Tag Archives: Mary

Intercession – Calling all Mums

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Pregnant womanEvery Mum is an intercessor !

All mums display the three essential ingredients of intercession that we mentioned in the previous article. They fully identify with the growing baby in their womb, they suffer in that identification through the initial birth and permanent care of the child and they have their own motherly authority of love over their offspring.

The Bible is full of this “Motherhood factor”, –  the literal or spiritual birthing of significant children, the birthing even unto Christ through intercession; the power and the pain. Let’s consider a few key verses :

” All these are the beginning of birth-pains. ”  Matthew 24 :8

“To the woman”  he said, ” I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing ; with pain you will give birth to children.”       Genesis 3 :16

The world had been lost through sin. God began his redemptive strategy by giving prayer and work to mankind. Adam was to sweat it out labouring the fields, getting rid of the thorns and thistles while Eve was to cry out in labour giving birth to new lives. It is interesting that the monastic movement founded by Benedict in the middle ages which transformed Europe had these two principles as its founding credo: “Orare Laborare” – Prayer and Work. Eve, our ancient mother,  began redeeming the fall through the “gift “ of labour pains, suffering – intercession. The previous verses of Genesis 3 :15, which speak prophetically of Christ’s intercessory victory over Satan,  emphasise the warfare context of such labour.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The ancient battle and enmity between Eve and Satan traverses history, stretches into the future and finds ultimate incarnation in the fruit of Mary’s womb.

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever ; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1 :30-33

Even the natural world of “Mother Nature” seems to be flowing in this ancient rhythm of intercession inherited from the first fallen creation.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray , but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. ”  Romans 8 :22,26

The natural world, frustrated by decay, is our ally in intercession.

A place of barrenness in our lives, lands and ministries is always an opportunity for fruitfulness via intercession. Don’t blame the barrenness but sing beyond it.virgin-mary-stylized1

“Sing, O barren woman,
you who never bore a child ;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labour ;
because more are the children of the
desolate woman
than of her who has a husband. “  Isaiah 54 :1

The great pioneer Paul, also took up Eve’s spirit as his entire life was consumed with the birthing and nurturing of churches through his apostolic intercession.

” My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,.. ”  Galatians 4 :19

In the same breath he mixes a number of metaphors – as does John in Revelation where a Bride interchanges with the Heavenly Jerusalem, pointing to a heavenly principle which echoes the redemptive birthing of the early garden and brings it to fulfillment:

“But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Galatians 4 :26

The veil is mysteriously drawn back in John’s Revelation of the Church and Christ and their ultimate victory and consummation is described from a variety of colourful, metaphorical and gloriously sacramental viewpoints.

At the beginning of Revelation 12, the scene shifts into showing some of the hidden spiritual rhythms and realities lurking behind history and reaching through our present into the future:

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven : a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth…The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.”  Revelation 12 :1-5

Another Mum!

What does this breathtaking sign mean? Who is this woman of Revelation 12?

Let your mind and spirit do some creative thinking for a few days until I come back with the next article to add a few more thoughts to the exciting debate.

Happy meditation!

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Prayer – One thing is needed…

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“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Luke 10:39

“Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.  In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.” Ruth 3:8

At Jesus feetThe previous article on prayer encouraged us not to worry, and this one begins with the same exhortation of Jesus himself as he is confronted with the hustle and bustle of Martha’s desperate ministry! Like many of us, Martha is “worried and upset by many things.”  Jesus calms her down and shows her the importance of simply focusing on “one thing.”

We need to discipline ourselves to find the “priority position” to take in our lives. We must find “what is better” and what lasts forever – our intimate relation with Jesus, the ultimate kinsman redeemer. It is a place of listening to His word – a place of obedience and submission. Mary found this place at Jesus’ feet. Ruth, at the feet of Boaz, also gives us some beautiful insight into this priority position of prayer. Let’s take a quick journey into Chapter three of the book of Ruth.

“My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?” Ruth 3:1

We find identity and a home with Jesus.  Relation with him is where all true provision begins.clothed in love

“Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes.” Ruth 3:3

Confess and repent of your sins, washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. May the incense of prayer and worship arise from our contrite hearts and may we clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit and with power from on high.

Colossians 3:12-14, gives us a whole wardrobe of “best clothes”. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…and the “overalls” of love!

“Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.” Ruth 3:9

How we need the garment of grace to approach our Lord. This is not our own garment but it is given to us freely. As Christ spread out his loving arms on the cross to embrace fallen humanity, so he extends his individual grace to each of us and clothes us in his righteousness. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

remb_ruth_boazThere is a wonderful promise attached to the place of prayer. It is a “leitmotif” which runs throughout the Bible and which we will look at in the following studies. It is the wonderful promise of provision and answer which Ruth hears through the affectionate, intimate words of Boaz:

“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.”  Ruth 3:11

and which we, modern Ruths, like Jesus’ own disciples, also hear.

