First Person: Gabriel Visits Miriam

Mary (Miriam): "May it be as you have said!"
“I am the Lord’s servant,” she said. “And I am willing to do whatever He wants. May everything you said come true.” (Image from Zondervan.)

Throughout Advent, let’s look at the people of the story of Christ’s birth. This week: Gabriel. Here is my take on a possible first person narrative from Luke 1.

I love my work. I truly do. I am a messenger who brings Good News to people. I am God’s mouthpiece. Yes, I stand in the presence of God Himself. He speaks to me. He gives me messages to deliver. Many years ago I spoke to Daniel and explained a dream to the prophet. Interesting that the vision he had then ties directly to our time now.

Just a few months ago the Almighty sent me to Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias. That was an interesting exchange. Here’s this man, a priest, holy in actions and respected by both God and man… He is ministering in the inner part of the sanctuary… I appear from the altar of incense. He was a bit frightened but I brought a message of incredible news, good news:

“Don’t be afraid, Zacharias!” I told him. “For I have come to tell you that God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John.”

God told me to let Zacharias know that both he and Elizabeth would be filled great joy and gladness at this son’s birth, and many will rejoice with them. Both Zacharias and his wife were old, but this son would be one of the Lord’s great men. I told him that this baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from before his birth!

Can you see him? He stood there next to the Ark of the Covenant and just stared at me. I continued to speak of the encouraging future God had for this son. “He will persuade many a Jew to turn to the Lord his God,” I told him. “And he will be a man of rugged spirit and power like Elijah, the prophet of old; and he will precede the coming of the Messiah, preparing the people for his arrival. He will soften adult hearts to become like little children’s, and will change disobedient minds to the wisdom of faith.”

Such news, eh? Who wouldn’t welcome this great plan from God Almighty? And yet this man, Zacharias, didn’t believe it! He didn’t believe me. Clearly just my presence with him in the Holy of Holies was miraculous. But he stammered on about how old he was… and his wife…

Didn’t he recall the stories of Abraham and Sarah? Or Elkanah and Hannah. Or Isaac and Rebekah? No, I guess not. But hadn’t he been praying for a son? Yet he doubted.  I just couldn’t believe that he didn’t believe. You could say the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

So, do you know what I said next? i raise my voice.  “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was He who sent me to you with this good news!  And now, because you haven’t believed me, you are to be stricken silent, unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time.”

You know, sometimes you have to take some pretty radical steps to get some people’s attention.

Ah, but not Mary. Not Mary.

Every time the Almighty has sent me to speak directly to His children I have to say “Don’t be afraid!” right at the start. Every time . Except one. Miriam. You know her as Mary. She wasn’t like Zacharias. She wasn’t like Daniel. Such a sweet girl. Such love for God she has. Yes, she was a little confused at my message, and I had to explain a few things to the young woman, but she believed it… because she believed God.

You haven’t heard the message? Oh my, well, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind my repeating it for you. Here’s what I said:

“God has decided to wonderfully bless you, Miriam!  Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’ He shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he shall reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom shall never end!”

Here’s the confusing part. She asked how this was going to be, because she and her fiance’ Jacob, you know him as Joseph, had rightfully never been together. “How can I have a baby?” She asked me. “I am a virgin.”

This is the part I had to explain… and even I didn’t understand the message the Almighty had given me to give to her. I told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you.”

Listen to this… this is what is so amazing about Jehovah.  God’s plan was this way so the baby born to sweet Miriam, Mary, would be completely holy, the Son of God.

I then mentioned that her Cousin Elizabeth was with child and I assured her that “every promise from God shall surely come true.”

And here’s the best part of the whole mission: her response.  I had just told her some pretty remarkable news… in fact, impossible news. More impossible than the news I had delivered to Zacharias, really.  And what was her reply? Oh, this delightful child is wise beyond her years.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” she said. “And I am willing to do whatever He wants. May everything you said come true.”

May everything be as I had said! Her world was about to be totally flipped upside down. And she was ready and willing! Can you believe that? How old was this girl? 14-15? What trust! What obedience!

