Friday, December 28, 2012

"be it unto me"—part two

a place to ponder

What do we do when our Lord speaks directly to us through His word?  How do we respond to the precious promises, the tender rebukes, the commands, the songs of love?  In the story of Christ’s birth, the Shepherds “made known abroad” (Luke 2:17) all that they had seen and heard—the angel’s message and God’s wonder displayed!  These men could not help but tell the world!  Their Savior was born—God had kept His word.  In utter excitement and joy they shouted the good news to anyone who would listen.  Their response was both needful and glorifying to God.  When God reveals His truth, and gives us the gifts of insight and blessing—when He opens our eyes to see His glory—it is most fitting to declare it to others!  It is meant to be shared. 

But…

The Scripture tells us Mary did quite the opposite!  She hid her special revelation, and the events that followed, in her very being—securely tucked away that she might consider fully what they meant— “…But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  The word but gives a direct contrast to the previous mention of the shepherd’s reaction!  Mary did not make known the saying, Mary pondered the saying! 

Mary was not keeping it a secret—selfishly or thoughtlessly—but was keeping it treasured. There is a difference.  Not constraining the good news but keeping record of how that it was affecting her personally! She placed a high value on what God was doing in and through and for her—the sense of amazement and wonder drove her to quiet worship.  She recognized every tiny detail—the Almighty in every element. 

Pondering is to intimately recount all that the Lord has said, all that He has promised, all that He has fulfilled, all that is to come!  The kind of conversation you can only have between two people! 

Before you seek to teach, write, declare—before you shout the good news, talk of the revealed truth, share the incredible manifestations with anyone who will listen—seek to do as Mary did.  Seek to find intimate fellowship with the One who showed you such wonder in the first place!  Quietly.  Seek to ponder all that He is doing in and through and for you! 

Mary’s life is a pattern of humility!  Don’t put away her example with your pretty holiday décor!  Allow it to effect each and every day of your life.  

There is a place to ponder. 

1.  We must hide it in our hearts first—make it personal!  We do this by meditating even on truth that was revealed to others in Scripture.  Teach it to yourself before you teach it to your children or anyone else for that matter.  Own every promise, every rebuke, and every command that the Lord reveals to you in His word.  Spend time praying back God’s word to Him in praise for what He is doing in your own heart before you use the same Scripture in intercession and supplication with others in mind! 

This is a discipline that I easily overlook!  In my desire to share what God has shown me (or done for me through a miracle) with others I can unintentionally miss its incredible impact on my own life by not taking the time to ponder what has taken place.  Yes, others do need to hear—and I am commanded to declare it (Psalm 64:9)—“but,” as Luke 2:19 starts, but first, and even last, I must “keep all these things” and consider them in my own heart!  

2.  Gaining a confidence in the truth comes from pondering what God has shown to you to be true (Psalm 1:2-3)—mulling over what you read in your daily quiet time throughout the day, rehearsing what was preached on a Sunday morning, meditating on a lesson you studied to teach to others.  "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the works of thy hands" (Psalm 143:5). Turning those revelations into prayers or into songs—journaling them on paper or just on the tablet of your heart—will secure them in your mind!  "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (1 Timothy 4:15).

3.  Pondering brings peace!  Psalm 119 states that “great peace” and a confidence that “nothing shall offend” is the reward given to those who “love [God’s] law.”  To love something is to spend time with it.  It is to become like it.  Isaiah gives a beautiful promise of peace to those who ponder—"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." Pondering provides the believer with an increase in trust!  A wonderful revolving reward—pondering produces peace, which produces truth, which produces pondering...you get the picture! 

Mary shows us such wisdom in choosing to ponder and not grow anxious. "[Wisdom's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17). Just consider, even for a brief moment, all that Mary could have been doing with her heart and mind.  Being visited by an angel is, well, amazing… right?!  Who wouldn’t immediately bow in worship and ponder the glorious thing that had taken place?  If that is what you are thinking you obviously have forgotten the several key (and might I add disturbing) elements that were thrown in the mix?  A private revelation.  A virgin.  A fiancé.  A pregnancy.  A reputation.  What would her friends think?  What would her family think?  And then there are all the prophecies—“His visage was so marred, more than any man” (Isaiah 52:14); “He was woundedbruised for our iniquities…with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53 :5); “and they shall look upon [him] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).  Even Simeon’s own prophetic word to Mary is full of deep sorrow no matter the declaration of joy it contained: “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). 

Mary would carry a heavy burden for her entire life (a private pain)—how easily she could have become preoccupied with her own situation and engage her heart and mind in serious worry and fear. 

The Incarnation—the promise kept—and a young woman who was chosen to carry, birth, raise, and love the Son of God!  The Son who would die a cruel death for the sins of the whole world!  How important it would be for Mary to ponder and not give in to a hopeless feeling of doubt or reckless emotion.   

The point: pondering doesn’t always come as a natural response—it is a choice that must be made!  That is why Mary’s attitude of acceptance is such a vital part of this lesson! 

Mary not only carried the “Prince of Peace” in her very womb, she allowed him admittance into her own heart, mind, will, and emotions!

4.  Fresh excitement is given to those who ponder.  "For thou, Lord, has made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands...O Lord, how great are thy works!  And thy thoughts are very deep...I shall be annointed with fresh oil" (Psalm 92:4,510). The word of God is quick and powerful—it is sharp—it is lively.  And when we take the time to meditate on its power and promise we are happy, content, and full of life!  We are not easily dismayed—when troubles arise or sorrow takes us from behind, the Holy Spirit can cheer, comfort, and guide us with the truth we have set before our eyes.  "Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness" (Psalm 119:159).  

It is not an easy life we are promised, but a Shepherd to show us the way through the difficult journey! And we will be able to encourage others better if we allow the word of God to daily encourage our own heart! 

Let us, like Mary, choose to tuck every little truth inside our heart—every experience, every joy, every painand treasure what God is doing, even the hard things He is allowing.  

Enjoy the rewards that such an act of worship will bring!

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