Posts Tagged ‘Mary’

Luke 2:25-35 — Today is our last look at this passage before we move on. Simeon warning to Mary is as profound today as it was then. Jesus requires a reaction. You either reject Him or you accept Him. There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus.

Simeon tells Mary, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but He will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose Him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” With Jesus there was no neutral ground. People either joyfully accepted His message or they totally rejected Him as a threat to their status quo. Mary would be grieved by the widespread rejection of her son.

There are two ways that people reject Jesus and only one way that they accept Him. First, there are those who totally reject Him. They do not believe that He existed. They do not believe a Word that He says. They think that He and other religious figures are just inventions of man to keep people under control. They think that religion is something created by man to keep them having hope in a world that is completely a set or disorganized random circumstances. These are the people of reason who believe than man is his own god. They believe that religion is the bane of man’s existence. These are Satan’s favorites. They believe that there are no moral absolutes. They believe that the restrictions on behavior are constructs of society and religion intended to keep man in line. They believe that in the absence of restrictions of society that man will grow to be more evolved, more tolerant. These are the very people that criticize Christians for being intolerant. To them, that is the worst sin of all is intolerance of men who do not wish to allow me to do whatever I want. They believe that what is right for me may not be right for you but you MUST be tolerant of what I do. This is the first group that rejects Jesus.

The second group that rejects Jesus are those that see Him only as a great philosopher and a radical rabbi. To them, Jesus was a great man, a great political figure. They see Him as one of many great prophets. These are the ones who amalgamize all religions and take the best of each and create their own brand of religion. I was here in this category for a great deal of my life. I saw Jesus as great martyr. I saw Him as a guy who took on the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman Empire and single handedly changed both. I saw Him as a great man and an inspiration to men like Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Gandhi. To me, He was the champion of the underdog. He was the champion of change through love rather than violence. But ultimately just a man. He was one of those generational rebels, generational changers that come along every so often to shake up society and change it in some fundamental way. In this way, I completely sidestepped what Jesus had become to my Christian friends. I just could not buy that He was what they were saying He was. I just couldn’t buy all the miraculous stuff. I thought these were inventions of the church itself and that Jesus would have scoffed at them. As well, I thought too if the miracles were true, there were rational, logical explanations of them within the realm of the scientific laws of the universe. To me, Jesus was greater as a radical political figure than as some hocum of Him being the Son of God. That just did not make any sense to me. In this way, many like myself were and are rejecting Jesus on these grounds. Accepting Him as a great man but not the Son of God is rejecting Him just as much as those who reject Him altogether. Mary’s soul is pierced by both. This sweet teenager who gave birth to Jesus and raised Him as her son and love Him as only a mother could love her own child is grieved. Not because she is of equal stature with Jesus but because she was his mom. She loved her son. She knew He was the Son of God and she was grieved when her “baby boy” was treated so badly.

There is only one way not to reject Jesus. There is only one way. We must see Him as the Son of God. We must see Him as what the Bible tells us. He is God come to earth in the flesh. He came to earth for a very specific purpose. He came to be the sacrifice for our sins. He was the culmination of everything God was preparing before He came in the flesh as Jesus the Son. Our sin separates us from God permanently – only one sin taints us and by golly we are a sinful sin committing daily lot are we not. These things separate us from God. There is no way no matter what anybody tells you that we can offset our sin nature by doing all the right things and trying to avoid the obvious bad things. We are sinful. We are born with the propensity to sin and the first time we consciously execute our sin nature, we are boned. We are sunk. Nothing can fix it. However, Jesus came to fix it. He came to earth. He, since He is God and not a created thing, was able to live the perfectly sinless life. There was no sin in Him and He committed no sin. His purpose was to be the final sacrifice of the the Old Testament sacrificial system. No longer would daily, weekly, monthly, annual sacrifices for sin be necessary. He was the perfect sinless sacrifice. He was the final sacrifice for sin. He took God’s wrath against sin on the cross so that you and I and any who believes that He is the Son of God would not have to. When we see Jesus in this way and accept Him as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, we are covered by His sinlessness. We take on His nature. Through His perfect sinless nature, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. When we see Christ as our Savior and accept this fact, we open our eyes to the fact that they we are indeed sinners and were destined for hell in the absence of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. Our eyes are opened to Scripture. Our eyes see Him as the Son of God and the miracles, the teaching, the life all make perfect sense to us. To those who do not see Jesus in this way, Paul was right. It seems as unreasoned foolishness to them. But to us, there is nothing more logical and nothing more profound and nothing more worth sharing that our salvation through who Jesus really is — the Son of God.

