When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her she would give birth to the Messiah, the news was both wonderful…and terrifying. Mary would have been publicly shamed and humiliated and probably disowned by a lot of people in her community. So what did she do? She jumped right into humble service on behalf of someone else. Crazy, right? If we follow her example, we just might find a joy we never could have dreamed of on our own.
1. Be committed to humble service
- After the announcement from Gabriel, Mary could have puffed herself up. Instead she hurried off to meet Elizabeth, to share the news and serve God by serving Elizabeth. Her humble and obedient decision was rewarded with something we all long to hear: confirmation from the Lord.
- Mary wasted no time at all. She just kept faithfully living in the way God had asked her to, and just as he had before, God met her there.
- We don’t serve a God who is only found on mountain tops or places of spiritual retreat. Our God is Immanuel, God With Us. He arrives in the most unlikely, mundane, and simple of circumstances to the faithful and obedient.
What are the people and tasks God has called you to specifically? How can you demonstrate humility and faithfulness in those things?
2. The presence of Jesus brings joy
- When you live your life in the presence of Jesus, no matter what, you can experience joy. Jesus himself is the fullness of joy. Joy is not something that we need to draw in from our surroundings. It is something available to us at any time.
- The evidence of Elizabeth being filled with the Spirit was the verbal encouragement she brought to Mary. She could recognize the work of God because she was in tune with his Spirit. The joy of the Lord poured out of her.
- When you and I are in tune with the Spirit of God, we see the world through his eye. The things that excite the Spirit of God excite us. The things that break his heart break our heart. The words that he would say come out of our mouth. The only result of a closeness like that is joy.
How can you spend more time in the presence of Jesus? Is the joy of the Lord (or something else) pouring out of your life?
3. Praise God for His fulfillment
- Elizabeth praises God for his fulfillment and also praises Mary for trusting him. Sometimes, when we don’t expect God to fulfill his word, we pull ourselves out of things before God does what he wants to do because we think it’s too impossible.
- Faithful obedience doesn’t get a lot of attention in this day and age. It’s just showing up day in and day out, wherever God has called us to be. That’s not a flashy calling, but that is what we see in the men and women of the Bible.
- God loves to tell his people what he’s going to do before he does it, so he can receive the glory for fulfilling his promises! In the meantime, we trust God for the things he’s delaying on.
Describe a situation you’ve experienced or are currently facing where it felt like God was delaying in his answer to you. How did you or should you respond? What prayers has God already answered?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?