News from Cheri...
May you have a very "Mary" Christmas! One of the most life changing lessons I was ever taught was a lesson entitled "Mary’s Model for the Christian Life” from Luke 1:26-56. Br. Herb Hodges, our spiritual father wrote and taught my husband and I this lesson many years ago and it still remains my all time favorite Christmas story! I pray that the following message will stir you to walk in the fullness of the Spirits power especially during this Christmas season. May we all be His container, His carrier and His conveyor... for the sake of OTHERS!
(Luke 1:26-56) “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, you are highly favored, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this
should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost
shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, your cousin Elisabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Your word
and the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb: and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the low estate of His hand-maiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty has done to me great things: and holy in His name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm: He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good
things: and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy: As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. And Mary abode abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.”
Within this text we have what is called“The Magnificat,” named after the first word of the (Latin) text in verse 46. It’s translated “magnify” in the English Bible. The Magnificat is the name for this incredible “song” that Mary sang when she heard the angel’s announcement. The setting of the Magnificat and the song itself reveal several remarkable things that constitute Mary’s Model.
First of all, Mary is a wonderful Model of Christian MEDITATION. The text reveals Mary as a model of Christian meditation. You can’t read the verses of this text without realizing that this young Jewish woman was a very meditative person. In verse 29 it says, “And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” Apparently Mary spent a lot of time thinking, pondering, contemplating, and meditating on the things of God. God didn’t choose a public woman, or a socially-renowned woman, or a wealthy woman, or a fiery woman, to be the Mother of His Son. He selected a quiet young woman who practiced private intimacy with God! Mary reflected, pondered, treasured up and then OBEYED the word of God. What a model for a committed Christian! Dr. Luke gives us more information about Mary than any other Gospel writer. By Luke’s own testimony in (Luke 1:1-4) it’s obvious that this incredible information came from Luke’s personal interviews with Mary herself. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce that she had been selected to be the mother of the Son of God, Luke reports that she was “confused and disturbed” and that she “cast about in her mind”, wondering what his greeting might mean (verse 29). As usual, Mary’s mind went to work when she heard this startling announcement, busily probing, searching, inquiring, sifting. When the shepherds came to the stable to tell about their encounter with the angels, Luke says that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The
verbs, “treasured up” and “pondered . . . in her heart” make up a good definition of Christian meditation. What a model for a committed Christian!
We should personally make a regular habit of treasuring up God’s truth and pondering it in our hearts? If not, we are not following Mary’s model of
wisdom. Psalm 1:2 says of the Godly person that “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” The word “meditate” means to“chatter within,” or to “talk to oneself inwardly.” Mary practiced this inner conversation on a regular basis. She internalized the words that God spoke to her and brought them repeatedly to mind so that she might turn them over and over and examine them more closely. What a model for a committed Christian! Mary was a meditative Christian.
Secondly, Mary is a wonderful Model of Christian SUBMISSION. When she got over the shock of it all and she realized the part that she was to play in the drama of redemption, she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word” (Luke 2:38). Have your way Lord…have your way! Biblical submission is a combination of strength, revelation and obedience. Only a person who is becoming “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” will have strength enough to make the rugged surrender called for in the Christian life. (Eph.6:10). Mary demonstrated the strength of a Godly heart when she joyfully submitted herself to God’s incredible purpose for her. The second ingredient of submission is revelation.
Revelation means that God has disclosed Himself to you through His inspired Word. And obedience? Obedience …..Well, we need to be very careful here, because most of us hear from God on a regular basis. We may hear God’s word and never have purposed, disciplined intentions or habits of obeying God’s word. This is one of the greatest sins of the church today…..Not Making Disciples! But, you see; Mary had learned the lesson of submission to God. Do you remember the wedding at Cana? When her Son had begun His public ministry, in a situation of need, Mary showed her full trust in Him and submission to Him when she said to the household servants, in John 2:5 “Whatever He asks of you, do it”, and the water-to-wine miracle followed her submission! Mary is a worthy model of total submission to her Lord.
