Character Development with Mary

» Posted by on Feb 2, 2014 in character development | 0 comments

Character Development with Mary

What is your value to God?
What is the significance of your role in the universe?
Do you think that what you desire is not okay because it seems so selfish?

He designed us to do good works, which He created for us to do specifically. In fulfilling our desires, we do what God created us to do. (see Ephesians 2:10)

Character development is about understanding how your relationship with God fits in the grand scheme of God’s plan.  Scripture reveals many individuals who found their place in history; I think Mary’s story best epitomizes this idea.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “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 Yeshua (Jesus). He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of

Citadel of David, Jerusalem, Israel, March 2012.

Citadel of David, Jerusalem, Israel, March 2012.

Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be borne will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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 1:26-38

God’s plan hinged upon Mary saying yes to what He wanted her to do. On the one hand, it was a little bit of a simple thing because many women have children and it is not uncommon for a woman to have a child. It was probably her heart’s desire because most women of that age and time, especially in traditional Judaism, considered it very prestigious to have children. You see this throughout the Bible; women who were in great angst because they were barren. But God wanted her to carry the Son of God. Thinking about what scripture says, this was the plan God had before the foundation of the world, that God would come as a child and be born and die for the sons of men and that He would be raised again, which was His plan of salvation. Without Mary doing this simple thing, which was at once both small and at the same time audacious, God could not have fulfilled what He wanted to do in the earth.

She said,

Natalie pregnant with Tiberius John before he was born in November, 2013.

Natalie pregnant with Tiberius John before he was born in November, 2013.

“How can this be?”

And what was the angel’s reply?

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” –Luke 1:37

Accepting the task that He wanted her to do, she fulfilled the purpose that God put her on this earth to do. On one hand, it was a trite thing, on the other hand, in those days it really was not acceptable to be pregnant before marriage. She was betrothed to a man, but they had not consummated the relationship yet. God had to send an angel to tell Joseph,

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Yeshua (Jesus), for he will save his people from their sins.” –Matthew 1:20-21

I feel like this is the way we feel as believers. We have some small thing that He wants us to do, which to us feels like,

Standing with my son, Isaac, at his college graduation, upon receiving his BS in Communication from Pacific Lutheran University, May 2009.

Standing with my son, Isaac, at his college graduation, upon receiving his BS in Communication from Pacific Lutheran University, May 2009.

“Uh, okay, anyone can do that.”

Yet, it is a strong desire that we have and simultaneously, it is totally audacious, way off the chart, and out of our comfort zone. Therefore, it has all these components to it, the same as what Mary experienced: her heart’s desire as well as what God wanted her to do.

Do you think that Mary needed strength?

If we want to accomplish the thing that God puts in our hearts the desire to do, then we need strength, which we receive through the Holy Spirit, so that Messiah may dwell in our hearts through faith. I am sure you are very familiar with that passage from Ephesians 2:8-9 that says we have been saved through faith by grace, it is the gift of God and not of yourselves, so that no one can boast because it is not a result of works. This is the issue: He gives us the desire, He gives us the ability to do it, and then it is so audacious and crazy, that we cannot boast about it. Mary could not boast about what was happening to her; no one would have understood or believed her anyway.

This is what God does to us, so that being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Messiah (Ephesians 3:17-18):

  • He made us alive together with Messiah.
  • He seated us with Him in the heavenly places.
  • He brought us near by the blood of Messiah.

These are the things that Yeshua (Jesus) accomplished with His life, death and resurrection. His desire was that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). God’s wisdom was revealed in this humble and simple servant of Mary doing this small thing that God asked her to do, to carry the child, so that He could live and grow and become what God had already decided that He would become.

Standing with my daughter, Amy, at her graduation upon completion of her Masters in Music from Colorado State University, May 2010.

Standing with my daughter, Amy, at her graduation upon completion of her Masters in Music from Colorado State University, May 2010.

Looking at my own life, with my very ordinary children, I feel like how did that ever happen? I had this child, I raised this child, I did the best I could with this child, but now, these children are doing such amazing things, it takes my breath away sometimes. I have a hard time imagining that they were ever a part of who I was or how I ever could have contributed to how amazing they are. I am sure that Mary must have felt that way, too.

In the thing that you desire to do, that God gives you the strength to do, when you go to do it, it is a small thing, but when you do it, and set it free in the world, watch it grow and develop, don’t you think to yourself, “How did this ever come to happen?”

That is because He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think in accordance with the working of the strength of His might brought about in Messiah. –Ephesians 3:20

God promises He can do more than we can ask or think and here are His credentials:

Standing in front of the empty tomb, Jerusalem, Israel, March 2012.

Standing in front of the empty tomb, Jerusalem, Israel, March 2012.

  • He raised Messiah from the dead.
  • He seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
  • He put all things in subjection under His feet.
  • He gave Him as head over all things to the church.

When you think, this small thing that I want to do, which at the same time seems so huge that it could never possibly come to fruition, think about what God did for Messiah, how He raised Him from the dead, and how He seated Him at the right hand of the Father. That shows the working of His strength! Then, you can think to yourself,

“The thing that I want to do is not nearly as difficult as that! If God can do that for Yeshua (Jesus), then He can do this thing for me!”

This is the key pivotal point that I want to make with you: Like Mary, character development means you were also created for good works, which God prepared for you to walk in before the foundation of the world.  You CAN fulfill those desires that God has placed in your heart and do those good works that God created for you to do.

When I was a child I used to wonder,

Do you pray your prayers out loud, or is it sufficient just to think them?

Here it clearly says, “What you think.” Speaking your prayers is great, but thinking your prayers is just as good. All of our thoughts are prayers! I am sure you have heard that saying,

At Seatac Airport prior to boarding the plane for the flight to Amsterdam where I met my son on our way to Kenya, January, 2013.

At Seatac Airport prior to boarding the plane for the flight to Amsterdam where I met my son on our way to Kenya, January, 2013.

“Be careful what you ask for.”

Well, “Be careful what you think for” because our heart’s desires were created by God to be fulfilled. He placed those desires in us because He wants us to do something in the body of Messiah that no one else can do. No one else in the world could do what Mary did. Whatever the thing is that God wants you to do—only you can do that. In some ways, it is a tiny small thing, but completely extreme in other ways. Through Mary agreeing to do what God asked of her, He was able to complete His plan. Even though you think your idea and the thing you want to do is so small, when you do it…

…you are working with God to finish what He wants to do on this earth.

My son, Isaac and me walking the trail on Mt. Kilimanjaro, January 2013.

My son, Isaac and me walking the trail on Mt. Kilimanjaro, January 2013.

I want to leave you with this thought about Mary: when you are thinking about your idea, to know that it is far more abundantly beyond all that you ask or think that God wants to do for you. This is what the Word says; we were created before the foundation of the world to do good works which He created beforehand for us to do.

When you are thinking about this idea, respond to God the same way that Mary responded to Him.

What did she say?

“Be it unto me according to your word.” –Luke 1:38

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