Mary: A Fresh Look at the Familiar

Mary: A Fresh Look at the Familiar
Mary: A Fresh Look at the Familiar

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Mary: A Fresh Look at the Familiar Christmas Message, Part 1

Mary book coverKaren PulleyThis devotional was written by Karen Pulley and is printed in Calvary Chapel Magazine with permission. It is taken from her message delivered at Calvary Chapel Hudson Valley’s Women’s Christmas Brunch in 2018. Look for Part 2 tomorrow. Karen is the wife of Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ.

When you say, Yes, Lord, you are never disappointed. It is when we say No to God that we experience disappointment. Mary said Yes to God, and boy, it wasn’t easy. I want to look at the life of Mary. I pray, Lord, freshen the familiar. I know we can think, “I’ve read the story about Mary,” but I am hoping that you are going to see something in here that maybe you have never seen before.

Lessons from the Life of Mary

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-21). Sin. You look around at all the destruction in the world. Destruction in your own life is because of sin.

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her until she has brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS (Matthew 1:22-25).

Oh, I love that. Let me read to you a little bit from Luke 1:26-38a: Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Receive that for your own life.

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Maybe that’s a word for somebody today—"Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God.’’ I love that.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” I love that she didn’t say that in unbelief. I love her faith in God. And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Boy, how we want the power of the Holy Spirit because then we bring forth Jesus!

“Now, indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And we all have things right now in our lives that are impossible. How are you going to work that out, God? How are you going to do that? How are you going to unscramble this egg? Well, only God can do that. With God nothing will be impossible.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” I love that. What a smart answer. “Lord, that’s it. Do whatever …” She could have just said, “Where’s the door? I’m out of here. This is too hard. This is crazy. My life will be ruined.” But she said, “Here I am, Lord.”

[Listen to] her prayer, called Mary’s Magnificat, in Luke 1:46b-54a: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear [reverence] Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel.” Oh, so many good things in here, all starting with the letter “P.” The first thing we see is that there’s a problem.

The Problem

Mary and mankind both need a Savior. "All we like sheep have gone astray … and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Ah, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b). While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8b). Oh, I love that. I love thinking of the Gospel. So, Mary and mankind needed a Savior.

A little story is told of a man who was hungry, so he stole a sheep. In his town, if you stole something or did something, it was labeled on your shirt with a big “S”—for “sheep stealer.” So he had to wear that around the town. Years went on. He was faithful. He was humble. He worked hard. He paid back what he owed. After some time passed, some new people came into town. They asked, “What is the ‘S’ on that man’s shirt?” Because it had been so long, the townspeople replied, “You know, I think it means he is a saint.” I love that. How God changes us!


Mary was poor. Although she was from the royal line of David, she was poor and from an insignificant town. She called herself a lowly servant: She was not a diva. Don’t we see enough divas? Rather, she thought of herself as a waitress: “Let me serve. Let me do what I have to do. I am from a poor, insignificant place.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). We do live in an upside-down world, don’t we? Sometimes we think, “Oh, these people who have money and wealth …” Those of us who are poor and are suffering now, let me encourage you: The glory, the comfort in heaven forever and ever, won’t even compare. Right? The Lord is coming soon! Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise … (1 Corinthians 1:26b-27a). I know that might be an insult to us, but I remember when I first came to the Lord. You are humble at that point, right? You think, Lord, You saved me! Then it’s like, How can God use me? I don’t have any talents. I don’t have any abilities. I am foolish, yep. Let’s keep that mindset. Sometimes, you might think, Well, I’m not foolish. I have a lot to offer God. No, He chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.

“Heaven is My throne … But on this one will I look: on [her] who is poor and of a contrite spirit …” (Isaiah 66:1-2b). Oh, I love that. Is God looking at you? He hates pride. He really does. How do you know you have pride? When somebody treats you like a servant and you mind. “Are you talking to me? Did you just … what, what?” Ooh, I am full of pride. Lord, help me.


Mary was prepared. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). You’re God’s poem, so to speak. Don’t you love poetry? God will read you to people. God will read you to your family. God will read you to your relatives. You’re God’s poem. You’re God’s embroidery work. Did you ever see a beautiful embroidery work? Oh my goodness! You’re God’s embroidery work.

What are they reading? Remember, however, God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. If you think you can’t do something, you are just the person! The emptier you are, the better God can fill you. My college professor told me, “Don’t ever go into speaking because you really can’t speak.” It was one of the worst classes that you had to take, and of course, what does the Lord tell you? He reminded me, “Karen, do you not love My Word?” I mean, I can talk about Macy’s sales. I can talk about that all day, right? Whatever we love. Maybe He will call you to do something that you can’t do, but let me tell you, the Lord will get all the glory. The Lord will totally help you for whatever it is. He prepares you.

Copies of Karen’s book, Mary—A Fresh Look at the Familiar: A Christmas Message, may be obtained at CC Old Bridge, NJ,, for a suggested donation of $5.

To read part two of this series, click here.


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.