Praise Him with Blinders On

Mary’s Hymn of Praise

And Mary said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. 

For from now on all generations will call me blessed,  because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.

He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.

He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:46-55
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This was Mary’s response of praise once the shock had subsided and she had bonded with her aunt (‘sister in Christ’).  Pure, joyful praise!

  • Her praise isn’t watered down with concerns about her personal needs or reputation.
  • Her praise is free from question or doubt.
  • Her praise is a pure reflection of a servant filled with joy to do the will of God.

Putting ourselves in Mary’s shoes, imagine her fear of the unknown and acknowledging the ridicule society would throw her way with gossiping rumors of their perception of what ‘really’ is happening here. 

Now consider how we respond when God calls us to do His will in ways that don’t align with our plans or understanding.

Mary’s hymn of praise reminds us that the response God desires is pure praise.  Humble, soul submitting praise that has no implied conditions or ties to an expectation of self-gratifying results.

Blinders on, eyes focused only on Him and the purpose of His plan for His kingdom

Mary is excited to be serving God, even in a precarious position that could harm her ‘reputation’ in the world.  It could bring hardship in her future and she is definitely not being ‘paid’ to do this. 

God asks us (desires for us) to respond to His calling with a resounding, joyful – YES! True JOY that comes from a pure motivation to glorify God – even at the cost of our own popularity, wealth, comfort, or fame.

For His Glory

This lesson from Mary provides us an opportunity to sit at the table with God and ask Him give us a pure view of His will and a response that glorifies His name.

  • How is God asking you to serve Him? 
  • Do you have your blinders on to see only that which is His calling? 
  • Are you focused on seeing the purpose of your life for the plan of His kingdom? 
  • What thoughts want to creep in and distract us from being focused on His will:
    • Concern about possible ridicule from the world’s perspective?
    • Fear of how we will live?
    • Concern for income over trust in His provisions? 

Prayer Starter:

Lord God, creator of all, Master of all plans, lover of my soul.  I rejoice in the salvation provided by the sacrifice of your Son. 

I rejoice in the mercy you showed to us all at the cross. 

I rejoice in the grace You pour out on each of us.  

Without your perfect plan of salvation, I would fall short and never have the joy of sitting at Your feet for comfort, guidance, wisdom and protection.  I would not know the joy of such intimate fellowship with You.   

Give me eyes today that are focused on Your will, Your plan and Your desires.  Give me a heart that desires nothing more than to submit for the glory of Your plan.  Protect my heart from fears, doubt and concerns of what the world may think. 

I submit my all to You Lord.  For Your glory.  In the precious name of Your Son I humbly pray.  Amen. 

Perfectly Planned for His Glory

In those days Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah, and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She exclaimed with a loud voice –

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb! And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me?  For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1: 39-44
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Here we see Mary and Elizabeth meeting for the first time since both have learned of their pregnancies. 

  • Both are carrying a child created to fulfill a calling that will impact the world
  • Both were created to fulfill a calling for God’s plan to impact the world

God did not randomly select 2 women at the moment he decided it was time to bring Christ to the world. He planned the timing and lineage of Mary and Elizabeth for His glory. 

How perfect and intricate are God’s plans for us and for the glory of His kingdom. 

We can get so absorbed in asking for what we need God to do in our life and lose sight of the fact that we are called to seek God’s will as it was designed to fulfill His plans for us in His kingdom. 

Every single person is created in exactly the same way.  We are each planned for, created in our mother’s wombs at a specific time and place, with a specific lineage and a specific order of birth.  Our gifts, our experiences (good and bad), our circle of friends…all of these and more are not done by chance but by plan for God’s calling to be played out in our lives. 

God needed John the Baptist to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. He also knew that Mary needed a companion for support on this journey He had called her into.  In His great wisdom and perfect planning,  He provided for Mary what she would need by fulfilling His plan for John through Mary’s Aunt. 

God could have accomplished His need for John in any woman He chose.  It didn’t have to be Elizabeth, but He knew it needed to be Elizabeth.  And not just because she was Mary’s aunt with whom she was close, but also because of Elizabeth’s age. 

  • It was because of her age that Elizabeth could relate to the amazing circumstances of Mary’s calling too. 
  • And vice versa.  Mary had a companion she knew could relate to her miraculous calling in a way no other could. 

Mary has surrendered her life to a calling in which she would face issues like fear, ridicule, and questioning of others. God made accommodations to provide for Mary’s needs by giving her Elizabeth. Her aunt is a person of comfort and support and her home is a place of refuge and protection for Mary. 

This is a beautiful reflection of God’s perfect plan to provide what is needed, when it is needed, before it is even known to be needed.

As you surrender your life to the calling of Christ do you have fears? 

Are the choices you know you need to make to give complete surrender of your decisions and actions over to the glory of God putting you in a position for ridicule by those around you? 

Do you have questions? 

Who is your ‘Elizabeth’?

God has given each of us an ‘Elizabeth’ in our lives that we can go to for comfort, compassion, wisdom and intercessory prayer because they have experienced things in their lives that give them the ability to relate to what you are going through.

I confess that for too many years I let personal wounds and walls I had built for personal protection keep me from seeing and reaching out to the ‘Elizabeths’ God was providing for me. 

Maybe today’s scripture is a good reminder for each of us to spend some time at the table with God and ask Him to show us who He has provided for us in our journey, just as He did for Mary and Elizabeth. 

Whose ‘Elizabeth’ are you?

Who have you been created to provide comfort, compassion, wisdom and intercessory prayer as part of God’s provisional glory?

What experiences have you been through or are going through right now that give you insight that could provide wisdom, comfort or compassion to a person God has placed in your life?  Ask Him to reveal that person to you and be open to His response. 

  • Sometimes it’s not the person you are closest to, but one that is removed from you or a recent introduction. 
  • Sometimes it requires us to step out of a comfort zone of a certain social circle. 

For His Glory

When we seek the answer to who our Elizabeth is and vice versa, we are blessed beyond measure. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…

1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Prayer Starter

Lord, You created me to glorify You by fulfilling Your will. You also provide for all of my needs for Your glory as well. You know the needs I have for comfort, compassion, wisdom and support. Reveal to me those You have created to be that for me at this time. Give me eyes to see and a willingness to receive.

In the same way Lord, show me where for whom I need to be Your comfort, Your compassion, Your wisdom and Your support for those You’ve put in my life or have crossed my path. Give me the awareness and willingness to give what is needed for Your glory.

Humble Submission

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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.

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1: 34-38
LISTEN TO TODAY’S MESSAGE

Mary has been told of God’s plan to use her to bring salvation to the world, and as any of us might do, she questions the viability of the plan.

“How can this be….it doesn’t make sense.?

Such a familiar question, isn’t it. How many times have we been nudge by God in ways that just don’t make sense to our limited and worldly minds. 

The answer given to Mary’s question is that ‘nothing is impossible with God’. 

Perhaps Mary was familiar with this Proverb…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding. 

In all your ways, acknowledge Him and

He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Whether she was or was not familiar with it, Mary’s response to the answer she was given reflected this kind of faith.  Instead of continuing with  more questions, doubting the practicality of this plan, she says:

“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Mary teaches us so much in this simple response to this impossible plan.  It really boils down to her submissive acknowledgement that she is God’s servant. 

In her time, Mary would be very familiar with the term ‘servant’.  It was part of that culture to have servants in homes.  She knew the word servant meant:

  • One who respects all of the wishes of her master
  • Does the work requested of the master without question
  • Works in all things to please the master, not herself

Mary’s response is a perfect example of a servant recognizing her true Master. As servant’s of God, we can look at Mary’s example and consider how we too might reflect that servant-like response in our daily life.

MARY’S EXAMPLE OF GLORIFYING GOD WITH A SERVANT RESPONSE

Mary had plans for marriage and a normal family life.  She let go of those plans to be replaced with God’s plan. 

Mary submitted to a plan that brought her shame as friends and family began to gossip about the circumstances of her pregnancy.  

Mary submitted to a plan that put her in a ‘barn’ giving birth in pauper like conditions.  

TO THINK ABOUT AND ASK FOR GOD TO SHOW US WHAT WE NEED TO SEE

What plans might I be holding on to that are not aligned with where God is calling me or asking me to do for His glory?

How often do I turn a deaf ear to what God is asking of me because a need to please people or live up to cultural standards?

Is there something God is asking me to do that I’m avoiding because it might be uncomfortable? 

For His Glory

Mary’s servant like submission to the will of God resulted in a world changing event.  

Whether God is calling us to serve in a world changing way or a life changing way, the question is – are we ready to respond with a servant like attitude? 

Prayer Starter:

Heavenly Father, my Lord, my Master. I kneel before you as Your humble servant. Reveal to me Your will.

My heart longs to please You Lord. Reveal to me the things I am holding on to that keep me from being able to fully surrender to Your will, for Your glory. Give me an ear to hear Your calling, Your leading words.

Thank You for the gift of prayer and fellowship through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, that I may draw near and hear You.

Highly Favored

The angel went to her (Mary) and said

“Greetings to you who are highly favored.  The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1:28 ~
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Have you ever wondered why God chose Mary to carry His son?

Was she walking in her faith perfectly, without any sin?  Was that it? 

Scripture tells us this…

….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 

Romans 3:23

For this reason we know that Mary was not perfect or without sin. So again..why Mary? Did she pray more; do more ‘good’ things?

Why is it that God favored Mary?

