JOY – Mary

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

Today we will seek to find JOY in Mary’s life. Watch for the emotions she goes through.

Mary has been betrothed to Joseph, but is still living at home with her parents. She is a small town girl from Nazareth. 

For the second time, Gabriel appears. (See Joy – Zechariah and Elizabeth) He says to Mary,

“Greetings, you are highly favored. The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

As with others who have visitations from angels, Mary is “greatly troubled” by his words. So Gabriel says,

Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. Luke 1:30-33

Oh, my, that’s a lot to take in. She will have a child and he will be great.  Does she understand the other things from hearing her father talk about the throne of David and the house of Jacob?  Is she thinking prestige? Is she feeling honored?

No. I think we can say she is “confused.” She is still stuck on the first thing Gabriel said. Her question?

“How can this be since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34

The angel explains,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon 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.” Luke 1:35

Does she understand that this is the promised one, the Messiah? Maybe. Maybe not, but it is an answer to her question. (Notice that Gabriel did not reprimand her question as he did with Zechariah. She was not doubting or asking for proof as he did.)

Gabriel goes on to say,

“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37

Mary seems “resolved” at this point. She answers,

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38

Mary has been fearful, troubled, confused, and resolved. What questions plague her now as she is alone again? How will I tell Mama? Will she believe me? And do I even dare tell Papa? What will Joseph think? Will he disown me? Will I be stoned?

Mary travels all the way to Judea to visit Elizabeth. When she arrives, Elizabeth says,

“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is the one who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:42, 44-45

I believe it was then that the Spirit filled Mary with JOY! She burst forth with a song much like Zechariah. Her words are in Luke 1:46-55.

As we wade through our life emotions, may we come to celebrate the coming of God in human flesh with JOY!

~ Joyce ~

JOY – for Zechariah and Elizabeth

Searching His Word
 Seeking His Heart

As we approach Christmas this month, we will look for those who found JOY.

Zechariah and Elizabeth, like Abraham and Sarah, had reached old age without a child. Why think of them at Christmas? Their story sets the stage in Luke’s gospel.

Zechariah was born of the the priestly line, so twice a year Zechariah and other priests in his division took a turn to spend one week in Jerusalem. They did jobs in and around the Temple, cleaning the brass bowls and gold cups, etc. One of their group would be chosen by lot to enter the holy place.

On this occasion, Zechariah was chosen for this distinct honor to supply the incense before the morning sacrifices and after the evening sacrifices.

When he walked into the holy place for his special duty,

. . . an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. Zechariah was startled and gripped with fear. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and a delight to you, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Luke 1:11-15a 

The angel also said that this son was to take special Nazarite vows and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. He will bring many people back to the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah! Wow. Surely this made Zechariah rejoice with gladness. But, with doubt, he asked the angel,

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Luke 1:18

The angel let Zechariah know right away who he was talking to.

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to tell you the good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words.” Luke 1:19-20

The people outside were wondering why Zechariah was in the holy place so long. When he came out, he gestured trying to tell them what had happened. They realized he had seen a vision. 

We aren’t told Elizabeth’s immediate reaction, but we can imagine her great JOY after all these years of wanting a child. Obviously something miraculous had taken place. 

After she gave birth, the people assumed they would name the baby after his father. “No!” she said. “His name will be John.” The people questioned Zechariah. He wrote on a tablet, “His name is John.”

With that declaration, that obedience, he immediately was able to speak and he praised God. His JOY burst forth into a song, the words recorded in Luke 2:67-79.   

 When John grew to become a man, he was known as John the Baptist because he preached repentance and baptized many. He proclaimed the coming of the Messiah.

~ Joyce ~ 

A Shepherd’s Story 4 – Great Joy!

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Amos had just finished the last phrase on his flute. While the sheep rested quietly, Papa Ariah and brother Ezra settled down as well. The heavens boasted an array of glistening stars over this still, silent night.

But before Amos could sling the flute cord around his neck an incredibly bright light burst forth out of nowhere. He bent his head, covering his eyes. Ariah and Ezra both jumped up, shielding their eyes as well.

Someone stood in the midst of the light, a light that seemed to radiate from this being. They were terrified and fell to the ground.

The being spoke.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The Christ? The Messiah? Can it be that he has finally come? Amos wondered. The angelic being continued.

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

A manger? A baby in a manger? No mother would put her baby in an animal trough. But before that thought could settle—

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14

When the angels were gone, the night was once again dark and still. For a moment, the three shepherds could not see each other as their eyes readjusted from the brilliance of the light. Ezra was the first to speak. “Did we really see what we thought we saw?”

Ariah sighed.”I can hardly believe what we have just been told. The promised one, the Messiah has come, born as a baby.” 

“A baby… in a manger!” Amos added. “That’s the sign for us to know this is all true—born in Bethlehem and wrapped up in a manger. Let’s go see about this thing we’ve been told!”

Somehow with all this light and sound, the sheep slept quietly. God’s provision. So with only one thing on their minds, the three shepherds set off down the hills and into the valley of Bethlehem. They ran from stable to stable as they had been told, but they only saw sleeping animals.

Finally, not far from one of the inns, a single lantern glowed in one stable. Inside sat a young mother and father and yes, a baby swaddled up tight, lying in the dry straw of a manger.

The shepherds were well out of breath at this point and dared not approach the manger until they could catch their breath. They didn’t want  to wake the baby.

The mother’s eyes moistened as she listened to Ariah recount the scene on the hillside. “Come,” she said, “come in.” They cautiously came a few steps closer. All three spontaneously paused and knelt.

Ariah clutched his chest. “Behold, the Savior, the promised one who brings us great joy.”

A blessed Christmas to you all!

           ~ Joyce ~