Advent Reminds us of the Opportunities Brought by Faith

Luke 1:26-38 records the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary, their conversation and Mary’s response to the news. Like Zachariah, Mary’s first reaction was fear and confusion at seeing a heavenly being and his message. However, her questions were more about how could this could happen not disbelief that it was possible. The words seem similar but the angel knew the intent of her heart and saw a question of doubt not a question of faith.

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

I love this passage and see new things each time I study it. God knew Mary by name. Isn’t that amazing? The God of the universe knew this young, unmarried woman and had a special place and purpose for her and her alone. The same could be said for you and me. I am assured here that God knows my name and has a plan and purpose for my life too. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” is a promise I claim in my life.

Gabriel, the angel, said Mary had found favor with God, and that God was with her. Mary did nothing to earn this favor. Mary believed in God and was the right woman at the right time, like Queen Esther, for the tasks to be accomplished. Esther 4:14 “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Mary believed in God, had grown up hearing the stories of the Israelites, Moses and their escape from Egypt. Of the years in exile in Babylon and people like Daniel, his rescue by God from the Lion’s Den, the rebuilding of the walls and temple in Jerusalem by Nehemiah, of Jonah and his being swallowed by a big fish then going to Nineveh to preach as God asked. She knew God was capable of great things and did not question His power and might, only her circumstances of being an unmarried pure virgin. Remember faith pleases God and she had it! Even though she had questions she clung to her faith and listened with an open heart and mind. She knew in her heart that all things are possible with God. Like Mary all we have is faith in Jesus as we can count on no works to save us. Ephesian 2:8 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Receiving His gift of salvation is a matter of heart, just as it was for Mary.

Let the wonder of this encounter motivate you to walk by faith not sight today and look for new opportunities to serve Him.


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