December 18, 2013
The Lord Is with You—And that's a Promise.
The Lord is with you (Luke 1:28).
Friend to Friend
For many years I would begin each day praying for my son, "God, please be with Steven today."
Then one day God stopped me mid-prayer. "Sharon, I am with Steven…every day," He seemed to say. "Why do you continue asking for something Steven already has?"
God was right! (Imagine that.) God was with Steven at all times, just as He is with you and me. He promised each of His children, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
After God's gentle nudge, I changed my prayer for Steven: "God, I pray that Steven will sense Your presence in his life today. Thank You for being with him."
When Gabriel suddenly appeared to Mary, she needed that same reassurance. "The Lord is with you," he said. The reminder of God's presence in her life would be crucial for the news that Gabriel was about to deliver.
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "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 be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:29-33)
If Gabriel showed up at my door, I think "Do not be afraid" would be an appropriate greeting. As a matter-of-fact, it seems like these are some of the first words God and His messengers spoke to many called on for special assignment.
"Do not be afraid," God said to Abram (Genesis 15:1).
"Do not be afraid," God said to Joshua (Joshua 8:1).
"Do not be afraid," the angel said to Zechariah (Luke 1:13).
"Do not be afraid," the angel said to the shepherds (Luke 2:10).
And now, when God is calling an ordinary girl out of the shadows to stand center stage, He reassures her with the same courage-bolstering words that have echoed through the ages. "Do not be afraid…God is with you." And if anyone was going to need reassurance of God's presence in her life, it was Mary.
Gabriel then proceeded to tell Mary about her God-ordained assignment. She would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit and give him the name Jesus.
"Jesus" is the Greek form of the name Joshua, which means "the Lord saves."
Mary was part of this fallen world, and like all of mankind, she needed a Savior.
When Paul wrote, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), that included Mary.
In Mary's own song of praise she cried out, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." She knew she needed a Savior, just like you and me. Regardless of what artists have painted through the centuries, Mary did not have a halo over her head. She was a sinner, just like you and me. She was chosen because of God's grace, just like you and me. She was just an ordinary girl with an extraordinary calling.
God set the stage and called His first leading lady to take her position front and center. Who would have ever imagined she would take her place with such courage.
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34)
Mary's question didn't mean she doubted what the angel said was true. She simply questioned the logistics and sought clarity and direction. Her wonderment did not mean she was reluctant. She was just confused about the physiology of the process. She had never slept with a man, so how was this possible?
The angel answered:
"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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:35-3)
The angel saw the purity of her heart and went on to explain exactly how this would occur. In a day when women were not formally taught the Scriptures, when they were not allowed to sit under a rabbi's teaching, Mary had a front row seat with one of God's personal messengers for private tutoring.
She believed by faith. She obeyed by choice. And she remembered that God was with her every step of the way.
During this hectic time of year, filled with long to-do lists and stressful family dynamics, remember this: God is with you!
Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise that You will never leave me. Even when I can't feel Your presence, I trust by faith that You are here. Help me to be a woman who believes You, and not a woman who is tossed to and fro by her feelings.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Go back up to the "do not fear" verses in this devotion and read the context in which they were said.
How can you apply that to your own life?
Click over to my Facebook page and complete this sentence… "I will not fear…"
More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was taken from my book, What God Really Thinks about Women: Finding Your Significance Through the Women Jesus Encountered. This book goes through every encounter Jesus had with a woman in the New Testament, and shows how He broke a rule every time, just to show them they mattered…to show you that you matter. He risked his reputation to save theirs. Read their encounters and see yourself through Jesus' eyes.
And just in time to start the New Year off right, my book Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe: A Daily Guide to Scripture-Based Prayer is now available. Click on the title to watch a video or read a sample chapter.
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