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A Bible Study on Mary: Surprised By Joy

December 26, 2022
00:00 17:58
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Luke 1

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.


What do we know about Mary:

-she knew some scripture
-she was faithful
-she was among the believers [not venerated, but in community]

Acts 1:14

 14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

Mary had no qualifications for being chosen.

This beginning also mirrors our beginning when it comes to receiving the good news.

All of the good news is contained here:

You who are highly favored.

In the context of the world, she is not highly favored. When we think of what makes someone highly favored, we tend to think of the examples we have in the world. But that wasn’t Mary at all. 

You have found favor with God.


-Not dependent on anything that she (or us) can do.

The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)

What was given through the Israelites is now passed to everyone:

Galatians 3:14

14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Lord is with you.

 Matthew 1:23

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

 You aren’t alone. You aren’t isolated. God knows you.


But God with us, as in He comes to live inside us, giving us strength in place of weakness, courage in place of fear, and vibrant life in all those dark places that once felt dead. – Jennifer Slattery

The power of being “with”. When people are hurting, we want to be with them. Waiting in hospital rooms. [Brantley/AJ]

She receives two promises: highly favored, Lord with you. Crazy surprise –

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”


Basil Pennington: “my self-worth my value depends on what I have, what I can do, and what others think of me”

My false self protects me with:

I am what I do.
I am what I have.
I am what others think of me.

My true self:

I am. (I am worthy)
I am the Lord’s. (I belong)
I am the Lord’s servant. (I have purpose)

Living in our true self is about a radical acceptance of who we are, based on what God has decided.

“Some Christians base their identity on being a sinner. I think they have it wrong—or only half right. You are not simply a sinner; you are a deeply loved sinner.”  David Benner

Accepting the incredible surprise of the good news means releasing control.

Receiving the gift of our favor is the ability to open our hands to everything God gives, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word be fulfilled.”

Radical acceptance unlocks the joy of surprise.



What sets Mary apart is her radical acceptance to God’s invitation, and what defines us as children of God is our radical acceptance to the same invitation.

Radical Acceptance:

God has not given up on me, no matter how I feel.

I do not need to try harder.

My pain and struggle is not wasted.

My false self protects me with:

I am what I do.
I am what I have.
I am what others think of me.

My true self:

I am. (I am worthy)
I am the Lord’s. (I belong)
I am the Lord’s servant. (I have purpose)


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Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Nicole Unice is a Bible teacher, author, and passionate communicator who delights in bringing God’s Word to life in a personal and relevant way. Her training as a counselor informs her work, as she emphasizes the importance of facing our own reality and embracing the transforming power of God’s grace. Nicole is ordained as a teaching elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Her latest book, “Help, My Bible is Alive” is a 30-day experience designed to help people experience God through the Bible.

Nicole has spent twenty years serving the local church, first in student ministry (where she’s never lost her love of a great group game) and then leading start-ups of all kinds, from leadership development to capital campaigns. She now teaches and consults with churches and ministries to strengthen their stories and cut through confusion to discover the next right steps for success.
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