A deeper look at the Greek word used in Luke 1:28 for ‘favor’ shows us it’s the work ‘charitoo’ and means “filled with grace”. 

The definition of Grace is God’s unmerited favor – His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. God’s grace is given in the form of a gift.

Mary wasn’t chosen because she had earned favor, it was a gift. God chose to gift Mary as part of His plan to fulfill prophecy and bring salvation to the world.

Further study reveals that this word ‘charitoo’ is used only once more in the New Testament-

To the praise of His glorious grace,

which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 

Ephesians 6:1

This tells us that believers in Christ are also ‘filled with grace’. Not because we do good things, pray enough or walk a perfect walk, but because we are ‘filled with grace’ by the blood of Christ. 

Just like Mary, God chose to favor us with the ultimate gift of life. 

Mary was chosen to physically carry the
Son of God to be born into the world…
We are chosen to carry the name of God
into the world…
so that we could have a way to salvation
and be highly favored… filled with grace.
so others can hear the way to salvation
and be highly favored…filled with grace.

For His Glory

Mary did what God called her to do.  The question we have to ask ourselves is are we doing what we have been called to do? 

Prayer Starter:

Thank you Lord that I am highly favored as a child of God.  I come before You during this season when thoughts are turned towards the birth of Your Son and ask that You make me mindful of more than the event, but of the result of that event. 

Because You chose to send Your Son to earth in the form of a baby, I am able to live a life free from sin.  I have done nothing to deserve this favor; I have not acted perfectly, prayed perfectly or even done good deeds to earn this favor. 

I am filled with Your grace and You are with me because a child, Your only Son, was born to live a life that would take Him to a cross where He would be the only perfect sacrifice that could bring me into fellowship with You. 

Lord, give me eyes to see those You have put into my life for Your glory. Those who need to hear Your path to salvation, the path to being highly favored through the blood of Christ.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  Praise to God the Father.  I rejoice in the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel ~ God with us! Amen and Amen!

Melt Into the Warmth Of His Presence

From the moment I put it out there, my desire to melt more and more into His will, the daggers of fear began to prick my inner thoughts. After all, it takes heat to melt all frozen things and those daggers kept telling me day after day, “get ready…the fires are about to rise up and consume you.”

And then this….

Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]. Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind–permeating every aspect of your being]…

Colossians 3:14-16 AMP

I am melted by the warmth of His presence. His word tells me to wrap myself in HIS unselfish love – like the warmth of a plush blanket.

Let His Word Melt You

Wrapped Up In The Warmth of His Presence

Melting does’t always have to happen by the heat of a flame, a refining fire. We can melt just by wrapping ourselves in His word.

  • When we are fearful, let the warmth of His word melt us into His loving arms
  • When we feel alone, let Him wrap us and melt us in the warming blanket of His words
  • When we are hurting, let His loving embrace comfort us and melt us more into Him

And so today, as I meditated on His word and let its warmth have its home within me, I prayed…

Lord, I cannot melt without the warmth of your presence. As I draw near to You, I am empowered by Your word to surrender rigid thoughts, emotions, wounds and resentments – melting them into Your peace. I confess my lingering fear of the fires I might face to melt my rigidity, but today I am reminded that drawing near to you is the warmth I can lean into….and melt. I rejoice in the hope and promise of Your peace – my inner calm.

Using your recipe card

Melt Into His Will

An iceberg floats atop the water, moving at the pace of the ocean waves. In calm waters, it sits still. In storms, it bobs and weaves, yet remains afloat.

In its frozen state, it flows with the ocean waters and at the same time maintains its own form. It’s in the water and cooperating with the flow of the water, but not part of the water – until it begins to melt.

It’s only when it begins to melt that it loses its own form; its own identity. It becomes one with the ocean. It disappears from sight but remains a part of the ocean. As it and other icebergs melt, the level of the water increases.

Lord, I want to melt into Your Holy Spirit. I want to lose my own identity and become one with You.

For too long I’ve been focusing on keeping my shape, my form, my identity – while floating in the flow of Your will.

My soul longs to melt into Your will, becoming one with You in thought, word and deed.

For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection

Romans 6:5

Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you ….

Colossians 3:16

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

When we understand that our purpose, our reason for existing, is to glorify God, we can cease striving because we are no longer working to prove our worth or value. We can release the need to keep our ‘form’ so we can be seen and validated by others. We can melt into our purpose and become one with the will of God.

And like the rising waters of melted icebergs, as we melt into His will, His glory rises.

Prayer Starter

Lord, You created me with one purpose – to do your will and glorify your name. You created me to find pleasure in serving you. You are worthy of all glory! I want to melt into Your will and serve You selflessly. I confess there are times I seek to be seen more than serve and even times when I serve to be seen. Holy Spirit, make me aware of the times I hold onto my ‘form’ and help me melt more into You.