Woman, who art thou? Mary: Blessed Among Women (Part One)

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Welcome to the sixth blog in my series called “Woman, who art thou?” which explores key women in the Bible and how their examples are relevant to us today.  In this blog, I’m going to be exploring the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and in particular, her visit from the Angel Gabriel and her response.  I write with a little reticence but only because I want to make sure that I do her justice, being that she is the mother of our  Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The blog will be in three parts.  The second blog will focus more on the Magnificat – Mary’s response of worship.  The third blog will focus on Mary’s relationship with her son.

So, who was Mary?  Mary was a first century  BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth. She was young – probably a teenager, poor and female.  It was quite normal for girls of that culture to be promised in marriage while they were still as young as thirteen years of age.  Marriages were ordinarily arranged by the bridegroom or his parents through the girl’s father.  To be honest, she had all the characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her unusable by God for any major task.  But yet God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever demanded of anyone.  Centuries earlier, God had promised David that David’s kingdom would last forever (2 Samuel 7:16).  This promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, a direct descendent of David, whose kingdom will never end.

Motherhood is a privilege, a painful one, but a privilege nonetheless.  Mary, at a young age, had the unique privilege of being mother to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  This is why she is seen as being blessed among women. She had found favour with God.  Mary herself, in the ‘Magnificat’, testified that all generations would regard her as profoundly blessed by God.

“….for he has been mindful of the humble servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name”

Luke 1: 48-49

Was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. Mary was showing complete humility and glorifying God in song for what God was going to do for the world through her.

Until the visitation of the Angel Gabriel, Mary’s life was quite ordinary.  She had recently become engaged to a carpenter, Joseph, and was anticipating married life.  She had no clue that her life was about to change in such a dramatic way.  This was not the first time that the angel had appeared. Gabriel had visited Zechariah, as well as Mary and even the prophet Daniel, some 500 years earlier.  Each time, he brought important messages from God.

I would imagine that, once Mary had got over the shock of being in the presence of an angel (if that is even possible!), when Gabriel greeted her she might have been puzzled as to what was coming next (Luke 1:29).  What did this heavenly being want with her?! Maybe she felt like she had won the grand prize in a contest that she had not even entered.  It’s no wonder she was puzzled and frightened.  What came next was the news that almost every women in Israel hoped to hear – that her child would be the Messiah.  God’s promised Saviour and the fulfillment of scripture.  God’s announcement of a child to be born, throughout scripture, was met with various responses:

  • Abraham’s wife laughed (Genesis 18:9-15)
  • Zechariah doubted (Luke 1:18)
  • By contrast, Mary submitted, she believed the angels words and agreed to bare the child, even under humanly impossible circumstances.
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Mind Blowing!!

What really stands out to me about Mary is that she does not doubt what the angel tells her, not even for a second!  She does not refuse to believe it or laugh it off as an impossible task.  Rather she asked how pregnancy would be possible because she was still a virgin.  Gabriel told her that her baby would be God’s son.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his Kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1: 31-33

“…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” Luke 1: 35

His blessing on Mary, the honour of being the mother of the Messiah, would cause her much pain and come at a high cost to her personally: with her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, she risked being considered crazy; her peers would ridicule her; her fiance would come close to leaving her; her son would be rejected and murdered. But through her son would come the world’s only hope, and this is why Mary has been praised by countless generations as the young girl who ‘found favour with God’.  Mary’s submission was part of God’s plan to bring about our salvation. I’m quite in awe of her willing obedience to God, something I can only aspire to!

“I am the Lord’s servant….May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38)

When Mary said that, she didn’t know about the tremendous opportunity she would have.  She only knew that God was asking her to serve him, and she willingly obeyed.

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  • Mary may have been young in age but I have a feeling  that she is mature in her faith and relationship with God.  Initially, when the angel appeared to her, she may have been afraid BUT she listens to what he has to say from God and accepts it
  • At no point does Mary doubt that what the angel has told her will come to pass – “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38).  If anything she is curious as to HOW it will happen but she does not doubt that it WILL happen
  • Mary willingly submits to the will of God and is obedient despite the potential risks to her personally, socially, culturally etc.  She doesn’t ask “Why me?” or say “I cannot do this!”.  She basically says “Okay God, let it be, let’s do this!”
  • Mary, being young, poor and a woman, may have appeared insignificant to others in society but she definitely was not insignificant to God.  God chose her for a task that would require an extreme amount of obedience.  Don’t ever feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service.  Mary’s story shows us that this isn’t the case where God is concerned.
  • Don’t limit God’s choices.  He can use you if you trust Him!
  • If sorrow or sadness weighs you down and dims your hope, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out His plan.
  • “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38) – When Mary said this, she didn’t really know about the tremendous opportunity she would have.  She only knew that God was asking her to serve Him and she willingly obeyed.  Don’t wait to see the bottom line before offering your life to God.  Let’s offer ourselves willingly, even when the outcome seems disastrous.  God has a plan for our lives and knows the bigger picture – we just have to trust in Him 🙂  I’m sure God waits to hear a similar response from us.
  • God’s best servants  are often ordinary people who make themselves available to him
  • God’s plans involve extraordinary events in ordinary people’s lives
  • A person’s character is revealed by his or her response to the unexpected

Be blessed!

