Wednesday, December 22, 2021

My Story Matters (Women in the Lineage of Jesus): Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Part 2

As's part 2 of Mary's story.

I want to remind you: Mary was not someone special.  

She was a woman of flesh and blood, just like you and me.  

To acquire a healthy heart in the midst of difficult life circumstances is not always easy, but she reminds us that it is possible!  

No one can say Mary lived an easy, comfortable life - the Roman government put constant pressure on the Jews to conform to the will of Caesar; tax collectors continuously raised taxes, leaving their countrymen financially poor and living a hand-to-mouth existence; and, religious leaders hypocritically forced the Law, while not obeying it themselves...

Along with all this, she'd been recently betrothed - an arranged marriage, with a man, who, it turns out, treated her with honor, kindness, and love. 

But....the results of a healthy heart always lead us to the very purpose of our creation: to bring glory to God as we enjoy relationship with him.  

There is no greater gift I could wish for you this Christmas season!  

So, let’s dig in...  What more can we learn about Mary?

A Mary-Heart:

(is) Pensive – I love the way God’s Word expresses this truth,And Mary pondered these things in her heart.”  There is no question that the road to a healthy heart is through reflection.  It’s the key to processing what is happening in our lives.  When we add Scripture to our ponderings, we’re able to find the way to the “treasure” that God has in store for us (this is but another translation of this Greek word, synterreo). As we learn to meditate on what is happening in our lives, in connection with the TRUTH, God releases spiritual treasure for us to mine and guard closely.  

God's word and a pensive heart will always lead us to deeper intimacy with our heavenly Father; and deeper intimacy is what all of us really long for, whether we know it or not (Proverbs 19:22)!

(is) Prayerful 
– One doesn’t burst out in prayer the way Mary did during her interchange with Elizabeth (what we term The Magnificat) on a moment’s notice.  No, Mary practiced prayer.  She was comfortable with being vulnerable and open with the Lord in the prayer-closet of her life, way before she was able to pray publicly the way she did.  Obviously, the Holy Spirit guided her words, but I believe Mary was reared on the words of her relative David, who also knew how to pray.  

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame (Ps 25:1-2).”  “Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles (Ps. 25:22).”  “To you I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place (Ps. 28:1-2).” 

(is) Poor in Spirit – Sprinkled throughout the Matthew and Luke passages, Mary is referred to as “humble.”  Those who recognize their spiritual poverty are most likely the ones who will be richly filled and blessed (Matthew 5:3).  Mary’s contagious humility reflected an incredible confidence in her God; and, it reflected the assurance she held in her identity in Him, as well.  All of this led Mary to great courage...not an absence of fear, but an absence of self.  It’s one of the critical pieces of the puzzle that helped her let go of her son, and submit to his sacrifice on her behalf, as well as ours...

(focuses on) People –  Years ago, I remember reading a novel based on the lives of Joseph and Mary.  The story ended with the birth of Jesus.  The end of the book left us with Mary looking lovingly at her son in the manger, and as she looked, the manger became over-shadowed by a cross...  The point was that from the beginning God showed the mother of our Savior that her son was born to die and his death meant the salvation of the world.  His birth and untimely death ushered in a new paradigm – a new covenant of grace.  Whether it was at that moment, or another, I don’t know, but I believe at some point Mary had to reconcile in her heart that her son was the answer to the world’s sin problem, and she surrendered to that plan.  Could I?  Don’t think so!  But that is the bottom line of proving Mary’s healthy heart.  Healthy hearts do not live self-focused; they sacrificially give for the benefit of others.  Healthy hearts are always others-focused!

May God remind you of these truths throughout this Christmas season – a season of giving selflessly to others as Christ gave for each of us!

May you all have a very Merry Christmas!

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