Imagine being thrust into a situation far beyond anything you ever sought or imagined! What if God needs to change your life in order to use you for His purposes in such a time as this? Will you be ready and willing, as Mary was?
A Precious Word from God
“The Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.”
Luke 1:49 NASB
Historical background: We now jump into the New Testament from the story of Esther, an approximate 500 year span. As you study, look on your maps for the locations of the towns mentioned.
Your assignments include all of the accounts where Mary appears, but they will focus more on the ones that reveal the person of this woman, Mary. The passages are in chronological order so you can follow the events more easily.
Read Luke 1:26-38.
1. The miraculous and the impossible were to occur in Mary’s life. Write Gabriel’s words that explain to Mary how this can happen. (1:35-37) Why may Gabriel have used the term “Most High” as the name of God in this situation?
2. What do you learn about Mary from her reactions to Gabriel’s message in 1:29 and 34?
The note on 1:38 in the NET Bible explains that the word for servant (NET, NIV) or bondservant (NASB) is traditionally translated “handmaid” (KJV). It goes on to explain that “the word does not bear the connotation of a free woman serving another. . . . The most accurate translation is ‘bondservant,’ sometimes found in the ASV for doulos, in that it often indicates one who sells himself or herself into slavery to another.”
NET Bible p. 1791
3. What does the use of this word for servant reveal about Mary?
4. Sharing question: Can you truly call yourself a bondservant of Jesus Christ? Why or why not? What would you have to change in your attitude to make it so?
5. Sharing question: Share the story of a time in your life when something seemingly insurmountable was put before you, and yet it was accomplished by the power of God.
6. Responding to God: Write a prayer of praise to the Most High God, basing it on Mary’s words (1:38).
Read Luke 1:39-45.
7. What do Elizabeth’s words reveal about Mary? (1:42, 43, 45)
Read Luke 1:46-56.
8. This passage contains most of the recorded words said by Mary. Do not hurry through this passage, but carefully read it, considering this woman. What do you learn about Mary herself from what she says here?
9. Compare Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-55 with Hannah’s words in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Record any parallels you see. What insights about Mary do you gain because of these parallels?
10. Sharing question: Which truth about God mentioned by Mary in Luke 1:46-55 is most meaningful to you today? Why?
11. Responding to God: Go back through Luke 1:46-55 truth by truth, praising God just as Mary did.
Read Matthew 1:18-25.
12. 12. How would you have felt about God’s plan if you had been Mary? About Joseph?
Read Luke 2:1-20.
13. How would the shepherds’ visit have affected you if you were Mary?
14. Again, how would you have felt through these events if you were Mary? Consider how she may have felt about God and about the situation.
15. If you have any insights into Mary from these verses, record them here.
16. Sharing question: How do these very familiar stories impact you today? What is God’s Spirit saying to you personally?
17. Responding to God: Sing a song of praise to God for the birth of Jesus. You may want to sing a familiar Christmas carol, but be sure you think through the words so that the song comes from the heart.
Read Luke 2:21-40.
18. Write down what the occasion was, where it took place, and when.
19. Why might Simeon’s words have been a shock to Mary?
Read Matthew 2:1-18. Again we have one of the most familiar of all the Bible stories. You may have believed that it should go before the last story thinking it happened at the manger, but a careful reading of the story indicates otherwise.
20. Because the story is so well known, just record any thoughts you have about Mary and the events.
Read Matthew 2:19-23.
21. Record any insights that you have about Mary from these verses.
22. Sharing question: Describe a time in your life when God put you in a situation where you could later see His hand at work.
23. Responding to God: Praise God that He knows the future. Express the trust that you feel knowing this.
Read Luke 2:41-52.
24. What do you learn about Mary from this passage?
Read John 2:1-12. About eighteen years has elapsed since the last time we saw Mary.
25. Write down any insights you have into the person of Mary from this story.
These next passages involve Mary but she is only a background character. Read 1 of these 3 passages: Matt. 12:46-49; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21.
Then read John 19:25-27.
26. Write down any thoughts you have about Mary from these two events.
Read Acts 1:1-14.
27. Record what you learn from this final glimpse at Mary.
28. How did God use Mary for His purposes and in His time?
29. Sharing question: What have you learned from Mary for your life?
30. Responding to God: Review our Precious Word from God. Join Mary in praise to God for the great things He has done for you.
Just as Mary’s faith was strong because of the Scriptures that she knew, so Jane’s faith increased as she read God’s Word and applied it to her situation.
When I was beginning to grow as a Christian, I was having issues with a guy I was dating. I don't remember the details, but I remember having that constant dull ache in my heart.
At the time, I was in a Bible Study where we were studying a book about dealing with emotions. I remember sitting on my bed and picking up the book, wondering if it would have anything to say about my situation. So I flipped through and came across Romans 5:3-5, which says, “…We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
I got so excited when I read that. I thought, "Wow - this trial has a purpose!" And my pain was literally replaced with joy. I'm sure the dull ache eventually crept back in, but now at least I knew where to go for a cure!