The Choice is Yours

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Joshua 22-24; Luke 3

Choice-is-yours

14 “So now, revere the Lord. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the Lord. 15 But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “God forbid that we ever leave the Lord to serve other gods! 17 The Lord is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we’ve gone and in all the nations through which we’ve passed. 18 The Lord has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You can’t serve the Lord, because he is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won’t forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you leave the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn around and do you harm and finish you off, in spite of having done you good in the past.”

21 Then the people said to Joshua, “No! The Lord is the one we will serve.”

22 So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”

They said, “We are witnesses!” (Joshua 24:14-22, Common English Bible)

Joshua knows. Joshua knows just how finicky the Israelites could be. He saw first hand, as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and would see God’s mighty hand at work. Then, for a while, they would follow. It didn’t take long, however, before they would start to slide back into their old habits of grumbling and complaining and wanting to go back to Egypt, where life had been “good” and there was always plenty of food to eat and plenty to drink. What is more, the food and drink were given to them for free. Life had been better back in Egypt.

Sure they might have had more food and drink, but things were anything but good. Things were hard and while they had food and drink that cost them nothing, the food and drink were free because they were not.

They would grumble and God would provide and the Israelites would be happy once again. And, because they were happy, they followed. But, once again, it didn’t take long for them to fall back into the same old habits and everything would repeat itself. Grumbling, God providing, happiness, and grumbling, it happened over and over again. It is a pattern throughout much of the Old Testament.

The Israelites are now safe and secure in the Promised Land. God is speaking to Joshua and Joshua calls representatives from all the tribes to gather. God outlines what has been done for them. Then God says, through Joshua, “Choose today whom you will serve.” The Israelites had to make a choice, would they follow the one true God or would they choose to follow other, false, gods. Then Joshua says his famous line, “But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15).

The same goes for us We have to choose today who we will follow. Will we follow the one true God, or will we chase after other gods? But, it seems to me, that this is not a one-time decision. We have to choose today and tomorrow and the day after that and every day of our lives who we will choose to follow.

As for me, I choose the Lord.

Have a blessed day in Him.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Journey Through Scripture – April

img_0228We got started on this Journey beginning January 1st. If you have missed some along the way, do not fret about it. Nobody is perfect and there is a good chance all of us might well fall behind before the year is over. Just pick up where we are now and go back at the first of the year and start reading from the beginning and this time next year you will have read all the Bible.

In January we completed Genesis. In February we finished Exodus, Leviticus and from the New Testament, we completed Matthew. In March we scratched off Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. On the New Testament side, we completed Mark. As we begin April, we will continue with Judges, which we will complete quickly and go into a one day study of Ruth before beginning the two books of Samuel and we will end the month by beginning 1 Kings. We will spend all of April in the Gospel According to Luke.

April 1: Judges 13-15; Luke 6:27-49
April 2: Judges 16-18; Luke 7:1-30
April 3: Judges 19-21; Luke 7:31-50
April 4: Ruth 1-4; Luke 8:1-25
April 5: 1Samuel 1-3; Luke 8:26-56
April 6: 1Samuel 4-6; Luke 9:1-17
April 7: 1Samuel 7-9; Luke 9:18-36
April 8: 1Samuel 10-12; Luke 9:37-62
April 9: 1Samuel 13-14; Luke 10:1-24
April 10: 1Samuel 15-16; Luke 10:25-42
April 11: 1Samuel 17-18; Luke 11:1-28
April 12: 1Samuel 19-21; Luke 11:29-54
April 13: 1Samuel 22-24; Luke 12:1-31
April 14: 1Samuel 25-26; Luke 12:32-59
April 15: 1Samuel 27-29; Luke 13:1-22
April 16: 1Samuel 30-31; Luke 13:23-35
April 17: 2Samuel 1-2; Luke 14:1-24
April 18: 2Samuel 3-5; Luke 14:25-35
April 19: 2Samuel 6-8; Luke 15:1-10
April 20: 2Samuel 9-11; Luke 15:11-32
April 21: 2Samuel 12-13; Luke 16
April 22: 2Samuel 14-15; Luke 17:1-19
April 23: 2Samuel 16-18; Luke 17:20-37
April 24: 2Samuel 19-20; Luke 18:1-23
April 25: 2Samuel 21-22; Luke 18:24-43
April 26: 2Samuel 23-24; Luke 19:1-27
April 27: 1Kings 1-2; Luke 19:28-48
April 28: 1Kings 3-5; Luke 20:1-26
April 29: 1Kings 6-7; Luke 20:27-47
April 30: 1Kings 8-9; Luke 21:1-19

Good reading. I hope you enjoy. And as I have so far this year, I will continue to write my daily post from at least part of one of the daily passages. I hope I do better this month. I almost (within 5 minutes) missed a couple of days this month. All I can say is, I will try.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Amid Shouts of Hosanna – Sermon

21 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anybody says anything to you, say that the Lord needs it.” He sent them off right away. Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said, Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.” The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them.

Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11, Common English Bible).

AmidShoutsofHossana

After years of wandering, Clint Dennis had come to the point in his life when he knew he had been missing something important. He decided he would give church a try. As he entered the church for the first time he noticed people putting on long robes, tying ropes around their waists, and a stranger told him. It was Palm Sunday and the church was re-enacting the crucifixion in costume. He would join others from the congregation and be part of the crowd that shouted, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Hesitantly he agreed.

Then another stranger hurried up to him. “The man who was supposed to play one of the thieves on the cross didn’t show up,” he said. “Would you take this place?” Again he agreed and was shown to the cross where he would look on as Jesus died. Just then, there was something about Clint Dennis’ manner caught a member’s eye. He turned to Clint and asked, “Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive your sins?”

“No,” Clint said softly, “but that’s why I came here.”

There beneath a cross for an Easter pageant they prayed. There under that cross, Clint Dennis asked Jesus to be part of his life. What the church didn’t know then was that Cint had been in prison for ten years. He wasn’t just going to play a thief in the pageant, he really was a thief. Even after his release, he had gone on stealing cars and trucks until he realized he had been missing something from his life. Beneath the cross of Jesus, Clint Dennis found his Savior.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, a Savior was the object of the people’s desires. They wanted to see their savior. The gathered crowd wanted to see the Messiah and they thought they were looking at him in the man riding on the donkey. In truth, they were, but Jesus was not the Messiah for whom they searched.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, can you imagine Jesus’ face? What do you think was his facial expression? Can you imagine his emotions? Did they show on His face? Think about that for a minute. Here he comes riding into Jerusalem. The people are lining the streets. They cut leafy branches, palm branches and placed them on the road in front of him. Some removed their cloaks and put them down on the road. They showed him great respect with all their actions. They shouted hosanna to the king every step of the way. If this was you or me, we would probably feel really good about ourselves because of what was being said and what was being done in our honor. But Jesus knew what was coming next. He knew the cheers would turn to jeers in only a few days.

Amid these shouts of Hosanna, amid this experience of Jesus, there are some lessons for us today.

Amid shouts of Hosanna, there is courage. Jesus was fully aware of the kind of Messiah the Jews wanted and were expecting him to be. They wanted a conquering hero. They wanted someone like Judas Maccabees.

Judas Maccabees’ story may not be familiar to most of us but to the Israelites. It would have been fifth grade required reading for Hebrew children. They might have even found it on their version of the STAR test. It comes from a part of Scripture we Protestants don’t use too much. In fact, it isn’t even in most of our Bibles. It is a part of Scripture that falls between the Old and New Testaments, both literally, in our Bibles, and as the historical time period. It is of some importance to the Roman Catholic faith.

One can find the Judas Maccabees story in the book of 2 Maccabees and is very much a part of Hebrew history. Any Jew having learned even a small amount of Israelite history would have known about the story.

The story takes place in 175 B.C. Antiochus had gained control of the Temple. He wanted to stomp Judaism from the world and implement Greek ways. One of the first steps Antiochus took to attempt fulfilling his plan was to sacrifice a pig on the Temple’s altar to Yahweh. I doubt he could have done much of anything more insulting to the Israelites. Next, he turned the temple’s outer courts into a brothel. It shouldn’t take a great deal of imagination to think of how this would outrage the Israelites who prided themselves so much on living by the law and now the Temple was desecrated in such a way. Think of how we would feel if it were here in our church.

From within the Israelite population, a man rose up to stand against Antiochus. This man was Judas Maccabees. He recruited soldiers from among the Israelites to fight with him. He arrived in Jerusalem and defeated Antiochus. The temple was cleansed and Judas Maccabees was welcomed into Jerusalem a conquering hero. The people spread palm branches and their spread cloaks on the ground and as Maccabees rode into the city on his stallion there were shouts of Hosanna to the conquering hero.

