Happy 1-1-’11! God is so good and His mercy endures forever.
Time may feel like it’s flying by, but the truth is, in Christ, you and I are living forgiven, grace-filled, abundant, ETERNAL lives. Today is just one more day out of all of eternity with Him. Take a deep breath. Be still. No need to rush or worry. You can never run out of time. Isn’t that a blessed thought?
Sometimes in the middle of the details and deadlines of this “ordinary,” earthly life, I forget that truth. I loose sight of that reality and panic threatens. It’s good to press pause on day one of 2011 and thank God for the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Today I’d like to wrap up our little mini-series on lessons from the life of Ordinary Mary. So far we’ve discovered that: 1) God is personal. He chose to speak directly to Mary in the middle of her ordinary life. And since God is no respecter of persons, you and I can be assured that He longs to communicate with us even in the middle of our ordinary lives. If you seek Him this year, you will find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart. He will be found by you (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
2) God is patient. Ordinary Mary had an extremely ordinary reaction – fear. God’s voice and God’s message to her were initially received with a greatly troubled heat. Mary was confused. She was frightened. In spite of her unrest, God determined to pour forth His favor on her life, bestowing upon her the unimaginable privilege of becoming the mother of the God-man, Jesus Christ.
What adventurous assignment might the Heavenly Father offer you in this New Year? Partnering with the Almighty often prompts trembling and trepidation. Will you hear His patient whisper today, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).”
If everything we’ve learned so far in Luke chapter 1 hasn’t convinced you that Mary was an ordinary young woman, this last bit of evidence will.
“You will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High . . . (Luke 1:31-32a)”
Upon hearing the angelic description of just exactly what God’s favor meant for her life, Mary asked a very ordinary question. “How . . .?” Specifically Mary says, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” This query is about as logical as it gets. A young, teenage girl, as yet inexperienced in matters of the birds and the bees, knows at least enough to ask how in the world this could be.
Gabriel’s response transports Mary from the realm of “how” to the world of Who. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:35b, 37).”
Mary’s third revelation of God: He is powerful. Bottom line. That’s it. No thing is impossible with God. Who He is overshadows all the hows that don’t make much since in our lives.
So, we discover that while Mary is completely ordinary, her God is anything but. Mary surrendered to an extraordinary God. Listen to her faith-filled response: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” And it was.
Mary became an obedient container for the Living God. She carried within her the life of Christ. If you have received Christ Jesus as Savior, you too, “have this treasure in earthenware vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not of ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7). Christ lives in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
Having grown up in the south, one of my favorite memories is the good, old-fashioned, church pot-luck supper. Every sweet Granny and momma and aunt paraded through the doors of the church fellowship hall toting Tupperware containers full of the best tasting morsels that ever melted on the human tongue. They lined up their dishes on tables covered in paper cloths and we made our way down both sides of those tables filling our plates with all the best. Their were moans and delicious groans of delight as the aroma of fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, homemade biscuits, garden-fresh green beans and State Fair Blue Ribbon desserts prompted compliments long before the first bites were ever taken.
But in all my years of attending pot-luck suppers at my little, country church, I have to admit that I never once heard anyone raving over the Tupperware. No one commented on the containers. All the focus remained, rightly so, on the goodness inside.
Ordinary Mary was a container for perfect Goodness. You and I are ordinary containers too. We are His Tupperware – His earthenware vessels. Our extraordinary Savior lives inside and all the focus and the honor and the glory and the attention belong to Him.
How ordinary are you willing to be this year? John the Baptist said it best, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” Remember, you carry Christ with you wherever you go. Let Him live out of you this year. By faith obey Him like Mary did and day by day you will find Him to be personal, patient and extraordinarily powerful in and through ordinary you.