Where do you stand with Jesus today? Are you willing to risk your eternity on totally rejecting Him? Are you willing to risk your eternity on seeing him simply as a radical political figure? Or are you willing to risk ridicule in this life for the eternity secure in God’s hand by understanding who Jesus really is — the Son of God who died on the cross for your sins? May your eyes be opened to who He really is? Amen.

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Luke 2:21-24 — In reading this passage, the first thing that comes to mind is obedience. How do we as parents raise our children—in obedience to God’s Word. It is Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Here we see how Mary and Joseph were determined to raise their child according to Scripture even if that child was the Son of God Himself.

It says in Leviticus 12:3 that all Jewish males are to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth.This was a very important ritual in a Jewish family, because the circumcision of the males was a sign that they were a people set apart unto God. It was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 17). Every good Jewish family would have this done to their son, but it was especially important for Mary and Joseph to make sure Jesus went through the ceremony, because He was definitely set apart for God’s service. The question for us as parents today is that are we, from birth, teaching our children about the Bible or are we saying, “oh that can wait, he/she is just a baby.” Are we setting our children apart for God’s service. Do we raise them steeped in Scripture? They say that by the age of 2, children have already mastered a sufficient amount of our language to be able to communicate effectively in that language. Yet, do we, as Christian parents, begin early teaching them the Bible. Do we raise them from the Bible? If they can master the language in 2 years, then teaching them about God at very young age does not seem like such a stretch does it? Mary and Joseph began setting the example to their son immediately. They were obedient to God’s Word in their parenting of their son – The Son.

They were obedient to God in naming Jesus. Not only do we see them being obedient to God’s Written Word but they were also being obedient to God’s Spoken Word.Remember in Luke 1, Mary was visited by Gabriel, and he told her to name her son Jesus (1:36)? Mary has remembered that, and has certainly told Joseph of it also, and so at the circumcision ceremony, they name Him Jesus. Joseph, lifting up Jesus in his arms and praying, “Our God and the God of our fathers, raise up this child to his father and mother, and let his name in Israel be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Jesus is the Greek translation of His Hebrew name, Yeshua, which means “the Lord saves.” Our Savior could be named nothing else. He must be named Jesus. Mary and Joseph were obedient in this naming. They were told by Gabriel that this name would be His name. Are we being obedient to God’s Word that comes to us through Scripture and through prayer (or vision in Mary’s case) in raising our children? When people see us, and the way we live according to the Word of God, do they see Christ shining through? We people see our children do they see Christ shining through? If we raise our children in obedience to God’s Word, if we teach them God’s Word in obedience, people will see integrity in us and in our children. People will see love in us and in our children. Don’t wait to teach your children about God and His Word. The horse leaves the barn pretty quickly on the setting of behavior patterns in children. Teach them obedience to God’s Word from birth.

the command in Leviticus 12 is that a woman who bears a son must wait 40 days before she is considered pure and 80 days after bearing a daughter. At the end of her 40 days of purification, Leviticus 12 instructed Mary to bring a sacrifice to the temple of one lamb, and one turtledove or one pigeon. For families that were extremely poor, they could offer two turtledoves or two pigeons instead. Notice that Mary and Joseph offered the poor family’s offering. They were not a rich family. They were poor. But they did not let their social status get in the way of being obedient to God. Even though Mary brought the Sinless One into the world, they were fiercely obedient to God’s Word even about Mary’s purification. She knew that Jesus was the Son of God but yet they were here at the temple obeying God’s Word. They did not obey out of repetition or lukewarm allegiance. They loved God and His Word. It was at the core of their lives. Jesus saw from them human examples of being obedient to the Lord. We have to give Mary and Joseph some credit. Knowing that Jesus was the Son of God and really didn’t have to go through all these things but they did. They were obedient. They were honoring God and His requirements for His people not just going through the motions. Jesus saw this growing up. He was God but He was also fully human. He saw parents who followed God’s Word. Let us as parents not be stumbling blocks for our children’s walk with Jesus. Let them see that we seek to honor God in all things. Are you walking the walk in front of your children? They capture everything we do in their minds. Their minds are like sponges. Do you want them to absorb you being obedient to God in the way you carry yourself and in the way you raise them?

