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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eternal perspective
Lancaster County Farm Scene
Photo by Doris High

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"Ordinary Mary"

"Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you" (Romans 16:6).

I saw "Mary" in action at a church gathering.  A disabled person had fallen and in the process had also become very frightened.  The scene was becoming somewhat chaotic as people were looking on while the uncomfortable drama unfolded. Due to a life-altering injury the man encountered many years ago he was unable to cope with the situation and needed assistance, both physically and emotionally.  A "Mary" lovingly helped this individual to exercise self-restraint while maintaining his dignity.

Faith Hall of FameMost who are familiar with the Bible will readily  identify Hebrews 11 as the "Hall of Fame of Faith".  This chapter mentions many of the famous characters of the Old Testament such as Noah, Abraham and Moses.

But Romans 16 is another Hall of Fame representing the scores of little known believers who have contributed to the advancement of God's Kingdom throughout the church age.  Most of the names mentioned in this chapter (35 altogether) are not referred to anywhere else in Scripture.  Yet each made an impact on Paul's life and upon many others as well.

Mention the name, Mary, in the Bible and one probably assumes a reference to the mother of our Lord or to Mary Magdalene. But today's brief Scripture verse is the only Mary mentioned in any of the epistles, a dedicated local believer in the Roman church. Her impact was such that Paul made a special greeting to her in his epistle, "Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you."

Her simple distinction?  "She worked very hard for you."  We are not told what she did, but the Roman believers knew very well.  Perhaps she was on the fellowship committee or she rocked the crying babies to sleep.  Those are sure two hard jobs in a healthy, active church!  Maybe she stayed around after a church meal to scrub the dishes (way before the days of plastic ware or paper plates.)  That chore had to be done back then as well. 

Whatever she did, she worked very hard.  The emphasis on "very" is purposeful.  The KJV reads "bestowed much labor."  Finally let us note the simple words "for you."  What a blessing she must have been to the church in Rome as she diligently served others!

We've met a lot of people through the years like Mary.  In fact some have actually been named Mary!  What a tremendous blessing they are; ordinary people using ordinary gifts to build up Christ's extraordinary church.  All over the world, unheralded and often underappreciated, they're still a major part of God's plan in getting the job done.

Take note of the "Marys" among you in your congregation.  Speak a word of appreciation to them as you intentionally notice that which others might unintentionally miss.  And if you happen to be a hard worker for Christ like Mary you will someday hear the words of greatest commendation from the Master Himself, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, as we diligently labor for You it is not to bring attention to ourselves, but it is to bring glory to Your name and further the kingdom of God.  Help us to find our place of Christian service where we can develop our gifts and expend our labors for  building up the body of Christ.  Amen.

God Is In the Church Nursery

Brooksyne's Note:  Do you know one who labors when others are not present, thereby it often goes unnoticed.  One such role is the janitor of a church who sees that the bathrooms are scrubbed, toilet paper and paper towel dispensers are filled, mirrors shine, floors are swept, glass doors are polished, etc.  We expect to see our church clean on Sundays and think little of it……. unless it is not clean or paper towels are missing, etc.  And then we might even get a little frustrated.  Some people serve in a capacity that goes completely unnoticed until something is out of place.  Therefore when they're doing a good job we rarely consider their valuable contribution and even more rarely let them know how much we appreciate their work.  Our church has a part-time janitorial couple who are in their mid to late 70's.  While I was a Sunday School teacher I had the children each write a note of thanks on our chalkboard so they would see it while cleaning that week.  We also wrote thank you notes another time and dropped them in their mailbox.  This couple has come to some of our special services and each time we talk they always say, "You're the one who thanked us for cleaning the church."  They don't really know me personally but they recognize me by this small gesture that meant a great deal to them.  They had told me that it was the only time they had received such notes of appreciation.  That was years ago and I trust
by now that they have received many others gestures of appreciation.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play in your audio player)

As we prepared today's message a song from the seventies came to mind:

"Ordinary People" (lyrics)
We especially like these words:

He chooses people just like me and you.
Who are willing to do everything that He commands.
God uses people that will give Him all.
It doesn't matter how small your all may seem to you.
Because little becomes much as you place it in the Master's hand.

I suggested these two songs earlier this week but they really fit again!

"Use Me"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir with inspirational photos of people being used of God to help others in need.

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Audio  We concluded the service in our church this last Sunday with this hymn of concecration.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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