That was what the Jews wanted to see from Jesus, a conquering hero. But, for all its similarity, there was one notable difference. Judas Maccabees came riding into Jerusalem on a stallion. Jesus came riding in on the colt of a donkey. Judas came riding in on an animal befitting of a conquering hero. Jesus came riding an animal symbolizing one who came in peace. It would seem, the Israelites were far too busy celebrating the coming Messiah to notice the difference.

It took great courage for Jesus to ride into the city, know what the crowds wanted from Him and knowing He couldn’t or at least he wouldn’t give them what they wanted. Jesus knew there needs better than they did. He knows our needs better than we. He would remain faithful to His mission. Amid shouts of Hosanna, there was courage.

Amid shouts of Hosanna, there was also a claim. All the Jews would have known the prophecies of Zechariah. In these prophecies, Zechariah said the Messiah would come riding into the city amid great celebration on the colt of a donkey. By entering the city the way he did, Jesus said to the crowds, “I am your Messiah.”

Yet He wasn’t the Messiah they wanted. We often try to make God into what we want instead of allowing God to be God. It might be a little like the young girl who one still night was laying in her bed. In the stillness of the night her normally so still and quiet pierced the night in a volume that could be heard not only around the world but on planets as far away as Saturn, “Daddy, I’m scared!”

Out of his groggy, fuzzy, half-asleep state, her father responds, “Honey, don’t be afraid, Daddy’s right across the hall.”

After a brief pause the little girl’s voice, knowing her father was awake now responded in a bit quieter tone, “Daddy, I’m still scared.” OK, I lied, she was just as loud. “Daddy, I’m still scared.”

Always quick with an insight, the father responded, “You don’t need to be afraid honey. God is with you. God loves you.”

This time the pause was longer… but the voice returns. “I don’t care about God Daddy, I want someone with skin on!”

It would seem that logic used by little children like that little girl is precisely the reason for Jesus’ coming. After thousands of years of being unsuccessful in being able to convince His people he really did love them, God understood the best way to demonstrate that love for us was to send, “Someone with skin on.” That, someone, was the Messiah and amid shouts of Hosanna Jesus staked his claim to the title.

Amid shouts of Hosanna, there was also great appeal. Here, in Jesus was what the Jews waited for, hoping for, wanting to happen, for centuries. And, here they greeted Him with great celebration. Unfortunately, shouts of Hosanna, in less than a week’s time started calling for Jesus’ death.

How could they go such a great mental distance in such a short period of time? Well, it isn’t all that hard for us to see when we look closely at our lesson. In the beginning, the crowd was shouting Hosanna to the Messiah. By the end of the lesson, Jesus was no longer considered savior or Messiah. In only a few short minutes he was a prophet. Prophets are great and all, but it is a long drop from Messiah to a prophet. If Jesus could move from Messiah and savior to prophet in only minutes, it becomes a bit easier to see how in less than a week they would call for his death.

It might have been something like what happened to Larry Bowa several years ago, more than three decades ago in Philadelphia. In the summer of 1979, my ship was in the shipyards there. One of the good things about being in the Navy and in Philadelphia, and there weren’t many good things about the experience, but one of the good things was, with a military ID card we could get into Phillies games for a dollar. I took advantage all summer long. If I didn’t have duty and the Phillies were in town I was at the ball game.

Anyway, Larry Bowa, at the time was the Phillies shortstop. At the beginning of the season, Bowa was hitting the cover off the ball and the Phillies’ fans were ready to elect him mayor. But by August, he was in a major slump. He couldn’t hit a foul ball. The fans wanted him anywhere but Philadelphia. The fans who once booed Santa Claus booed Larry Bowa every time he came to the plate. They demanded for him to be traded. The newspapers reported threats on his life. All over a kid’s game.

Please understand, I am in no way trying to say Larry Bowa is even a little like Jesus, of course, he isn’t, none of us are. I am saying, it is possible for we humans to understand and experience the same kind of emotions Jesus experienced. He rode in amid shouts of praise, amid shouts of Hosanna.

Amid shouts of Hosanna, the Israelites sang out “Hail to the Son of David.” That meant, “Hail to the King.” But, what was it they were really saying when they shouted “Hosanna?” In his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, the late British Bible scholar William Barclay points out that in its original meaning, the root word of the Hebrew word Hosanna meant save us. It is quite possible, Barclay says, that by this time in history the word might have developed a new meaning. But, isn’t it interesting that out of all the words they could choose from to shout praises to Jesus, they picked this one.