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:14

A noble and good heart

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 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:1-15

 Let’s join Jesus on his kingdom expedition as he passes through the towns and villages with his team. Unlike some misogynistic elements in the Church today, Jesus totally included women in his team which was a radical statement to the society and culture of his day.

Virgin Mary and Jesus, old Persian miniature. ...

“Mary (called Magdalene)… Joanna, the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others,” were all part of this missionary band.

They were not there just to do the cooking or wash Peter’s socks! They were also on the discipleship journey with Jesus. Like most of those whom Jesus chose and loved, they had come to him broken but were transformed by his presence. They, like many of us, had been “cured of evil spirits and diseases” at the hands of the ultimate healer. They also, probably through their business acumen, had a vital role in the financial support of the ministry.

“These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”

I can imagine each of them having a testimony to share at the bustling village gatherings where they could all identify with the struggles of the folks around them to receive God’s word.

Jesus draws the crowds with his charismatic power and down to earth authoritative teaching. He sets the scene in an agricultural community by speaking of a farmer going out to sow his seed. For the simple who have ears to hear, they soon understand the link that Jesus is making between the seed and the life giving Word, and the ability of the different soils, the various states of human hearts, to receive this Word. Although we only have Jesus’ words in the authoritative text I’m sure that Jesus didn’t monopolise these gatherings but encouraged his team to join in.

Having spoken of the seed on the path being trampled I picture him looking over to Mary and calling her forward.

 “Well if you want a testimony of a life that has been trampled on, here it is.” I imagine her saying.

 “I was literally “on the path”, hoping to find love but meeting only rejection from an early age. Hope after hope was dashed to the ground as everyone I trusted betrayed me and walked over me. I became an object to be sold. The rejection was so deeply rooted in me that I could not reach out and touch anyone in a true relation. My heart was as hard and trampled as that path. No words of hope or love could survive in my environment. The smallest seed of encouragement was quickly gobbled up by the blows, cruelty and shame which became my lot in life.

 Then one day Jesus crossed my trampled path. He was different from the brutal men I had known all my life. He listened to me, the outcast. I was so used to giving myself away to others that it was a shock to find someone willing to give himself for me. He brought “shalom” to me and drove away the suffocating sense of my low self worth. Like our old prophet Zephaniah says, it seemed that he “was mighty to save. He took great delight in me; he quieted me with his love and rejoiced over me with singing.”  He set me free to receive the word of life.”

The crowd is moved as they hear Mary. Many who had come to mock and jeer are deeply challenged by the sincerity and transformation that they can see in her.

Then Jesus, having moved on to talk about the stony ground looks over to a timid, wiry woman.

“Come on Susanna, go for it, now’s your chance.”

“You do not know what a miracle it is that I can stand before you today,” says the woman gradually rising to her feet.

“My name means “lily”, something frail and delicate. And believe me I was so weak and timid. I’ve battled with fear and intimidation all my life, never daring to live my own life for fear of what others might say. Like many of you here I was brought up to know the Torah and religion. I knew God as a hard taskmaster always ready to punish and condemn. I would go to our festivals but they were always so dry. I would resolve to be a better follower of God but somehow it seemed so superficial and never lasted. Then one day at the festival of Tabernacles I heard Jesus speaking in a loud voice. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!’ He spoke about “living waters” flowing from within. And yet I was blocked up with a big hard rock of inner fear.  However he challenged us to simply believe in him and by some miracle I went from fear to faith as his word raked out the rocks from my heart.”

 Susanna sits down again sensing Jesus’ approving smile, an inner glow on her face as she has once again overcome the fear barrier in giving her testimony.

Jesus has moved on to a thorn bush, miming the throwing of seed amongst the vicious barbs.

“Could anything grow out of these choking thorns?” he asks.

Right on cue Joanna, a self assured woman of standing begins to speak.

 “Many of you here know my husband. Cuza. We had a privileged place in Herod’s household. I could tell you stories of our amazing banquets, our gold and silver and prestige. We lacked nothing. And yet life was so unfulfilling. In the midst of the wealth and the hedonistic pleasures our very dreams were dying. The love which we had known in our innocence of youth was quickly choked by the ever increasing worries of work. We were on the verge of breakdown when one of my servants reported to me words that he had heard the Rabbi Jesus speaking on the mountain. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” I went myself and listened to him. His words cut away the thorns that bound us up as I found the strength to focus on relationship with God and people rather than on material things. I’m still learning but the idols are now being broken in my life.”

 “These are the good soil” says Jesus, pointing proudly to the women.

“They have pulled out the roots of rejection, cast away the stones of fear and cut down the selfish thorns of materialism and hedonism. Their good and noble hearts are now ready, through more prayers and service, to produce a harvest of good fruit for the world.”

 Can this same word dwell richly in your own hearts too?

Extact from the devotional book “A Fruit in Season”