Outside the Box

Has God ever called you to do something, or to a ministry, which was “outside the box”? To something unconventional by human standards? To something that didn’t fit in with the norms of institutional religion? And, you knew, that by accepting this call on your life, that you were going to face the possibility of enormous rejection, persecution and misunderstandings? And, yet, you did it anyway? Because you love God and you are called according to his purpose, not according to the will of man?

Well, that is what happened to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

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 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 Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Vv. 30-33

Can you, for women here, imagine God visiting you via an angel and telling you that you are going to give birth to the Son of God? The Christ, the promised Messiah of your people? And, you are not even married? And, you have not even been with a man? (Men might relate better to the story of Zechariah being told, in his old age, that he was going to be the father of a prophet of God who was going to prepare the way for their Messiah.)

Can you imagine the amount of faith that it took for Mary to say “Yes” to God? Certainly she had to realize the magnitude of what she had just been told. Certainly she must have considered how she was going to explain this to her family and friends. Can we even imagine the thoughts that must have been racing through her mind? And, yet, she didn’t doubt. She merely asked how it was going to happen, since she was a virgin. And, when that was explained to her, she responded by saying,

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” V. 38

Wow! That took enormous faith! For, we must realize here what this meant for Mary. Mary would be charged with having had sex with a man outside of marriage while she was engaged to be married to another, or else they might have thought that Joseph was the baby’s father, though I am not certain of the timing of all of that. Either way, she would have been charged with an immoral act which was punishable by death. So, for Mary to submit herself to the will of God, in this matter, was to submit herself to death.

But, isn’t that what it means to be a follower of Christ? Doesn’t it mean that we submit ourselves to death? For, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord, we die with him to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our lives are no longer our own, to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ shed on a cross for our sins. So, now, we are to honor God with our lives, not ourselves.

Doesn’t it mean, too, that we are now the servants of the Lord, in submission to his will for our lives, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us? And, so, shouldn’t we all be saying to God the same thing? “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

But, do we really comprehend what that means for our lives? Do we really understand that we are all called, essentially, to live our lives “outside the box,” i.e. outside the norms of the world? Outside of worldly standards? We aren’t supposed to be like everyone else. We aren’t supposed to live our lives by the standards of this world, but by God’s standards. We aren’t supposed to choose to obey only what will get us accepted and “liked,” but God intends for us to submit ourselves to being “not liked” because we are followers of Christ, and to be willing to suffer for the sake of his name.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Vv. 39-45

Yet, blessed are we, too, when we believe God, and we follow him in faith and in obedience, even knowing it could cost us our reputations and our very lives. And, it is because we believe what he says, and we trust in his Word, and we are willing to operate “outside the box,” that we are blessed, too.

For, to be holy as God is holy means we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into Christ’s likeness.

So, we must hold on to the promises of God, walk in faith, and be willing to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus and for the sake of his gospel. We must believe his Word and walk in his truth, even if we are accused falsely, persecuted for righteousness’ sake, or abandoned by family and friends.

And, we must submit ourselves to God and to his will and purposes for our lives, knowing full well that this may be “the kiss of death” for us, in the eyes of other humans, and that they may reject, persecute, and/or abandon us, or even put us to death. But, we can’t worry about what other humans are going to say about us or do to us, but we must obey God, do what he says, and submit ourselves to doing his will, believing that all that God said he would do will be fulfilled.

My Cry for Mercy
An Original Work / October 31, 2013

Based off Psalm 86

Hear my prayer, Lord, I am needy.
Guard my life, for I’m devoted to You.
Save me! I’m Your servant.
You are my God. I trust in You.

O, Lord, have mercy on me,
For I call to You.
Bring joy to me, for to You
I will lift up my soul.

You are giving and forgiving.
You abound in love to all who
Call upon You. Hear my prayer, Lord.
Listen to my cry for mercy.

In days of trouble I call to You,
Knowing that You will
Do marvelous things,
Because You are my God.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Turn to me, Lord, and grant
Strength to Your servant.
O, Lord, You are my help,
For You love and You comfort me.

Teach me Your way; I’ll walk in it.
In Your truth, Lord, You will guide me.
A pure heart, Lord, You will give me,
So that I may glorify You.

Thursday, December 14, 2017, 1:58 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this lesson from the life of Mary, your servant. May we all emulate her faith. Amen!

6 thoughts on “Outside the Box

    • Lynn, Thanks again for your encouraging words. All glory to God! The Lord is the one who gave me that picture of Mary. And, he is the one who gives me the lyrics to the songs. I know this all too well. So, I praise him for what he teaches me, and for what he shares with me, and for how he works through me for his glory and praise.

      And, I praise him, too, for you, and for other believers on here who share their lives and their testimonies and their gifts from God, and for how it ministers to my heart, too! Meeting all of you has been a real blessing in my life. I was just talking about this with my husband this morning. I am very grateful!

      Like

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