Hosanna, save us, save us. They wanted a conquering hero to come and save them so they shouted Hosanna, save us, save us. And that is just what he came to do. No, he didn’t save them the way they wanted or demanded. He didn’t save them by chasing the hated Romans out of the country. But, he did come to save them. Jesus came to make salvation available for everyone when he came riding into town on a donkey.

When Clint Dennis walked into church that morning amid the flurry of activity he knew he needed more in his life. He walked in and in his own way was saying Hosanna, save me, save me. And Jesus did just that for Clint.

When we shout out Hosanna, save us, save us, Jesus is here and with us. He will save us. It’s what he always did for those who shout Hosanna. He will do it today. We praise him amid shouts of Hosanna, save us. Lord Jesus, save us.

Now I Can Die in Peace

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Joshua 19-21; Luke 2:25-52

Friends, I owe you an apology. I thought I had set this post to publish early this morning. Obviously, I was wrong. I only discovered this when I started to write the post for tomorrow. Not only did I not set it to post, I found out I hadn’t even finished it. Oh, well. I try.

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25 A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law.28 Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,

29 “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word,
30     because my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
32 It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and a glory for your people Israel.”

 

33 His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him.34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.” (Luke 2:25=35, Common English Bible).

We have all heard it said by others. Perhaps we have said it ourselves at some point. Something happens that we dreamed of happening. Something happens we not only dreamed of, but something we never actually thought possible. “Now I can die in peace,” we have said or at least heard someone else say.

Simeon, by tradition, was a very elderly man. In fact, many believe Simeon was much older than the typical man of the era. This doesn’t necessarily mean he was an old man by our standards. First, the scripture never assigns an age to Simeon. It could have been that God made a promise to Simeon at a very young age and then fulfilled that promise in a relatively short period of time. Second, to us, if Simeon were say, for example, 60 years old at the time of the story, we wouldn’t think such an age to be old at all. But, in the New Testament era, average life expectancy was 35-40 years old. A sixty-year-old would seem pretty old to the average citizen even if we fail to see such a person as old.

God made a promise to Simeon. By the way the lesson reads, it leads us to think, Simeon was an old man who had been waiting for a long time. Now, God had finally fulfilled the promise that Simeon would see the Messiah before He died. Now, Simeon was ready to go, though there is no indication in Scripture about how much longer Simeon actually lived.

As for us, our matters of dying in peace, most of the time, seem far more trivial than what Simeon knew. Seeing the Messiah was everything. Waiting to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series (or any other team for that matter), well not so much. Perhaps we need to rethink that whole “die in peace” thing and save it for times when it would really mean something.

Have a blessed day (what is left of it) in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Sign

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Joshua 16-18; Luke 2:1-24

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Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child.18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told (Luke 2:8-20, Common English Bible).

 

Several years ago, as I was preparing my Christmas Eve message and studying Luke 2 I ran across something I found to be an interesting observation though I had never thought about it myself. I can’t remember if it was a web page, in a book, or perhaps a sermon I read. In trying to find it, I found someone named Rod Parsley seems to get credit for it. The observation? “A sign points to something beyond itself.”

We have several signs around our church property. These signs tell the name of the church, our phone number, our worship time, they even give the address. Given that to see the sign you are at the address… The signs don’t proclaim, “Look at how pretty I am.” The sign is giving you information about the church.

If you are driving down the highway and you see a speed limit sign. The sign is pointing you to the maximum speed you should drive, even though most of us use it as more of a suggestion than an actual guideline. Or, if you see a yellow highway sign with a black curved arrow, it’s entire purpose for existence is to warn you of a curve in the road.

For the shepherds, when Jesus was born, the sign, according to the angels was they would “…find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” So what was this sign pointing to? The angels said the Good News, “Your Savior is born for you today…”

I love the idea of the sign pointing to something beyond itself. But, in this case, perhaps this is the exception to the rule. The sign, it would seem, points to itself, the baby in the manger points to the baby itself, the Savior of the world.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

His Name is John!

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Joshua 13-15; Luke 1:57-80

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57 When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a boy. 58 Her neighbors and relatives celebrated with her because they had heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy. 59 On the eighth day, it came time to circumcise the child. They wanted to name him Zechariah because that was his father’s name. 60 But his mother replied, “No, his name will be John.”

61 They said to her, “None of your relatives have that name.” 62 Then they began gesturing to his father to see what he wanted to call him.

63 After asking for a tablet, he surprised everyone by writing, “His name is John.” 64 At that moment, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he began praising God (Luke 1″:57-64, Common English Bible).

I am a Broyles. I am the son of Johnnie and Janice Broyles. I can make contact online with agencies like Ancestry.com and buy their DNA test kit. I can sit around the house with their test tube, filling it with my spit, as I sit and watch TV. Then, in a few short weeks, they can tell me what my nationality might be. Regardless of what comes back in that report, it will probably give me more than I could imagine regarding where my roots might be. That being said, I will still have the DNA of the Broyles clan. I can go to court and legally change my name to Oquinn (Cindy’s maiden name) or Slobberknocker. I won’t have the DNA of an Oquinn or a Slobberknocker because I still have the DNA of a Broyles. I could be adopted by Bobby and Marylou, and I would still be a Broyles, (at least by blood). No matter what, I will always be a Broyles. Being a Broyles is in my DNA.

In ancient times, it was a common practice to use the father’s name (not unheard of today) or some other name in the family for the baby rather than a name that comes from thin air. All the last names with the word “son” attached to them are names coming from that tradition, for example,  “Johnson,” son of John. Another is, “Erikson,” son of Erik. To give you one more example,  Davidson,” son of David

In our lesson, God speaks to Zechariah. Over the years I have come to know when God speaks we need to listen. And, God did speak and Zechariah did listen. When Elizabeth gives birth, everyone wants to know what name will be given the child. When Elizabeth tells them, John, all the folks around are shocked. They seem to try to talk her out of the name and when she doesn’t respond as they believe she should they go to the now mute Zechariah. Surely he will have some sense in this matter. He simply writes down, “His name is John.”

Regardless of the name given John the Baptist, he would still be the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. With his divine name, his DNA wouldn’t change.

There is a piece of DNA we share with John the Baptist. We are all children of God. Science may not have found a “God marker” (my idea). Still, I believe there is one. Beyond being the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist was also the son of God.

Like John the Baptist, I am a child of God. My DNA may show I am the son of Johnnie and Janice Broyles, it may show I am a Broyles, but I am also a son of God and as such, God is in my DNA.

You too are the child of your birth parents but you are also a child of God. I may not know that from a DNA test, but I do know it in my heart.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

And Still, She Praises

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Joshua 10-12; Luke 1:39-56

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46 Mary said,

“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
47     In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
48 He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
    Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
49         because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50     He shows mercy to everyone,
        from one generation to the next,
        who honors him as God.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
    He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
52     He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
        and lifted up the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away empty-handed.
54 He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
        remembering his mercy,
55     just as he promised to our ancestors,
        to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55, Common English Bible)

Call her naive, after all, she was most likely only 13 or 14 years old. On the other hand, call her spiritually mature beyond her years. She knew better than to even think she could outrun God.

Was she naive? Mary was engaged to Joseph. Being engaged in the Biblical era was about as binding of a contract as a woman could be in, though the woman had no real say in said contract. And, think about how she would sound. “I am pregnant. God did it.” Honestly, would you believe a word she said? I am honestly not sure I would believe her. Those words certainly don’t sound very mature.

To make matters worse, and Mary had to know this, for an engaged woman to have sex with a man was adultery. It was just that simple. As soon as her pregnancy was noticeable tongues would start to wag. It wouldn’t be long before the religious leaders, some of the very ones Jesus would deal with some 30 years later, would become involved. Once they became involved, there would be a call of some kind to stone Mary to death, the penalty for a woman caught in adultery. It would have been lights out for the Messiah before Bethlehem was even on the horizon.

And, still, she sings praises to God.

But perhaps, despite her young age, what we see here is spiritual maturity. Here just might be a young woman who knew if God gave her this task, God would walk beside her and see her all the way through. With the turn-around in Joseph, that is exactly what God did.

Whichever it is, naive or mature or something altogether different, or maybe it was a combination of both, make no mistake, Mary was a woman who truly was favored by God. Was it easy? I don’t know of a mother alive who would tell you pregnancy is easy under the best of circumstances and Mary’s circumstances were far from ideal. Still, she praised God. Joseph was anything but excited with the prospect of a pregnant fiancee of which the baby was not his. Still, she praised God. People around her talked. They talked about her. Without question, people would have talked. It is just the way some folks are. Still, she praised God. She knew she could die. Still, she praised God. She had the frightening responsibility for raising the Son of God. And still, she praised God.

As I read Mary’s story, at least to me, it is easy to see, God made the right choice. She was a young woman who was at least a little naive. But, she was also a woman with a spiritual maturity well beyond her years. She was a woman after God’s own heart, who would follow God’s will, all because she had a heart for God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved