And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38
A young girl, a teenager.
A teenager in a culture where girls pregnant out of wedlock were at best shunned and rejected.
Most commonly, they were stoned to death.
A teenager doing her best to live an honorable life.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus.”
Mary is minding her own business, living a typical life, newly engaged then God sends His angel – everything changes.
She has to know.
She has to know no one will believe her.
Mary is facing scandal, ridicule, rejection, probable death.
Disgrace for herself, her family and fiance.
“I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to Your Word.”
My life is yours – whatever you have is what I want.
Mary’s response has always impressed me – this young girl with enormous faith.
She doesn’t complain, cry out or try to talk God out of it.
She gives herself fully.
Can you imagine the conversation?
“Mom, Dad…I have something to tell you. An angel visited me and I’m going to have a baby. I’m still a virgin, I haven’t strayed. The Spirit of the Lord did this.”
“Joseph, I didn’t cheat – it was the Lord.”
The doubt and gossip and knowing looks she must have endured.
She sings a song of praise.
In spite of scandal and disgrace, Mary focuses on God.
She chooses peace and joy.
I am not Mary – I am a goad kicker.
I want what I want and what I want is for God to comply.
Be who I think He should be.
Do what I think He should do.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The trial is the test.
A test that reveals my heart and who I’m serving – me or God.
What I believe.
Who or what I trust.
Testing has two purposes – to improve strength and integrity and reveal weaknesses.
How I respond determines the result – am I better or bitter?
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:18-20
I want to fit in.
I want to be liked, loved, approved of.
I don’t want to offend or be rejected and ridiculed.
If I follow Jesus, the Bible says I will be hated and persecuted.
Too often I value myself and the approval of men above God.
Comfort is king.
To love like Christ is to publicly proclaim Him.
Share hard truth.
Walk by faith in ways that don’t make sense.
Rejection by the world.
It means going against the grain.
Saying no instead of yes.
Shining the light of truth in dark places.
Allowing the Lord to lead.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:7
Following Jesus means I give up things that don’t serve Him.
Forgiving when I really want justice, payback, revenge.
Loving those who hurt me.
Saying unpopular things.
Living in ways that honor Him.
Proclaiming His Name and truth when I want to blend in.
It means I give Him my life the way He gave His for mine.
“May it be to me as you have said.”
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
Choose this day whom I will serve.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:10
As a child of God, His Word promises I will experience adversity, difficulty and persecution – if I’m not, what am I doing?
More importantly who am I really serving?
I fear I have the sin of self – where I make my own rules and become my own god.
Where grace is abused and life is about avoiding pain and hardship.
If I do the right things in the right way, I can escape inconvenience and discomfort.
The difficulty and pain I avoid are what produces Christ’s character and furthers the gospel.
I compromise my faith in favor of ease and comfort.
Pride in possessions isn’t from the Father.
If I’m not with Him, I’m against Him – there is no place on the fence.
Make the most of every opportunity.
Guard my heart.
Love God, love my neighbor.
I draw near with my mouth and honor Him with my lips while my heart is far away.
Profess to know God, yet deny Him in works, decisions, speech and life.
The appearance of godliness without power.
No one can serve two masters.
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?”
“Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
The righteous live by faith.
Faith that produces fruit.
Doers not just hearers of the Word.
Share with those in need.
Love God, love people – in deed and truth.
Love covers a multitude of sins – mine and yours.
Love that’s patient and kind.
Love that keeps no record of wrongs.
For God so loved the world He gave.
Gave His Only Son.
He gave so we can give.
Revealed in what I do.
Whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but have eternal life.
If I believe what I say I do, it shows up in how I live.
Actions speak louder than words.
If I love Him, I keep His commandments.
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what you have worked for, but win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:6-9