Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Example of Mary

December 6, 2006 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

THE EXAMPLE OF MARY
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Luke 1:26-45 NIV (Read entire text)

 

 INTRODUCTION

You’re a young woman engaged to be married. You’ve saved yourself and maintained your virtue for this one man. You intend to have children and spend the rest of your life with him. In your village, everyone knows everyone’s businessthey know you and your family. Suddenly, an angel appears and tells you that you have been chosen by God to give birth to the long awaited Messiah. You’re familiar with Isaiah’s prophecy; all the young Jewish virgin women were familiar with it. Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14, KJV). But when the angel stands in front of you and tells you that you’ve been chosen, how do you react? What will your family say? Will they believe you? People in the village are going to be whispering and saying that you were unfaithful. How do you tell your finance? Will he believe you when you tell him that you’ve kept yourself pure for him, even though you are already pregnant and he knows it isn’t his? What if he leaves you? How will you make it as a single parent in that culture?

In Matthew’s Gospel we see that Joseph was confused, and if Mary told him what had happened, then he apparently didn’t believe her, because he intended to break off the engagement. He did not want to make a public spectacle out of her, so he was going to end the engagement privately. But then, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and explained to him what the deal was. Mary had not been unfaithful. The child she was carrying was a miracle of God. She was carrying the Savior of the World.

Put yourself in Mary’s place. You are engaged to the man you love, you are from a family that traces its heritage back to King David, you live in a culture that ostracized women who conceived before marriage, and an angel comes to tell you that you’re going to get pregnant with the Son of God. Isn’t that going to radically change all the childhood dreams you’d had for your life?

I think it is wrong to try to deify Mary, or to pray to Mary, or to make her more than she was, but I do believe that we should honor her faithfulness to God and her submission to His will for her life. I would venture to say that on her personal-goals-list for her life, she did not write, “Get pregnant before marriage and give birth to the Son of God.”

Her faith and faithfulness is a model for every believer because the Holy Spirit wants to put Christ in all of us and desires that our lives would be lived in submission to God’s will as Jesus becomes flesh through us. Look at your text, beginning at verse 29:

I) MARY WONDERED

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

First we see that Mary wondered, that is, she had questions. She was somewhat confused and taken aback by the words of the angel. Often when God speaks His will into our lives, it forces us to reconsider our personal plans and goals. God will mess with our plans. He will send us into places we never thought we’d go, give us words we never thought we’d speak, and use us to accomplish things we never thought we’d do. I doubt Mary ever imagined that she should be giving birth to the Christ.

Often when God directs us, He will tell us what He is going to do, but He doesn’t initially tell us how He’s going to do it. He told Abraham that he and Sarah were going to have a child, but He didn’t tell them how.

He told Peter to walk on the water, but He didn’t tell him how. Faith may wonder how, but faith rises above the questions and believes in spite of the uncertainties and the unanswered questions.

II) MARY WAITED

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

Mary had a question. “How?” She probably knew how conception normally took place, but she what she didn’t know, was how she could become pregnant because she had saved herself for her husband. She said, “I am a virgin.”

Today if a young man or woman says they are a virgin, others will mock them and treat them like there’s something wrong with them. But I want you to see that because Mary waited, she was chosen for a blessing. I wonder how many blessings we forfeit because we couldn’t wait. Christian author, Josh McDowell wrote a book entitled, True Love Waits, and I agree.

Not only is this true in dating relationships, but it is also true of our relationship with God. The Psalmist said in Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the LORD:

be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” He said in Psalm 37:34, “Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land.” Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Mary had waited for marriage to give herself to her husband. She had never compromised her morals. Instead, she had yielded her will, her passions, her desires to the Word and the will of the Lord. The angel said she had found favor with God. Because she waited, she was chosen and blessed to be the mother of Jesus. If she had given in to lust, if she had yielded to the desires of the flesh, if she had violated the Word of the Lord, then she would have forfeited the favor of God upon her life in this instance.

III) MARY RECEIVED A WORD

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

Third, Mary received a Word from the Lord. The Word was that the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Most High would overshadow her. This conception was a miracle, a one-time event unparalleled in human history.

There have been many through the years who have tried to discredit this event. The writer of the DaVinci Code says Mary got pregnant from a Roman solider. Where does he get this myth? He makes it up, writes it in a book, and people believe it! But that teaching is anathema, it impugns the character and the veracity of the Word of God, and it has no historical merit at all.

The event of the birth of the Messiah was prophesied by Isaiah some 750 years before the event: “A virgin shall conceive (Isa. 7:14).

It was promised to King David by God, in what is know as the Davidic covenant, some 200 years before Isaiah: “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:16, NKJV).

Promised to Abraham 1200 years before David, and it was given as a Word from God to the serpent in the Garden some 2000 years before that:

And I will put enmity

Between you and the woman,

And between your seed and her Seed;

He shall bruise your head,

And you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen 3:15, NKJV).

This was the fullness of time, and this was God’s plan.

Mary received a Word from God that was the fulfillment of a promise that He had given to humanity thousands of years earlier. The angel was just the messenger, but the Word he delivered was from God.

Mary received a Word from God, she did not try to put her words into God’s mouth. If that had been the case, I doubt Jesus would have been born in a stable. If some of our modern day prophets had been speaking this Word, Jesus would have been born in a palace. His parents would have been prominent people in the community, and Jesus would have had a place to lay his head. He would not have been laid in a manger, but in a golden crib in a decked-out nursery, in a big house, in the best part of town.

