Dear Pastor Mike,
Here is my prayer to God for you and me this Christmas...
Lord Jesus Christ, true God from true God, You came to us, a baby born in a humble manger so the world you made would be saved! Thank you! A child is born to us and a Son is given to us, may we be born again through you and always remain your faithful children. Immanuel, Oh blessed Savior, God with us, now and forever. Draw us deep into Your heart of love as we celebrate your birth, oh King of Kings. May Your light shine in our lives so the world will see You and know You are truly God, Savior and Lord. May the world respond with whole hearted worship and devotion and trust in You and what you have done to purchase and give us this extravagant gift - forgiveness of sins and a right relationship with you, now and forever. This wonderful and priceless gift, eternal life that can not be earned and we will never deserve it. We can only receive it by faith in you! We love you and we trust you! As we surrender our hearts to you, Lord, please help us so our lives bring you great glory! We serve you and desire that you will be glorified in and through us, We serve you with eagerness because we are your children and you are our Father, Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
In Jesus' precious Name! AMEN!
Please know your partnership and gifts of support make it possible for me to take the light of Christ into places of spiritual darkness where people need eternal hope. Thank you!!
Blessings and Merry Christmas!
Your missionary, Julia!
December 24, 2022
My story, and the 3 women named Mary....
There was a time in my life when I was alone, depressed, without peace and always afraid. I won't tell you the details but you can be certain I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I worked as a Sales person for group rooms and banquets at a large hotel when one day I was typing a sales contract for a company called Bethlehem Steel on my typewriter .... and, yes, this was many years ago with a no-spell check office typewriter. A dear woman I respected who worked in housekeeping came into my office to empty the waste basket. Her name was Mary. She always wore a big beautiful wooden cross around her neck. That was Mary #1. I still thank God for her! I wasn't certain how to spell Bethlehem. (Yes, I agree that is pitiful.) So I asked dear Mary how to spell Bethlehem. She simply went out to her cart outside the door and brought from it a Bible. You know, the Gideon Bible we find in hotel rooms. She handed that Bible to me and said - "It's in there!" "Where?", I asked. "Oh, I'm sure you'll find it," she said with a sweet and hopeful smile, and then she left me. I placed the Bible on my lap, and under the desk so no one would see. I began turning the pages, here and there, and was struck by the beautiful, loving, powerful and supernatural words from God's love letter, the Bible. I felt a strange and wonderful peace on the inside that I had never felt before.
Then there was the second Mary in my life. My dear friend Mary also worked at this hotel. Mary began inviting me to go to church with her. In my spirit there was a tug of war going on. On one hand, I would most likely have a hangover on Sunday morning! But, mostly I had the fear of being judged and shamed and left feeling even more alone. On the other hand I yearned to know the Author of the words of the Bible that gave me such comfort and peace. Deep words that spoke of a mystery and meaning I graved to understand and have. One day when I was in a deep pit of despair I called my friend Mary, who had been inviting me to church, and told her that the next time she went I wanted to go with her. She said, " Great, I'm going tonight and I'll pick you up in an hour!" Oh, faithful Mary! I had no time to back peddle. Thank God! I went to church that evening and felt tender love and compassion. I was not judged and condemned. I was hugged and listened to with sincere smiles. From that point I continued to go to church often. I heard many meaningful sermon messages that worked to begin to heal my heart and helped me to understand God's love, and I received the love of caring people. Before this I had only vaguely knew anything about Jesus, who was called the Son of God. Jesus, the one who we sort of celebrated His birthday on Christmas. Jesus, who died on a cross... but I never understood why or that it had anything to do with me. One day in April 1986, while driving I heard and understood the full gospel message of God's amazing grace on my car radio. At that moment I responded to the invitation to make it personal! I told God I believed He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay for MY SIN. Jesus came to earth, died on a cross, and was raised to life to save us from sin, give us new life, and bring us into a right relationship with God. At that moment in a twinkling of an eye, I was born again, a child of God. And now the Holy Spirit of God lives in me to help me understand, follow and to have the joy of knowing God.
Now, when there are things that seem to crush my spirit and make me sad, it is not the same because now I have the kind of hope that only God can give. I am no longer fearful because I trust that an all knowing and trustworthy God has a plan and a good purpose for my life.
Do you have a story like that? I would love to hear it. Please email me back and share.
Wait! No, I'm not done yet! I can't forget to tell you about the 3rd Mary, in my life! I met her for the first time when reading the book of Luke in the Bible. Yes, I'm talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus! Mary is often center stage during this time of the year when we celebrate Christmas, but is otherwise often set aside in many churches to be careful to always remember that Jesus is the one we trust for eternal life and the only mediator between sinful man and a Holy God. All are very important and true! But lets not forget some very important things which Mary modeled for us. Here are the verses in the Bible about Mary that touched my heart, personally. I hope they have had the same impact on your life. When the Angel Gabriel explained to Mary that God was calling her to be the mother of God's son, to carry Him into the world, how did she respond? It would not have meant a life of ease and comfort, peaches and cream with a cherry on top, no fears or hard times. It meant hard times for Mary and Joseph, her betrothed. Even so, Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” To say that Mary trusted God would be a profound understatement! Then in the song Mary sang, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,..."
Let me leave all of us with these questions on Christmas Eve: