Mary sets a subtle yet striking example in her devotion to prayer. As a matter of fact, her prayers are the bookends of her story: in Luke 1, she pours out a prayer of thanksgiving for God choosing her and sending Jesus to be her Messiah, and in Acts 1, she joins the other believers in praying for the Holy Spirit to come, and ultimately, for revival to come.
Prayer is so easy to talk about - but often hard to actually do. I think most of us would say we believe that God answers prayer, but how many of us actually pray like we believe it? I love this quote by E. M. Bounds: "What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer."
Our families need our prayers. Our churches need our prayers. Our neighborhoods need our prayers. Our country needs our prayers. Let's be determined to be the ones who cry out to God to intervene, to send His Holy Spirit, and to bring revival - and let's ask Him to start with us.
Faithfulness is a lost art in our culture of instant gratification. The same desires that make us impatient to get what we want when we want it cause us to give up on people when we find ourselves facing friction, conflict, and an inevitable struggle.
But what would happen if we, like Mary, determined to be faithful, to be devoted, through thick and thin, through good and bad? Much like the vows we make when we enter into a marriage covenant, God calls us to a deep and committed to relationship with Him. And while His faithfulness is never-ending, ours is fickle. That is why we must make great effort to be devoted to Christ not just when life is good and following Him is easy, but when life is overwhelming and giving up is easy.
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him." -James 1:12
We live in a culture that is all about making a name for yourself. We're constantly bombarded with messages from both secular and Christian sources that tell us to be all that we can be, to leave our mark on the world, and to stand out. I, myself, struggle with the desire for recognition and the temptation to not do something if I don't think it'll be appreciated or noticed. But the truth is that Scripture actually calls us to live quiet, humble lives that draw attention not to us, but to Christ.
Mary was a humble woman, content to live her life behind the scenes and make much of Christ. Instead of making a name for ourselves, let's be determined to make Christ's name known - and in the process we'll earn eternal rewards instead of the temporary ones that recognition in this world offers.
Anyone here struggle with control? I know I do! Another amazing thing about Mary is that she was a trusting woman. She trusted God not only to work in her own life, but also in the lives of those around her. Even after Joseph decided to divorce her, Mary trusted God and waited for Him to intervene rather than taking matters into her own hands, becoming manipulative, obsessive, or controlling. Rather than trying to force those around us to believe God, we must each surrender and trust God to work. If God said it, He will do it! His way, in His timing. Let's have the faith to wait.
In Luke 2, verses 19 and 51, we see that in the midst of the many responsibilities of being a wife and mother, Mary took time to contemplate what was happening in her life and to meditate on what God had done.
Being reflective is one of the hardest thing for a woman in the 21st century for one simple reason: it takes time. Life is crazy, and there are demands on us all of the time. When we finally do have a few minutes to ourselves, our default is to play a game on our phones, watch a TV show, or do some other mindless activity just to "de-stress."
But when we don't take the time to reflect on our lives, on what God is doing and how He is working in our lives we can miss out on so much! When we reflect on God's goodness through the blessings in our lives, we find joy. When we meditate on His sovereignty through the stresses of the day (or week, or month), we find peace and comfort. When we remember the ways He's answered our prayers, we find hope and encouragement. And through all of it, we grow.
God is always at work around us. Let's make sure we don't miss it - let's take the time to reflect on what's going on around so that we can be encouraged and strengthened and grow closer to God through the process.
Luke 1:46-55 records for us Mary's beautiful prayer of thanksgiving to God. In it, she referenced Old Testament scriptures and stories more than a dozen times! This is striking when you consider that Mary was uneducated and likely illiterate. She was not able to read the Scriptures for herself - rather, she listened. And it's obvious that she listened intently, hiding the words of Scripture in her heart.
If we want to be godly women who can be used God, we must never underestimate the value of God's Word in our lives. Not only do the Scriptures convict us, encourage us, and direct us - they also equip us to pour into the lives of those around us. The more we know the Word of God, the more we can share the word of God.
I marvel at this aspect of Mary's life, because I so easily give into the temptation to WHINE instead of WORSHIP. And when I consider what makes me whiny, it’s always something so insignificant, especially when compared with what Mary was facing. For me it could be I overslept my alarm, or maybe I was overcharged and have to call the internet company. Sometimes I’m just tired and I don’t feel being nice to someone, yet God has pushed them right in front of me to interact with. And I whine.
Mary faced incredible difficulties – difficulties with her family, with Joseph, with the culture around them. She faced physical difficulties of carrying a child and the childbirth to come – without medication! And she would face many more than she did not even know yet. And she worshiped.
Instead of focusing on our inconvenience, or on our fear, or on our exhaustion, let’s choose to focus on God – let’s choose gratitude for His wonderful acts, His mercy, and for choosing us to be part of His plan to reach those around us.
Hello There! So sorry for my long absence... much of my summer has been spent wedding planning! Cameron and I were married on September 29th in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by our closest family and friends. We are so thankful! But I'll be sharing more about that later.
For now, I'm super excited to be launching a brand new video devotional series! For the next month, I'll be posting videos every Tuesday and Thursday where we'll dig deep into the life of Mary of Nazareth, an ordinary woman used by an extraordinary God! This series is based off the booklet by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth titled "A Portrait of a Woman Used by God."
Here's today's video:
In a word: passionate.