December 7-10: Favored Woman

“And the angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.'” – Luke 1:28-30

Favored woman.

This is a title we all long to hear. We want to hear it from our boss, friends, spouse, kids, or our social-media following.

Maybe I’m the only woman who wants to hear that… But I doubt it.

This week, I desired that others would favor me. I wanted to appear strong, capable, and winsome. So I delayed writing advent pieces until I felt like what I wrote was good enough. Through this delay, this passage from Luke was swimming laps in my head, not ending anywhere.

Mary found favor with God.

The word used here for “favor” is the same word for “grace” or “kindness.”

Mary was the one who received an extension of God’s grace. So what? Haven’t all believers found favor with God? Haven’t we all received grace?

I asked these questions as I read this Scripture over and over again.

I believe the answer to these questions is “yes.”

The Lord was with Mary. He chose her to become the one who was with child – the one who was literally with the Lord. Mary did nothing to entice the angel to speak this word to her. The angel was sent to tell Mary that the Word would be made flesh through her.

It was God’s grace to bring His Son into the world through Mary’s womb. It was God’s grace that this child would live perfectly in this shattered world. It was God’s grace that this child grew into a man who died on a cross. It was God’s grace that this man died for our sin and came back to life so that we could be called favored or recipients of grace. 

My sinful desire to be favored because of my good works and accomplishments find their death in Jesus. And, God’s holy desire to die for my sinful desire is God’s favor upon me.

When a believer receives the grace of God, she receives it through Jesus.

We are recipients of grace. We, by Mary’s child, can receive this word:

“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”

 

December 6: Son of David

An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” – Matthew 1:1

Jesus’ genealogy, the legacy he bears, is scandalous. God promised to always have an heir of David on the throne (Jeremiah 33:17), but David’s successors are shameful women.

Tamar pretended to be a prostitute so that her father-in-law would impregnate her (Genesis 38, Matthew 1:3).

Rahab was a prostitute who hid the spies and was then welcomed into Israel’s family. She was also a Gentile (Joshua 2, Matthew 1:5).

Ruth was a Gentile and from a pagan people who had no hope (Book of Ruth, Matthew 1:5).

Bathsheba was summoned to David’s bed and bore David’s son Solomon (2 Samuel 11, Matthew 1:16).

Mary was pregnant before marriage (Matthew 1:16).

The genealogy is a declaration that Jesus has fulfilled the promise God gave in Jeremiah 33:17 – that the throne would always have an heir of David. But it is also a declaration that God is not afraid of the shameful.

God uses these disgraceful, unworthy, and marginalized women, and announces their place in His story. Women have a place in the story of salvation. Matthew 1 declares this to be true. The Son of David did not come from a clean bloodline. He came from a God-designed bloodline. And this to bring glory to Himself.

December 5: Born of a Woman

“When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5

It is in these verses we see the humanity and divinity of Jesus.

“God sent his Son” – Jesus is the eternal Son of God, which means that he exists forever and he is from God. Jesus was not created by human hands. He is the fullness of God.

“Born of a woman” – Jesus was not created from dust like Adam. He was not pulled out of man’s side like Eve. Jesus was born of a woman, which makes him human.

God came down and wrapped himself in skin, bones, and muscle. The Holy One, different from us in every way, became one of us. He did this “so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

We cannot invite ourselves into God’s family. We cannot become God’s children by making ourselves clean and moral. We cannot become more like God on our own, so God had to become like us. He became the Son of Man so that we could become sons and daughters of God.

Ladies, God is not a far-off rule-maker. God is a near-by Savior-man. God came all the way near to us. He was born of a woman. What could be closer than that?

 

December 4: Hostility and Labor Pains

“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head and you will strike his heel. He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort.” – Genesis 3:15-16a

God cursed Satan with a lifetime of hostility against humanity. This hostility entered the world through Eve’s sin and the serpent’s lie. All humanity now lives in this fight against sin. We wear the bruises of our sin on our heels and limp through life.

The first command God gives mankind is, “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Our rebellion against God in Eden made it harder to accomplish His command. Now, filling the earth comes at a cost. Eve’s offspring will enter the world through their mother’s labor and pain.

Women bear physical reminders every month and with every pregnancy that the world is not as it should be. Our bodies cry out for relief – God, remove the curse!

It is no mistake that the curse of Satan and the curse of Eve are both about child-bearing.

Satan’s curse meets its maker in the birth of Jesus. The snake-crusher has come into the world! Jesus has bruised heels, just like the rest of us. But he is the one who strikes the head of Satan, crushing him forever at the cross.

Eve’s pain in childbirth (and every woman after her) is not taken away when Jesus comes. Jesus’ birth was just as painful for Mary as it is for any woman. The curse is not removed yet. 

Mary’s tears, pain, labor, and sweat point to an eternal promise. Jesus crushed the enemy of Eve’s offspring. Though her offspring still struggle with great pain to “fill the earth,” Jesus declares that the pain will not be forever. While we groan for today, we hope for His return when pain will be no more. We are made right with God through Jesus. We long to be with Him soon. Return, Lord Jesus!

December 3: No More Shame

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:25

Why were Adam and Eve naked and unashamed? They knew each other fully, God knew them completely, and because there was no sin, there was no shame. When sin entered the world, the first couple covered themselves with leaves and hid from God. Because there was sin, there was shame.

Every day since sin flooded our world, we’ve covered ourselves. We still wear clothing, which signals that we still have our outward shame. Shame affects our relationships. We hide from one another when our inward shame is exposed.

Mary was no stranger to shame since she was pregnant before marriage. Joseph planned to end their courtship (Matthew 1). But God intervened and took away the shame Mary would endure (Matthew 1:20-21).

Not only that, but God took what is shameful to the world (pregnancy before marriage) and used it to bring forth the one who would bear all our shame on His shoulders.

This is God’s marvelous and paradoxical plan. He takes the shameful things – the barren, the prostitutes, the widowed – and makes them achieve His salvation plan.

Childless, barren, hurting, lonely women –  God offers you a relationship where you can stand before Him fully exposed and experience no shame.

Any shame you have dies with the Son of God born to a woman!

 

Advent: Reflections for Women

This Christmas season, my prayer is to grow in intimacy with Jesus and press toward what He called me to do. I am called to know and be known by God and share what God teaches me, especially with women.

Women are not benchwarmers in God’s kingdom. The Savior of the world loved women while he was on earth. He laced His entire redemptive history, from Genesis to Revelation, with faithful women. Joseph and Mary’s baby came to reconcile all people. The gospel is good news for men and women.

This Advent season I will write daily reflections about women in the Christmas story. My aim is not to glorify women through these reflections. My aim is to help women see how Christmas is good news for them. Through our intimacy with Jesus, we can glorify God with our lives.

Ladies, I hope you will join me on this journey toward Bethlehem. I pray we will love Jesus more by December 25th.