It was an old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song that said “Teach your children well”. We must as the song later says, “feed them on your dreams” Our dream should be that they will be raised up in righteousness so that will not depart from it. Start them young. Give them a head’s up in this race to eternity. My prayer is that our children not have to go the long route to a life in Jesus like we did. May that not make the mistakes that we did. May they not live the ways of the world for years. If you have a baby right now or with one on the way. Start ’em young, I beg of you. Wouldn’t you rather their life be filled with obedience to the Lord rather than spending a lifetime trying to find some empty temporal pleasures instead of filling their lives with Godly obedience. Jesus was the Son of God but Mary and Joseph still raised Him up under the influence of the Word of God from birth. Don’t wait. Trust your baby to God from the beginning. Read God’s Word to them from the beginning. Teach them God’s Word from the beginning. Their route to eternity is at stake.

Luke 2:1-17 — This passage is powerful in its straighforward simplicity. On the surface, it speaks no powerful theological message directly, but when you take this passage apart it speaks loudly.

First, as we have discussed before, Jesus broke into the world in a real way. He is not some mythical figure. The Roman emperor was a real person at the head of a real empire. There had been some belief that Luke messed up the dates about when the census was taken but it has sense be proven true. Every couple of years there is a new discovery that verifies a fact in the Bible that had been previously held to be untrue. I read recently that oceanic archaeologists have found the remains of Egyptian armor at the bottom of the Red Sea that date to the time of the Exodus in the Bible. So, these facts add fire to my faith. The Bible is not just some fantasy, it is couched in history. The Jesus I believe in is a real man who actually existed. The fact that He is the Son of God is where my faith has to take me the last mile but the Christian faith is historical and based in real facts and events. You don’t have to lose your mind to be a Christ follower. There is a reasonableness to the faith. There comes faith to believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and that He willingly died on the cross for my sins. However, this faith of ours is so reasonable, there is not one person on earth that doubts Jesus’ existence – even atheists.

Second, we notice that Joseph and Mary did not have an easy road here. It seems that their life got harder with the need to return to their ancestral home. Slow arduous travel with a pregnant, tender teenage girl was not Joseph’s idea of a good time. They would have traveled slowly. It was not hopping in the car for them. This was a considerable task that some of us forget when we read the Christmas stories in the Bible. Although today, by modern roads, it about 70 miles from Nazareth to Jerusalem. But back in the day without modern roads and accounting for the terrain between the two towns, it may have taken the up to 100 miles. Think about making that trip on foot or on a donkey with a pregnant teen almost at full-term. Sometimes we like to sanitize this story and make it seem that bam they got up made the journey. No sweat. I bet this was a considerable decision for the two. Even though they were bearing the Christ Child and both had displayed great faith in accepting their roles, their life did not necessarily get easier. In fact there life was pretty rough there at the beginning. They had to go to Bethlehem, a long arduous journey. They had to give birth in a cave meant for keeping animals at night. They had to escape to Egypt when Jesus was very young. They had to live their for several years. Not exactly what seems like our life getting better as a result of our acts of obedience to the Father. This reminds us that sometimes we will face hardship as believers even when we step out in faith. We must remember that God will allow events to happen to us to determine how dedicated we are to Him. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to do God’s will are will you wimp out when it is no longer convenient? Joseph would chuckle at our lack of faith. He became a world traveler because of his acts of obedience. Do you have the resolve to follow wherever Christ leads? Do I have what it takes when it comes down to it? Do I push through adversity or do I wimp out. If God can’t trust us with a little, He will not trust us with much.