Ali x

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Seasons

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Are you in a season of waiting?

If so, I hope this song will bless and encourage you.

It has been for me.

The harvest is worth our patience.

God is not done yet.

Love this song! ❤

‘Seasons’ by Hillsong (Click to listen)

Seasons

Words and Music by Chris Davenport, Benjamin Hastings & Ben Tan

VERSE 1
Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia

PRE-CHORUS
I know

CHORUS
Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

VERSE 2
Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
As I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness
Like a fire to the snow
I’m renewed in Your warmth
Melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

BRIDGE
I can see the promise
I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons
I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done working
God I’m not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You’re the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child

TAG
And when I finally see my tree
Still I believe there’s a season to come

VERSE 3
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
From Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia

Lord Of All?

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The people were being unfaithful.  Though not openly saying they rejected God, they were living as if he did not exist.  Men were marrying pagan women who worshipped idols.  Divorce was common, occurring for no reason other than a desire for change.  People acted as if they could do anything without being punished.  And they wondered why God refused to accept their offerings (v13).  We cannot successfully separate our dealings with God from the rest of our lives.  He must be Lord of all.  He wants to be Lord of all.  He wants us to welcome Him into every aspect of our lives whether it be our work, marriage, finances, how we parent our children, how we manage our friendships – every single area of our lives.  Lord of all.

I’m still learning here, I’m reluctant to admit, but it’s true.  I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes and I like to hold on tightly to the reins and have control over my life.  Is it any surprise at all that when I behave like this that things can become a bit chaotic? Of course not!

I know I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog, that I got married to my wonderful Dan in April, who is my best friend and a constant blessing daily!However, before that I had been a single mum for four years with three children.  It wasn’t easy. I had given up a good teaching job (albeit stressful) to be more available for my children.  My finances were a mess, I’ll be completely honest, up to my neck in debts that had accumulated throughout my adult life and had spiralled out of control.  I had just continued to bury my head in the sand I’m ashamed to say! However, as a single parent, I knew I couldn’t carry on like that.  It wasn’t fair on my children.

One Sunday, I had been at church and someone had spoken about the work of CAP – Christians Against Poverty – and how they had helped people who were in desperate financial situations because of debt.  I decided that they might be able to help me too. So I gave them a call.  I was soon put in touch with a lovely lady who visited me at home to discuss what help CAP might be able to give.

After a few meetings, it became apparent that my best solution was to go bankrupt! That news was a big shock! Had it really got that bad?  There seemed to be a real stigma around going bankrupt.  Would it be made public in the local newspaper? Oh my, I’m telling you now, I felt so ashamed! Embarrassed! My pride had taken a huge knock!

My lovely CAP lady would often pray with me at the end of our meetings which really helped and I realised this was no time to be proud!  I needed to let God be Lord of my finances.  Did you know it actually costs a lot of money to apply for bankruptcy?  This can be problematic if you’re in a lot of debt obviously.

I had a letter from CAP one day to say that I might be eligible for a grant to help with the costs of the bankruptcy.  In all honesty, there was no other way for me to obtain the fees. The company i was put in touch with helped people who had or were working in education.  I filled in the forms and with in two days I had an e-mail back to say that my application had been successful.  With the next few days the company transferred the money to CAP so that the bankruptcy could be finalised.  Wow! This was amazing  – to think that no one from the company had met me in person and they were prepared to give me the full amount to cover the costs of the bankruptcy! God is good! I was so very grateful to have this heavy weight that had been carried on my shoulders for so long to be lifted at last!

So now, I try to allow God to be Lord of all areas of my life.  Sometimes I find it easy, sometimes I struggle.  But I am a work in progress and God is not finished with me yet!

Deuteronomy 30:9-10 “Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.  The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commandments and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”.

I’m learning day by day to allow God to be Lord of all areas of my life.  Please be encouraged that if we obey and allow God to be Lord of all we can only but prosper and be fruitful.  If God is for us, who can be against us right?

Be blessed x

(P.S. This was not a planned blog at all – a very spur of the moment thing really! The passage of scripture was part of my original notes on my ‘Delight’ theme/series but somehow I felt led to share something rather personal.  I hope you don’t mind x)

Christians_Against_Poverty_logoCAP link