She was willing to say “Be born in me!”  Despite the mystery of how God was going to be a baby… or how the One who birthed the stars in the sky was allowing himself to now be birthed by this young girl.

She trusts that God knows what He’s doing. His invitation is for everyone. He will soon be here! His invitation isn’t just for Miriam. It’s for all of you. It’s His great love, reaching down to save the world.

(c) 2103. Rich Ronald.

From the dust of the manger… to our heart.

Available at in paperback or Kindle.

Christmas Day is one week away… wow! Where does the time go? Wasn’t it just spring break? Or summer vacation?

In the midst of all that is wrong in the world today, as we think about the Christmas story, the one thing that we might perceive to have been wrong, was actually right. Yes, it was right for Mary to place Jesus in a manger.

From Chapter Five of Be Born in Me:

While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough.[1]

She placed Him in a feed trough.  In the Ancient Days most feed troughs in caves were merely hollowed out logs or rocks sitting on the ground.  You can’t get much lower than that.  Jesus, God in the flesh. God who sits on the highest throne in the highest Heaven, squeezed Himself into a human form. And if that wasn’t low enough, He was then placed mere inches above the dirt and manure that was in that animal cave.  Why would God do that?  Send His son.  To the lowest possible place on earth?!  To a feed trough?

Think about the trough being in the dirt and mud on the cave floor. Like Adam from the Garden of Eden, we all began our lives in the dust of the earth and Jesus knows that we all have dirt and mud in our lives.  That’s where we need Him most!

“Jesus, be born in me!” 

The apostle Paul also notes that Jesus gave up His place with God in heaven and made Himself nothing (Philippians 2).  Why? Simply because He loves us.

He loves you. He really does. Even though you may be a little dirty. Even though you may be a lot muddy.  It doesn’t matter to Him… He has been there too.

Isn’t that incredible!?! God in the flesh has been where you are… only His love can pull you out of the pit you are in. He is uniquely qualified to be our Savior. He knows how messy our lives are… and it doesn’t stop Him from reaching out His loving arms to lift us up.

May I encourage you to make this prayer, your prayer: “Jesus. Be born in me!”

Be Born in Me is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.

Here’s the link to the amazon web site:
And here’s the link to the Kindle site:
(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

[1] Luke 2:6-7 (NCV)


“Make my heart Your Bethlehem.”

Available at in paperback or Kindle

Advent continues its countdown to Christmas Day.  The great thing about the season, is that it can be just that… a season. Not just a single day.

The prayer for our family this year is “Be Born in Me.”

I’ve written a little book, based on a song, that is helping us focus this year.  The cry of Chapter 4 is “Make my heart Your Bethlehem.”

Here is an exceprt:

Bethlehem. Do you know what the word means? In Hebrew “Bet” means ‘house’ and “Lechem” means ‘bread.’ So Bethlehem is “the House of Bread.”

We can see that Jesus, the bread of life from John 6, must be born in “the House of Bread.”

Jesus came to give us life, true bread and true sustenance.  Jesus is all we really need isn’t He? He satisfies, gratifies and strengthens us spiritually, just as bread does physically. 

And what happens when you don’t eat for awhile?  You become weak, right?

When our prayer is, “Jesus, be born in me. Give me strength! Give me all I need for life!” 

He says, “I have.”

May I encourage you as you enjoy a meal or two or three with your friends and family this Christmas season, to remember that Jesus is the true bread. He is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, who gives us all we have and all we need.

And may you allow your heart to be His Bethlehem… to be born in you.

Be Born in Me is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.
Here’s the link to the amazon web site:
And here’s the link to the Kindle site:
(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

“Somehow I believe that You chose me.”

Available at in paperback or Kindle.

This is the second week in Advent, a time to celebrate Christmas for a whole month, not just a single day. How are you doing at preparing your heart for the season?

From Chapter Three of Be Born in Me:

God chose Mary for an incredible assignment, didn’t He?  Think about it, this is the biggest assignment of anyone in the Bible!  You think your wife fussed about what to eat and what to do when she was pregnant?  Mary is carrying God’s Son. No pressure there!  Can you imagine what she thought about having to climb up on the back of a donkey and travel for four days to the city of David?  Can you hear her in the cold of the night?  “Joseph, sorry I can’t do that, I AM carrying the Son of God here, you know!”

Looking again at Luke 1 we see that the angel, Gabriel, has told Mary that she has been chosen. Mary asks, “How?” The angel replies,  “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” [1]

Do you know that you have been chosen by God for an assignment today and everyday? How does that make you feel? For some, it is overwhelming. For others it is exciting. For me it is humbling.  Humbling, because most days I feel completely inept at doing something for our great (announcer voice here) GOD, THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.

But that is the point, isn’t it? For the greatest impact, God uses the everyday person to reach the everyday person. You don’t have to have a Bible degree or years of ministry training. You can grab a cup of coffee and walk to the end of the driveway and share His story with your next door neighbor.  You can sit on the floor with a bunch of preschool students and sing simple songs. You can offer a hug to an elderly woman in a nursing home wheelchair.

He has chosen you to carry His message and His love to those around you. And there is no better time to do so than at Christmas. People in our culture are open to hearing about Jesus, and talking about spiritual things, more so during December than any other time of the year. So may He give you the heart of Mary to bring His joy to your world this Advent.

And be encouraged to know that He has chosen you to do so.

Be Born in Me is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.
Here’s the link to the amazon web site:
And here’s the link to the Kindle site:
(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

[1] Luke 1:37 (The Message)


“Help me see with Heaven’s eyes…”

Available at in paperback or Kindle

Advent starts this weekend.  Like the onset of a new season or the New Year, it is a beginning. A time to prepare our hearts for celebrating the birth of the Messiah. It is a time to renew who we are as children of God. A time which allows us to truly celebrate Christmas for four weeks, rather than just a single day.

It is a time to cry out to God with the same prayer as Mary, the mother of Jesus: “Be Born in Me.”

It is every Believer’s cry from the depth of our heart as we ask Jesus to take over our lives.  We need Jesus to be born in us, fully and completely.

This new little book is designed to help you celebrate the joy of Christmas by looking back from Mary’s perspective.  It takes you into the times and culture of her day.

From Chapter Two of the book:

Francesca Battistelli recorded the song: Be Born in Me.  In the first verse there is a lyric that says “Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes.” What does this mean?

For starters, it means seeing the potential and possibilities of someone, who the world sees and rejects, with God’s eyes. It means seeing the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and accepting them. God sees and accepts everyone who comes to Him, no matter our story. Harlot. Beggar. Murderer.  Adulterer. Thief. Pharisee. Sinner. You. Me.  Once we’ve bowed our knee to Jesus, God sees us from Jesus’ point of view. All redeemed. All restored. He sees us the way He created us, like a new born baby, fresh, like a new day with no mistakes in it.

May I encourage you as you go through the day today to look around and ponder what you see. The crowded shopping malls. The crazy traffic. The homeless on the corner. The eyes of hope at your dinner table.  Can you see as God does?

Yes. When He is born in you.

The booklet is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.

Here’s the link to the amazon web site:

And here’s the link to the Kindle site:

(c) 2012. Rich Ronald.

New Book for Advent (my first!): Be Born in Me.

Available at in paperback or Kindle

A little more than a year ago, the worship planning team at Oak Hills Church began planning our Advent season. Worship Minister Jeff Nelson recommended a theme around the song, Be Born in Me (Mary). It was written by Bernie Herms and Nichole Nordeman and beautifully recorded by Francesca Battistelli. It is on the album Music Inspired by The Story from Word Entertainment.

I admit, I was hesistant at first.  “We’re going to preach a song for Advent?” But the more I meditated on the words, the more I let the Holy Spirit work in my heart, the more enthused I became.

Each week the ministers at OHC’s five campuses would unpack a certain line from the song.  I had the honor of preaching all four weeks at the North Central Campus.

This booklet is essentially that sermon series.

Have you ever prayed the prayer: “Be Born in Me!”?

It is every Believer’s cry from the depth of our heart as we ask Jesus to take over our lives.  We need Jesus to be born in us, fully and completely.

From the Preface of the book:

Can you see her? The angel Gabriel had just left this young teenage girl with the news that in today’s language is an announcement that would “rock her world.”  She would become pregnant. The Biblical text says she was “confused” [1] or “shaken.” [2] She was engaged to a man named Joseph, of the lineage of the Tribe of David. She had a deeply devout faith and had found favor with Adonai. 

We can imagine in the moments after the angel’s ascension that she is standing alone, dazed and numb. She looks to the heavens and offers a prayer, a song. She completely gives herself to the Father in heaven and cries “Be Born in Me.”

Let’s take a close up look at four lines from the song, four prayers.  They were cries from Mary’s heart.  Can they be ours?
  1. Be born in me.
  2. Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes.
  3. Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me.
  4. Make my heart your Bethlehem.

My prayer for you this coming Christmas season… that you will be able to embrace these prayers and believe all that they capture. May you let Jesus be born in you!

With great joy,


The booklet is divided into five sections and includes discussion questions so you can use in a weekly small group, family devotional or class setting.

Here’s the link to the amazon web site:

And here’s the link to the Kindle site:

[1] Luke 1:29, CEV.

[2] Luke 1:29, The Message.

Advent Day 20, the Gift of the weaponry, the Breastplate of Righteousness

December 20, 2011

The Gift of weaponry, the Breastplate of Righteousness

This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians.

There is a new song by Francesca Bastestelli called “Be Born in Me.” It has been the cry of the heart of our family this Advent.  There is a line in the chorus that says “I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end, Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem.”

What does it mean to “make my heart your Bethlehem?”  Well, if we say that Bethlehem is the place where Jesus was born, we are saying to God “make my heart a place where Jesus is born, where he lives.”

If we dig into the story of Bethlehem, we learn that Bethlehem was also the City of David.  The place where the young shepherd boy tended his flock, and where he later downed a giant named Goliath with a single stone.  It is here where David was anointed by Samuel. 

It was also here where Ruth gleaned wheat from nearby fields and met her husband Boaz.  Ruth was David’s grandmother.

Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  It makes sense then, that Jesus was born here for he later fed thousands with a few loaves of bread.  And he also said that He is “the true bread from heaven” and  “the bread of life” (John, Chapter 6).

Does Jesus live in your heart?  He came from the House of Bread to give us life, true bread, true sustenance.  Jesus is all we really need.  He satisfies our greatest hunger and strengthens us spiritually, just as bread does physically.   What happens when you don’t eat for a few days?  You become weak, right?  What happens when you don’t feast on the Bread of Life daily?  You become spiritually weak, and you give the enemy an opportunity to break into your spirit and your heart.

So how do you protect your heart?  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place (Ephesians 6:14, NIV).

Where do we get our righteousness?  Only from affirming the grace-saving love of Jesus. By dying for us, Jesus’ sacrifice is our covering of righteousness, like when the Old Testament priests offered sacrifices for sin.

Paul is actually saying that accepting Jesus into our heart is one of the weapons of spiritual warfare that will keep us spiritually strong and well fed. 

It’s also the reason that Satan hates you.  Cover your heart, protect your heart, with the righteousness of Christ.  Protect your heart… don’t let the enemy use your heart… don’t give the enemy your heart.  He will use worldly “love” to get to you.   He will use fleshly “love,” or more appropriately lust, to get to you.  It’s one of his most successful schemes. 

Your heart belongs to Christ.  He bought it with His sacrifice. 

Receive this great gift and may it protect your heart.

Father God, my prayer is that Jesus will be born in my heart.  And may His sacrifice be my righteousness.  And may it cover and protect me from the enemy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


© 2011.  Rich Ronald