(Excerpt from December 1, 2013 by Christine Smith)
Welcome back to women’s online Bible study as we read The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh With Elizabeth, Mary and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs. This week we read chapter three and learned about the filling of the Holy Spirit and Mary’s calling. As the mother of a 12-year-old girl, I am awestruck at the maturity Mary had over her situation. Today most girls this age are fascinated with their friendships, fashion and technology games. We can assume from Mary’s calling that she was simply fascinated with God.
Simplicity is woven through the virgin birth. God commands, she conceives. Never repeated in history, yet a story told and celebrated for more than 2,000 years. “When we meet Mary again, she will be on the move and pregnant. Did the Holy Spirit hover over her the instant she said yes? Or did that sacred moment fall between this scene and the next, shrouded in darkness?” wonders Liz Curtis Higgs.
Often we are looking for God in the details, rather than looking for God inside our heart. Mary looked at her own heart, accepted Gabriel’s words and then moved forward in her faith journey. A simple act of obedience to the One she truly loves. She did not run to her mother for advice, gather her circle of friends for a party, or stomp her feet and complain “my life is over!” This young girl followed the voice of God, spoken through the angel and found a connection with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Mary are filled with the Spirit of God, while Joseph and Zechariah are absent from scripture for the next three months. Both women were not depending on men, they were depending on the Father. They surrendered to the Authority. Elizabeth trusted God with her high-risk pregnancy and her muted husband. Mary trusted God with her life- she risked death by stoning as an unwed mother- and risked rejection from her future husband. Fueled by love, both women gave their all to God.
Liz Curtis Higgs writes, “Think of it! Two ordinary women—one younger, one older; one from a rural area, one from a Jerusalem neighborhood—bound together by an extraordinary God, empowered by his Holy Spirit. They were forever changed. They were filled with life. Through them, God began the salvation of his people, promised through the ages. Through them, God altered the course of history.”
Have you considered what God can orchestrate through the ordinary? Last week we asked you to journal how you are limiting God. Now that the obstacles are out of your way, let’s consider the areas of our lives that we are not giving over to God. First consider what Mary and Elizabeth gave:
- their bodies
- their marriages
- their relationships with family and friends
- their own plans for the future
- their reputations and their pride
Looking at that list…what have you not surrendered to Him? Have you decided your body “will always be this way?” Or perhaps you see your own limitations of age and health? Did you allow God room in your marriage, or is that still “your mess” to solve? Are you holding your relationships in bondage to unforgiveness and resentment, or did you allow God room to heal?
Um…have you mapped out the next ten years of your life and planned your future…or are you allowing room for God to move in your life through His will?
Did you surrender your all…or only those areas of your life that you trust God to manage?
Never doubt for a moment that women matter to the Almighty. Liz Curtis Higgs
For the next seven days ask yourself this important question: What things in my life am I not giving to God? Pray and the Holy Spirit will convict you.
Assignment For The Week
- Read Luke 1:26-38
Discussion Questions For Small Group via Liz Curtis Higgs- From the study guide in the back of your book
- What questions might you have for Gabriel if you stood in Mary’s sandals the day she encountered him? How can we lay aside our cynicism and recapture our ability to take the Lord at His Word and trust Him completely?
- Read this verse: For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37 NLTWhat things in your life seem too hard to handle? Make a list. Write across the top Luke 1:37. If you truly believe that nothing is impossible with God, what must you to do embrace that reality?
- Think of a time when you felt blessed or favored by God. Were you eager to share that experience with others as Mary did with Elizabeth? Why or why not? How might each of them benefited from their three-month visit?
- What did Mary’s obedience cost her from the moment she said yes. What risks was she taking for the future? What would it take for you to say with all your heart, as Mary did, “I live to do God’s will”? “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”1 John 2:17
- Was there something in Chapter Three that impacted you?