The final thing that you see here is the contrasts between human authority and God’s authority. Jesus came into the world as a mere baby. He seems awful weak compared the human authority of the mighty Roman Empire. The Romans were in control of much of the known world at the time. Joseph and Mary controlled little. Jesus was a mere baby. Augustus Caesar was the ruler of much of the world. The contrast makes Jesus and Mary and Joseph seem like a speck on a flea on the biggest dog. However, Jesus changed the world. He changed the Roman Empire. How many people remember that Augustus Caesar was the first emperor of Rome – when Rome converted from a republic to an empire. How many people remember what Augustus said, thought, and felt. 2,000 years later people know what Jesus said felt and did. The number of people’s lives that Jesus has touched in the last 2,000 years is astounding. Augustus Caesar sounds kind of puny in comparison. The church lives on today. The Roman Empire is gone. The Roman emperors after Augustus tried to do things that assured their remembrance for generations. Do you remember any Roman emperor with the same emotion as you do when you remember Jesus. The humble baby is exalted. The proud empire is brought low. How this gives us hope. When we are down and out and thinking the world has crapped on us, we know that our faith is eternal, our circumstances are temporary. Things of this earth pass away, but Jesus is forever.

Father, Father, thank you for the obedience the faith of Joseph and Mary. They are inspirations to my faith. They were obedient to you in all circumstances. They suffered great hardships in making sure that the Christ Child was born where He was supposed to be born, that He survived into adulthood and began His ministry that changed the world forever. Help me to remember that doing your will is not always easy and convenient. Help me to remember that it may downright hard and excruciatingly difficult to do your will. Help me to remember that things of this life are temporary and that doing your will is of eternal benefit. Help me to know that choosing earthly convenience over doing your will is so very short sighted. Help me to remember that you offer eternity with you to those who are submitted to you and strive to do your will no matter the circumstance. Amen.

Luke 1:46-56 — This passage has come to be called the Magnificat because in the Latin translation of the Bible, Mary’s opening words are “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” (or in English, “My soul magnifies the Lord”). Of course, Mary spoke neither Latin nor English, but that’s beside the point. It is a song of praise in any language. There are two things to notice here in Mary’s beautiful song of praise.

Mary was not being proud, as some might suggest. Mary is not being a political revolutionary, as some have suggested. She is simply praising the Lord. She is in awe of what God has chosen to do through her. Instead of thinking of her words as pride, “and from now on all generations will call me blessed,” it should be seen as the voice of a young teenager who knows she doesn’t deserve the honor that she has been given. She admits right before this statement that the Lord has recognized his lowly servant girl. She knows that she is an unusual choice, probably an undeserving choice by human standards, for this honor. My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord. She is overcome by joy at being chosen for this deed that is now known through the generations. Certainly, Mary in the humility of this statement would be the first to disagree with how some in our faith grant her status equivalent with Jesus. This passage is evidence that she is blown away by the honor. I imagine Mary felt just as we do when we realize that Christ died for our sins and we have been given a new lease on eternity when we accept Him as our Savior. We are so undeserving of this favor shown by God. Though we are undeserving of any merit from God, we rejoice in that we have received favor. Think about it. On our own, we do not deserve to be in the presence of God, but through Christ we have been given a honor that we do not deserve. This is how Mary feels. If she wasn’t pregnant, she would be doing cartwheels. She would be a flyer in a cheerleading stunt. She would be doing that victory dance that we do when our favorite college team wins an important game. Mary had no special talents that we know of. Mary was not a self-aware, mature beyond her years political revolutionary. She was a 12-14 year old girl who was trying to figure out this crazy, mixed up world. She was just a kid. It was not that she had accomplished any great thing to deserve this. She had not earned it. She was just a girl in love with the Lord. Her song of praise is simply a recognition that God grants us gifts that we don’t deserve in so many ways. In thanksgiving, our souls should magnify the Lord for the undeserved gifts He grants us daily. He grants them. We do not deserve them. We should be thankful and joyful and singing praises at what God has done for us and in us through our faith in His Son.

The second thing that Mary’s Song of Praise is shows us is that Mary recognizes that God is faithful to His promises. Kingdoms may come and go. Princes may raise and fall. The rich cannot sustain their wealth in eternity. All of humanities promises are temporary. All of our accomplishments are temporary. There has yet to be a man-made kingdom that has lasted more than a millenium. All of man’s deeds, promises, and actions are temporary. The one thing that remains is the eternal promises of God. Mary praises God for this. There were those who doubted God would ever fulfill His promise to Abraham. Mary is stating emphatically here that God’s promises are eternal and they have now been fulfilled in the child she carries. She praises God in faith and in trust that He never fails. He does keep His promises. He may not answer them when we as temporary, fleeting humans want them answered but He does keep His promises. What joy Mary has in this. Her faith is vindicated. He is bringing forth the Messiah that He promised. Mary’s praise should be our praise. God is faithful. He is faithful always. When all the things of this temporary human life have disappointed or failed to keep promises over the long haul, we have God’s promises. He never fails. His love never fails. Take hold of that my friends. Even when we are in the depths of despair, God is working. He will keep His promises to those who are faithfull in His due time. When we are down and out and think we have nothing to cling to, cling to the Eternal King. He is faithful. He keeps His promises. We must have faith in this. Satan wants you to distrust and turn away from God. God will keep His promises. He always has. He always will. Mary is doing metaphorical cartwheels over this. She is doing the cabbage patch dance over this fact. She is doing the moon walk over this. She is doing the electric slide over this. Sorry, for the digression into various dance moves, but you get the picture. Mary is magnifying the Lord in her soul. She is shouting from the mountaintops for the promise kept! This lowly teenage girl we can learn much from! We whine and complain about what we don’t have, about the fact that God seemingly doesn’t hear us. Mary says, you fool, God is God. He is eternal. He does what He says—according to His Sovereign timetable not ours!

Father, help me to remember to have some Mary joy about the fact that though I did not deserve salvation you gave me this great gift, this great honor. To be among your chosen ones because of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That was all it took. No deserving acts. No deeds. Just faith. Help to remember like Mary that she did not deserve the honor bestowed upon her. May my soul continue and always leap for joy for my salvation, for my undeserved honor. Also, help me to remember the promises that you make are kept. Your answers to my prayers that are alignment with yours will come when You decide. You will keep your promises to your faithful ones. You always have. You always will. You are eternal. Our promises as humans are only temporary. You are eternal. You keep your word. Let me rejoice in that trust! Amen.

Luke 1:39-45 — Have you ever let jealousy ruin a precious moment in life? That could have been the reaction of Elizabeth in this situation but her humility is worth noting when she sees her relative, Mary.

In first century Palestine, a woman’s value was largely measured by the children she bore. Barrenness often lead to personal hardship and public shame. When she found out that she was going to have a baby, it was a long-awaited answer to years of prayer. She would no longer have to hear the whispers as she passed by others. She also knew that her future was secure through her coming son. She also knew from her husband’s encounter with the angel of the Lord that her son was going to be special. He was going to be the one that paved the way for the long-promised Messiah. It was news that just had her giddy with excitement and feelings of blessing. I am sure that we have all experienced those times where we know that we have been given a great blessing. It just makes you feel as though all your years of faithfulness to the Lord have been rewarded. It gives you a feeling that yeah, I really have done the right thing following Jesus all these years. It is a moment of joy and satisfaction. It gives you a moment of pause when you realize when there is a blessing that you know can only come from the Lord. Have you ever received a blessing that you know was only possible through the grace of God? It made you feel especially loved and favored by God. I am sure that Elizabeth felt this way too. There are times when we feel especially blessed. It is the sweet spot of all sweet spots when you realize that God gave you a blessing specifically. Not your neighbor. Not someone you hear and see about on stage at church. Not something you read in a devotional or see on a TV program. It is you that has been blessed. You!

Imagine then Elizabeth meeting Mary. This encounter is when you really realize that Elizabeth is a true woman of God. We read earlier in a previous passage that Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous people in God’s eyes. Now, from the scene in this passage, we know it for sure. Have you ever had one of those situations where you had a story that everyone was in awe of but then someone chimes in that they have an even better story than that. Everyone listening then turns their attention to the “better story” and then you are left alone as everyone then follows the person with the better story. We have a modern day example of this from my favorite football team, Clemson. Cole Stoudt is a senior and has worked hard over the past four years and waited his turn to become the starting quarterback. His faithfulness to the Clemson program is astounding. It is a story worthy of praise. He certainly has a story to tell about faithfulness and hard work and believing in yourself. However, he just happened to have a freshman phenom quarterback to be recruited whose talents are far above his. Everyone makes over DeShaun Watson. He is the next four years of Clemson football. What about Cole? He is left behind. His faithfulness had been rewarded. But along comes someone with far greater talent. Cole could have pouted. However, he stuck around and became a man. He could have let jealousy destroy him. However, without Cole over the past three weeks, while Watson has been injured, he has been a steadying force. Jealousy could have derailed a team’s season.

In the same light, Elizabeth could have been jealous of Mary. She could have felt like the kid who had the less great story. She could have reacted the opposite of Cole Stoudt. She could have, in jealousy, been angry with Mary. Elizabeth’s story was a miracle. She was advanced in years and finally was pregnant. And not just pregnant, pregnant with a special child. She encounters Mary whose son they both knew was going to be greater than Elizabeth’s precious long-awaited child. She could have been one of those people who start vicious rumors about those who seem to be more blessed that we are. She could have rejected Mary in jealousy. But that is not what we see from Elizabeth. Amazingly, Elizabeth shows her true humility. The statements about her and Zechariah are true. They are righteous people humbly serving their Lord. Instead of jealousy, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with joy that the mother of the Christ Child would come to visit her. Have you ever envied people who seem particularly singled out for special blessing? Are you jealous of those at church who have positions of authority over you? Instead of being petty and jealous, let’s us rejoice for those who have been blessed. Instead of talking gossip about those in authority over us, let us be humble and realize that those in authority over us have been given that position because God ordained it and we often don’t see their behind the scenes faithfulness to the Lord. Let us rejoice and take the Elizabeth approach and not the jealous approach. Elizabeth knew that her son would serve the Lord and serve the one in Mary’s womb. She was a servant of the Lord not the servant of her own ego. We all are here to serve Jesus. We are all here to tell the story of his great gift of salvation and of restoration. Let us serve the Lord together in the capacities that He has given us right now at this place at this moment in time. All of us are servants. We must serve and work in our positions that we hold no matter how high or how low as if we are working for the Lord. God has you right where He wants you right now because this is where He needs you in the position you hold. Let us be humble like Elizabeth and realize and submit to the Lord.

Father, help me to have an Elizabeth attitude about life. Help me to realize that you bless me daily and give me what I need not what somebody else needs. You personally know me and love me. I should not compare my blessings to others. You are doing a work in me that is unique to me. Help me to have a vertical mentality rather than a horizontal one. Help me to keep my eyes on you and how you sustain me personally rather than comparing myself to how you bless or don’t bless others. My relationship with you is vertical. You are my King and I am your servant. I need to remember that I serve to glorify you and not gain glory from others. Help me to be Elizabeth humble. Amen.

Luke 1:26-36 — This is one of those passages where we need to spend a few days as it is very important to our faith. The first thing we must talk about together is Mary herself. Mary was young, poor and female. All of these things are not very impressive particularly in first century Israel.

That God chose Mary is so interesting. She was young. Some conjecture because of life spans at the time that Mary was maybe 14 years old. If you have a 14 year old daughter, think if she was chosen by God for such a task. That she was so young in Jewish society would have meant that few, if anyone, would have given her any respect or any social power. She was just a kid. Even though children were required to work and do help with household matters and do their parent’s bidding at times, they were given no rights. Teenagers are accorded far more respect and given more freedoms than teens in first century Israel. They were to been true servants of their families. They were to be seen and not heard. For God to choose Mary, a young teenager, demonstrates to us that God will make His power known even through the young. If you are a teenager and you think that Jesus cannot use you because of your age, then simply think of Mary. This young virgin was used by God because she was faithful to her God. Mary was given a great task and a great honor. She was to give birth to and be a mother to the Son of God. Can you imagine knowing that you are carrying the Son of God in your womb? God can use us even when we are young. We have some great kids at our church that are destined to be used by God. Don’t let their age fool you into thinking that they are not important instruments in spreading the gospel of the man born until Mary. Let us be a people that nurtures our children’s faith and encourage them to be gospel messengers. Two people are brought to mind by this thought. Ruthie Bowen and Kieffer Mendoza. Ruthie is a young little girl, maybe 5 or 6, but she is such sweet child and so loving to everyone around her. She will pray for her friends at her age at the very mention of a problem. Wow. She is destined to be a great woman of God. We should respect her for this and nurture her growing faith. Kieffer Mendoza is a freshman in college. He has amazing musical talent that is going to take him very far in life. At the same time, his faith in God is as mature or even more mature than many of us adults. The combination of his talent and his faith makes him an amazing instrument of God. We should respect him for that. We should nurture that. Regardless of age, we should respect and nurture the gifts that God gives even the youngest of the young to spread the gospel message. God is eternal so He is not hung up on age. Neither should we.

Mary was also poor. In Jewish society, power and respect followed money just as they do today. Poverty was considered a strike against you. Poverty was a sign of lack of faith. It was punishment for your sins or the sins of your forefathers. Poor people were not given much power. Nothing much has really changed in this regard today. She was young and she was poor. Wow, God could have done better than that, surely. Why wasn’t Jesus born to a daughter of a rich king? Part of this story has to do with humility and opposing the proud. Rich people tend to get all caught up in their position and and who they are in relation to others. God opposed the proud and exalts the humble. Mary was a humble young servant of the Lord. She had no rights as a young, poor person but she fully depended on the Lord. She trusted Him to see her through her early years of her life and she probably didn’t care that she was poor. She had family and she had God. I think too God uses a poor person for a mighty task to show us that no one is excluded from being used by the Lord. All that is required to be chosen by God is faithfulness to Him. We must be in love with God to be truly used by Him. We should not exclude the poor from our fellowship of believers because they do not dress like us, don’t drive the cars we drive. God doesn’t care about any of that stuff. He cares about the heart. Mary had the heart of a servant. She was used not because of wealth or position, but because she was fully devoted to the Lord. That’s our only qualification as well. God uses the rich, the poor, it doesn’t matter. He checks the heart not the wallet.

Finally, to add one more layer of Mary being “behind the eight ball” in first century Jewish society, she was a woman. God giving a great task such as this as a women would have been unthinkable to Jewish society. Women had no rights. Women were dependent on men for their very existence. Inheritance of a husband did not pass to a wife as it does now when a husband dies. Then, it passed to the father’s eldest or oldest surviving son. Women weren’t allowed to even testify in court because their testimony was not considered credible. But God chose Mary, a woman. He chose her for the most important task of all time. Carrying the Christ Child. In fact, when you read through the gospels, Jesus accorded women great value. In the early church they were given equal standing with men. The first persons to see Jesus after the resurrection were women. Women are given places of honor in our faith. Women became empowered for the first time through the Christian faith. But in thinking of Mary in her day, this a radical concept. Sure, as time progressed, women in the faith were given greater and greater standing, but Mary was first. She was like that first person to stand up against a custom that has existed for a long time. She was a rebel of sorts. Mary knew that being a woman was a liability in her day, but she responds, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Basically, I do not care that the odds are stacked against me. I trust in the Lord as knowing what is right for me. Mary should empower women. She goes to prove that women can play very pivotal roles in the spread of the Good News. Women are God’s most wonderful creation and if they are called to serve the Lord in the ways that He sees fit, we should not hinder them but empower them. We should look at their heart for the Lord not the fact that they were a dress.

Mary, young, poor, a woman. God chose the humble not the proud for this wonderful and important task. He chose according to the heart of the servant not the age, not the bank account, not the gender. Mary gives us hope that all of us can be used by the Lord. God only cares that you place Him first above all other things. That’s when He can use you mightily. Not when you achieve a certain age, a certain level of weath, not whether you are a man or a woman. The message of Mary choosing gives us great hope. You too can be used by the Father to do great things for Him.