Keith was back up to bat this week teaching the Sunday School class. His lesson assignment – Mary. I like the fresh direction he took on a timeless, familiar part of the Christmas story. His recap/followup is after the jump.
In a world riddled with sadness and pain, we, as children of God, can trust that God is caring for our needs in many ways. A study of the life of Mary reveals several of the ways we can trust in God.
Trust that God will reveal His plans to you. God revealed His plans to Mary (Luke 1:30-33), just as He did in numerous other places in the Bible. Joshua was told how to defeat Jericho. God told Gideon that he was to become God’s judge and general, despite his reluctance to accept God’s plan. God’s plan for His children is contained throughout the Bible, giving us guidance on how to live and behave. But God is also able and willing to give us guidance in very specific and personal decisions. Although God does promise to reveal His plan to you (Jeremiah 33:3, Amos 3:7), this revelation is based on God’s timing. God may also only give you part of the revelation (maybe the final destination) so that you may trust him on the rest (the little details). Or He may give you some of the details and not the final destination. If you don’t pray to God for direction and listen for his guidance, we can very easily stray away from God’s prepared path and wander into dangerous and unhappy places.
Trust that God can and will utilize you. Mary wondered how she could be utilized since she was a virgin (Luke 1:34). Isaiah believed he was too sinful to be used (Isaiah 6:5-9) and Moses was looking for any excuse he could find (Exodus 3). But be assured that He has plans to use all of us for His purposes. God often utilizes the unexpected person for His plan: the poor speaker (Moses), the youngest and smallest of stature (David), the enslaved (Daniel), and so on. Don’t let Satan fool you into believing that you are to sinful to serve God (Psalm 103:12, 1 John 1:9) or that you are not’t skilled enough.
Trust that God will give you peace. Mary had everything to fear: social stigma, divorce, being stoned (and not like Cheech and Chong). But even as these fears were looming over her head, she rejoiced in God (Luke 1:46-49). Job is another example of someone who found peace in God at an unlikely time (Job 1:20-22, 2:9-11). Finding this peace may seem difficult when the storms and troubles of this life are assailing you, but you simply need to ask for peace (Philippians 4:6-7). It is very reassuring that the promise of peace is found so often in the scriptures (Matthew 11:28, Exodus 33:14, Psalm 119:165, 1 Kings 8:56, and others). Often, we don’t have peace because we don’t bring our cares before God. “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer (From the old hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus).”
Trust that God will keep His promises, even if it may seem like He’s not. Mary was promised that Jesus would be very special and reign over Israel on the throne of David. About thirty years later, Jesus was a carpenter in a small village. But Mary still believed in God’s promise. When the wedding wine was gone, Mary asked Jesus to fix the problem (John 2:3-5), believing that he could. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego also relied on God’s promises (Daniel 3:16-18). They still believed as they we thrown into the furnace. How often we expect God to act on our time table or with our goals in mind. Although God could have just as easily saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (and saved them some stress) before they were thrown into the furnace, God’s plan was so much better. God cannot lie nor break a promise (Numbers 23:19). God knows best and we need to be patient and trust that God will take care of us (Jeremiah 29:11).
Finally, Trust that Christ’s words are true. Mary was with the remaining disciples after Christ’s ascension into Heaven (Acts 1:13-14). Mary probably didn’t fully understand what Christ was sent to earth to do until after the resurrection. But it is clear that she was a believer after the resurrection, even being involved in the meeting that picked a replacement for Judas. Likewise, Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was talking about at first (John 3). But at some point he did become a follower of Christ (John 7:50-52), even assisting in the burial of Jesus (John 19:38-39). Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6): the most important place to put your trust. If you are planning to go to Heaven because you are a good person, you can trust that you’ll be in Hell with a lot of other well intentioned people (Matthew 7:22-23). We all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and deserve death (Romans 6:23). But God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for us (John 3:16); so that we do not have to try to achieve salvation through our own works (Ephesians 2:8-9), which we would never be able to do anyway (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We don’t need to try to live up to some high standard (and we can’t), we just need to believe in our hearts and ask Him for his free gift of salvation (Romans 10:9).
Trusting God is not always easy. Man thinks of himself higher than he ought to. We are impatient, not willing to wait on God’s timing. We like to worry and we want to be in control. Gaining peace and happiness really means surrendering and giving up.God Bless,Keith