something that made much more sense in my mind? 

Forgive me Lord for the times I have brought my worldly expectations to Your Godly plan.  Thank You Lord for never shutting the door and always giving me another opportunity to walk the path that brings me straight to You. 

Forgive me Lord when I have grumbled and complained along the way.  Thank You Lord, for those hard walks down Your path that have drawn me closer and closer to You. 

Lord, show me the next thing.  Give me eyes to see the next step.  Give me a heart that responds with obedience. 

Lord, I want to just do the next thing for You and watch the Glory of Your will play out in my life.  I do not ask for 20/20 hindsight vision Lord.  There is more joy and peace in trusting you blindly than in seeing the beginning from the end. 

Thank You Lord for the sacrifice of Your Son that allows me to walk in that peace and joy with You.  Amen.

Humble Submission

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1: 34-38
LISTEN TO TODAY’S MESSAGE

Mary has been told of God’s plan to use her to bring salvation to the world, and as any of us might do, she questions the viability of the plan.

“How can this be….it doesn’t make sense.?

Such a familiar question, isn’t it. How many times have we been nudge by God in ways that just don’t make sense to our limited and worldly minds. 

The answer given to Mary’s question is that ‘nothing is impossible with God’. 

Perhaps Mary was familiar with this Proverb…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding. 

In all your ways, acknowledge Him and

He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Whether she was or was not familiar with it, Mary’s response to the answer she was given reflected this kind of faith.  Instead of continuing with  more questions, doubting the practicality of this plan, she says:

“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Mary teaches us so much in this simple response to this impossible plan.  It really boils down to her submissive acknowledgement that she is God’s servant. 

In her time, Mary would be very familiar with the term ‘servant’.  It was part of that culture to have servants in homes.  She knew the word servant meant:

  • One who respects all of the wishes of her master
  • Does the work requested of the master without question
  • Works in all things to please the master, not herself

Mary’s response is a perfect example of a servant recognizing her true Master. As servant’s of God, we can look at Mary’s example and consider how we too might reflect that servant-like response in our daily life.

MARY’S EXAMPLE OF GLORIFYING GOD WITH A SERVANT RESPONSE

Mary had plans for marriage and a normal family life.  She let go of those plans to be replaced with God’s plan. 

Mary submitted to a plan that brought her shame as friends and family began to gossip about the circumstances of her pregnancy.  

Mary submitted to a plan that put her in a ‘barn’ giving birth in pauper like conditions.  

TO THINK ABOUT AND ASK FOR GOD TO SHOW US WHAT WE NEED TO SEE

What plans might I be holding on to that are not aligned with where God is calling me or asking me to do for His glory?

How often do I turn a deaf ear to what God is asking of me because a need to please people or live up to cultural standards?

Is there something God is asking me to do that I’m avoiding because it might be uncomfortable? 

For His Glory

Mary’s servant like submission to the will of God resulted in a world changing event.  

Whether God is calling us to serve in a world changing way or a life changing way, the question is – are we ready to respond with a servant like attitude? 

Prayer Starter:

Heavenly Father, my Lord, my Master. I kneel before you as Your humble servant. Reveal to me Your will.

My heart longs to please You Lord. Reveal to me the things I am holding on to that keep me from being able to fully surrender to Your will, for Your glory. Give me an ear to hear Your calling, Your leading words.

Thank You for the gift of prayer and fellowship through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, that I may draw near and hear You.