A real Word from God comes from God. Too many false prophets go around the country and appear on Christian television claiming to be prophets, and claiming to have a word from God, but a Word from God never contradicts His written Word, it is never wrong, and it is always authoritative for our lives. Mary received a Word.

IV) MARY WAS WILLING

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

After Mary received God’s word, Mary was willing. She said, “May it be to me as you have said.” Some might have said, “God, I have other plans for my life. I’m about to marry a carpenter and we are planning on a quiet life in a suburb of Nazareth. Thanks for the offer but, I think I’ll pass this time.”

Mary didn’t’ say that, yet I wonder how many times during our life we have been guilty of knowing what God’s will was, but we had other plans.

We told God, thanks, but no thanks. How many times has God told us to witness to someone, but we said, “Pass.” How many times has God asked us to give sacrificially, but we said, “Pass.” How many times have we passed on the will and the Word of God and missed-out on the blessing that could have changed our lives?

Mary was willing to do whatever God asked. She was willing to let Him change her plans. She was willing to allow God to turn her comfortable little world upside down. She was willing face the prospect of her husband leaving her. She was willing to face the possibility of her family rejecting her. She was willing to say to God, “May it be to me as you have said.”

Until we are willing to let God have His way in our lives, then we are not ready to let God bless us. Too many of us want God’s blessing on our terms. We want to claim thousand dollar blessings on ten-cent prayers.

We want to cash in powerful promises on minimal surrender. Mary was willing to submit to God’s terms and to trust Him to make it all work out for His glory.

Only when we are willing and ready to let God have His way in our lives are we truly in a place to find the favor of God.

V) MARY RECEIVED A WITNESS

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” NIV

Sometimes we believe God, and all we have to go on is raw faith.

Nothing confirms what we believe, except fact that we know we heard from God. But more often than not, God has a way of using others to confirm what He has already spoken into our heart. Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth, and just as the angel had said, her elderly cousin was pregnant.

Then, when Elizabeth saw Mary and heard her voice, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy. She said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”

Elizabeth wasn’t the source of the promise, but God used Elizabeth to confirm what He had already spoken to Mary through the angel. When people come to me and say that they have a word from the Lord for me, if it confirms what God has already spoken into my spirit, I thank God. But if it is something that God hasn’t spoken to me about, I wait on the Lord. I don’t act on it. I wait, and if God later speaks this into my spirit, I will remember what was spoken. Sometimes overzealous people will speak things over you that God didn’t have anything to do with. How do you tell if it’s from God or not? The word says His Spirit will bear witness with your spirit. While the written Word is always authoritative over our lives, when it comes to a “word from God” given by another believer, if there’s no witness in your spirit, you don’ need to act or move on anything anyone tells you until it is confirmed by God.

Mary received confirmation, and then Elizabeth says something that is important for us all. She said, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Mary was going to be blessed, because she believed that what God promised, He would perform in her life. Mary was willing to go the distance and to accept whatever repercussions resulted. She was blessed because she believed the Word of the Lord.

It may be that God has spoken some promises into your life. It may be that the path to these promises will run through some trials and tribulations. It may be that for you to receive your blessing, you are going to have to surrender your plans and purposes to God, even if it costs you everything.

Mary was blessed to give birth to the Messiah, but Mary did not give birth to Him in a palace, it was a stable. She did not lay her child in a cradle, but in a manger. She watched Him face rejection as He grew, watched Him betrayed, beaten, and nailed to a cross to die. This was the path that her blessing led her down, but it also led to an empty tomb and to the ascension of her Son to right hand of the Father. It led to an Upper Room where the Holy Spirit anointed her and about 120 other believers with power.

We live in a religious world of easy believism and a prosperity mentality. We live in a religious world that has rejected the notion of personal sacrifice and total surrender to the Will of God, even when it takes us through valley of the shadow of death.

We don’t need people to deify Mary or to say prayers to Mary (the Bible never teaches that), but we do need people who will follow the example of Mary.

CONCLUSION

God may be ready to do something powerful in your life and it may not mean that you get richer, or move into a bigger home, or drive a better car. God may be ready to bless you with an increase of opportunities to share His love with others. God may be about to bless you will the opportunity to serve Him in a ministry that others have rejected. It may not be in the spotlight, it may lead to a stable instead of a palace, it may require that you face the possibility of rejection from others, and it may mean that you have to wait on the Lord. Are you willing?

If God is speaking to you today, then this word that I have spoken is probably confirming something in your spirit this morning. God is speaking to someone, are you willing to receive it? You may have questions, but are you willing to trust God today?

If you have received a promise from the Lord, but you have not yet seen it come to fruition, then either you need to wait for itthough it tarry, it shall come to passor you may need to be willing to surrender completely to the Will and the Word of the Lord. But if this Word that I’ve spoken has born witness with your spirit, then I want to pray with you concerning your promise. I can pray with you for patience. I can pray with you for surrender. But I cannot promise you that your blessing will come without sacrifice, service, or surrender.

Will you be the Mary of today and allow the life of Christ to be birthed in you? Will you let His light shine through your life?

__________________
Used with permission.

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