Thirdly, Mary is a wonderful Model of Christian INCARNATION. The word “incarnation”means “in flesh.” It refers to God’s“in-flesh-ment” of
Himself in Christ. The Bible says, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the Unique Son of God” (John 1:14). The “Incarnation Idea” originated historically with God’s action in Mary, but it was not to stop there. The God who“in-fleshed” Himself in a virgin mother and became a Man wants to continue the same essential work spiritually in all of His born-again children. This is absolutely amazing…and it’s TRUTH! It is God’s intention to continue working in us spiritually according to the same standard He established physically with Mary. Jesus Christ is INSIDE every born again child of God as surely as He was in Mary. Spiritual realities are no less sure than physical realities. The supernatural, spiritual formation of Christ within us is just as real and “substantial” as was the material work God did in Mary’s womb. Jesus came into Mary, grew within her, was released into the world through her, and transformed the world around her. Mary is the “original,” the “first model,”the prototype of the way God wants to incarnate Himself in human beings. Mary was unique in that she was the only biological mother of Jesus, but she was a universal person in all other ways. She, like me, like you (like all people), was a sinner who needed to be saved. She, like me, like you was a recipient of God’s saving grace. She, like me, like you was a needy human being with frail mind and emotions. She, like me (like all
of us), was a worshiper who was staggered by the grace of God which came to her. Has the very GRACE of God staggered you beloved?
Just consider a few of the dynamics of this Incarnation of Christ IN Mary and then also IN us. When the angel made the incredible announcement of God’s coming incarnation in Mary’s body, several statements were made to her which are no less true of all Christians today. The angel said to her “You are highly favored” (Luke 1:28). Literally, the text says, “You are GREATLY GRACED!” Yes indeed she was GREATLY GRACED, and so are we. We have been GRACED by the mercy of God! Oswald Chambers said, “Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and we must reckon that it is always there to be drawn upon.” Oh that we would not only receive grace at salvation. But that we would live by grace! GRACE is the incredible GIFT of God’s Son! Mary was a recipient of God’s grace, the “overflowing favor of God,” and so are we! Then the angel said, “Blessed are you”(Luke 1:42).
Surely she was blessed, and so are we! Ephesians 1:6 tells us that every saved person is “engraced in the Beloved Son.” Beloved, all of us born-agains are “highly favored” and blessed by God! We are a “breed apart.” To have a place in His grace, to be a personal recipient of His “overflowing favor,” is an incredible privilege. We are GRACED and we are BLESSED in Christ our Redeemer!
Now think of the DIMENTIONS of the Incarnation of Christ in Mary. These same dimensions are spiritually reproduced in every child of God. First, there was an entrance of Christ into Mary. She conceived…RECIEVED the Son of God in her womb. And there must be an entrance of Christ into each of us that is just as decisive as His entrance into Mary was. John 1:12, “To as many as RECIEVED Him, to them gave He the power to become the children of God….” His incarnation in Mary was both physical and spiritual (Luke 1:35). His incarnation in us is spiritual, and it results from the union of two things, the “seed,” or “sperm,” of the Word of God, and the “ovum” of our faith. When the Holy Spirit works the absolute miracle of the New Birth in you (as He worked the miracle in the Virgin Birth in Mary), these two unite (the Word of God and your responding faith) and a new life is born within you, the very life of God Himself. Col. 1:27 tells us, “God willed to make known what is the mystery of the Gospel which is Christ IN
YOU, the hope of glory.” Beloved, a Christ not in you is a Christ NOT yours! Christ received by me, Christ resident in me….This is the Christian life.
Then, there is another dimension of the incarnation. Not only is there an ENTRANCE of Christ into Mary….But there was an enlargement of Christ within her. Mary carried a growing Jesus within her for nine months, and so we will carry a “growing Jesus” in us throughout our Christian lives.
Mary was stretched and shaped physically, personally, socially, mentally, and spiritually (and probably in several other ways as well) during the time
that she carried Jesus, and so will we be stretched and shaped and challenged and finally changed! Mother-hood changes us doesn’t it? Pregnancy
changes your focus doesn’t it? What we eat, how we dress….so many spiritual analogies in this. Sometime during a women’s pregnancy, we say that she begins to “show,” and the same will be true of a person carrying Jesus. Christ’s developing life within us will begin to “show” to others around us. You will find that “Christ in you” will do many of the same things to you spiritually that Mary’s supernatural pregnancy did to her physically.
Third, there was an expression (exit) of Christ through (from) her. Pregnancies don’t last! The release of the life within will occur! When Christ grows sufficiently within us, there will be an expression of His Life through us! He will move through us into the world around us just as He moved through Mary into the world around her!
Finally, there was an extension of Christ in an ever-enlarging way around her and far beyond. After a time, she “lost control” of the One who had come through her. He became“unmanageable”! On occasion, He almost sounded as if He was rebuking her for her attempts to
control and restrain Him. Mary suffered some “loss of face”on several occasions because of Him, beginning with His Birth. But she never once
argued with any of the negatives of her experience with Him. In the same way, He will move into an unhindered expression through us, even if He must rebuke and discipline us--and possibly cause some loss of face on our part—to “make room” for Himself. When we are as confident of God and His purpose as Mary was, we will gladly allow Him to have “right of way” in our lives.
This is truly a perfect picture of the Christian life and of Disciple making…which is Father’s intended purpose for every follower of Christ. We are
to receive Christ, carry Christ to the world and REPRODUCE His life in and through us and ultimately In OTHERS….OTHERS….always OTHERS.
Mary was certainly a wonderful model of the committed Christian. Our Christian life should reflect these same spiritual evidences of the “incarnation of Christ IN US. But then ultimately our lives must be reproduced in the lives of OTHERS. This is the life, the focus the vocation of a Disciple
of Christ and a Disciple Maker! The training ground for Disciple and Disciple Maker is found in this model. Mary certainly lived a life worth following! How about you? Are you living the radical Christian life? Are you reproducing Christ’s life in that next available woman? If not; you are missing out on the greatest joy of the Christian life.
May you, I, and all believers be as excited and overjoyed over the Presence of Jesus in us this Christmas as Mary was long ago! Mary is a great model for us in our opportunity and responsibility to be an extended incarnation of Jesus.
One final note: Mary gave to Jesus her human nature, and Jesus gave to Mary His Divine nature. This is a picture of true salvation. We
sinners give to Jesus our sinful human nature (that is, we simply give Him ourselves), and He gives to us His sinless Divine nature (that is, He simply
gives us Himself). Incredibly, we actually become “partakers of the Divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). The miracle of salvation involves a definite transaction of saving grace on God’s part and a critical moment of receptive faith on the sinner’s part. This is the miracle that occurs at the moment of our new birth. Mary was surely aware of this truth. She said, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior . . . . For He who is mighty has done great things TO ME.” Mary saw herself as the personal recipient of God’s saving grace, and then as the instrument of God’s mighty work in bringing His Son into the world.
Beloved, this is the abundant life IN CHRIST! Has this incarnation happened to you? Have you been the recipient of God’s saving grace? This same Divine-Human Savior is willing to do the same mighty saving work in any sinner’s heart today. But dear heart, the fact that there is a perfect Divine Savior will do you absolutely no good unless you believe in Him and receive HIM personally as Mary did. “He who believes in Him has everlasting
life.” “As many as receive Him, to them He gives the right to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.” Would you believe in Him today? Then your life can be built after the model which Mary revealed in the incarnation of Christ IN her. It will be truly "Christ IN You!
I pray you will have a very “Mary”Christmas—Be His container, His carrier and His conveyor in our world…even as Mary was long ago.
If Jesus comes today beloved, I'll see you over there in New Jersualem!
In The Cross-Ties,
Founder/President ITCT Ministries
ITCT is a 501(C)3 TAX deductable Ministry.